It has been just about one year since I started playing poker, so I thought I would make a post describing my experiences and thoughts on this past year. When I started playing, I was a senior in high school, and just 17, so I am a bit younger than the crowd here at 2+2. I am now in my first year at college, and I was sitting up in my room one day thinking how I wouldshould write about my first year playing poker, so here is my story.
Last fall I had a senior engineering class, and that class, of all places, was the foundation of my poker playing. The teacher was blind in one eye, and damn near blind in the other, (yes, a blind engineering teacher– New York City public schools, ‘nuff said) and as a result, students often goofed off and did as they pleased in class. One group of kids played poker. Every day, the same five kids played hold’em in the back of the class. One day, one of the kids was absent, so they started asking around trying to get a replacement for the missing player. I had played 5 card draw, and a little stud a few times with family, but nothing for real money, just friendly home games. Sure enough though they asked me, and I decided why not, I’d give it a try. They explained to me the concept of hold’em and the differences between it and draw poker, and five minutes later, I was playing my first hands of hold’em They played it an interesting way, I have never seen it played like that since, maybe some of you guys recognize this way of playing. Each player anted one quarter–no blinds– and the betting structure was 4-4-6-8, (in quarters). Because we played in a classroom, we couldn’t really use chips, so every game, one person volunteered as the “sheet keeper” and he would record the action and everyone’s debts on a sheet of paper. At the end of each class, everyone paid what they owed to each person. Anyway, back to the poker part. A few hands in, I got dealt 89 of clubs. Everyone checked around, so I got a free look at the flop. The flop came, 898 with 2 spades. I may have been a bad poker player back then, but I knew what a full house was. So I bet, I got a few callers. Next card was the 10 of spades, so I bet again, everyone stayed in. Final card was the 2 of spades, so I bet, one guy raised and another reraised I was getting nervous, did a flush beat a full house? I didn’t think so. So I raised again, the two both called, and I showed down my hand, they each flipped the king of spades, and the ace of spades respectively. Wow I thought, this is easy After playing a bit more, the class ended and I won myself a respectable 15 bucks on my first day playing poker.
A few days went by and I was holding my own in this game–mostly because I was running very lucky. But eventually the luck caught up with me, I was dropping 10, 15 dollars every day during 6th period. Even with all the losses I was incurring, I still was really getting into hold’em. I began to watch it on TV. Seeing all the poker players, like Johnny Chan, and Phil Ivey looking so powerful at the table just got me more into the game. Every day I would look forward to this class, just so I could play poker in the back at the expense of my grades, and my lunch money. But an hour every day just wasn’t enough, I wanted to play more. So, I downloaded Pokerstars and played the play money section. This fix lasted me a while, but I preferred playing in real games.
Eventually I found out about a 20 dollar buy in game every day after school in a nearby pizza place. When I sat down at this game, I soon realized, that they weren’t playing with antes and a sheet and fixed betting. This was no limit hold’em. Wow, what a concept, any amount at any time–this game is even better than I thought So this was now my regular game. Everyday, I was playing in two games, the one during and the one after school. The routine went some thing like this. Break even in the morning game, get cleaned out afterschool. Then one day at the game, one of the kids said he would have a poker night at his house and we were all invited. I was psyched. Hours upon hours of no limit poker, this would be great. One of my friends in the game warned me that I should bring several buy ins, in case I lose quickly. So I gathered up 80 bucks, and I headed down to his house on a Friday night. Within 2 hours, all my buy ins were gone. I noticed one of the kids had a stack of over 150. Wow, I had to talk to him, how could he win so much? So I said, “how do you do it, did you read a poker book or something?” he says “no, books are useless. It’s about making the right read on a player and going with it.” He is what many people would call, a LAG. But he was a successful LAG because he could do precisely what he prescribed, have the balls to go with his read to the felt. His styles was pretty much perfect for a passive game like this one. I didn’t buy this whole ‘books are useless concept’ so I headed over to my local Barnes and Noble the next day to learn what I was doing wrong.
When I got to the poker section of the bookstore, I was lost. I didn’t know any of these names, who was good, who was bad., it was a big mess to me. But then... Phil Hellmuth I saw him on tv He must be good, and anyway, who wouldn’t want to learn how to play poker like the pros? I sure did. So I picked up a copy, and read the hold’em section that night. Now I know how you all hate that book, and think its useless. But, for a total beginner such as myself, any reading material on the game would help. If there was one useful tip in that book it was a line that stuck with me, “Tight is right.” I learned that playing J2s wasn’t a good play, and that when you are getting your money in with the best hand consistently, usually you will win. However, after several weeks I was rarely ever breaking this game, occasionally I’d win a bit, but I was still consistently losing. Finally I got fed up. I went on the internet to find a poker resource. Alas, TwoPlusTwo Pages upon pages of hold’em advice. I was loving it, I spent 3 hours reading through all I could find in the hold’em sections. Eventually I made a post asking what reading material people recommended, because, well, Mr. Hellmuth wasn’t cutting it. (For those of you who clicked on my name and saw that I’ve only been a member since April, I was using a friends name for a while) They gave me the usual answers, Lee Jones, Supersystem, and a few others. I picked up Supersystem, despite being very intimidated by its size. Doyle gave me some of the best advice I had ever gotten. A key to poker, is to be aggressive. Passivity is not the answer. I, was playing very passive, I had to change.
