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by Ashley Adams

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Taking Shots

A year ago at this time, there were myriad fishy players swimming around the waters of Party Poker and I'd cast out my net on a nightly basis. The $15-$30 limit hold'em games were juicy. Sitting down at the $1,000 buy-in pot-limit Omaha tables was the equivalent of printing money. Players simply gave away their stacks to me. Inside of a few hours, I'd log off with more money than I started with. The games were soft, while the players were atrocious and abundant.

Sadly, that was a year ago. In the post-UIGEA world, the biggest impact has to be the disappearance of the abundant fish. Online pros discovered that the games dried up in some places. In my opinion, the cash games on Party Poker are nowhere as profitable as they used to be. Although Party Poker and other online sites such as PokerStars and Full Tilt are slowly regaining the number of players they lost, the bottom line is that online games are tougher. Sure, new groups of novice players are jumping into the online waters everyday, but the sheer volume of dead money has decreased.

The limits I had been playing online have become increasingly tougher. The $15-$30 and $30-$60 limit hold'em games were beatable but now the tides have turned. Perhaps I'm too paranoid or lacking confidence, but the tables once infested with trout have become dominated by sharks. I used to bait the suckers and now I'm afraid that I'm nothing more than shark-bait. At any given time at a nine-handed table online, there are approximately three players who usually play higher limits; there are three people who are "punching their weight" and there are three people who should be playing lower limits and for whatever reason... they are taking a shot. When I sit down at a $10-$20 limit hold'em table, I'm one of the guys who's slumming. Yet, when I sit at $30-$60, I feel like I'm that guy who is playing over his head and has a big red bulls-eye located over my avatar.

If I want to play and succeed at higher levels, I have to implement a total detachment from money and play every hand as it comes. I'm winning and losing pots the size of what my total bankroll used to be only a couple of years ago. The swings at those levels can be tremendous. Heck, in only a handful of sessions I nearly wiped out a previous $2,000 loss. Trying to chase a loss like that at a lower limit would have taken me weeks or months. My goal is to accumulate as much as possible during my hit and runs at higher levels so that my bankroll is sufficient enough to make that jump completely. At the same time, I'm gaining confidence and getting experience playing with better players.

My theory about making money in online poker is to find the one thing that you are the best at ... then maximize your earning potential within that genre. In my situation, limit hold'em cash games are the most profitable, so I have been playing as many simultaneous tables as I can manage.

I encourage my friends to find their edge in poker and then maximize it. If they no-limit multi-table tournaments better than cash games, then they should play as many multi-table tournaments as possible. If they are a sit 'n' go wizard or are routinely crushing the potlimit Omaha/8 games ... then they should play as many of those tables as they can to maximize their win rate.

And while you are padding your bankroll playing optimal poker, you can afford to take an occasional shot at a bigger game or a higher limit.

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