Friday, October 29, 2004


The streak stands at eight live-play losses in a row; I did in fact go to Manistee on Wednesday and blew $240, or 30BB. Although I made some mistakes, I made no huge mistakes, and in fact the biggest tale of the night was that two bad players and one loose-aggressive but decent player put a number of beats on me with unlikely holdings that just happened to be the stony nuts. (Okay, I did make one huge mistake. And while it cost me 2½ big bets, it wasn't a colossal boner on the scale of the 57♠ I wrote about a couple of weeks ago.)

This losing streak reminds me of something Mike Caro says in one of his tapes, of a seminar he held once. The tape is mostly notable for the way his makeup look like he's wearing plastic eyebrows, but in the seminar part he talks about how you can mess your head up when you're on a losing streak, being on tilt thereby. Let's say you're running bad, so bad that you've started keeping count, and you've missed thirty-seven flush draws in a row. (By my math the odds are about 300,000:1 against this happening, but it could happen.) Pretty soon, you start thinking to yourself, hey, what if the record is thirty-eight? You start rooting against the flush, and worse, you start playing to miss your draws. If you get to this point, take a walk.

I don't this streak is tilting me. While it is eight casino losses in a row, those are interspersed with generally a winning trend online. And many of the losses are just a matter of a couple of bets, and have to be considered basically break-even sessions. But most importantly, I still go into a low-limit casino session considering myself a favorite to walk out with the money. It's possible that I'm wrong about that, but I don't walk into the casino expecting to lose.

  Wednesday, October 27, 2004

On Being a “Professional”

I just noticed this quote from Iggy, who is himself quoting someone named "AJ":

I'll probably make the jump to [playing poker] full-time Jan 1 but we will see. For those of you who care I am starting a new category - I will call myself a "full-time poker player" rather than a professional poker player. I don't belong with the likes of the true professionals ... I'm just a guy making a living from it.

Well, if that's not a professional, AJ, then what is? You wouldn't say, "I'm not a professional musician, I'm just a guy who makes his living by playing the sousaphone." You wouldn't say, "I'm not a professional artist, I'm just a guy who makes his living sculpting clay." If it's how you make your living, you're a pro.

I know why you have the trepidation, though. When I quit Lowes, I wrote something like, "So now, unbelievably, I am a poker pro ... but dammit, I don't feel like a poker pro." My own problem with using the phrase "poker pro" is that I associated it with the pros you see on TV, the Doyles and Johnnys and Phils and Annies that when they aren't in tournaments, play for giant-sized bets and win and lose with style. That's not me, and I'm guessing it's not you.

But we've been applying a distorted view of what a "professional" is. The image we have from pro poker players and pro sports players and a couple of other things is that a "pro" is someone who is among the handful of very best at his job. But in every other line of work, a "professional" is just someone who makes his living from his job. One can be a professional burger-flipper or ditchdigger just as well as one can be a professional poker player.

There is one important thing to understand here: To be a professional, you don't even have to be very good! You only have to be good enough that people will pay you to do it. Gil's business provides the best example of this. He'll book any of a number of acts for your corporate event, including comedians, magicians, bands, DJs, speakers, ventriloquists, and a few other things that don't focus so much on a single person. But Gil has talked about some of the acts he books, and doesn't book, and some of his competition. He had a tape in of an old set of performances at the annual magicians' get-together in Colon, Mich., and some of the acts were frankly not very good. But most of the acts came from people who were making their livings performing their acts. Gil himself has been doing more-or-less the same act for fifteen years now. But as long as their performances keep them from a "real job," they're professionals.

There's something here that ties in with the usual definition of "profession" or "a professional," without qualification. Those usually refer to doctors, lawyers, accountants, architects, and a few other things where one has a "practice." But I think the key point, which ties in not only with what Gil and his compatriots do, but with what a professional golf or poker or tennis player does, is that the "professional" is working for himself. Even the notion of a professional burger-flipper sort of requires that you think of him as someone who just loves burger-flipping for its own sake, who doesn't really care who he flips burgers for, or where, so long as he is allowed the nirvana of being able to flip a burger. In other words: Someone working for himself, who sees McDonalds or Wendys as a customer rather than an employer.

So, AJ, whatever you want to call it, if you quit your job to play poker, then may the gods help you: You're a professional poker player.


Last weekend Gil and I returned to Mt. Pleasant for another afternoon of poker. This time Gil wasn't truly staking me, as I was expected to pay back any losses, but since I had been running good (see the last several posts) I didn't expect any losses.

I was disappointed for the first hour or so, as my $100 turned into $50 through a couple of second-bests, but then I got on a rush and found myself $80 ahead, where I stayed for the next four or five hours. But then Gil said something about leaving in a half-hour or so, and my $80 profit suddenly disappeared. I felt that my play had opened up a bit at the end of this session, but thinking back after the fact I was unable to think of any hands I played particularly badly. I saw a couple of flops with questionable hands, but for one bet in a loose game I'm not bothered by that as long as I'm able to make the determination postflop whether I'm beat or not. And even in that last half-hour I don't think that I made any horrible misjudgments. But I was sucked out on a couple of times, and had a couple of strong preflop holdings that failed to develop. And so, I left down $16, which extended my streak of losing sessions at the casino to seven.

It turned out that the deal with my debit card is that they closed out the card because my checking account was overdrawn for so long. So, I called the bank, and they're sending me a new card. I'm very tempted to take $200 or $250 and head to Manistee whenever I get up tomorrow, to play the $4/$8 game at my favorite local poker room. If I go, hopefully the streak will then read: One win.

Gil went to Greektown Casino in Detroit today. I was invited, but he left only a couple of hours after I got off of work, and I hadn't been able to get to sleep. If I had gone with Gil, I wouldn't have got any sleep for something like thirty hours, so it's good I didn't go. But it was also very good that Gil did go. He went up $200 in a $5/$10 game, then took $110 and sat one of their new sit-and-go tournaments ($100+$10, payouts $600/$300/$100) and won that. So, his $700 profit on the day made it worth taking an afternoon off.

Bad Beats

For those who weren't trying desperately to win it overnight, PartyPoker's bad beat jackpot was hit at a record high, $476,688. They distributed 70% of that, so the "big part" was $166,841. But the interesting thing is that the table was four-handed, so the table share was over $40,000 for each of the other two people in the hand. The jackpot was also high enough that it reset to almost $100,000; expect to see it back above $200,000 in a few days.

I was on three tables when it hit, out of over 300, so one can decide that I had a 1% chance of figuring into the bad beat hand. That involves an incorrect assumption, but one can decide it anyway. I noticed that the play got worse after the jackpot hit; my guess is that the people who transferred $100 to PartyPoker from other sites in order to play for the big jackpots all left after the jackpot hit. Good, because what had before been only breakeven play before that turned into a $200 day.

It was also amusing to see the 300+ bad-beat tables drop below 100 within fifteen minutes of the jackpot hitting.


Thursday night, October 28, will mark the beginning of my semi-professional poker career. It will be the first night that I'm at work that isn't "training" of some sort. The last several nights I've played two tables there for two or three hours each night, but two of the three nights my results were drastically (but not dangerously) down. I attribute that to being distracted; my co-worker popped a DVD into her portable DVD player, and I already have experienced that I can't have the TV on while I play. I won't be working with her anymore.

One could question my judgment for playing at all with the DVD player on, but I tried to play my old $3/$6 game, which is very tight, very ABC, and very uncreative. This is a game that I try to employ when I know I'm distracted. I think of it as my "old A game," but I need a better name if I'm still going to employ the style in some cases. The style used to beat the $3/$6 games for something like 1.7 BB/c, so I think of it as a winning style, but maybe it's not anymore. Or maybe I've forgotten how to do it right.

There's another area where I think my judgment has been off. The last day of play I have logged is August 15, which is the day my PartyPoker bankroll effectively hit zero. I might be able to reconstruct something from these entries, and in fact I think my play is up overall since then (up about $1200 online and down about $500 in the casino), but the fact that I stopped logging when I got frustrated seems in retrospect to be far too tilty; I didn't handle busting out very well.

If I do indeed go to Manistee tomorrow, then my PP bankroll will enter the semi-pro period at about $730, after $600 in withdrawals, off the $100 that Party fronted me some weeks ago. And I'll begin a new log and new PokerTracker database at that point.

I'm kind of thinking that this semi-pro period will last about a year, at which point I could move to Vegas or L.A. actually ready to be a successful poker pro. I could see this time period being shorter (a five-figure tournament score or bad-beat win) but, by the gods, I hope it's not longer.

  Friday, October 22, 2004

Another Good Day

Another good day, more than $400 to the good, finally let me do a significant withdrawal from PartyPoker, for the first time in a long time. I was playing $2/$4 BBJ, so that's over 100 big bets, if you're counting. For all I've whined about those tables being bad to me, I've had only one losing day in the last week, which I more than made up the next day.

Now, when I'm running good, $2/$4 BBJ seems like it's still people playing with their cards face-up, like the regular $2/$4 is, with the added benefit that winning hands are going to win a few extra bets from people who see flops (for multiple bets) with jackpot-eligible hands.

But, on the other hand, I am running good, and it's easily possible that I haven't figured out a damned thing, but only that I'm running good. Since I've reset PartyPoker I've played over 3800 hands at this writing, and my showdowns won (particularly) is historically high at 73%. I've won money when I've seen the flop 33% of the time, which feels historically high, but I'm not sure what the number is, and my PT database is now so huge I dread opening it. (I'll start a new database next Thursday, since that will officially start my "semi-pro" career.)

I did run into something of a snag yesterday, though, unfortunately after I withdrew the $500 to my account. The "test" withdrawal last week seemed to work, sort of, so I did a real withdrawal yesterday afternoon. But I went out to dinner, believing what the bank's computer said, that I had $15 or so in my checking account. Unfortunately, when the clerk ran my debit card, she got the error message "No Account," which confused the hell out of her, but my card didn't work. I interpret that as my checking account is closed, for being overdrawn for however long it was, but I'll talk to the bank later about it.

I'm a bit amused, too, because "No Account" seems to me to be the same error message that might be displayed if my card was actually counterfeit. I'm not clever enough to make a counterfeit debit MasterCard, but if I were, Curses! foiled again.

  Wednesday, October 20, 2004

This Headline Intentionally Left Blank

You know, some people are like Slinkies: They aren't really good for anything, but you just have to smile when you see them tumble down the stairs.

His Bedtime Conventionally Hefts Tanks

DegenDanny wanted me to mention that he isn't really that much of a liberal, really, he just doesn't like George W. Bush. Actually, in all seriousness, our points of view don't diverge that much, but our emphases differ. DegenDanny is more concerned about social issues, and thus supports Democrats, and I'm more concerned about economic issues, and thus I support Republicans or Libertarians. Our position on the war on terror doesn't differ all that much, matters of degree mostly. But I'll be voting for G.W.Bush because I think that the war on terror is the single overriding issue in this election, and John Kerry is so wrongheaded on the subject that I believe he is an actual threat to the stability of the world.

There's a risk in talking politics on a poker blog; my blog seems to be well-regarded even if I myself am not, by everyone. But a lot of people have difficulty in taking someone's work for what it is, when they disagree so fundamentally with the person generating the work. Look at the Barbra Streisand on the one side, or Charlton Heston on the other: They are so identified with their politics that to people on the other side, they are actually laughingstocks. So, although I've made my politics clear, I hope not to drive any readers away. I haven't been politics-man since about 1998 or 1999, so I tend to keep my strong feelings to myself, these days.

On the other hand, given how dangerous I feel John Kerry would be as president, maybe I shouldn't.

  Tuesday, October 19, 2004

An Odd Dream

Have I mentioned that I dream about poker now?

I know I've had dreams about being in Vegas, and I can kind of recall one where I was trying to get to the poker room at the Mirage. I think Cactus Dave was there, but the part before I woke up was basically like walking around outside and then through a big mall.

But last night I had another dream. I was playing in the Big One at the World Series, and it wasn't going well. Or, at least, it didn't seem like it to me, but one of the "scenes" had me playing a hand, and losing a couple of chips, and then that part of the game was over, because everyone in the room had busted out except me. Dream-logic didn't account for where all of their chips went, but I didn't have them. (I remember also that the chips this early were mostly $1 chips, although there was what must have been $9900 in big chips too. And the chips were all smaller than normal.)

I didn't feel like I was playing well, and assuredly I wasn't, because I remember calling a raise and folding at the same time. Fortunately, even if I'd lost my senses, the others at the table hadn't, and they were razzing me about my horrid play on that hand. In any case, if I ever participate in the real Big One, I hope my play goes better than in this dream.

A Request from a ... Guy ...

