Sunday, April 12, 2009

An Open Response to Microstakes Bankroll Builder (A Short Stacker's Manifesto)

The following narrative is a great example of why I leave the chat feature off. I just can't turn down an argument! This is in response to a comment that Microstakes Bankroll Builder left that read as follows:

not sure i agree with yorkshire pud. you appear to be hovering just above the 1ptBB/100 hands (as opposed to bb/100)verging on a rakeback pro. $7k may seem a lot for some, but for your volume i dont think you can call your "strategy" that successful. its just above breakeven actually. you seem to be a bright guy, why not try playing some real poker and REALLY trying to get a decent winrate for 200nl. you can do that by learning to full stack. you could play half the hands, and win the same money. just a thought.

First of all I would like to apologize to you for not donking off my chips to you in way that you find profitable or aesthetically pleasing.

Before I go on, however, I would like to address your inaccurate post commenting on my results for March. Even with the losses incurred at NL100 and NL400, my total posted win rate is 3.32 big blinds per 100 hands, or 1.66 Pokertracker big bets per 100 (1.66ptBB/100). You say that this is hovering around 1ptBB/100. I might not be a math expert, but I can assure that you made a grave rounding error here, as 1.66 is far closer to 2 than it is to 1. You also state that this is “barely breaking even” and “verging on being a rakeback pro”. However, once again your math is off. My winnings to rakeback ratio is 3:1. Either way, your tenure at small stakes has given you a skewed view of what win rates are the norm at middle stakes games. Players at NL200 are certainly making a living at 1ptBB, they are in the top 5% or so if they are making 2ptBB or better and they are at the absolute top of the food chain if they are making around 3ptBB, of which there are only about 4 or 5. Take Kush789 for example. He is a very savvy player and the very best NL200 player at Full Tilt. With a win rate of 3.56ptBB he could certainly do very well at NL400 and probably any full ring game that Full Tilt has to offer. Ahhh....if only he had the balls to “stick his head over the parapet,” as you would say.

But then again, why should he? He makes a very comfortable, stress free $20k or more per month. He knows he's no world-beater, and he clearly does not care. He doesn't dream of smashing heads with Durrrr or Gus Hansen at Rail Heaven, but he does get to work his own hours, own a beautiful home in any state (or country) he chooses to, and can impress women with the fact that he owns a Bentley financed by playing the game that he loves.

So to digress, what, exactly, defines a rakeback pro? I am offering a concise new definition:

A rakeback pro is a player who plays competitively for a profit motive whose total table winnings are exceeded by the amount of rakeback that he attains on a regular basis.

Here is what a true rakeback pro's stats really look like: lucksallugot. By the way, this guy full stacks NL200 and NL400, and though he might have his dignity for doing so, he clearly must live a miserable existence and consider a 22 oz. Heineken and a Crave Case at White Castle an exciting night out on the town.

After reading your reply to my results and then reading your most recent blog entry which was written on the very same day, I imagine that you came over to mine to vent your recent frustrations because I give a voice to the many faceless short stackers that you see day in and day out. And you know what? I agree with you, though not for the reasons that you might expect. I hate other short stackers as well. Not because they are killing the games, but because they are just another TAG who is taking up a seat from a full stacker that I want to siphon money away from. They come in all different skill levels and I have a lot of respect for a few of them and laugh at most of the others. So what do I do? I just leave the game and find a better one. Now as a mental exercise, take these two regular short stackers and note the difference in win rates:


It's like night and day isn't it? Which begs the question...why is this so? If we are all just shoving our money in the pot and waiting for aces, then IDKbutchyinsted must be the luckiest short stacker in the world, right? Wrong. And I believe that this is what really bothers you...

But before I go on, I would like to take this even further. Look at the stats of these two players who make their homes homes at 2/4 full ring.


I am sure that you find this just as shocking as you find it depressing. While Powerbert is struggling to make ends meet, gtr789 is sleeping until noon and taking weekend trips to Vegas. Why? Because he can!

If we are all using the same “strategy”, then have you ever asked yourself why there are short stackers in all limits of the game? If I am doing something crude and replicable and making over $8,000 a month, then surely there would be an army of people just like myself who would quickly tire of NL50 and jump up in stakes to grab their share of the pie. But they can't, because they are just shove monkeys who know nothing of “real poker”, as you call it. But I do appreciate the service that they provide me. They offer me cover under the broad umbrella of the “shove monkey” so that I can slowly rob you blind with out you ever becoming aware of it.

Although I know nothing of your actually poker game, I can immediately see some serious weaknesses in your attitude. You are very narrow minded and inflexible. You are also arrogant in your assumption that I lack in poker skill because of the manner in which I choose to enjoy the game. Do you automatically assume that all TAGs are the same? How about LAGs? Of course there are good ones and bad ones, but they are all very unique. And the fish? Do you automatically assume to have a one sized fits all strategy to beat a “49/4” or you actually observing them closely to find a particular weakness in their play that you can directly exploit? I do. How about the short stackers? Every time I see a new one, I do my due diligence on If I see they are a winner at NL100, maybe they are taking a shot at the bigger game because they had a good weekend and I will be keeping a close eye on them. If they begin varying their raise sizes to steal against certain opponents, I know they are a player. However, if I see they are just breaking even (like a real rakeback pro), then I can assume that they are simply following a script and are barely capable of varying their play, if it all. I avoid the former and victimize the latter.

Believe it or not, I don't just shove JJ every time I get it. I've raised KK and put in almost 1/3 of my stack and then folded it in it a spot where I knew my opponent had aces, and he did. I'll attack certain player's blinds and avoid others. I've folded sets on clean boards, overbet shoved 3nd pair for value on the river, made audacious bluffs, and ace high hero calls. But I don't expect you to believe me. You are very locked in to your views and I am okay with that. Why? Because this makes you exploitable.

New players come to the game looking for action. This is true, but they are donating money to good regulars and short stackers indiscriminately. They don't recognize me for who I am or what I am doing, but regardless, it doesn't really matter because they just don't care. They will take action from everyone and they will enjoy themselves thoroughly when they bust my aces with 74o. In a few months at the very most, your typical player will be broke and gone, having been hustled out of his money by the sharks at the tables in their various forms. I'm not bitter and I don't hold a grudge against the full stackers for breaking them so fast. All I wanted was just a few dollars from each of them, but that is not enough for “greedy” people like yourself who are not content without taking multiple buy-ins from them and verbally taunting them and humiliating them in the process.

Now does that last statement sound stupid? Of course it does, because it is. You are hustling the fish and I am hustling you. The site only requires that everyone buy in for what I am buying in for; nobody twisted your arm and made you buy in for more. But just by doing so, you made a very implicit trade-off. You get a larger percentage of the fish's money but leave your self susceptible to short stack hustlers and higher swings.

I am not some kind of simple-brained twit with an alien agenda. In fact, I relate to other short stackers about as much as you relate to me. I just made the trade-off in reverse. I chose a somewhat smaller profit margin for a higher daily win rate, the ability to play more tables, and do away with the vicious swings. I have a 6 year old daughter and another kid on the way and therefore security is much more vital to me than the great pissing contest that you refer to as “real poker.”

I saw your March results and that you have made a total of $2,000 in NL50 and NL100. This is very impressive, but I have to assume that you have another job or are still in school because $2,000 is not enough money to live out in the real world. I have bills to pay, people to support, and a healthy social life so I do not care for silly notions of pride in an anonymous, virtual world of post-college 20 somethings and bitter 2+2ers.

But now I would like to end this with a challenge to all of the cocky and critical full stackers out there. If what I do is so easy, then you can surely do it yourselves. Therefore I would challenge anyone who normally full stacks for an amount anywhere between $500 to $2,000 that you can not come even within .25ptBB/100 of my win rate at NL200 using a short stack strategy over a 100k hand stretch. Do I have any takers?


