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Poker News | PokerWorks Op-Ed

Grinding Online - The Gift

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It had been a number of years since I played on Ultimate Bet.  At first, it was due to the fact that I switched all of my computers over to Mac, and their software only worked on a PC.  Later on, of course, I stayed away from the site because of the cheating scandal, not that that was an issue at the stakes/levels I play.  As I got more comfortable with Poker Stars, and to a lesser extent, Full Tilt Poker, I began to forget that UB was still out there, although I was aware that they were trying to improve their image through the signing of Joe Sebok, as well as some efforts to atone for their past errors.  And then, I got the e-mail………

About ten days ago, I received a message in my inbox stating that $10 had been put into my Ultimate Bet account.  Now I don’t know about you, but free money is always a good way to get my attention!  Unlike many other offers, there were no strings attached.  I just had to play to be able to use the money.  So, I decided to try a new experiment.  If you’ve followed this series of articles, you know that I started out on Poker Stars with $50, and having never re-bought, have run it up to $2,500.  Not Chris Ferguson numbers certainly, but not bad.  So, I thought I would see if I could start fresh with this $10 and get it up to at least $1,000 without busting.  

So how best to go about accomplishing this?  Ideally, from a strict bankroll management perspective, no more than 5% would be at risk at any one time.  As this would only be 50 cents, I decided to stretch my usual rules of play to be able to buy in with a good stack to the lowest no-limit game on the site, .01-.02, and see if I had any success.  Fortunately, the first time I sat down at a table, one of the other players insisted on bluffing continually, and I quadrupled my $2 investment.  A few more small victories and my bankroll had doubled to a bit over $20!  I made a small cash in a $1 tournament and got up to a little less than $25.

At this point, my luck turned.  I got knocked out of a tourney right before the money when jacks challenged my pocket queens, and he caught his third jack on the river.  I lost a buy-in with a set that lost to a runner-runner flush.  And then the capper:  Last night, I was sitting at another .01-.02 no limit table, and a player was whining about the weak calls people were making against his raises, and then beating him.  Literally seconds after he typed this, I found pocket aces under the gun, and raised to 4x, which was the typical raise being made.  He called, as did another player.  The flop was 7-5-4, and I made a pot-sized bet, which he called.  Next came a jack, and I put in another pot-sized bet, which he again called.  The 7 paired on the river, and he showed 7-8 for the winner, showing no remorse about his own weak call.  The very next hand, I was once again dealt pocket aces!  The remainder of my stack went in after the flop, which was called by someone with pocket jacks, who rivered the set.  Bye-bye buy-in, and down to $19.

The reason that I tell this story is simple.  It is always tempting to play beyond your bankroll.  Had I played those two pairs of pocket aces at a higher stakes table, I would have busted.  Bad luck is going to happen, and happen often.  The only way to guarantee that you will be around to fight another day is to make sure that when bad luck arrives, that some of your money is hiding far away from the scene of the crime.  Now some may say that this attitude shows “a lack of gamble” which is somehow anathema to a poker player.  I would say just the opposite.  It is much easier to play an aggressive style when you know that you have more funds backing up your plays.  As the saying goes, “Scared money never wins.”  It is much harder to trust your reads when your very last money is about to go on the table.

So, how am I going to proceed?  As I see it, the major issues are twofold:  First, do I have the patience to play micro stakes games on Ultimate Bet just to prove to myself that I can accomplish the goal, rather than play at the stakes I am used to playing on Poker Stars?  Second, is there enough enjoyment in the project to make it worth the time that it will undoubtedly take?  For me, poker is a (usually) profitable hobby, not my profession.  With my other business ventures, as well as a wife and three children that need my attention, time is very limited.  Turning $10 into $1,000, while maintaining fairly strict bankroll management rules, will almost surely be labor-intensive (unless I were to take down a small-stakes tournament, which would change the playing field instantly).  I suspect that what I will choose to do is to occasionally put some attention on it, without impacting the other areas of my life to any great extent.  If this causes the project to take a long time, so be it.  I haven’t put a time limit on it, and don’t intend to.

In parting, I wanted to share a few thoughts that I have about Ultimate Bet.  I am somewhat fond of their way of dealing out hands once all the money is in the middle, where all the cards go out at once, rather than the torturous dealing on Poker Stars, where the impending doom that is to come on the river feels that much worse when it occurs.  What I don’t like about the site is how often I will click on an empty seat, get a screen that warns me not to get disconnected, but then someone else winds up getting seated in my place, which has happened numerous times.  Although their software is now Mac-compatible, I don’t find it nearly as user-friendly as either Stars or Tilt, and that doesn’t bode well for me to spend much time there after this project is complete.

See you at the tables!

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