After weeks of trying to change my game, with some success, I found out that I could play real money online poker. A friend of mine, deposited 50 bucks into Pokerstars, but was nervous about using it all, so he sent me 25. So I played a few sit and goes, with a bit of success for a while, but I eventually lost it all. Slowly but surely, I was buying in through my friend, and eventually turning a regular profit, with the help of 2+2 to criticize my poor play. By February, after playing for a few months, I built myself a nice little bankroll. I was playing mostly .25/.50 nl, and some SnGs, and a bit of limit hold’em. I became something of a “PS dealer.” I was transferring my friends money so they could all play on the site too.
There are a few hands that I’ve played this past year, that have stuck in my mind a great deal. They were hands in which I basically had a breakthrough, a new understanding of poker. This was one, that I posted on 2+2. I was in on the flop with 66, on a 678 flop, 78 of spades. I bet, got raised, and then reraised all in, and I folded–because I could have been losing, and I didn’t want to throw away my whole stack. The player behind me called with 78, and the all in raiser won the hand with As9s. I thought to myself, “good fold, you weren’t even favored on the flop.” So I thought I’d ask what 2+2 had to say. Boy, was I lambasted. I noticed a few days ago, there was a post on the poker theory section, saying what’s the most common mistake by poor players, and one of the responses was not understanding EV. I didn’t make the correct EV play. And most importantly, poker is about winning money, not winning pots. I made the play because I thought I wouldn’t win the pot, neglecting that it was the positive EV play.
Around April, after playing enormous amounts of poker for a high school student, I got a credit card, and was able to make my own deposits. I kept reading people on 2+2 saying that PartyPoker is a lot easier than Pokerstars. So I made my first PP deposit. What a difference PP and PS were. Anyway, to skip all the boring stuff about how eventually I was beating every game I was playing in, and beating most PP rooms I was in, I started getting into tourney play. There were several that stuck in my mind. The first one, we were down to about 15 players in a 50 dollar multi, top prize around 10k. I was about the 3rd or 4th stack. A hand came up where I was up against the chip leader, and I was all in with aces, he was in with kings, and a king spiked on the river, to bust me. It was detrimental to my poker health, I think I went on a week long tilt.
I did recover eventually, and I was back to playing tourneys. I got to my computer one night at around 9 o’clock, and saw a 20 dollar tourney was about to start. The entry pool was a whopping 1600 players, so I wanted to get in on the action. After playing pretty damn good poker for about 3 hours, I found myself getting blinded away when there were about 40 left. To prevent what had happened to me so many times before late on in tournaments when getting no cards, I picked up the aggression, and started to pick up pots. I managed to survive all the way down to 11 players left, having to showdown just one pot (I won a coinflip, queens vs big slick). At around 12 big blinds in my stack, I picked up pocket 10s in the small blind. It was folded around to me, and I contemplated my options. I may very well have been able to sneak into the final table, mucking all but the absolute premium hands, but I wanted the big money and this was an opportunity to give me the stack I needed to do that. So since I was hovering around that 10 big blind mark, I pushed all in. The BB started to think for a while, and he wrote in the chat box, “if I call and lose, I’m gone, but I think I have the best hand.” He called with Queens. ****. The flop came 456 with three spades, and he had one and I didn’t, so I was down to one out. A blank hit the turn, so I got up from my computer chair, ready to go to bed, watching for the river card. Then it came... BAM! TEN OF CLUBS, I hit the outdraws of all outdraws, I was ecstatic. Seconds later our table collapsed, and we were in the final table. Everyone said their congrats in the chatbox, and we were underway. Just by staying out of the way, it got down to five people, and I was guaranteed a grand, which was about double my bankroll at the time. Then I picked up jacks in a middle position, and the guy to my right, made it 4x the bb. I pushed for about 16 bbs, and he called with... a9. Yes, a9 for all his chips, well I won and we were down to 4, with me in 2nd in chips. Long story short, I stayed out of the way, and I got to heads up action. About 5 hands in I pushed on a Ten Ace Queen flop with AJ, got called by an open straight flush draw, and he caught his flush on the river. I finally lost an even money all in that tournament. I did get 3400 bucks for my time however, and I was damn pleased about that. Since then, I made a final table in a limit tourney, and two other small buy in no limit final tables.
In the last year, I’ve made just under $6000 playing poker, and that includes the first 4 months, where I was consistently losing. Much of the credit has to go to the limit, no limit, and the tournament forums here at 2+2. Not to mention, David Sklansky for his books, and Doyle for SS (oh okay, I’ll admit, Phil Hellmuth helped a bit too). I think I decided to write this a few weeks ago when I was watching a few kids playing a 5 dollar game in the lobby of my dorm. One of the more competent players was folding a lot, and when he was in, he was raising. One of the players said to him “Why do you play like that man, you do all this raising before the flop, when you haven’t even seen what cards are coming out!” I laughed, and headed back up to my room to play my 5/10 on party poker, all the while thinking how far I've come, and how far I still have to go...
---I made a post a few days ago on this forum asking where I should post this, someone said here was fine, so if its in the wrong place I apologize, I'll gladly move it.
love it man, congratulations on the success that youve had. there is no room for ego in poker, and its clear that you have the humility to post such a personal thread on this site. hope your success continues and your ability grows.
hey good for you ansky. pretty big money compared to quarter ante!
regarding the 66 hand, it depends on the players and stack sizes, but in no limit it is usually better to fold. my guess is the reraiser was all in for a short stack or your opponents were nutty if the forum said to fold.
Great post! But to be honest, I really would've prefered it if the post was longer. Could you perhaps type a part 2 talking about how you progressed through the limits? You're now playing 5/10 NL? Tell us how you made the climb! Please .
I was thinking about writing a part II, but when i said 5/10 on party, i meant limit, as the highest nl game they have is 2/4. The highest nl game ive played is 3/6, and that was a bit too much for my bankroll. Part II may come soon...