Roenan said...

I thought this post was well written and epic in its own right. I'd love to see how microstakes bankroll builder responds.

Lorin Yelle said...

Thank you. The more I think about, the more I fail to see how buying in full personally is doing anything to help his situation. Now I am taking a larger portion of the marks' money, although at least, for his sake, I won't be playing 12 tables. Funny how I forgot the mention that. When buying in full at FR (yes, I've done it many times ;) ) I can only play up to 8-9 tables maximum.

I guess when viewed through this lens, he simply finds what I do to be offensive after all!

Platonic_ said...


Lorin Yelle said...

The only thing short here is your bank roll Platonic.

microstakes bankroll builder said...

Ok, I was gonna let your post go without responding, as I think its going in a direction where I don’t really see anything positive coming out of it for anyone. But you put a note on my own blog recently, so I’ll give it a shot…

My motivation for commenting in the first place was to respond to your previous posts about evolving a winning strategy (shortstack or full stack is irrelevant) for beating the game. My opinion is that for this to be really winning (as opposed to someone being just a “good player” and making the right decisions) strategy would need to show a higher return than 1-2ptBB/100 in order for it to be a true thesis. That’s an opinion, nothing more.

On the winrate, I simply looked up your tableratings, which at the time showed 0.89ptBB/100 over around 200k hands I think, and assuming you are winning at a higher win rate over recent hands, I made an adjustment to what I though was the actual long term realistic winrate at present, being low 1.xpt/100. You have taken exception to this and noted your actual winrate for the month saying a made a “grave” error. Fine. I should say also, I would have no problem being a rakeback pro. Any money from the game at this time is good.

You give examples of winning shortstack players, you being one of them. I can’t disagree. But that wasn’t the point of my comment. You also touch on the skills of shortstacking. This is a more debatable subject. I think there are many special skills in shortstacking that can be used in a pot limit environment, especially in Omaha where I started out, getting other people to do your betting, your seat position, raise sizing etc. NLHE has a different dynamic, where other things come in, making it the beautiful game it is. I just happen to feel that shortstacking at NLHE loses the opportunities of learning these beautiful things. Yes of course you can still make money, as you do admirably. I’m not a fan, but so what.

My motivation for posting in my own blog about the increase in shortstakers was one of frustration, and that’s what my blog is for after all. A personal journey. I won’t repeat the post, but sitting at a full ring table surrounded by 4 or 5 20bb players is no fun, and ultimately kills the game. I called the strategy “shitty” and suggested it was selfish at the expense of the players who are prepared to buy in for 50-100BBs.
And yes, I think its killing the game as it’s a turn off for new players like me. I think tables should be limited to one 20bb seat per table, and then I think there should be special 20bb tables, where the MAX buy in is 20bb for the push bot guys. This would also encourage newer players with a gambling problem to buy in a more realistic rate and maybe at least control the rate at which they might lose it (ie they would buy in for 50-100BBs but at lower levels). I thought I actually gave you a compliment by referring to you in my post, and becoming a follower of your blog, but it appears you don’t agree, by your rhetoric.

Finally just to say you call me cocky, narrow minded, inflexible and arrogant. Why? Because I have a different viewpoint than you?? Please don’t make it personal. It’s just not constructive. I cannot find anywhere where I said you were a poor player. You also note you are going to take all my money, and a few other cute jokes no doubt at my expense. Fine. But there’s no need to have a go at me personally.

On the plus side, you let us into your mindset and original ideas in a very honest way, even giving out your screen name and full stats. I haven’t been prepared to do that up to now. Probably privacy or something daft like that, but I respect that you have done it.

I am learning NLHE. I am a determined guy, a thinking, and I hope, open person. But I am no expert. I just wanna talk about the game, hopefully without offence. Throwing down the gauntlet and challenging me to some heads up battle is just daft, and not constructive. Of course you’re gonna beat me. You’re way more experienced/better than me. That’s one way to kill debate stone dead.

