Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Schoonemaker's Attributes of a Winning Player

Iggy posted, from Felicia, from "Dr. Al" Schoonemaker (which almost certainly means from 2+2), the attributes of a winning player. I believe I'm above average on all but one of his attributes, which ordinarily I'd have a long discussion with someone in chat to discuss, but it's after 4AM, so not very many people are available to chat. And, chat isn't the best forum anyway for that type of discussion. So, both of my remaining blog readers get to suffer while I justify to myself why I, according to Dr.Al, can (possibly) become an above-average winning player.

1. Extreme self control: No impulsive behavior

I wouldn't say I've got no impulsive behavior, but in a casino environment, it's darn near. I don't really play any of the games in the pit, and since I took up poker my slot play is probably less than $200 lifetime. Over that time I know I've hit one $200 pot, so my slot play since I took up poker might be breakeven. Before I took up poker, in two or three lifetime casino trips I probably lost $500 in slot play.

But there is one way you could make me fail this point: I've "taken shots" at limits I couldn't afford. Longtime readers know I blew my first bankroll "taking shots" at Party's $15/$30. I actually think I could have beaten that game longterm, if I'd had the bankroll to sit it properly, but I didn't, so when a downswing hit, it hit me hard. I will say that I've never sat live play above myself. I've sat $10/$20 four times in my life, and three of them were "taking shots" at the higher level when I was appropriately bankrolled for it. The fourth is excusable as well because it was immediately after posting a big win one of the other times. (My only session win at $10/$20 live, unfortunately.)

2. Ability to concentrate intently: No wandering thoughts

I fail this one miserably. My mind wanders incessantly both live and online. Heck, I'm writing this whilst two-tabling $2/$4 limit. I'm slightly better live because information doesn't come in quite as fast, so I miss less, but I still miss a lot. I can blame ADD if I want, but the fact remains: My concentration sucks.

3. Ability to admit mistakes quickly: And thus terminate them

Yes. Unfortunately I see the mistake after I make it. So my timing's a bit off, here. And too often, I'm not sure how to "terminate" a particular mistake.

4. Ability to depersonalize conflicts: Be objective regardless of personalities involved

More than 95% of the time, this isn't a problem. Obnoxious people are welcome at my table if they're losing. When I do let personalities bother me, is when I don't want to tangle with someone because "he always seems to beat me." Sometimes, that's healthy: If he really is better than me I probably don't want to tangle with him. Sometimes, it's unhealthy, but that's probably just when I'm actually wrong: He doesn't always beat me, but either he or I psych me into believing that.

5. Selective aggressive play at the table

Well, if I'm a winning player, I must be getting this one right most of the time. Not that I have the game mastered by any means, but yes, I can put on my aggressive face.

6. Acceptance of responsibility: Accountability for all your results

I'm probably not the best judge of this. I think I do this—at the poker table at least—but I get this wrong in enough other areas of my life that it might be a problem at the tables, too, and I can't see it.

Gil says that I may get this wrong the other way: Always assuming that a string of poor results is my fault. But once a string of losing sessions gets to three or four, I have difficulty blaming "bad cards" or "suckouts" because it seems that over three or four sessions those ought to start approaching their statistical norms. On the other hand, live especially, we're only talking about 500–800 hands over those three or four sessions, and a bad run could easily last 500–800 hands.

7. Always demanding an edge/advantage before you play

Mostly, see the first paragraph under point one about other casino games.

But this can also be applied to game selection. "If you can't spot the sucker in your first half-hour at the table, then you are the sucker." Where possible, I'm looking for the best table to play at. This is a point in favor of moving west: even if every game is bad today at Casino X, then Casino Y is right next door. When I played yesterday, while I waited for my name to be called I was scoping out each of the $3/$6 games looking for which one I wanted and which to avoid. (I got a new table instead, and it was a decent table.) Online, I probably don't switch tables enough but when I do switch, I'm looking for a table with a high average pot size, and if the site I'm on gives me this information, a large percentage of players seeing the flop on average.