I've been asked by "DegenDanny" to pimp his blog at degendanny.blogspot.com. He's starting out, and we'll see how his blog goes, but he starts with a couple of descriptions of recent tournament scores. And those are always fun. In chatting with him, he comes across as a crazy liberal who believes all the "Fahrenheit 911" stuff, even the stuff that contradicts itself, and really thinks that terrorists would like it better if we backed off, like Senator Pussy wants to do. But he's promised to keep politics out of his blog, so we can excuse him for that.

  Monday, October 18, 2004

Almost a Casino Win

Gil staked me again in Mt. Pleasant yesterday, to their $3/$6 game, meaning $100. There was a seat open on their Stud game when we got there, so I took that, and got out to a quick couple-buck profit. Then a couple more seats opened, and Gil sat to my left, and promptly blew $50. My suspicion is that he was a little looser than I was, or a little prouder of (for example) the Kings he had showing on his board, and so he lost. I still don't consider that I know the game, but it was apparent that Gil knew it less. So when they opened a new Holdem table, I left down about $10 and Gil left down about $50.

Our Holdem game was a great, loose-aggressive game. This meant high-variance, though, and my results convinced me mostly that $100 is too little to sit a $3/$6 game. I went up $100 early, and then between bleed and second-bests fell down to less than $20 on the table, before getting back on a rush, standing up with $97 of my $100 after Gil went bust (the second time).

This morning I'm up early before I head in to start work at my own location, and getting in a few hands before I head in. I'll be sitting for another twenty minutes or so, but as it stands I'm up about $100 in an hour, which is always good.

I've kind of decided that I want to be pulling about $1000 a month out of poker, now that I have a bankroll again, and a job as well. This is about half what I planned on before, but I'll also be playing fewer hands. The two together suggest that $1000 a month might be ambitious, but we'll see; I'm running good lately so at the moment it sounds like cake to do $1000 a month.

The other part of the plan is to play for the occasional windfall, which probably means that on my off weeks I play a couple of the bigger tournaments. A five-figure payday from that, or from hitting a jackpot, would probably send me west, finally, but I might try a couple of things before making that step to ensure that I can stay there. (Like, find out if I can beat PartyPoker's $15/$30 game over the long term, which a real bankroll would let me do.)

Anyway, off to work, so good luck and good cards.

  Sunday, October 17, 2004

A Good Day ... Again

It's been a couple of weeks since that 39¢-into-$250 day at DoylesRoom, and since then I've mostly been treading water. A little up this day, a little down that day, treading water. I'm down to a few bucks at DoylesRoom, but hovered around $200 at PartyPoker for a long time.

Most of my play has been at $1/$2, to build bankroll, although this has gone surprisingly slowly. The play has felt a lot like when I'm sitting $3/$6 at the casino; I see everyone else hitting big hands but all I'm doing is hitting fold, fold, fold. Fortunately the up-a-little, down-a-little mostly has been up-a-little, even if it's been a slow slog.

I've occasionally bought into the $2/$4 bad-beat tables, for two reasons: First, the BBJ play is, as I've discussed elsewhere, looser even than the regular play at the same limits, and in theory the games should thus be more profitable. Second, if I hit the jackpot it'd be a nice little deus ex machina, catching me up on my bills at the least and being a hefty windfall at the most. (By my math breakeven play on a BBJ table is +EV no later than the $200,000 point—if you expect to play until the jackpot hits, anyway.) This BBJ play has been slightly negative in result.

More recently, though, it's turned around; the BBJ play has been slightly positive. This might be for any number of reasons, including simple variance, but I'd like to think it's a difference in my play. But if it's anything along those lines, it could only be my increased willingness to make plays when the flop seems to warrant them.

Which brings me to today. In five hours I was on four different $2/$4 BBJ tables, and left three of them up a couple of bucks. But on the fourth, I couldn't lose; I was up over $100 before I caught two huge pots back-to-back to put me up $250 on that table. I was up and down, but left that table up $250, and with the bit I'd won on the other tables, it was an over $300 day.

I made sort of a "test" withdrawal today; my bank account has been overdrawn for over a month, and so I'm not entirely sure I even have a bank account at the moment. We'll see what happens with the $100 I withdrew. If I can't withdraw, I'm stuck for the moment, until I get a paycheck and can reopen my bank account. But in any case, my bankroll approaches a reasonable level again, and for that, I'm happy.

