Friday, December 29, 2006

More On The PokerRoom.com Scandal

This thing is getting bigger with more negative buzz. The thread on PR's forum has surpassed 102 pages. Here's a great article about the current developments:

http://www.blondepoker.com/index.php?q=node/6378

IMHO, not only is this bad publicity for PokerRoom.com, but it is bad for online poker in general. I hope the $13,170 dollars they saved is worth it to them.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Alleged Shifty Dealings By PokerRoom.com

Players on PokerRoom.com allege that they had winnings from a "Guaranteed $19k" MTT taken from their accounts when they were told by support that it had been advertised incorrectly. Some speculate that the real reason for the claim of a "mistake" is that there was too much overlay in the $20+2 tourney for PokerRoom.com to accept. Here is a thread on the site's forum:

http://www.pokerroom.com/pokah/forum/messageBody.php?threadNumber=187790

Boy, this sure helps the claim here in the US that online poker is safe, secure, & regulated. You'd never see Full Tilt or Poker Stars do something like this (allegedly).

Friday, December 22, 2006

Doyle's Room Review & Back At UB

I’ve been playing at Doyle’s Room for a few weeks now, so I figured I’d share a short review of the place. Overall, I really like it so far. The software is pleasant to maneuver through and the game play is smooth. Here is a list of hits and misses, in my opinion.

Hits:
· The average player population seems to range from 8000-12000 at one time. Never a “dead” period.
· Plenty of fish. Not a many as their ads would have you believe, but enough to be easily found.
· A wide range of stakes and games. From micro-buy-in SnG’s & MTT’s (60 cents) to high-stakes cash tables. They even have Badugi.
· A full featured lobby screen with buddy list, avatar chooser, public profile, and a versatile waiting list feature. There’s even a live chat room.
· A “Manager” button pages live staff. You can ask a question, share a complaint, tattle on a potty-mouth player, or they will even put out a system message if you need more players at a cash table or SnG.

Misses:
· No “players per flop” percentage listed on table screen.
· PokerTracker supports ring HH’s only.
· The software is very resource-dependant. Older computers might run slowly, especially while multi-tabling.

Even with its minor shortcomings, I would put Doyle’s Room in my top 5 favorite online poker sites. To me, the place just has a good feel to it.

Back At UB:
Well, Ultimate Bet put on another reload bonus. Since they fixed their hand history restriction issue, I decided to give them another go. I still think they have the smoothest running software of any of the online poker sites I’ve tried. The table animation is just so tight. They actually sped up the animation earlier this year. Not only do they make more rake with faster games, it also can benefit a player. More hand dealt per hour can potentially mean more profit per hour. In addition, their “mini-view” for tables is a real plus for multi-tablers. I like how they pay bits of their bonus as it is earned, too. Very convenient and it never expires. Anyway, I’ll probably be there and Doyle’s for a while until another reload bonus pulls me away to somewhere else.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Correct Stakes Helps Aggression & UB's Latest Update

Correct Stakes Helps Aggression:
I have recently noticed another thing regarding the subject of “Bankroll Psychology”. Lately I have been playing No-Limit Hold’em online at the lowest stakes I have ever played. Since then, I have noticed my aggressiveness has increased tremendously. My pre-flop raise percentage has doubled and my post-flop aggression factor has risen. Previously, I had been fine in STT’s & MTT’s, but I had struggled with being too “tight” at cash tables. I was afraid to bluff as much as I should and was frustrated at my lack of aggression. I believe this was because of the psychological effect of playing stakes that were too high for my own personal comfort. Experts can say you should play stakes that are a certain amount of your bankroll. However, if a player is not comfortable playing at that level, these “rules of thumb” do no good. At my new stakes level, I have even lost my stack and stayed at the table long enough to make it back up and then some. My confidence is brimming and my winrate is greatly improved. It is amazing what some experimenting and a simple adjustment can do.

UB’s Latest Update:
Ultimate Bet has finally come to their senses. With their latest software update, they allow a seated player to call up 100 hands instead of only 4 (as previously posted). This ought to make PokerTracker users very happy. Even though I’ve been in some SnG’s that have lasted 125 hands or more, the slight inconvenience should be tolerable. This just might entice me to go back to them. We’ll see.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Your Stakes Level DOES Matter: Bankroll Psychology II

After I posted my original idea about "Poker Bankroll Psychology", I got to thinking that there was more. More to how the human brain reacts to visually seeing a number (the total amount of one's poker bankroll) fluctuate up and down. Gains and losses. Bigger and smaller. I wrote about how keeping a smallish bankroll of around $210 pooled on only one site until it gets bigger could help the brain deal with seeing the amount fluctuate, thus helping to avoid tilt. But what about the amount a player sits down with at a table at one time or even while multi-tabling online? This is also a "chunk" of our total, right? There's no way to avoid "chunkage" (lol). So how big of a chunk should we break off when we sit down at a table?

