Knocked Out at i4: My Sandbagging Days are Over

Gone.  All gone.  I no longer have any money in my account at i4 Poker.  So sad.

i4 started me with 5 free pounds (equivalent to about 8 dollars).  I didn’t have to make a deposit, just signed up and in about 5 days they sent in the mail (not email) a code to get this 5 pounds bonus.  Moreover if you earn 200 VIP points in July, points that accrue by the rake, they give you an additional 4 pounds.

In a matter of a few days I turned this 5 pounds into over 40 pounds.  You need to have at least 50 pounds to cash out.  I wonder whether I could have deposited 10 pounds and then withdraw it all.  As usual, things took an ugly turn for the worse.  This morning I hit rock bottom, lost my last 5 pounds.  And all I have to show for it are 73 stinking VIP points.  Ugh.

As you may know from reading my most recent posts, my losing streak at i4 began about a week ago. I tried to stop the bleeding by changing my game.  My strategy was to play more conservatively, like I thought I did when I first got the 5 pounds bonus.  I only allowed myself 5 pounds at a $0.05/10 no-limit table, instead of the maximum, which is 10 pounds, and would quit for the day if I lost this amount.  But it didn’t work the first day, or the second, or the third, or the fourth, or the fifth.  The only “good” thing that came out of this new approach was that it took me longer than usual to lose it all.  You can read my previous posts if you’re bored out of your mind and want to chronicle my downfall at i4 and all those other poker rooms that give free money without requiring a deposit.

I decided after five unsuccessful days of my new ultra-tight strategy to give it up.  It was so hard to stop playing for the day, especially when I would lose the 5 pounds in less than an hour.  I decided to drop down to a lower stake table ($0.02/.04 no-limit).  It didn’t help.  The downward trend just kept going.  Three days ago, I was down to about 10 pounds and really feeling the poker blues, sobering up to the fact that I just don’t have what it takes to play the game.

But then a simple twist of fate occurred.

I was talking about poker with one of my very bright logic students.  I told him how I was a sand-bagger and rarely bluffed and he told me that this wasn’t his style.  He said that checking is a sign of weakness, and that if he is the big blind and everyone checks he raises, unless he is short stacked.  Why not give this approach a try.  You can always learn from your students, especially the bright ones.

Boom.  Immediate success.  I more than doubled my money in a few hours.  The next day I lost some, but then I won it back.  I was now confident that this new more aggressive kind of play was what I needed to improve.  Like a mantra I just kept repeating over and over “Checking is a sign of weakness” “Checking is a sign of weakness”.

I have little doubt that one of my weaknesses in poker is that I don’t play courageously enough.  I am not a bully, and you need to be one in poker to in order to win.  It’s war dammit.  The problem is that I’m too concerned about the money.  I need to play and – in general live – more in line with the principle expressed by Anais Nin that “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage”.  Easier said than done.

I am not used to raising when I don’t have the goods.  I do bluff every now and then, especially when I have a good position, but when I do, I’m always a Nervous Nellie, and I’m sure I’ve got tons of tells.   I think that the main reason I’m uncomforable about bluffing is that I lack guts, and that, as I explained, is because I care too much about the money.  But there might be another reason for my lack of bluffing, one that has to do with the issue of the morality of lying.

When you sandbag as I like to do you mislead, but you aren’t trying to tell your opponents that you have a good hand.  Rather you’re trying to tell them that you have nothing.  On the other hand, when you raise and you don’t have anything you are trying to tell your opponents that you have a decent hand.  In the world outside of poker there is a difference between these two types of lies.

Perhaps it’s like the difference between letting someone die and killing them.  If I see someone drowning and I could save this person but don’t I may not be as morally bad as someone who tries to drown someone.  Perhaps, in the real world, the world outside of poker that is, there is a similar moral distinction between intending to deceive by not revealing the truth and intending to deceive by actively telling a falsehood.

In real life I am not a good liar.  I always feel terribly guilty when I do, and so I rarely do.  But one needs to lie in poker in order to be good, and the kind of lie that I’m good at, the one where you don’t say the truth, is not one that will ultimately prevail.

So I’m off to scavenging for poker rooms with free bonuses, so that I can try my new more aggressive strategy.  I think I may get free $50 from Noble Poker through one of their affiliates, LTD Poker.  If I do, I shall try to play with more courage, more bluffing, less sandbagging.  I just need keep reminding myself “It’s only money – their money that is.”

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