Saturday, February 25, 2006

Random odds 'n' ends today:

*I've been taking a day or two a month and multi-tabling one-table NL SnGs. The hand histories have been going to my yahoo mail account and yahoo is stupid and doesn't allow access via software mail clients unless you pay for their premium service, but I finally got around to getting them off yahoo and into Pokertracker yesterday.

7% ROI over 118 SnGs. Yeah, small sample size. I'm up overall but not a whole lot, and most definitely not anywhere near my hourly expectation in limit cash games. But it's a good change of pace, I guess. And improving one's tournament game can never be considered bad.

The ones I've been playing the most have been the 109s, and I'm actually down at those. 91 tournies and I'm down just about the same amount as fees I've paid. Maybe I'm break-even at that level? At least while 6-tabling. I know, I know--sample size.

I've also done a few 77s, and I'm down slightly there. Thankfully, the few 215s I've done have had very good results, and so I'm up overall.

*Speaking of tournies, I have played a few 55 and 109 MTTs with mixed results. I'm up slightly, but I don't really have any big cashes (well I did final-table a 22 event and get over $900, so proportionally speaking I guess that's a big cash). I was going to try the 215 tonight on Party, but, er, let's just say that I'm a bit skeptical thanks to recent events.

(To very briefly summarize the links, two high-profile online players were recently caught having played multiple accounts from the same computer in the same tournaments, thereby forfeiting a combined $280K. Each said the practice of playing multiple accounts is fairly common.)

No, I don't have multiple accounts, but I also don't want to be putting my money up against a whole bunch of people who do. And anyone who thinks that two high-profile players getting busted will stop other people from doing it is living in a fantasy world. Sure, it'll deter some people, but unless there's a major crackdown where some significant percentage of players who multi-account these tournaments are busted, many guys will just keep trying. After all, both the above players weren't busted until they were stupid enough to open their mouths and get reported to Party by someone else--Party didn't just independently figure out that they were playing six or whatever accounts all on the same computer in the same tournament.

I guess I'll probably have to go back to Stars for my MTT needs since they seem to better have their act together about cheating prevention.

*Yesterday was my best online day ever cash-wise, and second best ever BBs-wise (second only to a magical day on UB's 3/6 tables way back in Aug, 2004). In addition to eeking out a small win at SnGs, I had a crazy run at the 20/40 6m tables. The games were phenomenal last night. I mean they defied description. Guys were check-raising the turn with bottom-pair and calling down when three-bet, calling river bets with K-high, Q-high, calling when playing the board, all despite having faced multiple raises.

I'll be back tonight for another long session, that's for sure.

*And in a related note, I've only played at the Bellagio twice since Jan 15, a span of nearly six weeks. And neither time did I play the 80/160 game. I keep meaning to get out there, but when people are literally giving away money on Party, and Party themselves are giving away money (and iPods), it's kind of hard to get up the motivation to go play a slower, higher-variance game, with less earning potential, and then have to beg for a $15 food comp afterwards. Yes, playing live is more fun, but I'm a greedy mofo.

I will have to get out to the Wynn and try what is apparently now an oft-running 60/120 game, and perhaps even delve into their occasionally-running 150/300 game that I've heard about.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

These new 6max games combined with the Party bonus offers are like crack. I played over 22 hours online last week and that's the most I've played online in a week in a long while. It also doesn't hurt that I ran very well. It's been a while since I've had a long sustained run of success so I'm feeling better. I think the fact that I essentially dropped in limits, from 30/60 to 20/40 and occasional 15/30, has helped. Also playing primarily short-handed I think more suits my "natural" style.

I'm not out of the woods yet. Examining my results for the last nearly three months shows that I've had poor overall results, at least relative to the standards I set for myself over the previous year and a half and 300-400K hands.

I don't usually post graphs and go into too much detail about results, but I will this once to illustrate what I'm talking about and the source of my concern.

This is how this current year has gone on Party, a little more than a month and a half:

From the start until the peak around the 16K hand mark was January. Not a bad month, overall. Nothing fantastic, but I'll take it--certainly better than the bad months. From that peak until the valley around the 27K hand mark was the first part of Febuary. Yes, that's over 300BBs. Not fun. From that trough to the end was this past week, which equates to nearly 10K hands and nearly a 4BB/100 WR, despite two separate 100BB+ losing streaks. Yay for me.

But overall, you see that my WR is sitting at 1.06BB/100, which is quite a bit below my "standard," less than half, in fact. Well, it's still only 36K hands or so, so what about December?

Er....26K hands, 0.19BB/100. So there's 62K hands at about a 0.70BB/100 WR. That's not a good trend. For most of my poker career, downswings were an anomaly. Maybe once a month I'd have a 130BB downswing or so, and once every few months I'd venture into the 200ish BB downswing territory. Now, they're practically commonplace.

