Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: My Poker Life Journey

  1. #1
    Faustus Fotherby is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Posts
    190

    Default My Poker Life Journey

    This is a really long read and, to be honest, there's not a lot to take from it except things to avoid doing. I just wanted to write this because I'm sure I've never been wholly honest or frank with myself about my poker life and I felt like writing it out here would be a really great exercise.

    It's been a long time since I last posted, I gave up on poker last June because I was finding beating the micros too frustrating and feeling like the time I had invested in reading had been wasted. But, of course, because I love the game, I haven't been able to keep myself away. I've been doing some volunteering things in the last year and on my walk to my current committment then I thought back on my poker life and decided I'd chuck it up here as a record of where I've come from and how my thinking's changed.

    I started playing poker when I was 20 as I was entering my last year of university. During the summer holidays (2010) preceding my final year then I found a NLHE game on my phone that had come free with it, it was against a (terrible) AI but I became fascinated by the game. I played it non-stop for a few days then moved to uni and immediately signed up to the poker society.

    I went along to a few of the games at the society, they played, what were, effectively, turbo SnGs of various buy in levels. I played in the smallest buy-in one and committed a whole slew of poker sins, I knew nothing about being aggressive or about starting hand requirements. The concept of tournament push/fold mentality was completely alien to me (and most of the other players I was with) and due to a lack of strategy then my first two or three games were unspectacular, passive playing and limping everywhere for me. Despite not really having any success then I absolutely loved it, I immediately hopped on-line and started Googling for as many poker strategy sites as I could. I ravenously consumed all the basic advice tips that most sites would hand out (starting hand selection, importance of position, playing tight) and eventually came to Pokerology where I whizzed through the course. The most influential thing I read from here was the section on effective betting, something that most other things I'd read had avoided talking about. I went back to the society's games with a renewed vigour, I became tight-aggressive, I remember one player saying "What happened? You've become so aggressive since last week!" I commented that I'd been doing some reading. My performance in the tournaments improved reasonably but I still had no idea of the strategy I should be approaching the Sit n Gos with. My hunger for poker continued and I started looking for specific tournament advice, I came across a guide to beating micro-stakes SnGs on PokerStars' own PokerSchool area - it was a quite a bit more detailed with regard to starting hand selection, what to do in all sorts of situations etc. so I didn't do much more than skim the tips promising I would look back over it properly at some point.

    At this point I couldn't contain myself anymore and I made a deal with myself that I would put 10 into PokerStars and see how I did, promising I would put another 10 in if I went bust but performed ok for a bit, (note my complete lack of awareness for bankroll requirements). I opened my account and began playing the micro 9-man $1.10 SnGs. I did ok in a game or two but felt I needed something more solid so I re-read the PokerSchool's guide to beating these games and kept the starting hand charts and reaction charts open beside me on my desktop so I could refer to them in game. I didn't follow everything in the guide because there was a lot of stuff to keep open at once and it was hard to quick-refer to most of it but I kept the most important charts open. In a short period of play then my 10 bankroll spun it's way up to around 72 (I always had PS convert my money on the account into s automatically) and then I started to get sloppy. I figured I "knew" the stuff the course had taught me, moved up to the $3.30 buy ins, began playing without my reference sheets open, my post-flop play was horrible and I was splashing around in more pots than I should've and I'd never bothered to really read the post-flop section of the course (which was quite short but VERY detailed so I always said I'd read it and never did). My bankroll plummetted to about 16, at which point I panicked and withdrew the money.

    About 3 months later, still consumed with a hunger for the game, I decided I'd been rash and deposited another 10. I didn't go back in with a plan, I initially played around four SnGs, winning the first one but losing the other three and decided I wanted to try some other games. I started playing some cash games, I liked how easy it was to just sit in one and spend a few minutes then leave if I had to or wanted to, I never saw much success in these games, I kind of broke even or lost small amounts and soon got bored. I came to the (incorrect) conclusion that Texas Hold'Em was so popular that everyone "knew" how to play so I needed to find a game with more of an edge for me. I read Pokerology's Stud tutorial and started playing Stud straight away. I had some initial success and, buoyed by my success I jumped up to $0.10/0.20 but the inevitabilities of variance hit me back in the face and I couldn't work out what I was doing wrong. I tried to move down to recoop losses but the damage was already done and varience busted my account in due course, partly due to not actually playing Stud well enough as well as having a wholly insufficient bankroll.

    I'd given up again but in the interim I played my first casino tournament. The structure was effectively a crapshoot (I did post the report on here back when I did it) but I'd just gone through a break up and I was desperate to get out of the town I was in and play the game I loved, I didn't care so much about winning or losing, I just wanted to feel some real chips, sit next to people I'd never met and meet them for the first time. I had a fantastic time, I made it to the final table but didn't cash (heaven knows how because I know nothing about MTT strategy and could barely remember the SnG tips I'd read years ago). As it happened I felt like I had a pretty shabby run of cards and I got it in good every time so I hadn't played horribly and I'd had loads of fun getting to know the people on the table.

