It appears that I’m doing somewhat better than I expected at no limit ring games. This really is the first time I’ve tested myself over more hands than I needed to play to clear a particular bonus or to gain a particular membership level. After nearly 6000 hands, I’ve been beating $50 NL on Poker Stars for just over $8 for every 100 hands. Not too shabby at all.
Of course this started when I had a bonus to clear. I still had about 1400 points left to earn towards the 1500 I needed to unlock a $150 bonus on Stars. The bonuses now have an expiry date and I just couldn’t see myself clearing it before June playing $12 turbo sit-and-gos. $1 in tournament fees is 5 player points, so that’d be nearly 300 tournaments.
I started off by trying their $25 NL as I’d done OK at this level clearing Party Poker bonuses in the past. It didn’t take long to realise that you earn virtually no FPPs at this level. $50 NL still doesn’t generate the abundance of rake (and hence the freely flowing frequent player points) that you get from $2/$4 or $3/$6, but the last time I played fixed limit at these levels I was constantly frustrated. I felt I was playing OK, but the game on Stars was tough and I wasn’t good enough to beat the rake. I maintained Gold Star status for a few months, lost a few hundred dollars but earned enough points to get a jacket I didn’t really need and couple of hundred quid to spend at Amazon. About even, obviously.
I’d also expected the no limit tables on Stars to be tough, but so far so good. I’ve now hit the $500 profit milestone. The graph from Poker Grapher uses my Poker Tracker database, which treats one big bet as twice the big blind amount. So with $0.25/$0.50 blinds, the scale on this graph is 1 BB = $1.
It took two weeks to get here, and even though I finally cleared the bonus a few days ago I decided to keep playing as it felt like I’d fallen into a groove playing four tables at this level. A good, winning groove at that. I could get a rhythm going with up to 8 tables at $2/$4 but it was often be painful. Literally. If a session turned bad quickly I’d start to cramp up. That just hasn’t happened (so far) playing no limit.
It’s still not a massive sample size but the graph direction is definitely reassuring. I know there’s room for improvement. I’m going to find it and I’ve already spotted some pretty big mistakes. For example, I knew pocket kings was no good to a fifth raise pre-flop, but I had to prove I was right. Was the satisfaction of being right worth more than the $30 I lost? Not quite. It took nearly 400 hands (on average) to win that back.
But now I have a target, although obviously it if all goes tits up there’s a chance I’ll never write about it again. If nobody has coined the phrase "blogger’s discretion" yet, I want to be the first. I’d like to think I’ll stay on top of this one and in fact the timing works out just nicely.
Providing things stay good at this level, I’ll move up in stakes once I’ve won $2000. I want to be comfortable playing $100 NL by the time I go to Vegas in July.
I’m sticking with $50 NL on Stars for as long as there are no bonuses I need to play anywhere else. If a juicy reload comes along then I’ll probably stop to play that through instead, but I’m hoping that Stars can be my home for a long time to come.