I have enough statistical knowledge to know that even excellent players can run as I have for as long as I have, but I also know that I've moved up quite a bit in limits (most of this grinding my wheels the past 2 1/2 months has been at 30/60 and 50/100) and that I've also not been playing optimally--I've been trying perhaps too many tables, stubbornly staying in games that weren't great, and in general not focusing as much as I perhaps should as I continue to take the game more for granted. I for one am inclined to believe that my recent mediocre results are as much deserved as they are a result of one of those 60K hand statistical anomalies.

Now anyone who wants to do the math can deduce that I'm still paying my bills with room to spare (although it's worth noting that most of the downswings were at the bigger limits and the upswings at smaller limits), so I know many won't feel too much sympathy as they wake up at 7am to go to their cubicle job.

I'm not posting this looking for sympathy. I'm just saying this because I started this blog mostly to keep friends and family updated on how I'm doing, for better or for worse, and, well, that's how I'm doing. I've had three months of subpar results, and so I'm questioning where I go from here. I think I'll be hanging around the newly opened-up 15/30 and 20/40 6-max games for a while since my results have been better there and I like short-handed, and one can still make plenty of money at those levels.

I may very well have hit the peak of what I can accomplish given my current committment level to the game, and if that's true, so be it. I'd love to be one of those guys who makes 100K+ in a month, but I may just not have the mentality for it. So while I'm not about to give up poker as a profession--I still make much more at this than I can doing any "paid" job--I may very well have gotten knocked off the rocket ride up in limits, and am now operating a hand-cranked dumbwaiter. And if that's a stupid metaphor, then, well, deal with it. It's 5am.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Party has completely overhauled their software, and have done a fair amount of changes to their game offerings. Most imporantly, they now have 6-max at every LHE level, including 20/40 and 30/60. The 30/60 seems to be restricted so I haven't played that yet, but the 20/40 is wide open and amazing. I've been playing that the last couple days and doing great.

What is it about 6-max that attracts all these amazingly bad players? So many guys will raise and reraise with absolutely nothing. I guess it works on some people, but anyone with half a brain will catch on quickly. The level of play definitely reminds me of the level of play at the old 10/20 6-max games, although perhaps a bit more aggressive.

I'm definitely enjoying myself more than I have in a while. Full ring games have gotten to be quite a chore, with everyone sitting around waiting for AQ or better (and, being full ring, it's always out there). 6-max allows for a little bit more creativity, and I can play more hands and be more aggressive with weaker holdings. I mean, who doesn't like to raise, raise, raise?

Combined with better tournament stuctures, their acceler8or program, and a new store that is supposed to have lots of cool stuff, Party seems intent on not only having me not play on any other sites, but not even play live any more! And, golly, it just might work.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

I'm back from LA. Was fun. I did pretty well in the cash games, and so decided to take my shot at the million-dollar guaranteed limit tournament on Saturday. $1580 buy-in, plus unlimited $1500 rebuys for the first three hours, and then a single or double $1500 add-on. So it was a "cheap" tournament that could get quite expensive.

First place paid over $500,000, so I was willing to gamble a bit. So I budgeted $3000 and promptly spent over twice that.

The first round everyone was pretty tight, and then rounds two through perhaps four everyone loosened up considerably before tightening back up. I pretty much stayed around an average chip stack through the entire day 1. I was for the most part card dead and therefore not playing many hands at all, so I got pretty good respect any time I was in a pot. But a few suckouts kept me from amassing anything substantial. Then a bad couple of hands in the last 30 mins of day one left me fairly short-stacked going into day two.

Day two saw 57 of the 434 original players return. 27 spots paid. I was in dire straits, however, pretty much forced to go all-in on any hand I wanted to play, and that hand came eight minutes after the start of the day when I picked up TT but finished in third place to JJ and an 85s that became trips. Such is life.

That was my first "big" tournament and I think I handled myself pretty well. I did let nerves prevent me from making a move or two that I normally would have, and perhaps kept me from being as aggressive as I should have been in a couple spots, but I think my comfort level will increase pretty dramatically with a little more experience in these tournaments.

One thing that was surprising was seeing how some of the "bigger" names played. In my admittedly brief playing time with some of them, there was definitely quite a disparity between reputation and skill in a few instances.

I did play a substantial amount against two players who made the final table. One of them I had all in as a 3:1 favorite after the flop at one point late in day 1 (and of course lost) and another one had been shortstacked for most of day 1, all-in a couple times, before having a nice run the last round of day 1 and apparently having an even nicer run on day 2. That's the nature of tournaments, I guess.

All told it was quite an experience. I've had pretty good success in my fairly short limit hold'em tournament career, and so I think I'll probably try more events, both online and live. There are quite a few big events that come through Las Vegas and LA, so I won't even have to travel very far. I'll even start adding some NL events, although I'm not prepared to try any event above about $1500 just yet.

The final tally for the weekend wasn't too shabby either considering how much I dropped in the tourney. I was down a little bit, but not a whole lot, thanks to having decent success in the cash games. And maybe if I try enough of these tournaments, one of these days instead of just paying for my tournament entry with cash game wins, I'll have a nice big score that will make all the long hours all worth it.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Well I've been on what so far has become the second worst run of my poker career, so the time has come to take stock of the facts.

Fact: I hate losing money. I mean really hate it.

Fact: My performance has become a lot more volatile over the last four or five months, ever since I regularly started playing 30/60 online.

Fact: Since October I haven't earned any more money on average than I did the previous months, I've just had bigger winning runs and worse losing runs (see previous fact).

Fact: It really isn't a goal of mine to be as good at poker as I can possibly be. I mean I want to do well, and for a while there I was doing everything in my power to be as good as I can get, but I've reached the point where it's not really a priority to get better. The money is more than I need, and the additional stress of playing against better players just isn't worth it. I like keeping a relatively laid back, easy-going lifestyle.

On the flip side:

Fact: I hate jobs. I mean a lot. If I have to spend my life working at a job like my last job I will kill myself. Seriously. Or just be a homeless bum. I'll figure something out, anything out, rather than work a job.

Fact: I like being able to make good money playing poker.

So my conclusion: I should probably drop in limits and "redo" what I did most of last year. I'll be earning money with less stress, and perhaps (hopefully) plugging leaks that have sprung up in my game. I won't need to put in 50K+ hands/level like I did last year, but it should hopefully help me get my bearings again.

I'm not talking going to 15/30, or even 10/20. I'm talking trying out 5/10 again for a while. Maybe 20K hands. Then 10/20. Then 15/30. Then 20/40. Then 30/60 again, if I make it that far. If not, oh well. One can make a very good living at the 10/20 to 20/40 level. Heck, one can do better at 5/10 than I was doing at my last job.

Ultimately, my goal in life is to enjoy my life, and so I rate quality of life higher than anything else--money, fame, accomplishments, whatever. Not having a wage-slave, cubicle-monkey job is about #1 on my list of things that improve my quality of life, but #2 is simplicity. Many people over-complicate their lives (most of the time unnecessarily, and I mean from any viewpoint), and I'm someone who's always done the opposite. Some may say my life is overly-simple, and perhaps it is, but I love it that way. And stressing out over dropping $6k+ in one night at 30/60 is just complications I don't need.

Perhaps I'd feel better if those $6k losses came after tons and tons of wins, but they haven't. I'm still up in the online 30 game overall, but not a whole lot. Yes it's only been maybe 40K hands, but they haven't been much fun.

(Warning, tangential rambling--yes, even more--ahead.) I think the turning point came last weekend when I did very badly, but couldn't exactly put my finger on exactly why. I've certainly had plenty of bad runs over my career, but there's always been a clear reason, sometimes bad play or bad game selection, but often just extended runs of bad luck. I remember my worst run when I used to play 3/6 was losing close to $1000 in one night (still by far my worst BB loss in one day). But that run was an obvious bad luck run--I remember three times within 5 minutes I flopped the nut full house and lost. AK never hit, pocketpairs never hit or held up, two-outers on the river kept coming in for opponents, etc, etc.

But last weekend I couldn't say that. I in fact won some huge pots, like, I dunno, hitting a gut-shot straight flush over a full house and a straight. My big pocket pairs have been doing quite well, although KK and QQ are perhaps a little below typical. Where I've been getting ground down was the small "typical" hands, where it's heads up or three-handed and people have their usual assortment of A-highs and middle pairs and whatnot. I think I'm just letting too many pots go without a fight since really every heads up or three-handed pot is getting bet on the flop (and often raised) regardless of people's hands.

It's possible to run badly in these small pots, but the other possibility one has to consider is that, well, maybe I'm just getting flat outplayed.

Of course the other possibility is that I'm simply overreacting and other people who've played a similar number of hands at similar levels would laugh at my overreacting to having two bad runs in the span of about two months.

Regardless, it's back to the drawing board.

And, as my first attempt at reducing variance, I'll be in LA this weekend playing 100/200. Heh. Okay, much like with diets, I'll start being good come Monday...

Saturday, February 04, 2006

January ended up being a very good month overall. February started off well, but the past 48 hours have killed me. So to make myself feel better, I'll post a hand where I hit the single perfect card (although the karmic backlash from this hand is probably what has sent me spiraling).

Party Poker 30/60 Hold'em (9 handed)

Preflop: Hero is CO with Kc, Qc.

2 folds, MP1 raises, 1 fold, MP3 calls, Hero calls, Button 3-bets, 1 fold, BB calls, MP1 calls, MP3 calls, Hero calls.

Flop: (15.50 SB) 9c, Kd, Jh (5 players)

BB bets, MP1 folds, MP3 calls, Hero raises, Button calls, BB calls, MP3 calls.

Turn: (11.75 BB) Jc (4 players)

BB bets, MP3 calls, Hero raises, Button folds, BB 3-bets, MP3 calls, Hero calls.

River: (20.75 BB) Tc (3 players)

BB bets, MP3 calls, Hero raises, BB 3-bets, MP3 calls, Hero caps, BB calls, MP3 calls.

Final Pot: 32.75 BB

BB has Th Jd (full house, jacks full of tens).

MP3 has 9d Qs (straight, king high).

Hero has Kc Qc (straight flush, king high).

Outcome: Hero wins 32.75 BB.