Saturday, August 27, 2011

Keeping it in perspective

It's been a tough past week. My IT work has been more challenging than usual, this bout of Man Flu continues and the poker run of cards just wasn't great resulting in another sizable downswing that has me almost asking what could have been this month.

It's times like these that it's easy to just pack it all in and give up - but to me this is the normal run of the mill. It was a week where almost every time I put myself in a position to win a coin flip (or a was clear favourite) all-in preflop with 10-15bbs I lost. Instead of getting into the money or making the final table I would be out in 20th-30th position no less than 10 times. In the 180-player SnGs (or the 180s) this is the difference between recording a good or bad week. This is why volume is important - the more coin-flips at this stage the more we make it into the money spots - or so the theory goes...

Looking at the summary stats for the week:

Session 1: Played: 23, Placed: 0, Prizes: $0 
Session 2: Played: 23, Placed: 3 (4th, 9th, 17th), Prizes: $44
Session 3: Played: 16, Placed: 0, Prizes: $0 
Session 4: Played: 19, Placed: 2 (7th, 12th), Prizes: $19

All in all this week resulted in a $138 (or 55 buy-in) downswing with the current bankroll down to $470 and ruined what was otherwise a month that looked like I was going to be a big winner in. I have made a few obvious mistakes this week however I feel that in general I am playing well - after all I manage get into a good position in a large percentage of my SnGs and constantly losing when you get your money in good is just a sign of short term variance.

Without being overly results oriented on the past week I find the situation is not too bad when I look at it with some broad perspective. It's clear now that I am not playing enough volume for this type of poker and its inherent variance so week to week the results can vary by a big margin. Realistically I would need to be playing at least 200-300 tournaments a week if I were to reliably hope on any major results on a weekly basis. I am not sure with my current time constraints what I can do to fit in more volume but its something I will need to look at.

Taking the above into account I need to look at my current results on a monthly basis in these 180s. From this perspective July was a horrific month running at a loss of $164 in two weeks however August was relatively not too bad with a win of $99 at an ROI of 19% over 209 tournaments. Obviously this ROI is nothing to write home about for the $2.50 180s but a winning month is still better than a losing month and at least I have negated some of the damage from the previous month. Having close to 200 buy-ins remaining as well means I am still in reasonable shape from a bankroll management perspective.

I have also realised over this past week that I need to spend more time studying and working on my game - I have struggled to fit in study of late - and maybe its now starting to show. I know that there are still improvements I need to make in some of my pushing and calling ranges in marginal spots against certain villains. I also have made some mistakes of late on some final tables so I will review some ICM theory and push/call charts over the next week.

Next week I'm off to an IT conference on the Gold Coast and will most likely not be able to play much online poker. It may be the perfect opportunity to take a break away from the weekly grind and review my recent play as well as cover off some study material.

All in all its important to keep perspective on the tough times and stay positive. I still managed to win 40 buy-ins in August and that's not such a bad thing! Bring on September!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Going, Going...Gong!

Some rawkpoker blog readers might notice something a little different for this week's post and its got nothing to do with the look and feel...for those that are very observant - that's right - this blog has come a little earlier in the week than usual! Normally I write my piece on a Sunday afternoon but this weekend I have other plans...I'm visiting my old home town where I was born and bred - Wollongong or as the locals refer to it - The Gong! Yes I'm going back to the Gong.

I'll be travelling with Fi to my home town for a much overdue trip to see the rest of the family and the beautiful beaches. I am really looking forward to it as I haven't visited the old stomping ground since March. It's a reminder for me around how busy my schedule is and how I can get bogged down with IT work and side projects like online poker and of course the world series. I can't wait to get down there and take a break from the faster day to day pace of Sydney.

I'm still getting over this bout of man cold and hopefully I will be OK for our usual run on Saturday morning around the Bay. Of course even if I do run I won't do as well as Fi who finished with a personal best time in last weekend's City to Surf - congrats Fi!

And finally the update on the poker grind this week - not a bad week at all with the trend still steadily continuing upwards.

