Friday, April 01, 2005


It was a little more than a year ago when I was on the graveyard shift at my old job in Atlanta.

I had been thinking about "going pro" and taking the dive into online poker, and this was the perfect night for it. Everything was quiet, I was alone in the office, and I was ready to test the waters.

So I cranked up Party Poker, deposited $50, and played the lowest-level no limit game I could find, the $25 buyin.

After only a few minutes, my $50 was gone. I don't know what happened to it. I imagine I must have called some all-ins without knowing any better. In fact, I'm sure I knew nearly nothing.

I bought in for another $50, and lost that almost as fast as the first $50.

That let me know I wasn't ready, even for one of the easiest games on the Internet.

One month later, I challenged Party Poker anew, and this time I only lost $18. The next day, I won $13. Then I won again, and again, and I was hooked.

I moved on to other sites and kept winning in general. When I helped cover the Group of Eight Summit on Sea Island off Georgia's coast, I was sure to log in from my hotel room. When I was watching a baseball game, I'd put some money on the table and play.

At the end of June, I went to Vegas for the first time. I stayed in the Horseshoe, won a big pot at the NL table, lost a tournament at the Orleans, and came in first place at a small buyin 57-player tourney at the Nugget. I'll recount that tourney another time, but suffice it to say that I felt I had established myself.

Soon afterward, Daniel and I started hitting up the home game scene in Atlanta, which proved to be quite profitable.

We also went on something of a disasterous trip to Biloxi, Mississippi, but at least it was educational. I also scored a home game tournament win to help boost my confidence.

Almost all of this play was no limit hold em. What did I know about other forms of poker? I had only been experienced what they play on TV.

When I first went to Vegas, Daniel and I joked about how much we hated limit poker, and we couldn't figure out why there were so few no limit tables in comparison.

I moved to Santiago, Chile at the end of September, and soon decided that limit poker is not only essential, but that there's a tremendous profit potential there.

So I got more serious, read the 2+2 forums more, read more books and dove into the limit pool.

I found limit to be much more difficult than no limit because I couldn't bomb the pot with large bets when you wanted to represent a strong hand. I couldn't adjust the odds I was offering my opponents, and it was cheaper for people to try to stay in and suck out on me.

Fortunately, that's about when I discovered bonus whoring. It wasn't long before I had accounts at all the Party Poker skins, Absolute Poker, Ultimate Bet, Full Tilt, Paradise Poker and Poker Stars. Anywhere there was a bonus, that's where I would play.

That's also around the time when I started using PokerTracker, which is invaluable.

Despite the ups and downs of limit, I remained convinced that I should stick with limit because I would eventually break through, establish a consistent win rate, and be able to move up.

I tried making $3/6 my regular game for the first time in December. I enjoyed it, but I had a more difficult time there.

My worst losing streak came in the middle of January, when I started losing and went on tilt. I resorted to higher-stakes no limit games to try to make compensate for my limit failures, but only dug myself in a deeper hole. I played in some tournaments, hoping for a big score, but I lost all of them, even the 10-player sit-n-goes.

I was demoralized and thinking of quitting. Daniel had to listen to me bitch over instant messenger all the time about how bad I was doing. And I couldn't continue like this for long, knowing that I was living off my savings account while staying here in Chile.

So I did what any respectable grinder would do: I dug in my heals and played lower-level games that I could easily beat until I had won back my losses. I put in many hours at the $25 buyin no limit games because I knew I would win. At that point, I had little choice.

I thought it would take months, but it only took a few weeks to recover the money I had lost.

I haven't looked back as my roll has continued to grow since then. I made $2/4 limit my regular game until I could establish a good winrate, and I decided to wait until my bankroll exceeded $4,000 before returning to $3/6 for another go. I know that bankroll size may seem excessive for that limit, but I needed the financial and mental security of that level for my self-confidence and also because I will likely have to dip into my poker accounts in a couple of months to live off of.

Today, my bankroll is approaching $5,000. I play $3/6 confidently. I get rakeback, which is like another monthly bonus.

The most important lessons I've learned are about patience, the difference between bad luck and being outplayed, tilt recognition and game selection.

I often think of an article in which Clonie Gowan said she was a fish for two years before finding her poker legs. I'm long past that.

Odd new game invented by Sklansky


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