(If you don’t fancy reading then click here to see the Monthly Roundup March Youtube video)
I can’t reiterate enough that playing poker is one horribly amazing emotional roller coaster. It will not only test your brain with numbers and statistics, but it will batter your mental resolve and emotional stability to boot. It can really be beautiful sometimes. It can also be outrageously infuriating.
As always, the month of March was no different. I glided across my first 28,000 hands hitting a lovely high point of $370 dollar profit while also running below all-in expected ev which was sitting pretty at $540 (see THIS for a little explanation of what expected value means)
I felt good. Actually, I felt absolutely great. I’ve put in thousands of hours of poker play and study over the years and I have had pretty much nothing to show for it. But this month felt like my work was starting to pay off. It wasn’t the fact that my results were looking pretty nice, of course it helped, but my actual style of play has changed dramatically over the last 2 months.
I have become increasingly more aggressive and I could see the results paying off. Not only in winnings, but in non-showdown winnings.
Now I won’t dive into too much details about the red line but basically, nearly everyone will have a negative red line because everyone has to put money into the blinds with any 2 cards and plays hands out of position, or, more often than not, will just simply fold.
The puzzle isn’t about making a positive red line, but mitigating the damage made by those pesky blinds.
This puzzle is somewhat ‘solved’ by increased aggression against certain player types. Many player types at $25nl (myself was included) only reraise really strong hands because they come to the wrong conclusion that they couldn’t raise a hand as weak as KJo because ‘only better hands will call’. But KJo is often a hand, depending on the position, that is too weak to call. So if you can’t call because of domination issues (you’ll get dominated by hands like AJ,KQ,AK etc) and you don’t want to raise for the fear of being called by a better hand then that simply leaves one option, to fold? Right?
Well not exactly. If a certain villain folds to over 50% of reraises then that could sway a decision to go from folding KJo to raising as a bluff. It is defined as a bluff because if the villain was to reraise AGAIN then your KJo is nearly always absolutely crushed and it’s an easy fold. If you reraise a villain and everyone folds, you win the blinds plus his initial raise without going to showdown – and thus your non-showdown winnings improve. Get it?
Now there are endless books, articles, videos and forums discussions based on this one incredibly complex part of poker. And I have only begun to scratch the surface. But this is why you can never ever stop studying and learning and evolving as a player. There are simply too many variables to take into consideration and obviously, every player plays the game differently.
So moving away from some of the more technical aspects of poker, let me talk to you about my inevitable downswing and how even in a downswing I could take real solace in my improvements.
So there I was, hitting 28,000 hands, not far from my 40,000 hand target and inching ever closer to my first Goldstar reward (Pokerstars reward program). And then it comes. A buy in down, followed by another, and another. And suddenly I was hit with a $250 dollar downswing and was veering drastically close to another non profit month.
This is what I felt as my first real proper downswing. Anything I have had before now I know was not just a downswing but general bad play, loose calls and terrible poker. This one actually felt different. My confidence was shaken, I was scared to play big pots and I think I may have been overcompensating and becoming too aggressive in some spots. But I also powered through. I shortened my sessions, I injected logic at every given opportunity, I gave myself a stop loss limit and I really just tried hard to make sure that I continued to do what you have to do in a downswing, or at any other time playing poker.
Play each hand the best way that you possibly can.
AND THEN BANG!
Just like the classic Disney Pixar film. Up. Up. Up.
From dancing on the precipice of yet another shitty month to getting back to my near glory days of $250+ profit.
It’s funny that I had a friend come back up to Norwich yesterday and I knew he would ask me how poker is going. We had met playing poker and so it’s all we can generally talk about whenever we get a chance to meet up.
Whilst in my downswing I was kind of laughing to myself that my response was going to be “Well if you had asked me yesterday then I would have told you that this month has been the best for a long while”. But luckily the poker gods were on my side and gave me an upswing on the very day I went to meet him.
So that begs the question. What could possibly have changed within a 48 hour period? And the answer is; nothing but the results. As as I’ve said many many times before. The key to success in poker is not to be results orientated.
Work hard. Study hard. And play hard. And the results will organise themselves.
Key March Points
- I was ill for nearly a 1/3 of March and was totally bedridden. I therefore did far less study on my return than what I had planned.
- With my Pokerstar points, I decided to purchase a cheap Amazon tablet, case and a cheeky map of Norfolk. This tablet will be loaded with poker related study for me to devour while cycling across Europe
- I have never been more focused and dedicated to actually making this poker thing work. I may have suggested that I was refocusing on some of my time on other future career options but to put it bluntly, fuck that. I need $400 a month to live like a relatively raggedly king in India and I am certain as a possibly can be that that is achievable. Stocks and shares will have to wait.
- In my first little live poker tournament with friends, I was the unlucky bubble boy when my AQ got cracked by the eventual winners AJ. This reminded me why I dislike poker tournaments in general and also made me realise how little I know about the different format. Cash games for life.
- Goldstar Reward Program promotion. Earning up to 67% rakeback. I’ll let you guys know how much it all works out to at the beginning of next month
- I may be stopping these Monthly Roundups in favour of weekly updates. This was based on my psychological state when coming closer to the end of the month and whilst in my downswing. I was very aware that any readers only get a glimpse into basically the thing that matters least…the results. I believe switching to a weekly review may give me less pressure when the final week of the month comes along. We’ll see how it goes