  Saturday, October 16, 2004


I just turned off the Haloscan comments in favor of Blogger's own Comments system, mainly because Haloscan deletes the comments after a couple of months anyway. The biggest downside of this is that the comments to my recent posts appear to be lost (they aren't, really, but they are for all practical purposes). I did read your comments, and I appreciate them, so nobody think this has anything to do with the content of your comments, especially to my recent posts in response to becoming a 2+2 whippingboy for a couple of days.

In any case, comments should now live on into posterity.

Thoughts on PartyPoker's Bad Beat Tables

I can't be the first person to think of this, but I don't know if any of the blogs have covered it. I'm not caught up on the blogs, not by a long shot.

In any case, my point is this. It seems that the bad-beat tables on PartyPoker are ripe for setting up a consortium to win it. With the rules set as they are at the moment, where 8888 or better must be beat, a full table of people whose only goal is to win the BBJ would fold everything other than 88 or better, or suited connectors to three-gappers. Nothing else can make a qualifying hand. (Actually, someone playing A8 who hits an 88899 board and loses to 99 might be eligible for the jackpot. Cardrooms differ on this, and I'm unsure how PartyPoker sees it.)

In any case, it's assumed that to get the most hands in as possible, and keep the rake down, that the players would check down the hand unless the board makes it clear that a jackpot is possible, in which case the players would need to bet it up enough ($20) that the rake is taken for the jackpot, which makes the hand eligible to win. If it folds around to the small blind, as many hands will, the small blind should raise a jackpot-possible hand and fold otherwise, to signal the big blind whether to continue with the hand.

A team playing in such a way would win more than their share of jackpots, at a fairly low cost to the players. At the lower limits, most hands would not be raked, and the pots won or lost would be tiny. On the other hand, "more than their share" of jackpots wouldn't mean "a lot of jackpots." Because of the more hands per hour, and because no jackpot-possible hands would be folded preflop, the likelihood that a consortium table would hit the BBJ might increase to between double and triple the likelihood that a "normal" table would hit it.

A consortium like this would probably have to consist of a good fifty people, to ensure at least one full table, and more when they can manage it. The payout when they do hit the jackpot would have to be split among them by some formula involving the total number of hours played by each member of the consortium, and the consortium's leaders would probably skim some administrative costs.

Now, here's the question: At what point is the BBJ high enough that all this is +EV? Always? Over $100,000? $200,000? $300,000? My gut says that if all went perfectly, then it's +EV at any level of the BBJ, but I haven't done extensive math on this.

The biggest snag, though, is that the actual winners of the BBJ would have to actually transfer the money to the head of the consortium. With the "big part" of the jackpot reaching over $100,000 on occasion, the temptation would be strong to tell the consortium to go hang. And so, unfortunately, the consortium probably wouldn't last beyond the first time it hit the jackpot.

When state lotteries' million-dollar games were reasonably new, meaning the 1980s, there were occasional reports of consortia attempting to buy up all the tickets to the larger drawings, guaranteeing themselves a win (or at least a split). You don't need a math degree to see that the pot odds would have to be three or four times the true odds to make this profitable, but that does happen sometimes, and you don't hear about consortia trying to buy up the tickets anymore. Is the whole concept just too unwieldy?

  Thursday, October 14, 2004

A Big Fat Report About Nothing

I chatted with Iggy last night, and he decried the lack of recent posts by me. So, onay, here's a post.

The main reason there haven't been posts is that nothing of consequence has been happening. Well, okay, that's not wholly true, but nothing of serious poker consequence has been happening.

I started a new job this week. I'm doing something I did in the early 1990s, working the overnight at a local hotel, which doesn't pay great but it has other advantages. The main one is that it's the overnight shift, when there are a couple of hours of downtime between, say, 2:00 and 4:00, where there's little enough to do that I might as well play poker. I'm training at a hotel in Holland for now, because they haven't fired yet the person I'm replacing here in Grandville, but I expect the hotels to be similar in at least this respect: There's WiFi in the lobby. This should mean that if I enable a cheap laptop with WiFi (anyone want to donate one?) I can play a few hundred hands of poker on an average weeknight. Not a bad way to go.

The other interesting thing is that the schedule is odd enough that it lets me do some other things. It's seven days on, seven days off, generally with ten-hour days, to add up to 70 hours per two weeks. It's the "seven days off" that's the most interesting to me. About the second thing I thought of when I was told that was, "Cool, I can go to Vegas without taking time off of work!"