So: I've got this point nailed.

8. Brutal realism: The absence of denial or kidding yourself

Again, I might not be the best judge of this. I consider myself a "small winner," backed up by actual data. I don't see any reason why I can't become a "large winner" in the future, or barring that, build a bankroll big enough to play games where a "small winner" is earning a living.

And maybe a "small winner" is okay. When I played $3/$6 every day, I was earning something like 1.75 BB/c, which translates for live play to a bit under the mystical "one big bet an hour" which they tell us should be our goal for limit play. If I'm a better player than I was then (I don't have an answer for that, I don't have enough hands at any one limit to judge), then 1 BB/h should be doable, and if I can translate that to the middle limits, I'm fine with that.

I'm a small winner now. I'll continue to improve. I'm okay with that.

(I'm trying to insulate myself from possible attacks of "If you think you'll ever make it as a pro, you're kidding yourself. Therefore you fail this point." The first part of that isn't obvious to me: I think it is possible that I'll make it as a pro. That's what this checklist thing is supposed to determine, anyway. But if the first point is true, then yes, I fail this point.)

9. Visible thinking: thinking through and knowing why you made every play

Yes, I know why I made every play. My reasons might be bad, and we can talk about that, but I did have reasons.

10. Ability to learn from your mistakes

Usually, but not always. I first have to recognize that it's a mistake. Next I have to recognize what I should do instead the next time I'm in that situation. And finally I have to actually do that the next time. Point three is the one that takes willpower, and my results are mixed. I'll give myself a 75% here. I have room for improvement.

11. Obsession with winning

I'm not sure that I agree that this should be on the list. Of course I want to win. But I've trained myself for my entire poker career to look beyond this hand and this session, so on any particular day, to say I have an "obsession" with winning is probably—almost certainly—overstating things.

What Dr.Al might mean by this is enough dedication to winning to spend much time in studying the game. I do read the literature, but I have to say that I don't "study" it, because I don't really know what that means. I never had to do it in school, so I don't know how or what we're talking about, now. That said, there are things I want to do to and with the literature that I haven't done. If I can call that "study," then I might get only a 50–60% grade on this point.

12. Ability to make adjustments based on observations; adapability

Yes. Do I do it enough? Probably not, see point two. But I do adjust my strategy based on my opponents' observed characteristics. I'll give myself a 100% within the limits of my attention span, but if I don't account for that, then it might drop as low as 20%.

As far as this point applies to the long view, I don't have to account or adjust for anything. If people stop playing Holdem and start playing Whackem-Slappem, well, that's what I'll learn, if that's where the fish are. I like being an iconoclast, but I like fish, more. The same is true of the migration over the last year from fish generally playing Limit, to fish generally playing No-Limit. I've been playing a lot of No-Limit to follow them. I suspect other changes of these types, I can and will adjust to as easily.

My overall score on this checklist is probably above 80%, which isn't bad. I wish I didn't fail point two so miserably, but there isn't much I can do about that. (A shrink gave me a free sample of the latest-greatest ADD treatment. I didn't notice an effect, but possibly I had the dose too low. He wanted me to ease into it to find the proper dose. In any case, I didn't notice an effect.)

I don't have anything great to say here now. The checklist doesn't "prove" anything, but I found it interesting, so I wanted to post my response to it. And now I have. Umm, yay?

  Sunday, July 24, 2005

I'm Even Dreaming about Bad Beats

In the midst of poor performance online, I've taken to dreaming about bad beats.

Oh, this isn't truly a bad-beat story, more like a bad-luck story, and it isn't real anyway. I'm playing in a room that looks like someone's library, and in my mind it's a tournament, but it doesn't have to be, we're simply heads-up. My opponent is middle-aged and skinny, not someone I recognize at all, which would tend to indicate that this is a tournament rather than someone's home game.

