Friday, December 10, 2010

The Great Fish and Pony Show

Though it is most likely that having a legal and regulated online poker market in the U.S. is good for the long-term health of our game, I am beginning to get extremely frazzled by this glowing report of how great things will be after a potential 15 month blackout period. Here is a partial list of my concerns that seems to be growing by the hour since I first learned of this a few days ago:


Though I believe this to be most likely, it is still theoretical at this point and likely to be short lived. That one was powered by forces that happened to coincide perfectly that no longer exist today.

A) The world economy was thriving on the real estate bubble.

B) Poker first entered the public consciousness through the entirely new usage of lipstick cameras to show hole cards for the first time and a Cinderella story titled "Moneymaker" won over the imagination of the masses.

C) Online poker was new and enthusiasm was at the highest point that will ever exist.


Wow....where to start?!

With the possibility of states being able to opt out, it is very unclear just how many states will be contributing to this fishpool. Living in Kentucky, I am incredibly fearful that my state will not opt in due to the prior efforts of our governor whose sole interest at this point seems to be in protecting our statewide passion for primitive auto racing, aka "Horse Racing". Sure, I live right by Indiana and would be willing to make a moderate commute there to play, but with its state coffers juiced with the proceeds of riverboat gambling, can I truly rely on this?

Even after this is accounted for, the fishpool will be nothing like what we witnessed the first time around. Back then, poker knowledge at large consisted of little more than knowing that a flush beats a straight. Concepts like pot odds, blind stealing, and position were foreign and arcane to the general population and the outcome was such that if you stuck with top pair or better and drew only to the nuts, you were crushing the game. Nowadays, the quality of competition at your neighborhood bar freeroll is stronger than what you would have encountered online 6 years ago.

There was a serious information black hole that existed back then that no longer does. Training sites, forums, and high quality texts are the standard means of improvement and never again will sub-standard trash like Phil Hellmuth's Play Poker Like the Pros be so eagerly gobbled up by aspiring players. Now the pros not only play significantly better than their opponents, they play GOOD. Since the fish tend to copy the moves and tendencies of everyone else around them, they will play better by question.

Where does this leave us? I believe that it is a certainty that we will eventually end up right back where we are right now. Eventually all shitty players go bust and the ones that don't will improve, and perhaps greatly so. The games will once again be tough, but hey, we can always cash out our rakeback without all the fuss!

In conclusion, it is extremely difficult to imagine a scenario that can possibly make up for over a year of productivity loss. I am not saying that it isn't necessary in the long run, but the ever-glowing reports of how great things will be seem incredibly naive at this point, especially in light of the fact that we are giving up something of great value that is currently guaranteed for something that we are only envisioning at this time. If history can help us predict anything, it shows us that people are really lousy at making predictions.

As the saying goes "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush". Are there really two in the bush? I'm just so not sure...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tinkering With The Nash Equilibrium, Pt. III- The Short Stack Houdini

In the last post about this subject, I ended with a note of how just adding a dead small blind can seriously impact what you can get away with in terms of open shoving a 20BB stack.  This is a direct benefit of short stacking and does not have much of an effect for larger stacks, as the potential gain becomes a much smaller percentage of the total stack size while severely increasing the risk.  This week's post takes the concept of pushing complete trash to the extreme and examines what happens when you have a player who posts on the cutoff and the action passes to you in the blinds. 

Before I get into it, let's take a look at what I normally do in this situation:

Now, time for a quick quiz:

Q. What the fuck just happened there?

A) Short stack donk on tilt.
B) Idiot who thinks Q8 "double suited" is the nuts because it can make two different straight flushes.
C) Astute short stacker looking to gain a quick and easy profit against two very weak hand ranges.

Answer: C

Think about what happens after someone posts and then checks.  His range is now weaker than the big blind's.  It's simple: he had the option to make a cheap raise in a steal position and declined to do so.  Of course, he could be trapping, but this becomes very unlikely, for these reasons:

1) The button still has to act, meaning that this player is potentially acting out of position against three players whose ranges are completely undefined.  Furthermore, if he was hoping to limp-reraise against the button, even the fish know that this would be a parlay of highly unlikely events that includes having the button raising and calling the back raise, yet NOT having enough of a hand to call a single open raise.

2) Few hands can stand any real pressure against two completely random hands and expect to both win the hand WHILE ALSO generating a medium to large pot without the fear of overcards.  This includes 99-KK, and good broadway hands.  Therefore, it generally makes more sense to just raise with these hands, especially when you factor in what I pointed out in Part 1.

The bottom line is that most players will play their hand's straight up when posting in, meaning that they will raise when they have a good hand and check when they don't.  Since there are very hands that are not good enough to raise yet believe they are good enough to call a shove.....we do the shoving!

At this point in time, this should be making sense.  Of course, since I have the tools to prove my hypothesis, I will do so.  The simulation that I will run builds upon the knowledge from the other TWTNE posts, so if you have not read them already, I would go back and do so now so that your understanding of this part is complete.

Step 1- Assigning a Range to the Poster

This can never be an exact science since everyone is a little bit different, so we must figure out what a "reasonably reasonable" player would do.  Here is what I came up with:

Yes, I expect that most players will be open raising with at least 55-88 as well as many other hands in this range, but I prefer to leave them in to compensate for when the player does something completely unexpected, like check with AA or AQ.

Step 2- Assign a Calling Range for the Big Blind

Although once again this is not perfect, this is a little easier to do since I have a lot of experience with the calling ranges of heads up shoves.  Even though I expect the actual calling range to be tighter than this, I will use the optimal call of the Nash Equilibrium shove.  That range is 44+, A7o+, A3s+, KJo+. KTs+, QJs.

Step 3- Assign a Calling Range for the Poster

While I could certainly figure out a CALL, CALL range, over the hundreds of times that I have done this, I have never seen both players call.  I therefore assume that if the big blind calls, the poster will fold, especially because several of the calling hands I assign to him do not match up well in large 3-way pots.  

Instead, I give him a call range of 44-88, A5o-A9o, and A2s-A8s.  Of course, most of this is purely theoretical and assumedly tighter than what I present here, yet I still feel that this a good approximation of a worst case scenario.  

Now it's time to run the simulation.  I use a $3/6 game with 20BB effective stacks.  

It is pretty difficult to tell whether or not the 73s is a sampling size error, so during play, I prefer to err on the side of aggression in situations where the cost of being wrong is usually tiny in the long run, yet the upside is likely high, especially when you factor in metagame benefits.  

Once again, let's see what happens when the poster puts up both the big blind and a dead small blind and things get even more interesting.....

That's right, bitches!

Remember...this is the worst case scenario.  I normally shove all hands (ok, maybe not the best hands) with or without the dead small blind present.  After all, the only guys who might be keen on the fact that I am shoving everything here are the regs and they will often be too involved in their other games to know whether or not the poster had just posted or if he had limped.  Even still, they might consider the proposition too risky overall to call light since they don't understand as well as I do how often the poster is actually making the call.

