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.