Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Week Eight Wrapup

My overall concern continues, but I've seen some positive signs.

Chief among them is that a minor change in strategy is having some payoffs. Over the last couple of days I've removed KJ, KT, QJ, QT from my repertoire of playing hands, except under extreme conditions (basically, when I want to take the blinds with them). Yes, I miss a few pots by not playing them, but I miss a few pots by not playing 83o, too. What it has done for me is reduced my variance. The last couple of days' online play has been more of a steady build, and less feast or famine (and mostly famine). I think I've been losing too many bets by "taking a look at a flop" with a hand I can't love even if I hit it.

Associated with this is a pledge that's been more difficult to keep. I want to stop taking off a card when the flop misses me totally. Overcards isn't enough of a draw, for the same reason as above: I can't love my hand even if I hit it. This I'm struggling with, because playing AK to a ragged rainbow board is something I still have trouble getting right.

Another change I think I need to make is to stop going to the casino on the weekend. Not that I do horribly there, although I play too many hands out of boredom, but I'm playing a higher-variance, usually higher-stakes game, and missing out on the best time to make money online. Gil usually wants to go to the casino on the weekend, because he has a business to run during the week, but we've gone on weekday evenings before, and I'm OK with that.

This week's numbers:

Date Location Time Stakes Results Notes
3/23 PP Tbl 11309 9:00P-12:25$3/$6 160.50 Rebuy
PP Tbl 12795 9:00P-11:30$3/$6 81.50
PP Tbl 12187 9:00P-3:15 $3/$6 + 95.00
PP MTT 11:30PM NL 11.00 Finish: 13/399
PP A nony loves winners12:30A-1:30$3/$6 98.50
PP Tbl 12687 1:35A-2:05 $3/$6 0
Total for 3/23: –256.50
3/24 PP Brownies 11:20P-12:25$3/$6 + 158.00
PP Tbl 13071 11:20P-2:35 $3/$6 32.50
PP Connecting Vibes11:20P-12:50$3/$6 104.00 Many 2d-best hands; rebuy
PP Tbl 12535 12:30A-4:10 $3/$6 + 161.67
PP Tbl 11187 12:50A-2:25 $3/$6 21.25
PP Tbl 12117 2:25A-3:25 $3/$6 76.50 A couple stupid plays
PP Bellarista 2:15A-4:10 $3/$6 19.50 Hdouble's seat
PP Tbl 12637 3:25A-4:15 $3/$6 + 130.00
Total for 3/24: +195.92
3/25 PP Tbl 12660 9:10P-12:55 $3/$6 + 183.25
PP Gallopin gooseberry9:10P-9:35$3/$6 59.00
PP Dunkin Dough 9:10P-1:30 $3/$6 1.00
PP Dasire plus 9:40P-1:25 $3/$6 + 199.75
PP Tbl 12791 1:00A-1:30 $3/$6 + 14.00
PP MTT 3:00AM NL 55.00 Finish: 163/272 (No cards)
Total for 3/25: +282.00
3/26 PP On the rocks 12:40A-12:50$3/$6 8.00
PP Pirates Cove 12:40A-2:15 $3/$6 134.00 Rebuy
PP Tbl 12164 12:40A-12:55$3/$6 + 18.00
PP Gold Canyon 12:50A-4:10 $3/$6 + 99.00
PP Mona Lisa 12:55A-4:30 $3/$6 259.50 Rebuy
PP Las vegas players2:15A-4:30$3/$6 48.00
Total for 3/26: –332.50
3/27 Little River 10:30A-5:30 $4/$8 114.00 Gil was +$505
Total for 3/27: –114.00
3/28 PP Riffle the Chips5:40A-6:00 $3/$6 + 42.50
PP Multiplicity 5:40A-6:30 $3/$6 45.50
PP Tbl 11132 5:40A-6:30 $3/$6 22.00
PP Bohemian Rhapsody6:00A-6:30$3/$6 32.25
Soaring Eagle 10A-11A $3/$6 + ~60.00 I'm glad we went, but online would have been better
Soaring Eagle 11A-6:00 $6/$12 120.00
Total for 3/28: –117.25
3/29 PP over the horizon4:30A-4:55 $3/$6 36.00
(morn)PP Gallopin gooseberry4:30A-5:05$3/$6+ 147.50
PP Dasire plus 4:30A-9:50 $3/$6 + 283.50
PP Autumn Breeze 5:00A-5:30 $3/$6 + 13.50
PP Tbl 12187 5:05A-8:20 $3/$6 134.50 Rebuy
PP Push and Pull 5:30A-7:05 $3/$6 + 7.50
PP Tbl 12626 7:05A-9:50 $3/$6 100.50
PP Gold Canyon 8:25A-9:50 $3/$6 50.00
3/29 PP Tbl 11409 9:45P-10:10$3/$6 22.00
(eve.)PP Tbl 12280 9:45P-1:00 $3/$6 + 117.00
PP Rubberband 9:45P-10:05$3/$6 + 20.00
PP Make a break 10:05P-12:55$3/$6 + 68.00
PP Tbl 12164 10:10P-11:05$3/$6 2.50
PP Tbl 12324 11:05P-1:05 $3/$6 109.50 Rebuy
Total for 3/29: +202.00
Total for Week Eight: –140.33
Cumulative Weeks 4–8: +574.56

