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One Game

Faced with my dwindling online roll (less than $50 each on three different sites; less than $150 total) and my renewed frustration of this videogame form of poker (my problem, not online poker's problem), I wondered idly what I should do with myself last night. While wifey Kim waded through the claptrap that is Dancing with the Stars: The Results Show!, I opened up all three of my poker sites, FullTilt, Stars, and, and perused my options.

The biggest problem my bankroll faced was that I didn't care about bankroll management. About two or three months into 2007, I decided to stop following my online poker results on a daily basis. Rather, I would only count the winnings that I withdrew and the losses that I deposited. After a break-even online poker run in 2006 (I won $3000 live), it just appeared to me that online poker would be little more than a game for me. It's a way to feed the poker crave, but not something that I had to take too seriously. I withdrew most of my money from online poker and returned to my earlier ways, playing $10 SNGs and MTTs, mostly.

Eventually, I won a large guaranteed tournament. Rather than leave the money online, I withdrew all but $50 of the $3150 profit. At the time, I needed to refill my live bankroll, and I wanted to spend some of that hard-earned poker money on my wife. After all, what is the point of spending time winning money if it would not make my and my wife's life better.

After that, I continued playing on a short roll. Bankroll considerations weren't an issue because I hadn't gone broke online in years. Having 100x your buy-in is nice, but when you win relatively regularly, you can get away with 20x your buy-in and when you no longer care about consequences, 10x your buy-in. In the end, I would just rationalize, "If I lose this $11 tournament, I'll still have 9 more tries to win."

Of course, eventually, this thinking leads to escalating levels. The cheaper tournaments were not feeding my need, so I began playing $20 and $30 games. Suddenly, 10x the buy-in became 2x the buy-in. Then I began playing NLHE cash games, and would literally buy-in for my entire roll on various tables.

As a result, here I am, with a depleted roll and a need to rethink how I play poker online. Yesterday, I may have stumbled upon an answer.

On my worst days, usually a dull weekend day when nothing is happening, I will play MTT after MTT or SNG after SNG. I'd eventually take a break and start a new one 15 minutes later. In the last two weekends, I ran into bad runs, where I would lose an MTT due to a suckout and immediately enter another one, only to fall to another suckout. Suckouts stink, but what sucked even more was that somehow, playing a string of tournaments only compounded the effect. I felt like I couldn't win, and when you feel that way, you can't win.

I looked through the tourneys last night and considered putting my entire FullTilt roll on the line in an MTT. A Stars MTT that caught my eye would cost me about 1/2 of my Stars roll. The only things coming up on's scheduled MTTs was a $2 rebuy. $2 rebuy. Let's just ponder that again. I hadn't played a $2 rebuy in well over a year. Yet for some reason, it called my name yesterday. The amount of players was pitifully low, with just minutes to spare before its start time. I signed up, and by the time the game started, there were only 14 players. 14 players in a $2 rebuy, with rebuys for an hour. Just crazy.

But the craziest part was, I played extremely well. Part of it was the fact that I didn't care about the money too much. I didn't want to rebuy like it was a Friday Donkament because I didn't expect my opponents to rebuy enough to make it worth my time. But I did play a bit extra aggressive, confident in my ability to rebuy and get back in the game. Ultimately, I busted due to a suckout, and then on my next buy-in dropped to under 300 (starting stacks of 2000) after another suckout. But since it was a rebuy, the losses didn't sting. I was just happy that my opponent sucked, so it would be easier to get my money back.

Amazingly, from 300, I was the chipleader within 10 hands. By the time the rebuys were over, I was in the middle of the pack. I played smart, aggressive poker, and accumulated a monster stack as a result. I was exploiting the other players' fears, and when the dust cleared, there were 5 players left and I had 25k, compared to my next opponents' 10k. I then used a trick I learned from Lucko and extended the bubble by folding to the small stack while I attacked the medium stacks. Ultimately, when we were ITM, three-way, I had a good lead.

By HU, my opponent, having busted 3rd place, was about even in chips with me. Eventually, I lost, but I was still happy about how I played. I was in control of my game the entire time. I felt reenergized. And then I shut down my computer.

One tournament. That is all. One tournament to remind me why I love this game (online or live). One tournament to prevent me from letting the game turn into a string of electrical cards, as opposed to a game of skill and chance. One tournament to keep me focused at the task at hand. One tournament to remind me that this is a game we play for money and pride, and not something we do as a rote task. The money wasn't great, but the game was.

So, hopefully that is my solution. One tournament a night. Make it count, and then sit out. I do not need to be playing poker to the extent that I had fallen into the last few weekends. I need to sacrifice my time more to attend live games, whether they be in Queens with Roose or in Brooklyn with the IHO girls. Whatever the case, I will continue playing online poker, but I will maintain my control and will. And I will hopefully gain insight into the game from doing this, instead of repeating the cycle of mindless poker followed by foolish losses.

It's not about the money. It's about the game.

Oh, and tonight, I expect my One Game to be the Mookie.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 11:56 AM,


At 1:50 PM, Blogger jamyhawk said...

"It's not about the money. It's about the game."

So cliche' but so true. You can't play scared, play angry, play tilted... you just have to love to play the game.

At 1:54 PM, Blogger StB said...

It takes just that one game, where you focus and play your game, that gets one back into the mindset of why they have fun playing poker.

Good job not donking it all off.

At 2:19 PM, Blogger SirFWALGMan said...


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