This play has nothing but upsides:  

A) They fold and you pick up some easy money.  This happens about 85% of the time.
B) They call and you suck out and win.  No explanation needed here!
C) They call and you showdown a turd and lose.  Now you look like a complete spewtard and you will have no trouble getting action from that point on.

Final note: you can do this play over and over again because it is a very infrequent scenario that would allow you to do this to the same person several times.  While this could happen in full ring games, there still is nothing much that people can do about it, particularly because so few of these hands are ever getting shown down and it is consistent with how I play many high quality hands as well.  In 6-max games, the situation becomes even better as those players who are not patient enough to wait 3 hands until the big blind hits them will likely not last long enough to become a victim of this play a second time.

In conclusion, I hoped that you all have enjoyed this series and it has opened your eyes to things that you never thought possible.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The ShortStack Song....

Here is our little opus to our loyal shortstackers, and a little hello to our haters as well......ENJOY!!!

A very special thanks to Taylor Mayd for recording and mixing the song for us. Look for his first album out in November.....

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Tinkering With The Nash Equilibrium, Pt. II- Beyond Unexploitable Shoving

In the last post, we took a look at quite a few hands that were profitable to shove when heads up in the small blind.  I had also shown the hands with which it were profitable to defend against this play.  This time around, however, we will take a different tack and assume that we know that the big blind will be defending with the proper range against the unexploitable shove range.  Once again, we will use my favorite hypothetical example of a $2/4 game with 20BB stacks and a 5% rake and a defending hand range of 44+, A7o+, A3s+, KJo+, KTs+, QJs.  The simulation was run Monte Carlo style 10000k times.

Now here is what we can push:

The rabbit hole keeps getting deeper....  Notice that even after running the simulation 10 million times, there is still a tiny sampling error with 93s and assumedly the 53s as well, as neither J3s nor T3s are profitable and the 53s shows a minuscule $.01 profit, respectively.  Our unexploitable range has now grown from 38.4% of hands to an incredible 54.7%.

But why stop here?  Most players I play against simply refuse to make calls with hands like KTs, A3s, and QJs...even guys who I play against every day.  Let's run the simulation one more time with a more "typical" calling range of 55+, A8o+, A7s+, KJo+, KJs+.

86.4% of all hands are now playable.  In other words, all but the biggest of turds.  Oh?  What is that you say?  86.4% is not enough?  Ok then, let's toss a dead small blind into the pot and run it again and see what happens.

Happy now?  Yes, it's true.  With a typical calling range aided by the compensation of a dead small blind, you can now shove every single hand.  Naturally, logic dictates that you shouldn't be doing this.  While it would work a few times, it would quickly backfire and cause otherwise nitty players to begin playing more correctly against you and would thwart future attempts with a tighter shove range.  Besides, it's hardly optimal.  Rather, this was just an intellectual primer for the third and final installment of this series, where we finally combine all this knowledge to make you the ultimate motherfuckin' shortstack Houdini. 

Friday, August 27, 2010

Tinkering With The Nash Equilibrium, Pt. I- Unexploitable Shoving

The situation:  everyone folds around to you in the small blind.  You have 20BBs.  While everyone is confident in their ability to play premium hands heads up out of position, certain hands like weak aces and suited connectors can pose a serious problem, particularly when you are lacking post-flop maneuverability due to your short stack and the inability to launch an elaborate three street bluff.  You can either raise small or limp, though each of them has their own weaknesses.  If you raise small, when you are 3-bet, you will have to lay down a majority of these hands, whether or not you believe that your opponent is bluffing.  Limping will cause a serious imbalance in your range and makes you vulnerable to an in-position opponent whose range is completely undefined.

Two other options remain, and those are folding and going all in.  Since the aggressive move is usually superior, I would opt to go all in.  But which hands are profitable to do so?  A few years back, I was in awe of the Sklansky-Chubukov numbers as outlined in No Limit Hold'Em Theory and Practice.  For those who have not heard, the SC numbers represent the upper limit of your stack size in a $1/2 game where you can move all in from the small blind and have that play be preferable to folding- if you were to flip your hand over first and allow your opponent to play perfectly against you.  

At first I thought this was magic and now I look back at it as being hilariously nitty.  I have since been taught how to use the Nash Equilibrium via StoxEV to shove the highest percentage of hands for the maximum profit.  Though I have no idea how this was solved, I don't need to know how to build a car to drive it, either.

Here are the hands that we can shove for 20BB in a $2/4 game with the rake factored in (which the SC numbers fail to account for).

Not bad, huh?  Now suppose that an astute opponent knows what you are doing and what your precise range is.  How should he defend?

Clearly, there is very little he can do...not to mention that many players are not even comfortable calling with the bottom of this range.  In fact, players can only react to this in one of two ways.  They will either start calling lighter, which is a mistake, or they can call tighter and try and wait you out, making your shoves more profitable.

Although this lesson was fairly remedial, in the next, we will move on to some more advanced related concepts and you with then really begin to see just how deep the rabbit hole goes....

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Determining the Correct 3-Bet Calling Frequency

Compared to the previous examples, finding your correct 3-bet calling frequency against a specific opponent is easy, though it takes a large sample.  Unlike 3-bet shoving, however, the penalty for making the wrong decision here is quite severe, being that you are now limiting to only winning one way- showdown.  Other than your opponent's range, you have two other considerations: the rake and the effective stack size.  For this example, I will summon our old friend "KaySmash" with a 20BB effective stack size and a $2/4 setting.  The stakes are very important here and that is due to the impact of the rake, which you will soon see.  In case you don't recall, KaySmash has a 3-bet range of 18%.  For this exercise, we will treat all 3-bets as an all-in shove, particularly since the 4-bet re-shove gets called somewhere in excess of 90%, despite the size of the 3-bet.

Using NoahSD's method as discussed previously, we combine the 18% 3-bet frequency with a quick hand history review off all such hands that were shown down.  For this particular player, we have a range of approximately 22+, A7o+, A2s+, KJo+, and KTs+ (actually 18.5%).  This is a fairly strong and not uncommon re-steal range.

For the simulation, I open min-raised every hand and then called with every single hand against the 18.5% range.  Here is what we get:

Probably a little tighter that you would expect?  The good thing is that this information is not privy to all players and they frequently make mistakes in this category...even when they [think they] understand what a shortstacker is doing.  While a call with with KQs is just a marginal no-no, a call with KQo or KJs is just disastrous!  Take a look at similar calls that often seem correct to players, like 22, A7o, and KJo.  And they say that being suited is overrated?

Even when we reduce the effective stack size to 16BB, the calling range changes only slightly, with the addition that you can now also call with A9o, A8s, and KQs.

A much more dramatic thing happens when we begin begin tinkering with the stakes.  Let's now run the simulation with 20BB's in a $.50/1.00 game.  Here is what we get:

Looks like 44 is now a clear fold with the stronger impact of the rake.  The effects become much more dramatic as we increase the re-steal range, but the evidence is clear- the rake matters.  What's more is that it penalizes the calling player more, since the winning player is the one who pays it, and when you call you only have the option of winning at showdown.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Using Your Holdem Manager for Ultimate Domination, Cont.

In a previous post, I had outlined a plan on how you can sift through your HEM database to gain crushing information on your opponents.  I had offered some specific numbers on Kaysmash, and now I will show you how we can use this information against him with StoxEV.  Here is what we do:

If we assume that he is raising 2.5x 44% of the time, his range is approximately 22+, A2o+, A2s+, K9o+, K2s+, Q9o+, Q8s+, J9o+, J8s+, 76o+, 54s+, 86o+, 64s+.  This does not need to be exact, as he will be folding out the weakest part of this range virtually* every time.  The important thing is getting his raising frequency correct, which we have already determined.

Now we must figure out his calling frequency of 56% (since he is folding 44%).  This not quite exact either, but still easy to figure out, particularly when reviewing my hand histories to find specific examples of hands he has called with.  In so doing, we get a calling range of 22+, A5o+,  A2s+, KTo+, K9s+, QJo+, QTs+, JTs.  This is an admittedly broad calling range, but in so doing, he prevents getting heavily exploited by shortstackers.

By factoring in the stakes of $2/4, rake and dead money from the blinds and then running the simulation 5000k times with a 20BB stack, here is what we end up with:

Voila!  The highlighted hands are the profitable reshoving range and the number below is the exact amount in $ that we can expect to profit per trial, on average.  Depending on the stack size, we can begin to shove more or less hands, but now his calling frequency will also be affected as well.  However, if we were to deduct just 3BB from the effective stack (this will not likely change his default calling range), the grid now appears as thus:

Amazing!  Now the next time you hear someone complain about a shortstacker having a mathematical advantage you will have a true understanding of what they are talking about.

For those of you who are interested in this incredible piece of software, please contact me and I can get you a $35 discount. 

*Even good players sometimes get frustrated and go on tilt and will call with a ridiculous hand like 97s.  For players who do this consistently, you now must fold your "non-showdown" hands such as low off-suit broadways and middle suited connectors.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Finding Hidden Value in Pokerworld "Gold Chip Double Up to Cash" SNG's

At Pokerworld, there is currently a promotion offering two separate gold chip sit and goes.  The details are as follows:

12 entrants, top 6 earn cash!

Though the payouts are small at $5 and $15 respectively, the gambler in me is always looking for that freeroll hustle!  As it were, though these are a fairly easy score, they do not fill up often.  Just the other night, I had signed up for the $15 payout one, only to find that hours later, it did not even fill up.  I guess this would be understandable, as there are many gold chip satellite events that offer the potential of a significantly higher payout...if you have a few hours to spare.

However, if you plan on putting in large volume of hands and get started early in the day, you can score some extra EV, often just by sitting down!  How?  Since these take so long to fill up, it is very easy for someone to either have forgotten that they had entered (perhaps even the night before) or have gotten up to do something else and neglected them altogether.  The one I played in had just such a player.  He was "sitting" to left and we all had a field day stealing his blinds.   Having just one such player missing brings your average EV from $7.50 to $8.18.  That's an automatic increase of 9%.  Doesn't sound like much, but that ask any SNG pro if that matters, and they will all tell you that they would kill for such an extra edge!

Just remember to unregister before you leave your computer!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Using Your Holdem Manager for Ultimate Domination

I have felt it and I know you have too.  There's that one guy who you know, you just KNOW has been 3-betting you light and stealing your blinds more often than your HUD would lead you to believe.  This of course brings us to the inherent flaw of using one: it can only give us average statistics, and quite often says little, if anything, about how a foe is playing against you in particular.  But what if we could just take a little extra time to dig a little bit deeper into our database to find out the exact answers to these otherwise simple little questions?

Thus began my quest to find such answers.  Don't get me wrong.  Although I have railed against using a HUD in the past, I have since jumped this hurdle as I began to realize that using one is not something you do, but rather, something that you learn.  Helpful as they are, I was still craving these answers and knew that I could never be EXCELLENT as a shortstacker until I found it out.  Many people are reading this and surely believing that you can just tweak the filters and voila, there you have it.  Nope.  The "Vs Player" filter will only give you basic information such as total winnings and show you hands where said player is sitting at the same table as you.  Even if you try to get clever and filter it further for only hands where the action was unopened and you raised on the button and the big blind 3-bet you, the first thing that you will likely see when you replay a hand is that the villain you were looking to get a read on had already exited the hand.

I tried posting on forums, collaborating with confidants, and even writing to the actual programmers to find out how to do this.  Perhaps I was not explicit enough in that I was looking for actual percentages, but I got the same information over and over. It was simply not functional and led me to the same dead end.

Then the news broke on Pokertableratings about the 40putts/Kinetica/Littlezen shortstacker softplaying scandal.  A member of the esteemed DeucesCracked training site playing under the name NoahSD had taken extensive time to write a long and detailed report using statistical analysis to break down the 3-bet ranges of these players when playing against each other.  Aha!  So there is somebody out there who actually knows how to do this!

I thought for a while on how best to get this information from him, but then just decided to simply ask.  Lo and behold, in less than an hour's time, here is what he replied:

Hi Lorin,
Unfortunately HM isn't really designed to do this. I've been told that they plan to eventually add the stat "Player A's 3-bet % vs. Player B", but I think it's likely to be far in the future.

I used custom software to get my own answers, and frankly I have no idea how it works.  The only way I know how to do this without hiring a programmer to do it for you is with this tedious method:

To get Player A's 3-bet % vs. Player B:

1) Select player B in HM.
2) In the filter menu, go to more filters and add "PFR = True".
3) Run the report.
4) In the bottom half of HM, select the "All" radio button next to "last 500". Right click and select "export all hands to hard drive" and choose a spot to export those hands.
5) Options -> Database Management. Create a new database.
6) Import the hands that you exported into that database. This is a database of all hands where player B raised preflop.
7) Select Player A and run a report with no filter. The 3-bet % that the report shows is Player A's 3-bet % when Player B raised.

If you make a database with all the hands where you raised preflop, you should be able to quickly look at the 3-bet %s that various players have against you.

Hope that helps,

This was just awesome to me.  Though he might consider this tedious (and technically it is), I am no stranger to tedious work as I have spent countless hours running simulations using Stox EV that could often top 5 minutes for just a single, detailed run.  So what is one to do with such information?

Use it to completely dominate and control your opposition.

That statement being rather vague, I will give an example using a player whom we will term "KaySmash" to show you just how we can put this into practice.  On the HUD, it says that KaySmash opens the button 44% of the time.  I filtered out all hands where I was on the big blind.  Then I created a new database per the instructions and when I loaded it up, I set my filters to "Unopened" and "Button" and set it to run the report against KaySmash.  True to form, he actually was raising that frequency.  All that victimization was just a figment of my imagination!  More importantly, I can now see that he is folding to my 3-bet 44% of the time.  Since I am now armed with the information that he is not attempting to exploit my folding tendencies and just playing by a script, I can hereby assume that he will be treating me no differently when I am in the small blind as well.

While this information is excellent, it allows to me play a perfect shove or fold game against him, but doesn't really allow for much room for true exploitation since he is calling rather frequently.  So digging a little deeper, I then follow NoahSD's plan to find out how often KaySmash is 3-betting me by filtering out the hands where I raise the button and then running the report with KaySmash in the big blind and the small blind has declined to enter the pot.  Here is where it gets really interesting.

KaySmash is 3-betting me approximately 18% of the time, and never, ever just flat calling.  Though I was quite sure of this, since I am dealing with a rotating base of players on any single day, it is often easy to confuse them.  The fact that he is unwilling to get tricky makes him extraordinarily easy to beat.

I will give you guys a chance to digest this information for a few days and then in the next post I will show you precisely how we can use this information for an optimal strategy against this particular opponent.


Sunday, June 6, 2010

An Open Letter to Drew Chapman

Drew, first and foremost, a disclaimer: I am not writing this to single you out or criticize you. I am writing this publicly because it it something that has been troubling both myself and Travis for some time now and we believe that you and others will be helped greatly by reading this.

Though I sympathize greatly with your most recent downswing, I am concerned that you are dealing with it in the wrong light. What I am referring to is your decision to upload your hands to Poker Luck Meter and posting the results of it.

Yesterday I decided to finally do away with my own EV calculator permanently. The reason? I can not think of a single time that it has either helped or reassure me during a session or afterwards. Though I believe that there is both a time and a place for such tools (which will be addressed in a future post), they are far more likely to be a destructive force in your career than a helping hand. You already know that you are a winning player and with your very honest reflective skills, you know full well the quality of your play in any given day. Having an imperfect tool spit back that information without consideration of your opponent or metagame history and based solely on information gleaned in showdown situations is only likely to make you feel victimized.

As any economist can tell you, the pain of a dollar lost is more than the joy felt by a dollar won. What this translates to is that the visualization of a bad run will make you feel much worse than the knowledge of having run well will make you feel good. Perhaps more importantly, it is the denial of reality in that Sklansky bucks can not be withdrawn to pay your rent or put food on the table.

Of even more to concern to me is that posting a bad EV run puts your excellent blog in serious danger of becoming mediocre. Postings of bad runs on blogs are fodder for the common folk. It also tends to draw a powwow of other people who are anxious to spill their guts about bad beats to whom they expect will provide a sympathetic ear. These people usually have nothing to offer and will threaten to take you down with with them. Your self-awareness and the ability to express it is rare and it is what has drawn you your followers and the great respect of your readership. Don't let that go away. Every bad run hides within it a very compelling moral lesson. Find that lesson, and mine it into gold.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Dealing With the Consequences of Being Results Oriented

I wonder if it will ever be possible to escape the tyranny of the overplayed mantra of "you must focus on the long-term, young grasshopper."  This advice would be great, but only if delivered in a dojo or a confessional or perhaps from high on a mountaintop in Tibet.  Everyone can understand this on an intellectual level- this has never, to my knowledge, been contested.  Yet to repeat it, as I have been guilty of many times in the past is to ignore the mechanisms which truly allow someone to enjoy success in poker for the long run.

When I was outside today talking to my Ipad (an article for another day), I realized that in many situations it is often far wiser to babysit your mood than it is to invite marginal situations.  What am I talking about?  While this will vary greatly from player to player and game to game, what I am referring to for myself personally, as a shortstacker, is usually one of two situations:

1.  I get 3-bet all in and have to decide whether to deviate from the script and make a close call against a seemingly aggressive and relatively unknown opponent, knowing full well that the profit is measured in a few theoretical dollars to defend a raise one-tenth of the size of the call.  The variance is enormous and the metagame benefits are tiny, if they ever even existed in the first place.  After all, does my opponent ever need know that I just folded A9s or 66?  He will most likely just assume I was on a straight steal and forget about this hand 5 minutes later.

2.  Someone open shoves on my big blind from the small blind.  I am holding a hand like A7s.  I know that the call is usually correct, but it is actually much closer than most of you will realize.  As that is a discussion for another time, I will just state the obvious fact that you aren't a monster favorite over anything, particularly after paying the rake.

These two situations are basically identical in that I must risk a relatively large amount of money to score a tiny amount of equity with no ancillary benefits.  Even if I prove that I am willing to take a flip with perhaps somewhat the the worst of it with the benefit of the dead money from the raise or the blind, the chances of being able to leverage the outcome of these situations in any given session is very small.

But wait!  The Mantra of the Long-Term says you should always take a profitable situation.  I will counter that with the other great poker mantra of It Depends.  What does it depend on, exactly?  Why, your mood of course!  If you are feeling good and know that the outcome of making this call won't hurt you or it will be fun to take the gamble, do it.  If you know that making a bad call or losing $160 to defend your $12 raise will scorch you, you should decline.  Better still, if you even have to ASK yourself if it will bother you, I can guarantee you that it will.

Monitoring your mood, I have come to believe, is one of the most important ongoing actions you can take at the poker table.  Virtually every time that we sit down we will experience a wide range of painful consequences that vary drastically in their intensity.  And just as you won't have the energy to run five miles every day when you wake up, your ability to cope with the swings in this game is far from stable and can run the entire gamut, often within a single session.

In my best month ever at the cash game tables where I made over $20,000, this was the exact approach that I took.  I woke in the morning and immediately sat down at just $1/2 tables with a sprinkling of some $2/4 game.  If I felt good, I would begin opening some $3/6 games and perhaps even some $5/10.  If I was having fun or doing well, I would continue playing high, but if I began to dread shoving 75s heads up for $200, I would drop down to whatever level that I felt comfortable at.  By doing this and only taking on the level of pain that I felt I could appropriately handle, I could play longer and more often.  The end result was not only my highest grossing month ever, but also my highest volume as well.

In conclusion, we can not escape that we are results oriented.  This is part of our most basic mental wiring and most of us have as much control over this as we do control over how fast our grass grows.  In essence, if we are to believe in the long-term, we are required to trick ourselves and our natural thought processes.  Basically, we must delude ourselves into seeing things for how they really are.  Rather than to engage in such a bizarre contradiction, I believe that we are much better suited to simply ride the ebb and flow of our emotions than to deny their existence.  We are all results-oriented.  Deal with it.

Monday, May 31, 2010

How to Get Rich at World Series of Poker

Every year, starting at the end of May, excitement bubbles and egos flare up as the WSOP begins again. While a small, elite crew hope to set records and make historical bounds, the average professional is just hoping to score a profit on the overlay of recreational players who stampede the gates of the Rio every year. After spotting a new article on yesterday, I saw an opportunity to make a huge potential windfall on the first mentioned brand of player without the benefit of talent or experience.

Before I go into my spiel, I would like to point out that I am not a professional sports bettor, so if I am making any clear mistakes, please kindly bring them to my attention. On the other hand, if I misspell a word or make any other ridiculous oversight, please don't waste your time pointing it out (yes, that was for you, Mr. Jolly Toper).

In any case, on Cardplayer I had spotted an article about Tom Dwan offering a prop bet that gives himself 3.25:1 odds to win a bracelet this year. What is better is that he does not benefit in regards to the bet by winning multiple bracelets in a single year. While many people might balk at taking such a bet against such a massive talent, had I $5k to plunk down, I would give serious consideration to taking this bet.

It is fairly common knowledge that the best way to succeed in such prop bets is to play in the smaller field events. Unfortunately for Dwan, most of said events are in dying breed games like stud and lowball. To make matters worse, these events are populated with old guard veterans who will possess a huge gap of experience and knowledge over Dwan.  Secondly, as we all know, tournament strategy varies widely from cash game strategy. While Dwan has scored over $1m in various tournaments, he still will have to overcome the disadvantage he possesses at stacked final tables to those play and study tournaments full-time.

This article was not meant to single out Dwan as a clear sucker in such bets. In fact, I would probably do a little more homework before taking such a bet. His was merely the first such bet that I saw and the tip of the iceberg where profitable situations are concerned. If you take a look HERE, you will see that virtually no one has the track record to lay these type of odds for such a bet. Many well known names, such as Chris Ferguson, Men "The Master" Nguyen, T.J. Cloutier, Scotty Nguyen, and even Stu Ungar himself have averaged over four years in between bracelet winning WSOPs.

Is a guy like Dwan better than all of these guys? Maybe, maybe not. Even still, the odds are stacked against him because he is running against the legacy of players who competed in far smaller fields with runners that sometimes did not even crack the 20 mark. While there may be more events these days, three of them are not open to Dwan and several of them run concurrently to one another. Many of the fields are gigantic and rebuy events have been eliminated as well.

Furthermore, all "x-factors" will benefit you and you only. Your man blows up and decides to go home early, you win. He needs to fly to Montana for a family emergency, you win. He comes in second in an event, goes and gets hammered at the bar and doesn't show up the next day, you win (for that day, anyhow). If you take action with multiple players, it would be very hard to really take a bath on the deal, since each event can only have one winner.  This means that if you lose one bet, you are that much closer to winning your other ones. Also, anyone winning multiple bracelets, even if it was one of your guys, would be doing you a favor. I imagine that you could also benefit in classic arbitration style by taking bets with a player who has bracelet bets as well as bets to cash, since these goals are in complete opposition.

Even if you don't feel like betting against poker's wunderkind, there are many far less skilled wannabes with raging egos that will happily give you action on a variety of bets.  Just make sure that if you do it, don't take a bet with a guy who has a reputation for being broke!

Friday, May 7, 2010

A Patent on the Sun

Q: What do the upward mobility of women, low overnight interest rates, and Internet poker have in common?

A: They have all created a brain drain on society, to some degree or another.

Do you see why?

I decided to write this post while watching Michael Moore's newest documentary, Capitalism, A Love Story. While I think the man is by and large a serious blowhard, I do enjoy his films because there is always at least a smidgeon of material that is good food for thought.

There was a segment in the movie where he examines the great discovery of the polio vaccine by Joseph Salk. When asked who owned the patent for it, he replied, "The people do. You wouldn't put a patent on the sun would you?". Moore then proceeded to speak of how often some of the brightest minds nowadays moved on to very lucrative careers in finance where they produce nothing of real value, rather than giving their gifts for the betterment of humankind.

David Sklansky, in his brilliant new book, DUCY?, agrees, though he decides to peel back another layer to answer the question of "why"? In the first decade of this century, interest rates were unnaturally low, making the world of finance much easier to succeed in. Money was cheap and getting loans was easy. This made Wall Street the place where top graduates went after school, hungrier to get rich than to win a Nobel.

Though certainly in a category all by itself, the upward mobility of women has adversely affected the American school system. Just a few decades ago, when career opportunities for women were scarce outside of the home, the brightest minds competed for jobs in education. Now that the glass ceiling has been raised for women, they too, have decided to seek out ways to better their own lives in lieu of others.

Lastly, we have Internet poker. The boom ushered in by Chris Moneymaker's historic WSOP win created yet another selfish diversion for today's youth. Of course, you can't really blame them. Why should you sit around in your engineering class when you could be clicking buttons for $150 an hour in your dorm room?

Naturally, I would never think of casting judgment over any of these people who have chosen these paths, as that would be the height of hypocrisy. However, I often wonder what I would be doing with my life had I not stumbled into poker. I have always wanted to be a writer, first by means of fiction and now, more recently, nonfiction. I had always told myself that I would begin to pursue this other side of myself once I reached a plateau in poker where I no longer feared for money each month. Though I have no intentions of quitting the game, I am very happy to acknowledge that I am finally here.

I plan on creating a new blog that has a unifying theme that is very difficult to pin down. It will contain entertaining discussion pieces that seek out simple truths in life or examine existing contemporary wisdom. I would like to recruit some potential writers from this site, being that poker players get a unique glimpse of life that is often obscured to outsiders. If you are interested, please contact me!

Location:Venado Dr,Louisville/Jefferson County,United States

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Ipads, A Huge Wiener, and Mass-Tabling

The end of the following article was edited to add more content.

Other than when I bought my house last year, I made the largest single cash purchase of my life today when I bought two 3G 16g Ipads- one for my fiancée, Jessica, and one for myself. Before writing it off as the largest impulse buy ever, hear me out. Jessica is going back to college this summer and wanted a laptop all her own. I talked her into getting an Ipad because of the versatility and portability, and hey, sometimes it's just plain cool to be on the cutting edge of technology! I was already planning on getting one myself once Pokerworld rolled them out in their brand new store, but here was the problem: Jessica wanted a computer all her own and was rightly concerned that hmy ridiculous apps and greasy fingerprints would make their way onto hers,h and being the colossal cock that I am, I just couldn't let myself fall behind someone in my own household in the technology category. Soy I bought one, too. Oh yeah, speaking of cocks, I saw this gigantic phallic symbol in the parking lot after leaving Best Buy with my new loot.

But here is why I had really wanted one: it would be the best thing for blogging, writing, emailing, and social networking and make them possible anytime, anywhere. But couldn't I just do this on the desktop or laptop that I already own? Well, yes and no. You see, I am very fickle about when and where I like to do my work. Though it might be hard to explain to a lot of people, the thought of doing anything on my desktop in my basement other than multi-tabling poker completely sickens me. While I tend to get more "otherish" type work done on my laptop, it still can be a huge drag because I tend to have to do more than my share of fatherly duties as soon as I poke my head out of the basement. Maybe I could take the laptop elsewhere, but that is considered to be the shared computer, so that is mostly out of the question.

But the Ipad... that is where I saw the true potential. The ability to bring it to coffee shops easily, the 10 hours you get on a single charge, being able to respond to emails and chats lying down (as anyone who keeps email correspondence with me can tell you, I am quite the slouch when it comes to response times), being able to blog anywhere...and that is not to mention all of the other amazing things it can do that you have already heard about. It truly is a stunning piece of technology and I am using my blogger app on it right now.

Of course, I would never waste your time just writing about what I consider to be an exciting day. Mass-tabling: it's what I've always wanted to do since I watched the sippincriss 24-tabling SNG session on Stoxpoker about a year and a half ago. He was the first person to introduce to me the concept of stacking your tables and, naturally, made it look very easy in the video. I went to dinner that night just aching for the chance to give it a shot and salivating over the thought of the five figure months that I would be turning in from that point on. Obviously, it was a disaster and that is why you haven't heard about it. I was folding the wrong hands, timing out, spazzing out over easy decisions, and altogether just spun over the whole affair. It took me about 20 minutes to realize that it just wasn't for me.

That was the mistake.

On my most recent mental kick, I have been thinking a lot about what it takes to be successful in any endeavor. The very un-sexy answer: hard work. No matter what sort of natural ability you possess, in order to become a true artist in any craft, you must pursue it to the point of obsession. That was my fatal error in my lack-luster quest to be a mass-tabler. I was expecting it to be easy. So for whatever reason, I was revisiting this idea and decided that like all good ideas, it needed to be planned out.

The first thing I did was go to to read up on this program I had read about called Stack and Tile. The premise of the program was that by using hot keys, you could create a large stack of tables which would tile out into a grid as action was required and when you exited the hand, the tables would be shuffled back into the stack. Sounds simple and effective enough, but I know now that even the best laid plans are often thwarted. I began playing with bthe program, which works with most of the major networks and skins, including Pokerworld. I realized right away that managing hot keys would be a time intensive affair for someone like myself who was used to only using a mouse and a number pad. Also, the thought of taking actions on a stack of tables and not seeing the results and taking on faith that they were even being implemented was stressful in its own right. Therefore, I did the only thing that a reasonable person could do: I took an entire two days off from playing to re-learn table management on penny stakes. That is not all I did. I also took a lot of time experimenting with different game modifications to find out what clicked with me the most on a personal level and the results were pretty surprising.

Another step that I finally decided to look into was improving my mouse. I did a quick review on poker to see which ones were best for poker. The Razer Imperator got the best score for a wired one, followed by the Logitech G500. The first day I went out looking for the Imperator and found that only the Logitech was available. I had spent some time agonizing over whether to buy the Logitech or another Razer model and eventually decided that I would go with the reviews and take the former since it had more buttons.

Once I took it home, I realized that I could have made a better decision, as the buttons on the side of the mouse were slightly difficult to reach and the ones mounted on top were in awkward places. Also, the more I played around with different hot keys, the more I realized that the mouse only needed an extra two (for me, anyhow) and the extra keyboard commands should take care of the rest. I therefore decided to take it back and exchange it for the Razer Deathadder (even though the Imperator was now in stock), a simplified model with two very easy to reach buttons on the side, as you can see below.

The point behind this article was to show that good mass-tabling is no different than good poker-- they are both about subtlety. While I had recognized this truth in the former, often spending hours trying to figure out how to squeeze another nickel out of a given opponent per confrontation, I had long failed to recognize it in the latter. Good mass-tabling is about finding all of those tiny ways that you can shave one-tenth of a second from each decision or automate really simple, annoying things like handling buy ins or waiting lists, not about finding some silver bullet method to success.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Tap Lightly on the Glass

The following article is a piece that I had written for publication for

Conventional wisdom tells us that we should do everything we can to avoid educating the fish.  This seemed simple enough to understand, and for the first six and a half years of my career I accepted it as gospel.  If they don't ever play any better, they can't ever beat you, right?  In an online session where you can always find a good game and might never see the same face again, I couldn't agree more.  But what about giving away a few gems in a live setting?

Back when I played baseball as a freshman in college, my team ran an annual fund raiser called the “Night at the Races” at the local Elks Lodge.  This was a rather embarrassing affair where we had to name a small wooden low-rider horse and then "ride" it by sitting on it and peddling our feet as drunken rednecks gambled on the outcome while bellowing out condescending vitriol in a smoky, cramped space.  As if this wouldn't have been memorable enough, it was also the first time I had ever received gambling advice that was just dangerous enough to get me into trouble.  Besides the veritable humiliation, the Night at the Races also spread notable sucker games such as Beat the Dealer and Parish-style blackjack.  Though Beat the Dealer was fun enough at first, I was eventually drawn to the illusion of control blackjack offered that other games did not.  Even though I was failing to exercise this perceived control at the time, the fact that you could handle your own cards and order the dealer to give you more cards seemed good enough.  I knew so little about this game that I didn't even care what the dealer was showing, I just thought that the goal was to get as close to 21 as possible without going over, much like games of paper football in after-school detention.
It wasn't long after I sat down that I found myself in a tough spot.  I had a hard 15 and the dealer was showing a 6.  Though I didn’t care what the dealer’s up card was, I did know that hitting a hard 15 meant that I was likely going to be watching my dollar bet sliding into the dealer’s tray.   A couple seats next to me was Paul Burke, our junior catcher and one of the team captains.  He was a great player who would later go on to sign a professional contract with the Atlanta Braves and a person that all the freshmen looked up to.  When Paul noticed my hesitation, he said, "Yelly- you have to expect that the dealer has a 10 for his down card, since there are more 10-valued cards than anything else in the deck."  His basic credibility combined with some quick common sense told me that he was right.  After thinking for a few seconds I decided to do something that I would never have done before- stand on 15 so that the dealer would bust.  To make a long story short, the dealer did just that, I felt like a genius, and thus began what would surely become a very profitable career as a professional blackjack player.  Of course, this would have been lovely, except for the fact that it never happened.  Intermittently over the next 5 years, my little bit of "helpful" knowledge was enough to get me to keep going back for more at our local riverboat casino and bled me to the tune of about $80 a session, which was my average daily take as a waiter at Applebee's.  How strange, I thought.  Why don't I ever win when I am as good as I am?

In the stores of every casino lobby, for $1.99 you can purchase a small card that contains the correct basic strategy for blackjack.  Ask yourself why a casino would sell such a useful item at such a low cost.  Surely the players would play worse without it, leading to a greater short-term profit for the casino, but is allowing them to do this better than earning their long-term business?  Does this card actually accomplish anything?  Yes.  It allows the owner to feel that he is smarter than his fellow tablemates,  even though he is certainly not going to follow the instructions on the card 100% of the time  (he’s psychic, too- don’t forget that).   This concept is not lost on the casino.  They understand full well the value of making that player comfortable within the game while still possessing an unbeatable, albeit smaller edge.  They would rather keep the golden goose alive and hatching than to slaughter it for its meat.

But what about the complete novice poker player?  Is he any different?  Does offering this player (read: potential customer) a bit of sound advice or perhaps recommending a good book really hurt your bottomline?  Should we really take the fly-by-night mortgage broker approach and punish them as harshly as possible on the first confrontation for merely being ignorant?  Much as getting a hot stock tip hardly makes you a solid day trader, no green poker player has ever immediately started crushing the games after being taught that 92o sucks.  Though Paul had no idea what he was doing when he gave me my first good tip about blackjack, he was definitely on to something...

Clearly, helping the semi-competent player who regularly wins the annual perfect attendance award at your local cardroom hardly makes any sense, but creating a long-term customer out of the curious gentleman who strayed a little too far from his regular craps game is sheer brilliance.  Though his motivations for wandering into the unknown might not be entirely clear, two things are for certain: he wants to enjoy himself and he doesn't want to look like a complete fool.  Obviously, berating this man's bad play is such a horrendous breach of good business policy that it warrants no further discussion.  Likewise, being courteous and sportsmanlike should be so obvious that it also need not be mentioned further as well.  But how about the heretical example of offering up a quick tip about something as remedial as pot odds or schooling him about the long odds of drawing to an inside straight and ask yourself which of the following it is more likely to accomplish: creating a dangerous adversary or potentially igniting a long-term interest into a game that on the surface seems so simple but is actually highly complex?  How about recommending a good introductory read such as Winning Low Limit Hold’em by Lee Jones or Getting Started in Hold’em by Ed Miller?  Will this man immediately stop donating to the Average Joe Poker Pro Fund or will this game instantly become more interesting than its upstairs 3-card variant on the blackjack felt?

From where I stand, I can only see the upsides to taking this approach.  After all, these novice players getting their feet wet in the game for the first time can never usurp your knowledge when you are the source of that knowledge.   You now know what they know, but they will never be able to grasp the depth of what you know and what it took for you to get where you are.  The next time they come wandering through and there are several open seats around, don’t be surprised if they choose to sit with you for being the helpful and kind soul that you are.  That tiny bit of knowledge that you drop on them will probably never be particularly helpful, but like Paul’s little blackjack tip, it might get them to keep coming back for many years to come.  After all, as we all know, you can shear a sheep many times, but you can only skin him once.   

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Looking Forward into the Month of April

As many of you are aware at this point, Lee Jones made an announcement last week that the Cake Network will be raising the minimum buy in to 30 BB.  Though this worries some people who are glued to their short stacking methods, I am actually looking forward to it because I see it not as an obstacle, but as a professional challenge.  I already have certain plans in place, but I will be spending much time on StoxEV to find new optimal strategies.

Other than that, I just got my new Dell 30 inch monitor on Friday in the mail.  Though the cost of almost $1,000 might seem insanity to some people, I was really turned by the idea of having 2560 X 1600 resolution and being able to fit what I thought would be 12 Pokerworld games with no overlap on one monitor, rather than 9.  Though some people can bring their A-game to 2 or even 3 monitors at once, I am definitely not one of them.  I can only focus on one screen at a time and any games designated to the second might actually be negative EV, though I will never really know for sure.  To my surprise, with the improved resolution of the Dell, I can now fit 20 Pokerworld games with minimal overlap!  That definitely sounds like too much at this point, though I very much expect to be able to profitably play 16 games at once for the first time ever.

As an aside, I also plan on getting back into SNG's, full stacking, and limit hold'em as well.  I have tried my luck at several thousand hands of limit so far, and though I have found the experience to be fun, I do realize that I need some serious brush up work to be very competitive.  I did find myself purposely calling down very light at times, often with very little chance of winning, just to see how the opposition is playing and to make notes.  Thinking about this method give me an idea for a simple piece of advice on what I believe that everyone should take a day to do (myself included), and that is just to watch several tables and just fill up your notes in as much detail as possible.  Try to standardize all of them beforehand so that you will be able to read it later quickly.  Also, try your best not to instinctively judge what your opponents are doing as either right or wrong.  If you see them do something that worked (or at least almost worked) that you would never have considered doing, resist the urge of privately writing them off as a donk.  Rather, do your best to figure out why they would take such a proposition.

In David Sklansky's amazing new book DUCY?, which is 2+2 shorthand for "Do You See Why?" makes a great argument for always using this sort of analysis before making any investment or taking any proposition, particularly when it seems that doing so would be a no-brainer for yourself.  After all, Sklansky makes the powerful point that if you are either unwilling or unable to figure out what the other party is hoping to gain, then most likely YOU are the sucker.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Correspondence With My Horse, Drew Chapman

About a week a half ago, I decided for the first time ever that I would back a player.  I have long been opposed to this idea due to the fact that winning players shouldn't need to be staked and, of course, the awful experiences of numerous other people.  This was different, though.  First of all, Drew never wanted anything more from me than advice, and secondly, he was already a winning player.  Though I won't give out the exact details of the arrangement, I will say that he has a strong winning record in the $8 HUSNG's on the Cake Network, which you can read at his blog, Heads Up Chicago.

After having some correspondence that night with Drew, I realized A) he is probably ready to step it up, perhaps into the $25's and B) that it would be a fun project on my part.  Partaking in this new field started me thinking on what normally goes wrong with such agreements, namely backing losing players and stressing their results.  I feel that these problems can be eliminated by putting someone into higher volume and/or bigger games provided that they are already winning, yet not properly rolled and also that the staking operation should be worthwhile as a recreational cost.  After all, if you are ever stressing the results of your horses, you are just playing above your roll!  I also believe too many people are involved in staking because they are trying to get rich.  I believe that other than the legendary staking operation of Sheets and Bax, you should do it with the goal in mind of creating a small supplementary income stream.

All that being said, I strongly urge anyone who is interested to check out Drew's Blog.  Though it is early in the making, it is very clear that he is going places in this game and the quality of the writing and analysis is just plain excellent.  Currently he has hit a rough patch and looking for advice on how to break out of it, though I think he has already figured it out.

Hey man. Thanks a lot for your encouraging comments on the blog, that means a lot.

Things are going okay. I still haven't completely "recovered" as it were from the slump of the last week-two, but things are looking up a bit. I had a decent session the other day, made about $60 in 3 hours. Of course, later that day I lost about half of that back in the course of two games, but it was at least, finally, a winning session in which nothing went too seriously or bizzare-ly awry.

In terms of the 25s, my record for this week is 8 wins/9 losses, so not great but not horrible. I've been good about employing focus and judgement, which has helped. 

