Gambling

Farewell Poker

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I’ve been noting the possibility of this day for quite a while, and it’s finally here. I am saying farewell to online poker, likely for quite a while, but also likely, not forever.

I expected the day to come sometime in January, having gone through a very long drought of cashing in a tournament. Then, as I was about to run out of money in my account, I cashed on back-to-back days, coming fourth then eighth, adding enough money to last another two months. Since I didn’t cash again (though came very close a number of times), and the two months have now passed, it’s over.

I have a small amount in a secondary account, and could play some very low-stakes tourneys if the itch really hit me, but I don’t intend to do even that.

It was a fantastic run. I played my first ever online poker game on September 1, 2004. The last time I deposited money in my account was April 2005, so that money has lasted a very long time, and given me untold pleasure (yes, I still love online poker).

So, if I love it, and can afford it, why am I giving it up?

I have had to hop from site to site to site over the short number of years, as the US frightens online operators into dropping US citizens. Along the way, I have enjoyed the sites less and less, and the schedule of tournaments hasn’t matched my interest as much either.

Still, I was reasonably happy with my main site for the past two years. Until they changed their software and schedule so dramatically that I cut back to one tourney a day for the past six months (on the days that I played at all).

To add insult to injury, while I was draining my account, I got a note from them telling me that I wasn’t playing enough, and my status was being downgraded. Nice. In a down economy, rather than trying a carrot approach to entice me to play more, they chose the stick. Well, it worked, they won’t have to worry about downgrading me any further. ;-)

Given my obsessive personality, I am sure it won’t take long for some other activity to fill the void. I already have a good idea of what that will be, but this isn’t the right post to announce it…

Poker, thanks for the ride, see you down the road! :-)

December 2008 Poker

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December was no different than November. Good results in Omaha (though not many tournaments in general), and a total wipeout in the big Sunday Hold’Em tourneys, accounting for a terrible economic showing. Bottom line for the month: -$694.60.

In one of the big tourneys, they paid the top 135 spots. I finished 137th. I probably could have squeeked in if I just folded two more times, but I decided to play like I should, not like I was tempted to. It didn’t work out.

Anyway, another bad economic month, but another satisfying round of Omaha tourneys (though still a very light playing schedule).

For the year, a complete economic wipeout: -$2,128.26.

Horrible, obviously, on every level. That said, I was playing with previous winnings, and still have enough left in the account to play a bit more (a lot more if I would avoid paying full-freight in the big Sunday tourneys).

As much as I love playing online poker, and I really do, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m secretly looking forward to running out of money in the account, so I can obsess about other pursuits that I don’t make enough time for, given the siren song that poker sings to me. :-)

November 2008 Poker

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Ugh. That says it all. I played very little this month. I was really busy so it wasn’t a lack of desire. Unfortunately, I got to play in four of the five Sunday tournaments, and lost all four. That alone accounts for 98.56% of my loss this month. It’s a big number, and put a big dent in the account.

Total for the month is a loss of $872.58! Ouch!

Still have enough money to play all of the tourneys that I want, but I’m at a point where I can imagine running out of money in the account, and I’ve already decided that might not be a bad thing. I will most definitely not put money back in, at least not for a long while.

Given that I haven’t put any new money into the account since 2005, I have no complaints. I have enjoyed a long run (that isn’t over yet), full of enjoyment, without having to reach into my pocket in a long time.

Until next month. :-)

October 2008 Poker

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Wow. I was so excited and absorbed with our surprise trip to Cobleskill yesterday that I completely forgot to report on my poker results for October. While I was playing the big weekly tourney this evening, I realized that, and now that I’ve lost that one (part of next month’s report), I can now report on last month.

Bottom line: a loss of $488.75. Not so great. That said, it was actually a pretty good month. I made money playing Omaha (Hi), and cashed consistently. I lost all of my big weekly entries, which dragged me down. I played very little this month, so a few losses in the big one overwhelmed good results in general.

No complaints. I actually thoroughly enjoyed myself this month, regardless of the economic result. Even in the ones that I lost, I didn’t have lasting feelings of frustration, which is a nice improvement. :-)

See ya next month…

September 2008 Poker

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Since I won’t be playing tonight, I can safely report this month’s results. Also, since I intend to keep this very short, I’ll start with the bottom line, then a few highlights.

Bottom line: Profit of $642.25.

Not bad. :-)

I finally cashed again in the big Sunday Hold’Em tourney. It had been quite a while. I also won that seat, so the profit margin was pretty good. I came in 31st out of 800+ players, which was my best placing so far, but they pay the same for 31-40, and I’ve finished 38th and 39th before, so it just tied my best cash in that tourney (not that I’m complaining).

I also cashed again this month in the big Saturday Omaha tourney (which made it three weeks in a row!). Unfortunately, even though that was my favorite tourney each week, the site discontinued it right after that win. Oh well.

