Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Results Oriented

"Parcells believed that even in the NFL a lot of players were more concerned with seeming to want to win that with actually winning, and that many of them did not know the difference."
--"The Blind Side," by Michael Lewis


I set a goal, and I was going to stick to it.

I wanted to rebuild my Full Tilt bankroll from $3,000 to $10,000 before moving up in stakes on other sites where I keep most of my roll. There were several reasons for this challenge: I wanted to rejuvenate my Full Tilt account without making a deposit, experiment with new tactics at 2/4 and 3/6, and prove to myself that I could set a goal and reach it.

I planned to get there in three weeks.

I did well at first, slowly building up on Full Tilt until I got to $8,500. There was nothing spectacular about this run -- just steadily building up toward where I wanted to be. But then things started to go wrong.

I found the juiciest 50/100 shorthanded limit game I had ever seen, with a table average VP$IP of about 48 and a seat open next to a player who was seeing nearly every flop. I felt my overall bankroll could support sitting at this table, so I decided to take a shot.

First I put in a lot of bets with an underboat vs. an overboat. Then QQ got cracked. Then KK fell. Within a few minutes, I was down $4,500. Oh well, I told myself. I knew the risk going in.

When I woke up the next morning, I was determined to push hard toward my goal. Back at 2/4, I opened up my game with lots of 4-bets, steal attempts and efforts to push every little small edge I could perceive. I spewed chips at an alarming rate.

I tried to be the kind of loose-aggressive player who would get paid off because my holdings would be so unpredictable. Instead, I seemed to only get action when I didn't want it.

Down to about $1,500, I dug in. For the first time, I was worried about dropping to dangerously low levels. I played tight -- too tight. I played weak. In one hand against cmitch, I may have been able to take it down with a bet or check-raise on the turn when I made trips. Instead, I meekly called a bet and then paid off on the river when his flush got there.

I dropped down to .50/1 to build back up again. I told myself I could be like Chris Ferguson, and slowly get back to where I wanted to be one small step at a time.

After only two days of play, I lost patience. How could I waste this time playing .50/1 when I could be winning at 5/10 -- or even having a go at 10/20? What was I doing grinding out $2 and $4 pots when my yearly average is so much higher?

I was fully aware that these thoughts would only get me into trouble. The only two options were to stick with my plan for weeks or months of more frustration, or to take one more chance. I played a few topsy-turvy 2/4 heads-up matches, and my roll fell below $200 by the time I was through.

When I dropped this low, I realized what a fish I had been. But it also enabled me to accept failure. I try to treat poker like an investment. It was time to cut my losses.

I adopted a better plan: abandon my goal, transfer money to my Full Tilt account rather than try to rebuild on a short roll, play the limits I wanted to play and quit steaming over a useless challenge.

From the start, this effort was focused on trying to reach a number rather than improving my game. It had little to do with getting better or making smarter decisions.

I like to learn from my mistakes:

1) I never want to play on a site when I'm underrolled. It's too difficult to play my best game when I'm scared to take chances.

2) I should remember that pushing too hard is often counterproductive. I thought I had learned long ago that I can only play my best game for about 2 hours at a time, and the probability of losing money greatly increases when I try to extend sessions beyond that.

3) It's OK to experiment with new strategies and take shots, but I should only try one at a time.

I'm a lucky bastard. As soon as I abandoned my quest, I started winning again. I'm back to playing a style I'm comfortable with -- my style -- and I've won $3,500 in the last three hours at the tables. That's a rate I can be happy with.

3 comments:

HighOnPoker said...

Reading a post like this makes my recent losses a bit more palatable. Thanks, Gnome.

Alan aka RecessRampage said...

I agree with you. There's no point in grinding at anything less than NL200 when you have the roll to be playing higher. I mean it's a waste of time to earn less when you could be earning more. And waste of time = waste of money.

Craig Cunningham said...

Well, I'm an expert in this. I agree that playing under-rolled is not wise. Dropping down is good if it is in relation to your bankroll, but artificially doing so because you are light on a specific site isn't good. Taking the shot is fine I think, especially for you.