As you well know by now, I like online poker rooms that give free money for signing up without requiring a deposit. See e.g. Dream Poker, Crazy Poker, Purple Lounge Poker, Poker.com, CD Poker, Titan Poker, and i4 Poker.
As you also well know by now, I invariably start off well at these sites, increase my bankroll about %300-400, and then faster than the international community can condemn Israel for striking back, I lose it all. I think I have an idea why.
When I start off with the sign up bonus I play extremely conservatively, calling only when I have very good hands, and then raising only when I am pretty sure my hand is the best. I also slow play a lot. In general, I play as if each hand could be my last.
In contrast, when I think I’ve won enough money that any particular loss won’t immediately break me I play differently. I loosen up, calling too many blinds, chasing too many straights and flushes, and not knowing when to walk away when a losing streak would begin.
Solution to problem: Consistently play as if I only have a little bit of money in order to play conservatively.
How to do this: Every time I join a new table I start with no more money than the amount of money that was given to me as a bonus, and if I lose this amount, I stop for the day.
In the past, when I would join a new table I would start with as much money as I could, often more than I received with the initial bonus. I believed that I should do this because I believed that the more money you have at the table the more money you could win. Perhaps this works for better players. It hasn’t worked for me.
I have been recently using this new conservative strategy at i4 Poker. They started me with a 5 pound bonus (no deposit). I had worked this up to around 40 pounds in a couple of days, but then tonight I lost 10 of these pounds, after joining a table with only 5 pounds, the amount of my sign-up bonus. I have now stopped playing poker at i4 for the evening.
Yes, it’s hard to stop when you can so easily refuel. But I need to control myself. This new conservative approach may not work. In fact, I wouldn’t bet on it. But even if it doesn’t work, it will allow me to play for more days than the past when I would take the precipitious plunge.
One final comment about my new ultra-tight strategy. I am not recommending it for everyone. I suspect that this style of play would get crushed in higher stake games. But for $0.05/.10 blinds at No Limit Hold’em, it may be the answer, especially if you’re a newbie like me and want to grind out a small and consistent profit.