hello internet, it’s been two months since i last wrote, so i figured it was high time for an entry! though i still consider myself an online player and intend to focus on that to build my bankroll, i have spent the majority of july and august attempting to develop my live poker game.
as of my last post i had played the cash game at my local card club a few times, and had taken stabs at two tournaments there. starting in july, i began playing there an average of 3-4 times a week, and have now taken shots at 9 tournaments there. when you are playing on the internet, you are playing against people who at least have enough of a clue about poker to want to deposit their money online and play, but i have found that live poker is an entirely different beast. anyone can walk into the card club and sit down at the table, and wading through these fields of casual players, random gamblers, bored retirees, young aggros who saw the WSOP on tv and think they’re phil ivey, and awful loose-passive donks not otherwise specified, has required a huge adjustment to my game.
and as with online play, there are vast differences in tournament play versus cash game play. i have been accumulating a lot of experience live, and feel i have now made significant steps toward mastering the techniques necessary to handle both types of live situations. however, i still have a LOT to learn. in the nine tournaments i have played at the card club, i have yet to cash once. this is partly because the structure is the most godawful thing i have ever seen; in every tournament i have made it to the final three tables (the nightlies generally draw anywhere from 80-120 players and pay 9-16 depending on the number of entrants), and in most i have made it to the final two tables. but at that stage the blinds are so large that the average stack is between 6-8 big blinds, with ridiculous antes. it kind of becomes a crapshoot. i do think i can (and have been trying to) adjust my play to the tournament structure, which starts off relatively normal/deep stacked and then turns into something equivalent to a turbo after antes kick in (as far as the ratio of the blinds to the average stack and the relative increase per level) and then super-turbo after 3-4 more levels. i think there is still value in playing these tournaments because of how soft the fields are, and i learn so many new things about live tournament poker every time i play, so i will probably enter more of them in the coming weeks. however, these experiences have made me realize just how crucial it is to play tournaments with good deep-stacked structures, and why so many pros are constantly emphasizing that.
i have still been playing online a bit, but the sheer amount of time and energy that live poker requires has reduced my amount of online play dramatically. i was also back on the east coast for the first couple weeks in august, and was not playing online at all during my travels. i did make it to a new casino at the charles town races in west virginia where they had just installed a poker room, and that was rather amazing. seriously, if i thought there were donks and recreational players at MY card club…! this racetrack was probably the juiciest fishfest i’ve ever seen. the guy next to me was literally playing every hand, and people at my table were stacking off with middle/bottom pairs, ace-rags, and gutshots every few hands. i only stayed a few hours since i was there with my sister who does not play poker, but scored a couple hundred $. i would definitely have stayed there all night (and probably gone back as much as i could!!) if i wasn’t busy visiting with family and friends.
i am now very comfortable playing live cash games at my local club, and am at the point where i can sit down PRETTY comfortably in unfamiliar places and still play my game. on a psychological level it’s much easier to play in a familiar setting, where i am friendly with the employees and dealers, and usually recognize/have mental notes on a good percentage of the players at my table. but i felt i held my own in WVA after getting over the initial nervousness of being in a new setting, and i’ve also gone to play at a couple other bay area card rooms in the past few weeks. i am still kind of in sponge mode with live poker, accumulating learning experiences and figuring out how to play the best that i can in whatever situation i happen to find myself. the best poker players are the ones who can adjust to their surroundings and to how their opponents are playing, and use that information to their advantage.
one of my major poker goals is to be able to play live in at least one $1K event in next year’s world series, and i think if i continue to amass experience at this rate, i will be in great shape to do that. now i just need to build up the bankroll.. :)