Lorin Yelle said...

Thank for that lengthy and thoughtful post. Now that we have cleaned the air, I would like to state that I have no personal issue with you, it's more that I was looking for someone to write something like that that I could use as a springboard so that I could address the issues I brought up in my post.

I did, however, take the quip about learning to play "real poker" somewhat personally, and that was what really put the gears in motion. I have been using poker as my sole income for the last four years and I can tell you first hand that is an extraordinary endurance contest that can take a generally upbeat fellow (like I used to be) and gradually turn him into a cynical, godless, selfish, and ultimately lonely person. I can see that you have the proper mindset to be very successful at this game and it looks like you are coming a long ways a very fast clip. However, eventually your poker knowledge will surpass anything your friends and acquaintances could possibly ever comprehend and you will be left having conversations in Greek amongst 2+2 forums, yourself, and maybe a good poker friend or two.

No one else will care or understand your thoughts on the game or that your aces got cracked for $400 that day. All that will matter, especially to your girlfriend, is that your bills are paid and you are pleasant to be around. In fact, if you haven't done so, I recommend you read my post from last month called "...And Everything is Illuminated."

Over my career, I have run the gamut of hold'em. Here is a list of the games I have done, being a winner in each and every one of them:

FR Limit
6 max Limit
Live Limit
6 max Pot Limit
FR No Limit
6 max No Limit
Live No Limit

I have done the full stack many times in the past and it is a constant mind fuck for the psyche. I don't much care for ruminating over big pots I have lost for several years, which I still do.

I had originally started SSing as a curiosity and then had found out there was real money to be made. About a year ago, I was short on cash and was looking for a way to put in high volume so that I could win the rake race at and found out that serious money could be made. And to be honest, I didn't think there was a whole lot to the strategy at the time either. I saw other people doing variations of what I was doing and simply assumed that they were making the kind of money that I was. At least, until I had discovered table ratings and found that most of these other people were break even players, or rakeback pros.

Personally, I find this to be very unsavory and take the tack that anyone who is engaging in such behavior to scratch out $600-700 a week should just get a job. I even had such a quote in my blog last month.

But as an aside about, those stats only reach back to last April and I have played on several different accounts since then. As abcy123, I have also tried different strategies as I was really into Stoxpoker for some time. I never pointed to that site directly for this reason and also because it is not, nor ever will be totally accurate. As of last month, it had showed about $14,500 in total winnings for me but then they did something to tweak their database and it had knocked off about $5,000 or so of those winnings. So rather than direct to my own stats on that site, I specifically picked out the names of SSers who I know have been going at it that way for the past year or so.

But in any case, if you had read or choose to read that other entry of mine, you will see after we had that big score back in October for $80,000, I did some soul searching and tried to envision what a future of grinding would be like at the higher levels and I just did not like what I saw.

Reading the blog posts of the most highly successful grinders did not show a whole lot of content and eventually some of them chose to leave the profession to pursue other activities, and these are high rollers like Bryce Paradis, Dusty Schmidt, Andrew Robl, and Alec Torelli. Being realistic, I know that I won't ever be able to compete on their level and decided that it would be best for my mental health if I stopped trying to walk the beaten path.

I then decided that it was OK to be different and carve out a special niche for myself. And the more I began to short stack, the more I realized that I was doing something different than the others and that was why I was doing far better than breaking even like they were. And the more I do it, the deeper the rabbit hole gets. I also do realize that this would make me the target of criticism, but part of the reason that I put material on this blog is to challenge the assumptions of the 2+2 mindset.

But I would also like you to know that I understand your concerns about the long term health of this game. But if this is truly worrying you, than you should take up the limit games that offer no such strategy weaknesses. In regards to your inflexibility, you have to accept that SSing is here to stay. The poker sites love them because they don't break the other players fast and generate a ton of rake. I would advise that you learn the strategies to neutralize them or begin learning other games that are sure to last longer, like HORSE.