I played a little recreationally last night. I have discovered a new way to play poker purely for fun when I'm not concerned about profitability or over-analysis of my game [read=when I'm tired/want a beer]: don't play hold 'em. Specifically, I hit up the micro and low stakes 8-game SNGs on Stars, which can be tons of fun, as I really enjoy razz and 2-7 draw without having the same degree of technical knowledge of those games as I have with HE...
Anyway, tomorrow I get back on the horse (no pun intended). Perhaps I'll have a little pre-game study session with Moshman's book and/or some videos to prime my brain, as well as possibly some physical exercise. I have been experimenting with such tactics to see how they affect my play, to some success; specifically, I've noticed that when I've spent part of the day out being mentally & physically active in other ways, my game benefits... I will let you know how things shape up. Thanks again for all your support!


Having games that you play for "fun" is always important.  Ironically, when you are not playing for money, per se, you are often encouraged to try those things that you always wondered about that might be able to push your game to that next level, yet the fear of "playing incorrectly" (according to what we we THINK we know) often paralyzes our actions.  Besides, when playing for fun when are never auto-piloting the decisions and we actually become much more mentally active than we normally are when trying to play "well."


Something just occurred to me, and I wanted to run it by you. I think that i've been thinking about this stake the wrong way, and I'll tell you why. So far I've been treating the $25 games too much like the $5s & $10s; that is, I game select for opponents with a negative ROI, and play them with the same mindset and in basically the same way as I play my lower-stake, & mostly lower-skill, opponents, because I play them during the same grind sessions through which I try to eke out my profit. This raises two problems: 1) I'm not in the right mindset. I'm grinding, mostly playing ABC poker because that's mostly all that's needed to beat the smaller games. This means I'm not using these $25s to really push myself and learn how to play the "new" game at the higher level, and I'm leaving myself vulnerable to opponents who are playing a more nuanced game/whose focus is fresher/etc. And, 2) the losses that I take from the $25s have a more pronounced psychological effect on my session, for the reasons I mentioned in my previous blog posting. If I win $30 over the course of 4 matches and then lose most of it in one, the degrading effect on my confidence and momentum is significant, and probably makes me less effective. Perhaps if I played on your stake in exclusive sessions, or otherwise separated these matches from my regular grind, it would have an overall positive effect. Thoughts? I should prob turn this into a blog post...


Hmmm....since you are very careful about game selection, there is no way of being certain that the fish in the bigger game are any better or worse than those in your regular game.  One thing that is for certain is that since the losses do affect you more acutely at the higher level, some part of you must be playing a little more weak-tight.  If this is true, then your opponents will be playing a proportionally more aggressive game than yourself, making them appear to be tougher, though it might only be you who is getting weaker.  I strongly suggest that you stick with your normal game, but if a player is doing something that you find confusing or frustrating, it is best just to move on.  Even though you are feeling down at the moment, you will adjust as your pain threshold increases.    

I do agree with the idea of game and stake segregation.  It is a known fact that when playing multiple stakes side by side, the larger game affects your judgment and you will pay less attention to the smaller game.  Rather than reiterate an article that has already been executed greatly, I will turn you over this link at Pocket Fives when it has already been explained, particularly Jennifear's comments at the bottom.


Monday, March 29, 2010

Closing in on the End of the Bet

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Lorin Offers to Settle the Bet

Monday, March 22, 2010

An Open Letter to Jolly Toper

The following post was originally going to be a reply to several comments by "jolly toper" in some of our recent posts.  However, when planning out in my mind what I wanted to say, I realized that the information I am about to put forth was too important to risk having it be missed by our regular readership.

Congratulations, Ronnie Kruger.  Rather than joining and being the third best player on "Team Charlatan", you have chosen to burn your bridges with Travis and claim the spot as the #1 player on Team Barfly.  I am failing to see how this has done you any good.  Rather than aligning yourself with players who have achieved the position that you used to seek and are capable of pulling you up, you are choosing to keep company with people who lack the technical knowledge and experience to ever prove any of your theories about poker wrong.

Being a long time friend of yours, you should be happy that Travis has finally taken the step to achieve a goal he has sought after for a very long time.  Now that you are attempting to dismiss and diminish his recent  accomplishments in a hurtful way, you have failed to seize the golden opportunity that had lain before you, and that is to simply ask him: how did you do it?  Even better, ask him what he did that you did not.

I'll tell you what that is.  Travis did not get there by possessing an overabundance of intelligence or natural ability, as he has neither :).  Both of these traits will only get you about 10% of the way there, anyhow.  What Travis did was keep pushing through when the experience reached the height of his pain threshold.  It was neither easy nor was it fun.  Though he may have been able to do this on his own, he had me by his side the whole time to make sure that he never gave up.  I supplied him with the knowledge and the standard and he made that extra push on his own.  It was nothing more and nothing less.  Though I can hardly take the credit for what Travis did by virtue of his own fortitude, he would gladly tell you that he could not have done it without me.

As a friend, Travis would have been willing to do the same for you.  Instead, you retreated back into the purgatorial shell that I like to call the "transition phase" and chose to discredit him rather than face where you are lacking.  The transition phase is the stage that exists when you are clearly the best player in your regular game and are entertaining thoughts about going pro.  However, making this transition is like going from being the high school basketball star to riding the bench on your college team.  It strongly arouses the insecurity that comes from being the best in the local pool to testing yourself against those who are clearly better than you.

Most potential pros will never get out of the transition phase, as they feel that acknowledging the accomplishments of others somehow lessens their sense of self-worth.  They prefer to label those with better results than themselves as "lucky", or take your unique position that we have contrived this massive illusion to mask the fact that we are just jacking each other off in our basements while collecting unemployment checks.  Players in the transition phase find it too painful to come to grips with their weaknesses as players and forcefully block any attempts by others to help them.  I would know, because I have been there.  Now at this stage in my career, I wish that I had taken more steps to surround myself with people who knew more about the game and played better than I did.  Unfortunately, at the time, my ego just would not have allowed it and I have suffered by choosing to pass up on the experience.

I doubt that this is what you had originally set out to accomplish in poker.  While being the best player in your home game might garner you respect on a small scale, you know that you can never respect yourself for having given up on your dream of being a professional.  So rather than trying to pull people back down to your level, get up off the floor and join them instead.  Now that you have officially severed your ties with both myself and Travis, you have to surround yourself with new poker friends.  Hopefully, they will know more about the game than yourself and thereby be in a better position to uplift you.

The good news is that you aren't done yet- not by a long shot.  Part of what makes poker so great is that you can take it up at any point in your life and you do not have to rely on the judgment of others as to whether or not you succeed.  It's completely meritocratic.  So if you still want make it in the poker world, stop reading this blog right now and pick up a poker book. You hold nothing but contempt for what it contains, anyhow.  However, if you want to stick around for one last piece of advice, here it is:  My baseball coach in college once gathered the team up and told us about how Tony Gwynn, the best hitter alive, would take 400 swings in front of a mirror every single day.  Then he said, "if Tony Gwynn has to do it that many times, then how many times do you have to do it?"

Stand right now in front of that mirror. Now take a long, hard look at yourself, and start swinging away.