I came for the bonus, but found a better deal

After checking my Empire Bonus account, I realized I wouldn’t be able to get the required amount of hands unless I played a couple hundred hands. The in-laws are here all of next week, and after that I’m travelling to DC for 4 days for a conference. After that is Vegas, so I needed 350 more hands to collect Empire’s $100 bonus before the expiration date. Luckily for me, my wife’s family wanted to watch The Lord of the Rings, so I figured I had at least a solid 2 hours in front of the computer. I decided that the .50/1 games would allow me to play 3 tables on autopilot, and I could get in around 150 hands in an hour.

I sat at 3 shorthanded .50/1 tables, 2 of which filled up quickly. The pace here was unbelievable. I struggled to keep up, and was losing quickly at one table, breaking even at another, and winning at the third. My goal here was just to break even, and I found myself semi-bluffing and making other ridiculously bad plays at this no-fold-em level. After about 10 minutes, I realized that the pace was just too much for me– I can’t believe there was a period where I actually thought playing 3 $2-4 tables might be more profitable than two $3-6 tables. Anyway, in my haze of checking and calling, I found that there were actually some good players at this level. A few players had over $200 on the table, and played quite well… the games seemed more or less the same as the $3-6 games, so I guess the only reason to play at the smallest tables is because of bankroll concerns. But you’ll have to win a ridiculous amount of big bets an hour to approach the profitability of the $3-6 game. Maybe they were bots.

After losing about $10 combined on all 3 tables in 20 minutes, I bailed and decided to try the $3-6 games. I forgot how good these games can be on Friday night, and restricted myself to 2 shorthanded tables. After dropping $50 bucks on both tables, I was irritated that I had just pissed away my entire bonus. But I reminded myself of the swings in the shorthanded games, and sat tight. To make matters worse, my wife’s impressionable younger brother (13) was looking on as I missed my flush and straight draws. Not only was I further exposing him to the dangerous world of hold em (I taught him the game yesterday with plastic chips), I was showing him that I was a loser. Ah well, maybe it’s for the best– if I had found this game in college, with no bankroll, I’m sure that the $3-6 games would have busted me many times. But with a little patience, the tide started to turn. I won 3 big pots heads up with a horrible player, getting me back to even. I even stole a couple pots on the river with busted draws, and started playing well. My wife’s brother made exclamations in Swedish every time a pot was pushed in my direction, and life was good.

There really is something to be said for these $3-6 games. Compared to the $5-10 games, you only need to average 1.4 big bets an hour more to achieve the same win rate. This is extremely reasonable, since there are at least 2 times as many bad players at this level. I’d say that at most there are 2 bad players at the $5-10 level on average, whereas there are probably 4 at $3-6. This makes draws nearly always playable (you will have 3 callers), and top pair is nearly always good. However, it IS Friday night, which probably doubles the number of bad players.

Bottom line:
+$122 in just over an hour (playing 2 tables simultaneously), and 220 hands closer to the bonus.

I had to compare my win rate at $3-6 to $5-10 to determine just how different the two games are:
$5-10 3.56 BB/hr 2266 hands
$3-6 1.52 BB/hr 3872 hands

However, a small percentage of these $3-6 hands were played simultaneously, and a great deal were played in my first few months of poker. The numbers point to $5-10, but I still don’t think it’s a clear cut case.

In other, perhaps more important news, I renegotiate my salary on Monday… I’m relatively sure I can get a raise of $10K, so this may decide to move up to the big boy game at $10-20 at the B&M. The time charge is just so much better than the rake, so I feel like I should make the leap out of the muck onto land, even if the players are considerably better. I wish I had some sort of equation that spits out game profitability given the number of bad players and the rake.

I leave you with one of the funnier chats I’ve been a part of on Party:

A new player sits down for his first hand, and I get TT on the button. Four players. UTG folds, I reraise. SB calls, and new player in BB raises. I cap it, hoping to get heads up with new guy. But both of them call, and the flop comes 77K rainbow. Both blinds check, and I bet to see where I’m at… I figure new guy for AK, but there are so many bad players here that I figure I’ll have to call him down if he raises me. SB folds, and new guy raises. I go into check and call mode, and he bets the rest of the way. He rakes in the pot with KK, after hitting the case king on the turn. Ouch. He then promptly leaves after the hand. What follows is are the SB’s comments (he was a horrible player, and donated over $100 to me):

THeGremlin: last time I play here
THeGremlin: this ekim
THeGremlin: did this
THeGremlin: same thing

THeGremlin: come to table
hdoubleu: ouch
THeGremlin: get KK
hdoubleu: hit and run
THeGremlin: and run
hdoubleu: 4 kings???
THeGremlin: he did it 10 times today
THeGremlin: no
hdoubleu: got a deal with party

THeGremlin: I think 4 times 4 of a kind
THeGremlin: all the rest full house
THeGremlin: he did it over and over again and again
hdoubleu: wow
THeGremlin: he won once 600$
THeGremlin: on the 10/20 table
THeGremlin did not respond in time.
THeGremlin folds.
BEAMERBIC: playing or not?

THeGremlin: won 4 of a kind K against 4 of a kind Q
THeGremlin: last time I play here

THeGremlin: this is a not an honest site…

BEAMERBIC: SDVGERHT^&K^TYYHW@$T$%U*^&(I%^U$ ing slow ass game
THeGremlin: also good thing to remember

THeGremlin: I played today on the 15/30 table
THeGremlin: had 4 of a kind 10
THeGremlin: lost 1200$
BEAMERBIC: who was the guy?
hdoubleu: ouch
hdoubleu: what did you lose to?

THeGremlin: nver seen him
THeGremlin: he had royal flush on the river

hdoubleu: wow
THeGremlin: and before that
THeGremlin: he kept raising and raising
hdoubleu: maybe he’s got the random number generator figured out

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