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Check-Raise: The Road To Professional Gambling – June 2011

June 29, 2011

Poker is a cruel game. Even for the educated player, it can play tricks on your mind. For the uninitiated… good luck staying sane.

As many of you know, my goal this year was to make money gambling and through the first three months of the year, I had managed to eke out a profit, but it was almost entirely due to the rakeback I was receiving from Full Tilt Poker. You can read my update for the first three months here.

April changed everything for aspiring poker players when the FBI shutdown the three major online sites: Full Tilt Poker, Poker Stars, and Absolute Poker, making it impossible for players to gamble online in the United States. Of course, that happened just as I was realizing some of the major leaks in my game and starting to turn things around. I was already killing tournaments, but my cash game play was starting to come along as well. I had turned a profit in online cash games for the first time in many, many months. To make matters worse, I made my biggest tournament score of the year the day before Black Friday. So when the sites shut down and access to your funds became restricted, I happened to have significantly more money online than I usually do; and it’s still there.

With online play no longer an option, I turned to the local casinos, a bold move for someone trying to build a bankroll with limited money. I went from playing $0.50-$1 limit online to playing $4-$8 live, a significant jump in stakes even though the latter game is almost certainly much softer.

I had already identified cash games as a leak in my gambling. I previously noted how bad I was doing online, but my live stats weren’t much better. For the year, through April, I was down roughly $400 playing live cash games… plus in April alone, I was down $625 playing live period, whether it was tournaments or cash games. With online play no longer an option, my poker future was looking grim.

Then I went to jail for most of May. In jail, I read several poker books and came out on May 20th thinking I might have a shot at making money playing live poker. I only played for one week in May and 15 hours total and promptly managed to lose $298, logging my first losing month of the year. Also, on May 24th and May 25th, I managed to lose $450 in 3.5 hours of total play, such an absurdly bad run that I strongly considered quitting playing altogether. I was completely demoralized.

Being the gambler I am though, that notion didn’t last very long and I was quickly back in action in June. I got off to a hot start and by June 10th I was up $549 in the live game. Then, June 10th changed everything. I hit the Lightning Strikes Twice jackpot at Chips Casino for $1562 and had my best session of the year on top of that. By the end of the night, I was up $1809 total (after tipping the dealer $200 for the jackpot) and suddenly had a legitimate bankroll. By June 20th, including the jackpot hit, I had beat the live game for $3038 in profit. I felt unstoppable. I had a losing session here and there, but I was on a serious upswing, and my confidence was soaring. Unfortunately, the last week wasn’t so kind and is the reason I opened this post by saying how cruel poker can be. I’m down $715 in the live game over the past week and have felt completely defeated at times. Fortunately, I have the bankroll now to withstand this kind of big downswing, and at -89 Big Bets of my current limit, this isn’t even close to how bad it will be some other future time.

That’s the thing about poker that most people don’t understand. Even the best players are going to go through terrible streaks due to bad luck. It can be incredibly painful when it happens–which is not uncommon–but even a 200 Big Bet (-$1600 @ $4-$8) downswing is almost inevitable. But if you’re a good, winning player, luck always evens out in the end, and you have to win in the long run.

In total, I made $2406 gambling in June (more than at my day job). I got lucky with the big jackpot, but it was a great month besides that and now my goal to play for a living by 2013 seems plausible. Grinding it out at $4-$8 is going to be a long road, but now I have the bankroll to gamble with comfortably and never have to touch any of the money I actually work for. Also, if Full Tilt ever gets their shit together and cashes out their players, I’ll have a large enough bankroll to move up in stakes to $8-$16 and potentially double my hourly rate.

June Stats

Live play:
$3-$6: -$372 over 11.92 hours (-5 BB/HR) <— potential leak?
$4-$8: +$1342 over 85.67 hours (1.96 BB/HR)
+$1362 Lightning Strikes Twice Jackpot
+$164 in Tournament play
+$2496 total

Additional Gambling:
BlackJack Match Plays: +$15
Sports Betting: +$10
House Games: +$38
Side Bets: +$20

Overall Gambling since December 1st, 2010: +$3287.80

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One comment

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