  Monday, March 29, 2004

Casey at the Felt

(Copyright ©2004 by Dan Marsh, with thanks to Ernest L. Thayer)

With the DH rule now in effect they were the Mudville Ten
That gathered 'round the felt one day to try their luck again.

It happened only seldom they had ought to do at night,
So Mudville Farms Casino was where they took their fight.

Six hours in, the stacks were tall, the chips were clacking loud,
And the mighty hitter Casey was attracting quite a crowd.

He'd toss his chips in toward the pot and roar his booming laugh,
And his opponents always folded, or maybe dragged in half.

Then Cooney busted out at last, and Barrows did the same,
Tossed their cards in forcefully, accursing Casey's name.

The railbirds now looked hungry; their faced were alight,
Something glinted in their eyes as they saw the players' fright.

"Finish them!" they shouted, together all as one,
While the players ('cepting Casey) no longer played for fun.

Finally they saw their chance as they looked upon their cards,
And then began the hand which is still sung about by bards.

Jimmy Blake was dealt two Kings, Aces got old Flynn,
Yes, finally, they saw a hand that Casey wouldn't win.

Casey didn't seem to sense his teammates had enough,
He chose the wrong time, it would seem, to run a hopeless bluff.

So when Flynn raised a hundred, and so did Jimmy Blake,
Casey thought an all-in bet was what a bluff would take.

The crowd, they cheered together, when Casey boomed "All-In!"
No thought was in their minds but how much Casey would drag in.

But Flynn and Blake leapt up as one, yelled "Call!" for all to hear,
And some that gathered on the rail swear Casey's eyes showed fear.

The dealer counted out the chips, and boy, there were a lot,
But more than chips were now at stake when personal it got.

The crowd, they sneered at Blake, they were sure that he would lose,
And not a one would give a dime to stand there in Flynn's shoes.

But still the hand, it must be played, and for the hand to go,
The dealer had to ask each man for both his cards to show.

Flynn flipped his Aces up with glee, let out a hateful yell,
While Blake let out a sigh and turned his Kings both up as well.

Shock registered on Casey's face, which quickly turned to hate.
The crowd then saw him turn a Jack; there followed then an Eight.

One couldn't think then in the room, the shout was loud and strong.
The crowd knew what the odds were, and the odds were surely long.

The dealer rapped the table, dealt three cards face-down,
And as he flipped them over, all leaned in around,

To see a Three, an Eight, a Six, harmless cards all three,
For though Casey'd made a Pair of Eights, his fate was not to be.

A Pair of Aces stared at him, and still a Pair of Kings;
And Flynn, his Aces strong, they were, still felt a joy that sings.

The dealer rapped the felt again, and turned a card once more,
And all there leaned in once again to see a harmless Four.

The crowd, they looked at Casey, and saw him cold as ice,
While Flynn was cackling gleefully in a way that wasn't nice.

And some of them were saddened, to see a hero fall,
And others there were sickened, to see Flynn standing tall.

For Casey was the reason they were standing at the rail,
And those who called him "hero" weren't there to see him fail.

So as the dealer rapped the felt, there rose a great tumult,
As the crowd pushed in upon the rail to see the hand's result.

Oh, somewhere in a cardroom cards are falling as they should,
And money flows from poorer players steadily to good,

And in another cardroom, patience is the rule,
For playing Jack-Eight Offsuit will make one a Royal Fool.

But an Eight just fell in Mudville:
Mighty Casey has sucked out.

(Permission is granted to link to this poem, but republication rights are not granted without prior consent of the author. Contact dmarsh3000 AT hotmail DOT com for information.)

  Saturday, March 27, 2004

More on Tournaments

First of all, I did in fact end up more than $250 up yesterday. Up $337, I decided to play that $50+5 Multitable tournament ... was that a mistake.