I have pocket Queens, and decide to limp in (this is a dream, remember). He points behind him, where all of his chips are sitting on a windowsill. That's a little odd, but we're headsup, so what the hell. His chips are the pale blue of the $1 chips at Soaring Eagle in Mt.Pleasant, which is also odd, but in a tournament, chips seem to be colored almost randomly once you get above the $100 denomination. Anyway, pointing to his chips seems to indicate he's all-in, so I call instantly, feeling like I trapped him, and he says, "Good." He then turns over pocket Kings.

That's why it's not really a bad-beat story; I'm behind the whole way. But I'm behind a whole lot more when the flop comes QKK, leaving me with a full house but still drawing dead. Of course, if this was a tournament, second place would still pay me a goodly sum, but that part isn't in my dream.

And, in the Real World ...

I've been so close at Noble Poker. I've run my online stake as high as $970, which is really damned close to the $1000–$1200 I said I'd need to head west. But then the cards started turning against me, or I stopped playing with confidence, or something; I started heading south, and have been below $200 a couple of times. I'm now at about $300, and I'm a little shell-shocked. I may play a tournament or two tonight but overall I think I need to take a break from poker for a day or two, get my confidence back.

I've got to be close to working off my deposit bonus at Noble by now, which makes my decline all the worse: I'd be broke now if it weren't for the bonus. But after it's worked off I'll probably head back to Party, or maybe a skin if there's a good bonus (I've used BONUSJUL already), merely on the basis of game selection: I want more than one or two games at a particular limit. And I've never had trouble running up a bankroll at Party's $25NL, at least not in the last few months, so my confidence should be there.

I've been "two weeks away" from moving west for almost a month now. And now I still find myself two weeks away. Wow, I've invented a time machine!

  Friday, July 22, 2005

A Non-Über Post

"Johnny Chan, the guy featured in the Matt Damon/Ben Affleck ode to poker, Rounders, busted out early on."

-from this article at AsianWeek.com

Funny, I missed Ben Affleck in that . . . or are we assuming any movie with Damon must have Affleck in it, too?

  Thursday, July 14, 2005

Drowning in the Little River

When Gil offered to stake me for some live poker on Sunday, I readily accepted, especially when he suggested that we go to Little River Casino in Manistee, Mich., which is still my favorite room even if it isn't the closest, and doesn't offer the best game selection. Time and again I was reminded why.

As we usually do on the way up, we called when we were 45 minutes or so from the casino, to get on the lists for games; Jeremy (poker room manager) recognized my voice and readily added Gil and I to his lists. This, after we haven't been there for a good six months (although I have bumped into him in Mt.Pleasant, where he plays $6/$12 from time to time). There was one game going when we got there, and we were waiting for a couple more names to be added to the lists before he opened a second $4/$8 game.

When he did, I found myself to the left of a fellow (who introduced himself as "Jim Heck, just like it sounds, Heck") who was a registered maniac. Whether he bet, raised, or folded seemed almost random, and often he'd do one of those entirely blind—if, for example, he was still stacking chips, or just sitting back down after hearing about his wife's latest $30 win at the slots.

But I wasn't getting the cards to take advantage of it. I'd get the occasional baby pair (that missed), but my only raiseable hands for the first two hours were on the order of ATo or AJo, which also totally missed. Fortunately the action was such that I didn't put any money into the pot postflop, so that even while I bled chips for the two hours it took to win my first pot, I never really took a big hit, and I don't think I went into the extra $40 Gil handed me (on top of $120). My cards never improved by a whole lot, but the first hand I won (excluding one chop of the blinds when Jim Heck was away from the table) was when I had Tens and hit my set. It's the only hand I remember; I hit a couple of top pairs that I kept betting into Jim Heck, probably, but when Gil was ready to go, I was $4 or $6 short of even. On the one hand, I was down a few bucks. On the other hand, Jim Heck was buying beers for the table, and I was the only one to take him up on it (until just before we left), so I got four or five free beers to make up for the $5ish I lost.

