Saturday, February 26, 2005

"Get your money for nothin' and your chicks for free..."

In keeping with the 80's theme.

Man, was I steaming mad last night! I've decided that I should take a break from Party until I can buy in with at least a couple hundred dollars. I'm of the belief that the calling stations and fish are our friends; we want them calling down our monster hands all the way to the river for big payoffs. But, in order to survive the inevitable streaks of bad suckouts, you have to have more than fifty bucks in your account. I'd have to have instant turnaround on my $50 buy in and some crazy luck all at once to build up a fish-variance-tolerable bankroll. And that's just not a very realistic expectation. It's like playing the lottery. "Gee, will my fifty bucks hit lucky this time?" So, I'll save up a bit, maybe take some of my face-to-face game bankroll and move it online. We'll see.

So upon waking up today, I took a deep breath and said to myself, "You can play this game. You can win this game. The world is not just one big aquarium. Forget about last night...." I had $15 in PokerStars from yesterday's game when Scott so graciously spotted me a buy-in to a SnG and I placed in the money. Back in the day, I actually moved away from PokerStars because I felt like a fish in a sea of sharks. In retrospect, that was probably the case! I had spent months playing their late-night Hubble's NL Hold'em freeroll event every night. My highest placing was 32nd out of 3,000 or something obnoxious like that. I'd sit there for five, six hours straight. When I moved to real money games, I got eaten alive in the ring. I think that's why I moved to Party Poker. (It's so vague to me, over a year ago at this point). After last night's episode, I thought that maybe I could use a swim in the shark tank. See how I fare.

I fared well. I chose a $12+1 6-max sit n go NL tournament. I was thinking, I could either do two $5+1 games with my $15, or go for the gusto and put all my chips in to one game. I was hoping that the jump to $12 would be a little less fishy than the $5 game. That was (mostly) the case.

We had one calling station at the table. You know... calling down 3/4 of his chip stack with Ace high and no draw, to a pre-flop raise and bets on each street. Sadly that wasn't against me, but it made my notes. A couple players were out so early that I didn't get reads on them, and the remaining 2 (other than myself) were what I'd call solid players.

We got down to 3 players, all with about even chip stacks. One player, who I was eventually heads-up against, was quite the Loose-Aggressive-Aggressive type. 70% VP$IP, 44% pre-flop raise percentage, 68% blind steal attempts, post-flop aggression factor of 3.44 (2.10 including pre-flop). He was a monster. But, it was obvious early on that he was a smart player. Check-raise him after one of his pre-flop raises, and he'd fold if he had no piece of the board. He didn't call down with crap. He went to showdown 18% of the time, and won half of those showdowns. His "any two cards" approach was tough to play against. You couldn't judge what he had based on whether or not he raised pre-flop, because the hands he pfr'd could be anything - monsters to QTo. The pfr's typically had a face card, or were a pair. No regard to kickers.

To adjust to this guy, I tried a couple things. I generally slow-played my monsters. KK and QQ paid off extremely nicely, because I could count on him betting into me. I'm surprised he didn't pick up a pattern - I'd call him down to the river, then re-raise on the river. He'd have to call, being pot committed by then (he never made minimum bets, because we all know that minimum bets make Baby Jesus cry). That worked well for the few big hands I picked up.

Since he raised constantly pre-flop, I had to decide which hands were playable for a raise. To do this, I thought about the types of hands he was raising with and compared mine to it. I had to be a little more loose than usual in the blinds, as some blind protection was definitely in order. I chose to see raised flops with higher suited connectors (9-8 and higher), Ax and Kx suited (Kings only if the kicker was above 8), and the premium hands. I also played my low pocket pairs much harder than usual, and somewhat abandoned the "flop it or drop it" rule. For example, my pair of sixes ended up as 2nd pair to the board beneath a ten, and I pushed it all the way to the river. They held up to my opponent's underpair.

Another thing I had to be careful not to do was to feel bullied. I made a conscious effort not to become frustrated if I folded 5 hands in a row to his raises, if they were not playable hands. We had started out heads-up with me at a slight advantage (5k to 3k-ish), and I never lost the chip lead, though we went back and forth for a while. I just kept chipping away at him.

I took first place for a win of $48.50 after my AQ outkicked his A9 with an Ace on the turn. My VP$IP was a very high 45%, with 19% going to showdown and 86% hands won at showdown. For someone who usually plays around 20% VP$IP, I think I adjusted well to my opponents.

I feel a little better than I did last night. Why? I feel like I was able to play against someone who was probably better than me. I was able to figure out enough of his playstyle to defend against it. I was able to play more offensively than usual, something I need to improve at. I feel like this game was a challenge, and I met that challenge and won.

How do I feel after a fishy session at Party? I feel like I spent the session dodging bullets and suckouts. The only time I feel challenged on Party is when I run into a blogger table, honestly. This may be the most ridiculous thing I've ever said, but I much prefer to sit down at a table with a bunch of rocks and Taz's and eagles than a bunch of fish and calling stations. I play better poker in a challenging environment.

I've been going all along on the thought that the soft, fishy tables are the ones to be at. That's the popular opinion around town. Maybe I need to do more personalized table selection. Maybe I need to find tables at Party with primarily solid players, and a couple fish or phones. That may be a strategy I employ when I finally do reload Party.

What kind of reload bonuses does Party/Empire have right now? Anybody know? (Does anyone have a link to a site that lists all the current bonuses on the various site)?

I can't help myself. I love playing poker.


  1. Jeffro said...
    Party has a 20% reload bonus going until 3/2. Try to get a rundown of current bonuses.

    Good luck at the tables -- I know you'll bounce back :)
    April said...
    Seth generally has a good list too.

    He's the bonus whore blogger. :)

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