Monday, April 17, 2006

my poker project

200% up to $200!!!
by Whitney

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."

Talk is cheap mother fucker!! SHIP IT!

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.


Shaun Poulin said...

Where do you plan on playing mostly? And I'd definitely like to hear of your progress. Good Luck!

WK said...

that's a good question, since I like playing on the big 3 sites. The juicy LHE games are mostly at pdise and party, so I will split my time there. I found your quick results to be impressive, so I wanted to try my hand as well. I don't expect it to be a quick rise. I'm just hoping once I get to the middle limit games not to suffer some huge meltdown. I can see playing out of my comfort zone will do this. But with this discipline to move down after a certain stop loss, I will avoid any chance of digging myself in a hole.

Keep up the good work.

F.J. Delgado said...


i would highly recommend Absolute Poker, Full Tilt, and, to a lesser extent, BoDog, because their deposit bonuses and rake structure (and rakeback deals) would significantly pad your bankroll further.

good luck!

FilipinoNinja said...

Ninja says, that Party and Full Tilt are the best best online poker places. Did someone say, " Live ONLINE Poker." Texas, Texas, Texas. The best kind of Hold'em. Good luck, fellow poker player. May your cards be live and your pots be monsters. Sexton rules.

Ivan is Great said...

I am going on a limb here and say that it is impossible to make money in low limit. several reasons:

1. no fold 'em hold 'em: no one folds so even if you are holding aces, you will have 5 people drawing against you, making you a dog to the field

2. the rake is too high!

3. making 1 big bet an hour at 1/2, you would need to put in 600 hours to make $1,200; i don't know how long you plan on staying at that level

WK said...

depends on what you think is money at low limit. if you think making 50k is not money then there may not be money made. it is very possible to make 40-50k playing 2/4 to 3/6. if you 3-4 table 6 max games you with a 2 bb/100 win rate that could easily be 20+ an hour. if you play a "normal" 40 hour work week that comes out to be +40k. Making 1 bb at the 1/2 level is actually quite mediocre. You should be making at least 2 bb/100 at the low limit.

To address too many people calling too much, your lower win % going to showdown will be compensated with the bigger pots you do win. I want 4-5 ppl calling my AA. I mean i'm sure you know if you got AA every hand and everyone called you down to the river your equity would be monstrous. This is of course not even taking into consideration the post-flop play of realizing your aces are no good. On average you would win that...what 33% of the time just going down to showdown? I don't know where i got that number, I believe it was from Winning Low Limit by Lee Jones.

Lower limit games are of course juicy as hell...when you move up to the middle limit games that may in fact be harder than some higher limit games just because all the grind-out pros are trying to build a bankroll for the higher limits. The higher limit games may have more gambling/business/rich man types who bypassed the low limit crap and just wants to gamble/have fun.

You are right the rake is high in proportion to the pot size. I have not really done a detailed analysis over how the increased % of the pot vs. the average pot size in higher limit games. Some limits are low enough where it would never reach the cap. The higher you move up, you may always hit a cap by just raising PF getting called by the bb and taking the pot down..and these are in games where it barely goes to showdown.

In limit hold 'em the higher you move up the edge becomes increasingly more minuscule. This is of course common knowledge..but it is valid to point out that your winrate maybe higher at a juicier 20/40 game than trying to battle it out with lots of TAGs and increased aggression which translates into higher variance in a 100/200 game. I believe in LHE, unlike NLHE, the more disciplined you are in sticking to your starting hand requirements the less of an edge. This doesn't mean I don't think you would be wasting your time playing very high limits, just one monster fish in the game would make it profitable for you to sit down.

Thanks for you input tho...the only reason I stay playing low limits is the money is easier to take down and..I am not good at handling large swings of money!!

WK said...

Oh and I also forgot to state the online aspect. I feel your input would very applicable to live poker..I don't know if you're more of a B&M player, but with online you can of course play many tables. There are many 8 tabling 2/4 players who are making 40/hr. This is of truly a freaking grind and subjects you to autopilot, but it is "decent" money. Also, the rake online is smaller, but per hour it surpasses the B&M due to faster play. But also faster play, allows you to play more hand per hour and exploit your edge. And finally (sorry for long post!) online you get the privileges of rakeback and bonuses, which can amount to significant added income you would not see in a B&M game.

Ivan is Great said...

Yes, that is the kicker, playing online. I read your post really fast and didn't pick up anything about mutli-table online play. Good luck with your strategy.

WK said...

yeah i probably sounded like i was preaching to the choir. gotdamn!! anyways i appreciate your post..i will post my one month follow up to this project..which i can give you a preview: absolutely HORRENDOUS

F.J. Delgado said...

i am obviously far less risk-averse than you, whit, but I would suggest the following:

$1000 at 2/4
$1500 at 3/6
$2500 at 5/10
$5000 at 10/20

don't get frustrated with a lack of immediate results... i'll be interested to hear how you progress (and for the love of all things good and decent, please avoid referencing DWilli...)