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.