Get It Quietly

Football, bollocks and a bit of poker if you're lucky.

Location: Enfield, London, United Kingdom

Friday, July 11, 2003

What's with Hold-Em ? (Part 1)

The other Saturday I played the £100 Hold-Em tournament in Luton . Before the start I bumped into that well known Internet reprobate “The Camel”. “Haven’t seen you at a Hold-Em comp for a while” he said, before we moved to the bar and started talking about QPR instead. He was right, I haven’t been playing a lot of Hold-Em lately. Here’s why :

In 2001, I played 53 £20 and £50 tournaments in Luton (mostly £50). I cleared almost exactly £100 per competition, £5,400. Last year I played 40 and cleared £230, at £5 a night barely enough to cover BFH as they used to say in Bullseye. Bus fare home ! This year I’m £1,050 down. In fact I have put together a spectacular run of 21 of these tournaments without making the money. Considering all Hold-Em tournaments the run is currently around 30. Needless to say I have given some thought to the question “what the hell is going on ?”. The possible reasons can be broken down into three categories :

1) The game has changed

There’s no doubt this is true. Games always change, they grow and shrink, evolve and devolve. Have the games changed in such a way to explain my results ? Maybe. In 2001, the Saturday night game was a very good game, and that was the game I played the most. There weren’t too many top players, and quite a few loosies chasing the biggest prize pot of the week. However, word got around, one way or the other. More and more good players started turning up to take advantage. Once certain players who spend 90% of their time in cash games at the Vic turn up to a weekly tournament, you know the party’s over. Not because they’re great players, but because this is a sign that the particular tournament was good value 3 months ago. But it isn’t any more.

Anyway, the weaker players didn’t win as often and I suspect many migrated to Wednesday night which has now become the biggest night of the week, often a full house. The fields on Saturdays are now much tougher. Play Wednesday then ? Not so fast. Wednesday is a £20 comp with 100 runners. For various reasons which I will discuss soon (but not today), the good player’s edge is cut dramatically. Plus it goes on till 3 am and more – not good on a school night !

In addition, the more perceptive of you might have remembered that add-ons were introduced in late 2001. I don’t think this has affected my earn, but it’s hard to tell. However, as a player who tends to the conservative in rebuying, I think the addons have increased my variance. I won’t win as often. But when I do I should win more. Not sure on this one. Addons certainly didn’t harm my Stud results.

2) I have changed

Am I playing as well as I did in 2001 ? Another tough one. There is no doubt that I’m not as confident, which must have some effect. But when you turn over AK and your opponent JJ, it really doesn’t matter how confident you are. It might feel a lot different, but it isn’t. As I haven’t been doing so well, I haven’t been playing as often. I have only played 12 of these comps in the first half of this year (compare to 55 in the whole of 2001). Maybe there is a corresponding loss of sharpness. I have been trying some different plans and theories – now is the time after all. Don’t screw with your game too much when you’re winning, that’s for sure. Some of these new plans might not be good ideas in the long run. And frankly I just haven’t been trying very hard lately. After about half an hour I’m bored and wish I was at home. So instead of rebuying, I hit the rail.

3) Them’s just the breaks

Even 55 tournaments isn’t very many. Think of the difference a win more or less can make – anything up to £3000 ! It’s human nature to assume that 2001 was the way things should be, and everything since has been caused by bad luck and buggeration factors. But there’s no logical reason why that should be so. I ran hot in 2001, and cold since. Overall I have cleared £4,700 in 105 comps. I’d certainly like that £ number to be higher, but it’s not bad. Most players would swap with me for sure.

So what’s the verdict ? Nothing is clear-cut in poker. A bit of all three but mostly the last I reckon. Fortunately (praise be) Luton run the softest tournaments in the world – the Stud comps. Since the start of 2002, while I have been struggling with the Hold-em, I have cleared £10,000 in 80 stud comps. Just running hot ? Maybe so. I’ll let you know in about 20 years when the fluctuations are covered. In the meantime, now you know why I’m not seen too often on the Hold-Em nights.

Finally a postscript .. I know 2 or 3 guys who are running great in Hold-em tournaments right now. They haven’t been playing too long, but they’re enjoying themselves, playing a lot, larging it up, giving lessons at the table, chirping with the chips. But we’ll see how good these boys are when they string together 20 without a win. We’ll see how they cope when that happens. And we’ll see how cocky they are then too J.


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