Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wake Me Up When September Ends

It's much more fun for me to talk about the good news than the bad news, but bad news is a big part of playing poker. Simply put, September 2010 has been the worst month of my poker career.

August was a good month. In fact in the middle of August I went on a massive tear. I played about 10 full days over a two week stretch, won 9 of those days and banked $15,000 all in limit hold'em cash games. Maybe 10% of that money came from $30/$60, but the rest was all $10/$20 or $15/$30.

Just before that run I made the decision to play a little looser. has a feature where you can look up a username and see how they do things compared to the top 10 winners on a given poker site at a given stakes. When I looked myself up I saw that I was playing slightly tighter than the top 10 winners at $10/$20 and $15/$30.

I didn't go nuts, but in every situation where it was close before the flop I called or raised instead of folding. Winning 600 or 700 big bets in 10 sessions is uncharted territory for me, but it was over the course of 15,000 hands and there are guys who make over 3 big bets per 100 hands long term. Of course those guys are the total killers, but it's possible and I was hoping I was playing better not just running crazy hot.

After taking my Absolute poker account from $5,000 to $20,000 in no time at all I was feeling as good as I have in a long while about my long term prospects of massive fortune.

Then it was as if a switch was flipped. All of a sudden I couldn't win no matter what. I didn't have a winning day from August 26th until September 14th. Every day$1,000 or $2,000 was evaporating from my account. I tried everything I could think of to give myself the best chance to win. I mixed in some days off, reread some of my best poker books, started playing at night when the games are better, played fewer games at a time and played smaller stakes. Nothing worked.

Here is a little story that is sort of a microcosm of my first two weeks of September. It is a story about THE WORST PLAYER IN ONLINE POKER! His name is CHUCK999. When I first looked him up he was losing $210,000 in 70,000 hands. That's bad, but not unheard of for high stakes players. This guy had lost that much playing $15/$30 and below! His most common stakes is $2/$4 where he's losing $58,000 in 28,000 hands! All in all he is losing FORTY SIX BIG BETS per 100 hands! That is totally off the charts.

To put it into perspective, if there is a player who is losing 5 BB/100 (that's $1 for every hand at $10/$20 - play 1,000 hands, lose $1,000) or more they are bad enough that they can make a game profitable all by themselves. If I'm up against someone who is a 10 BB/100 loser I won't leave the game until they go broke no matter who else is in it or what else I could be doing with my time. I've seen a few guys in the range of -15 BB/100, but they had all been blown up playing no limit. 99% of this guy's play is limit.

I'd been fortunate enough to play against this fellow for about an hour at $10/$20 and I knew I could never leave a game in which was playing. I'm mean N-E-V-E-R. If the house is on fire but the flames haven't reached my desk yet I'm going to keep playing.

Towards the end of the time that I'd been getting totally bombed every day I saw CHUCK999 was playing $15/$30 at a 4 handed table and there was a seat open. I DID NOT want to play 4 handed $15/$30. That's a volatile game and I was looking for stability, but I had to play.

I lost $1,000 in 7 minutes and then CHUCK999 left the table. FUCK! The thing about this guy is he was putting in 3 or 4 bets on the turn and the river with NOTHING! I don't mean over playing middle pair, I mean a pure bluff cap on the river with 6 high! So think about the kind of money you'd lose if for example he made two pair against you when you had top pair and then ON THE VERY NEXT HAND he made a straight against your over pair. Do you know how frustrating it is to have someone cap an 8 high gutshot draw on the turn when you have pocket kings and then hit it on the river? I do!

Losing $500 pots to thin draws always sucks. But getting crushed like this after not having a winning day for weeks hurts. That's the only way to describe it. It just hurts.

Trying to shift gears I started playing a little on pokerstars. I saw that they'd reworked the way they award VPPs and now it would be a little easier for me to earn rewards. The way it used to work is every time you were dealt into a hand where $1 was raked you earned one point, and if $2 or more was raked you got two points. Now for every $1 raked 5.5 points are awarded and split evenly between every player who is dealt into the hand (the count the rake and split the points down to the penny or the hundredth of a point).

After some experimentation I saw that I could earn points about 25% faster than before! That is a HUGE deal. I would mean I could make it to supernova elite with 75% of the effort I needed before. "This is great!" I thought. "I've found the solution!" I thought.

I played 10,000 hands of $5/$10 over three days and won about $1,000 (not counting the points and other rewards). Not earth shattering, but I felt like I could grind it out and pay the bills. Then I lost $1,000 a day three days in a row.

That might still be the answer, but for now I've shifted gears again trying to find something that works. The past few days I've been playing sit-n-go's. I've played about 15,000 SNGs in my career and it was what I did full time for maybe two years at the start of my career. 3 days into the experiment I'm about even, but I feel like the play is much worse than it was when I switched away from SNGs in 2006. My plan now is to play about 80 a day at the $55 level and make $3 per tournament. If I can do that, when you factor in the points or the rakeback I'll be able to make enough to pay the bills.

If that doesn't work, it might be time to start thinking about closing the door on poker as a career for a little while and moving on to the next chapter of my life.

In other news as a result of this massive horrible run I haven't been playing any WCOOP tournaments. But I will be playing the $215 NL hold'em event tomorrow which is the last day of the 2010 WCOOP.


jasonk said...

nice job in wcoop 60.
you don't mention HUDs very often.
it seems like the most profitable players are always refining their HUD stats. This could explain your initial success and subsequent bad run - as you play more, other players gain more HUD stats on you and play against you better.
just a thought

Anonymous said...

Dude September ended