Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I'm back baby!

I’m about half way through my second glass of wine on a Tuesday evening and was just asked when I’m going to update my blog… how about now?

So, it’s been 5 months. What have I been up to? Well, I went to the Philippines for two months. That was sort of interesting and there are a few stories, but I’ll save them for another time. I didn’t play much when I was there but did win a couple of grand so it was good. When I got back I lost a couple of grand so once again I was living off rakeback bitches! (I fully understand that my usage of bitches was completely gratuitous, and I don’t care.)

When I got back shit needed to get done. I worked on my deck for a week (yah, yah, still have to do railing, fuck that – always next year), and a buddy visited for a week, and things weren’t going very well (break even) so when I got a random call from my old boss when I was at Walmart buying golf balls at 2pm on a Wednesday I became a bit intrigued.

I told him I needed to think about it for a bit and then a couple of days later he called me back. One of his proposals peaked my interest and we pursued it. I’m back to work. My job is a lot different than it once was, and I’m still adjusting to it. I work downtown and ride the bus an hour each way, which isn’t bad for me because I just read and I love to read.

Weird thing about it all is that when I got off the phone with him I was going to start in one week (actually took longer) and my first thought was, “I’m done. Time for a break. A much needed break.” I didn’t think about the game for about a week, but as mentioned things took longer than expected and I decided I needed some cash. I logged on, played 50 hands and was stuck a grand. 50 hands later I was still stuck a grand but said fuck it. I haven’t played since. That was sometime around August 20th give or take a few days. I have barely thought about the game at all since then and am definitely on an extended hiatus. I’m going to pursue some other interests for a little while and come back to the game when it feels right. Not sure when that will be.

I have more to say about this, and now that I’ve started talking I want to say more, but I will save that for a later date. Anyways, I felt I owed my readers a little something after all this time. I miss you guys, and gals… I know how the ladies like Buck! YAH BABY!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Retrospection or maybe Introspection?

It’s been a little over 4 months since I quit my job and embarked on my pro poker odyssey. To say it hasn’t been everything that I had hoped it would be would be an understatement of immense proportions and I feel like venting.

When I started this journey I did not really expect to get rich or be hugely successful, although deep down inside I did hope that it would happen, but I expected to do better than I had while working. Prior to quitting my job I had a plethora of excuses for my lackluster poker results: not enough time, forced to play when tired, not enough self analysis, and, of course, bad luck. In theory quitting allowed me to remedy all of these problems except bad luck. Let’s see how I’m doing so far.

Not Enough Time

Although I have no job somehow I still seem quite busy. I have more than doubled the number of hands I average per month prior to quitting my job, from ~10k per month to ~23k per month, but I am still not playing as many as I thought I would play, which is 30k per month. Why is that?

One answer is that playing poker is not that easy. Eight hours in an office is not the same as eight hours of poker on the internet when measured with respect to intensity of concentration. Another answer is that I’m lazy. I can’t ignore the simplicity of that argument. Regardless of the reason, the reality is that I am not playing as much as I probably should. At least I’m spending that time studying the game and analyzing my own play though right?

Not Enough Self Analysis

I had planned on reviewing hands everyday for at least an hour to find small things that I am doing wrong and try and remedy them and improve my play and thus improve my results. It didn’t happen. I started off killing the game and one universal poker truth is that when you are winning you feel as if you are doing everything right and nothing wrong so why would you analyze anything?

Of course that’s a horrible way of looking at things and I thought I knew better, but obviously I was wrong. Also, I can easily give you some excuses, like spending time learning tagalog instead of studying poker, but all of that is side stepping the issue that this is what I’ve always wanted to do and I’m not doing it as well as I would like. One of the few things I can really control is the amount of focus and dedication I have and analyzing my game is important. I am working on this very hard right now actually, but find it difficult to get meaningful answers. I still believe it’s the right path for me to improve my results though.

Forced to Play When Tired

I’m not forced to play when I’m tired, and this is important, and I don’t. Yay, me!

Bad Luck

The perennial poker excuse, out of mine, or anyone else’s control. It’s comforting to blame bad results on bad luck and good results on good play. Let’s take a look at my luck so far.

At the start I ran really hot and things looked good. I knew I was running above average but it was nice to get a good start. Things tapered off in December and I was a little flat. Then January was an Everest; I ran really hot at the start and really poor in the end. February continued the downward trend and tapered off at the end and that continued into March. March was rocky, and I lost money, but after the landslide it doesn’t seem too bad.

The landslide was the worst run I’ve ever been on. In fact, I’m still in the landslide since my results are still far below the Everest summit. I have been hovering ever since. Let’s dig deeper.

My main game is 10/20. I have played 74, 000 hands of 10/20 and am averaging 0.7 BB/100 hands. I expect, and hope, to make 1.5 BB/100, but am content with 0.7 BB/100. If I play 25,000 hands per month that will be 175 BB’s which is $3,500. I would also make about $2,500 from rakeback for $6,000 per month. I’d be fine with that.

I also like to play 15/30. Most of my play is at Eurobet, and the player pool is somewhat small. Most of the time the 15 isn’t very good but I cherry pick it and avoid those games. Occasionally the games are quite good and I constantly keep my eyes open for any opportunity where the 15 game is at least as good as the 10 and then I sit 15. So far I have played 22,500 hands of 15/30 and am averaging 0.09 BB/100. Yah, so I’ve made $588. Just to put that in perspective for you, the last two times I’ve played 15/30 I won over $2,000 one day and lost over $1,400 the next, so in reality I’m breaking even totally at 15/30. I should also mention that in 858 hands of 15/30 head’s up play I have lost $3,300. I am not playing 15/30 head’s up anymore.

A few times I decided to “take shots” at 20/40. I think that was in December after running good in November. 1,897 hands and -$4,373. The shots did not hit their intended target.

Overall, I have played 103,000 hands and have won $5,185. If you do the math it works out to $1,200 a month, not quite what I was hoping for. As an aside, these are only my online results. I have done very well live in a very short amount of time. They also don’t include rakeback, which is what I am really living off of at the moment. I get almost 10 cents per hand played which works out to $2,300 per month in rakeback income. Combined with my poker winnings I am netting $3,500 per month. This is less than what I made working, but is close. It’s enough for me to survive, without any savings, and that means it is perilous. As you can tell by this blog entry it is also weighing on me.

So have I been unlucky? I’m definitely doing poorly whenever I play higher which sucks. It also sucks because the 15/30 games have consistently been softer then the 10/20 games I play everyday. If I ran at 0.7 BB/100 in 15/30 I would have an extra $4,725 in my pocket – that’s a little unlucky. In 858 hands of HU 15/30 I’ve lost $3,300 – that’s a little unlucky. I lost a bunch in 20/40 – I’m willing to admit that maybe I wasn’t a favorite in those specific games (I doubt it though). Still overall, I think I am unlucky in my results so far. C’est la vie.

I started this venture hoping for financial freedom as well as life freedom. I do have life freedom, and I love it, but financially it has been stressful. I’m going to continue to persevere and hope things work out. I like my life. I like what I’m doing. I like the freedom that I have. I am lucky.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Bombarded with Mortality

I'm in Red Deer right now visiting my sister. Well, that's not entirely true - I'm sitting in the basement writing in my blog while my sister, my mom and my girlfriend partake in an orgy of scrapbooking. When I go upstairs all I see is a flurry of cutting, taping, stamping and god only knows what else.

As some of you may already be aware my mom ended up in a hospital in Mexico while attending my cousin's wedding. My mom, dad and sister went down there and shortly after arriving mom was not feeling well but they wrote it off as her having a cold or something else benign. After a few more days they realized that it was not something minor and off to the hospital she went. She was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, which, from what I read online, is when your heart is congested and your body is not getting the supply of blood that it requires. Your lungs begin to not function properly and accumulate fluid. This is what happened to my mom, she basically couldn't breath.

Fortunately my family is very conservative and took travel insurance and after a battle with the insurance company my sister managed to secure payment for hospital services rendered and for a medical escort for my mom back to Canada. It took a few days to arrange but a nurse flew out from Toronto with a supply of oxygen and then my mom was given a first class ride home escorted by the nurse and the oxygen supply. I guess that's one way to get into first class.

She was met in Edmonton by an ambulance and taken to the Royal Alexander hospital for observation. She spent three or four days in emergency before she finally got a bed. At least our health care is free though eh? Fuck Klein and fuck PC's and fuck our failing health care system. She arrived Wednesday and was released on the following Wednesday with the diagnoses of "a combination of factors resulting in atrial fibulation", which I translate to "we don't know what happened but we are doctors so it is required for us to appear to look smart so we are going to give you a vague non-conclusive answer. Go team!"

She's fine now, which is why I don't mind joking a little about it but to be honest it scared the crap out of me. When they told me why she was in the hospital the analogy they used was, "It's what grandpa had." "When he died?" "Yah."

While this was going on a friend of mine in Grande Prairie died of a massive heart attack. He was an older gentleman, I'm guessing 60'ish but I'm not really sure. He was a poker acquaintance of mine and as I mentioned in my original blog post I basically started my poker odyssey in the Grande Prairie game so he was influential in my development as a player as well as being an all around great guy. I never knew his real name, he was known simply as Guppy and he was known and liked by everyone. His poker game was fundamentally horrible while artistically beautiful. Watching him play helped me shed my weak tight mind set and opened my mind to the possibility of other styles of play that may be winning. Even today I am over dogmatic in my approach to poker, but when I think of Guppy my views soften slightly. But, more than poker, Guppy was a great guy with great stories. He was everything in excess, including personality and I enjoyed every minute of time I spent at the tables with him. RIP Guppy, you will be missed.

I've played a little poker during the past few weeks since my last blog, but I don't really feel like writing about it. Maybe later.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Too Cool

This video is too cool. What a simple, yet highly sophisticated program. I'm downloading it now.


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Two posts in one day? Crazy!

Two posts in one day may be a bit much but there are a couple of hands from the weekend I've been wanting to write about.

Last week there was a pretty good tournament at the Cash Casino. I didn't play in it because of the bad run I've been on - I didn't feel like putting $800 into a tournament. If I was flush with cash that would have probably had been different. But, a friend of mine was in town to play and of course, during tournament time the cash games are always good so I went down to the Elbow to play $15-30 a few times (Wed, Fri, Sat... I already wrote about Wed).

So Friday I'm playing in $15 and have been playing pretty snug and winning some nice pots. Everything has aligned itself so that I have a pretty snug image since I've been getting an easy distribution of hands (83, 83, 92, AK, 82, etc) so I haven't been in many pots and when I've had to showdown a hand it's always been a pretty good hand. This image set up a nice play for me though.

It's a kill pot, which I've explained in the past, and the killer is two to my right. Everyone folds to him and he checks his option. The next player folds and it's on me in the cut-off. I have Q8o and pop it. Through the night the button has kind of been staying out of my way when I've gotten involved so I thought there was a good chance that he would fold, instead he put his last $55 into the pot and the SB also called. SB is a really good player, but is much too loose pre-flop in my opinion. He is quite agressive post-flop and is also has good imagination. The killer also calls, but he sucks. So we see the flop 4 ways with $15 in the side pot and $235 in the main pot.

The flop is JJ4 rainbow and it's checked to me so I fire a $30 bet. SB check raises pretty fast and the killer folds his hand. What to do? Well, in reality, with my hand and the fact that the side pot was really small and their was no way for me to win the main pot with a bluff I probably should have checked through on the flop and then given up on the turn if I didn't improve. In hindsight, as I write this, that seems like the best move to make. But, I bet, and was faced with a raise by an imaginative player. It felt like he probably didn't have anything and if he did at most he had something like 55 or 66. Now, he may have a Jack, but odds are against. He would play a Jack, or any pair this way (except big pairs) and would also make this check raise with an ace and also with some bluffs. Well, shit... now I don't want to give up getting 3.5-1 in this side pot. I can reraise now, which is what I do a lot of in these spots, but this time I took a different route. I just called his check raise.

The turn was a blank. In reality, I was probably going to bluff raise every card on the turn except for a Q or 8 and possibly a 4 or J, so most of the deck is a blank in my eyes. That was my plan when I called the flop so this card didn't change anything for me and when my opponent bet out $60 I popped him to $120. He thought for a few moments and folded. The button who was all in says, "Well, you must have me beat." "I doubt it," I reply calmly and turn over my Q8. He turns over ATs and wins the main with ace-high. The tricky player I beat was quiet, which is hard for him, and looked very solemn. I have rarely seen someone look so dejected and taken aback and I was giddy with excitement.

Fast forward to Saturday night and I'm in another juicy game but have been card dead for a while when I pick up 45s on the button. Now, this is not a good hand, but I would definitely like to play it in a multi-way pot from the button. Everyone folds to middle position (rare in this game) who raises the pot and this opponent is the same one from the above hand. A late position player cold calls and this guy is the big fish in the game. It folds to me and I kind of say F.it and decide to gambool and call. Now, I give people shit for these momentarily lapses in judgement so it's hypocritical of me to play this hand in this spot for two bets, but I'm ok with being a hypocrite. I freely admit this call is a mistake, so I don't feel bad criticizing my friends for making it. Both blinds call and we see the flop 5 ways.

The flop is A3x (can't remember the last card but it might have been a 9). The blinds check to my buddy who bets and the donkey calls. I'm getting 12-1 with my beautiful gutshot that no one in their right mind will put me on so it's an easy call for me (actually, I call pretty liberally with my gutshots. Some of you have experience with this tendency of mine.) Both blinds fold so we go to the turn three ways.

The turn is a 5 and my buddy bets again and donkey calls again. Now, I have a pair to go along with my gutshot but there is little chance that my pair is good. What the pair does do for me is to make my draw a lot stronger which means I now have a lot more equity in this pot. There is no way for me to fold in this spot so my choices are to call or raise. I insta-raise. My tricky opponent calls my raise with a speech and the donkey deliberates and folds. Having a tight image is nice.

I mentioned my opponents speech. What he was saying was, "I guess I have to pay you off. I guess I have to pay you off." He said a few other things along this line as well, but in reality what he was saying is, "I want to showdown please don't bet." I don't remember what the river was but he checked and I fired out a bet at which point my opponent disgustingly mucked pocket kings face up. Booyaa! I quietly slid my cards face down into the muck and stacked the chips. I expect to play against this opponent many times in the future and it is profitable for me to keep him in the dark.

These type of situations don't come up very often in 10 handed games, but they are very profitable when they do.

What to do about all that "free time"?

Since "going pro" I've had a fair bit of spare time to take advantage of. I've been spending a lot of that time reading. Before University I used to read a lot, but, for whatever reason, during University I stopped. Of course, I read text books, but that's not what I am referring to. I'm referring to reading for the pleasure of reading. To experience life through the eyes of another.

But I've been revitalized and it's wonderful. I've been reading non-fiction as well as fiction and I find this balance keeps things fresh. There is a lot of really interesting, easy reading, informative, non-fiction available and when read with an open mind I think an individual can learn a lot about themselves and the world around them.

I've just finished Blink by Malcolm Gladwell and Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut and have started No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy as well as The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins. Blink is non-fiction and is about "the power of thinking without thinking", which is also the sub-title. I liked it a lot. It's a very light read with some interesting insights into human nature and our bias's that we are not even aware that we have. It also has some good information about intuition. At times I knew about the things he was talking about intuitively, but had never seen them explained before so it was still interesting.

As an aside, let me discuss one of the bias's that people have that they aren't consciously aware of. What's the average height of a North American adult male? According to Blink it's 5'9", and that seems pretty reasonable. It's what I would have guessed. Now, if I asked you to guess the average height of a Fortune 500 CEO what would you guess? Something greater than 5'9" right? You'd probably guess 6'0"+ and you'd be right. Why is it that CEO's of Fortune 500 companies are that much taller than the average person? Is it because tall people are smarter or more qualified than short people? No, that doesn't make sense at all. The answer is much simpler. We perceive help as a natural quality of leadership. This is not a conscious quality. If I asked you what you wanted in a leader you would not list height, but it's what you want. Subconsciously we are biased towards tall people.

Anyways, that is just one example that I'm paraphrasing from Blink. Another concept that I found interesting was "priming". One of the stories about priming I found interesting was about an experiment that two Dutch psychologists performed. In this experiment they took two groups of students and asked each of them 42 "fairly demanding" questions from Trivial Pursuit. Before they were given the questions one group was asked to spend five minutes thinking about what it would mean to be a professor and to write down everything that came to mind. The other group was asked to think about what it means to be a soccer hooligan and to write down everything that they thought. The first group, the "professor" group, got 55.6% of the questions correct. The second group, the "soccer hooligan" group, got 42.6% of the questions correct. That's a huge difference, and the conclusion of the experiment is not that the first group was in any way smarter than the second group. In fact, both groups would have been quite equal in that regard. The conclusion is that the first group was primed to be "smart" and thus, did better than the second group, who were primed to be "dumb". Neat eh?

Well, maybe it's not just neat. Maybe it has practical monetary applications to poker. I'm going to start each session I play by mentally priming myself before I begin. I have always noticed that if I start a session alert and anxious to play I typically do better than if I start off being a little tired or simply not into playing. Maybe it's coincidence, or maybe not. It can't hurt. I'm not exactly sure how I am going to prime myself so if you have any suggestions please feel free to post them.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Learning HU plus a little live action

I've been a member of the forums at www.twoplustwo.com for a long time. It's a poker strategy forum run by a publishing company who have always published the best literature on poker available. For a few years a group of short handed players have run a tournament amongst themselves. A list of captains draft players from a pool of interested people and then each week teams square off against each other and play head's up matches. I've never participated because I have never been into head's up play and was never sure I'd be able to play all of matches due to work and other commitments. This year I changed my mind and signed up for it.

I was drafted 20th out of 24 players (some did not get drafted) and it was probably a fair draft pick since I am not very experienced at head's up play, but I do want to get better. I believe there is a lot of potential money out there for a head's up player and I think it should be part of my arsenal. Tuesday I played my first match. It was a 50BB freeze-out and I won it after approximately 2 hours of play. I feel like I played very well and also ran decent. Also, our matches are just played for play money but every player in the tournament put in $200 and the winning team splits the total prize pool. My team went 3-2 this week so we are doing ok so far.

That's the part of head's up which I am having problems grasping right now. Tough to see where I am winning (or losing) due to variance or getting out played. At times I think it's hard to differentiate. For instance, last night, for fun, I played a friend of mine. We have played 3 times recently and he has beat me all three. The first one I was experimenting with a few things and ended up not liking them. The second one I just quit after a little while because I couldn't handle it. I was getting run over and never making anything. Last night, I also got ran over. It felt like I also may have gotten outplayed, but it's hard to say. He told me that he was getting hit over the head with the deck, which I believe. So did I get outplayed? It's hard to know. I play him mainly to learn the game (through experience against a good player) and he is doing the same. In the future we are each going to make video's via camtasia studio and then merge the hole cards into one video so that we can each see what the other person hand on each hand. I think that will be the best way to truly learn from the matches with him.

Wednesday night, after squash, I went down the Elbow and played some 15-30. For the first time ever the games were not good. I mean, they weren't horrible, but just weren't as good as I expect for live games. Since I made the effort to get down there and wait in a 4-8 game for a half hour I decided to stick around and see if they improved. They did not, but at least my game became short handed.

Live players do not play much short handed at all, so most of them really have no clue how to adjust. This is good for me, a short handed expert. So when my table dropped to four handed I felt pretty good about my chances of coming back (I was stuck $650 at the time) and maybe booking a win. One problem, they all knew each other. What was happening was that if I was in a pot then they would play normal, betting, check, check raising, etc. But, as soon as I wasn't in the pot anymore they just checked it down to the river. This is very bad for me. In fact, it's cheating. Now, these players were not consciously cheating me, and I could tell that, but never the less they were cheating me so after a little while I said something.

"So, you guys aren't playing against each other at all? Just against me, eh?"

"Well, yah, I guess so."

"Hmm, well this is my last hand then. I would rather play while waiting to get into the main game, but it's really bad for me if you guys are not playing against each other. You can bet and raise until I fold and then check it down."

"Yah, you are right, but we haven't done that."

"I know, but still... it sucks for me right?"

"Yah, it does suck for you. I understand."

One of the other guys pipes up, "Yah, I understand too. Makes sense. We won't do that anymore."

"Yah, if you want to play still we will play each other."


A little while later I was even. We all moved to the main game, which sucked. I stayed another hour and basically broke even on the night (lost $77), but I'm glad I spoke up. I'm usually not one to speak up as I don't like confrontations, but for whatever reason I decided to that night and am glad that I did.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

An interesting hand

The contest is wrapping up. It doesn't look like I'm going to win it though. Some dude really turned on the jets on the weekend and caught up, pass me, and pulled away. I have to give him props; he played hard to do what he did.
Today is the last play day for the contest, and I haven't seen results for yesterday's play yet, but I really don't think I can catch him.
Anyways, yesterday I played a pretty interesting hand. I'm in the big blind with some janky Ace, like A6o and the button open raises in a 6 handed game. He's the reason I am in this game. Pretty aggressive donkey. I call and we see a flop head's up.
The flop is AAK. Bingo! Well, I am going to check raise him because he will go to the river with anything and I don't really feel like getting too tricky. He checks behind! OK, foiled. Maybe the turn will be kinder.
The turn is a 4. I check again. "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." He checks behind. AIYA!! I can't believe this guy will check two times on that board. He must have like 23 or something. Well, I better bet the river and hope he calls.
The river is another 4. I bet out and get raised! This doesn't make any sense. I guess he was getting really tricky with an ace too. I reraise, just in case he's goofing around, and he caps it! Oh well, chop it up.
Villian turns over... wait for it.... wait.... wait... wait... KK!!!!
Talk about letting me get there!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Contest

So, I'm still running like shit. Nothing new there. I did have one really good day, but dumped all of that back this morning running at -30BB/100 for 250 hands of 15/30 for a -1900 session. Oh well, at least I'm not working.

My rakeback provider is currently having a contest. Actually, it's three separate contests. Actually, it's the same contest at three different locations.

February 1st through 10th - Absolute Poker
February 11th through 20th - Ultimate Bet
February 21st through 29th - Cake Poker

During the above dates, at the specific site mentioned, my rakeback provider is giving away $3000 to the 20 people with the highest MGR at that specific site. I forget what MGR stands for, and don't want to look it up, but it is the amount of rake a player generates for a site. I don't play at Absolute Poker, so I didn't have a chance at that one but I figured I had a reasonable chance at Ultimate Bet so I set my mind to winning this contest. First prize is $900, and since I'm going to be playing anyways, it really is free money. Just in case it doesn't work out, I should mention that second is $600, and third is $450.

After the first day the results were:
1. 370'ish
2. 320'ish
3. 280'ish (me)

but, I had played a lot of hands late at night that I knew weren't counted in this set of results so I was optomistic that I would be ahead the next time results were posted. Those results have just been posted so after two days it's now:
1. 796 (me)
2. 665
3. 647

So it looks pretty good for me so far.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Every post needs a title

I've added "bucky's Associated Press" over on the right hand side of this blog. It's an RSS feed for my Google reader shared items. If you use an RSS aggregator, like Google reader, feel free to add my feed to yours. For anyone who doesn’t know what an RSS feed is, and you know who you are, basically I use Google reader to gather news stories from a variety of different sources and then I can go their and sort through it and just read what I want. It’s a lot more efficient. Now, you can see the 5 most recent stories I’ve read that I find interesting. BTW, I recommend the Mos Def link.

I know in my last post I said that I haven’t been up to too much lately but since then I went down to the Elbow and played a little 15/30 and also went cross country skiing with Bryan. If he emails me some pictures I’ll make sure to post some of them. I’m going to talk about my live play, the skiing as well as a small segment on coffee near the bottom. Read whatever interests you. I would have talked about the democratic debate that I watched, but no one is interesting in my thoughts about that and I won’t have space.

Down at the Elbow Thursday night I treaded water for about four and a half hours. I was up $200, down $200, up $200, down $200, etc. I think I went up and down 3 or 4 times. A couple of times I paid off and if the hand had happened online I would have been 100% correct to pay off in that spot, but live, I’m not sure that I was correct. I think my reads were correct at a high enough accuracy for me to correctly fold, but I erred on the side of caution.

Here’s an example:

A slightly too loose, trying to play good, but lacking some skills young kid opens in early position. He is called in about three spots and I am in the BB with AA so I 3-bet. The young guy caps and we see the flop five ways for four bets each.

Flop: JJ3 rainbow and I check. The young guy obligingly bets and everyone folds to a lady on the button who raises. The lady on the button strikes me as a pretty decent player. She’s tricky, she’s a little loose pre-flop (of course, this is her biggest leak, like it is for everyone in the casino), but I respect her post-flop game. We’ve played together before, but she doesn’t remember me. No one ever remembers me. I decide to 3-bet, as I really think there is a good chance my hand is still best.

Thinking back on this 3-bet I am not sure it’s the best play. This is classic way ahead / way behind type of stuff which means I am either a huge favorite or a huge dog and typically in those spots you are best to simply check/call all the way to the end to allow your opponent to bluff off their chips. The thing is that this spot is a little different. It’s true that I am either way ahead or way behind, but when the action comes to me there is 23 small bets in the pot, and if I call then the young kid will be getting 25 to one to call and he will be correct to peel to try and spike on the turn. In fact, he’s probably correct to call with anything that he has (which is most likely KK or QQ). If I 3-bet, he will probably call me with those two hands and would be making a big mistake. The lady could very well have a jack, or she could have a medium pair like 99. In fact, I think those medium pairs will be a large part of her total range of hands in this spot. These are the factors that lead me to 3-bet in this spot.

The young kid folded and the lady capped. She will almost always have a jack in this spot. I called, the turn was a queen and I check/called. The river was another jack and I check/called again. This is where I am not sure it is worth it for me to call. On the river I am getting 17.5:1 to call and have to be best only 5.4% of the time. Online this is an easy call. Live, I’m not sure. If she has that medium pair that I think she might have had I don’t think a typical live player will value bet it there. They do not value bet light enough live; this is a classic mistake of your otherwise good live player. But the way she bet, and the look on her face was pure confidence. It’s true that the last jack really reduces the number of possible hands she could have that contain a jack, but I’m still not sure. I called and said, “I really think you have quads, but I’m not good enough to fold.” Of course she had quads. Shrug, it really is a small mistake, if it’s a mistake at all.

The only other interesting hand and the one that really put me into the black finally, was a kill pot where the betting limits double. The killer was in early position and he was one of the donkies that were making this game unbelievable. He raised his kill to 60, and the guy on his left, who was playing the big NL game (5/10) head’s up for about an hour raised to 90 and I looked down to see QQ on the button. Upstairs! 120 biatches! SB cold calls before I get my chips into the pot. Ruh-Roh! $495 in the pot before we see the flop.

Flop: QJ9 rainbow. Bingo! Top set, but dangerous board. SB checks, donkey checks, and NL guy bets into me. Well, board is dangerous and pot is big so this is an easy raise. SB cold calls again and donkey folds. NL guy calls. Pot is now $675.

Turn: 8. Can it get much worse? Well, a Ten would be worse. Anyways, check, check to me. I bet and when they both just call I know I’m best.

River: 2. Check, check to me and I bet and they both fold saying they each had AK and were drawing to that Ten. Final pot: $855. My profit: $710 (after rake). That pot had quite a crowd gathered around the table and the players discussed it for a while afterwards because I never did say, or show, what I had.

After that pot I won a few more good ones and finished +$1043 for the evening. Not bad for 8 hours of work.

I know I was going to talk about cross country skiing but this is getting pretty long. I’ll wait until I have pictures and talk it about it then.

On to the coffee. I like coffee. I drink coffee everyday. It brings me a small measure of joy and it’s only vice I have left (is gambling a vice? Hmm….). For Christmas I got a French press and have been making my own coffee but it hasn’t tasted as good as the stuff I get from Second Cup, even though I am using the same beans. This has bothered me, so today I got all scientific and shit.

I grinded up the same amount of beans that I normally use and then measured the amount of ground coffee that I had produced. It came out to ~9 tablespoons. I’ve read in a few places, including the bag the beans came in, that the correct ratio of beans / water is 2 tablespoons ground coffee per 170 ml water. Alright, so I need 765 ml of water. I bust out the measuring cup and poor the correct amount of freshly boiled water into the French press and stir. After 4 minutes I engage the press and drink. The result was as close as I’ve ever gotten to store bough coffee. It was GOOD! It was a lot, but it was GOOD! I’ll reduce the number of beans that I’m grinding so that I don’t make so much coffee but I was really happy with my results today.

The next thing I’m going to do is buy myself one of these. They are supposed to be the absolute shit. I’m ordering mine today and will give you a trip report after I get it.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Catching Up

Wow, it's been a long time since I've posted anything. I guess I haven't had much to talk about. So what have I been up to? Well, dodgeball started a few weeks ago and so far we've played 3 times and are 1-2. Last Monday it felt like we got dominated pretty badly but the final score was 11 games to 6 so it wasn't too bad. I didn't have much fun though because I was out so fast everytime and never saw much action. My throwing sucks, but I think I catch and dodge ok. I just don't generate enough power with my throws and am not tricky enough so they catch them on me a lot. All in all, dodgeball is a pretty fun way to get some excercise.

We've also been trying to get into badminton and have been out twice. We haven't found a club yet, so have just been booking a court at the leisure centre once a week. Again, it's pretty fun excercise and so far we are tied up at 1-1, although, I think she let me win last time. Booking a court is a little too expensive though, so we should find a club. It costs us $10 each for 45 minutes which I think is a little too much.

Poker has not been going well since my last graph. Up, down, up, down. It's been a rollercoaster and it's been hard to log hands because of it. Each day has involved some fairly large swings and that makes it harder, although it shouldn't. Psychologically I know I need to keep playing and not let the swings bother me, and sometimes I am good about it but other times I'm not. In those times I think I am better off simply not playing and go at it fresh the next day. I don't do myself any good playing when I'm not "feeling it".

Here's an example of a day in the life of buck over the past two weeks. I wake up at around 9 and after showering, getting a coffee, and having some toast I sit down at around 10 hoping to get 500 hands in before lunch. Boom! 100 hands into the session (about 30 minutes) I'm down $1000 and not feeling good. I stick it out for another 100 hands and tread water before taking a break. I come back at it in the afternoon and play 500 hands booking a $1250 win. So, I'm +$250 on the day so far after about 700 hands. I decide I don't want to break because now I feel good and want to get back at it so I track down some games and find two tables over at Full Tilt where I think I should have a big edge. I've been data mining at full tilt for a while and have some statistics on my opponents which I can use to judge a game quickly to see if I want to play in it. I don't play at Full Tilt very often because I've never done well there (bad reason) and the games don't look very good very often (good reason). Anyways, on this particular day I see a guy with 55/40 VPIP / PFR stats (VPIP = voluntarily put money into the pot and PFR = pre-flop raise percentage). These stats indicate that my opponent plays 55% of hands dealt to him and raises 40% of hands dealt to him. As a comparison, I play a 29/20 style, which is still on the loose side. Usually I do good against these guys by employing an isolation strategy. I sit on the immediate left of this guy and whenever he enters a pot (usually raising), if my hand is good enough I reraise trying to isolate him (make everyone else at the table fold) and then play him head's up with position on him. It's pretty good poker. Anyways, on this day, it does not go well. I miss most flops (my hand does not make a pair or anything on the flop), and he hits hard. I make a mistake on the turn in one hand, but later reviewed every hand played and feel pretty good with my play in most hands. That doesn't change the fact that in only 150 hands I lose $1300, and give his one opponent over $1000. I really felt horrible. Later that evening I reviewed every hand played and as I said, I feel as if I played most of them well.

So, in one day I was -1000, +250, -1100. There has been a lot of that lately. Yesterday I was -500, +500 and quit then. Even being up, I didn't feel good about playing so took the rest of the night off.

For the month, I'm pretty much even. I don't know exactly, but I think I'm down 500 (I don't feel like looking right now) online, up 675 live, and am living off of rakeback which should be 2500 on the month.

Alright, now I feel like playing so maybe I can come back with some good news later!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

New Graph

Well, I decided to learn how to graph in Excel since that's where my data is. I want to try it out so here's a new look at January. You can see clearly how much fun this week has been (Hint: Monday noon was the summit).

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Biggest Pot

Now, this is a poker post but there isn't going to be any strategy and it's a pretty interesting little hand. I think it should be easy enough for anyone to read through it and maybe get a bit of a laugh. It's probably my biggest pot ever online (although, I'm not positive as I have taken a couple of shots at 30/60 in the past).

The game is 20/40 limit holdem over at Poker Heaven. Now, as I've said, 20/40 is not my regular game. It's a little big for me atm, but I couldn't find any good tables except these and I wanted to play. The games were good so I sat down and decided to only play two tables instead of the usual three so that I could focus on them.

Here's the hand. We are 4 handed and the first player open raises. He appears to be a little looser than I think he should be and fairly agressive, but I haven't played with him much so my read is not real accurate. Button seems like a bit of a donkey. Erratic raising, loose calling, playing too many hands, etc. Also, not exactly passive. The small blind folds and I'm in the big blind with pocket kings so I 3-bet. UTG 4 bets, which is the cap, and button calls so we see the flop 3 ways for 4 bets each (POT = 3x4x$20 = $240 + $10 (SB) = $250).

Flop is Jh 4h 2h. I do not have a heart so it's not a great flop for my hand, but I still have an overpair and therefor have to protect my hand as it's still probably best at the moment. I bet out, sort of hoping that UTG will raise me to shut out the button. Instead, UTG simply calls and button raises. Button could have a lone jack, or a lone heart, or some other weird hand like 2nd or 3rd pair so I really only have one play and that is to 3-bet. I'm now hoping UTG folds which he does, but button 4 bets, which now is not the cap. On this site, as soon as the pot gets head's up there is no longer a cap on the betting. At this point I'm pretty much calling down unless a heart comes and then I have a decision to make. (Pot = $250 + 2x4x$20 + $20 = $430)

Turn is a Kh. A mixed blessing. I have top set but there is a four flush. There are now 10 cards that can make me a full house or better (three 2's, three 4's, three jack's, and one king which will give me quads) so it's an easy call but is not worth a raise. I check, he bets and I call. (Pot = $430 + 2x$40 = $510).

River is 4c. BOOM! Full house. Do I check or bet? This guy obviously likes his hand and this card must seem safe to him so it's an easy check for me hoping that he bets. I guess a strong argument could be made for betting hoping he raises so I can three bet, but I decide to C/R.

I check. He bets (1). I raise (2). He reraises (3). I reraise (4). He reraises (5). I reraise (6). He reraises (7). Maybe he has quad fours? No, not yet, I reraise (8). He reraises (9). Yikes, this is a bit scary now... wait a minute... he's almost broke... I reraise (10). He reraises all-in for $12.69 more (11). (Pot = $510 + 2x$412.69 - rake = $1332.38)

Donkey has 9h 2h for the flopped flush, but on the river it's pretty janky. What a beautiful suck-out by me for... wait for it... tax free tons of cash! :)

Here is the official hand history for posterity:

BossMedia Game #911025400: Table Table TH 156 - $20.00/$40.00 - Limit Hold'em - 18:38:00 - 2008/01/15
Seat 1: tomasius ($1835.00)
Seat 2: CasaConcha ($2730.50)
Seat 3: calessi ($1470.31)
Seat 4: lowehjerte ($2860.44)
Seat 5: paonessa72 ($612.69)
CasaConcha posts the big blind of $20.00
tomasius posts the small blind of $10.00
paonessa72 is the button
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to CasaConcha [Kd Kc]
lowehjerte raises $40.00
paonessa72 calls $40.00
tomasius folds
CasaConcha raises $60.00
lowehjerte raises $80.00
paonessa72 calls $80.00
CasaConcha calls $80.00
*** FLOP *** [4h Jh 6h]
CasaConcha bets $20.00
lowehjerte calls $20.00
paonessa72 raises $40.00
CasaConcha raises $60.00
lowehjerte folds
paonessa72 raises $80.00
CasaConcha calls $80.00
*** TURN *** [4h Jh 6h] [Kh]
CasaConcha checks
paonessa72 bets $40.00
CasaConcha calls $40.00
*** RIVER *** [4h Jh 6h Kh] [4c]
CasaConcha checks
paonessa72 bets $40.00
CasaConcha raises $80.00
paonessa72 raises $120.00
CasaConcha raises $160.00
paonessa72 raises $200.00
CasaConcha raises $240.00
paonessa72 raises $280.00
CasaConcha raises $320.00
paonessa72 raises $360.00
CasaConcha raises $400.00
paonessa72 goes all-in with $412.69
CasaConcha calls $412.69
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $1332.38 | Rake $3.00
Board: [4h Jh 6h Kh 4c]
tomasius won ($0.00), mucks
CasaConcha won ($1332.38), showed [Kd Kc]
calessi won ($0.00), showed [ER ER]
lowehjerte won ($0.00), mucks
paonessa72 won ($0.00), showed [9h 2h]

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Some good news!

I’ve posted some negative stuff in the last few posts and that’s not good. It has to be balanced so I’ve decided to talk about some of the good things.

1. I have excellent game selection.

I think this is such a critical part of good poker that I really attribute a lot of my success so far to practicing religious game and seat selection. Why is this important? Well, poker is essentially a game of decisions. The better decisions that you make (based on information processing) the better you will do. More accurately, if you make better decisions than your opponents you will make money and the larger the gap in accurate decisions between you and your opponents the more money you make. That’s why game selection is so important – the worse my opponents play the more I make.

I’m typically looking for tables with at least two players that I think play bad. A table with one bad opponent and 3 or 4 mediocre opponents is fine as well, especially if I have position on the bad opponent. My opponent’s playing styles also matter, especially in terms of relative position. I’ll leave a table pretty fast if it goes from good to bad.

Another benefit of table selection is that I believe it reduces variance. This is due to my edge being larger, which is what I mentioned above, but discussing the variance is important because minimizing variance helps to minimize the bad runs inherent in poker which in turn helps mitigate the emotional stress. Emotional stress can lead to bad play (tilt) which can create a snowball effect of bad play, bad results, more stress, more bad play, more bad results, etc.

2. I am pretty good at controlling my emotions.

I’m not perfect, that’s for sure, but I’m pretty good. I don’t tilt very often and when I do it’s very mild and I’ll often quit right away and wait until I am feeling better. This is an important skill in poker. Self discipline is critical in terms of success in poker and I’m good at it.

3. I don’t play when tired.

I mentioned above that poker is a game of decision making ability. You don’t make good decisions when you are tired, so why play when you are tired? I think this is pretty simple and I’m good at it.

All of the above reasons contribute to me not logging as many hands as I think I should be logging. That’s bad, because as I discussed in my last post I have a tendency to mind fuck myself and I do that with the number of hands I have as well. I have created a goal of 1500 hands per playing day (which is the same as your work week) and I am behind in January so far. That’s ok though. I’m content with that.

Also, I had my best day since going pro on Friday at +$3058. Most of this was at 10/20 (~$2500) with the rest coming from 15/30. This put me back into the black. I’m going to post a graph of January so far, but take this graph with a grain of salt. There is one site I can’t track with my database software and I’m down ~$1200 at that site. Also, one of the sties I play at has been giving me a little grief and not accurately tracking some of my sessions. One of these was $850 to the bad. The graph shows me as +$4100 for the month but I’m really only +$2500 (not including rakeback).

Note: Some of you may not know, but the x-axis is number of hands.

And since going pro (the above graph is the last section of this graph and you should see the similarity):

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Feeling of Suck

I really enjoy mind fucking myself. Well, I don’t enjoy it, but I do it a lot so maybe that makes me a little masochistic?

Poker is a game where if you are playing well you have a small edge and a lot of variance which means that bad (or good) things can happen for long periods of time. This phenomenon is generally referred to as luck. Really, there is no such thing as luck, it’s just the affects of variance, but that’s what we refer to variance as in day to day life.

Also, as an aside, when I say time I do not mean time in the traditional sense that you measure with clocks and calendars. Instead, what I am referring to is a statistical sample metric which, for me, in terms of poker, is number of hands. So above I said, “things can happen for long periods of time,” but what I really meant was “things can happen for a large number of hands.” For poker players the two statements are synonyms and you will see this in my writing sometimes and in the future I will not explain it and I won’t even try to fix it. Sometimes I’ll clarify what I mean and sometimes I won’t.