    After that tournament I resumed my poker hiatus and I continued to read poker books (though mostly light-read rather than study) and watch poker programs obsessively but decided that playing the game wasn't for me at all. My burning passion continued but I knew I'd need a real bankroll before I seriously thought about taking another shot at the game. I light-read Sklansky's 'Theory of Poker' and Harrington's NLHE Cash Game books and, shortly after finishing uni and, inspired by what I'd read, I deposited the full bankroll to play 4NL cash games and got going. The result of that has already been posted on here (see the link at the top of this thread) and, morale crushed, I stopped playing again - as a side point then being an unemployed graduate meant that the money I was using for my bankroll was money I could afford to lose but it was also money I didn't want to lose - so I was happy to tolerate a bit but when I'd gone through $25 then I decided I couldn't stand the variance at this point in my financial situation. Bankroll flaws aside, I knew what the other flaws in my game were, I'd read so much that I would overcomplicate and overanalyse my thought process constantly while playing instead of just mechanically applying basic ABC strategies. I knew about Fancy Play Syndrome but I convinced myself that I was just playing an advanced version of ABC, the results didn't agree. The problem I found with a lot of the reading I did was that books like 'Harrington on Hold'Em Cash Games' are designed with a lot higher stakes audience in mind, I felt I couldn't read them seriously because I was reading stuff for a level that was just way above me, hence why I just skimmed them rather than seriously reading. I understood the general principles they espoused were good but I decided I needed to find reading that was more appropriate for my level and found a book on beating micro stakes play that seemed to be well-reviewed. The book was for 50NL so I still haven't read it to this day, though I believe I will do when I have the bankroll to commit to playing at that level.

    Morale crushed I left poker again, this time I didn't even read or watch poker on TV in the interim; I didn't think I was genuinely finished for poker but I knew I was done for another few months.

    Indeed a few months later I logged back into my PKR account (I'd left the money in it) and played one or two cash games for the fun, I was immediately reminded how irritating it was to just make even a few cents but I was playing the game I love so I started to care less. I thought back to my early days of poker and remembered the course I found on the PokerSchool's site, I reopened it and this time I read it properly. The whole thing from start to finish and then again several times. I made detailed notes and simplified the quick reference charts so they were easier to read while playing. Then I played.

    Immediately I began making money again, sure, sometimes I'd hit an eight game losing streak but my account continued to go up and I reminded myself I had to have faith in the guide because it had proven itself to me back at the beginning of my poker journey so it would be successful again. In a week of casual play (SnGs only generally run one at a time on PKR so you often only played a handful a night and I wasn't always the most dedicated of grinders) I went from $110 to $180 playing $3.50 SnGs and it felt amazing. I was actually winning, finally! Even though I was comfortably enjoying the level I was playing at then I found the short supply of games slightly frustrating as I was getting more adept at making the decisions faster so my downtime between plays was getting longer. I withdrew my money from PKR and put it into PokerStars instead. I began 6 or 7 tabling, way out of my depth but I wanted to push myself, just to see how many I could do at once (for those interested then I found stacking the tables very effective). I would finish playing those 6 or 7 tables and feel like I'd burnt out trying to keep up with the pace of all the tables so I wouldn't play anymore games for the rest of the evening. The next day I'd do another 7 at once then stop again for the day. Eventually the gaps between me playing lengthened as I began to resent having to concentrate so fiercely to keep up with all the tables and I stopped playing again. I could've just played less tables but knowing that I was capable of playing 7 at once made me want to not go back - like so many of the stupid decisions I've made in my poker life time then I let this hold me back from the most profitable thing I'd found yet. There was also an element that I was scared the players on Stars would be better than me because it was Stars but I knew that having one or two good players in my games wouldn't make too much of a difference so this was a hollow excuse.

    I stopped playing and gave it another month break or so. I had been given Roy West's book on micro and small level Stud play for Christmas 2012 (Stud has always been my favourite poker variant so far) and about a week ago I started reading it. Not light-reading it like I had done with books before this one but properly reading it. This was a book I knew was appropriate for the level I was playing at and I was going to learn every drop of info it had. I went over and over the same section again and again, committing as much of it to memory as I could - I would sit on a single table on-line with the book open beside me and try making a decision then checking what Roy thought was best in the book afterwards. Since starting doing this then I felt like I've just been losing money to it but I was pleasantly surprised when I checked my balance to find out I'd actually broken even for the last 1500 hands or so - and this was just from reading the section on how to play 3rd street, I haven't even covered the rest of the streets yet!

    So that's my poker journey up until now. I'm back in the saddle again, I've made a ton of mistakes and I've let stupid reasons and bad decisions keep me from playing the game successfully but hopefully my dedication will one day pay off and I'll find a comfortable playing level I can never stop playing

  2. #2
    Patrick 'paddyjim''s Avatar
    Patrick 'paddyjim' is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    838

    Default

    Very interesting read!

    Poker can be hugely enjoyable or immensely frustrating, and the variances can be wild.

    I wish I had the time now to study the game like I used to. A few years ago I would be 4-tabling $100 and $200 SNGs, trying to find a fish called Elky.

    Now he's one of the game's superstars and I'm playing 2c 5c cash games and getting excited by making $10 on a hand!!!

    Hmm, something went wrong somewhere :-)
    Don't take life too seriously - you'll never get out of it alive

  3. #3
    RyckyRych's Avatar
    RyckyRych is offline Retired Micro Grinder
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    4,248

    Default

    Wow, quite the read indeed. My poker life story can be summed up in two words presently:

    Its over.
    I do a new thing now. Hidden Content

  4. #4
    bambini's Avatar
    bambini is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    266

    Default

    A really interesting read. I can empathise with a lot of what you're saying. I've found myself repeatedly frustrated with the micros at times because the opponents don't play like they're "supposed to" according to the books or TV shows. Sometimes you have to play your opponents as they present to you, not as you think they should play, and this can be harder that it seems. I've certainly fallen into the trap of thinking "I know the game better than my opponents so I deserve to win," and come unstuck. I've also had my confidence undermined by repeated losses and lost my nerve when it comes to playing aggressively.

    I've tilted for days over the game because I'm trying to chase my losses and it's been expensive. Your story is a useful reminder to take breaks, study more and go easy on yourself when you're having a bad run. It's also a reminder that bankroll management is essential in poker.

    On a side note, it's interesting that you said you played quite often with your books and charts open. I've never done this, as I've always used my online play as practice for my live games, so every time I read a book or study a chart I've tried my best to internalise the information. I don't know whether one way is better than the other, but I wondered what other people do?

    Thanks for sharing!
    "Never play cards with a guy who has the same first name as a city" - Coach Finstock, Teen Wolf

  5. #5
    Queso's Avatar
    Queso is offline Check To The Possible
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    5,672

    Default My Poker Life Journey

    Just wanted to say, well done and keep plugging away! Just got to keep the faith and belief in yourself. Eventually concepts will become more and more clear. If it was easy, then everyone would be doing it.

  6. #6
    Tim's Avatar
    Tim
    Tim is offline quintessential chopbuster
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    6,809

    Default

    Nice post Faustus. Good to see you back!

    Quote Originally Posted by Queso View Post
    Just wanted to say, well done and keep plugging away! Just got to keep the faith and belief in yourself. Eventually concepts will become more and more clear. If it was easy, then everyone would be doing it.

  7. #7
    Faustus Fotherby is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Posts
    190

    Default

    Thanks everyone! I really appreciate the support

    Quote Originally Posted by bambini View Post
    I've tilted for days over the game because I'm trying to chase my losses and it's been expensive. Your story is a useful reminder to take breaks, study more and go easy on yourself when you're having a bad run. It's also a reminder that bankroll management is essential in poker.

    On a side note, it's interesting that you said you played quite often with your books and charts open. I've never done this, as I've always used my online play as practice for my live games, so every time I read a book or study a chart I've tried my best to internalise the information. I don't know whether one way is better than the other, but I wondered what other people do?
    I've found that every time I've taken a break from poker and then come back to it fresh I have ALWAYS done better at the game. The initial game where I get back into playing has my maximum focus and I always seem to turn a profit on that first game. After that I get sloppier and my focus dips as I feel good about that first initial winning session - always maintain focus! Take regular breaks (not monthly style breaks, more like hour or half hour ones )

    So I tend to have the charts open on the side as part of that internalisation process. For instance, to begin with, whenever I had to take action on ANY hand (even a clear fold) I would consult the various charts (even if it meant playing slowly) just to be absolutely sure I was making the right move. Also to get more familiar with where everything was. Often I had a starting hand chart of some sort and the one I was using broke the playable hands into 8 categories - remembering all 8 at once was tough so initially I just looked every hand up on the chart, just to familiarise myself with it.

    As I got more confident then the second stage of learning was to try and make decisions without referring to the chart but then immediately checking after to see if I'd done the right thing. If you do these things for long enough then you will automatically find yourself committing it to memory. The trick is not to move onto the second stage too soon and if you do then make sure you're always checking until you're getting it right every time.

    You'll find that if you just practice often enough with the charts then you get more familiar with each scenario and how you should play it, thus you naturally internalise it and all you have to do is apply what you remember at a live table when you play live. Hopefully all the practise should have got it drummed into your memory firmly.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •