Monday, July 21, 2008

Thoughts Looking for...

No casino this weekend. We had dinner guests Sunday and I spent the greater portion of my afternoon sitting in front of my grill, Stella Artois in hand, getting up only to check the temperature gauge on my grill top, turn the chicken and slather on more barbeque sauce.

Missed my home game on Friday as well. It starts at 7 o’clock with a tourney, the cash game for losers begins at about 10, and the whole affair can wrap up as late as 4 or 5 in the morning. Lately, I’ve been avoiding the tourney and hitting the cash game late, but not this week. I wanted to be well-rested for the Highland Games outing.

I am, however, managing to squeeze in some time at Poker Academy and I’m doing OK there. Play money can have a treacherous field of players who will call nearly any pre-flop raise, no matter the size, hoping 26 suited will hit big on the flop. I could get pissed, except this type of play is not unlike the $1/2 game at the casino, or even our home game after players have finished off the six-pack they brought with them. Instead, I look at the loose play money games as good practice for the type of games my bankroll forces me to play elsewhere.

There is a general assumption that play money games are looser than cash games. While this might be largely the case, I would maintain that it is not whether there is real money at stake, but how much real money one has to “blow” without feeling any effects on one’s ability to pay bills, eat or send the kids to college. Additionally, in that time is money, for free games, one must also take into consideration whether responsibilities are getting blown off in order to go all-in with any Ace or spend that time improving one’s game. If one has wads of cash or oodles of time, and doesn’t really give a shit about frittering either away, then the play in either a cash or play money game can pretty much be fancy-free.

The consensus of serious players is that donks are always welcome. And yes, I love getting a good piece of a calling station who hopes to spike an Ace. But again, when that Ace does hit on the river, and there is real money involved, the effects can be devastating for someone like myself who has a rather paltry roll.

So, while on the one hand I’m anxious to go back to the casino, I’m also anxious about encountering the cooler. To get stacked at Poker Academy is a minor setback and I can rebuild over the next couple sessions. At the casino, losing a buy-in means one less day at the casino in the future, and therefore one less opportunity to build a bigger roll.

I have a friend who insists that I start playing Limit at the casino. I can play $3/6 for quite a while and not lose as much as I do playing NL, nor win as much either. (I don’t lose all of the time!) Perhaps I’d need a little more practice and patience before delving into a game where half the world may be with you at the river. Or, it may be the perfect game for me inasmuch as every board seems to suggest several ways I can be beat. Wrong or right, if the odds merit the showdown, then I won’t be getting too far out of line on either the weak or aggressive side. I’ll see. (If I do play, rest assured I’ll post about it.)

Again, what I don’t want to do is lose all of the money I have put aside for poker. I could just play the home game and be done with it, satisfied with the $.50/1 game. Or, I could find a way to get more cash onto an online cash site. The money I have set aside for the casino would go a long way online, provided I stayed at the .10/.25 or so games.

I’m thinking that online might also be a more efficient way to go as well in that I don’t have to worry about transportation costs, food, tipping, etc. I would miss some of the interactions and people-watching that live games afford. That would be the only downside. Another benefit would be that it would keep me far away from those slots. Even though I have replaced the term “slot” with the name of an old girlfriend, well, sometimes I forget to remember the pain and suffering. Hoping to get rich on the slots is like hoping the beatings will stop.

Do I overstate? I don’t think so. And I imagine the same can be said for poker. I see people on their way down or already there at the casino. And for those of you who play in the poker rooms in the Los Angeles area or spend time at online sites, you’re familiar with the room trolls looking to be “staked” or just out-and-out given a few bucks to go toward the buy-in that’ll turn everything around. The latter type are the same guys that earlier in their poker “career” were visiting the ATM every half hour. The earlier version is happy time for other players; the latter, the end result, is a tragic individual, and a pathetic pain in the ass.

I bring this up for one reason: What would I do if I lost my whole roll? Would I quit playing poker? Well, there’s always Poker Academy. I can still play for fake money. But what would be the point? For fun? I don’t play poker for fun. I play poker at PA to get better at playing poker. It’s not exactly a task; it’s a regimen to build a skill that promises certain rewards. Those rewards are supposed to be monetary. At Poker Academy there is a ranking system of players, and I have been fortunate enough and/or sufficiently skilled to remain among the top players there. Not enough. “He’s one helluva good poker player but he’s broke” is not what I want to hear, ever.

A lot of pros have reportedly lost and won fortunes, gone into the hole, borrowed money to stay in the game, and eventually get to the point where they no longer have money worries. Such stories may do a great disservice. I can see someone using such apocrypha as an excuse to go deeper into a financial hole. We know it happens, and thankfully, recognizing this will keep me from that depth of despair.

Of course, as soon as I write the above, I return to the question: What would I do if I lost my whole bankroll? I’m going to dodge my own question for the time being. The same friend as above also maintains that within a year’s time I will have grown tired of this game and move onto something else. I suspect this is what happens more often — not the gutter — to those of us with inadequate funds to continue. If this is the case, I had better start working on new subject matter for this blog.


Pascale Soleil said...

Tired of the game? I doubt it.

I know the only reason I'd quit would be that I realized I could never be a profitable player over the long run.

And that would take some serious kind of evidence.

Suffice it to say, I'm not there yet.

PAPro_SandMan said...

I've already said we are distinctly different personalities, but I've been facing that exact question lately, so I'll give you the rundown on where I've landed and you can decide how, or if, it applies to you...

I was in the midst of a horrible run before heading to Las Vegas in February to meet and play with my poker friends from PA. I had lost $1,500 in only a couple of weeks at $1/$2 tables... Losing 9:1 advantages with consistency... Feeling a lump of fear every time I got a monster hand because it had almost always, lately, meant I was about to lose a lot of money. But I'm wondering off track of this comment's intent...

It didn't get any better in Vegas. At times, it was worse. I had a stretch of 3 days where absolutely every move I made was wrong... If not for a decent run late in the week, I would have been worse off than $2,500 down, which is how it turned out.

That run continued for another four months. For four years leading up to that span, I'd consistently made money at poker. I lost it all, and then some, and basically stopped playing poker for money round about mid-June. Plenty of money in the bank, but none of it for poker... I'd lost my will to keep feeding my income to Lady Luck.

No doubt I will start playing again here soon, having taken a significant enough break. I'll start with a single stack, leave if I lose it, and take another break until I'm willing to test the waters again. But eventually I'll start building again. The monkey will relocate to someone else's back and Lady Luck will seem less to me like a prison mate named Bubba.

Maybe that helps, maybe it doesn't, but I surely hope you don't give up and move on any time soon. This game and the PA community are better for having you.