THE BABAR STORY
This, my 5k post, is going to be about many things: my poker story, some lessons learned, some graphs and stats, and an ensuing Well in which I will answer questions that you ask and we can have a discussion and hopefully I can impart some wisdom and poker knowledge and we can have a good time!
I started playing poker my senior year of college just in home games (spring 2004). One day a buddy told me about Paradise Poker. I played play money tables as procrastination instead of doing my thesis during those monthsÖ One day they had a promo where if you signed up for real money they gave you 2 dollars free without you having to deposit anything. I started with that 2 dollars and from that has stemmed my entire poker career as Iíve made well into five figures Ė thanks Paradise!
For several months I ground up on Paradise starting with the .02/.04 lhe and moving up until I had about $750 at .25/50. I remember playing all night one time and making like seven bucks at the 5/10 cent games and feeling like king of the world. The games were obviously indescribably soft and just by being tighter pf I was crushing. I had a full time job at this point so poker was just a fun hobby. I somehow online found out about bonus whoring and started doing that; my first new site was Party (August 05) and soon I was bonus whoring it and its skins, as well as lots of Pokerroom skins. I donít think I signed up for 2p2 until a few months later (Dec 05?). I chose the name Babar because TPK, my roommate at the time, had sent me a link to some old Babar video or something, plus I was a fan of alliteration at the time. Now people call me Babar in real life!
I soon moved up to .5/1 and then 1/2 and beyond and for the next really year and a half or two years Iíve just been bonus whoring at poker sites all over the internet; grinding limit games from 1/2 up to 5/10 on dozens of sites and skins. Up until fall of 06 I had a full time job so poker was just fun money on the side. I was doing 8, 10, 12, or more tables just pounding out bonuses.
Itís funny, but Iíve never had a ďbankroll.Ē Iíve always been different from most poker players that way. I would deposit into a site, clear the bonus, and cash out, and just repeat that over and over. I sometimes wonder how high (playing-wise) I could have gotten if Iíd created a dedicated bankroll and devoted myself to moving up back when the games were crazy soft. I bet I could have done okay back when Party was a fishtank since even now I can hold my own at 5/10 and the games are so much harder today.
Another interesting thing is that Iím basically self-taught. I played maybe 75k hands online at least before I ever found 2p2 or read SSHE. I still havenít read a lot of the books that people quote all the time (I mean Iíve read the basic ones but not the new stuff). I strongly feel that my experience and just the number of times Iíve been in situations is what has helped me to become a strong player, and so many times Iíve dealt with situations (hands, posts, discussions, etc) based on that ďfeelĒ and experience that I canít put into words or math or odds. Perhaps thatís why sometimes I come into a thread or discussion with a slightly different argument than a lot of other guys.
In fall 06 I left my full time job after two years and without any really clear prospects of what to do next I decided Iíd take a year off to plan my future, and during that time I supported myself through online poker. Bonuses and rakeback were pretty key since my winrate was not always stellar with the number of tables I was doing, but the volume of hands I was going through was pretty good. Sometime in 07 I started going down to Foxwoods with TehPokarKing and some other 2p2ers and went from 2/4 limit up to 5/10 and am taking shots at higher games today, still without a bankroll, lol. I also got mildly famous for my trip reports
Online I learned 6max as well and played that for a while, and lately (for the last 3 months) Iíve switched over to no limit to see what the prospects are there. Mid-high online fullring games like 3/6 and up are pretty much dead/donít often run and the 6max games lhe have a very high variance that can be very frustrating at times. I still play limit when I see good games, obviously, and I still post a lot in micros to try and help out upcoming players and to share some of what Iíve learned. Since fall of 06 Iíve had poker as my primary source of income and have paid all my bills with it and am slowly increasing my bank account at the same time, doing a lot less than 40 hours a week of work and having more fun and a more flexible schedule!
A couple of observations over the years:
Online poker has gotten a lot harder
, even at limits like .5/1 and 1/2 that used to be joke soft. Some sites even now are rock gardens at those levels as Iím sure you guys are aware. Iíve heard it said the old Party 15/30 plays like a 2/4 today and I believe it. On a related note, the number of sites where Americans can play is tiny in scope today and all of those sites tend to be harder as a result. Perhaps in the future things will open up again!
Variance is unreal and almost unknowable and sample size is king
. I donít know how many times people post on 2p2 asking about 800 hands, or 4000 hands, or 20000 hands. Theyíre not enough to determine anything. Iíve had two breakeven stretches of around 100k hands in a sample only seven times that and I know Iím a solid winning player. So I tend to mock, berate, and belittle people who donít really know what the variance beast is like, or who have tiny sample sizes and think theyíre the best or worst player ever as a result. When I played 6m limit Iíd regularly lose or win over 100 BB in a day. Iím not really sorry about the 2 outer you just took in a 14 BB pot, or the 37 BB ďdownwingĒ youíre on today. Keep some perspective
The best way to improve your online poker game
is to play online poker and discuss it with others who do (preferably those whose games you respect). This is obviously really, well, obvious, but thereís really no substitute for putting in the hands, seeing what spots cause you trouble, and posting about them on 2p2 and talking about them with respected players in the forums or on IM. People who quote SSHE mindlessly or people who donít play online and then try to talk about poker online are often the recipients of my gentle or not so gentle derision.
The micros forum is a solid forum
and even today although many have moved on, there are still many solid players here, both noobs and veterans, who can really help your game if you let them help you. Be humble, ask polite questions, and maintain a sense of humor. Although the internet is serious business that doesnít mean people are always right or that their word is always gospel. Ask around, compare opinions, and use the search function to see how thoughts have changed over time. I obviously consider myself a good poster and good poker player with good insights and opinions but Iím sure some people disagree with me or think Iím annoying or trollish sometimes, and thatís fine. The same goes for all of us. The good thing about micros is we often tend to reach a consensus and usually that consensus is correct or close to it. Take advantage of that.
Use common sense with your money
. Donít gamble with money you canít afford to lose. If poker is a hobby for you then build a separate bankroll that IF YOU LOST IT ALL IT WOULDNíT AFFECT YOUR NORMAL LIFEíS FINANCES, and try not to put yourself in a situation where a lot of your roll is at risk at any one time. Donít leave large sums sitting online if youíre not using them. I had $3k trapped in Neteller for months during that whole fiasco and I know guys who had way more in limbo. If you go pro, keep a large bankroll and be cautious with it.
Iím sure more observations will come up in the thread.
Iíve played about 750,000 hands of limited hold them, 500,000 of which are in my graph below. The rest is on sites without PT compatibility or were lost in my old laptopís database when I spilled soup on it. I have about 100k hands of NL as well as maybe 50k of other games I dabble in like O/8.
Lifetime Iíve cleared 104 bonuses (signups, reloads, etc) on over a dozen networks with countless skins, most of which arenít legal for Americans any more and some of which donít even exist as sites any more! I kept (and still have) very detailed records of every site and bonus I ever played on and the results of each one. Ask if you want more details.
My lifetime winrate at all levels combined is 1.6/100 with the majority of these hands coming at 1/2 and 2/4. Ask if you want more details.
My biggest downswing is about 850 bets, most of which is in the downswing in my graph and the other 250-300 of it happened concurrently on a site that doesnít have PT. It was also on that site that I had my biggest loss ever in one day (210 BB iirc) and I selfbanned myself from 2p2 for a week as a result! My biggest BB win ever in one day is 173 BB. Iíve had plenty of downswings of 200-300 bets so I donít really consider those to be out of the ordinary nor are you the first person ever going through one.
Iím sure more numbers will come up in the thread.
Iíd like to make it clear that if anyone has any kind of questions about anything in this, or any other questions for me or poker questions, please ask me and Iíll do my best to respond!
It took me a whole day and night to compile all my aliases in PT and merge the data and the graph, so you better ask, lol. With this large of a sample size perhaps someone might be interested in some statistics/winrates that I can check? What hands win at what rate? If anyone has any questions about bonus whoring, I consider myself an expert. If anyone wants to talk about variance, swings, money management, etc, same thing. If anyone wants to talk about being pro, I can do that.
Iíd been putting this off for a while and itís nice to do it. I sometimes feel like one of only a few micros vets who actually played and plays a lot of hands online, so sometimes as a result I post brusquely or with a chip on my shoulder in response to certain posters or points of view in the forum. However, if you can get past that, Iím a nice guy who loves poker and I still post here because I like helping out. Hopefully you find my story interesting and useful and I hope we can get a Q and A session going and some useful things can come out of that as well. Thanks micros and to all the guys who got and kept me going along the way (Wookie, TPK, Xhad, BBBushu, and others Ė no offense if I forget you for the time being). To all the people Iíve helped, youíre welcome, stay in touch, and keep asking. I'm now testing the market - offering coaching - to see if anyone is interested. I guess PM me since that should be a private thing.
Okay Iím sleepy now. More later.
Yours in gogogo,
PS. Oh and by the way, Iím switching back to BigBadBabar now as my main account. Iíll still check my PM box on BadBig for a while until we all get used to this one again.
PPS. Okay now Iím hopping into the well.
A stranger is being shown around a village that he has just become part of. He is shown a well and his guide says "On any day except Thursday, you can shout any question down that well and you'll be told the answer".
The man seems pretty impressed, and so he shouts down: Why not on Thursday? and the voice from in the well shouts back: Because on Thursday, itís your day in the well.