Thursday, December 30, 2010
Happy New Year everyone.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
I haven't decided if I'll go for it again next year but most likely I will.
A couple people have asked me what SNE is. Basically you play a bazillion hands of poker in a year and PokerStars rewards you with a lot of cash and some major tournament entries. More details here: http://www.pokerstars.com/vip/supernova/elite/
Happy Holidays everyone. I'll have a few updates from the PCA.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
I seriously doubt I'll ever go on a run like this again particularly in such a short amount of time so it's well worth reveling in.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
My friend George plays live poker, 80-160 I believe and is likely the best player in the game. I was talking to him recently and he was telling me how bad he's been running and that he hadn't won a single session in a long time. Imagine the flip side of this, having the same variance but negative variance. I'm probably somewhere around a 1.25 big bets per hundred hands winner in the games I play. I've run at 12 BB/100 over 4000 hands so I'm running about 10.75 big bets above expectation. The flip side of this run would be run at about -9.5 BB/100 over 4000 hands. Now imagine you're playing live poker where I believe they average about 30 hands an hour. That means I could play for 133 hours, probably 3 or more weeks and be down 380 big bets or $76,000 if I was playing 100-200. And this all assumes I maintain my composure and play the same game that earns me 1.25 BB/100. I don't think I'd make it through the second week. Kudos to you George, I don't know how you do it.
A quick VPP update: I'm up to 986,500 VPPs, way ahead of pace. I'm leaving for Boston Wednesday morning and I'd guess I'll reach SNE by the end of the week. What a relief.
Happy Holidays to everyone and may you run as good as I've been running.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
I realize I haven't done any strategy posts in a long time, hopefully I have time for one in the next month or so. There really isn't much more to write about that I already haven't written at some point but some topics are worth revisiting. Also my friend Ryan has an excellent blog here: http://ryanwold.com/ and he's already written some good strategy posts.
December has been a pretty strange month money wise. I took off winning 25K after my first week or so and at the beginning of last week I went on about a 20K downswing before recovering some today. I feel like I've run really poorly this week and I'm happy to be where I am. I don't feel like I'm playing my A game, mainly because I'm mentally exhausted but maybe my B+ game. I'm really looking forward to making SNE and relaxing. I need at least a few days where I play very little poker and recharge.
Here's what the month has looked like:
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
I ended the month almost exactly on SNE pace - I'm at 916K Vpps at the moment. I'm heading to Boston for about 6 days for Christmas. Then it's back to San Francisco for a couple days, off to Miami for 3 days, Puerto Rico for another 4 days, and then the PCA in the Bahamas for 10 days. So I really need to play a lot of poker the next couple weeks to make sure I'm ahead of pace before all my traveling. I've been multitabling more of the lower limits to earn VPPs faster and I imagine I'll be doing a lot of that in the next couple weeks.
I'm pretty excited about playing the PCA this year. I feel really good about my tournament game. I've been watching a lot of videos and thinking about my game. My NL game itself is not great but I feel like my tournament game and grasp of the concepts needed to be a winning tournament player is at an all-time high. It's 95% luck in any given tournament of course but I'm still looking forward to it either way.
Here's what November looked like:
Saturday, November 13, 2010
The games just seem to get tougher and tougher. When I think back to almost two years ago when I started playing on PokerStars, the games were much, much softer. The player pool of good regulars was probably half of what it is now, and there were many more fish. I used to open a 15-30 and 30-60 table for heads up games and I rarely had any competition. Now there are days where 5 or 6 guys are doing the same thing as me, opening tables, and trying to get in as many hands as possible heads up before someone sits. When I started it wasn't uncommon for me to play heads up against players for extended periods of time. Now I'm lucky to get 3 hands in before someone sits. And in some instances the entire table fills with regulars before I finish the first hand.
I'm hoping the trend of improved play and less fish doesn't continue much longer or I'll give serious consideration to splitting my bankroll across several different sites. SuperNovaElite is great and works out to almost 80% rakeback but another six months of this trend and I'm not sure the rakeback would compensate for the increased earn I could find at other sites. For now though I'm still on Stars. And on the subject of SNE, I'm now 1 day ahead of pace at about 872K VPPs.
This is what the month has looked like so far:
Sunday, October 31, 2010
I wanted to link an article Royston left in the comments a few days ago. A lot of it rings true and it's well written, definitely worth a read if you're a poker player:
Here's what October looked like and here's to a profitable November for anyone reading this:
Friday, October 29, 2010
This month has probably been my toughest month as a poker player to date. In my last blog update, I wrote about being down 35K and close to 550 big bets. I had recovered to being down 200 big bets and actually was close to even money wise on the month when things really turned again. I dropped about 15K and another 150 big bets in the following couple days. And then it seemed like every day after that, I’d be down about 50-100 big bets, fight back to even, and call it a day.
After about a week of this and couple days where I wasn't able to fight back to even, I was down almost 500 big bets through 45,000 hands on the month. It really started to take its toll on me mentally. I’ve been having trouble sleeping, all I can think about is the fact that I can’t win seemingly no matter what I do. Yesterday I went out to play pool after booking another 100 big bet, 5K losing session and I couldn’t focus or make a ball. I just kept thinking about the money I was down and that I had to win it back. I quit my game, cancelled all future games, and decided to take an extended break from pool. I played several hours of poker when I got home from pool, won back what I had lost earlier in the day and quit about even. This has been the trend nearly every day this week.
I woke up this morning thinking about poker. I had sent a message to a friend the night before about a hand he had a question about. When I sent the response I was exhausted so when I awoke in the morning, my first thoughts were I probably gave the wrong answer. I jumped out of bed, raced down to my computer, reread my response and sure enough, I hadn’t even read the starting hands correctly. What an idiot I am I thought to myself. Is my brain gone, have I lost my mind? Is that what happens after you turn 35? I ran back upstairs and hopped on the elliptical machine, thinking I have to work out. I have to clear my mind somehow, someway.
After working out, I jumped into the games and played for about 3 hours. I was up about 3500 at one point, then lost it all back and decided to take a break. I took my dogs for a long walk that was more about me getting fresh air than it was about the dogs. I came back, played another 3 hours. Down 5K and another 100 big bets. I’m now down over 500 big bets on the month and am wondering if this will ever end. I feel like I’m playing well, I think my mind is working correctly but the results keep telling me otherwise. I decide to relax and watch a football game I have money on. I’ve got Florida State -3 and Over 58. I’m behind 28-24 with 30 seconds left and my team has the ball at the 4 yard line, 2nd and goal. Great, all I need is a touchdown and I win both bets. They call a timeout, draw up a play. The quarter back drops back, has a receiver wide open in the end zone. As he’s about to throw the ball, his own running back hits him and knocks the ball loose. The other team recovers. Game over. That’s fitting I think, time to play some more poker.
I play another 3 hours, drop another 5K and another 100 big bets. I’m now down over 600 big bets, including 200 on the day (one of worst days ever) and am absolutely beside myself. I sit out at all my tables, walk outside, look up at the sky and just think this can’t possibly be happening. I have this delusional thought that there’s some remote possibility somebody has tapped into my wireless internet so I switch to my Verizon card. I close all my 50-100 tables and decide I’m done with that limit until I can start start winning at lower limits. I resolve to play my absolute best no matter what. I play another 600 hands, maybe 2 hours and win back the 10K I’m down on the day and about 160 big bets. Again I’m about even on the day and call it quits.
So that’s where I’m at. In one respect I’ve been very fortunate this month in that I’ve run well at 50-100 all month long. So even though I’m still down a bazillion big bets, it could be much, much worse in terms of money. At this point I just need to focus on playing my best. I know I’m running bad. I think I’m playing well. It should only be a matter of time before things turn around.
As much as I love poker and gambling, man it can be a hard profession to be in when everything goes wrong. I’ve got no choice but to fight through it.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
I'm still down a couple hundred big bets and a few thousand on the month but I feel a whole lot better. I get pretty stressed out when I run that bad and my natural reaction is to play, play, and play some more. I'm now within 4 days of SNE pace and have no intention of slowing down for the rest of the month.