But, still, the money isn't great, so it's my hope that I can continue to pull enough money out of playing poker to pay the bills that the hotel doesn't pay. My employer understands this; the managers of both of their hotels interviewed me, and we ended up spending as much time talking poker as talking the job. In fact, when they called to offer me the job, it was "come out to our poker game tonight, and we'll figure out when we want to get you started." Their game was a $20 buyin tournament with about 8 guys, none of whom were really players. I got sucked out on and went out in the middle of the pack, Cactus Dave played super-tight and went out third, and Gil (whom I borrowed $20 from to play) won the whole shabang. This brings up an interesting question: If you borrow money to play cards, and lose it to the person whom you loaned it from, do you still owe him the money?

My streak of losing sessions at the casino is up to five, as Gil and I went to Manistee on Saturday. Gil did worse than me, but I still didn't win. Not all of these five losers are me playing my "A" game and losing; I was experimenting with a strategy where I see more flops and better put people on hands. (I think I've talked before in my blog that in live play, even at lower limits, people pay enough atention that they realize that when I play my "A" game I play very few hands, and so I don't get action on the hands I do play, unless I'm up against another big hand. So I win small pots and lose big pots.) In any case, my experimenting with strategy changes yielded poor results, and I lost.

I'm not truly surprised by that. I've been trying to emulate the best player I've played against regularly, but I haven't sat down to talk with him about his game. He's actually from Grand Rapids as well, but I don't know how to reach him locally, and lately Gil and I mostly haven't gone to the casino where he plays. I don't know whether he'll talk to me about his game, but I think he can be helpful. In any case, when I'm trying to fiddle with my game, my results should be expected to be mostly down until I get it right. And it's not right, yet.

PartyPoker has mostly been a slow slog of $1/$2, not really playing many hands, truly, single- or double-tabling, eking (or "eeking" in Iggy-speak) out small wins in most cases. Spurred on my Cactus Dave's example, I've played a couple of one- and two-table sit-and-gos, but pretty much broken even. And this morning I didn't really feel like playing Holdem, so I'm sitting a bit of 50¢/$1 7-card Stud, which I'm finding profitable even if I don't have much of a handle on advanced Stud strategy. (Before people jump down my throat about jumping around in games: The tournaments and Stud play do not comprise serious attempts to increase my bankroll. I'll stick to $1/$2 for that, until I'm in the $500 range. This play is more like (bad example) Lance Armstrong deciding to pedal along that path by the river because it happens to be a nice evening.)

Speaking of Cactus Dave, it's been interesting to watch him play this last week, as he's had one of those poker epiphanies (pokerpiphanies?). He deposited at DoylesRoom, because they've got games as low as 2¢/4¢, and tournaments with buyins as low as 4¢+1¢. Most of DoylesRoom's tournaments, though, are either of the "Speed" (4-minute rounds) or "Turbo" (1-minute rounds) varieties, and even their most leisurely multitables have 12-minute rounds. So Dave has had to adjust greatly from his normal style, which has been called "tighter than a nun's cunt" by someone who probably didn't go to Catholic school. DoylesRoom is giving him fits on his dialup connection, so he's lately moved his play back to PartyPoker. That aggressive strategy he was forced to learn at DoylesRoom has been paying off big at the $5 sit-n-go's at PartyPoker, although by my observation his judgment is still a little off about when to back off (and when not to). Still, it's kind of neat to watch somebody's game go through such a rapid metamorphosis that also happens to be successful. Best of luck, Cactus Dave!

  Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Where the Hell Have You Been?

It's only partially true that I haven't been posting. Blogger ate two posts, one about the free $100 that PartyPoker has given me (I've run it up a bit but my online game seems to be very rusty) and one about the adventures of Dave in computer-fixing-land. So I've been posting, but Blogger hasn't allowed you to read it.

I got an interesting Email today, and for the most part I like my answers to it, even if part of it sounds like I'm making further excuses for some of my plays. So, I've decided to post the exchange. I'm changing my correspondent's name, but if he allows it I'll happily change it back.

I'm "Captain Glockenspiel" from 2+2 ...

I noticed that you quoted from a post of mine in a recent entry, so I thought I'd drop you a note and mention a couple of things.