I shouldn't have played because I had a buddy over, and I was distracted, as I should have known I would be. And I really didn't get any starting hands to speak of. In the whole 30 or 45 minutes I played, I got 99 in late position fairly early on, but that didn't turn into anything, because (predictably) all overcards came. And a bit later I got AQ in late position, but just as I hit "raise," planning on taking the blinds, I started having connection problems. I think they were on my end this time, or at least, not PartyPoker's end, because of the way "Trace" responded on PP's network status window. The raise didn't seem to be recorded, because I still had my all-in protection and someone else seems to have won the hand.

Finally, having never won a hand, and the blinds plus that 99 having knocked me down to around 400 when the average stack was up to four times that, coupled with my increasing distraction and frustration, lead me to push all in in middle position with 44. Predictably, I lost the hand, and went out 163d of 272, having never won a hand of a tournament I shouldn't have been in.

But more on yesterday's topic. For those who don't read the comments people leave to my posts, Hdouble points out that luck plays a much bigger factor in tournaments, because if a player goes all-in an 80% favorite five times, he has only a one-in-three chance of surviving all five chances. My response was that this is true, but even so, the skilled player is going to get into the money more than the unskilled player even if he doesn't get into the money today. Tournaments are indeed high-variance—but my theory means that your paydays more than make up for your losses if you're one of the top 30% of the players in the tournament, and probably if you're in the top 50%.

Johnny Flopboot asks whether I've considered the single-table tourneys, STT's, the Sit'n'Go tournaments that run pretty much constantly on all of the poker sites. Well, yes, I have. When I first started playing poker online for real money, they were primarily what I played, PartyPoker's $5 and $10 no-limit single-table tourneys. Later in my amateur career, I played more limit tourneys, $5, $10, and a number of $30 tourneys. My performance was good but not great. Looking at the STT's I have records for, going back to January 7, I finished 2 3 2 3 9 1 1 2 1 5 5 7 5 4 1 1 8 8 2 5 7 7 | 3 7 6 3 9. The | marks the beginning of my professional career, which I date from February 3, so you can see I played far more STT's before I turned pro. Those tournaments are at several different buyins. Mostly $10 tourneys before February, they became qualifiers to bigger tourneys afterward. But assuming they were all $10+1, then (doing the math) I earned $113 at these or $418 apiece. In other words, for each $11 I spent I earned $1518. (Actually, it's $1518.518518518 · · ·, but who's counting?)

Okay, so I've reached a conclusion regarding the STT's that I didn't expect. For that, JohnnyFlopboot, I thank you. I find but a single $30+3 STT in my records, in which I placed seventh (it's one of the 7's right before the | ), but I wonder, if I got in practice at STT's again, if that expectation would hold true. If so, I could expect about $13 in profit for each $30 tourney I play.

I think I all but gave up the STT's because they are high-variance, as Hdouble points out, and a pro shouldn't engage in high-variance play. But I don't forego all high-variance play. I'll play a suited one-gapper under some conditions, even though they're about 7-to-1 against flopping anything useful, because it's a profitable play even if it's high-variance. So why my reluctance to jump back into the STT's?

I think it's the "exaltation of the grinder," which is such a good phrase I should trademark it. The grinder, the true pro, plays low- to middle-limit poker, earns his one big bet an hour, maybe a bit more online, and that's his living. Tournaments aren't grinding, they're "going for the big score," part of "rolling up a stake and going to Vegas," to quote "Rounders." I'm not immune to that—witness my play in the multi-table tournaments—but to rely strictly on tournament play seems to go against the grinder ethos, notwithstanding the results of Chicago Phil. (Hmm, the "grinder ethos" ... I bet someone has an entry in his archives where he quantified exactly what is the grinder ethos. If not, maybe I'll do it.)

But this little dive into the records shows that my belief is unfounded, that tournaments—limit tournaments at least—are profitable. I wish I had records of my $30+3 STT's; I've played about a dozen. I know I've had one really good session with them, and I know I've had a bad run with them. I wish I knew how they balanced out.

Oh, wait, I know PP keeps a record of account activity; depending how far back it goes I might be able to find out. . . . Okay, that wasn't very helpful; the log only goes back a single day. But it was a good idea.

The conclusion: Consider more single-table tournaments.

  Friday, March 26, 2004

Tournaments: Positive or Negative Value?

I was chatting with Hdouble last night. He pointed out again (see the comments to my Week Seven Wrapup) that my tournaments last week were a big drain on my bankroll.

Okay, that's true. I did the math, and had I entered none of those tournaments, I'd be $16935 better off. That includes BG's home game, which I probably would have played in any case.

But are tournaments really –EV? (Poker lingo: EV is Expected Value, so –EV is a calculation, or assumption, that a particular act would lose one money if repeated an infinite number of times. I need to add this to my list of abbreviations on the right.)

