So for the past week I've been grinding down some cash games, and I have to admit I'm finding a new love here. At first when I started on PokerStars I stayed far away from them. The very idea of cash games sent shivers down my spine. The thought of playing the cash games brings back bad memories. Back in the day when I was playing at FTP, I was playing the $10 + $1 9 man SnGs. I was doing alright for awhile, but as time passed I started making mistakes. And not a few, just way too many. The cashing in the SnGs ended, and I switched to cash games to make up for the losses at the sit-n-gos.

Well, that's where the trouble really began. I started doing everything you shouldn't be doing. To make up for losss, I played the cash games and started at a level I obviously wasn't ready for. Sure, there were some successes, but usually only when I managed to catch a big hand. At the same time, I stepped up the buyin on the sit-n-gos in an attempt to make up for past losses too. It didn't last long or my bankroll was gone. I was pissed, because I knew I should be able to beat many of the donks playing. I saw so many bad plays, but failed to adjust my play properly to take advantage of that. And so I took a break. A long one, it lasted well over a year.

And when I finally decided to come back, I took what was left of my bankroll - a whole $2.15, and started playing at FTP again. By the time I turned my microstack into $11, FTP went kaplooey, and I went on another break of several months.

Now I find myself at PokerStars. Having learned from the sins of my youth, I decided to start at lower buyins. Still - I'm not going for the lowest, but decided to settle on the $1.50 buyin SnGs. I was hoping there be a lot less donkeys than at the lowest stakes, hoping that it would improve my results. After all, one of the things that went badly last time was the incredibly bad play. Now I can't comment on the difference in play, so I won't.

But last week I started dabbling in the microstakes cash games. To be specific - the 2NL games, which is about the lowest of the lowest. Can't go much smaller than a 1 cent small blind, can we... Getting a nice proifit at these stakes isn't easy. Stealing the blinds will earn you a whopping 3 cents, but still, all the little bits help. And so I'm happy taking small pots, and exploiting the sometimes excruciably weak opponents. I won't bore you with many bad beat stories, but when you play at this level, you're going to run into some major suckouts from time to time. 5 out of the 7 big pots I lost ($3 or more that is....) were lost when I got all-in with by far the best hand, only to run into a 2-outer or a runner-runner on the river.

But - these players ar exploitable. I'm playing looser than I ever expected, and it's working so far. I just have to work on the biggest danger of a very loose aggressive style: you have to be prepared to lay down a lot on the flop if you miss. And once I get that down, I'll get even more profitable. And frankly, most of these players are rather easy to play: if they call a 3-bet preflop, or they 3-bet themselves, they usually have a big hand, so tread carefully. If they donk bet in to you at any point, you might as well muck anything but aces and kings. Occasionally you'll be wrong and you throw away a top pair, but experience has taught me top pair is generally no good against a donk bet. And so I'm patient. I'm playing trash hands preflop hoping to flop big, and I manage to extract some value from the people who can't throw an Ace high or a middle pair. And it's a good game. You just have to be able to adapt your play a bit depending on how the other players respond to your play. But, that's the big difference with the sit-n-gos. At the cash games, you spend more time at the same table with a number of people, and that means you actually can adapt your play. Plus, with the blinds not killing you in time, you are also able to adapt without losing your stack to the blinds...

As for profitability: I'm not getting rich here, not by a long shot. In the past few days I did manage to double my starting bankroll of $25, so it's going fine. But I'll never be making a few thousand a month here at these stakes, so definitely I won't be giving up my day job just yet....