Poker First Steps

I've started playing on-line poker. I tried a while back, but hardly any sites supported Linux, and those that did were pretty poor. Now a few sites have Java software, that can run in any browser. It isn't quite as full featured as the downloadable software, but its good enough for me.

On my first day, I played with "play money" for a while. Getting used to the interface, and how to play poker against 9 opponents (my home games don't have that many players).

My first real money game was low stakes Limit Hold-em. My gosh that was a grind. There was a long period where I was getting no good cards at all, folding almost constantly. My stack heading very slowly in the wrong direction. I was on-line for a couple of hours and eneded up with 10 cents more than I started. Blinds were $0.10 and $0.20, with 10 people around the table. Its fairly dull, not much excitement, I don't think I'll bother with limit hold'em for a while.

Limit poker is a safer way to play, you can't lose your whole stack in one hand, but its only marginally more fun than fruit machines - clicking "check", "raise" and "fold" isn't much different to pushing "hold" when you get cherries!

I switched to a no-limit, $10 game (meaning you can bet whatever you like, but you can only take a maximum of $10 to the table. If you run out, you can go back for another $10 on the next hand. I got a little carried away at the beginning, and bluffed away $7 in no time at all. A couple of hours (and an enormous mount of luck) later I was doing well, damn well. I had $60, and opponent were coming and going. I think many were put off by my stack - the only way to have $60 at that table is by taking $50 off of other people, so they ran away - scared that I would do the same to them.

There were a few problems with the user interface - I was finding it more and more difficult to put in small raises. In no-limit, you choose the amount to bet by moving a slider anywhere between zero and your stack size. Just before I left, I realised what the problem was - I had too much money! The slider was designed to go from $0 to $10, but when I had a $60 stack, the slider remained the same size on the screen, and so it became impossible to raise by less than $1, that's useless when the blinds are $0.05 and $0.10. It took me ages to realise because I was flat calling pre flop so often (a tactic that I find very effective against passive opponents).

I might keep track of progress, so here's the first entries :

  • 2007-05-09 Limit $0.10/0.20 ==> + $0.10
  • 2007-05-09 No-Limit $10 ==> + $50

Day 2

I tried moving up a couple of levels, and got spanked! Lost $25 in about 30 minutes. It was a $25 table, and the players were tight and slightly aggressive. They didn't fall into any of my traps, and I fell into theirs. Back to the lower tables I think. That's a $25 poker lesson.

  • 2007-05-10 No-Limit $25 ==> - $25

Back to the $10 No-Limit tables. Getting no cards. Fold after fold. Eventually I get A7, my best hand or ages. I play it, a King hits the table, I bluff, and win. The card desert continues, and I get A7 suited. I fold post flop - opponent had pocket jacks. Good fold. The cards start coming, a couple of small wins, and then I get the hand I was waiting for, and trap someone who probably had a pair of aces, I had two pair. That takes me into profit. At the end of my session, I had pocket aces, and my computer had a funny turn, and I couldn't bet - I timed out. Ahhh. Never mind, my hour was up, and I made $2 profit - not bad given that I had useless cards for most of the session. Still $23 down on the day though.

  • 2007-05-10 No-Limit $10 ==> + $2

Day 3

Lost again, two $10 No limit tables :-( Now only about $4 up overall.

  • 2007-05-11 No-Limit $10 ==> - $20

Tried again, soon got to £20, but then stayed there for ages. Got to $22 then changed tables. Bad move - I soon lost my $10 when a guy with pocket Ks hit a K at the same time that I had trip 5s. Doh.

  • 2007-05-11 No-Limit $10 ==> +12
  • 2007-05-11 No-Limit $10 ==> -10

Overall gain of $6

Day 4

Tried a couple of tournaments, and got spanked. They were very aggressive players, lots of large raises, and I didn't have the cards or the bottle to call or raise them. It was good fun, but lost my stakes too quickly.

Not keeping track of each loss (or win) now. I'm about $20 down after losing lots of $3 touraments.

Day 5

There is a lot of variability in players, and finding the right table is key to winning. I don't do well against large numbers of players, or strong aggressive players (tight or loose). However, there seems to be lots of people who aren't good players, and its a case of finding them!

$15 down (a gain of $5 today).

See also Party Poker

Day 100 ish

I'm currently $30 up overall, plus I've got nearly $25 worth of "party points", so an overall win of about $55. Not a good investment on the time, but its fun! I now need to go back to the books to take my game to the next level. Beating crap players is becoming a little tedious - I want to get much better.

Year 3

= Three years on, and I'm still enjoying poker, but not playing quite so often. I still play small cash games, and I'm $970 in profit. If I were in it for the money, then that's pretty poor winnings. However, there's not many forms of entertainment that pay you to play!