First off, I've read a few poker experts say that a player should never sit down with more than 10% of his total bankroll. I say it is a matter of comfort and confidence. Some players may feel fine risking 20%. Others (like me) might only like 5%. Other than learning the hard way, the best way to find out this comfort level is to look at the amount one has and then think "How would I feel if I lost $xx?" Would tilt rear its ugly head? Would the player have the confidence that he could make up the loss in a calm and timely manner? The answer depends on the person and their skill level. The key is to find a number that the player would say "It's OK. No problem. Now let's make it back." Now, my opinion is that this is NOT a negative train of thought. I believe in preparation. "What would I do if my house caught fire?", "What would I do if a robber broke down my door?", and "What would I do if I lost my stack at a poker table?" All preparation (yes, we hope the first 2 are much, much more rare).

After finding this personal comfort amount, a player then has to set out and find what stakes level is appropriate to fit that amount. Many experts have a pat answer, which is anywhere from 100 times to 500 times the big blind. My opinion is that it depends on the site, both live and online. For example: I played $2/$4 Limit Hold'em at the Reno Cal Neva a few weeks ago and my stack of only $40 was just fine. But there's no way I'd play a table at Full Tilt at that level with less than $140. But I'd play a 2/4 table at Titan with about $80, no problem. Skill of competition and hands dealt per hour are the major factors. Unfortunately, the only way to find out the right stakes level to play at a certain site is to try different ones. So one should be careful! Some levels might be harder to figure out or take longer to sample than others. A significant dent in the bankroll might occur before the realization comes about that a stakes level is the wrong one. It should go without saying that a player who plays STT's and MTT's doesn't need to go on this fact finding mission since the buy-in amounts are cut and dried. What needs to be considered in this case is a player's skill level, winrate, and how many losses in a row at $xx buy-in he could handle comfortably.

What this breaks down to is a tip I've learned by experimenting (yes, I learned the hard way). Again, this is much more psychological and has very little to do with poker strategy. I'm an average poker player, so the strategy posts may be years down the road. But I'm also a problem solver and I seem to have cured many aspects of my tilt through self-analyzation and trial & error. I hope these "brain tips" relating to one's poker bankroll can also be of some help to readers. Cheers.

Friday, December 1, 2006

Poker Bankroll Psychology

What I'll be writing here won't be your basic "Poker Bankroll Management" article. There's plenty of folks who've already done that. I've decided to write about something I've learned on my own. I'm not sure if it's already been written about or not. But here's my take on what I call "Bankroll Psychology".

I believe the size of one's bankroll has an effect on how he plays. This is especially true in online poker because the numbers are usually right there on the screen. There's also more fluctuation in an online bankroll since more hands are dealt per hour. Seeing these numbers going up and down erratically can directly influence a player's style of play (Though it can happen live, also. Especially if you are like me and are constantly counting your chips to keep up to date).

The number I'm referring to is the amount of chips with which a player sits at a table in relation to their bankroll ON A SINGLE SITE. I used to believe in spreading my smallish bankroll out amongst 2 or 3 poker sites. It does fight boredom. This made for separate bankroll numbers on each of the different sites. If I were to sit down and lose a stack on a bad beat, it would appear worse in relation to the amount I had on just that site.

For example: Let's say I have $70 on each of 3 different sites. I then sit at a 5c/10c NLHE cash table with $20. A few hands in, I push with a King-high flush and get beat by the Ace-high flush. The effect on my bankroll appears to be worse than it really is. That $70 went down to $50, which is almost a one-third loss. It doesn't always register in the brain that it was a loss of $20 from the whole $210 bankroll. A player like me could see that near-1/3 loss of that one site's total and go into desperate mode. Looking for the homerun ball. Playing any 2 suiteds, trying to hit the flush. Slowplaying aces to bring in more money, dangerously allowing cheap draws. Etc., etc.,etc.

I've found that most people would be better off putting the whole $210 on one site and getting a better mental picture of how they are doing. To see that $210 go down to $190 should be less of a shock and more of a motivation to excel. I say "most people" because there are a few out there who, for whatever reason (poker panic, drunkenness, etc.), would be less apt to plow through their whole bankroll if it were separated into more parts. But I believe they are quite the minority.

Now this psychology can work in winning, also. Take the $70 X 3 example: If I sit at table with $20 of my $70 chunk and leave the table with $50, I may get a false feeling of security. I may think "Hey! I'm at $100 now." Then I might loosen up to "keep the rush going" or I might move up a stakes level. This dangerous behavior could happen because I saw this large jump in the small chunk of my bankroll. I may not realize that $30 is less than 15% of the total bankroll and can be as easily lost as it was won.

Now many experts advocate keeping track of total bankroll progress with a spreadsheet (as do I). This works great for goal setting, problem solving, basic accounting, etc. But unless a player has it in view while playing (not practical), the spreadsheet probably won't help in keeping the mental bankroll perspective in the heat of the battle. It's just too easy to forget that magic overall bankroll number while check-raising the supposed nuts. The other little numbers seem to take over. Remember, I'm referring to BR "psychology" not BR management. That's a different subject and well written about by people more qualified than I.

Anyway, this "philosophy" on "psychology" seems to help me keep things in perspective and helps limit my tilt factor. If you are having management problems with your smallish bankroll, maybe try this to see if it works for you. Then, when your BR gets large enough, multi-site play is the way to go. Keeps the boredom away.