Here are a few of my observations from playing live. It is a completely different arena, and hopefully this advice will help you a bit!
1) Relax, you're not the only one. No matter where you go, there will always be others who are facing one of their first live games too. The idea that you are the only "live beginner" at the tables is something that you should get rid of as soon as possible. Take a look around, and you will see others who are at least as nervous as you.
2) Be confident. An advantage of being "the new guy" at the live games is that no one will know who you are and how good/bad you are. Take advantage of this and present yourself confidently. Announce your raises with a stern voice, don't fool around and show your bluffs etc. If you present yourself in as confident and experienced, people will see you like that.
3) Watch people's hands, not their faces. I find this to be very true as well. Many live players are good at starring at a certain spot on the table, making it very difficult to pick up tells. Try watching their hands instead and see if their movements reveal anything useful. A hectic shuffling of chips can mean something, as can over-confident splashy raises. See if you can pick up a tell or two, and use this to your advantage.
4) Don't wear sunglasses. In most live games, the crowd is made up from regulars and other people who are used to the live setting. If you show up dressed like a poker pro, people will be quick to figure out that it's a facade. In my experience, confidence come from your posture in your seat, your voice, your hands etc. and not from how you dress. If you must, you can wear a hoodie, which is comfortable and allows you to "sink in" and hide your eyes if an opponent is trying to stare you down.
5) Enjoy! Having fun is the most important part of poker. Go to enjoy your game, be prepared to learn a lot and don't get carried away. A relaxed, polite and professionally minded player is always tougher to face than someone who gets easily agitated. If you take a bad beat, the way you handle this will for instance tell your opponents a lot about your experience. Inexperienced players will roll their eyes and blame their opponents when they lose with aces, whereas a true poker player has tried it before and will simply move on.
In sum, it's a mind game. You are as good as you decide you are, and this is the message you want to convey to your table. Don't be the overdressed, loud-speaking donk - be the sneaky, well-mannered and unpredictable pro.
And remember, playing live requires concentration and finesse. You will be challenged a lot if you are used to online play, but you will very certainly also learn a lot and hopefully improve as a poker player.
Some hands we never forget. Not necessarily the biggest ones, nor by definition the most important ones, some hands just seem to come back and haunt us forever.
It can be because of the way we played them, it can be the we didn't - but common for all of them is that they make a mark in our poker-loving souls, refusing to let go and keeping us close at all times.
In my case, especially three hands return to me. Like said, they are not particularly big or important, neither are they bad beats as such. These are not career-changing moments of dancing with Fortuna.
They are just… hands that haunt me.
I will start with number one, a tale of brags, 7-2 and missed opportunity.
Haunting Hand #1:
I am playing the local game in a bar in Swansea, Wales, where I used to live as a student. It's a small, friendly game but with some quite decent players so action tends to be good and these evenings were almost always fun.
We play £0.10/£0.25 with the 7-2 game on. One night we get joined by this guy, who turns out to be a complete prick. Rude, bad at poker and annoying in any sense of the word. He quickly picks up the 7-2 rule, and continues to bluffs several players of big hands in the most ridiculous spots imaginable.
Every time with that same annoying grin - you know the type, I'm sure.
About a week later we gather again, but somehow forget to agree on the 7-2 rule. So it's not on. Our friend from last week sniffs up the game and joins us, clearly drunk and out to find some trouble.
We play three rotations, and everyone is doing the best they can to put him off. Three-bet, four-bet, all-in, the guy doesn't stand a chance.
Then the hand occurs.
I'm in the cutoff, busy texting my girlfriend. I pick up
, and as I don't really follow the game, I fold despite the fact that three people, including our friend, limped in before me.
Flop then comes
. I hold my breath, hoping not to see a big pot evolve in front of my eyes.
And then the inevitable happens. Our intruding newcomer open-shoves the flop, £25-30 into about £1,25. Moronic move, and everyone folds, just to see him flip over 7-2 in triumph.
Baffled that we don't play the 7-2, he picks up his blinds and the game goes on. Two hands later he busts to my best friend, holding a pair of twos versus queens.
If only I made that preflop call…
For some reason, this hand still haunts me. I guess it was the atmosphere, the urge to put this guy to rest, or maybe some deep regret that I didn't chip in to get a piece of the action, just there. I honestly don't know.
But to this day, whenever I'm in a reminiscent mood, standing under the shower or sitting in the bus thinking about my endeavors as a poker player - THAT hand always pops up.
It is.. a hand that haunts me.
Thank you for reading, and stay tuned for more haunting hands, sometime next week.
Feedback and similar stories are welcome!
I have been playing a lot in cash games at the local casino here in Malta, and have so far been doing really good. The games are €1/€2 and are VERY soft, as most of the opponents are either Italian tourists with a lot of money to spend or local Maltese fish, both types utterly clueless when it comes to playing poker.
So far I have been winning steadily on each occasion, but last night my luck severely turned around as I went to play with a group of friends, all of whom are good players.
We had been drinking a bit, but I generally don't like to be too drunk when playing live, so while some of my friends were already a bit tipsy when we sat down, I was in a good mood, felt ready to see some cards, but as said not really "up there" as some of the others.
So we start playing, and quite quickly the table images fall into place. Especially my friend, who is a VERY SKILLED professional poker player, is having a good time, continuously making weird 3bets and showing bluffs to anyone who wants to see them. Then the following hand took place, after around three rotations.
I'm UTG and straddle to €4, and get three callers before my friend on the small blind makes it €21 to go. I look down and see that I have
. I have a history with this guy, and although he as said is incredibly skilled with poker (he recently took down a major live event here in Malta for €32K), I just know he's f****ng about. So I put him on a bluff and make it €75.
He then without a word instantly re-raises me to €160, and I shove so it's another €150 for him to call. He starts laughing, saying that he has nothing but that he doesn't feel like he can fold now. I get dollar signs in my eyes as he dumps the last of his chips, making the pot +€600 and he flips over
river: blank, and I'm down €300 before we even started.
I don't really feel like I have anything to analyze here, as I want him to call all day long with his rags so I can double up. Sometimes your kings are just not enough, end of story.
But from then on, it was uphill. I managed to take down a few big pots, and grind my way back into around €450 (after having bought in for an additional €300), when I get hit by another cooler.
I'm under the gun with
and make it €7 to play. Everybody folds except the small blind and big blind who both call, and we see a
flop. Both check, and I bet €15, small blind hesitantly calls and big blind folds.
Turn is the
and I now have a backdoor flush to back up my semi-bluff. I take a good look at my opponent, who is a very loose player who made a series of very questionable calls throughout the evening, and I put him either an ace or perhaps something like K2, 56 etc. There's simply no way in hell this guy hit anything on this flop, and if he did, I am most likely still ahead.
My suspicion is confirmed when he again checks the action on to me, and I now make it €75 to go. He tanks, he flips his chips, he sighs, and then finally calls. Now, I am either being slowrolled and hollywooded BIG, or he is simply fishing.
. Again, he checks, and I quickly make it €200 to call. At this point, I obviously want him to fold as I can't beat much, but that being said, I felt very strongly that I was miles ahead.
But then disaster strikes. He makes the call, and flips over
. I can't believe what I am seeing. My read was spot on. He had absolutely nothing on the flop but bottom pair with a ten kicker, and still he called my two barrels, of which the second one on the turn is for one fourth of his stack. I was ahead until the river, which gives him a miracle two pair. So, so sick.
From then on, there was nothing I could do. I didn't connect with a single flop for the rest of the night, and only managed to limit the damages with a few plays here and there. In the end I ended up being down €500 for the night, by far my biggest loss in a while.
Of course, things would have looked a lot different if I hadn't decided to play that
out of position, but that being said, I was ahead and had an exact read until I got screwed over. He made a horrible call on the turn and got lucky. The same goes for my kings. I was ahead and badly wanted a call, but again, I got unlucky. That's just the name of the game.
In sum, I can't complaint. If I continue to be way ahead when the money goes into the middle, then I should be winning. My time will come, and that's the moral of this little story. I simply cannot be too disappointed because looking at my own game, my decisions were right all along, and hadn't it been for Ms. Fortuna I would have ended the night in a €500 profit instead. And that, my friends, is what really matters.
Good luck to all of you, and feel free to come with inputs.
Last night I played in a €120 satellite for the Malta Open, which is one of the bigger tournaments to hit the island this year, arranged by XLBet and with a €1,100 Main Event to be played this weekend.
As my bankroll doesn't exactly allow me to put down the full €1,100 to buy in directly, I figured I would I give the satellites that have been running all week a go.
So I went, and while I can just as well reveal that I sadly didn't qualify for the Main Event, it was a great experience altogether.
Most importantly, the tournament was packed with fish. XLBet have been running €10 super-satellites all week for, so half of the field consisted of people who had rolled their way in for just €10. On my first table, there was only one guy who could play (an XLBet sponsored player actually) while the rest were throwing away their chips as if there was no tomorrow, and within the first two levels I saw A LOT of questionable plays.
Just to give an example, with blinds of 100/200, I looked down at
on the button with one limper and made it 700 to go. SB and BB folded and the limper instantly made the call. Flop came
and limper bet 1050 into me. I smooth called, at this point being aware that I might be looking at two pair or perhaps even a set, but as the turn came
, and limper this time checked I had little doubt that I was ahead. I fired another 2000 and to my surprise limper called again. Now, I was getting weary. Was I being trapped? KT? K8? K6? 66? There are a lot of hands that would beat me in this spot. River:
. Thank you. Limper clearly didn't like it. A long pause, and then a 3500 bet. I took a deep breath and made it 7000 to go. Another long pause, and then the "call!". I was confused. What on earth are you calling me with here? I tabled my aces, and my opponent - a middle aged lady btw - shook her head and turned over
After that hand I was well into the mix, and tried to keep up momentum until I was moved a couple of times, and starting being 110% card dead. I literally had NO HANDS for more than an hour, and every time I tried to make a move, someone would go over the top forcing me to fold.
