Monday, April 17, 2006
my poker project
It seems rather popular among poker players to seek a goal, or a journey in hopes to come out better than your old self. I myself have decided to pursue a poker project in order to change the status quo. I am not doing something unrealistic like turning my shit into a million dollars or anything of that sort. My journey will deal with my main problem of never wanting to move up.
I enjoy beating up the chumpiest of the chumps at the low limit games. I like to see quick results and easy wins. A year ago I took a shot at 5/10 and got destroyed for over $700; this was when my usual game was 1/2. At the time, I was accustomed to losses being at most ~$100. This disastrous session inflicted deep psychological damage that didn't sit well with my risk-averse personality. Since then, I have always tried protect my bankroll, watching it grow slowly, but surely.
This mentality has left my skills stagnant, as I never took a shot at higher games, even with a suitable bankroll. A Penn kid from the poker club said you should move up as fast you can, which in my view is a risky move. I am not a strong proponent of going out on the deep end and drowning. And then learn why you drowned and fight yourself out of debt. I like to know I am a winner at a certain limit after playing a significant number of hands. When I'm confident enough at that level, I will make the move up. The problem is at this rate I'll want to play 10/20 when the poker boom will probably be dead or I'll be dead. With these profitable games and money for the taking, the time has called to stop being a pussy.
Phil Ivey started his poker career, working at McDonald's for minimum wage. After work, he would play cards with the money he had just made. Playing low limit stud, he raised every hand like a maniac. Subsequently, he would go broke, say 'bye' to everyone at the table and come back the next day to do it all over again. During this cycle, he began to learn how his opponents reacted to aggression. He of course harbored that aggression to become the ridiculous talent he is today. Not all was easy. Whenever he took a shot at $400-800, Henry Orenstein would regularly break him, forcing Ivey to move down and rebuild. At times, he was broke and couldn't pay for his utility bills. One night his electric company just shut everything off. Phil sat in the dark, thinking, "Wow I'm a bum."
Many of the top players have this similar journey. I am telling it because there's a common theme. These guys take huge risks, usually resulting in going broke, but then learning from the experience. This is a dangerous lifestyle to me and as a result, I will never be great because of my fear of gambling.
In order to get better I must be willing to take more risks. What is the best way? Well I never want to go broke and lose everything I've worked so hard to grind out (all those fucking hours at the 1/2 games). But I must change in order to step it up. I talked to a very knowledgeble kid who played with his whole bankroll, but disciplined himself. He played 4 tables of 2K Pot Limt Omaha in order to finance a summer trip. He had about 9k, and if his bankroll ever dipped at a certain limit he would move down. Through this management, he insured he would never go broke, but at times he would be forced to leave a a juicy game if the situation were to present itself.
My project will follow this stop loss management. Though, I won't be playing with my whole bankroll at 100/200, I will set aside $1200 and start from the 2/4 level with 300 bbs. When I get my bankoll gets to 300 bbs of the next level I will then move up. For example, if my bank gets to $1800, it is time for 3/6. Anytime a 100 bb downswing occurs, it is time to close up the asshole and move down. A 100 bb downswing is rather normal, but I have set this the limit of my "threshold of misery" as Mike Caro likes to call it.
So hopefully the journey will look like this:
$1200 at 2/4
$1800 at 3/6
$3000 at 5/10
$6,000 at 10/20
The plan is to get to 10/20. I don't know if I can ever handle swings at 15/30 and so on. One overarching flaw to my project is that I am setting aside a set amount and not my whole bankroll. This is good and bad. Good that I will not be under extreme duress of possibly losing everything have. Bad that I will also not be under extreme duress to dig deep and play on survival instinct. But in the end, this project will become great practice to psychologically separate myself from the value of money. This attitude will allow me to brush off the bad days and expedite my transitions between limits.
During this journey, I will be giving up money I would have won playing at my normal limit. That is the short-term opportunity cost. This trade off is worth it as a long-term investment. I may improve to beat the bigger games.
I will keep everyone up to date (if anyone gives a rat's ass) of my progress. If I find myself at the .o1/.02 level I will just pack my bags and quit for good. Wish me good luck.