My goal in writing is to alert new players to some traps awaiting them. I expect that most players will lose a
little when getting started unless they are initially much better than I was. But new players can learn and change their situations,
perhaps more quickly than they expect.
My poker career started a couple of years ago at my golf club. There was a .50/1/2 game that I started playing that could be very,
very good. I quickly learned that against poor play, I could make money playing poker. I often took away around $100 for 5 hours
or so of play. I lost sometimes but not very much. I have to stress that the level of play was often very, very poor.
I also started playing in another semi-private game that was more like a 3/6 game that was much tougher. I learned that I wasn't
really all that good. Against better play for higher stakes I was just breaking even, but the fact that I wasn't losing was encouraging.
One way or the other, I had the poker bug.
Windows - Mac
I play because I enjoy the game, and I enjoy winning at it. I play to make money, but I also have a fascination for the cards themselves.
I used to play competitive contract bridge, but I would rather play cards for money than for points. I am content to win at low-stakes poker.
My goal is to make enough money playing poker to take the family out to dinner a couple of times a week. I'm not trying to make a living at it.
My motivations aside, I decided to try online poker. I first tried ring game
0maha8 (O8), but I had a lot of holes in my game. I was
too loose, and I would get too emotional about some maniac stealing all the time. I chased and come in second a lot. Maniacs gave me a
lot of trouble.
I was a bit discouraged, so I decided to try the small stakes O8 tourneys instead of the ring games. I noticed that the play was
usually different. Maniacs weren't as much trouble because I could usually wait them out. They frequently busted early. This strategy
worked better for me, but I was still losing. I managed to make $500 last for about six months.
In looking back, I
believe that a couple of transitions occurred in my play during this time. I was too loose at first and then became too tight after
spending more time playing in tournaments. I believe these transitions are fairly natural and that a lot of new players must go
through them, because the games that are available push a lot of new players in the same direction they pushed me.
When a new player tries online poker, perhaps with a set of experience similar to mine, he wants to play. He looks at players throwing
away hands and asks "How can you throw more than half your hands without seeing a flop? You gotta see a flop!"
If he has any brains he finds that playing all the hands doesn't work and then he possibly overreacts. Too tight play is the next
natural stage that new players go through because they lose their chips so quickly in tournament games if they try to stay in the
hands that have a combination of maniacs and players holding good cards. Too tight play works better than too loose in the
tournaments, and the tournaments tend to be a little easier on the initial
bankroll. You can play longer for your money with this
Anyway, you might make the too-tight strategy last longer, but it still loses. At some point, a player has to find the sweet spot.
I started playing in more ring games after giving some thought to my play and my results. After going through my too-tight phase,
I started betting my better hands more aggressively. I started trying to give other players the same problems they were giving me.
I found that I had better success in some types of games than others. I was winning in tight games by using solid, selectively
aggressive play and I was winning in loose games by being more patient and
sharing profits with good players against maniacs.
I started looking for those games before sitting down. I found that games somewhere in the middle, perhaps those with too many good
players, weren't worth playing. In short, I discovered
game selection and I began adjusting to various game types.
I still have some holes in my game, but on-line poker is solidly profitable to me now. I've gone somewhat beyond my goal of paying for
nights out with the family. I've added games other than O8 to my arsenal, branching out to find other profitable situations.
Also see Poker Experts and
Poker Beginners: You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet