Poker Goals – July 2015

August 6, 2015

July 2015 was one of the most turbulent and frustrating months of poker I’ve ever experienced. I started the month off hot, winning 8 of 9 sessions, including a solid showing in the Muckleshoot spread game on Super Sunday. All in all, after 5 days, I was up over 60 big bets at my normal limit.

I followed that happy start with back-to-back-to-back -$800 sessions over a three day period, which amounted to the largest downswing (in terms of money lost) I’ve experienced in at least five years – or since the days when alcohol used to wipe my entire bankroll out on a regular basis. Of course, now that I’m playing $8/$16 regularly instead of $4/$8 I’m not surprised to have bigger financial downswings, but having it happen so severely in three short days was a bit jarring.

It was a short lived disaster, however, as I quickly recovered by going on a massive heater that included nine straight winning days and profits in 12 of 13 total sessions. All in all, this stretch was good for a 260 big bet upswing and changed my game plan for the month. I initially planned to play the Muckleshoot deep stack tournament every Tuesday night, but since I was running at around $100 an hour in my normal game, I couldn’t really justify wasting my time in a tournament where my best result so far has been getting my money back. Even though running in the 4-5 BB/HR range is totally unrealistic, this wasn’t my first stretch like that this year, and running extremely well can affect your emotions and game just as much as running bad can. It’s easy to forget how hard poker can be when you go through a hot streak like this.

I was quickly brought back to reality over the last week or so of July. I played a mere 20 hours over 5 days, but I got clobbered again. I was losing hard and I was losing fast. My starting hands were running pretty good, but I was whiffing the flop almost every time I raised and when I did connect, I would win a small pot or lose a big one. My draws were pretty much never coming in and it really felt like an impossible task to show down a winner. Not only did I run at -$108/hour over this period, but I also lost more money in a single limit session than I have since I’ve started tracking all my results five years ago. Again, now that I’m an $8/$16 regular, this is to be expected. Not only are my downswings and single session losses going to be bigger financially, they are also likely to be bigger proportionately since the $8/$16 game I play in is significantly more volatile than the $4/$8 games I used to play. My worst result in a normal $4/$8 game was -66.25 big bets. That’s over thousands and thousands of hours – so probably as bad as it was ever going to get. In what is probably less than 1000 hours of $8/$16 lifetime, I’ve already far exceeded that bad result, by posting a -77 big bet session during this stretch of run bad.

All in all, it was a pretty bizarre month. I ended up with a pretty dinky profit for July which I guess is pretty nice considering I not only experienced my worst downswing of the past five years, but also my second worst downswing. On the other hand, it’s also pretty disappointing, since three weeks into July I was having an amazing month and felt like I was basically printing money. Oh well. It was a good exercise for my mental game and while I was incredibly disappointed with myself during that six rack loss – I felt physically ill and I was incapable of even pretending to be interested in what anyone was saying to me – the feelings didn’t linger and I felt normal by the time I got home usually and certainly by the next morning. So even though I felt some emotional collapse at the table, I could still see that my mental game has grown overall by my ability to move on quickly and put things behind me.

I decided to abandon the style of poker reviews I’ve been posting since the start of the year since it was a bit repetitive and a lot of the goals I set are shoo-ins to be met – for instance, playing most of my hours in $8/$16. Really, the only time I’m in a $4/$8 game these days is when I’m waiting for a seat in the bigger game or when I’m propping.

I did keep pretty studious notes during this past month, however, in order to post about hands that gave me trouble and to help identify how variance is affecting my results in the short term and to better help evaluate my own play. Here are the results of what I consider to be the key hand categories:

AA: 7-12 (58.33%)
KK: 13-17 (76.5%)
QQ: 6-9 (67.67%)
JJ: 7-10 (70%)
TT: 2-5 (40%)
99: 3-15 (20%)
88: 3-9 (33.33%)
77: 5-10 (50%)
66-22: 6-37 (16%)

AK: 6-29 (20.7%)
AQ: 13-33 (39.4%)
AKs-ATs: 8-31 (25.8%)
KQs-KTs: 11-23 (47.8%)
QJs-JTs: 10-20 (50%)
Sets: *14-21 (67.67%)
Flush Draws: **29-73 (39.73%)

*note: I made a set when I played a pocket pair about 16% of the time, which seems about average considering I’m including the times I made a set on the turn and river.
**note: I lost six times when I made a flush.

I ran well with my big pocket pairs and ran about average on making sets and flushes, but I lost a whopping 33% of the time I had a set and I lost over 20% of the time I had a flush. That seems unlucky. My AK results look less than ideal, but the rest of the hands look to have run pretty average overall. Variance seems to have had a modest affect on my results last month, it just seems worse because a lot of the losing hands happened in the last ten days of the month.

I missed the first Muckleshoot deep stack of August, but I likely will be playing them on Tuesdays going forward. I’m better off spending my time in cash games, but I plan on playing multiple events in the Muckleshoot Fall Classic next month so prepping for that series in the Muckleshoot deep stack makes a lot of sense.

Here’s to hoping August will be a smoother ride than July was!

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