Poker is a crazy, crazy game. I've read that 99/100 fail at becoming professional poker players and I wouldn't doubt that it's an even higher failure rate. It's incredibly difficult to maintain composure during these types of streaks - to not tilt, not play higher limits, drop down limits if necessary, and maintain your best game. All it would have taken was for me to decide to play 100-200 or 200-400 after I was down 350 big bets to try to recoup my losses and I'd have busted my account.
I've got my fingers crossed I continue to run well. As I always say, the cards have no memory so anything's possible.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Hands wise I've done pretty well this month. I cut my 8.5 day SNE deficit to just under 7 days, I'm hoping to continue that pace for the rest of the month and be within 4 days by months end.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
In other news, I'm now partnering with a friend (and blog reader) in the 100-200 games on Stars. So essentially what this means is I now have the option of playing another 50-100 table whenever a good 1-2 game is going since I have half the action. This should translate into more money making opportunities and more profit. I'm hoping the more I play the games, the more comfortable I'll be with the swings even though I'm only absorbing half, and ultimately play the games on my own.
On the VPP front, I'm still about 8.5 days behind. I multitabled more 10-20 this month to keep up pace and that's the plan for the next few months. There will likely be some days in October where I 6-8 table those games for several hours and earn 2-3 days worth of VPPS.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
On a personal note, I either bruised or cracked a rib playing kickball of all things. I haven't been to the doctor yet but the way it's still hurting I'm pretty sure I cracked it. If you're wondering how I broke a rib playing kickball, I tried stealing home with a head first dive and it ended up being a rib first dive. Oh and I'm getting old, that too. If a broken rib wasn't enough, they disallowed my steal because the pitcher allegedly had the ball before I left third. I wasn't in any condition to argue as I jogged back to third grimacing.
Here's what September has looked like so far:
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
I quit my instructor position at CardRunners. It was a difficult decision that I've been wavering back and forth on for quite some time but ultimately decided it's too much time invested for too little return. I also didn't like the idea of giving my opponents information and several of them informed me they were watching.
Heading to a pool tournament this weekend and then off to Boston the following weekend for my brother's wedding. Other than that, I'll be playing a lot of poker and hopefully getting ahead of SNE pace by the end of the month. I need to get back on track mentally this month which will probably entail a lot more exercise/cardio.
Here's what August looked like:
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Ok here are some of my thoughts on getting 3-bet when out of position in limit HE, specifically against aggressive 3-bettors.
The most important thing to keep in mind, as it is in any hand, is your opponent’s range. There are several things that you can do to identify their range in this spot (in no particular order):
Know what position you are raising from and what position they are 3-betting from. There’s a huge difference between being 3-bet by UTG+1 when you’ve raised from UTG and raising from the small blind and being 3-bet by the big blind. In the first case, your opponent might be raising with 10% of his hands and in the latter, he might be raising with 35%. The earlier the position you’ve raised from and the earlier the position you’ve been 3-bet from, the stronger your opponent’s range will be.
Use your opponent’s 3-betting stat to get an idea of their range. If you use HEM, you can mouse over the % they 3-bet and it will break down how often they 3-bet from each position. The 3-bet % by position accounts for how often they 3-bet in that position against all positions, not just the position you’re raising from so you want to adjust that number based on your position but it’s a good starting point. This stat is one you need a lot of data on and if you have less than 100 trials from that position HEM will list the exact number in parentheses next to the %. Similarly, the overall 3-bet % stat takes into account how often they are 3-betting from all positions so this can be misleading. I don’t know if UTG (where it’s impossible to 3-bet) is included in this stat but it wouldn’t surprise me.
The way I use the 3-bet% stat is by comparing it to my own 3-bet%. I know what HEM lists my 3-bet% as and the default ranges I 3-bet from each position against all other positions along with what % of my overall range these hands constitute. I actually have a text document with all this information that I refer to a lot. For example, if my overall 3B% is 20% and I get 3-bet by a player with a 25% 3B% I will take the range I’d normally 3-bet in his position against my position and add 5% more hands. This isn’t an exact science by any stretch, but it’s what I do.
Know your own opening range from each position and more importantly how your opponent views your opening range. Is your opponent a good regular that you’ve played thousands of hands with? If so, they probably use HEM or PT as well and know almost exactly what % of hands you’re raising from that position. Consequently, they probably have a very specific and easily identifiable 3-betting range against you. Or is your opponent an unknown who has been at the table for twenty hands and seen you raise ten out of those hands. In this case, your opponent could have a very wide 3-betting range incorrectly assuming you’re a maniac.
Know how your opening ranges stack up against typical competition in your games. Are you a lot looser preflop than most or more passive? Your opponent’s 3-betting % is based on 3-betting against all the players in your games. So, if you’re tighter than most, it’s likely they have a tighter 3-betting range than their stats would indicate.
And lastly, as I alluded to earlier is game flow. Have you been playing really tight this session or really aggressive. Players often open up their 3-betting ranges when you’ve been raising a lot of hands or tighten up when you’ve been playing tight. Something that helps a lot with this is looking at your own stats, HEM displays your session stats at each table and this is something I often look at to keep in mind what my opponent’s views of me might be during that session. Knowing your opponent helps here as well. Bad players are more likely to incorrectly assume you’re playing like a maniac or on tilt when you’ve raised several hands in a row. Good players don’t automatically assume this because they understand you could just be getting a lot of good hands.
Enough about hand ranges, so what to do with them?
The big debate preflop is whether you should be capping with some of your range or just calling your entire range. This seems to be pretty evenly split among good players but I’m on the side of flat calling your entire range.
There are a few benefits to calling our entire preflop raising range. One is that we’ve given no information back to our opponent about the strength of our hand. We still have our entire preflop raising range. And since almost all opponents will bet the flop, we always have the option of raising the flop and taking the lead back and winning the same amount of bets with our good hands. The important thing for me is that the less information my opponent has, the worse his postflop decisions will be. In other words, he will make more mistakes on average. There’s no getting around this unless you have a perfectly balanced capping range and I have no idea how you’d even go about this. The other benefit to just flatting is that we now have the option of raising the flop, where we’ve seen 3 more cards, or just calling or even folding. Since our opponent is nearly always betting, the flop is basically irrelevant in determining their first flop action but it’s very relevant to ours because we can use it to determine our best course of action.
That said I do see some benefits to capping, particularly if you’re not confident in your own postflop skills out of position. One obvious benefit is that if you do encounter one of those rare opponents that checks back flops after 3-betting, then you can lose value by not getting that extra small bet in preflop. If I encounter an opponent like this, I make a note, and I have a range of capping hands that I’ll use against them. The bigger benefit I see, is your decisions become a lot easier at that point. You’re always betting the flop, and you’re almost always betting the turn assuming they’ve just called your flop bet. As a result of this, you’ll win a lot of pots where you both don’t connect with the board where you otherwise might not have had you just called preflop and given up at some point. My counterargument to this, and this is where good postflop skills come into play, is that you almost always have the opportunity to take the lead back in the hand, either on the flop or the turn. You also have the added information of knowing the board. So, if you understand your opponent’s range well enough and how well it connects with different board textures, then you can still take back the lead and win those pots where you both don’t connect with the board. In fact, this way is even better because you’re not always getting punished the times your opponent has a big hand by always having the betting lead, you can selectively choose when to take the betting lead back.
Here’s an example of taking the lead back and picking up a pot where you both have nothing:
Let’s say you raise JTo from the cutoff and an aggressive button who isn’t very showdown bound and not very imaginative 3-bets you (there are a lot of these player types in my games). You’ve estimated the button would 3-bet about 23% of their hands against you in the cutoff – a rough range of their hands would be something like:
The flop is 3d 5s 6c
He bets and you call
The turn is the Ah
He bets and you raise
Your opponent will be hard pressed to call in this situation without a pair especially given that your raise is very credible considering you can have your entire preflop raising range going into the turn, at least all of your unpaired Ax hands. I plugged this into Flopzilla and our opponent in this hand has nothing ~40% of the time. By nothing, I mean no pair and no draw. So, you’re risking 2 big bets on the turn to win 5.75 big bets which means you’re getting ~2.9-1 on your raise and it only has to work ~26% of the time. This is a huge victory to get a fold here. Now of course there are some opponents that might call with KQ here (I’m one of them) but most do not.