All this time, Jim Heck was catching unlikely two-pair and straight hands (although none against me, I wasn't in enough hands), and when he left the game he was ahead between $200 and $300, out of a $4/$8 game. He is/was a good guy, personable; I'm sure he thought he knew more about poker than he actually did, and some of his stories were off just enough that it grated on me, but he more than made up for it by giving the table action, and buying me free beers. (Michigan liquor laws prohibit commercial enterprises from giving away alcohol, so the casinos here charge for beer. At Little River they charge reasonably (less than $2 for a draft); at the other Lower Peninsula casinos it's more like bar prices ($3 to $5 for a draft).

I really haven't gone into how great this casino's staff is. As I said, Gil and I haven't been to this casino in six months (since the Invitational tournament in, I'm guessing, January), but two or three dealers told me, "We haven't seen you in a while," and one of the pit bosses (who used to deal poker) actually remembered a joke I told over a year ago.

I don't remember whether I wrote up that joke when it happened, but it amuses me to remember it, so I'll (re?)record it here: I was playing late at night, and a gal a couple of years younger than me sat down and started playing, and was chatty and personable, so of course we were chatty and personable with one another. (Ahh, if Gil wasn't my ride that day . . . but I digress.) Some board card fell, probably one that completed several possible draws, and she said, "Well, that changes the water on that bean." I immediately launched into a (good-natured) tirade about how that wasn't a real saying, and probably continued on into a discussion of the decline of American literacy. Then, a couple of hands later, when a random card fell, I shouted, "Well, slap the turtle and call it Wednesday, look at that card!" After the entire table got over laughing at what a wacky-ass thing that was to say, I of course explained that her thing wasn't a real saying either, so why was my thing so funny? Oh well . . . maybe you had to be there.

During our play this Sunday, we learned that Little River, who has dealt tournaments on Monday and Tuesday afternoons for a year or so, recently changed the Tuesday tournament to No-Limit. The blinds start a little higher, but you start with more chips, and the rebuys are collapsed into a single $25 add-on anytime in the first hour. Gil would have had to stake me, but I thought that one or the other of us was pretty sure to money the tournament, so I suggested that it was probably a good plan just from an investment standpoint. He relented, and we came up again Tuesday.

I was accumulating chips rapidly due to above-average cards during the first hour, but then I got bad-beat; I had Kings, made a normal raise and was called, the flop came Ten-high, I made a 2/3–to–3/4 pot-sized bet, he shoved, I called, and it developed that he had Ace-Queen: He had just over three outs to beat me. That "just over" was the important bit, since a King hit the turn and a Jack the river, meaning his Broadway straight beat my Set of Kings. I was crippled but not out; with the blinds increasing I had to pick a hand, though. I let my big blind pass, but when I limped out of the small blind with Ten-Seven, and the flop came Ten-High, I shoved. I was called by Ace-Nine of Hearts, who had a flush draw and an overcard, so it was pretty much a race. (Cardplayer.com says the advantage was mine, 54% to 46%, which comports with my intuition.) He hit his flush on the river and I was out.

Gil did a bit better, reporting at the second break that he was the chip leader at his table, but when I wandered back to the tournament area he was in blind trouble, just before they combined down to the final table (nine places paid). Gil got a good draw when they redrew for the button at the final table, which makes his bubble finish (tenth) a bad deal: It folded to him, he had Ace-Two of Hearts, he shoved, but the small blind had Tens and Gil didn't improve. At least two other short stacks had to pay the blinds before Gil, so if Gil folded there he was virtually certain to limp into the money.

It took them a while to start the $1/$2 no-limit game that usually goes after the tournament, long enough that Jim Heck didn't end up staying around (dammit). When they did, it was a standard low-buyin no-limit game, without an appreciable fish most of the time, though. I still wonder about this hand: I raised in late-position with King-Jack of Clubs, got a caller or two. The flop came with two Clubs (and maybe a King or a Jack, I don't remember), it checked to me, and I bet. One caller. The turn was the third Club, and my opponent bet $15 (an underbet). I made it $45, and he called. The river was a blank, and my opponent immediately went all-in for $140 (I had about $220 left at this point). Well, I didn't have the nuts, I had the second nuts, so after much hemming and hawing, I eventually folded. Discussion after the fact leads me to believe I probably made a mistake, but he might have had it, and I'd be kicking myself more for $140 lost, than I am for $140 not won. And I still wonder about that hand.

Holding the Pit . . . or, umm, something

One final thing I'll mention before I leave the subject of Little River: In the pit they've placed a Texas Holdem table game. It took Gil and I a lot of figuring to determine what the house edge actually was at the game; it appears to be effectively a headsup hand against the dealer, and the dealer doesn't fold. Before receiving cards, the player places an "ante" and possibly a "bonus" bet. The Bonus bet is horrible, paying (for example) 30:1 if the player is dealt two Aces (which is the best payout). There are other payouts, but if they're all individually bad bets, the total bet is bad. When Gil sat down he wisely refrained from placing the Bonus bet. After placing his bets, the player is dealt his two cards, whereupon he can fold or place a "flop" bet of double his "ante" bet. My intuition says that this requirement says that you fold all but the top third of holdem hands, but my intuition might be misleading me. In any case, the actual players generally placed the flop bet with any two cards.

After the dealer places the flop, the player can "check" or place a "turn" bet equal to the Ante, and after the dealer places the turn, the player can again check or place a "river" bet equal to the Ante. The dealer then places the river, opens his hand, reads it, then goes around the table reading the players' hands. If the dealer's hand beats the player's, all bets (except possibly the Bonus) are losers. If the player's hand beats the dealer's, then the flop, turn, and river bets are paid at 1:1, and if the player's hand is a Flush or better, the Ante is also paid at 1:1. (The ante might be paid better for better hands, but I don't think so. We never saw a hand better than a full house, which if it pays better probably pays the ante at 2:1.)

It's this last, Gil and I determined, that provides the house edge against perfect play. If the dealer beats the player, the player always loses the ante. But to be paid on the ante, the player must have a flush or better. This probably results in a significant edge against perfect play, because it seems that the flop, turn, and river bets are essentially even-money propositions. It occurs to me now that the house gets an additional edge if the player folds or checks when he would have received a winning hand, but I don't know how the player defends against that edge. In any case, it's a normal pit game: a large house edge that can't be overcome even in theory. But there were several players watching the action every time I passed that table.

Soaring with the Eagles

After I suggested to Gil a couple of times that he'd probably want to go to Manistee again after his gig in Evart the next day, and Gil insisting the opposite, he surprised me by suggesting that we instead go to Mt.Pleasant and Soaring Eagle casino. It was a particular surprise because we haven't done well there, for the last few months. I have a couple of theories as to why, but the short version is that we haven't. So he does his normal kids' show at Evart's tiny library, and we head down to Mt.Pleasant. (We took a wrong turn in Clare, but we figured that out soon enough.) After a wait of 30 minutes or so (you can't call ahead in Mt.Pleasant, another reason it's my least-fevorite room), we get our seats in $3/$6 games.

I draw a great table. Most of the players there were decent players, but one, with about $400 in front of him, is my favorite type to see at the table: predictably loose-aggressive. I had my A-game against him, which involved a lot of three-betting to isolate, and a lot of check-calling from there on. I got lucky against him once (rivering a flush) but mostly I was playing better cards and playing them smarter. This got me out to a huge win early, and I improved only slightly after that, but when he went broke most of his $400 was in front of me. He left in a huff, claiming that he's never lost at poker before. That's almost certainly not true, of course, but his aggressive style has probably bought him a lot of pots against people who don't adjust to it. I will say, though, that my win wasn't entirely due to my genius; my cards were running above average, and my blind hands hit a couple of flops hard. There was only one hand I think I played badly and it wasn't against Mr. Maniac, but a solid player who was accumulating chips slowly. In all, I finished +$358, and Gil only asked for $150 of my win, so I profited above $200—and even that +$200 is the best I've done at Mt.Pleasant in months.

