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Women & Poker: Does it affect my game?

July 8, 2009

So I was looking over my month-by-month results over the past 8 months or so and I couldn’t help but draw a parallel between my poker results and my last relationship. I’m not going to say one has anything to do with the other, but the coincidence is pretty startling nonetheless. I started dating the girl back in October 2008 and initially, everything was amazing. Simultaneously, after logging a mostly losing year at that point, I broke out in October for a +$1521.84 month. Things only got better in November as our relationship escalated quickly and I turned in a $1081.79 profit. We started declining as a couple in December, but I think that I was still content at that point and I managed a $94.55 profit that month. Things started to change for the worse in 2009 though and by the end of January, I knew I was unhappy in my relationship and I completely imploded poker-wise, with a brutal -$1997.65 month. We nearly broke up in February and were hanging by a thread the last couple weeks and I lost $205.75 that month. We did break up in March and I was genuinely depressed for most of the month and I also lost $558.27. By April, I was a man on a mission. I was determined to turn the break up into a positive thing and focused on bettering myself in almost every way possible. One of those things was severely limiting the amount of time I played poker, and even though I logged significantly less hours than usual, I was in a good state of mind and turned in my first profitable month of the year with +$161.74. After two months without speaking to each other at all, she contacted me in early May, we started talking again, things looked like they were going to work out, but by the end of the month, I felt severely fucked over, I was pissed off, and I lost $558.27. A lot of that bitterness carried over into June and I lost $332.14 last month. While I’m not as productive or as happy as I was in April, today I can say that I don’t have the possibility of this relationship working out hanging over my head anymore and I disposed of all my anger and vengeance musically. There is definite closure there that didn’t exist before and I’m off to a really solid start with a $117.12 profit over the first week of July, including +$157 online, which is a pretty impressive number considering I’ve only been playing $3 sit & go tournaments.

So is that a coincidence or not? Either way, if you were to compare graphs of my happiness in this relationship to my wins and losses in poker they would run almost identical over the same time period. It’s hard to judge whether my relationship started declining because I was losing in poker and it was reflecting on me as a boyfriend, or if my game started declining because I was becoming unhappy with my girlfriend. Or maybe they have absolutely nothing to do with each other and I’m just bored and trying to find a way to entertain myself at 5 a.m. Regardless, I thought it was a pretty interesting trend and maybe one that I should think about if I’m going to continue trying to play poker for profit.

I just posted some pretty scary numbers and I think someone with my income and expenses has to question just exactly what they are doing with their money and if this hobby is something I should even continue with. If you add up the totals for 2009 you will see that I have lost roughly $3700 playing poker this year. Granted, $2500 of that was profit that I made in the last 3 months of 2008 that I never actually had in my possession, but that’s still $1200 out of my own pocket on top of that and for someone that considers himself a solid player, that’s unacceptable. I long considered drinking to be my biggest leak playing poker and that if I ever got rid of that, I’d instantly start seeing consistent profits… but I was sober for all of 2008 and it took an enormous rush over the past three months to turn that year into a profitable one and I’ve been sober all of 2009 and I’ve clearly been dumping large sums of money this year. So one has to ask: what am I doing wrong and how can I fix it? Am I simply a bad player? I don’t think so. I understand the game extremely well and I can often tell what the right play is in most situations. So what is it? The answer: I have no bankroll management whatsoever. I went on a huge rush in 2005 and made $25,000 over a three month period. I’ve played limit poker at the $30-$60 level, I’ve bought into $215 multi-table tournaments without even blinking or caring if I cash, and I’ve lost $1000 in a half hour and it only hurt me slightly. It’s hard to experience that kind of financial freedom and go back to grinding it out at $0.50-$1 limit and feeling strapped when I pony up $22 for a tournament. I hit that rush playing way over my bankroll limits and clearly part of me is addicted to fast money. So in order for me to win at poker, these are the actions that need to take place:

a) No more Fixed Limit cash games: First of all, I can’t even afford to lose at any limits that I’m barely interested in playing. Secondly, I think I’ve lost a lot of my limit skill over the past several years or maybe everyone else has just gotten better, I dunno… but one thing is for sure, I’m not winning at this form of poker anymore. Also, the game is just boring and doesn’t have nearly the flexibility that No Limit does. I haven’t been dumping so bad online the past 3-4 months, but a couple of bad sessions at $4-$8 have made some of these past months look worse than they are.

