The Education of A PartyPoker Player

“There is no reality except the one contained within us. That is why so many people live such an unreal life. They take the images outside them for reality and never allow the world within to assert itself.”
–Hermann Hesse
To play or to write: that is the question. I feel more like a poker writer than a poker player, as I just left 43,090 players on Party in the middle of a winning session so I could blog. Well actually, the Missus came home and it was time to get dinner, but I signed off of Party with the intention of writing. As I reread this last paragraph, I’m a bit appalled– I had the shotgun in hand and the barrel full of fish was overflowing, but I sign off to write a blog post?
Well, that’s not the whole story. I did a quick hit and run, ratholing $107 after 15 minutes on $3-6 table. Amazingly, this entire profit came from the all powerful J7s, thanks to an idiot who slowplayed AA, and a lucky turn card. I’ve been banned from posting hand histories, as several readers have told me that they immediately leave the site if any semblance of a hand history appears in a post. But anyway, I turned the top 2 pair, and was able to get a few raises from AA guy in, and a few more from a poor guy that flopped 2 pair (J6o). I wouldn’t have even played this hand if I wasn’t in the small blind, but Mr. Slowplay made my night by not raising.
Moral of the story: Never, ever slowplay AA on a loose table.
Corollary: Play loose from the SB when the implied odds are huge.
Rewind to Sunday– After an incredible week of cards on 3 $3-6ers (+775 for 10 BB/HR), I finally watched my luck go dry, dropping $70 on Sunday afternoon. The tables were good, as usual, I just couldn’t seem to pick up a hand. But I took my beats happily, and quickly dropped $70 in an hour session. After running so good all week, I wasn’t disappointed when my draws didn’t hit– it’s all part of one lifetime session. In the past I’ve had to remind myself of this fact, but when none of my 8-outers hit, there was no frustration– the idea “if I put in the hours, I will win” seemed to be deeply ingrained.
I think I’ve turned a corner. After 10 months a play, I can now accept the bad runs– the lingering wonder in the back of my mind asking if I’m a good enough player to win is gone. I know that I’m a winning player, and I can confidently answer the question “Did I play well and just hit a run of bad cards?” with a yes. This idea seemed to be part of the “lose small, win big” philosophy that I’ve been trying to follow for a long time now.
So I happily moved over to a $30 multi table tourney, as I just wasn’t “feeling it” in the ring games. I’m not sure why I joined, as I was around the 1300th player to enter, and we ended up with 1400 altogether. After doubling up when I hit a flush about 30 minutes into the tourney, I picked up KK in middle position. A loose guy in early position raised, and I doubled his bet. He reraised, and I figured I’d either get 4000 chips early or bust… this tourney was going to last all day, so why not? I pushed all-in, and so did he, and with Party’s new “show the hole cards before the flop” on all in bets, my death was quick and painless. If you can’t guess what he had, you haven’t played enough at Party.
I was actually happy to go out early. I think in these huge Multis, your only chance is to amass a lot of chips early and use the big stack to pound away until you’ve got a big enough stack to outlast most of the field. So I’d make the same play again in a heartbeat. Moved on from there to an NL $50 and was able to take $30 off the table with a measly top pair. I cannot stress enough how soft these NL games are.
After a few more beers it was time to take on the Missus in a heads up tourney. The loser had to do the dishes for the week. In the 10 or so Heads-up tourneys we’ve played, I think she’s beaten me 6 times. I cannot put her on a hand, and since I am hyper aggressive heads up, she’ll often catch her 4 outer on the turn and punish me on the river. Yesterday was no exception. I caught a straight against her full house (which she caught on the turn with her Q7), leaving me severely short stacked. And she put the nail in the coffin by slowplaying her AA beautifully, as I pushed in with my KT after a King flopped. I have to admit that I was seriously outplayed, and bluffed on the river more than a couple times. The girl is a natural.
After that brutal beating, I felt my luck had to turn… I gave myself one more drunken shot to recoup my losses against the late night Sunday party crowd. I found an overly aggressive $5-10 6 max table (these tables will be the end of me), and promply won 15 big bets in 11 hands. This is why these games are so good: I flop 2 pair and overly aggressive guy caps it on the flop. I bet out on the turn, and OAG raises, and I just call. An Ace hits the river, and I figure he paired his Ace kicker, so I check, he bets, and I call. He turns over KT for top pair, decent kicker, with no draw on the board, and I rake in the 12 BB pot. A couple hands later, I take my 77 to the river with a flush on the board, as OAG raises me, and bet into me the whole way. I check and call, and he turns over Q4 for bottom pair, after 3 betting the flop. No wonder Davidross has destroyed these games and Grubby lives in a Party 6 max seat. It just takes 1 overaggressive player to make your day.
