Monday, January 26, 2009

Crossroads

I'm actually going to write about poker, since I have a lot on my mind and need to work through a couple issues through the writing.
So allow me to sit on your couch, will you?
I will finish the month down. But you knew that. No one starts a post like this one to say they've won thousands, at least without expecting to get a lime tossed at your head at the next Vegas gathering.
I have played at .50/$1 NL since September on PokerStars. Some of you might scoff at that, but it's the highest level I've consistently played since I started playing for real money back in 2005. I've always been a grinder, and a happy one at that, and felt no need to move up too far because I was making money and enjoying the game.
I moved up in September because I had the bankroll for it and thought I could take a shot.
Results, well, have been mixed.
I actually was ahead before this month. But not by much. It's been a hard month. Two full houses lost to better full houses. Suckouts. The usual. Blah blah blah.
But it hasn't just been that. I honestly believe the players are significantly better than I've ever played before. That could be the UIEGA (OU812?) act finally weeding out many of the fish. That could be because the players are just better in general - it's a long way away from 2005. But I think it might be the level. I see Supernovas. The other day I saw an Elite Supernova at my table.
I'm being pushed off many pots. I'm being outplayed, at least I think so. I've faced more tough decisions. I know it's not the money in front of me. I'm comfortable with the level.
But here's the thing. I'm wondering if I should put or move back to my killing grounds at .25/.50 NL.
Where I know I can win.
Probably.

I've also started playing Omaha (not that stupid game where you split every pot) and Razz, both at low limits. That's a great way to improve your overall game. It made me realize I've got a serious leak. I play way too many hands out of position. I always paid attention to position, but I didn't realize how important it really is until I played Omaha on a regular basis. This will amuse some of you, but I actually need to tighten up. I'm multi-tabling and making calls with shit like Q-J in early position, hoping to just see a flop, and then the flop comes Q-high and what do you do?
It also made me realize that playing those lower limits can just be easier. I'm playing $25 Pot-Limit Omaha, and I am not a terrific player, but man, i'm killing that game. I usually play shorthanded and people still just hand you money. They can't lay down anything, two pair, an overpair, and they chase flushes and straights on paired boards. Rookie shit. The stuff's that's made me money in the past three years.
The stuff I just don't see any longer at $100 NLHE.

So here's what I'm asking myself:
1. Why do I play? I love the game, but do I love the big pots, the larger bets and the fact that I'm pushing myself, or can I honestly play at $50 NL and be happy? Ultimately, yes, but will it be as exciting? I honestly don't know, especially if those tables are filled with the same nits who I'm seeing at the higher level.
2. I know I need to get better, and I know what I need to do. I need to work on taking advantage of my position, opening up my range in later position and tightening up early. Should I move down to do this, or will that be fruitless since I won't see the same level of player. I've said in the past I need to be more aggressive, but I'm serious about it now, and I don't even see it as being a lot more aggressive as being more opportunistic. I've just started on this with some decent results.
3. How much am I willing to lose to get better? My bankroll is super healthy for $100 NL, but poker is, ultimately, a hobby, and I don't need to blow a bunch of money to get marginally better at it. I can move up to the next level of play, but how much am I willing to do to get there, especially with modest goals in this game and many more important things in my life, like climbing, training, writing and my family?
4. Why bother with $100 NL, and why not just play $50 NL and play more Omaha, a game I am beating (if it wasn't for Omaha this month, I would have lost more than just a trio or quartet of buy-ins).

4 comments:

WillWonka said...

wow.. I posted the other day a pretty similar post.

Unfortunately, I don't know the answer either.

If you are still comfortable with the 100NL stakes, I say keep playing there until bankroll makes you move down.

Sounds like we are both very competitive and want to compete at levels that challenge us so again, staying at 100NL makes sense.

I've also struggled this month very much. I actually went on a 32 buyin downswing which hurts. I've switched over to full ring for now and that has helped for now.

Predator314 said...

The games are just tougher now. I think it's mostly the economy weeding out the fishes. I too have been playing a lot of 100NL on Stars and do see some good players, but I still see a lot of fish.

I've been focusing on table selection more now than ever before. Use tableratings.com's buddy list to tag the fish and follow them around. And for the love of God, please stack that HighOnPot or HighPotHead or whatever that short-stacking 24 tabling douche-bag's name is :)

$100NL should be just as easily beatable as $50NL because of the rake no affecting your winrate as much.

Cardrunners and Stoxpoker memberships have also helped me out a lot.

kurokitty said...

If anything, the NL$100 game at 'Stars is a lot more high-variance than Full Tilt.

In part it's because the Stars game is a lot more international than at 'Tilt. I see lots more 3-bets and shoves than I think you would see at this level on the other site.

There are a lot of grinders, but there are a lot of fish. Even the grinders though make moves that don't seem very profitable in the long run.

As I noted in a previous blog post, I don't believe all of the aggression I'm seeing at this level is +EV. I think it's maybe like a casino's $2/4 limit game where $100 doesn't really matter.

You should play on Full Tilt.

Drizztdj said...

$25 Omaha game is full of very weak/passive calling stations.

Moving up from there you'll see a difference.