Home Games: Pete the Dragon

I'll have to come up with a better name for Pete, and for the game, but for now this works. Gil was chatting a couple of months ago with a player on PartyPoker who, it turned out, had a home game on Grand Rapids' northeast side, which we were invited to. It's typical: a $20 rebuy tournament, maybe two, followed by cash games (generally $1/$2 dealer's choice no-limit). There's even a player or two from the other northeast-side game we've been to, a $1/$2 PLH game that kicked both of our asses. But this game is a lot friendlier and a lot more relaxed, and when the host and a couple of his compatriots start in on the pot, a good deal easier, too. I haven't partaken of the cash games yet (hrmm, maybe once, I remember doing so once, don't remember if it was this game), but I'm something like 4 for 7 for moneying in the tournaments, well ahead. And we go back tonight, so maybe I'll have another "trip" report to post. As if this post wasn't long enough.

  Saturday, July 09, 2005

Noble Poker: A First Impression

I ended up abandoning Full Tilt's deposit bonus as too difficult to work off at the limits I was playing; I may return later when I can play higher.

Iggy advised me that Noble Poker's deposit bonus (100% to $700 or to $800 thru Iggy) was easier to work off, and in theory, it is. Every hand you're dealt into at $1/$2 blinds or higher earns you four "crowns," which are worth 2¢ apiece in terms of working off bonus. Since $1/$2 NL is a little high for me, given my current bankroll, I turned to what used to be one of my old standbys: $2/$4 limit.

While there are usually a couple of 6max games of $2/$4 going, 6max drives me buggy; it's very high-variance and too difficult to play on autopilot. Noble only has two tables of full-ring $2/$4 that they ever spread, but it's actually unusual for there to be more than one of them full. Often neither $2/$4 full-ring is going. So, getting the 5000 hands of $2/$4 I'd need to work off my bonus, is proving to be harder than it should be.

The games themselves are most similar to PartyPoker, although the differences are almost all in PartyPoker's favor. The graphics are perhaps a little crisper at Noble, and you can choose among maybe ten avatars, but most of the comparisons between Noble and Party are going to favor Party. Noble doesn't spam its players in chat and with popups; that's one thing in Noble's favor.

The best thing about Noble are the players: They're horrible. I've had some horrible beats put on me, especially today, but I've also been paid off for as many as ten extra bets when I've flopped the nuts. There are some good players—and when there are less than 100 regular $2/$4 limit players I meet a lot of them—but there are also some truly horrible ones. I wonder if this applies to no-limit as well?

I'm still ahead at Noble, even with today's horrible beats, but not by as much as I was yesterday; now I probably need $500-$600 before I can head west.

  Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Full Tilt Poker: A Second Impression

At first I thought I wouldn't like Full Tilt Poker. But who can complain about a 100% initial deposit match? Well, I can complain, it turns out, but my overall second impression of the room turns out to be positive. (My first impression was some time ago, before they even offered real-money games, I think. But I don't really remember anything about that, so perhaps the first impression was: it didn't make one.)

Regular readers know I'm comparing Full Tilt (FTP) mainly to the two other sites I've played extensively, PartyPoker and DoylesRoom. I've also played a bit of fake-money poker at UltimateBet.

One of the first things I noticed at FTP, of course, was that they seat nine-handed games, for Holdem and Omaha. So do many other rooms, but since PartyPoker, where I've played a few hundred thousand hands now, they seat 10-handed tables, and every casino I've played in has sat ten-handed tables, so nine-handed tables seem wrong. A practical reason for this is that, surprisingly, one has to keep a much closer eye on how many people are sitting out or gone, because the game thus goes short more often.