So, because of the above, it doesn’t make sense for a poker player to care how he is doing in any given session. It doesn’t make sense for him to care about how he’s doing in any given day. For that matter, it doesn’t even make sense to look at results on a monthly basis and put much faith in them. I know all of this, I repeat it like a mantra, yet I still do it. I mind fuck myself.

Actually, I’m quite good on a daily basis or a per session basis but I am bad on a monthly basis. So far this month I’m down $1460.75 over 6409 hands. 6000 hands in poker is meaningless. At my limits, $1500 is also meaningless. Yet, it kind of sucks and this feeling of suck that I have is something that I really need to work on. I need to get rid of the suck and focus on the decisions. Day in, day out, focus on decisions. Week in, week out, focus on decisions. Month in, month out, focus on decisions. Because, at its heart, poker is nothing but decisions and I have to trust in that. I have to trust in the fact that I make good decisions and by making good decisions the money will flow. I wrote this today to remind myself to forget about the feeling of suck. Erase it. Destroy it.

There. It’s gone.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

A hand, with analysis

Warning: If you don't care about poker hands you don't need to read this post as it's pure analysis.

The hand: Four handed game, and I'm UTG (CO) and open Ks Jd. BB 3 bets and I call.

BB is a 56/40 player who is probably 3-betting 25% of his hands here. He is one of the reasons I am in the game.

Flop: 2c 9h 4s. He bets, I call
Turn: 8h. He bets, I fold.

Here is the analysis I just wrote to a friend of mine:

...his VPIP is 56%, PFR is 40% and I would guess he's 3-betting me from the BB with about 20% of his hands
66+, A5s+, K9s+, Q9s+, J9s+, T9s, A9o+, KTo+, QTo+, JTo

Against that range my flop equity is: 35.7% which makes my peel super easy. But his range won't change on that turn card either, he's betting it nearly 100% of the time there. So my equity there is 29.4% which again makes it an easy peel. This surprises me, I didn't think my equity would be nearly that high but it is. In fact, with the pot size I have correct effective odds to call turn and river in this spot. Again, I'm surprised. Specifically, the only really bad river cards for my hand on this board is a T or a Q which drop my equity to below 3% and 9% respectively. For all other cards I'm sitting here with 20+% equity on the river.

Of course, on the river he's not going to bet his entire range. I'm not really sure what he will bet. Definitely all pairs, and a few missed draws and probably AK, AQ for value (he will do this). So if his new range on the river is:
66+, AKs, A9s-A8s, A4s, K9s, QJs, Q9s, J9s+, T9s, AQo+, A9o, JTo

I have 13.7% on a blank (like a 5 or 2) and would need 12.5% getting 7:1. So again, it would be a call even he is a lot more selective on his river bets. Couple this with the fact that I will be getting a fair number of free showdowns and will get called a LOT when I hit my J or my K makes the turn call even better. Now, 7, T and Q's are bad, but everything else is still a call.

I find this hand instructive. Comments? Based on this work I think my turn fold is a decent sized mistake (small in magnitude, but decent in terms of relative mistakes).

Sometimes it sucks

Some of you may think playing cards for a living is glamorous, and so far I can't complain, but some days it just sucks. Today I log in and have problems finding three good tables so settle into two not bad tables and proceed to dump $818 in 179 hands. That's like 45 minutes.

Some of it was bad luck. Most of it really, because it would be nearly impossible to lose that much by bad play in that short of time, but some of it was because I was playing bad as well. I stopped playing because I recognized this and because I recognized a couple of my opponents taking shots at me when I don't think they normally would have. That's what happens when things are going bad, your opponents recognize it, maybe subconsciously, and begin to play better against you specifically.

I also timed out with JJ on a 8 high flop while talking to my friend on the phone like the huge donkey that I am. That doesn't help things much. Sigh. Well, at least now I have some time to work on my game away from the tables.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Welcome to 2008!

Christmas. I love it. I love getting stuff (my vocabulary is pretty good eh?) I also like seeing other people get stuff. Everyone is happy – it’s good times.

This year was a lot of fun. For Christmas I went to my sister’s in Red Deer and I spent about 3 days there. After Christmas I came home for one day and then on the 29th went to Edmonton to hang out with a friend and watch the UFC. I lost $20 or so betting on the fights but had a lot of good wine and some good food with good company. BTW, the Penfolds Bin 389 2004 Vintage is stellar, if you can stomach cellaring it for a few years. We had a bottle that night and it’s BIG. If you want to drink it now you really need to decant it for at least 2 hours, which we did not, but it’s really good and it’s going to get better with age.

I’m going to sum up the next few days by recapping the various ass kickings that occurred.

- I got my ass kicked in Backgammon a few times (I don’t play the game, but should learn it).

- I kicked some major ass in Chess (this has been a long time coming)

- Major ass woopings occurred on a continual basis in Call of Duty. Think M60 vs. Pistol with the pistol winning and you can get a feel for things.

Another reason I was in Edmonton during this period was to party on New Years with a few of my friends who were going to come up on New Years Eve. On my suggestion (really, why is anyone listening to me?) we thought The Mall would be happening, but alas, when we arrived we really didn’t find much. After doing a little skating we decided to check out White Ave,

It was pretty cold out and after checking a few clubs it appeared as if we were going to have a tough time finding a place to go to without having tickets. Finally we walked past the Iron Horse and I remembered having a few good nights there and we decided to check it out. Many drinks later I was dancing and everyone had a good time. It was probably the best New Years Eve ever for me.

But, the fun did not end at the club. The cab ride from White Ave to our hotel on the west side was a lot of fun. I’m not sure where our cab driver was from, as he wouldn’t tell me, but I suspect Kazakhstan. He was Borat, minus the thong swim suit. Super funny. Basically his life philosophy could be expressed as equation of such simplicity and beauty as to truly astound Aristotle or even Nietzsche:

Happiness = Tea + Sexy Time

Now that I’m back in town and able to finally slow down and relax I’ll be playing poker again finally. It’s been a while. I’ll also be trying to get a bit of poker content into this blog as that’s what I meant it to be initially. We will see what happens.