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It feels so right, it can’t be wrong

June 4, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve got the theme from Happy Days in my head now thanks to that post title. Oh well. But in actual fact it refers to a decision I made recently – I’m giving up poker. I can’t make a decent profit from it, and in fact a lot of the time I struggle to make even a slight profit, so what’s the point? There are many better ways I could spend my time rather than banging my head against the poker wall. It took a three-and-a-half hour session at the tables followed by five minutes in the shower (where I do all my best thinking) for me to decide that poker isn’t for me at this time. And once I had made that decision a calm came over everything, the sort of feeling you get when you are absolutely confident that the decision you have just made is absolutely the right one.

I have been trying on and off for a couple of years now to add to my bottom line on a consistent basis by playing poker and I have failed every time. I have tried Rush Poker, no-limit cash games, SnGs, limit cash and so on but nothing has really hit the spot. I may have a good spell and start to think I have cracked it but then the wheels come flying off and I am back to square one. I have been forced to admit that poker is not the juicy source of profit I thought it would be. Perhaps there was a certain degree of arrogance in my thinking but for the last couple of years I have regarded online poker as a money well, a profit source I could tap on a regular basis with relatively little effort. If the horse racing and sports betting isn’t really going too well this month then a spell on the poker tables should help things along. That was my thinking. I wasn’t playing to anything other than small stakes but even so I felt booking some wins at that level would see the bank consistent grow and as I felt my skills increase I would step up the stakes and make greater returns. Theoretically sound but it didn’t work in practice as the consistent profits failed to arrive.

It’s easy to think that my health is part of the problem and prevents me from really getting into a game of poker and giving it my all but it’s nigh on impossible to prove that so it becomes an easy excuse. It’s also an excuse I don’t think I should be using any longer. The fact of the matter is this: I am not playing to the best of my ability when I sit down at the tables. I can’t maintain my concentration and would need some form of blinker in order to stay focused on the game in hand. That regardless of the number of tables I am playing, although I always limit myself to a number I can handle sensibly. More than six and I tend to get flustered anyway so usually only play four at once. I have tried different game speeds and types but the same problems always arise. I’m off checking my email, reading forums etc rather than focusing on how other players at the tables are playing. There just isn’t enough going on at an online poker table to engage my brain. I have thought about upping the stakes so that the money actually means something but I am concerned about the corresponding increase in opponents’ skill levels and the fact that if I can’t play winning poker at small stakes I will just lose money quicker at larger stakes. So I have decided to step away from the game altogether.

That’s not to say I will never play again. I have kept my poker bankrolls in tact at Poker Stars and Full Tilt but right now the game is filed under ‘entertainment’ in my head. I may play now and then to pass the time, just for fun albeit with real money as the play money games are a joke. But any poker I play then isn’t with a view to making a consistent profit. Not that I plan to play losing poker, it’s more that I accept that the stakes I play to are the price of entertainment for however long I stay at the tables. Maybe one day I will work out what is preventing me from playing poker as well as I know I can and address the problem such that I can profit from poker in the manner I hoped I could over the last couple of years but I won’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

The shower session that led to this decision also threw up a few other interesting thoughts. I soon realised that rather than playing cards I am better off with some form of structured learning, teaching myself new skills. I need to keep my brain engaged and active but I also need to see progress in whatever I am working on else I lose interest. Poker is a prime example of that actually. I expected to make consistent profits or at least see my skills slowly improve to the point where I could be confident of beating a certain level of opponent (based on stakes). That didn’t happen so my interest in the game waned although I was still sitting down at the tables, playing worse and worse which just fuelled the downward spiral and frustrated me. I have a number of gambling related projects that have cropped up over the past five years or so and I am keen to develop some of these ideas but as I lack some of the required skills I have never got very far with them. Now is the time to change that by learning some of those skills. The idea is to buy a few books, learn what I need to know and start bashing away at some of these projects to see where they take me. With that in mind I have picked up a book on HTML and CSS as several of the ideas are web-based and I could do with better web development skills. A solid grounding in the basics seems like a good idea with a view to expanding my skills later on to include things like PHP.

