Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Donkey Poker

I'm frustrated with donkey poker. I thought about saving this post till tomorrow, when I've had time to sleep off my current frustrated state, but I decided it would be better to just spew now and get some honest feedback from all of ya's.

I just got home from Trump. I've been playing $3/6 limit hold'em there for 15-20 hours a week over the last 3 months or so. My overall profit rate is just under 2 BB/hour.

I should be happy, right? Grinding out a nice little part time income...

I'm not happy. I'm frustrated as all hell. I keep a spreadsheet and notes (offline) on my sessions. I have a grand total of one losing session that I completely attributed to poor play on my part. On the other hand, I have quite a few where sickly unlucky cards were the culprit.

Before you start defining variance for me, I understand that not every session can be a winning one, and bad luck happens.


Correct me if I'm wrong here, but aren't I setting myself up for MORE "unlucky" sessions by regularly playing in games where 7-8 people see every flop and 5 of them call it down to the river? Sure, my flopped nut flush getting cracked off by a rivered full house tonight sucked - but would it have been as likely to happen against better players who knew how to fold 7-5 offsuit for a raise preflop?

Here's the thing: games as loose as the typical $3/6 game at Trump require you to make big hands to win. Premium hands preflop aren't likely to hold up - they're a 50/50 race, at best, against a large field of opponents. So - if you aren't "lucky" enough to be making sets, straights, and flushes, you aren't likely to win any money in any given session.

When poker is played in such a way as to turn it into a literal crapshoot, that (to me) sounds a lot like gambling. How, then, can I argue that I am striving to play a skill game? There's no skill in getting lucky.

There is skill, however, in reading opponents, and making plays to take advantage of situations. How, though, do you read an opponent that will call down any number of bets and raises with Ace high or bottom pair, and catch on the river? There's no reading them. You bet your strong hands and grind your teeth hoping that your hands hold up.

Where's the skill in that?

So far, I've stuck to playing $3/6 because a little voice in my head has been saying, "You're not crushing this game, therefore you must not be ready to move up." Ignoring atrociously unlucky sessions, though, I *am* crushing the game. I told myself before Vegas that if I came home with my bankroll intact that I would move up to $6/12 and try it out. I haven't done that yet.

I think maybe it is time. I know - there are going to be fish there too, and I WANT some fish... just not 7 of them!

Tonight, at a 10 handed table, there were three of us who were "good" players - me and two others (if I may be so bold as to consider myself "good"). The rest of the table was so insanely loose and quite honestly moronic that I couldn't help but marvel at the situation. J4 suited was a typical example of hole cards at showdown. Offsuit connectors were also very popular. King-Ten offsuit was raised under the gun a few times, as was Jack-Ten offsuit. K-2 suited was perfectly playable. Make it stop! Please! There's just no beating these people.

Well, I take that back: a couple regulars I know of do beat these people. They play 12 hours a day, every day, and play top 10 hands only (literally), folding on all missed flops and not playing ANY drawing hands. They manage to make a decent profit. Maybe if I had 12 hours a day to sit and fold, and then pray for my aces and kings to hold up, I'd make more money. That, to me, isn't skill either. It's just patience. Rock solid patience.

There's another voice in my head saying, "what the hell are you bitching about? You're up $250 in the last 2 weeks since Vegas... shut up and take your lumps like a (wo)man!"

I dumped a buy-in tonight on a very unlucky session. (A buy-in = $100 for me). It pisses me off, because of all of the big hands that I lost, only ONE was to a legitimate hand. The rest were goofy ass two-pairs and 3-outers. At even the itty bitty tiniest higher level, those hands wouldn't have even been played preflop. ($3/6 is the lowest game spread at there). I don't think most $6/12 players at Trump would play them (only because there are more regulars in that game, and a good number of the regulars, from my experience, are solid players - maybe even too tight in some cases).

Am I just being a whiny ass? Should I chalk the unlucky sessions up to variance and keep grinding it out until I'm paying the mortgage at $3/6? Is there more harm than good (aside from potential bankroll damage) in taking a tiptoe into the $6/12 waters?

I've already debated the switch to NL, and decided that I don't want to go that route for cash games... not right now, anyway.

$3/6 just feels like a crapshoot to me, and players' lack of respect for the game at that level is driving me nuts (that, and the suckouts are just emotionally brutal). I'm looking for a higher quality game.

What do you all think?

OK. Time for bed. /end rant


  1. Human Head said...
    I'm certainly no fount of knowledge when it comes to live play, but...

    You're still in positive (2bb/hr) which is not bad at all. I think what is getting to you is all of the potential money you see being thrown around on the table that isn't being pushed your way when it "rightfully" should be.

