Wednesday, 6 June 2012

May Overview and Plans for June

May is officially over (what a relief!) and since it's June 6th today, I guess you already have a hint that I was not looking forward to making a post about how the previous month went. To be honest, I dreaded the time I would have to sit in front of my computer and write this. You'll soon discover why.

To pick up from where I left you at my previous post, even though the SCOOP went pretty awesome for me, I still had a significant amount of points missing to reach my goal for the month, Platinum. I pretty much had a week before the month was over and I knew I would not be able to play all days since I had some things scheduled months in advance:

1) André was invited to speak at a SPIE UP event that took place at the University of Porto. It was cool and I enjoyed it (and since the Q&A part at the end lasted more than an hour I'm guessing that other people enjoyed it too), but it meant spending a day to go and come back.

2) Then, we had our tickets to Rock in Rio. Limp Bizkit, Offspring, Linkin Park and Smashing Pumkins. Need I say more? I think the pictures speak for themselves.

The line to go inside

Waiting in line

One of the many side shows

The stage

The audience. Believe it or not, it was even more crowded than that when Linkin Park came out.

3) This was my first music festival and I had never been to anything like it, but you don't have to be psychic to be able to forsee than on the next day you will be in no condition to play poker... All of your body hurting from standing/jumping during so many hours on the night before, ears still ringing and a nice headache make the perfect recipe for disaster if you decide to take it to the tables. Better take the day off and rest at home...

Taking all the above into account and since the $18s are not running all day long anymore, I knew it would be tight to make Platinum. Little did I know it would be the hardest thing I've been through in poker. 

After the SCOOP, my bankroll was boosted enough to allow me to go up at stakes. Instead of the $9s, I found myself playing the $18s. I should have studied quite a bit before moving up but with the days counting down and the VPPs still missing there was no time, so I just went for it. To sum it up, day after day after day I watched my bankroll disappear. One of the issues I have when moving up, is adjusting to the idea of dealing with more money at a given time. If I lose 30 buy-ins at the $9s that's $270. If I lose 30 buy-ins at the $18s that's $540. Even though in both cases I lose the same in terms of buy-ins, the difference in terms of bankroll is big. And even though it sounds pretty simple to understand (and it is), it is definitely not easy to take. Suddenly, losing the same feels like losing more. If that makes any sense!

And so I watched my bankroll taking hits of $300-$500 per day. Not that I could take lots of those hits, but I had to keep playing to make it to 7.500 VPPs. Of course it started to really bother me so I put more pressure on André to spend some time coaching me. He had given me some spreadsheets to study back in the beginning of the month but it goes unsaid that I found no time to do more than take a glimpse at them. Coaching was interesting since we talked about my biggest issue, the bubble, but do you think I really had time to think about what we discussed and implement it in my game? Of course not! I was running after the points.

My life during that week basically resumed into: waking up around lunch time, having a coffee for breakfast and then lunch immediately after, playing from 15:00 to 20:00, making an obligatory break until midnight and then playing more until 2:30. Then I went back home around 3.00 and fell asleep around 4:00. You may think that between 20:00 and midnight there's a nice gap to study, right? I assure you that my brain was so fried from that vampiric schedule that I could barely think... So for me those 4 hours were necessary to shut my brain down and have dinner (I tried to take naps but I couldn't).

On May 30th, with only one day left and still a lot of points missing, I was forced to move down on stakes. Which would happen eventually but I was hoping to make it to Platinum first. Unfortunately, I had to drop down to the $7s on the last day of the month. What's even worse, those run during only 2 hours per day, so in order to gather the points I had to play a lot of $3.74s. I made the calculations on the night before to prepare myself and counted that I needed around 10 hours. Which is far more than what I normally play, and far less possible when I'm tired. At that point, I really reached my limits. 

On the next day, I decided to stick to the plan. I played and played and played and at the rate of 0.43 VPPs that I was getting per game, it seemed to be a neverending task. Oh, I forgot to say that while doing the calculations, André threw in 12 tables at a time. Dunno if you remember, but normally I'm 8tabling, 9tabling at most when I'm well rested and felling 100%. That day was horrible and I couldn't wait for it to end. 12tabling meant that I would definitely not play the best I could. Since on top of that I was physically exhausted I wasn't even playing my B game. I would classify it more around E or F if I had to. I was just sticking to the absolute basics that by now are so intuitive that I don't even have to think. Any decisions that required some thought on my behalf, I probably messed up. The funny part is that I ended up with a $11 profit for the day, breaking the losing streak.

The results of the month:

It's very noticeable when I started playing the $18s, don't you think? I don't believe that the downswing had anything to do with bad luck. In my opinion it happened for 3 reasons:

1) If you go up at stakes without studying your game first, you are very likely to get your *** kicked. Especially if the jump is big in terms of money (as in my case, from the $9s to the $18s which is the double).

2) As a fellow hyper-turbian put it, the $18s in the afternoon are a regfest. Not that all regulars are unbeatable or winning players, but there are less occasional players so you'd better be prepared. And that takes us back to point #1, study, or else...!

3) I cannot function in vampire mode. In case you are unfamiliar with the term, vampire mode is when you turn the day into night and vice-versa, for many days in a row (staying up late for just one or two nights obviously does not qualify). I know some people can handle it and it doesn't make a difference to them, but I cannot take it. And it's not something I can simply decide to control, my body reacts to it. For me, sleeping from midnight to 8:00 is not the same as sleeping from 5:00 to 13:00. It's a total of 8 hours on both cases, I know, but in the first case I'll wake up feeling fine whereas in the second case my physical state will be similar to that of a bad hangover. Since I was forced by the schedule to go into vampire mode for the last week of May, I strongly believe it had an impact on my results.

You may think that what I did was stupid and that since I was losing and did not have the conditions to play I should have given up sooner, before trimming my bankroll. I see it like this: after a certain point (basically after the SCOOP was over and the games that were available reduced) I only had two choices: save my bankroll and give up on my goal to reach Platinum OR go for Platinum at the possible expense of my bankroll. It was one or the other and it soon became obvious that I could not both get the status and keep my bankroll high enough to play the $18s during June.

Maybe you would have made a different choice. But I would rather drop on stakes and have a small failure there (which in poker is very likely to happen anyway, even to the best players) than fail to achieve a goal I set for myself. If you ask me was it worth the benefits that Platinum gives you, no it was not. I mean, I lost $397 to get there and I will definitely not get as much in return, especially since I won't be renewing that status in June. But if you ask me that question, you're missing the real point anyway. Choosing to forget about the goal would be the easy way out. I tend to not go so easy on myself.

Anyway, May is over and it obviously took its toll on me since I haven't played a single game so far this month. Also, I'm going to Greece for two weeks which doesn't leave me with much time. What time I do have for poker, however will be used for studying purposes. I will be playing, but less tables than usual to have more time to see how new things are working out. I'll probably will go back to Bronze for July, but I don't really care. What matters to me now is improving my game, and studying is something that I haven't seriously done in months.

If you were one of those lucky ones to have me at your tournaments during that week that I was spreading money at the tables, I hope you enjoyed it. But be prepared. You will soon start paying it back. With interest.

See you at the tables!


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