The avatars seemed like a neat idea to the programmers, I'm sure, and there are twenty or thirty to choose from (who can smile or growl with your mood), but generally speaking the avatars interfere with being able to quickly tell who's still got cards in front of him. Turning the avatars off eliminates that problem, especially if you use one of the alternate (plainer) cardbacks. At PartyPoker the avatars are fairly unobtrusive, but I turned them off anyway; at DoylesRoom the avatars are more like unobtrusive lapel pins, but they provide no facility (that I know of) for turning them off.

On the subject of the graphics, the cards at FTP are readable, but not as easily as the other two sites. The cards are physically smaller, so there are fewer pixels in which to draw a large easy-to-read index. I suppose, though, that if the index were larger, the actual design of the card would be squished too far into the opposite corner, given the room that would be left to them. The window overall is the same size as on the other sites; I wonder why the cards needed to be smaller?

The final thing I'll say about the graphics is that the odd design on the lower part of the lobby screen looks like an "artist's rendition" of an airport terminal. What does that have to do with poker, I wonder?

One thing that FTP does WAY better than PartyPoker is that their lobby screen is always up-to-the-minute, or, more accurately, to the second; one doesn't have the experience at FTP of clicking a table only to find it full when you get there. Tournament info is equally up-to-date; I had the nice experience of watching the number of registrants for an upcoming freeroll tick up, quickly, one-by-one. PartyPoker is particularly bad at this; their big freeroll every day generally jumps from zero registrants up to 750 or so once registrations open for it.

My main complaint is one that's my fault, really. I could have determined this from the fine print on the site. But it turns out that one works the 100% bonus match off, dependent on how much rake your tables pay. For every dollar the table pays in rake, you work off six cents in bonus. So, if I win one out of nine hands at the nine-handed tables, I need to pay $515 in rake to work off my bonus. Playing $25max no-limit, it's working out to about $15.75 that I'm working off per thousand hands. It'd work off faster if I was playing higher, but I don't have the bankroll for that at the moment. And maybe not the skill.

Game selection is good (I haven't seen another site dealing Razz), but the actual number of games is far from PartyPoker standards. It's this more than anything that's making me consider switching my bankroll back to PartyPoker. I understand it's 7AM, but I'm two-tabling right now because there aren't three tables of $25max NLH.

I'll probably only play a couple hundred more hands today, enough to earn the first $20 of bonus match. It's a breakeven day, is all. I'll probably continue on Full Tilt tomorrow, and if I'm not well positive tomorrow, I'll switch to another site. Possibly back to PartyPoker, possibly to a site offering a deposit bonus that's a little easier to work off. But if I am well positive tomorrow, I'll stick with FTP for the moment, because a $400 stake I consider enough to move from $25max NLH to $50max NLH (as long as I'm willing to step back down if need be).

My expectation is still that I have $1000 to $1200 within two weeks, so that I can begin making plans to move west and get a job there.

  Sunday, July 03, 2005

Still Crazy after All These Years

While I'm broke, the blog is up at its old Blogspot URL. This breaks most of the art and a lot of the links, but hopefully it's temporary ... the next couple of months probably.

I'm still broke. But getting a job here still depresses me to the point that I'd rather hang myself than do that. (Actually, I'd take a job here dealing in a casino ... but the nearest casino is not only ninety minutes away, but they don't hire dealers from outside.)

My current plan is to scrape together enough that I can move west and get a dealing job there. I think that riding the rims for a while, I can do it with $1000 to $1200. None of that is bankroll; I essentially wouldn't be playing until I'd got a paycheck or two.

I've been stymied for how to get that $1000 to $1200, though. Even getting a job here for the two months or so it would take to amass that, is extremely distasteful to me, so I haven't done it. I'm upside-down on my car, the only asset I have (which means I guess it's not an asset). I don't think I have $1000 worth of stuff to Ebay. And without a stake, I can't poker my way up to $1000.