    Try to think of how annoyed you'll be if a) you move to 6/12 and it's super rocky (less potential profit) or b) the same suckouts galore plus higher aggresion (even more variance)--hopefully that will ease the frustration of the No Fold'em games like 3/6.

    Does trump spread any 4/8 or 5/10 that you could dip into before going all the way to 6/12?

    And last but cartainly not least (and I'm sure you already know this but I'll say it anyway) read SSHE again--it always make me feel better and helps me to re-center perspective.

    GL grinding the Trump, cya in Vegas :)
    Maudie said...
    Shelley - I don't have any answers, but I sure share your frustration. We have the same 3/6 tables here at the T-Bird. But that's all we have unless you want to go to 1/2 or 2/5 NL. I agree with Jeremiah about SSHE - I've turned to it in times of frustration, and then gone back to the tables intent on capitalizing on the mistakes of those calling stations. When the frustration hits, I take a break and stick to online for a while ( where i am currently ). Anyway - hang in there - you're doing great with a 2BB positive.

    Unknown said...
    Don't worry, in Vegas you'll get to play against fish like me.
    jremotigue said...
    I went through the same thing last year when I went to Trump. I've vowed never to play $3/$6 there again (unless it's O/8).

    You should be extremely happy to be at 2BB/hr at the Trump 3/6. 6/12 is slightly tighter, and if your bankroll can handle moderate swings, go for it.

    Another option for you is Harrah's, where they spread 5/10. It's the smallest game they have, and the play can be atrocious, though not as loose as Trump's 3/6.
    Heather said...
    I am a fount of knowledge when it comes to live play. :)

    1) that 3/6 game is totally beatable. You just have to adjust what hands you play. Read Lee Jones' low limit holdem, and follow that advice - it's fantastic

    2) you are playing at a bad beat table. People WILL play crazy hands in the hope of hitting the big one

    3) the 6/12 game is just as fishy, imho. so it's just as much variance

    4) you're making me want to go to trump tonight and play 3/6 just to show you how it's done ;)
    Pauly said...

    Mortem's Theorem. Learn it.

    Read this post from HDouble called Fighting the school of fish: Morton's Theorem.

    Also as Maigrey suggested get Lee Jones' book but also add Ed Miller's Small Stakes Hold'em to your library.
    Mr Carson said...
    I hate no foldem / Bingo Poker. Drives me crazy. I suggest moving up, playing those games will only ruin your skills.

    first comment on this blog, excellent site!!
    Bazkar said...

    I've played the 6/12 game at Trump on a lot of Friday nights and I have to say most nights it's just as fishy and once in a while it's rockish depending on the table.....It's a bad beat table as well but there's usually only one main 6/12 game running with a feeder most Friday nights....sometimes two main tables with a feeder.....while there are a lot more 3/6 up and running. I'd say on average there are between 3-6 fish with a mix of the others. If your bankroll can handle it....I'd make the jump. I'll be there Friday night after 9pm....was thinking of playing the baby NL game but may stick to the 6/12 tables......we shall see....either way....good luck and keep us posted.
    Wwonka said...
    The LL games at foxwoods are the same way.

    I moved from 2-4 to 4-8 and while alitte better it aint that much better. AA no good taken down by 10-5os called a preflop raise.
    sound famillar???

    Just get used to it or move up where people play more correct.

    Billy B.
    jremotigue said...
    OK, now I'm motivated to finally leave the house. 94% sure I'll be at Trump tomorrow 11am-ish-4:30ish. If anyone's there, I'll be the guy with the Jopke hat and crossword puzzle.
    Beck said...
    A bit of advice from a semi-local: if you want less fishy games, head over to the Borgata. The 3/6 is still pretty loose, but I've found that the 6/12 game at the Borg is often tighter than the 10/20 game at the Taj.

    Another thing: a lot of tight small stakes players don't call enough with weak draws. They think they're making good lay downs when really, the pot is so big (because of the loose play) that they should draw. If you limp with 6-7 suited, and 7 other people see a K-7-2 rainbow flop, you only have 2nd pair, but have 5 outs to a potential best hand. If anyone bets, there are bound to be a lot of callers, so you're definitely going to be getting odds to draw at 5 outs (6 1/2 outs if you have a backdoor flush draw).

    In other words, those donkeys who are pulling random ass two pair/trips hands out on the river all the time are quite likely making correct calls. So embrace the donkey. Be the donkey. And you will beat the donkey.

    Or something like that.

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