b) Follow a strict bankroll guideline: Generally, to play a full game of limit poker, your bankroll should be at least 300 big bets. So if I wanted to play $4-$8, the usual limit spread at most local casinos, I’d have to have a bankroll of $2400 to not have the natural downswings of the game completely break me. Basically, that means I have a long way to go before I can play right and comfortable in even the most basic low limit game spread at a casino. Someone that is playing 1-table Sit & Go tournaments should have at least 50 buy-ins.

c) Playing in the right mind state: This will be the toughest rule for me to follow cause I tend to steam if I start off poorly in a given session. The key is going to be recognizing such a session and ending it immediately. There will always be another table to play at another time, so there’s no need to punish myself further when things aren’t going well. I also have a tendency to play when I’m really tired. This is more of an issue when it comes to playing in cash games since the situations in tournaments tend to be a little more cut and dry and when I’m playing 5 or more tables at the same time, a lack of patience is much less problematic.

My current strategy (and a working one so far) has been to avoid cash games completely and stick to playing nothing but tournaments, which I have always excelled at. While the buy-ins for the live tournaments at Chips Casino would break my bankroll guideline rule, they are extremely easy, I know the players and all their tendencies very well, and they can be very profitable with minimal risk. Last week, I won the Chips morning tournament three times in a row for +$500 and paid my rent with it. Online, the risk of a higher buy in is much steeper, since it makes up a significant portion of my online bankroll. So this month I have been focusing on $3.40 10-man turbo Sit & Goes and playing about 9-12 tables at a time. I’m yet to have a losing session doing this and I don’t even think I’ve ran particularly well so far and I’m still crushing the game. I’ve sprinkled in a couple of slightly bigger MTT buy-ins and managed to finish 44th of 2279 people in a $5.50 rebuy tournament today for +$80ish, which was a significant percent increase for my bankroll. 1st place was $7000 and anything above 6th place would have been my biggest cash ever. Unfortunately, once the money bubble approached (416 people cashed), I never found any good situations to build my stack. I had a bottom 10% stack from 460 people left to about 80 people left when I finally doubled up and had about an average stack. I didn’t find any good situations to put myself in a position to take the whole thing down, so when a guy that had been playing way too many pots with his big stack opened up in EP for a small raise, I shoved my 200K stack in the middle with A8 figuring he would fold all but the top percent of his range. He called me with 77, which is a pretty surprising call considering that I should’ve had a really tight image at that point and that wasn’t exactly a bad situation for me. When I shove with a medium stack with A8 and get called, I expect to have 3 outs and be a big underdog, but instead, I had a 50% chance of building a top 10 stack and when I flopped a flush draw to go with my two overcards, I could smell that big money. Unfortunately, he turned a set, and I missed the river and headed for the rail. Regardless, it was a nice, deep run that reminded me of what I’m capable of and I think if I can stick to grinding out this micro-stakes tournaments, while taking the very occasional shot, I should be able to turn the second half of 2009 into a very profitable one.

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3 comments

  1. […] unknown wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt So I was looking over my month-by-month results over the past 8 months or so and I couldn’t help but draw a parallel between my poker results and my last relationship. I’m not going to say one has anything to do with the other, but the coincidence is pretty startling nonetheless. I started dating the girl back in October 2008 and initially, everything was amazing. Simultaneously, after logging a mostly losing year at that point, I broke out in October for a +$1521.84 month. Things only got better in November as our relationship escalated quickly and I turned in a $1081.79 profit. We started declining as a couple in December, but I think that I was still content at that point and I managed a $94.55 profit that month. Things started to change for the worse in 2009 though and by the end of […] […]


  2. It is a game of ups and downs. I like the idea that you take advantage of the ups and remove the tilt factor on the downs. Still don’t care for the 8-12 games at one time. Even though you can’t see your opponets you still can get some information on how they play. Even one with your ability can’t do that playing 12 games at once.


  3. That is true… but when it comes to micro-stakes 1-table SnGs, I don’t think knowing your opponents is very important. First of all, at micro stakes, you don’t see a lot of the same players, so it’s not really worth it to track how each player plays. Secondly, turbo tournaments usually mean that your stack size determines your action, not your opponent. If you’re sitting on $700 with the blinds at $75-$150 and a big stack under the gun raises to $450 and it folds to you on the button, you have a clear push. However, if it’s the first round, blinds are at $10-$20 and someone raises to $80, you fold that same hand. I’m trying some pretty unique strategies in these tournaments and so far they are working amazingly well. I will share them eventually if they continue to be successful.



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