A landmark in my Pokeradventures
Much to my surprise I find myself playing 100NL this evening.
Since I started playing poker in 2004 I've played a lot of tournaments, a whole lot. And once I got over my clueless (and very lucky) start I got pretty good at them to the point where I made some decent money at a decent rate of return. I really really enjoy playing tournaments. There is nothing quite like the thrill at the end of a big tournament as you near a prize which is 100 times or more the buy-in. Tournaments at the level I have been playing them hold the promise of a sudden cash windfall which can have a real and immediate effect on the world beyond the computer screen. I am fortunate not to be hard up for cash, but still a few thousand dollars is never to be taken entirely lightly. One day I hope and plan to go further and scoop something truly significant in one of the big Sunday tournaments.
Yet while I have been prospering at the tournaments all of my attempts at turning a profit at cash games met with failure. That is until January of this year. Up until then I had made sporadic ventures into the ring form, sometimes with short-lived success, but never with anything other than a tournament players approach to what is a very, very different game. Then finally this year something clicked.
Since January I have clocked up nearly 100,000 hands of ring at just under 4bb/100. Nobody is as surprised as me at this as in previous efforts I was so conscious of not "getting it" that I truly wondered if I was just not cut out for playing for cash. I think it was something about the uncertainty with which a lot of hands are played and the fact that success cannot be measured over the course of a hand or a session or even a month, but only through the careful assessment of a statistically significant sample of hands.
So what changed, what epiphany led to this sudden turnaround? I must confess that though I am sure it would help, I am a rubbish student of the game. I have read a few books (though I enjoy the prose more than the hand analysis) and I would much rather play than engage in discussion. I understand the odds
, the concepts, the terminology and the strategies, but aside from occassionally looking at my VPIP and PFR stats in Pokertracker the thought of analysing hands or sessions to look for leaks leaves me completely cold.
What does tend to stick with me are comments made by others, passing observations that give an insight into how other people think about and play the game. Whether they are strong or weak, tight as a gnats or the most crazy maniac I find it fascinating to hear what other people see when they look down at AJo or 88. I think that my strength in poker is my good memory which results in pattern recognition which over time asserts itself as a statistically significant edge when I play. This is then coupled with an understanding of how other people think (translated into stereotypes with which I can label the unknown player) is perhaps the key to success.
So with this in mind I must credit the drip drip impact of discussion with the players at Cardschat for my mutation into a ring player. Most specifically Tenbob
for his description of hands and comments via MSN which I am sure were throwaway from his point of view but provoked a lot of thought at my end.
So this time around I found myself understanding things like pot control, deepstack play and the radically different role of the river in ring as compared to normal stacked tournament play. This is not the time to list the differences in the two forms at length as it's a list I am still extending, but suffice to say that as far as I am concerned Cash games and Tournaments are two completely different games played with nearly the same rules.
Then over the weekend two things happened. First I found myself third in a $22 rebuy tournament. This took my bankroll to a very comfortable position, far in excess of what is required for the 50nl game I was playing. Secondly ChuckTs
(http://chucktscanadiandream.blogspot.com/) posted a video at Cardschat of a game we played a while back. The video contained both his commentary and the exposed holecards of all the players. I found it revelatory. There is nothing I can specifically point to, but to hear someone describe things I was aware of from a different perspective allowed a number of things to click into place. I think that this was enabled by the 90,000 hands of playing a relatively straightforward game. I'm a big believer that in poker you should never run before you can walk and that overreaching your grasp is the quickest way to ruin. I think I've done enough walking and am ready to extend my reach
So tonight I took a stab at 100nl. I finished $18 up over the tiniest of samples and had a blast. I will be absolutely shocked and amazed if I don't drop back down to 50nl at least a couple of times before I stick at the level (and as with the move from 25nl to 50nl) I will probably benefit from doing so. Nevertheless I think this is an important landmark which I have reached albeit unexpectedly.
Unlike many people I don't ever see myself as a cash player first and foremost. I hope to continue to strike a balance betwen tournaments and cash learning from both as I go and probably playing each more in turn as the mood strikes me. It's been a fun journey on my pokeradventures so far and I am optimistic though hopefully not unrealistic about where the next few years will take me.
Thanks for reading.