Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Not Broke, Not Dead

One of my regular comment posters asked yesterday if I was "broke, dead or both." I'm happy to say that I'm still breathing and playing poker every day.

The main reason for the lack of posts in the last month in a half is I've been trying to play as much as I can and at the end of the day more time in front of the computer to write a post hasn't fit into my time budget. I guess I didn't realize it had been a month and a half since my last post either.

I wish I could say that things have been going well, but they haven't. Actually it's more of a good news bad news situation. The bad news is I was ahead about $8,000 for the year in the middle of march (a VERY week number for 2+ months for me) and then I lost $7,000 over 5 days. Clearly that's bad news.

The good news is I've made some significant changes to my standard tactics and I think I'm back on track.

I knew I needed to change something, so I finally spent the time to download Pokertracker (the easy part) and get it working (the hard part). Pokertracker is a piece of software that records every hand you play and allows you to look at how much you've won and lost with different hands in different situations. If you want to know how many dollars per hand you won with A6 off suit in the cutoff (or any other hand in any other position) it will tell you.

Happily the websites save hand histories to your hard drive if you have a certain setting enabled. They don't save forever (there's another setting for how long they save), but when I got Pokertracker running it found about 125,000 hands from pokerstars and 20,000 hands from Absolute poker. That gave me a solid group of hands to look at and a few things stood out.

There were a few spots where I noticed that I was making more money with a lesser hand in the same situation. For example I'd be winning more with A8 off than with A8 suited or more with 88 than 99. Of course some of that could be sample size aberration, but more likely is I was misplaying those hands stronger. Specifically I know I was three betting (to thin) with A8s in spots where I'd just fold A8 off. Similarly with 88 I was treating it more like a small pair and playing 99 like a big pair (ie capping it vs two opponents or three betting it out of the big blind vs an early position raise).

In fact I was getting into the habit of calling or three betting KTs, KJs, JTs, QJs, and QTs against a solid player's raise. The games I play in are very aggressive and players have a wide range of starting hands that they are capable of raising, but I was taking it too far. These hands were costing me a fortune and since I've been MUCH more apt to just dump them I've felt much more in control and my results have been great.

Another thing I started doing is looking up all of my regular opponents on www.pokertableratings.com. While the database for this site is certainly not comprehensive (they've been tracking hands for about 2 years and I don't think they're catching them all), and I'm sure it's not 100% accurate it will give you an idea if the player you're up against is a winner, a loser or a break even player and since you can see how many hands they've tracked you can find out if you're up against a rookie or a regular. The best news about it is it's free.

I've gotten into the habit of looking up everyone who I've seen more than once and then making a note with their vital stats so I don't have to look them up again. In fact pokertableratings has a "PTR" score for every player. It's a 1 to 100 number that would be easy to put in a note. It doesn't seem that precise to me. Most people seem to fall in the 30's or 40's and they have Tom "Durrrr" Dwan as an 83 even though he's probably the best online cash game player in the world and is up $7,000,000 over 250,000 hands. But still use full.

The last bit of good news is that I have been working really hard in march so I should be getting a nice fat load of about $4,000 in rakeback on the 15th of April.

Looking a little farther into the future the Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) comes back on May 2nd. More on that in a post coming soon.