Sunday, December 12, 2010

Taking a Shot

A few weeks ago, my friend Terry proposed a deal.  She wanted to stake me in some online tourneys, but she wanted me to play something higher than the $2.20's I've written about here previously.  "You sit on your ass for hours on end, wade through 5000 runners and are happy with a $20.00 payout.  I know you're insane AND a bankroll nit, but come on!  Don't you want to take a shot?"

I loved the idea.  First, as the Bling Blang Blaow boys already know, winning a tourney like the Sunday Million is every player's dream. Second, I feel like part of a team.  I know poker is an individual sport, but knowing that I've gotta be accountable for why I played a hand a certain way does make me stop and think.  Third, it's less of a financial risk for my own bankroll.  And, nit that I am, that's always good.  Fourth, it creates a requirement to do homework. Being staked by a buddy who's a poker player in her own right and seriously interested in strategy and play (and better at it than me), the set up created the perfect opportunity to go over hands together, to talk strategy, decision making, odds/outs, and all that stuff we've got to be thinking about when at the table.  And last but not least, I love me some Terry so how could I say no?

So, we're not doing this deal until the first of the year got me itching to play some of those higher stake games.  Just TALKING about it with Terry caused me to throw caution to the wind.  I immediately bought into some $22, $33, $55, and even a $109 tourney.  It was crazy.  I cashed in a few and of course busted out of a lot.  I did that several days in a row.  I nearly decimated my bankroll.  I called Terry crying - "What the hell are we thinking?!  This is insane!!  I am a pitiful poker player, the definition of spewtard, and this is a stupid idea and we can't do this!"

She told me to quit crying and to calm down.  I stopped playing the higher stakes.  I went back down to my regularly scheduled micro-insanity levels and kept the dream of the bigger limit tourneys in my back pocket, knowing that the first of the year is right around the corner.

I kept reading strategy.  I kept talking hands with Terry.  I kept reading hands/strategy on skype with another group of players.  I played less tourneys at time and I played a lot fewer hands. Also during this time, I'd seen a video in which Annie Duke was sharing that when a poker player is running good, they tend to attribute it to skill; yet, when they're running bad, they attribute it to luck and lose out on an opportunity to study how they played the hand the way they did, which can only lead to improvement.  That stuck with me and I was going over my HEM hands like crazy - the ones I won AND the ones I played badly. 

I don't know if taking a shot at the higher levels helped me see that I was playing too many hands or what, but something happened during my short-lived time in those senior classes.  I found myself playing a very tight, aggressive style and just waiting. Folding.  Waiting.  Holding.  Folding.  Watching for the right spot - and then striking.  I found myself shortstacked so many times and just folding, folding, folding, only to strike with a hand and doubling, tripling up and being right back in the game.

I took that experience back to my freshman class games and played the exact same way.  And you know what happened?  I final tabled the Ladies game on back to back nights on Stars.  I came in 4th out of 5299 in a $5.50 $20k gtd, and cashed in 5 of 8 of the tourneys I played.

It was sweet, people.  Sweet. 

So...taking a shot is not good bankroll management.  We all know this.  But sometimes, good things besides just winning more money can come out of taking such shots.

I posted a tweet tonight after coming in 34th out of 5000 in a $2.20 tourney about finally knowing the secret to running deep in online tourneys. Well, you know there's no secret.  You've got to play well, have your good hands hold, and get lucky a time or two (or three or four).  What helped me, besides a few distractions like mess-eeng alound on twitter, posting dumb links and listening to my favorite music  (and bombarding followers with links to same) was taking the shots I took and then taking what I learned back down into the stakes my bankroll will allow.

That's what's happening of late.  I'm hoping it's going good for you, too.  If not, keep plugging away and try to find a good friend like Terry with whom you can talk pokers.  In the meantime, have a wonderful holiday season and good luck at the tables!


  1. That is great and you will do well. You are on your way. Stay positive and you need to remember patience. Don't give in and remember your goals.

  2. Great post! I love how candid and refreshingly honest you are abou sharing your experiences, it's really inspiring. I have been dealing with some challenges as well, as I keep struggling to make those really deep runs. I can manage to go the distance but eventually find myself short-stacked and barely making the money, mind you I make it to the payouts regularly just not deep enough to have a +ROI. I think my problem may be that I am playing TOO tight. Nevertheless this year has been amazing, I have learned sooo much and I know I still have a good way to go, but I am enjoying the game so much and feel excited about where I am headed. I am looking forward to read about your progress in the higher stakes.

    Best wishes always,


  3. Ok, well, I am flattered. I am the mysterious "Terry" and backer that the Poker Lawyer was so inclined to write about...I'm pretty much speechless, which is rare for me..

    What I can say about my friend, is that she is ruthless on the felt. When I saw her play against all those pros in Reno, it was down right amazing. Being a lawyer who does battle in court for big corporations, she brings her same game to the poker table. Some of those guys were ugly to her, rude, mocked her, and she just kept taking their chips. It was a thing of beauty really...*sigh* I think I have a horrible "poker" crush on her, and you will too if you ever see her in action.

    So I believe our little business venture is going to accomplish much more than just "playing higher stakes"...It's going to be a training ground for greater things to come...I just feel it in my soul.


  4. Dude, I hope you're right.

    To everyone else - I paid her to say those things.

  5. Keep doing what you're doing, toots, and I'm quite sure you'll rule the world one day! (Which is all part of your cunning plan anyway, no?)

  6. Poker Lawyer and I spent about 15 minutes at the buffet together in Reno listening to Jim from California talk, then shared a table in a few tournaments for short periods of time. Not much time to evaluate, but what I noted was she had a passion for the game, watched every hand intently and projected a very strong image at the table. All of which will make her a top notch player after gets through with all that lawyering stuff. (You can pay my publicity/marketing fee by crediting my Full Tilt poker account.)(JK) About online poker; I've been cashing in about 22% of the tournaments I play in, but rarely do I get to the final table. What I've noticed in checking in the sites that show players ROIs,is that none of the big winners (over $50K) have an in the money percentage as high as mine. Which begs the question: "Is playing tight always right?" Obviously not. There's a balance between playing tight and playing aggressively that the top players have worked out. It's something that I'm still working on; maybe someday I'll figure it out!

  7. I think you need to be taking shots. Yes, bankroll management is an important skill, but if you have other income, then you need to be balancing roll management with getting better, and the only way you get better is playing at a level where you can take the money seriously and learn.

    The buy-ins you're talking about are not overwhelmingly high. They're probably exactly where you need to be playing. So I'm not saying keep pumping money into MTTs until you can no longer feed your family, but what I am saying is it's okay to invest disposable income into the learning process as long as you have limits and a larger plan.

    Also, be careful trying to figure out the silver bullet formula. Tight, loose, aggressive, trappy, whatever, they're all just tools. There's an optimal way to play in every situation, and the more you focus on what type of play is going to exploit specific opponents, the better the long run will be.

  8. Thanks for the follow, Lady! Good to meet other female's in the sport. Good luck with the new year! I'm excited to see your posts and tweets!


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