So, now I typically play in one medium-sized Omaha tourney a day. I have taken some pretty bad beats there, so I’m not currently above water in that one yet, but it’s not hurting the account too badly, and I’ll catch a card one of these days and make it worth my while.

August 2008 Poker

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Well, another month with a fair amount of poker frustration. That said, it was also a very good month on some other levels, including eeking out a small profit.

Without further ado, let’s get the economics out of the way: +$140.46.

Hardly earthshaking. In fact, as reported numerous times now, since I don’t play as much, and I tend to pay full freight in the bigger tourneys, my volatility is high. It takes big wins to cover the losing entry fees. This past month saw two nice wins on consecutive Saturdays, in the weekly big Omaha Hi/Lo tourney.

Last Saturday (the 23rd) I placed 6th, and received $1,050.00 for my $162 entry fee. Then yesterday, I played in the same tourney (the only one I played in yesterday) and finished 4th, receiving $1,500.00 for my $162. So, you’d think that I would be up a ton this month with those two scores, but, you already know that this wasn’t the case…

Tonight, in my last tourney of the month, I paid full freight for the weekly big Hold’Em tourney ($215). Because of the holiday weekend, there were only 758 entrants, so the top 80 got paid. Normally, the top 100 get paid. I was low on chips, but possibly had enough to slip into the money (not all that likely). So, I shoved UTG with 77. Only the big blind called. He had AKo. An A came on the flop, and I was out in 92nd, missing the money by 12 spots…

Oh well, clearly, the two big finishes in Omaha were extremely satisfying. Finishing close in the bigger weekly Hold’Em tourneys (I came reasonably close another time this month aside from tonight) is both frustrating and enjoyable, at the same time.

At least the account can handle another month of playing. :-)

July 2008 Poker

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I won’t be playing tonight, so I can safely report this month’s results now.

Given the past few months, this one was financially successful. That said, it was extremely unsatisfying financially, while simultaneously being extremely satisfying from a having a good time perspective. I guess you can’t have it all. ;-)

So, the bottom line first, then a few details that I want to report just to get them off my chest (and make the above paragraph a little less opaque).

I finished the month with a profit of $359.02. Not too shabby.

Still, it was a financially frustrating month. If you read this space regularly, you know that I play a lot less than I used to (as in a ton less). That means I have much less time to play in cheaper qualifiers, so I pay a lot more to enter the bigger tournaments. That means one or two bad breaks a month and it becomes very hard to show a profit.

This month, I lost in all four attempts at the big Sunday tourney. That was an $860 hole that I dug for myself! In addition, they now have a nice Omaha Hi/Lo on Saturday afternoon (perfect time for me!) that costs $162 to enter. I entered that one twice as well, so that’s nearly $1,200 just to enter these six tournaments.

In the big Sunday one, I just missed this week. I came 109th out of 944. They paid the top 100. I likely could have drifted into the money, and gotten back $300 for my $215. Psychologically, I needed to do that (or rather, could have benefited from a cash), but I knew that playing my JJ was the right thing to do. Amazingly, after a very big stack called my all-in, another guy went all-in (bigger stack than me, but less than the stack that called me!) and he only had AK. He risked his entire tournament on a draw with one person all-in, and a bigger stack calling it.

The guy who called me had 66, so I was ahead of him, and the AK got lucky and hit, so I was out. A week ago, I came 164th out of 901, so I’m getting close, but just not getting there all the way…

That said, in the new Saturday Omaha Hi/Lo, I had very good success this past Saturday. I came in 4th out of 72 players. That was good enough for a $1,500 payday (bring the month back into the black). That was my single largest cash in online poker. That’s why I say it was a frustrating month, as I needed that large of a cash just to put me somewhat ahead for the month.

My other minor frustrations were in some qualifiers. I missed winning seats to the Omaha Hi/Lo and the Sunday tourney by one spot at least three times this month. In one, I was the overwhelming chip leader and when it came down to two people, the other person hit every flop five hands in a row, and there was nothing I could do but come second. The free seat only came to first place… On the flip side, after paying the full freight, that’s the one I made my big cash in, so I can’t complain too loudly…

Anyway, on to another month. :-)

June 2008 Poker

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This month is simple to report on. Economically painful, but otherwise, enjoyable and almost non-existent.

I barely played this month. I’m reasonably sure it’s the lightest month since I started playing online poker in September 2004. That said, I played and lost two of the big weekly ones, paying full freight in both. I played in a few qualifiers (not the really cheap ones either) and didn’t win any seats, so that cost me too.

Bottom line was an ugly -$617.00 for the month. Over 2/3 of that came from just the two big tourney losses ($215 each) and with qualifiers, closer to 80%. I had two reasonable cashes (percentage-wise), but they didn’t come close to making up for it. In one, I put in $11 and finished 8th, and collected $39.60. In another, I put up $55 and came 9th (out of 199) and collected $170.

