Movin on Up

“The room fills with smoke
And I’m already broke
And the dealer keeps on joking
As he takes my last token”

–“Casino Queen”, Wilco
I’m not sure how this post is going to come out, but it’s definitely a first for yours truly– two muscle relaxers, a shot of whiskey, and a Heineken… at 30,000 feet. That’s right, I’m riding a Pocket Rockets (American Airlines) 777 to Stockholm, with a stopover in old London town on the way. With the laptop battery at 40%, I’m devoting my precious computer time to blogging rather than practicing my shorthanded game on Turbo Texas Hold ‘Em.
On the advice of my best friend (Monk, for those loyal readers), I’ve moved up to the $5-10 6 max games on Party. I’ve been hemming and hawing for a while now, trying to decide if I wanted to put the entire bank on the line and take a shot at single tabling $15-30, or if there was some other option available. The problem is that the $5-10 full ring games are pretty tight, and what’s worse, the tables are always full, so there’s a long waiting list. I wouldn’t mind waiting a couple minutes, but table selection becomes impossible. Players on the wait list can’t be choosers, and with so many fish in the Party waters, waiting for a table is negative EV.
So I’ve gone ahead and moved up to 2 $5-10 6 max tables, for better or worse. I must confess, this is the only game at Party that shows red numbers in POkerTracker. I haven’t played that many hands, but I’ve thrown away a lot of money by incorrectly adjusting my style for the shorthanded game. In the past, I’ve been overaggressive, and probably a little too loose preflop, resulting in too many losing sessions.
But that’s the past. I spent the week trying to bone up my game, and sat down for my first session on Tuesday night. After winning a monster pot on a flush the first hand, I proceeded to drop around 30 big bets after a few suckouts and a few ill-timed bluffs. Growing pains, let’s hope.
The good news is that for the first time in a while, I felt uncomfortable at the virtual table. I didn’t feel like the worst player at each of my two tables, but I knew I wasn’t anywhere close to being the best. My competitive nature and desire to learn doesn’t like this feeling, and I found myself poring over the shorthanded forum on twoplustwo, as well as rereading Abdul’s RGP posts on shorthanded play.
The morning after that losing session, I was woken up by a page from work (yes, I was on call last month, but I’m on vacation now so they can shove those pages up their collective arses). After solving the problem, I sat down for 15 minutes and pulled in 20 big bets. At 7 AM LA time. Ahh, the wonders of online poker.
It felt good to win, but more importantly, I thoroughly enjoyed the session. I’m sure all of you know how much of a grind low limit poker can become, and the shorthanded tables really put the gamble (and excitement) back in poker. I found myself anxiously awaiting the showdown, not knowing if my top pair – weak kicker would hold up. In the $3-6 games, it was rare that I didn’t know if my hand was good when I was showing it down. I explained this feeling to Monk, and he made an excellent point:
“That’s what these guys feel on every hand. For most people, poker is still gambling.”
So for the first time in a while, I felt that old poker bug. Anxiously awaiting the next session, waking up in the middle of the night and thinking, “I wonder what the games are like now…” before falling asleep.
One of the main reasons I decided to face the tougher $5-10 games (I truly believe the $15-30 are much softer than the $5-10s) is that I know my shorthanded game needs work. I love to learn, and I think the pursuit of learning has been one of the most enjoyable endeavors in my life (yeah, I went to a liberal arts school). The shorthanded games are “new” for me, and provide me with an opportunity to master a new game. I’m sure that this is the reason I find myself wanting to play more.
So at the moment, I’m still a big loser shorthanded. But that’ll change. I may not have confidence in my shorthanded game, but I have plenty of confidence in my ability to learn… so I believe it’s just a matter of time. Let’s just hope the cards are kind while I’m climbing the learning curve.
Monk and I are planning to hit the Stockholm casino as many times as possible. The dollar is so bad right now that I’ll have to have a good night just to break even, but hey, it’s vacation.
The stewardesses are coming around with dinner, and my battery is dying. And I think the alcohol and muscle relaxant combo is kicking in. Does this make me a member in some sort of pathetic, mile-high blogging club?
Thanks for reading and stay focused…

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