When I was a lazy student, I loved to play microstakes no limit hold em. I played, but not well. Black Friday came and stopped online play. Casino play lost its appeal as I got busy with work on the West Coast.
I moved back to the northeast in 2014 and started working in NJ and living in PA. I went to the Parx poker room (a big one) infrequently when I drew the night shift and had a day off. I moved to New Jersey and I found myself in an environment where playing poker was even more rewarding. My career allows me to just set aside a bankroll - so I did. I played well and drummed up an additional $3k from a starting $2k, then took a shot at $2/$5 NL. It took a $1.5k bite out of me, so I backed off again.
Then March 2020 hit and coronavirus came. Around June, I deposited a few thousand dollars into PokerStars NJ and started playing the lowest stake that regularly runs - $30NL - and $10NL when I could find it. I bought hold em manager and set up a HUD. The games seemed loose and wild. The regs were.... weird. Their bet sizes were odd and seemed kind of goofy - 1/3 of the pot?!? I expected this would be easy.
The results were an unmitigated disaster.
I was running 10 buy ins below EV, granted, but the rake was destroying me. Even at 10NL, the lowest stake that really runs, I was getting crushed.
At this point, I realized two things:
(1) I needed help improving my game.
(2) I may not be playing the right game in terms of expected value
So I joined run it once and I started "From the Ground Up". I studied diligently and made a commitment to play like Peter Clarke was watching. I took his "6 cycles of failure video to heart". And...
I started to turn it around. I went from losing to breaking even.
I also started to play MTT. Some forum thread somewhere in passing said that Stars NJ tournaments were easy so I started playing them at slightly lower buyins ($5, $10, $15). I played a $50 bounty PKO thinking it was a $5 (learn to use filters, it simplifies life) and I wound up winning it. This inspired me to start to dedicate more time to MTT as a study subject. I bought FTGU MTT.
And so I started to grind both from mid-august onwards.
I had a weekend of just CRUSHING tournaments that gave my bankroll a huge boost.
I spent a significantly greater portion of my play time on tournaments after that. I don't enjoy each hand as much but over the long run it is sharpening me up to play better poker overall.
I took a shot into 50NL as I'm solidly over-rolled for it. And honestly? The switch flipped. I'm winning. I'm making good decisions. Things just started clicking for me. I'm a much more productive player at 50NL than 30NL. I am definitely NOT a 15 bb/100 winner at 30NL or 50NL, I am also definitely not a 10 bb/100 loser anymore. It's a good feeling.
So as far as 2020 is concerned, poker is ending in a good way. I plan to use the rest of the thread to help me plan for 2021.
Here are my graphs, for those interested: