Back for more

According to the little counter at the bottom of the page, a dozen people stopped by my last (and confusingly, first) blog post. Which is approximately a dozen more than I'd expected. How many read to the end...well, who knows? If this is your second visit to my blog, thanks for persevering. There really ought to be a prize or something.

I have it in mind to post every weekend, as a record of my poker journey. I've failed that goal already - it's Tuesday. In my defence, I didn't post anything Saturday or Sunday because I was playing a lot of poker. Except for when I went to the pub.

Get to the point

So where to pitch this little blog of mine? Well, it won't all be whimsy, I promise. It won't be a statistician's idea of erotic fantasy either. There's a hell of a lot of mathematical advice on how to play poker out there already. I'm not going to add much value as a relative beginner. Likewise, if you're looking for red-hot tips on sophisticated strategies, you'll have to look elsewhere.

On the other hand, (see what I did there) if you want to take some time out from the brain-ache of mentally calculating outs and pot-odds, and just see how someone else is getting on with the game, learning and progressing, stick around.

This week

When I came back after an extended break I started at the play-money tables just to get back in to the game without having to worry about financial losses. I saw some advice once about how people play loose-aggressive with worthless chips. It makes sense and it's true. For a bit of fun it's ok. For learning how to play properly, you need more predictable opponents, which means playing with real money. Even if it's micro-stakes. So that's what I've been doing for the last week. Just playing 1c-2c NLHE full ring games. Losing isn't painful, players are usually tighter, and perhaps most usefully, hand histories can be retrieved. I've lost a few dollars but it's worth it to make the mistakes and learn from them.

Horrible histories

I remember reading a while ago about a top pro player (can't remember which one) who, as a newcomer, used to pore over his hand histories to learn where he'd made mistakes and deepen his understanding of the game. I have to admit this prospect didn't fill me with excitement at first but having spent some time looking through my own hands (as opposed to my fingers as I pray for a 7 for a gutshot straight draw on the river) I do think it's a very powerful tool.

Those text fies aren't easy to read though! I'm halfway through building an Excel spreadsheet that'll display hands in a more readable format straight from the text files. It'll also give me a chance to build some logic in, to help identify good or bad plays. I may be reinventing the proverbial wheel though, so if anyone knows of something clever out there already, please let me know!

Even without studying hand history, I've learnt some valuable lessons this week. I've learnt how important it is to be aware of position. I know this falls into the 'basic advice' category but I've played enough hands now to experience the difference it makes. I believe experience to be a vital commodity.

For example, with middle suited connectors in mid, or even early position, I sometimes raised to 2 or 3 BB only to be re-raised in front. This is a waste of money. I'm avoiding the temptation now, even when I haven't been getting a lot of action.

Monster's sink

Folding a monster - does it ever get easier? With  I bet 3BB from mid position and my opponent called. appeared on the flop and he raised first to 6BB. Suspecting he now had a pair of aces or kings, I folded - ouch. This is the sort of thing parents call 'character building'.

Up next

Over the coming week the plan is to continue practising mentally calculating odds and trawl the internet for more useful sites, blogs and forums (fora?). That should keep me out of mischief.

Until next time then, thanks for getting all the way to the end. Sorry there's no prize.

P.S.

Between blog posts and folded hands I can be found tweeting as @wyveronpoker.