One other related thought about this hand. A flop raise is also a very viable line with a hand like JT, QJ, KQ, etc. What this raise can do particularly on this type of board texture is “buy” you outs. Let’s say your opponent has AK, AQ, or any other unpaired high card hand. Now if a 4 or 7, and possibly even a 2 in addition to your overcard outs comes, you can often win the hand.
So those are just a couple examples from one hand to give you an idea of ways you can take the lead back and win pots unimproved. What’s great is that if you’re confident you can find enough of these spots, then you minimize losses with your weak SD bound hands like your ace high or bottom pairs because you’ll just be check/calling for the most part instead of capping, leading the flop and turn and getting raised by the top of his range. And you're still able to get value out of your own strong hands because your opponent will nearly always be betting the flop and you have the option of checkraising
The best advice I can give if you’re unsure of what to do in a 3-bet pot out of position is to plug your hand into PokerStove along with your opponent’s hand range to get an idea of your equity. By looking at your equity you can get a good idea of the strength of your hand compared to his range and it will help to make better postflop decisions. This is something I do all the time. I often do it immediately after a hand I played where I was unsure of what the best play was. As a quick aside, there was a hand I played today where I raised UTG with 66 and got 3-bet by the button. The flop was JJT with two diamonds and I wasn't sure whether I had enough equity to call. I called. The turn was the 9d and again I wasn't sure if I had enough equity to call, I chose to fold. So I immediately looked it up and found that I probably should have folded the flop and definitely the turn. Additionally, you can use Flopzilla and plug in your opponent’s hand range along with the board texture to get an idea of how well their range is connecting with the board.
Ok those are some of my thoughts, I have a lot more but this could go on forever. Feel free to ask questions.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
I'm sure most of the people reading this have heard that HR2267 was passed in the US House Financial Committee. From what I've read and understand, this was the first step to legalizing and regulating online gambling including poker (a few things like sports betting are excluded). From the 41-22 vote and the sounds of things, there's a decent chance this gets passed in the house and senate and signed into law by next year but no guarantee. If it's signed the way it's currently written, it will be up to the states whether they want to opt-in. All indications are that California will be opting out which unfortunately means we'll have to move. If you're in an opt out state, it will be impossible to play on a legal, licensed site. Poker Stars and Full Tilt are confident they will be licensed in the US which is great if you're in an opt-in state. From what I read (and someone can correct me if this is wrong), people will be able to play as the are today in the opt-out states with two big differences. They can't play on a licensed site and if they play on an unlicensed site, there's a 50% tax imposed on deposits (ouch!)
I'll certainly be following the bill closely along with what states are likely to opt-in.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
It's amazing what running good does to my game. My game and reads are much sharper. Although some part of that is likely my perception, I'm nearly positive I'm playing better than I was last week. The right plays suddenly seem much more apparent and have been almost automatic at times. It's unfortunate in a way, it's a subtle form of tilt to know I'm not playing my A game when I'm running bad. This was especially true because the more I lost, the more meaningful lost money became to me, and the harder it was to play my best. It's tough not to be results oriented and this is something I constantly struggle with.
I mentioned in my last post that I need to make sure I don't put myself in the position of having to drop down limits because of mismanaging money. This became even more apparent when I started playing worse because the money was becoming more meaningful. This is one of the main reasons I've refrained from taking shots at nosebleed limits even when properly bankrolled and profitable games are running. It's not only the possible lost money at those limits but it's the after affect on my game that can be doubly detrimental and ultimately even more costly. Ideally, I'd like to always play stakes where the money means next to nothing and allows me to always play my best game regardless of how much I'm winning or losing.
On the VPP front, I've gained a lot of ground in the last week. I'm up to 528K VPPs which I think puts me about 2 weeks behind pace. I don't anticipate any problems making SNE again this year.