But DoylesRoom still gives these pennies away. Not as many as they did when they were a new site, but they do. I was able to run those pennies up to a few bucks, occasionally approaching $20, but never really a lot. Then last week I sat at a 5¢/10¢ Pot-Limit Omaha/8 table, on a lark, with $2. I lost most of it in a few hands so I put another $2 on the table. Then I hit a big hand, and never really looked back. When I stood up, I had put together $95 or so, which is pretty nice off of a $4 buyin. It's no 39¢-into-$250 day like I had last year, but it's pretty nice.

I sat just long enough the next day to get over $100 ... which took a while; I still don't really have a handle on Omaha. Then I popped that out and into PartyPoker (for a $20 bonus, whee!) mainly for increased game selection. It can be difficult to multitable at Doyle's because there is often only one game going at a specified game and limit. Also their interface's annoying pop-to-front all the time means mistyped bets and mistyped chat are common.

I was planning on running my stake up at PartyPoker, but that $20 bonus made me realize that I can make bonus whoring a significant part of my climb. Thus I shall do, working off bonuses and hopefully turning profits, so that assuming I'm above breakeven I should be able to take advantage of two 100% matches and be at my goal.

I'm not so sure I'm a +EV player at limit holdem, though. The first item of evidence is that when I've played live recently, my $3/$6 play has been mostly negative. I think I'm actually down in (limited) live play for 2005. Then, after blowing a buyin at Party's $25max PLO8, I sat two tables (or was it three?) of 50¢/$1 limit holdem. After twelve hundred hands of average (or a tick above) cards, I was down fifteen bets. That's the second item of evidence. I could discount my live-play results as small sample size, and playing each time with a stake that couldn't weather ordinary in-game variance (generally $100 into a $3/$6 game), both exacerbating simple variance. I can't ignore 1200 hands of breakeven play with average to above-average cards at a limit where I really should be very +EV. I have concluded that my limit game has gone to pot, and begun going back into Miller's Small-Stakes Holdem. (On the other hand, it's possible that the concepts therein is what drove my limit game into the crapper in the first place, that I'm imperfectly applying the concepts in the book.)

So, I've turned to the builder of my last stake, $25max No-Limit Holdem, and it's gone okay. Not brilliantly, but okay. I should hit the $200 I figured I'd take to a 100%-match site, sometime today. (Actually, it'll probably end up better than $200, since I'm probably not going to make a mid-day site switch—withdrawals to NeTeller aren't speedy enough for that.)

I made an obvious mistake with my last online stake—at least, it's obvious if I'm −EV at limit holdem. When I got enough for a live-play stake, generally $100, I took it up to Mt.Pleasant to play. This left my online stake in such an enervated state that one bad session would kill it, which of course happened. That left me where I am now, resolved to give up live play until I have the stake I need. (The only “local” casino regularly dealing $100max NLH is in Detroit, nearly three hours away, although two others, as far or farther, deal $200max.)

What all this says is that I expect within about two weeks to have the stake I need to head west. Still, that's riding the rims for a while, as I said; I'd pretty much need to get a job immediately. There are a number of things I need to find out about that, including whether extensive experience as a poker player is enough to get one a job as a poker dealer. I'll talk to somebody's HR office (or maybe their poker staff) before I head out there, because a detour through dealer school would be distressing ... not only would I need a way to pay for that, but I'd need to find a way to keep eating while I was at dealer school. On the plus side, the timing will be right for me in that the Las Vegas Hilton appears to be opening a poker room in August, so they'll be hiring a number of dealers.

Assuming I do in fact make it out there, this blog will become (I think) at least as interesting as when I first turned pro, because it'll be new, and because of the riding-the-rims aspect of the early going. When I go back and read old entries of the blog, the ones as I was turning pro are clearly the most interesting. And this (probably) future time only a couple of weeks away, could be as interesting.