Current Bankroll: $0.75 - 2M Play Chips

One of the hardest parts about this $0-$20k challenge is transitioning back and forth between the play chip and real money tables before you are able to move your real money bankroll out of the risk zone. I've been struggling with this quite a bit lately, and while most of the trouble comes at the real money tables since I've spent so much time working in my play chip strategy, it can actually be just as tough moving back to the play chip tables after a brief stint on the real money side if you are not careful. Just last night I spent a couple hours on the 1K/2K play chip tables after bankrupting my real money stack on the weekend, and in less than 2 hours I had lost close to 500K. This was really frustrating for me because I rarely lose at the play chip tables and especially not consistently enough to sustain an overall loss for a session. So rather than continuing the trend I pulled myself away from the tables and spent some time analyzing what I was doing differently so that I could try to figure out what was going wrong.

The key to success at the play money tables is tightening up severely and only playing premium hands or calling with good drawing hands. Don't try to bluff pots or force action because people are completely unpredictable when there is nothing at stake so chances are you are going to be outdrawn by some donkey. After analyzing my play during my 500K losing streak I saw that I wasn't being patient enough and I was calling large bets without the hands to back them up. You should probably avoid big hands without the premium cards in any low-limit game, but especially so in the play chip games because while they could be raising with anything, the raises are likely going to be so big that it just isn't worth the risk unless you've got a 90-100% chance of winning. If you simply sit back and wait for the premium cards and then play them hard when you hit, you won't have to worry about your tight reputation because most people won't notice it at the play chip tables and will call or reraise you big with hands that are just below yours. Since these big pots happen so often you can simply wait for the best hands and only see them out when you are sure to have the winning hand at showdown. I've played tables where I'm only seeing 8% of the flops and still have people calling me when I raise big with the nuts.

For example, I was just in a hand where I reraised preflop with KJs. I hit two-pair on the flop (KJ7 rainbow) and checked it. The other guy raised the size of the pot and I immediately reraised him. At this point I was putting him on AK or KQ, or likely even some weaker king hand since he didn't reraise my reraise preflop. I was pretty confident he wasn't holding KK since he would have definitely pushed harder preflop. The only thing I was really worried about was pocket 7's, but I didn't think he would have been pushing as hard with pocket 7's preflop. We both checked a harmless turn card, and after a harmless river I raised him half his stack and he came back over the top all in. My two pair took down his AK for a 400K pot and I doubled up in one hand leaving me plenty of time to sit back and wait for another solid hand to push with.

Now it's important to note the aggressiveness of the play in this hand and how I still put him on a hand that was weaker than my two-pair. Normally I would be very afraid of playing two-pair against such aggressiveness, but since that kind of aggressiveness is so common with a simple top pair / top kicker, you have to fight back aggressively with anything as good or better since the majority of the time you will be on top.

Money changes hands quickly at the play chip tables and in large amounts, so if you restrict yourself to the best hands you can build your play chip stack quite quickly and safely to earn yourself a spot in the nightly 500K play chip freeroll at Full Tilt Poker and move yourself into the green on the real money side. I've already moved myself back from 1.5M to over 2M in less than an hour this evening applying this strategy so I'll be taking another shot at that freeroll tonight.


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