Here is this week's tournament summary:

Session 1: Played 16, Placed: 2 (7th, 10th), Prizes: $19
Session 2: Played 22, Placed: 3 (1st, 7th, 17th), Prizes: $142 
Session 3: Played 22, Placed: 2 (4th, 6th), Prizes: $54

All in all I managed to squeeze in my projected target of 60 tournaments this week at a 26 buy-in profit despite still being ill and not really playing that well in the last session. I wasn't overly thrilled at a couple of my plays on the two final tables I reached in the final session and I probably cost myself at least a one spot higher finish on each table. There was a small tragedy as well when right on the final table bubble in the first session of the week I watched my QQ UTG shove lose to a very poor T7o call from the big blind when he only just had me covered and we both had 15 big blinds! I do everything right but finish that one in 10th - that's poker!

I am now approximately 30 buy-ins up since the start of the challenge and have enjoyed an upswing of around 110 buy-ins or $277 since my lowest point in the first two weeks. My current PokerStars bankroll performance equates to 223 tournaments at an ROI of around 13.5%. Not a great ROI at this stage for 180-player SnGs but at least I'm not in the red and am starting to show some real consistency with final table finishes.

The overall trend graph is now looking a little better:

On a separate note I have really struggled to get the time to play on the Entraction network account I created recently which is a real shame. Playing during off peak European time means the only format that seems to fill up fast enough is the super turbo 6-max SnGs. The games there seem very soft but high variance and I need a lot more spare time if I am going to make any reasonable profit there on top of my PokerStars session. Hopefully I can get some sort of meaningful volume on there and add those results to this blog as well.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Back in the Black

Well it's been a busy week and the monotone (technically pedantic) seems to be BLACK all round. It has been a mix of the good things in life as well as a bout of the time old man flu.

The weather has been quite dark down here in Sydney, I attended a suit fitting for my friend's up coming wedding and was fitted as expected with a classic black suit. I have been sick for most of the week and in bed over the weekend - but on the poker front the good news is that after this week's sessions I am finally back in the black three weeks into my bankroll challenge.

Despite having an absolutely horrible run in the first two weeks I managed to make back the 80 odd minus buy-ins and then some by finally having some cards holding up even though not everything went my way. I have always found my discipline to be my biggest asset - patience and just knowing that I have a good solid MTT strategy is worth its weight in gold at the lower buy-in levels where there are a myriad of casual and weak players.

Due to personal commitments and getting ill later during the week I managed to only get three sessions in this week and half my expected volume as follows:

Session 1: 12 played, Placed: 3 (3rd, 9th, 11th), Prizes: $61
Session 2: 11 played , Placed: 2 (1st, 4th), Prizes: $156
Session 3: 9 played , Placed: 3 (5th, 16th, 18th), Prizes: $37

I managed to finally break the duck and get a 1st place in a tournament under my belt. I also had five final table finishes that basically made for an excellent week of poker and giving me a lot of personal satisfaction in the knowledge that this week wasn't really a fluke.

Just to put the first three weeks into perspective here is a graph I put together of the trend of profit and loss:

This equated to having to withstand an initial 80+ buy-in loss (around $208 down) from the initial $534 bankroll and make it back to around a $10 profit overall. Let it never be said that I run like Super User or that I am a luckbox - its never going to happen that way for me unfortunately...but the good news is that this is the way I have been successful in the past and its all going to plan even if it doesn't look like it right now.

Staying away from cash games and the roulette tables when down buy-ins is a critical skill - its too tempting and easy to say "luck isn't going my way so let's put the last $300 on red or black and if it's meant to be I'll be back where I started and we'll play poker again next week". If you ever feel this way just disconnect your internet and go and spend time with your loved ones instead - you'll feel much better for it from every aspect.

So obviously I still have all my work cut out for me - It doesn't seem that I've proven to much so far apart from being able to be slightly ahead after 163 tournaments over the past three weeks. But on the contrary a lot has been proven here - the initial estimate of 200 buy-ins for MTTs seems about right to me now. If I had started with 100 buy-ins which is what alot of people recommend I would have been down to my last $40 in this case and tilt would have been more than a factor I would most likely have gone broke.

So where to from here? Looking at PokerStars they have 180-player turbos at the $1, $2.50, $8, $15 and $35 stakes.

So I have established a 200 buy-in level as adequate for the turbos but what's interesting is the that the structure of the $1 turbos is a hyper-turbo format with the blinds going up every 2 mins as opposed to every 5 mins in the turbos. The variance in these tournaments would increase - does this mean that a $200 bankroll for the $1 buy-ins may not be enough? Well the standard of the opposition hopefully being much weaker would be a balancing factor - in future I might try a different bankroll challenge on these $1 tournaments and see what happens - I am sure it will be stomach curling!

Assuming for a moment I won't do anything as insane as go down to the $1 level then there is a big jump from the $2.50 level to the $8 level which would require a bankroll of $1600 by my rules. Looking at my results in August I have an ROI of 102% - even if I were to maintain this excellent result from here at say 180 tournaments a month I would make 180 x (1.02 x $2.50) = $459/month. It would take me another 2-3 months to make an overall bankroll of $1800 to start playing the $8 buy-ins. There are a lot of ifs here as well - have I turned any of you off from grinding the $2.50 180-player SnGs yet? LOL

PokerStars have a $4.50 buy-in level that would seem to be the next port of call if I can grind up to $900, However! This $4.50 buy-in is at regular speed with the blinds going up every 15 mins - these can take 2-3 time as long as the turbos to finish! They also don't fill up as fast making it difficult for me to grind enough in a 3-4 hour session. It just doesn't make sense that PokerStars have this buy-in level at regular speed - it is the only 180-player SnG in this format at these low levels and doesn't make any sense - if anyone from PokerStars is reading this do me a favour and please make the $4.50 a turbo structure so that I can grind up to the $8 level much easier!

I will either need to prove my worth grinding all the way from a $500-$1600 via the $2.50 or look at playing the $3.50 45-player turbos but I have not worked out the details on strategy, bankroll requirements or likely ROI for the 45-player format. I may just start to do some research on this in the coming weeks.

Another option would be to try and fit in a longer playing session on the odd weekend in order to have more time to play some of the larger tournament fields in the hope of a relatively big score and quick boost to the bankroll - but as it stands time doesn't currently permit.

If nothing else - hopefully I can at least provide you all with some entertainment at the attention to detail (and confusion) that goes on in my head when planning my poker bankroll building expeditions. For some people who are starting out - there might even be a useful piece of advice or two.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A warm steady week

It's been a relatively warm and sunny week in Sydney compared to the recent grey and wintery days. The views out of the office window onto Sydney harbour have been a major distraction during a very busy work week...

Needless to say its been a tough week to get all my work done. Likewise its also been a tough week to get my goal of 60 180-player SnGs in as well partly due to work load, partly due to fitness sessions and partly due to a PokerStars maintenance window.

This week's summary brought me to almost break even for the week but the results for week 2 are a big improvement on week 1. The summary for this week's 180-player SnGs are as follows:

Session 1: 17 played, Placed: 1 (12th), Prizes: $4.92
Session 2: 9 played, Placed: 2 (6th, 6th), Prizes: $41
Session 3: 6 played, Placed: 2 (4th, 6th), Prizes: $44
Session 4: 4 played, Placed: 0

The last session was cut short by a PokerStars maintenance window - one of the disadvantages of playing from a timezone that is not part of the mainstream peak hour traffic. I may have been guilty of being results oriented in the second and third sessions by playing shorter than usual sessions due to running good however I unfortunately started these sessions later in the evening and needed to stop due to tiredness.

The main positive now is that the trend is turning around and four-tabling with continuous loading is proving a much more favourable set up for me now. I am also getting used to making a few adjustments in certain spots against more of these micro stakes players.

I always find it interesting comparing the concept of playing for the win and taking all coin flip situations in these turbo MTTs vs being a little more patient in the later stages and not putting oneself at unnecessary risk in certain spots against weaker opponents. I feel like I am getting this balance right more often at this low buy in level - I am interested in any feedback on this concept in the 180-player turbos - feel free to leave a comment here if you have any insight or opinion on this.

Anyway its been a good steady week balancing work, life and enjoying some nice weather.