Friday, March 31, 2006

Times are Changing

I've wondered recently if the face of poker  is changing. I am pretty sure I've asked that very question here as I pondered my progress, or lack thereof.

I just read an article in Cardplayer Magazine that pretty much mirrored what I'm seeing in my little corner of the poker world. It's nice to know that I'm not going nuts. It's a little disturbing though to have been proved right, or at least to have found somebody who thinks as I do.

I guess I hoped that this was just a blip and I'd go back to the way it was. That ain't gonna happen.

There was a huge in flux of poker players in the past couple of years. I was one of those. My results were, apparently, due to just learning a little faster than most. Things are now shaking out. The truly abysmall players have by and large gone broke and given up or just decided it was no fun. Lots of the players who stuck it out and who were learning slower than I was have now caught up and/or passed me.

None of this means that all hope is lost. I know I'm relatively intelligent and have a decent set of basic poker skills. I know I'm going to have to vastly improve my post flop play and really my play overall. It will be a grind and I may end up having to view poker as more of a really cheap hobby than anything else. I'm pretty sure that the way things are going I will never really be able to consider myself a pro but that's ok with me. I think I can get what I want out of the game.

It remains to be seen but I think I can keep learning at a rate that will keep me ahead of the low limit games that are the bulk of the poker in Tunica and places like that. I won't ever crush those games but I think I can keep it where I can expect to make a few bucks. Add that together with cheap hotel rooms and meal comps and the next few years will at least  have a lot of cheap,  probably free and possibly profitable vacations in store.

Once Connie changes careers if we then move to Mississippi all I really will have to do is hold  my own and maybe win a few bucks. Between our savings that we've worked hard for over the past nearly 30 years and her teaching salary coupled with the low cost of living there we will do fine even without me providing much.

There are options of course. I could begin dealing once we're there. I think I could do that and I think I might like it. I could, if I work and study hard enough, possibly even get good enough to make good money. I suspect that my overall gaming skills are not strong enough but time will tell on that one.

I suppose the thing to do is to try to relax and do the best I can while not putting so much pressure on myself that it's not fun. I'm finding working on the house to be a nice distraction between visits to Tunica and I'm really playing very little poker online right now. What I probably should be doing and am not is spending a lot of time, a couple hours a day at the least, studying poker books and sifting through the poker forums online. I guess if it's important enough to me then I'll do what it takes to get better. If I don't then that sort of gives me an answer to some of my questions.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Post Jax Musings

Well the trip to Jacksonville went very well. Connie and I had a good time at the poker room and otherwise.

My results were not spectacular but WERE better than one big bet per hour. Over nine hours total time played I was up a bit over 2.5 big bets per hour. That is encouraging I suppose.

What is not encouraging is that I cannot seem to do nearly so well in a $1/$2 game online. I can't even make money lately. It seems like a totally different game. The only thing I can think is that the online players are MUCH better than the live players in Jax and other places I play. That pretty much tells me that I'm really not very good. Ok I can beat the people playing for recreation in Jax and Tunica most of the time but I can't seem to touch the same limits online. It's depressing and I'm starting to dread playing online.

I don't think I'm getting any better. I'm not even sure WHAT I need to improve. Is it luck? Is it lack of skill? Is the online game even a fair game? I'm starting to wonder but I don't want to blame me losing on anything other than ME without absolute proof and I don't have that.

How can I improve? I read the books. I play the simulators. I practice. I really don't think I'm getting better. Maybe it's time to admit I've achieved all I can. Until the players in Jax, Melbourne and Tunica improve I suppose I can continue to play there. At least I still win. I'd love to learn to beat the online game and move up in limits but that doesn't seem to be going to happen.

I wish I knew what to do. I hate to give up on a dream but there comes a time when you've got to stop beating your head against a wall that you can't knock down. Is it that time?

Friday, March 24, 2006

Off to Jax

I was looking over my last entry. I can't let it stand as the focal entry for the journal, the first one that would be seen should somebody find this journal. I stand by what I said. Things got a bit better. My play improved, dramatically I feel. There is still a good bit of that feeling that I may be regressing to the mean though.

We're off to Jax for the weekend and should get in a couple of sessions there. I played well the last day of my trip in Tunica and had very good luck in the Hamilton Card Room and Jax on the way home from the trip. I'll write more about that I hope. I played well and tried some new things that work well in loose-passive games.

I'm working on other ways to maintain my mental stability as well which is as necessary as any other skill to successful poker I think. I'll write more after this mini-trip.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Regression to the Mean

My results appear to be in the mode of regressing to the mean. In other words I've been losing and my overall results will, I suppose, more correctly reflect the way things really are. Since I've been here this trip I've played 42 hours and would have made more working at McDonalds if you look at just pure poker results. Purely based on results of play I'm under one big bet per hour which I find disappointing but not surprising. I'm really NOT that good I'm learning. Still I AM ahead of the game. I'm just not really beating it much. If you figure in comps and the jackpot (and I didn't even try to add in anything for the lower hotel rate) then I'm up to about $25 an hour, a bit over three big bets per hour. Those results though do not adequately express my skill level but rather show that if I really want to make money at this I damn well better find someway to just get really lucky.