First, I'd like to apologize for talking about you in a not so flattering way behind your back (metaphorically speaking). That sort of thing would definitely be rude in real life; the rules may or may not be much different online, but I'm sorry in any case.

Second, constructive criticism: You described a limit hold'em hand in which you limped in from early position with 57♠, and subsequently lost a very large pot (9 big bets from your stack, if I'm adding correctly). Ack! As my father has told me many times: limit hold'em is a big-card game. Don't get cute with small suited connectors and the like. From late position, with several limpers in front of you, you could consider a call with 57♠. In any other circumstance, this is an auto-muck. The fact that the table was loose makes this more true, not less. The correct response to a loose table is to tighten up and make money from, primarily, superior hand selection.

Finally, I won't presume to offer advice on your life and work in general but, when it comes to poker: study those books, particularly Sklansky & Malmuth. Learn and follow their recommendations on preflop play almost religiously. Don't bounce around between different limits and games too much. Don't do anything stupid, catch some cards, and good luck.

   "Captain Glockenspiel"

P.S. — You might consider posting on the 2+2 forums from time to time. I know that analyzing and discussing lots of hands there has helped me to better understand what ought to go into my decision-making. There are plenty of sarcastic assholes who can be a pain to deal with, but there also many intelligent poker players, worlds better than you or I, who don't mind pointing out and explaing mistakes in a polite why. Besides, even the assholes sometimes give good advice. Cheers.

My Response

Thanks for the comments. Don't apologize; as I've said, I like to listen to criticism. I figure that it's valid, or it's not. If it's not I can ignore it, but if it's valid, I should pay attention.

I can't make Outlook turn off the "quoted" mode, so the rest of my response is a bit jumbled, but your response is still here.

I like my preflop play less with that 57♠ than I did when I wrote that post about losing the big pot. I'm still OK with calling one bet preflop, the table had before this been quite passive and my implied odds if I hit my hand are huge. A case could be made that I played it out of position, but I didn't expect raisers behind me, and we'd seen a number of "family" pots at our full table. However, I'm less happy with my play after the raises. When it came two more bets back to me, it was obvious that the hand would continue with five players, at most, and it was reasonably likely that the bet would be capped behind me. So at this point I was looking at three (small) bets against the 17, at most, that would be in the pot preflop. 17:3, or not quite 6:1, wasn't sufficent odds, even considering postflop action, because if I did get a good flop it would most likely be a draw. And so, I end up agreeing with your assessment, and in fact your advice is how I usually play a suited connector or one-gapper. But if it becomes clear that I'm going to be in a huge pot, I'd generally rather it be with the connectors than with an AA or KK, because I know where I stand with the connectors. I have a monster, or I have garbage.

Although by and large I agree with your suggestion about bouncing around limits (after the fact, of course), I did manage to come up with a motivation for jumping up and down in limits that would be honourable, and that is that one ought to choose the most profitable game. I won't defend my $15/$30 play, but the $5/$10 BBJ tables I've sat were great games. I lost, which might have been simple variance and might have been something deeper. (I tend to the "something deeper," I've heard of too many good players losing their shirts at those BBJ tables. There might be something fundamentally different about the play there that I don't understand yet, and it's even possible that a paranoid explanation is closest to the truth.) By the way, I do understand that I can only use this to justify so much. Much even of the $5/$10 BBJ I've sat is not defensible, even with this rationale.

I've refrained from posting to 2+2 for a couple of reasons. First is the "sarcastic asshole" factor that you mentioned. Second is that I've already got an outlet for my griping about my play. It may appear that I don't post much of late, but Blogger has eaten two attempts to put up a new post. My web site isn't the ideal way to get feedback of the sort available on 2+2, I'll grant, but long posts (like this message) take some time to compose and I'm usually not disposed to tell the same story twice. Third, and probably most important, I'm kind of at the point where I'm not sure what questions to ask. The 2+2 thread has got me a new correspondent who's offered to coach me, and I look forward to that, but I think it will take some time to determine where my fundamental problems lie.

Hmm, I think I said a couple of things in this message that are worthwhile to post more broadly. I'll post both halves of this exchange, although I'll change your name; if you don't have a problem with me posting this I'll happily change it back.

In any case, thanks for the kind words, and don't be a stranger.

  Sunday, October 03, 2004

How to Fix a Computer, by Dave

Wow, this has been an amusing weekend.