As my wife reminded me today, I haven't made any strategy posts for a while. If anybody has a specific topic they want me to write about, please email me or comment and I"ll do my best. If not, I'm sure I can come up with something.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
But last month I had my worst month of the year with WSOP tournaments costing me about 30K. On top of that, tons of expenses. And truthfully, I'm the worst money manager in the world. I live like the Sultan of Brunei and between my wife and I we easily spend 10K a month on non essential things. And if that weren't enough over 40% of my money goes to the IRS
And so I'm left with no choice but to drop down in limits and will be sparingly, if at all, playing the 50-100 games until I'm able to build back up. Those who follow my blog probably know I did this twice last year as well. I only hope I'm as lucky as last to year to be able to build back up quickly. This year it's a little more painful. According to PTR I'm the biggest winner online in the 50-100 games and at least temporarily I can't play them:
My current Poker Stars bankroll sits at 46K and I'd like at least 60K to play in the 50 games. With 50K, I feel fine 1 and 2 tabling the games so if I'm able to get back above 50K, I'll probably selectively play them.
The bottom line is that I need to learn how to manage my money better. The losing streaks are inevitable but not planning ahead for them is inexcusable and now results in a big opportunity cost.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
This month has been pretty rocky so far. I've spent most of it in the negative but have crept into positive land the past couple days. I played about 4000 hands the past two days and this will likely be the norm for at least the next month. I'm currently sitting at about 483K VPPs which I believe puts me about 2 1/2 weeks off SNE pace. It shouldn't be too hard to catch up and I'm hoping to by next month. My brother is getting married at the end of next month, that's the only major trip I have planned for a while.
This is what things have looked like since about the time I left for Vegas:
Monday, July 12, 2010
It was a tough series and a tough 6 weeks. I'm looking forward to getting back home and putting in a lot of hands online. I'm going to continue working on my NL game and taking lessons from Vanessa Selbst who by the way has over 320K chips in the ME as I'm writing this.
There's always next year...
Saturday, July 10, 2010
The only hand I played today where I was "coolered" was when I raised AQo from early position and got called by a good player in late position. The flop was A22, I bet about 1/2 pot and he called. The turn was a T and we both checked. The river was a 9 and I bet about 2/3 pot and he called with AK. I could have lost a lot more money in this hand so I was pretty happy to only lose 15K chips or so.
Aside from that, nothing really notable happened all day. I was playing tight because of being pretty card dead and having the three best players at the table seated to my immediate left including Hazif Kahn. I still did my share of stealing and was able to find a few spots preflop to reraise and squeeze with thrashy hands. One thing I couldn't do is find a way to get involved with the bad players. There were several of them seated before me and I was just itching to get in pots with them but the cards and situations never cooperated. Something I've learned about NL is that you want to look for every opportunity to get involved in pots with bad players. You can take the worst of it preflop particularly in position because they can and often do make huge mistakes postflop.
Day 3 on Monday. It only gets tougher from here. I'm going to spend a lot of time watching videos this weekend and working on my NL game.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
I played pretty cautiously today and did a lot of trapping with big pairs which is how I got most of my chips. Basically I just flatted big hands in position and let people bluff their chips into me.
The only big pot I lost was early in the day when I raised JTs UTG and was called by two players. The flop was J85 rainbow, I bet and got one caller who was a good player. The turn was a Jack, I checked and my opponent bet pretty big and I called. The river was a 9 and my opponent bet big again and I called. He had 55 for a full house. This is a hand I would have lost a lot more chips in a few years back.
The biggest pot I won was towards the end with Kings. I raised UTG and was reraised by a very tight small blind. At the time, I thought there was a very good chance he had Aces so I just called. The flop was J8x and he bet very big which I called. The turn was a 5, he checked and I checked. The river was a King and I bet about half pot which he thought for a long time before calling with QQ.
Day 2 on Friday. May my good fortune continue...
Thursday, July 1, 2010
I'm happy to see June go. I believe it was my worst month as a professional gambler. I lost somewhere around 20K in WSOP tournaments and that's about what I won online so I basically broke even for the month. Online it was a really crazy month, I had 5 or 6 20K swings and up until a couple days ago I was actually down money. I think I played fairly well overall but ran really poorly. There were some times where I was tired from all the NL and it took me a while to refocus my mind on limit but I don't think that impacted the results too much.
Next up is the main event, my last shot this year. I'm looking forward to getting back home and putting in a lot of hands again. I've been playing a decent amount of cash NL as well and took a lesson from Vanessa Selbst a few days ago. I intend to continue learning NL and to start putting more and more time into that. My ultimate goal is to have my NL game on par with my limit game.
Here's what June looked like: