I had my first encounter with internet poker while recovering from a broken nose in Australia.
Start Small – Real Small
I deposited $50 onto pokerroom, and started playing $0.25/$0.50 limit full-ring. Online games were predominantly LHE, so that was the game I learned.
One strength I have is the ability to make a poker decision based on the value of the decision, not the value of the money wagered. No matter how small or big the stakes are I focus on making the best decision, not the sums of money wagered.
Introduction to 2+2
My friend Stan heard I was learning limit, and recommended I check out the forums at www.twoplustwo.com, and suggested I read some of David Sklansky’s books – “Theory of Poker” and “Hold’em Poker for Advanced Players.”
Both books were excellent reads, and began to transform the way I looked at poker decisions.
When I was self-taught I always wanted to play perfectly each hand, and the idea of thinking about ranges and situations rather than the specific cards my opponent had was a powerful technique.
As with many others, I learned quickly, reading every thread I could find and discussing hands endlessly. Every time someone proved my ideas wrong I had a chance to learn!
Rising in Stakes
$0.25/$0.50 was slow going, but I aggressively moved up in limits, taking shots at the next limit when I had 200bb for the new limit.
$0.50/1.00 was a pretty easy jump after a feew weeks, and $1/$2 went smoothly as well shortly after that. I ran into some trouble at $2/$4 though, my first real downswings, one as big as 150BBs (big bets), which at the time was unfathomable!
By the end of the second month of semi-regular play I had grown the $50 into $500. Once I had $500 I started bonus-whoring, a process where I would move my entire bankroll to a new site every week to take advantage of deposit bonuses, typically $100 on $500.
This was a common bankroll-building method at the time. I was able to grow my $500 into $2000 by the third month, chugging along at $2/$4.
Summertime…and the Living is Easy
I had a great summer, lots of surfing and hanging out with friends.
I was finally content with myself and my life, and was finally “okay” with not having a girfriend, I was single but happy.
Of course, that was when I met this awesome hot chick who would eventually become my girlfriend. Once you give up looking, what you were after shows up in front of you!
If at First You Don’t Succeed
I took a shot at 5/10 6max in the fall. I lost $500 and felt uncomfortable in the 6max games, so I moved back down to 2/4. At the time the only 6max games on party were 1/2, 5/10, and 10/20.
I got on 2p2 and went to the Heads-Up and Shorthanded (HUSH) forum for strategy, and moved down to 1/2 to learn 6max.
I was determined to “make it” at 5/10 – it would take me a few months before I finally moved up completely, the hard work eventually paid off.
Senior Year Rocks!
I was stoked to go back to school – I had an apartment with my 3 best friends, and I was looking forward to making the most of my final year of college. I took some really cool classes like “Artificial Intelligence,” and had my best professors in my required classes.
I scored awesome waves too, every other weekend a hurricane would plow up the Atlantic Ocean throwing epic waves to the east coast. I would cruise up to New York to surf and hang out with my girl.
On one trip there I got into a car accident, I was stopped at a stop sign on a rainy evening and a car coming in the opposite direction lost control and t-boned my beloved Firebird.
I was unhurt, but bummed to lose my car.
Despite this, I was deliriously happy through the holiday season – I had a beautiful girlfriend, was having the time of my life at school, and my parents and brother came up to New York for a few weeks.
Let’s Get Serious
Back at school after the holidays, Stan and I resolved to get serious about online poker – and put in at a minimum 30k hands a month.
It was great having a roommate who was into poker – we would review each other’s sessions, study hands, and share the ups and downs of variance.
We both did well, and camped at $5/$10 limit for the semester – we were leery of taking shots at $10/$20 – that was a high-stakes game (the highest on party was $15/$30 at the time!) where the aggressive “pros” could see into your soul.
The rest of the semester was a blur of interesting classes, parties and fun with my friends, visits with my girlfriend, and lots of online and some live poker.
We still ran the live NL game, but at this point I was a complete limidonk, having put a couple hundred thousands hands of limit in.
I did all the classic “Bad” plays I never would have done before learning limit – playing TPTK for my stack, aggressively raising offsuit broadways or folding suited connectors to a raise pre-flop in a game where limping and calling was hugely +EV, you had implied odds on flopping big so there was no need to bloat the pot pre-flop with speculative hands.
Despite donating a bit in the live games, I had build my bankroll online to about $12,000 by the time graduation came around. I was starting to realize I might be able to make decent money at online poker!
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