And as for the challenge, it was the only legitimate way that I felt I could prove the point. And it was not necessarily directed at you. I expect that there will be many others who will come and criticize my ways (though certainly in a far less thoughtful or civilized manner than yourself) so I will let that stand as such. Best of luck at the tables.

Travis "The Dirrty" Rose said...

Personally, I think that Lorin and Microstakes should get together for a special weekend rendevous as is sounds like they may be falling in love.....
Makes you Kinda wonder what the Wedding would be like....
Microstakes would want an open bar....Lorin's cheap ass would be charging $2 a can for Natty light...
Microstakes would want a full band...Lorin would just have guests plug their MP3 players into some speakers and play whatever they wanted....

It sounds like a magical evening.....

microstakes bankroll builder said...

uhhhh wedding?

hold on there, i am a tight arsed scottish bastard.

open bar though.

Lorin Yelle said...

Like I said, he has nothing important to say. Just don't pull out any of that "fuckyu" martial arts bullshit there. I don't much like getting head butted and kicked while I'm on the ground.

TiocfaidhArLa said...

Hi Lorin, happened upon this post from a Link on MBBs. I'm intrigued and look forward to reading all of your back posts. As a 2+2 fish, fair play to you for swimming upstream like a salmon. GL to u both!

So do I get a wedding invitation now?

Lorin Yelle said...

As long as you are paying for the open bar!

crazybear888 said...

Hello Lorin,

i go by the screen name Crazy Bear @ pokerstars, i've been short stacking successfully for the last 2 years and know the ins and outs pretty good. I would be interested in joining your short stack army group, is this possible? i'm mainly interested in joining to improve on self motivation.


Lorin Yelle said...

Crazy bear-

I have something even better in mind, but I will be needing your actually email address in order to discuss it with you. Just respond to this post with the email, and it won't be publicly posted.

Lexx said...


I found this post today via a link in a current post on MBB. I am happy to state my biases openly. I play full stack, FR, 50NL, have read just about everything that Sklansky ever published and I am a member of Deuces Cracked and a former member of CardRunners. I have, needless to say, not really seriously considered playing SS. I don't have much time for the b/s posturing and ego tripping on 2+2.

Lorin, I am super impressed by the quality of your reasoning and the power of your writing. Poker is your livelihood and is, amongst other things, a business to you. You have found a successful formula and pragmatically applied it. Attacks on SSing are specious mostly because they are based on an emotional appeal rather than pure logic. The "SSers are bullies/heathens who rape the game of its intrinsic beauty" argument fails because, outside of the actual rules of the game nothing matters except one's personal satisfaction with one's own results and I don't necessarily mean results in the narrow sense of only bb's/100. That Sklansky et al codified and popularised a certain view of the game doesn't mean that their intellectual edifice is immune from criticism or even deconstruction. The meta game considerations justify the "beauty" of SSing in the same way that it can be correct and even beautiful for a 2+2 TAG to open UTG with trash.

I congratulate you for having the courage and creativity to step outside of the 2+2 box and for having a tight focus on what poker success means to you. You clearly have the ability to partition different areas of your life and no one can validly accuse you of being a Neanderthal in the face of your manifest aesthetic appreciation of each of those partitions, including poker.

Equally I must thank MBB for having the balls to admit publicly that his blog is inter alia a blog of personal growth that contains an emotional element, to wit venting. To him I would say, join Deuces Cracked and reap the benefits of the considerable attention DC gives to exploiting SS players. Oh and cut the whining about SSers mate, it is getting a little old!!!

May I point all of you to the Law School Dropout's Poker blog? That man was an extremely successful high limit LHE player who transitioned to high limit NHLE using a SS strategy. I think a fair synopsis of his writing on the subject is that SSing isn't always pretty, but it can be made to work.

Good luck at the tables.......each and everyone of you.

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