So that’s the new plan – poker come and gone in an afternoon. As the title says though, this decision feels so right that it can’t possibly be the wrong thing to do. I should have done it much sooner if truth be told. I came halfway down this route several times over the years but never quite reached that tipping point that would have seen me give up poker in favour of other projects. I have to make sure I see the decision out this time though. It does feel like the right move this time so hopefully I won’t have any problems on that front.

That said, it’s going to be a little while before I am able to really settle down with the books as there are still a number of reviews awaiting my attention. I managed to complete my monthly review for May yesterday and published that but there are still a few Soccer Systems reviews to complete as well as a couple of services in my portfolio to cast a quick eye over. I hope to get all that out the way as soon as possible, no point dragging it out any more than necessary, but based on past experience there is a good few days work in that lot so the HTML will just have to wait a little longer, which is a bit of a shame as I am burning to get on with it. Perhaps I need to work part-time on those reviews to free up some time to learn new skills that I am sure will serve me well in the future.

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Categories: Philosophy, Poker

Where was I?

May 23, 2011 1 comment

A fortnight’s holiday is too much for me. That’s the main conclusion I have come to. A week isn’t long enough to really get a good feel for the place and to see everything I want to but two weeks is too much. I start to crave a return to normality and find myself sat around almost twiddling my thumbs a few times if I am away for too long. And as lovely as Crete was that was the case this time. With a few days to go had someone offered me a flight home there and then I may have taken it. But I survived the full fortnight and am now trying to get back into the swing of things – which is not as easy as I thought it would be.

What was I doing before I went on holiday? What was my routine? What was I working on? What did  I have in the pipeline? What projects did I want to make progress on? All these questions and more have come up in the last few days and I am struggling to answer them to my own satisfaction.

Shortly before I went away there was the Great PC Disaster so I was rebuilding my computer and frantically trying to rescue all my data. That’s obviously something I wouldn’t be doing normally – I certainly don’t plan on making a habit of wiping my data – so that doesn’t count as part of my routine. I need to think back further and try to recall how I structured my days. But I also need to decide whether I wish to just drop back into my old routine or whether I should make a few changes. The holiday gave me a chance to evaluate things as they stand and perhaps identify a few weak spots that I need to address. OK, I didn’t take full advantage of this opportunity as I tried to forget about gambling as much as possible and I didn’t have my laptop and associated spreadsheets with me but I still mulled a few things over and made a few tentative decisions.

I think one of the major points to come out of what I was mulling over was that I need to increase my profits. There are several ways to go about this and I need to look at them all in more detail but the bottom line is I need to make more money from gambling. At the very least I need to convince myself that the path I am going down will ultimately lead to greater profits. It sounds like an obvious point to make as surely all gamblers want to make more money but it’s perhaps not as daft as it sounds. If this is to continue to be a full-time enterprise then it needs to prove it can pull in a respectable full-time wage. If not, I need to look at ways I can reduce the effort involved to a part-time level and go back into full-time employment. That’s not a route I want to go down, for various reasons, but it has to remain an option unfortunately. The spectre of a nine-to-five lifestyle will act as a driver to ensure I look at all the ways to get the most from my gambling, that’s for sure.

Another thing I realised recently is that the football betting system research and development I have been working on has dragged on way too long without anything concrete coming out of it. That has to change. I need to make real, meaningful progress or change tack. This is nothing new as I noted this before I went away but while I was on holiday I started to think about the best way to wrap up the current development phase and approximated an order for the remaining tasks. This is in support of the primary goal stated above – to make more profit. I must have some profitable football systems ready to go for the new season in August, and they must be fully tested etc so that I can be pretty sure that profits will ensue. August sounds a long way off but there is a lot to do.

Poker – I have had a change of heart recently. I get this now and again, a nagging thought in my brain that just won’t go away until I entertain it properly. This time it concerns limit hold’em cash games. My brain keeps telling me that if I can keep my discipline and concentration at the tables then I ought to be able to churn a steady profit from limit poker. I have done it before – it’s more or less how I got started in the game. But it involves a different mindset to no-limit games and I need to be confident that I can slip back into the right frame of mind. I have had a few abortive attempts to get back into limit cash games before and found that no-limit play had ruined my limit game. I need to forget about stealing blinds and how powerful position can be in no-limit. Position is still important in limit games, don’t get me wrong, but it’s much harder to bluff-bet your way out of trouble in limit games due to pot odds so solid starting hands etc are required. And that means discipline to only play the right hands in the right position and not calling raises just because it’s only one more bet when you know you’re probably beaten. I still haven’t decided whether to go down the turbo SnG route or have a go again at limit cash games but I plan to examine the pros and cons of each soon and get back to the tables in the near future. My brain keeps telling me there are profits to be made on the poker tables and if I want to make more money then I need to take advantage of opportunities such as online poker.

I have a number of other projects I want to work on – some old, some new – but unless I can see a financial return from them in the short-term I am currently putting them on the back burner. It’s primarily about ensuring I have a solid base going forward. I was happy with my portfolio before my holiday and I have no reason to be unhappy with it on my return but that doesn’t mean I should sit back and rest on my laurels. There are profitable opportunities everywhere so I need to make sure I am exploiting the right ones.

Poker woes

April 14, 2011 Leave a comment

Things really aren’t going my way at the poker tables right now. I know I said the other day that my results had improved following the reading of a couple of poker books but I think I might have spoken too early. Sure, I had a good day the first day back after reading the books and made a nice profit but since then things have been much tougher. I am always wary of commenting on poker sessions as they tend to involve fairly small samples making it hard to drawn any meaningful conclusions so there is a tendency to view things in a results-oriented way as a few hands can make or break the session. This is especially true for tournament play where a villain outdrawing you can bust you out of the event so it’s even more important to separate good decision-making from results. But that’s not always that easy.

At the heart of my problems is a focus/concentration issue that has dogged me for many years, perhaps even most of my online poker career. I rarely bring my ‘A’ game to the table and it seems there is little I can do about that. If I could identify the cause of the problems I could take meaningful steps to counter the problem but I haven’t been able to as yet. It’s a uniquely online problem as when I am playing I can’t concentrate on the game in hand and have to do several other things at the same time. I’m not focusing on the table(s) I am playing and will be off filling in spreadsheets, answering email, reading forums etc. and only popping back to the tables when they beep to indicate it’s my turn to act. How can I expect to make a profit from this game if my head’s not in it?

In fact my head’s not even close to being in the game really. Over the years I have read a lot of poker books and strategy articles on websites and in magazines. I know how to play this game, and what’s more I reckon I know how to play it pretty well. I most definitely know how to play it better than I do at present. Switch off all the distractions and put all my brain power into the game and I will do much better. So why can’t I do that? Why can’t I play to the best of my ability? OK, I accept that playing my absolute best all of the time may be tiring but I am playing low stakes SnGs so the games shouldn’t be that hard to beat should they? Therefore playing somewhere close to my best most of the time ought to be enough to ensure a profit.

In order to address this problem I need to identify why I get distracted when I play. If I can do that then I can put countermeasures in place and things should improve. So in no particular order, a brain storm of reasons behind my lack of focus at the tables threw up things like:

  • distractions are readily available – I usually have my email and a web browser open whenever my PC is on. Who doesn’t in this day and age? I could close the applications down but what is to stop me firing them up again?
  • I have time to ‘play’ with the things that distract me – I have time to check my email if not fire off a quick reply between hands. I can run a few Google searches between hands, or read a couple of new forum posts. In short I am not involved in the game enough to keep me from getting distracted.
  • the stakes are too low to really interest me – if I lost twenty tournaments in a row would it really matter in the grand scheme of things? Not, not really. I risk more than that on horses every day.
  • poker is just a game, entertainment – maybe I’m not viewing poker as a money-making exercise but as pure entertainment. Maybe that’s partly due to the low stakes I am playing at, who knows. It’s almost impossible to step outside my brain and look back at how I view the game of poker though.

There are no doubt other contributory factors but the issue of involvement in the game is probably the key one. If I am always involved in some action at the poker tables then I don’t have time for other distractions. If something at the poker tables always demands my attention then I don’t have time for email, forums or spreadsheets. It makes sense doesn’t it? But what is that ‘something’ that needs my attention? The obvious answer is playing a hand, of course. If I have to decide whether to fold, call or raise then I need to think about which action makes most sense and is the best option given past actions and what is likely to happen. My brain can usually crank out an answer in double quick time though and perhaps therein lies another problem. Am I rushing certain poker decisions?

Many hands are an easy fold but in late position and as the blinds rise some marginal hands become playable. Am I passing up too many such opportunities? Am I not spotting the easy blind steals/re-steals because I am not paying much attention to how the rest of the table play? I have recently switched my Poker Tracker HUD back on, having played without it for ages as I felt it was a distraction at the stakes I play at, but I am not really using it. The idea was that I would think about player types more but it’s not working so far. I am OK thinking along the lines of “Ah, that raise came from early position so the raiser probably has a decent hand” as that sort of thinking is built into my instincts now. What I don’t have in my gut reactions is reasoning such as “The BB doesn’t defend very often so a raise could win this pre-flop. Ah, but hang on, the button is short-stacked and is probably looking to get his stack in soon so I need a better hand to steal than I would otherwise.” All that information is available to me via the HUD or just as part of the poker client software so I have no excuse really for not using it. I need to play slightly less instinctively and take the time to think through potentially marginal situations and ensure I am making the right decision more often than not.

Another way to be more involved in the game is to have more decisions to make. I’ve already covered putting more thought into each decision so if I can do that and have more decisions to make then I surely can’t have the time to get distracted. How do I make sure I have more decisions though? One way would be to play more tables. I already play four at once and find that anything less is detrimental to my game. When I am winding a session down and am finishing off the last couple of tournaments I tend to find I stray from the tables far more than I do when I have four tables on the go. Unfortunately, even though I have a dual screen setup I don’t like to have more than four Full Tilt tables up at once. I like the table  size when I tile four tables and find them too small when I go higher than that. So if I can’t really play more tables at once how do I up the hand, and thus decision, count? Turbo SnGs!

I had a thought a little while ago that I should maybe give turbo SnGs a go as my standard SnG results were pretty rubbish. I decided I would continue to play normal speed SnGs until I had logged 500 such Full Tilt tournaments in Poker Tracker. I’m currently on 487, out of interest. I would then spend a little while analysing the data from that to see how my game could be improved and what leaks and issues I could identify. I’d then play turbo SnGs on Full Tilt until such time as my database had the results for 500 of those too. It currently has 50 tourneys in there from a brief experiment into playing turbos a good while back so another 450 to go.

Some of the analysis I want to do is rather tricky to do with Poker Tracker, it doesn’t really lend itself to some of the angles I want to investigate. For example, I wonder if I am panicking and pushing all-in too early in the tournament. Is my stack too big to play pushbot with? I tend to start this phase of the tournament when my stack is around 10xBB but recently I have become aware that I may still be pushing the wrong hands in the wrong situations around this point. I tend to think “Argh, just 10xBB so I’d better make a move” so shove QJo and inevitably run into an Ace or King that holds up. In reality though I can probably safely fold many of those hands, unless I have a prime steal opportunity, until my stack gets down to 5-6xBB. Actually, having taken another look Poker Tracker does have pre-flop stack size filters so I can check how I do when my stack is 10xBB or less. I didn’t think I could do that. Hmm, that’s handy then.

That said, it still seems that Poker Tracker is best for scenario-based analysis. The user has to think how their game may be suffering and then run it through Poker Tracker for a yes/no answer – more or less. To a certain degree you can start to break the full set of data down and highlight areas of interest. For example, it’s simple to filter by position or by hole cards to see which hands are profitable from which position. But this is simple analysis that probably won’t identify too many leaks. You need to add more layers of analysis such as blind levels, effective stack sizes, number of players at the table and so on. And once you do this you’re better off devising specific scenarios and looking at those. How do I perform when there are four players left, i.e. on the bubble? Am I stealing enough from the button? Am I defending my blinds too lightly? How does my stack size effect this? And so on. I tend to think the best approach is to identify an area of the game where improvement will have the most drastic results – which is usually short-stacked play or play around the bubble – and look at that from a number of angles. That way any leaks I can identify and plug ought to have tangible results and I can fine-tune other areas later, once I have started to show some real return on these changes to my game.

And that needs to happen soon because I feel like I am rapidly approaching the day where I am forced to admit that I can’t make money from online poker!

Categories: Poker

Ch-ch-changes

April 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Sorry, things have been a bit quiet on the gambling front and that has translated into a quiet blog also.I added a few new pages recently, including a review of my activities in March plus a new Discontinued Services page listing those systems and services that are no longer part of my portfolio for whatever reason. I also updated my Portfolio Breakdown and Watch List at the same time so that everything is representative of my current portfolio. But these are page changes so probably don’t show up on RSS feeds and subscriptions. So there’s me thinking I have added some new material recently while you lot are thinking it has been very quiet for the past week or so. Sorry about that.

It’s partly the time of year. It’s easy to blame the changeover from NH to flat for many things. I know a lot of tipsters are cautious as the flat horses don’t have a lot of relevant form in the book so they are more reliant on whispers and early glimpses of a stable’s form to see how various fancies are likely to perform. Often stakes are reduced with just a few minimum stakes bets to play with. And with the jumps racing winding down a little there are fewer NH meetings so the systems are picking out fewer bets there. All in all it makes for a quiet life on the racing front, and when it’s quiet I often find other ways to amuse myself.

My football research hasn’t moved on much since I wrote that it had stalled and that was a couple of weeks back at least, wasn’t it? I don’t really know why though. The area I am working on at present isn’t the most interesting I suppose but it is essential data processing that ought to lead to useful, meaningful conclusions. But it’s a bit of a slog at the mo and any output is merely an input to another process or provides steerage to other aspects of the research. I couldn’t complete this particular area of research and make money from it, not directly, and that’s perhaps what is dragging me back. Maybe I need a change of tack for now, get on with some alternative research and hope that provides the spark I need to kick it all into action and make real progress. Right now I am lacking enthusiasm somewhat and that’s a bad place to be given the size of the project as a whole.

Then there’s poker, of course. When I started playing again at the start of March I was full of beans, full of ideas and full of promise. I have only played around 150 low-stakes SnGs since then and already I am feeling a little burned out. Actually more stuck in a rut than burned out. I am playing as part of a routine but the way I play has become routine too. I need to inject some spark there too. I need to focus on the game of poker more, not my email, the internet etc. I play four tables at once and I am wondering of I need to throw a couple more into the mix to give my mind something else to work on. No time to get distracted, that’s the basic idea. Always a hand on the go somewhere. I did think about stepping up the stakes a little (and only a little) to try and force my mind to focus. Make the stakes mean something, even if only a little bit still. But I think that way madness lies. If I can’t get my game right to beat the fish at the lowest levels how can I even think about going up a level? Right now I am playing poker as though it were a game; it’s entertainment rather than a potential source of profit and I need to smash that mindset – somehow!

It’s surely no coincidence that the lack of focus for poker and the football research comes at a time when my health is less than 100%. Not that I am desperately ill, nor am I dying – no more than anyone else is anyway. But the adrenal tumour I have does cause problems now and then, and the drugs I am on to counteract the effects of the tumour don’t help any. I have good spells and not so good spells and I guess I’m verging on the not so good at the minute. But I’ll get over it. A bit more of a spark on the gambling front might help kick-start things. What I really need is some good early flat season profits and an exciting Grand National on Saturday. That’d see me just right I reckon.

Lady luck cools my red hot poker

March 23, 2011 Leave a comment

It has been a little while in coming but finally I am going to talk at length about poker. Football, horses and all that can wait while I wax lyrical about cards.

Poker is a very important part of my portfolio for several reasons. For one it’s something I feel I have much more control over the outcome of than any individual bet. If I play terribly then I can expect to lose and I have only myself to blame. There’s no jockey to ride a finish a circuit too early. No referee to send off the wrong player. I am involved in determining whether I make a profit or not. To some extent, anyway. It doesn’t necessarily transpire that if I play the best I can that I will profit from poker, whether one looks at an individual session/tournament or indeed the game as a whole. But the better I play the greater the chance I should have of making money so it is in my interests to stay focused and do the best I can.

Poker also takes up my time. With sports betting all I need to do is log in to the bookie/exchange website, find the right market and place the bet. It takes seconds, really. Then it’s just a case of sitting and waiting. As discussed above I can’t influence the result so I don’t need to spend any time working on improving my return once the bet is on. Not so with poker. Once I sit down at the tables I am there till the end. I play SnG tournaments so I am at the tables till I either win the thing or am knocked out. I need to be on top of my game for however long that takes – just under an hour usually. That’s time spent playing poker, time during which I can’t do anything else – at least not if I want to maximise my chances of making money at the game. Poker is a way of keeping myself amused yet still trying to make money.

However, of late my poker has been anything but amusing. I am currently experiencing a truly awful run of results – I am without a win in my last 36 tournaments! These are only nine-man SnGs so by the law of averages I should have won at least one or two of them. (I know it doesn’t work like that, don’t worry.) I’ve had a few second and third place finishes (three seconds, six thirds) but these have not been enough to stem a fairly rapid flow out of my bankroll of late. Somehow though I am still in profit for the month – just!

To give you an idea of how bad this run is, I have dropped nearly 20 buy-ins over the past few days. To put that into perspective for non-SnG players the suggested bankroll is 40-50 buy-ins. I have lost close to have my bank in just a few days. Admittedly I am currently operating a much bigger bankroll than that as my main focus is on experience rather than profit at this point. I am still looking to make money where I can but I am looking to get more events under my belt rather than maximising my profit, else I would have stepped up to higher stakes by now.

I knew a run like this was going to happen and in a way I am pleased it has happened now. I am only a few weeks into my rebooted poker career and this is a welcome reality check. It also means this run as come at low stakes so in cash terms a loss of 20 buy-ins is pretty cheap compared to what it may have set me back had it not come along for a few months. That’s not to say that this is the only such run I will experience, nor that this run is over. That’s now how these things work. You can learn a lot from runs such as this one though, including resilience and mental fortitude.

It has helped that before I restarted my poker I read The Poker Mindset by Ian Taylor and Matthew Hilger. It was a book I learned really helped a couple of sponsored poker pros I was reading about somewhere (I forget where) so dug it off the bookshelf and gave it a whirl. Yep, decent book. I think I have a much better mental attitude towards the game and it’s vagaries too.

There was a time when I would go back and replay the last hand of every tourney I played but looking back I don’t know what this was supposed to achieve. Why concentrate on one single hand? Especially as mistakes that had a fundamental impact on my finishing position were probably made long before that point. And what does looking at one hand tell anyone? It is far more important to make the right decisions and forget about individual results and that’s what I am trying to do.

That’s why I am not worried about my results per se. I am slightly concerned about my play though. In the past I have had a tendency to play poker for something to do rather than as a way of making money. I sat down with the intention of passing the time and hopefully making a few quid rather than making a profit being my main aim. Bad habit. I still need to keep an eye on my play and my reasons for playing when I do sit at the tables. I know I am not currently playing to the best of my ability and need to crack down on my sloppy play. Even though the stakes are low there is no reason why I shouldn’t give it my all.

That said, I am often doing all I can, making the right decisions but not getting that little slice of luck that you need from time to time. For example, my short-stacked shoves seem to be up against stronger hands a lot of the time and when they are not the villain will outdraw me. I’m often getting my money in ahead and sometimes dominating the villain but he’ll pair his kicker and get out that way. It’s annoying when these things happen but it’s decisions that matter, not results. I was right to get my money in ahead and I should play the hand exactly the same way in the future.

So what can I do about this bad run? Nothing really. I need to ensure I am playing the best I can, making the right decisions at the right times. If I do that then things will turn themselves around for me. It may not be today, it may not be tomorrow. But it will happen.

Categories: Poker

Two for the price of one

March 5, 2011 Leave a comment

I was out at a screening of Round Ireland with a Fridge on Thursday evening so obviously couldn’t update this blog then and I wasn’t feeling great yesterday (which is in no way connected to the screening) so you’ve had to wait till now to find out how things went. And while I am here I may as well tell you about yesterday too, eh?

Thursday saw a more even balance of backs and lays then I enjoy most days. What this generally means is more losing bets though as the backs have a significantly lower SR than the lays. A small but steady drain on the bankroll punctuated by a decent profit rather than a dripfeed of small profits plus the occasional big loss. As it happens all but one of the lay bets were profitable (I never know whether to say a profitable lay is one that lost or one that won, it depends on whether you view the lay as a bet or as a horse I guess) with the losing bet coming on one of my bigger banks (Easy Money Lays). But that’s better than the back bets I had. A total of 17 bets across five different systems/services and not a single winner – ouch! I ended the day with figures of 11 from 29, down 9.20pts.

With it being a Thursday there were no football bets and as I spent the morning buggering about trying to repair my system qualifier software I didn’t have time to play poker either.