The one very bright spot for the month is that since I played very infrequently, I didn’t even get remotely upset (I swear!) even when my luck was horrible. I simply enjoyed playing, and took the beats in stride better than in the past, even though I have been improving in this area for a while now.

Anyway, I’m reporting now because I know for sure I won’t be playing tonight, so this is officially the end of the month for me.

May 2008 Poker

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Same old, same old, with some new stuff thrown in, to throw me/you off. ;-)

Right after I reported on April’s results, I transferred some money from my one poker site to another site. The two sites have an agreement between them (perhaps there is joint ownership, but I have no idea) whereby you can transfer money between them with no cost, an unlimited amount of times.

I decided to do that because my beloved Omaha Hi-Lo tourneys have virtually disappeared from my primary site, and even the Hold’Em tourneys have become more of a circus side-show (IMHO). I actually prefer the software from my primary site, but I do enjoy playing Omaha Hi-Lo on the new site, so the blend is working for the moment.

That’s the new part. Now for the old…

Nothing has changed. I still played an extremely light schedule in May, so I often go days without launching the poker software. I also play mostly in actual tournaments rather than qualifiers (there are some exceptions, notably on weekends), so I’m spending more on the entry fees (this has been consistent for a couple of months now), which makes the volatility higher.

I started the month off with a bang, entering the Sunday big one by ponying up the full $215. I finished 54th and got back $600. In fact, I got rivered on that last hand (no, I don’t cry about losses) or I might have gone much further. At the other extreme, last weekend, I paid full freight again, and busted out on the first hand! That was a first for me. I flopped a set when my opponent flopped a straight. He played in a raised pot on the first hand with 79c, so he earned that pot by playing loosely.

I had a small roller coaster on the new site, starting off poorly, then cashing a few times to go ahead for the month, finally giving it all back and more. In the future, I won’t break out the results between the sites, but this one time, I will.

New site = -$164.00 for the month, old site = -$68.20 for the month. Grand total = -$232.20. Disappointing, but there were some real opportunities for big wins, so I’m really not complaining.

Yesterday I won an entry into today’s big one, so the loss counts in May, but I get to start off June with a free entry to the big one, so we’ll see what I make of the opportunity later today.

April 2008 Poker

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Well, it’s a few days early, but I honestly don’t think I’ll be playing any (or much) poker before the end of the month. If there is a material update, I’ll post again.

In keeping with my new schedule, even though I had a ton of time to play this month, I still played a pretty light schedule. Because of that, I paid the full freight to enter one of the Sunday big tourneys. In that one, I came in 66th out of 907. That was my one nice hit for the month ($500 returned for $215 invested).

In addition to that, I won qualifiers for the big tourney twice, but bombed out in both of those tries in the actual tourney. One of those was frustrating, as I came 140th and they only paid to 100th. I also won another nice qualifier for a big Omaha Hi-Lo tourney, but bombed out in that as well.

I played in a number of my normal 7pm Omaha Hi-Lo tourneys, and cashed once or twice (minor prizes), but also bubbled (finished one out of the money!) at least once, and 3rd or 4th out of the money a few other times.

In general, my play this month was as good as it’s ever been. I had some great luck in at least one of the qualifiers where I won an entry to the big tourney (still turned into no cash), but in the actual tournaments (more so in the Omaha ones, but a little in the Hold’Em ones too), I had one of the worst runs of bad luck one can imagine.

It’s one of the main reasons I bubbled so many times. For a change, rather than easily drifting into a minor prize, I risked all of my chips (repeatedly!) with much the best hand. In general, I was an 80-90% favorite when I got all my chips in. In nearly every case (this month), the river (or occasionally the turn) brought a miracle card to my numskull opponent, and I was out with no money. The frustration was enormous, but I also felt vindicated at my bet when the other person flipped over their cards.

Oh well, that didn’t help the account value, just the ego… Total for the month was a very disappointing -$316. Nothing material (given my account size), but not a happy situation either.

As for why I won’t be playing, as of today, my site has radically changed their tournament structure. There are almost no Omaha Hi-Lo tourneys left, including their removal of the nightly 7pm that I love so much. They’ve even revamped their normal Hold’Em schedule, blowing away the more interesting (given my risk appetite) ones in the times that work best for me.

I am now seriously considering just emptying my account and giving up online poker for a while. Of course, I could search for another site (many of them still likely have tons of tourneys that would fit my profile perfectly), but it’s a lot of work to pick one, and to get the money in there now is a hassle, so I’ll mull it over and decide.

Of course, I could just keep my money here and play in the big one any Sunday that works for me, and just ignore them the rest of the week. At least that would give them a chance to realize what a boneheaded move this new tournament schedule is (the 7pm filled up every single night, so it was popular and profitable for them!). I suspect that’s my most likely (short-term) course of action!