Still I suppose there is hope. Overally I feel my game has improved. Right now I feel it's sliding back. I played  very poorly last night. I also did not get out of a game that I knew I should  have. Actually there was jsut one player I kept trying to play with and he kept beating me. I've got to get over this kind of macho bull...crap that I seem to get in my mind where I beat my head on a wall I know I can't batter down that way. He was outplaying me I could see that. Why did I think I could change it then? In time I may learn to or maybe I just needed to be  patient and wait for better cards, better opportunities. What I should not have done was  to keep doing what I was doing and donk off chips. At least I had the good sense to just stop when I got near $100 down and walk  away. In truth I did not lose THAT many to him but the game didn't feel good, I should have left. I don't know if he knows how good he is but he got me good. He is very friendly and kinda makes  you want to stay. He plays a tough but loose game and I guess I thought because he was loose I could beat him. Maybe I could with good play, good hand selection and good cards. Instead I choose to play a bit too loose myself instead  of  tightening up. I then played those too loose hands poorly. I was also just not hitting, not all day really except for a few instances. All in all I was a donk. The only good thing I suppose is that I know I was and MAYBE, just maybe I learned something. If so it's very possible that it was worth the loss there rather than a larger loss down the line possible. Time will tell.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Is this normal?

My trip to Tunica in January was, in my view at the time, a near disaster. Looking back it actually was not THAT bad. I didn't come away a winner but I didn't ding my bankroll that badly at all.

This trip is the mirror image of that one. I've had down sessions but more up sessions. I'm up a bit over $500 purely on Hold'em winnings. Then there is the fact that the bad beat jackpot hit yesterday while I was at the table and that netted me another $750 after taxes and tips.

I guess it's normal for it to be hot and cold. I know I didn't play nearly as well in January as I could have but I didn't play that badly either. I was getting sucked out on a lot which I realize is going to happen in such a low limit game as 4/8 where people just want to play every hand and have fun.

This is going to take a lot of mental adjustment for me because while I like the upswings I get far too down about the downswings. I need to learn to have faith in what I'm doing. That's never been my strong suit. Maybe poker will be the thing that will somehow help me develop some confidence in my abilities. I hope that is the case and I hope it spreads to other facets of my life.

I may post some more detailed info on the games I've played but for now if you want to read more about the trip go to my main journal. You can find the link to My Journey in the sidebar.

Sunday, March 5, 2006

One more time

As of tomorrow morning I'm off to Tunica one more time. I'm actually going in a relatively positive frame of mind. I've had a good dose of reality so some of my previous hopes and dreams are a bit toned down, or at least not really expected to happen anytime soon. I do think I can go this time and have a fun and possibly even profitable time.

The apartment thing is on hold for a couple of reasons. First is that I have tons of stuff to do to get the other house ready for when Connie and I move into it and I don't think I can take the time to spend two weeks out of every month in Tunica. I don't need to yet, we don't need the money. Even if I did show a profit it would not be enough to change things now. That will be different if we're living there anyway and living on Connie's (then) teaching salary which will be around a third or less what she makes now. That's three to four years down the road now and I'm not ready for the stress of feeling I have to make money playing. It was messing me up emotionally and it was stupid thinking the way I was because I have three to four more years to get better and let things settle out. Who knows where poker will go in that time.

Another reason not to bother with an apartment now is that I can get rooms at the Grand for $35 weekdays and $45 weekends and for two weeks that adds up to less than rent and utilities and such would be. True I give up some convenience but it's well worth it in terms of flexibility and less hassle.

I'm thinking I can work in one more trip before our cruise that is planned for May 27th in honor of Lee's high school graduation. If things go VERY well I may try to squeeze in two trips. For that to happen I'd have to place in the top three in a tourney there or make $500 or more over my expenses on this trip, or both. It's not likely to happen. I may not even PLAY any tourneys and I'll only be there for eight nights so I'd have to clear a bit over $100 a day to make $500 over expenses. It's not impossible but the way things have been going it's not likely. I'll be VERY happy to make enough to break even for the trip.

I did, FINALLY, cash in a tournament last night. It was only a tiny little 45 seat sit and go but I placed 2nd, felt like I played well and felt like some luck had come back. Actually I don't feel like I've been playing all that poorly either in NL tournaments orin limit cash games. I have identified some problems but for the most part I've been doing the right thing and just getting beat. There are times when I can really relate to Phill Hellmuth's much ridiculed statement "If it wasn't for luck I'd win every one." I'm sure knows that no matter how good you are there IS luck involved. Lord knows I know that now after having it hammered into my head over and over again. By the way I'm in no way comparing myself to Phil. He may be a bit annoying to watch but I'd still love to have his skills. Probably I'll never come close but I'll keep trying, in between temper tantrums of my own I'm afraid. I realize that they are unproductive in so many ways though and I"m really trying to eliminate them. It will be an ongoing battle, wish me well.

I'll post the good, the bad and the ugly from Tunica. I'm not sure how regularly but I'll do what I can.