In the end, blinds ended up being a real threat, so after four hours of doing next to nothing, I finally shoved my 10K stack with
from the BB with one very loose guy having limped and the SB completed ahead of me. I got snap-called by the limper who had trapped me with
and the board offered no help. Out.
All in all, like said, it was a great experience. Around 130 players joined, and the atmosphere at the Portomaso Casino in Malta was excellent. Lots of value, lots of opportunities and I feel I got unlucky with my hands on an otherwise good night.
The Main Event is on Saturday, so I now hope that I can find a staker before then. I am already trying to get in contact with a guy who offered some of my friends a 20% freeroll last month during another big tournament, so hopefully I can convince him to believe in me too.
But for what it's worth, and no matter what happens, I am definitely not done with live tournament poker in Malta.
My grinding project is not going well. I'll admit it right away. After a few steady days where I was hovering around my initial $100 buy-in, I lost my patience and started making silly moves. Before I knew it, I had blown away half my roll.
There are no good excuses or explanations to why this has happened, other than one: lack of discipline.
I became so minded on making a profit, that I forgot what this is essentially really about - improving my skills as a poker player. Once I had lost the first few buy-ins, I started opening up more tables, so I could win my losses back faster. This in turn meant that I loosened up on things like table selection and stats checking, instead playing way above my abilities as a multitabler.
The result speaks for itself.
There is really only one way to get back on track. I am just above the 15 buy-ins, so I don't have to go down to playing $0.01/$0.02. Yet. But I will have to focus a lot more if I am to make this into something valuable and the experience worthwhile. I realize that I have some issues to work on with regards to the mentality behind my game. I believe that this is something that many can recognize, and my recent experiences just emphasize to me how important it really is to stay focused.
I will try to make the comeback. Nothing is over yet. But from now on, it's gonna be more about what's going on in my head, and less about how I can quickly cash in a handful of dollars.
Status is $76.53
See you next time, hopefully with a better result to post!
After one and a half days of playing, I think a small update might be in its place.
I'll admit right away that nothing much have happened so far. I started playing out by playing a bit of NLHE, and rather quickly lost two buy-ins. Among the biggest hands was a rather unfortunate flush-over-flush that I really don't think I could've gotten away from even if I tried.
I was holding
and opened from UTG+3 and got called by BB. Flop came
and BB checked. I fired away, and got the call. Turn:
. I now felt pretty confident, and fired again, only to get an all-in right back. I tanked for a bit and made the call, and he turned over
. I had hoped for a set, possibly 6x7x, Qx5x, Qx8x, Qx4x or even AxQx as he was not too strong in a couple of earlier hands, but this time, I was wrong. River was the
and I was down one buy-in.
A while after and a lot smaller pots, I was down a bit more than two buy-ins, and of course started to get a bit frustrated. I took a break and then switched to PLO to clear my mind a bit, and this helped. Action wasn't too big, but I did run into this beauty
, which turned it around for me again.
As I commented on the hand, he was better in than me, and in the end I was lucky to see my last diamond come up. I think it's difficult for me to fold to him, even though it's like 90% sure he also has aces when he goes crazy like this preflop. I'm not really sure if I made the right play there to be honest.
In any case, not too much happening so far, and status is now $96.45.
Not the start I had hoped for, but hopefully it will turn around for my next blog post!
Thanks for reading, and feel free to tell me what you think!
This is my first blog entry, and it will be a super short introduction to what I hope will be an entertaining and interesting bankroll project.
The plan is to turn a small deposit into a healthy profit in a sound and sensible manner. I will start out playing micro stakes NLHE and PLO, and see how far I can get. Nice and simple.
I will try to update this blog as often as possible and let you know how I progress. I of course hope to receive your advice, comments and general feedback as the project gets underway, little by little.
I will also be posting hands regularly, so check back from time to time to see how I am doing!
I have established a small handful of rules in order to keep the project as tight as possible. These are:
1) I will start with $100.
2) I will play NLHE and PLO, 6-Max or Full Ring - no heads-up, no SNGs.
3) I will start by playing $0.02/$0.05 (20 buy-ins).
4) I can only move up in stakes once I have the 20 buy-ins needed to do so.
5) If I get down to 15 buy-ins, I will have to move down in stakes again until I can afford moving up etc.
6) If I go bust, I'm done. No reloads.
That's it, hopefully I will have some fun doing this, and remember: I am always ready to listen to what you guys might have to say!
Now let's go grinding!