I have a goal.
I’ve been running fairly well in the .05/.10 PLO games, steadily increasing my roll. It is not unlike my experience on Poker Academy with my two primary nicks, which is heartening. (I can hear Akileos now, waxing about learning curves, and while it is good to be a quick study in a pool of other newbie fish, eventually the talent catches up, which makes the game more difficult to beat. Yeah, I’m already taking that into consideration. In the meantime, I’m gonna go for the ride.) Part of that success has been good bankroll management, and for me that means not playing scared at levels that may be a little too steep for my wallet. For now, $10 PLO seems to fit the bill. I have 30 buy-ins (I’ve doubled my initial Stars investment) and am comfortable with the variance that comes along. Sometimes I get it in with the best, or what appears to be the best, and get clocked. Yet, I’d say I’m running at about an 80% sessions win rate. That goal I mentioned? If my game continues on its current trajectory, once I have accumulated 15 buy-ins for the next level, I’m moving up.
Last night’s game started out well, getting me all that more closer to my goal, and putting me over the double-up of my initial investment. The tables were soft enough, despite the luckboxes. I had doubled my buy-in and was feeling good, despite missing a good opportunity to score huge when some absolute nut cases came into the room. Perhaps I should have taken the flop with my solid wrap despite the all-in madness. I was essentially card dead for the rest of the feeding frenzy.
Of course, when the mayhem has ceased, I start getting hands again. Yet, as is often the case in PLO, fortunes (albeit very small) can turn on a dime. My flopped straight with only nut draws lost to a boat on the river when we got it all-in on the flop. (“Nice catch.” “I wasn’t trying to catch. I thought my set was good.” Good, then stick around.) Then my set went down to a boat and I had to rebuy. Oh well. A few hands later I flopped a boat and got it all-in right then and there. The pot would have been a split had I not turned a bigger boat. I’m even; I’m leavin’.
But I didn’t leave. Instead, with the intention of trying to win back what I had lost, I had decided to preview a $25 PLO game and was sitting in on a game already. Oh, I know this is just asking for trouble, but I told myself that I would play a very conservative game and thereby limit my losses. In other words, play scared. I closed out the small room to give my undivided attention to my new foes.
In the very first hand I played, I had to fold two sets, sixes and Queens to what looked like a rivered straight. Intending to check-raise (Hwang writes that there is little check-raising in PLO and I am curious to find out why.) I neglected to bet the first set on the flop from the SB. The river gave me a set of Queens as well, yet the Jack and Ten on the board gave me the willies. In short, I was playing scared. Maybe. Just maybe it was a good fold.
As a matter of fact, a few hands later I was all in with the same player as we split a straight and unlike me, he had played a nice wrap. I imagined him cussing at the screen. The very next hand, the same player took down a small pot with yet another straight.
Right now I’m looking over the hand history to help me remember the sequence of events at this table. At the time, he seemed like I was playing a lot of hands; yet, I see that for the first two rounds I played 5 hands, 2 which I folded postflop, one folded on the turn, one on the river and one went to showdown. I was playing just around 30%, which is usual for me. Perhaps the reason I feel like I was playing a high percentage was because of what the last one and a half rounds held in store.
13 hands before I retired for the evening I took down a $14 pot with two pair on a dry river for a chased flush. On the 12th hand I won $5 with a straight. On the 11th hand I folded quad Queens (preflop, of course). Number 10 garnered me a dollar. Between hands 10 and 5 I was in two hands up to the turn and bailed, but on hand 5 my boat won 60 cents. Hand #4 was the hand I outlined in the previous post where my set of 3s had an Ace kicker for $8 more. Hand #3 I folded on the turn. Hand #2 I raised preflop with Aces and took the blinds. Hand #1 found me folding and exiting the table. I was happy with the spurt. I played 9 out of 13 hands. I was getting great cards, and lo and behold, some were holding up. I was up 50% of my buy-in, and I suppose I could have continued but it was turning into a late night and I still had some work to do (plus I didn’t want to push my luck), so I called it a night (and spent the next hour playing hands over in my head).
I’ve played at this level two other times, once for a small loss and another time for a similar profit. To be honest, I don’t see any difference in the skill level between the $10 and $25 rooms. What I do notice is a lot more $5 chips in the middle in the bigger game. That is still a bit daunting. Add to that the fact that my game is still so very basic, and I know that it is prudent to remain at the lower levels until I understand a few more concepts about the game. I know, for instance, that getting good cards and winning pots is not all there is to this game. I know that I am missing out on preflop opportunities to raise. And while I can read a board with the best of them, I am still nearly clueless to an opponents hand range. When I do understand these things better, then I’ll move up. The number of buy-ins I have is not enough of a reason to make the move. But when I do make the move, I’ll let you know.