Here's my thinking, as it applies to the multi-player tournaments on PartyPoker. It applies more strongly the lower the buyin for the tournament, since a $20 buyin will attract worse players than a $100 buyin.

The key is this: Anywhere from a third to a half of the field has no realistic shot of getting into the money!

Those of you who've played in these tournaments will no doubt agree. Without a serious run of lucky cards that lasts until everyone left is in the money (which does happen sometimes), these players will make too many mistakes to have a real shot at getting to the end. Especially in no-limit, where often you only get one mistake.

Let's assume that 1/3 of the field is dead money. If everyone that's left is of the same skill level, then they should place in the money an equal amount of time, effectively splitting up the dead money and paying the entry fee to the house for the privilege.

If it were true that the, umm, not-dead money (live money? undead money?) was all of equal skill, then tournaments would be +EV for all of them, unless the house charged an entry fee greater than 1/3 of the buyin.

Of course, they aren't of equal skill. I expect, then, that the "undead" players would scale. At the bottom end, players get into the money just often enough to keep playing, but are overall tournament losers. A bit above that, are the players who break even in tournaments, and the entry fees are the difference between being winners and losers. And the whole area above that, probably around 30% of the field, are winners. They might not win today, but they win more than they lose, and each tournament is +EV because of it.

There is a difference here between live tournament play (the circuit) and online tournament play. This article which Iggy provided a week or so ago details one of the problems of being on the circuit. One isn't responsible only for one's buyins, but also for travel expenses, hotel rooms, and the like, which eat into one's winnings horrendously. So even a large segment of this upper echelon, in live poker, isn't making money.

This isn't true in online tournaments. Here, the only expense you have is the loss of whatever you would have made in your ring-game play when you were in the tournament instead. Live-game players face this too, of course, but online, a tournament takes at most five or six hours.

My conclusion is this: If you are among the top 30% of tournament players online, tournaments are +EV. If you're not, tournaments are –EV. I put myself at the lower end of that 30%, because of the final-table appearances I've had, cashing in some and qualifying in others. I haven't played as many cash tournaments as qualifiers lately, but in the qualifiers I've won one and bubbled another out of the eight or ten I've played in the last two weeks.

My thought here is that I should be playing more tournaments. However, I want to stick to my original plans regarding tournaments: that I won't play until I've made my nut for the day. This morning, there's a $50+5 NL tourney at 3; my plan is that I'll enter if I'm up $250 by then. Currently, I'm up $20, so it's a long shot, it seems.

  Wednesday, March 24, 2004

The Damned Bubble!

Since several people were sweating me, I'd better do a quick post of how the qualifier tourney I just was in, ended up going.

First of all, I did really well. If this were a $10+1 cash tournament I'd have won somewhere around $80. But it wasn't, it was a qualifier; and of the 399 contestants only 6 won seats into next month's Million Dollar Tournament on PartyPoker.

At about the point where people started going to bed, I had a stack of around T$25,000, right about average, with 16 or 18 people left. I don't remember what I did to get me to T$38,000, but I was there for a while, too. But I made two mistakes, and they cost me a win.

In the first mistake, I had A7o in the big blind (T$1000). It folded around to the small blind, who made it T$5000. I wasn't sure what he had, but it smelled to me like a steal, and so I made it T$15,000. He went all-in then, and since he had me covered I would have to have gone all-in to call. I folded. After the fact, I think I probably shouldn't have reraised, but called his bet and taken a flop. Who knows what he would have done after the flop; that's a different topic. However, if I did go for the resteal, I should have been prepared to go all-in. He may not have had a damned thing. On the other hand, he might have had 44 or something which I had a legitimate shot against. In any case, I was pot-committed, and at that point, I should have called.

In the second mistake, a few hands later, I was down to T$13,000 or T$15,000 after the first mistake, one of the game's shorter stacks, and the blinds have just gone to T$1000/T$2000. A player one or two seats off the big blind goes all-in, or nearly so. I fold AJo, planning to "pick my spot." Yes, I would have liked to open all-in with my hand, but truly this was the best shot I had at doubling up, and I should have called. Folding just let me go around a few more hands, until I went all-in with Q9o. AQ called, and I was dominated and out of the tournament.

Freaking thirteenth! I played well, got good cards, and I don't manage a finish any better, as far as payout, than I would have if I'd gone out first.

  Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Week Seven Wrapup

In short: I'm starting to get concerned.

I shouldn't be, I know: PokerTracker still has me at about 1.5BB/hr (per table), so theoretically I should be making $27/hr when I'm playing three tables of $3/$6. But I'm not seeing that. The total this week was +$273, and I'm pretty sure I played for more than ten hours. (I count about 28, actually, not counting tournaments.)

