While I'm mostly abandoned pokerstars I did jump into a $10/$20 8-game mixed games cash game a few days ago. I bought in for $300 and cashed out with over $1,000 15 minutes later.
Here is one of the key hands I played which I thought was interesting (I'll recap the action after the hand history for those of you who aren't used to reading them).
*********** # 1 **************
PokerStars Game #36600747096: 8-Game (Hold'em No Limit, $2.50/$5.00 USD) - 2009/12/12 15:46:14 ET
Table 'Glaukos IX' 6-max Seat #5 is the button
Seat 1: ACESEDAI ($332 in chips)
Seat 2: bd3109 ($545 in chips)
Seat 3: aikiman ($585.10 in chips)
Seat 5: FisherProker ($421.90 in chips)
Seat 6: -Bay777- ($883.05 in chips)
-Bay777-: posts small blind $2.50
ACESEDAI: posts big blind $5
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to ACESEDAI [Kh Jc]
bd3109: raises $10 to $15
ACESEDAI: calls $10
*** FLOP *** [Js Jd Jh]
badabang has returned
bd3109: bets $20
ACESEDAI: raises $35 to $55
bd3109: calls $35
*** TURN *** [Js Jd Jh] [Qs]
bd3109: bets $75
ACESEDAI: calls $75
*** RIVER *** [Js Jd Jh Qs] [8d]
ACESEDAI: bets $187 and is all-in
bd3109: calls $187
*** SHOW DOWN ***
ACESEDAI: shows [Kh Jc] (four of a kind, Jacks)
bd3109: shows [8c 8s] (a full house, Jacks full of Eights)
ACESEDAI collected $664.50 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $666.50 | Rake $2
Board [Js Jd Jh Qs 8d]
Seat 1: ACESEDAI (big blind) showed [Kh Jc] and won ($664.50) with four of a kind, Jacks
Seat 2: bd3109 showed [8c 8s] and lost with a full house, Jacks full of Eights
Seat 3: aikiman folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 5: FisherProker (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 6: -Bay777- (small blind) folded before Flop
Playing NL hold'em with blinds of $2.50/$5 I called a raise to $15 in the big blind with KJ. This hand can be trouble in no limit since it tends to make second best hands, but since we were playing 5 handed I thought it was too tight to let it go.
The flop came down J J J! Talk about monster flops! I had a little over $300 in front of me and my goal was to get as much of it in the pot as possible without losing my opponent.
Step 1 was check raising the flop which was a no brainer. I figured my opponent would bet no matter what he had and sure enough he fired out $20 into the $30 pot. My options were to raise now, call with the plan of betting out on the turn, or call with the plan of check raising the turn. I almost never call and then bet out on the turn so I threw that option out of the window.
In the end I decided that check raising the flop would look a little weaker than calling the flop and check raising the turn. I was also worried that if I waited for the turn to try and check raise again my opponent would check behind me which would be a minor disaster. When you have a huge hand like this it's important to build to pot early so your opponents get tied to it and you can make bigger bets on later betting rounds.
I made it $55 to go. I picked this amount because it was enough that my opponent could put me on a bluff (if I made it $40 it would surely look like I had a big hand), but it wasn't so much that he would be forced to fold a hand like KQ or AT. I wanted those hands calling because if they hit I'd be sure to get paid off.
My opponent called and the turn was a Q. This was a great card for me. If my opponent had a Q I would probably double up on the hand no matter what I did on the turn. But I didn't want to scare away a small pair or two big cards that might get there on the river. So I decided to check and make it look like I was scared of the queen or just bailing out on a bluff.
My opponent bet $75 much to my delight. If I moved all in here I would be raising him $187 above and beyond the $75 he'd put in the pot. At this point I felt like he had something, but I wasn't sure it was enough to call that big of a check raise. Instead I opted to just call the turn and bet out all in on the river.
An all in bet out of position after just calling the turn tends to look like a desperation bluff. The river was an 8 which didn't improve my opponent's hand since he had 88, but happily he called me anyway probably hoping I had a pair below 8.
There were a lot of ways to go with this hand, but it is a great example of planning your hand and setting up moves you're going to make on later betting rounds. I'm not sure I would have made the maximum had I played it more straight forwardly.
Shifting gears, Adam from Vegas recently posted a comment saying: "I really feel that online poker has went downhill so much in the last 2 years that its tough for it to be profitable anymore."
I agree. It's much, much tougher than it used to be. A big part of it is it's so much harder to get money into the websites these days and casual players aren't willing to jump through all the hoops or pay the fees that it takes to get money in.
Another part is the access to strategic information. When I first started playing poker in 9 years ago if you went to the book store there would be about 10 books on poker and half of them were total garbage. Now there are hundreds. On top of that there are better articles, online forums and software to help you with your game.
When I first started playing online anyone could be a winner if they read a book or two. Now it takes a ton of experience and a ton of study to win even at the lower stakes.
It's not impossible though. I've only had one losing month this year. I read in carplayer this week that congress did a study that full legalization and regulation of online poker would result in 41.8 BILLION dollars in tax revenue over the next ten years. That's the kind of money that's hard to ignore. Hopefully those ass holes will finally do something and we'll have a huge influx of new players. I'd guess that the first year that any American can deposit with a credit card I'll make half a million dollars.
For now I'm on a good run. I've won the last 4 days that I've played and the worst of those wins was over $1,000. Hopefully I can keep up this good run into the holidays.