Friday was a bit of a weird one. I felt rough when I woke up but soon came round a bit and felt like I was in the zone – or at least close to it – when I sat down to play poker that morning. The results weren’t amazing but with another two wins and a second place (this time from seven SnGs) it was another $20 profit and another psychological boost. It felt like I played well which is just as important as making a few quid. I hope to be able to step up the amount I am playing soon but I am trying to break myself in gently and not overdo it. Plus I keep finding myself too busy to really dedicate the time to playing and I don’t want to repeat my past mistakes of squeezing in games when I wasn’t really able to as then I can’t play my best game.

By the time the afternoon’s racing had started I was back to feeling somewhat off colour again. It happens with these tablets I am on and it’s fortunate that I am in a position where I don’t have to try and work through it and can take a break, go have a lie down or whatever. That’s what I did yesterday, bunging orders on for the second half of the afternoon so I could lie on the sofa and watch Baz Lurhmann’s Romeo and Juliet on DVD. This meant I caught Eastern Gift on the Lay’em system at a bigger price than I would expect to otherwise. It went off at 3/1 and I was matched at 6.8 so a hefty overlay but these things happen I suppose. The afternoon hadn’t been going too well up to that point anyway with a few reasonably large backs going down. I didn’t hold out a great hope for the evening meeting at Wolverhampton to turn the day around but it did with consecutive double figure winners. The NailedOn AW system picked out Golan Heights (20/1 SP) in the 7.15 followed by Mr Maximas (14/1 SP) in the 8.15. I was on at 26.0 and 22.0 respectively on Betfair so comfortably beat SP on both even after commission. Those two (and it needed them both, mind) were enough to turn the day from red to black, up 28.23pts with 14 winners from 30 bets.

Two days with similar strike rates then but very different profit figures.

A triumphant return

March 2, 2011 Leave a comment

Tuesday was a very quiet day for me, especially after dropping the Classic Lays and Premier Lays from my portfolio following the usual monthly review. It was a tough decision but I think it was the right one for the sake of my bottom line. It’s hard to drop them though as they are part of Unity Racing (my tipster service) and suspending them from my portfolio feels like an admission of failure. I have advised my members to downgrade the systems to watch only too, another blow to my pride but again I feel it was the right move given recent performance levels. I hope they return to the form they showed early on and that the new Market Leaders system can dig me out of a bit of a hole too. Time will tell.

March didn’t start too well on that front though, Market Leaders picking up a couple of winners. I stake that one to fixed liability (all my other lay systems are fixed stake) so that’s 2pts dropped. There were only a few other lays (the horses lost, the bets won) and on odds-on back (Ruthenoise) which lost. Daily figures of 3 from 6 resulting in a loss of 0.12pts. I said it was a quiet day didn’t I?

It wasn’t a great evening on the football pitch for my bets either. Football Elite tipped up an Espanyol win but after taking the lead they succumbed to two second half goals by Mallorca and the bet was a loser. Bet Bank Alerts fancied Sporting Gijon (+1) on the Asian handicap but they lost 3-0 to Sevilla. The under 5.5 cards in the Chelsea-Man Utd game was looking fairly good till the last few minutes when it got a bit card crazy and the bet went south.

It wasn’t all bad though, as you might expect given this post’s title. I had been delaying it for a while but yesterday I made my return to the poker tables, playing five SnGs at Full Tilt. I’m only playing $5+0.50 SnGs while I get back into the swing of it but I hope to play a decent number each month, generating a reasonable return and building the bankroll so I can step up the stakes over time. That’s the plan anyway.

Why SnGs not cash games? I thought you said you couldn’t class yourself as a proper poker player until you cracked cash games. Yeah, yeah. My ego has gone out the window in favour of the analytical part of my brain that realised (and I really already knew) that SnGs are what I do best and make most money from so why not stick to what your good at.

The session took place at the wrong time – I started playing in the afternoon whereas I’d rather play in the morning so I am not distracted by having to get my racing bets on but I was desperate for a game – and got off to a bad start thanks to me having real focus issues (which will no doubt get a regular mention in this blog) but I settled and started playing properly, eventually. My play was good enough to net two wins and a second place though, along with an eighth and a bubble fourth. A profit of $31 though, I’m happy with that though and hope to continue making a profit. Let’s see how long I go before spitting my dummy out!