Nonetheless, I'm not making anything close to the $500/week I wanted to make when I started this whole project. I did blow that number out of the water the first week, but since then I've only come close once, and I've had as many down weeks as up weeks.

One of the things that shows up, though, is my tournament play: I only managed the money once out of eight or nine tournaments, and that was a paltry 65¢ profit on a $5 tournament. I probably shouldn't be discouraged by this but I really want another big tournament score like I had three of in January, and, heck, like the final-table I had just last week.

I'd like someone to point me toward a guide to using PokerTracker to evaluate one's own play. I haven't found this, although I've found a reference or two to using it to keep tabs on your opponents. I'm not a perfect player; I need a way to determine what mistakes I am making.

This week's numbers:

Date Location Time Stakes Results Notes
3/16 PP Tbl 13119 7:10A-9:20 $3/$6 35.75
PP Tbl 12660 7:10A-11:15$3/$6 127.00 Rebuy for TORO46, super-LAP
PP Autumn Breeze 9:20A-11:45$3/$6 16.00
PP MTT 10:30AM NL + .65 Finish: 103/1109
PP Tbl 12660 11:25A-11:45$3/$6 32.50 Not into it
PP STT 4:40PM NL 8.00 Finish: 3/10
PP On the Rocks 5:35P-8:45 $3/$6 + 209.25
PP Chimney Sweeper5:35P-6:00 $3/$6 7.50
PP MTT 6:00PM NL 22.00 Finish: 442/1101
PP It's Your Life ~8P-8:45 $3/$6 + 44.50
PP MTT: WPT Super 9:00PM NL   .00 Finish: 153/412
Total for 3/16: +  5.65
3/17 PP High Hopes 10:40A-1:45$3/$6 + 89.50
PP It's Your Life 10:40A-1:40$3/$6 9.00 LA: Janlee
PP classic table 10:40A-1:40$3/$6 + 47.00
PP Las Vegas ... 1:15P-1:45 $3/$6 23.00
PP MTT 2:00PM NL 22.00 Finish: 746/842
PP MTT 7:30PM Limit 22.00 Finish: 47/113
Total for 3/17: + 60.50
3/18 PP MTT 10:30AM NL 6.00 Finish: 304/1074
PP Devils Due 10:25A-11:30$3/$6 129.00 ?
PP MTT 12:30PM NL 24.00 Finish: 56/141
Total for 3/18: –159.00
3/19 PP Gallopin ... 10:50A-11:10$3/$6 + 8.00
PP On the rocks 10:50A-12:10$3/$6 + 25.50
PP Devils Due 10:50A-1:40$3/$6 + 97.25
PP Tbl 12164 11:15A-1:40$3/$6 49.00
PP Ice Cheese 12:15P-1:40$3/$6 + 18.50
PP classic table 3:15P-4:00 $3/$6 + 30.50
PP Tbl 13001 3:15P-5:55 $3/$6 + 202.00
PP French Fries 3:15P-5:55 $3/$6 56.00
PP Captain's Choice4:00P-4:25$3/$6 40.75
PP Riffle the Chips4:30P-5:55$3/$6 18.50
BG's Home Game 7:30PM NL 40.00 Out early, poor cards
Total for 3/19: +177.50
3/20 Trump Gary 11:30A-12:15$3/$6 + ~50.00 One hand
Trump Gary 12:15P-3:30$5/$10 34.00 Gil ran out of $
PP High Hopes 8:45P-9:00 $3/$6 9.50
PP Tbl 12324 8:45P-12:45$3/$6 62.50 Rebuy
PP Mesmerizing ...8:45P-12:45$3/$6 + 93.50
PP Tbl 12117 9:05P-12:45$3/$6 + 203.50
Total for 3/20: +241.00
3/21 PP Autumn Breeze 1:30P-3:35 $3/$6 69.50 Rebuy
PP Jumpin Jacks 1:30P-3:55 $3/$6 + 233.25
PP Mona Lisa 1:30P-1:50 $3/$6 21.50
PP Pirates Cove 1:50P-3:55 $3/$6 61.25
PP STT Qualifier 3:40PM NL 26.00 Finish: 9/10
PP Plum Passion 10:55P-1:35$3/$6 12.50
PP Dunkin Dough 10:55P-11:10$3/$6 8.00
PP Tbl 12421 10:55P-1:40$3/$6 111.00 ?
PP Flombe 11:15P-1:40$3/$6 + 30.00
Total for 3/21: – 46.50
3/22 PP No woman no... 3:50P-5:40 $3/$6 69.75 Way up then down
PP Las vegas ... 3:50P-4:55 $3/$6 119.00 Rebuy
PP High Hopes 3:50P-5:35 $3/$6 + 99.00
PP It's Your Life 4:55P-5:45 $3/$6 + 46.00
PP Tbl 12324 12AM-3:55 $3/$6 + 85.25
PP No woman no... 12AM-2:10 $3/$6 52.50
PP Tbl 12637 12AM-3:50 $3/$6 7.50
PP Tbl 12280 2:10A-3:55 $3/$6 + 22.50
Total for 3/22: +  4.00
Total for Week 7: +273.15
Cumulative Weeks 4–7: +714.89