Friday, Cactus Dave brought his computer over to play a couple of games, but while we were at dinner we decided that since his computer was so unstable, it would make sense to wipe the hard drive and re-install the operating system. So, after dinner, we went to Circuit City. Dave didn't like that Windows XP cost $200, especially since he already had a copy that he lost, so he bought the Windows XP Upgrade for $100, knowing that we could borrow a Windows 98 to upgrade from.

I don't know if it's possible to detail the entire journey, but it has gone something like this.

1.Plug in Dave's computer.
2.Select the "C" drive and choose "Format."
3.Maybe not. Try it from a DOS prompt.
12.Put Dave's hard drive into my computer.
13.Notice that Norton finds at least six viruses as soon as I turn my computer on with Dave's hard drive installed.
16.Select the "F" drive and choose "Format."
19.Notice that Dave's computer won't boot from the CD.
29.Notice that booting from CD isn't even an option in the BIOS.
34.Download a boot floppy from the Internet.
37.Notice that the boot floppy insists that Dave's computer needs another partition.
38.Create the other partition.
39.Put Dave's hard drive into my computer.
40.Select the "G" drive and choose "Format."
45.Put Dave's hard drive into my computer.
46.Select the "F" drive and choose "Format."
71.Decide you didn't need the extra partition, anyway.
89.Discover that someone else in the house has a disk
of Western Digital utilities.
94.Decide to low-level format the hard drive.
95.Put Dave's hard drive into my computer.
101.Call somebody else in the house to figure out why
the WD disk isn't working.
109.Discover that instead of putting in the WD disk,
you've put in a blank disk.
115.Finally figure out how to low-level format the hard drive.
119.Notice that Dave's computer still won't boot from the CD.
135.Put Dave's hard drive into my "B" computer.
139.Copy my "B" computer's hard drive onto Dave's hard drive.
143.Plug Dave's hard drive into the wrong ribbon cable.
149.Curse the gods for putting different hardware
into Dave's computer than into my "B" computer.
151.Ask everybody in earshot what the hell a NTLDR
is, and why it's missing.
153.Put Dave's hard drive into my computer.
154.Select the "F" drive and choose Format.
171.Copy my "B" computer's hard drive onto Dave's hard drive.
181.Get Windows 98 working well enough on Dave's
computer that he can think about installing Windows XP.
194.Give up on installing Windows XP from Dave's
computer because, once again, Dave's computer can't boot from the CD.
211.Put Dave's hard drive into my "B" computer.
212.Select the "F" drive and choose Format.
215.Copy my "B" computer's hard drive onto Dave's hard drive.
224.Disconnect the hard drive in my "B" computer and
set Dave's hard drive to "Master."
225.Upgrade to Windows XP with Dave's hard drive in my "B" computer.
227.Gaze in amazement at my "B" computer, which has no freaking problem booting off the CD.
231.Put Dave's hard drive back into his computer.
232.Curse the gods for refusing to tell Dave what an
NTLDR is, and why it's missing.
235.Use my computer to look up on the Internet how to
fix a freaking NTLDR whatever-the-hell problem.
252.On the advice of a site probably written by
somebody with as much sense as Dave, create a Windows 98 boot disk.
261.Notice that Windows is now confused, refusing to
load Windows XP because it think's it's Windows 98, and refusing to load
Windows 98 because it thinks it's Windows XP.
270.Put Dave's hard drive into my "B" computer.
271.Select the "F" drive and choose "Format."
275.Copy my "B" computer's hard drive to Dave's hard drive.
284.Upgrade Dave's hard drive to Windows XP.
297.Suffer a "Catastrophic disk failure," pressing
any key to continue.
299.Notice that Dave's BIOS now provides the option of booting from CD.
314.Flummox around in trying to get Dave's computer
to recognize the Internet.
329.Search the Internet for graphics drivers.
335.Discover that Dave's graphics card no longer
works, and that the computer has reverted to the onboard graphics.
336.Eh ... at least he has graphics.
338.Attempt to install Everquest.
339.At "please insert Disk 2," curse the gods that
the Everquest installer crashes.
341.Repeat steps 338-339.
343.Repeat steps 338-339.
349.Install Everquest off an older collection of CD's.
353.Give up, and go home and take a nap.

You may refer to this list whenever you wish to fix your computer, because in only 353 easy steps you'll get so frustrated you'll be driven to taking a nap. Sweet dreams!