Monday, April 03, 2006

What Have I Learned From Losing Last Month?

I have officially seen the worst downswing in my brief poker playing history. I hate reading other player's posts about their losing streaks so I will not detail the individual hands.

The culmination of this streak was my trip to Las Vegas last weekend with my friend Tom and his two friends Brad and Ken. I believe the total wreckage of the weekend was down $1,500.

Here is what I believe I have learned during the last 6 weeks of losing:

1. If you start out bad at a table, it's best to just change tables or change games.

I have never been a big proponent of the loss limit camp to betting strategy. If the game is good, you should be patient and wait for the cards to turn. It's all one big session. That is all true, however there are other things that override that strategy.

When you start out losing, you are building a bad table image. I sat at the 6-12 table at Caesers with some of the worst players in Vegas. For the first two hours, I did not win a single hand. These players are not afraid to play a hand with me, because they haven't felt the sting of losing against me. They are happy to chase their long shot draws because it never enters their mind that they are hopelessly behind in the hand. Why should it, every time they play against me, they win? The only way to change this image is to go on a mad rush of cards and punish the table for an hour. This seems to very seldom happen, so I think the best strategy is to get up and find a fresh table.

2. You have to be even more patient at No Limit then Limit in cash games

The only way to make money in a No Limit cash game on the internet is to hope that your great hands, match up with somebody's pretty good hand. There are very few opportunities to outplay your opponents in low limit online NL hold'em. The key is to keep throwing bait in the water by playing solid hands along with a few speculative ones. Once you land the nuts, you need to get lucky and hope someone else really likes their hand. Hopefully your stack has not been eroded by bad beats or impatient play, so that when you double up with your monster, it makes a profit for the session instead of just getting you back to even.

I say patient, because I have often lost it, after receiving a number of good hands in a game and not getting paid off. Eventually you start to get fancy and try checking or slow playing. Then it comes back to bite you in the ass.

Overall, I am going to take a few days off from playing and figure out a new plan. I am probably going to have to drop down to 2-4 online and grind it out in the cash games again. With live poker, I guess I am going to have to back to the 3-6 games to regain my confidence and bankroll. Or I may just concentrate on the Steps and see if I can make a big score to rebuild the bankroll in a hurry. I still feel that I have not been outplayed, however I did notice one difference in my play at 3-6 versus 6-12.

At 3-6, the game feels easy to me. I can concentrate more on the players, and less on how much money I have in front of me. I know I am not describing this well, but I feel like I know what the players are going to do, before they do it at 3-6. It's near impossible to read their hands sometimes, but at least I can get a read on whether they are weak or strong.

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