So 1 week of triple $3-6 and last nights quick $5-10 romp left me at just under 1K profit, over 13 BB/100. I know I’m running hot, but I’ll take it after the brutal beatings I took last Saturday on the $5-10 shorthanded games.
PartyPoker Ramblings
I suspect Monday night is the biggest PartyPoker night (43K players tonight) because all of the B&M players get home from work too late to get out, so Party is their best option. If I played for a living, I would make sure to max out my hours on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday nights. Remember that “Monday night is PartyPoker night” and your bankroll will thank you.
I’ll eventually get around to an entire post on B&M vs. online play, but for now here’s a quick reason on why online poker is much more profitable for LOW LIMIT PLAY than B&M play:
1. Multi-table play: playing multiple tables allows you to play against worse players with a much lower variance, since you more than double the number of hands you can play. 2 $3-6 games have a significantly lower variance than a $6-12 game, and the players are usually significantly worse. Thus, between the greater number of hands and the poorer players, your expected value is much higher in the 2 $3-6 games. Think about the difference between 3 $3-6 tables and a single $9-18 table.
2. Rake: in LA, the casinos are just raking the hell out of the players without conscience. In a $6-12 game, they’re taking $5 off the table per hand, or $150 per 30 hands. Party takes a max rake of $3 in a $3-6 game, so you’ve got to win at least 2 or 3 pots more per 30 hands in the B&M than online to achieve the same win rate.
3. Convenience: I posted about this in my last post, but the drive and wait time to get to the B&M really add up. You’re missing out on at least an hour of play just getting to the game.
4. Table Selection: In LA, you sit where they put you. Yes, a lot of B&M players are regulars, but online you have the capability of taking detailed notes on each player (thanks Pokertracker). I’d much rather have a choice between dozens of tables than be placed at a table that may be full of solid players.
5. Player skill: At the $6-12 level, most of the players I face are decent players. There are plenty of calling stations, but for some reason there tend to be less over-aggressive players at the B&M. Maybe it’s the potential embarrassment of losing in front of 10 other people, but you don’t see people capping the flop or turn without a huge hand (exception: the occasional maniac and the wild weekend table). It is rare that you’ll be re-raised without the other player holding the nuts. In the somewhat frequent case where the entire table is on tilt, the battle against the schooling fish will have your bankroll hurting as you’re drawn out on 6 or 7 times out of 10. At 30 hands an hour, it only takes a few of these suckouts to put you in a bad way. It’s true that the average B&M player is considerably looser than the online player (you don’t come all the way to the casino to fold), but often this leads to schooling, which is tough to overcome (see my previous post regarding this for more about this).
So there are my top 5 reasons on why online play is significantly more profitable than B&M play for low limit games (up to $6-12 I’d say). Of course, live play is much more fun than online play, but if profit is your main concern, stick to the pixels.
A couple of shout outs
Thanks to Felicia, who directed me to Overstock.com for a good deal on Doyle’s “Poker Wisdom of a Champion”. The guy willed himself to health after cancer took over his body and doctors said he had a 10% chance to survive. I can’t wait to read it.
A long overdue thanks goes out to the mighty Boy Genius, who continues to pump out thousands of words per day. I haven’t hit BG’s blog for a couple days, and now I’ve got pore over pages and pages of posts to catch up. I can’t wait to hear his brother’s take on the LA poker (and horses) scene– hopefully my poker tour-guide advice results in a few racks. BG, if your head doesn’t explode when your trifecta is coming in at the same time as you’re dealt pocket aces, the futon is yours…
And my post isn’t complete without the daily shout out to 6pac. I know, I know, enough already, but the guy continues to churn out great posts and keeps on bringing hordes of new readers to us blue-collar bloggers.
Thanks for making it this far. 95 degrees in the city of angels, I forgot how hot this damn city gets. You can keep your lamborghinis, your Sharon Stone sightings at lunch. I gotta get back east, where people actually read books and don’t spend their life savings on their car…

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