I’m back (more or less)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008 11:37 | Filled in poker

After a hiatus from all things poker (except ITH, which seems to be an addiction) I find myself back in the poker playing groove with the new year. I know exactly what started it. I read somewhere that PokerStars now has a native Mac client. Since I have pretty much forsaken the Windows-based machines permanently, that sounded like a good thing to check out. I installed it on my favorite Mac laptop and fired up the client to test it out. I only had about $3,000 of my own money left on Stars, which should limit my play to 5/10 if I was following prudent bankroll management. However, I actually have more money available that is either on other sites or in the bank from my last run at poker, so I decided to ignore that prudent bankroll management stuff. I found a full ring game of 15/30 (location of my biggest success money-wise in poker, back in the old Party glory days). In a few hours, I was up nicely and felt that the other players were making more than a few exploitable mistakes. One thing led to another and I played a few more hours here and there, just like the old days. It was crummy weather, so we were in the house one snowy weekend day and I played most all day. In two weeks, it became obvious to me that I was still able to win at poker and that I had some of my old enthusiasm for the game back. I also discovered that I was easily able to get to the PokerStars “GoldStar” level, which is like a frequent flier club level for poker players. When I achieved that without much effort, I realized that “PlatinumStar” was also well within my reach. Of course, once you get to “PlatinumStar”, it is a short ride to “SuperNova” status, which is an annual reward. Platinum requires 10,000 points per month and SuperNova requires 100,000 in a year.

Breaking down the math, I realized that 100,000 points requires about 67,000 hands at my usual limits. If I can win 2 bb/100 (which I have been able to do in the past), I should be able to cash in around $40,000 this year if I play that many hands. If I run hotter, play more hands or play more 30/60 than 15/30, I might even be able to do better than that. If I use my points wisely, I should clear an additional $4,000 or so in bonus money (maybe more if they offer reload bonuses or the like). If I mostly play two tables at a time (more on this later), this will require me to play about 10 hours per week of poker. I’m pretty sure I can get that many hours just during times when I can’t sleep.

I’ve dabbled around with a lot of different forms of poker this month, just to get a sense of who is playing what and how good or bad the games are. I’ve played a bunch of 15/30 and 30/60 full ring. I’ve also played a fair amount of 10/20 6 max and 5/10 full ring. I’ve started up a number of tables trying to find full ring players who don’t know how to play short-handed. That has led to a few heads-up sessions at stakes up to 15/30. I’m pretty sure that most of my wins are being booked at 15/30 and 30/60 and I think I may have lost money at every other discipline. I know I’ve lost money heads-up, although I really think that was mostly due to running badly. One of my opponents was super-LAG (as is proper in HU poker, although he probably took the idea too far) and I got hammered in two massive pots with him at 15/30 HU. In one pot, I flopped top two pair on a 873 board. He held A2 and we capped it on the flop. The turn brought a 2 and we capped it again. When the river brought an Ace, I just called and lost a huge pot. About four hands later, I flopped the nut straight with J9 and he went runner-runner flush with no pair/no draw on the flop. Again capped on three streets, although this time I also paid him three bets after he caught me on the river. Those two hands would have made me a big winner in our HU match, but instead I lost a bunch. As the table filled up, he sat out so I assume I will be seeing him again. I have tried to four table 5/10 FR, thinking that the play would be worse and I could comfortably auto-pilot the game. The problem is that I don’t play that well four tables at a time and I’m pretty sure I got my hat handed to me trying to do so. I don’t actually think that the play is much worse at that level and I also think I didn’t adjust that well. At the time I played it, the other players were mostly multi-tabling maniacs and I think I failed to make the right adjustments to them.

The other problem (and the reason for my lack of precision in these discussions) is that PokerTracker and PokerAce don’t yet run on the Mac. They are working on a mac version that should already be in beta release, but it isn’t out yet. The lack of these tools makes me a better player on one or two tables (I have to be more observant and rely less on the tools) but really cripples me on four tables. It may be that when I get my head on straight, I should be able to play four tables without much drop off in my game, but I don’t know. If I am going to play four or more tables, I will need to play a tighter game that doesn’t need to rely on reading the other player so much. The other bad thing about being without pokertracker is that I really don’t even know what forms of poker have made me the most profit and what forms have been losers. I need to copy my hand histories over to a Windows box and get them imported.

My plan is to post periodic updates to the site with my progress report in terms of earn rate and hands played. I am a little nervous that it will come off like bragging, but the primary purpose is to keep myself motivated to get the hands in. I am currently at 10,070 FPPs, which earns me the platinum star for the first time ever and puts me ahead of schedule to make SuperNova (which would require 8,333 points per month). I’m currently up about $6,000 which is well above the $3,333 I should have at this point. At the end of the month, I’ll post a more complete update showing which forms of poker have earned me the most points and which have earned me the most money.

I might even talk about some hands that were interesting to me one of these fine days.

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