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.