  Saturday, March 20, 2004

The Michigan Poker Blogger Crossover Game II

This isn't nearly as interesting as the first game, last month. It was run as a rebuy tournament, which is a first for this crew, apparently, but it ended up going well overall.

Except for me. I just get no cards the whole night. The best pocket pair I see is 44. I have AKo once, and win with it, but it's just a small pot. I steal a pot with KJo or something, when I don't hit anything, just by making a big bet. But that's pretty much it.

Gil busts someone out early (the "Drunkie" of my last report, whom we'll nickname "Justin" for the purpose of this report, which is really rather humourous, you see, because his name is, in fact, Justin), but doesn't see much in the way of cards for most of the rest of the tournament. He lasts past the rebuy period, so he spends $20 less than most of us, but that's about all he can say about his finish. At least my night of obviously horrid cards keeps him from complaining about how bad his cards were.

BG, on the other hand, goes on to win the tournament, the cash, and the honor of not having made a dumbass all-in call to me that knocked him out of the tournament.

Gil dealt most of the later part of the tournament, and says his impression was that none of the players were aggressive enough when it was three-handed. I think he figured the tournament should have been over at least half an hour sooner.

We weren't the ringers, this time.

Da da Trump, Da da Trump, Da da Trump Trump Trump

Eventually I'll come up with semi-musical headings that aren't so thoroughly lame.

The next morning Gil and I headed for the Trump Casino in Gary, which is fast becoming our usual live-play haunt. $3/$6 is available first, so we both sit, although I move to the $5/$10 game when a seat opens.

I make a little bit at $3/$6, and lose a little bit at $5/$10, to finish up a whopping $16 for the whole couple of hours we actually play.

Gil is shortstacked lately, because his biggest customer continues to be late in paying him, and even though he's on a good table (he says) the variance hits him the wrong way and he loses $200 in a hurry. A variance of around 30BB (a kill was in play, so sometimes they were playing $6/$12) is annoying, but normal and expected at a loose table. Nonetheless, if $200 is what you have to gamble with, then when it's gone, you go home.

This ticks me off, because we drove for three hours to get there, and we spend about three hours on the tables and he wants to drive three hours back. In other words, we spend nine hours and a full tank of gas for an expected return of about $30 (in my case) and about $18 (in his case).

That assumes Gil is earning 1 BB/hr. He might not be. Online, he plays almost exclusively limit single-table tournaments, and I don't know a good way to equate PokerTracker's stats on these into expectations in a ring game. Gil does believe that he loses money on the STT's overall, despite frequent cashes, although he's unclear on whether this is due to the entry fees (an exorbitant 20% for the $5 STT's).

I asked Gil today why he is having such a bad run if he came home winner two out of three times he used to play $3/$6 at Soaring Eagle before they closed their poker room in early 2003. Specifically, I wanted to know how his play was different. He made a noise that might have been a demurring of my "two out of three" figure, but answered that since the games at the Trump are looser (entirely possible in the WPT age), he is more aggressive when he has a real hand in hopes of knocking some opponents out. Well, I can't entirely fault that unless it means he's raising with dumb hands, and I don't think he is from watching his online play.

No, I think Gil is a winning player in a "typical" game, but if the game loosens up too much, he's frustrated by the high variance of the game. Contrarily, if the game is too tight, he is frustrated by the fact that he has to wait forever to get a good hand, and when he does, he gets a small pot. In either case, he'll complain at the end of the day about "not getting cards."

In today's case, this simply means, I think, that he got the bad side of variance, and his bankroll couldn't take the swing. On the other hand, last weekend in the same game, he cashed out a $150 profit. That would be the positive side of variance, because his expected take should be only $30ish for the amount of time we spent there.

In Tournament News

The Trump is going to begin dealing tournaments. They are expecting another five or so tables to arrive in the next couple of weeks, bringing their total to 16 or 18, and when they arrive they'll start running tournaments on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday. Expected buyin will be $80+$10, which sounds like no rebuy. They expect one tournament in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one in the evening; and one to be limit hold'em, one to be no-limit hold'em, and one to be either Omaha or Stud.

I asked the floorman (the head floorman, I think) to post the blind structure to their website (at right), and he said "Okay," but I don't know whether he meant "Okay, I'll see that it's done" or "Okay, I'll say whatever I need to in order to stop you from talking more."

I get that second one a lot.

  Friday, March 19, 2004

Your English Lesson for Today

I've seen a few blogs lately use the phrase, "So, it didn't phase me when ..."

These are the two biggest uses of the word "phase:" (from Merriam-Webster.com)

Notice that the verb—the second one—has nothing to do with being surprised, shocked, or whatever it is that people mean when they say "So, it didn't phase me when ..."

The word you mean is faze:

Okay, I've got it off my chest. Bloggers are, by and large, a literate group, for fairly obvious reasons. So when I see many different people make the same error, and it's made not because they are illiterate (and many errors are simply illiterate), but because they're using a word that simply doesn't appear in print very often, it's time to do my part to educate America.

Don't you feel smart, now?

  Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Am I Drunk, or Is This a Real Idea?

What if they sat a multi-table tournament, where all of the players were anonymous (the seats were "Seat1," "Seat2," and so on), and players changed tables every hand ... your opponents from one hand to the next were completely different? To complete the randomness, when you were down to the last, say, five tables, even position started changing randomly? You get the small and big blind the same number of times, but you can't know "Seat5 has a really loose player" anymore.

Gil's immediate thought was that it would take much of the skill out of the game, while my first thought was that the game would become very technical, with little room for insightful plays.

But on second thought, I wonder if it might help the hyper-aggressive player the most—he who plays 79o like it's AA. With no history, the "saner" players wouldn't know whether this is that nimrod who raises everything, or if it's someone who really has aces.

Are there other ramifications I don't see? This is, of course, the type of tournament that could only be run online. Anyone have an in with the sites to try it?

I name this the "random shuffle" tournament.

  Tuesday, March 16, 2004

The Maniac (Aggressivus maniacus)

As I go down the drain in the WPT supersatellite I qualified for (I took a nice pot early, then made two stupid plays that have me down to 455 chips), I thought I'd mention the biggest maniac that I've ever seen, ever, in the history of the universe, any time, any place, any anything. I was on a table this morning when TORO46 sat down with $620. He then proceeded to play every single hand until he lost all but about $5. By the way, when I say "every single hand," I mean that he played every single hand.

I'm missing some hands in PokerTracker, apparently, because I only show a loss for him of $320, but over the 138 hands I have logged for him, PokerTracker shows a VP$IP (voluntarily put money into pot) of 99.28%. I investigated, and it turns out that he put money into the 138th hand, too; PokerTracker missed it somehow. But the fun doesn't stop there. He raised before the flop 76% of the time, and went to showdown an incredible 71% of the time.

The sad thing is that I didn't catch much of this; the hands PokerTracker knows about show that I won only $17 from him specifically, and I lost over $100 on the table as a whole. Of course, all but $50 of it I'd lost before he sat down, but man, was that a fun table for a while.

Fortunately I made a rally in the afternoon to finish the day with a small gain. (Of course, I could yet win a seat at the Bellagio ...)

Full use of PokerTracker ...

It seems to me that if having a lot of hands to judge the play of your opponents is an asset, then having a shitload of hands to judge their play is even better.

Can PokerTracker work with two or more databases simultaneously? I'm particularly interested in loading them all and using the combined database to export notes on players' play back out into PartyPoker. Does this work? Will PokerTracker get confused if the same hand is in more than one database?

It seems to me that ideally, we'd have a poker-blogger FTP site where we can put up our latest databases. But my own database runs to almost 100MB with 10,000 ring-game hands and 7,000 tournament hands; I assume others' databases are larger yet. I don't have access to anywhere near that much storage or bandwidth unless I pay for it. Do any of our fellow bloggers who are computer geeks in the real world have access to that much space?

I'm a bit torn, though. On the one hand, I'd like a lot of people to be uploading to the site. On the other hand, I wouldn't want a lot of people downloading from the site. Maybe we'd give out the password to anyone who uploads a database with more than 5,000 or 10,000 hands in it.

I like the project but I can't make it happen. Anyone?

Week Six Wrapup

Until the end, week six was horrid. If it weren't for some encouraging signs late in the week, I'd really start to wonder. As it is, I only wonder a little bit.

The scary thing is that I'm not making my nut. Two of the three weeks that were unlogged, I was down; I'm not sure how much exactly. And of the three weeks that are logged, I'm up in two of them, but not enough. I'm not in any mortal financial danger yet, but I don't think I can attribute my results entirely to variance. I'm up a few bucks in the fifteen minutes or so I've been playing today but I don't know if a trend has re-started.

I notice as I type up this week's table that I have a lot of sessions marked "Rebuy." I have a couple of thoughts about this. First, going down $150 in a session is a big swing, 25 big bets, but if I rebought it wasn't because I thought I played badly or my opponents were particularly tough. Some combination of poor cards and tough beats usually drove me down. The flip side of big wins at loose tables is, of course, big losses, and I think that's what I suffered. I'm interested in others' comments on this point particularly.

There were a couple of promising signs this week. My streak of losing sessions in live play has ended with a modest win at $5/$10 at the Trump, as I posted earlier. Someone lost a $5000 pot in the $5/$5 no-limit game while I was there, so I should be glad I'm not him. Or maybe, pissed that I'm not the guy that won the pot.

The other promising sign is tournament play. It's been a little while since I've played tournaments, and longer since I've played no-limit. But I had respectable finishes in three of the four multi-table tournaments I played in this week, including the two no-limit tournaments I played. Even in the fourth I placed in the upper half, which truly isn't any worse than the two near-bubble finishes as payout goes. And of course I mentioned my win in a super-satellite to a super-satellite to the $25,000-buyin tournament at the Bellagio next month.

I haven't won the $25,000 seat yet, and truly that's not very likely, but I figure if I do win it, I'll probably sell the seat. It would be neat to play in a tournament with poker's top players, but I wouldn't spend $25,000 to do that if I had to lay out the cash; I'd be dead money in the big tournament and I know it. I'd rather take the $25,000 and use it to move to Vegas, where the casino-play opportunities are much greater than here.

The grisly details:
Date Location Time Stakes Results Notes
3/9 PP Tbl 12238 ~8P-11:15 $3/$6 + 14.00 Rebuy
PP High Hopes ~8P-11:15 $3/$6 123.50
PP Tbl 12421 1:25A-7:20 $3/$6 + 18.50
PP Ice Cheese 1:25A-7:20 $3/$6 174.50
Total for 3/9: –265.50
3/10 PP Mesmerizing Moments 11P-12A$3/$6 108.00 Rebuy
PP Flombe 11P-12:30 $3/$6 83.00
PP Brownies 12A-4:30 $3/$6 + 98.50 Azmodus & Scott Chaffin
PP Tbl 11351 12:20A-4:30$3/$6 222.50 Rebuy
Total for 3/10: –315.00
3/11 Lost in a timewarp. Yes, really. It's sort of the opposite of leap-year day.
3/12 PP Brownies 8:05A-8:25 $3/$6 5.00
PP Autumn Breeze 8:05A-8:25 $3/$6 7.00
Trump Gary 11:30A-12:30$5/$10 + 7.00 One hand: KK good
Trump Gary 12:30P-3:30$3/$6 55.50 OK table but poor cards
Total for 3/12: – 60.50
3/13 Trump Gary 11A-5P $5/$10 + 59.00 Poor cards but up!
Total for 3/13: + 59.00
3/14 PP Gold Canyon 5:50A-7:20 $3/$6 130.50 Rebuy
PP Peanuts 5:50A-10:30$3/$6 + 62.50
PP Pirates Cove 7:25A-10:30$3/$6 37.50 Rebuy
PP Multi-Table 11AM Limit 33.00 Finish: 137 of 319
PP Multi-Table 11:30AM Limit 10.00 Finish: 27 of 163
PP Multi-Table 12:30PM NL 24.00 Finish: 27 of 245
Total for 3/14: –172.50
3/15 PP Mona Lisa 8:50A-12:00$3/$6 + 179.00 Decksmack, at end
PP Peanuts 8:55A-9:35 $3/$6 + 106.50
PP A nony loves...9:05A-11:50$3/$6 + 94.50
PP Autumn Breeze 9:35A-12:00$3/$6 + 150.50 Table of Dreams, Early
PP Multi-Table 12:30PM NL 24.00 WIN! Finish 10 of 165
PP Single-Table 1:10PM Limit 8.00 Finish 6 of 10 on bad beat
Total for 3/15: +498.50 (Plus buyin for next week)
Week Six Total: –256.00
Cumulative Weeks 4-6: +431.74

  Monday, March 15, 2004

Oh, There's No Limit Like No-Limit, Like No Limit I Know

I just took 10th in a $22+2 qualifying super-satellite to a super-satellite to the $25,000 final event at the Bellagio, which gets me a seat in the next super-satellite. I've said for a long time that no-limit isn't my game, but I did well both this time, and the last time I sat a NL MTT, yesterday when I took 27th of 245 for a bubble-ish finish in the same event. So maybe I need to sit more of these NL tournaments, at least the low-buyin ones (for fewer good opponents).

Anyway, now tomorrow night I get to sit a $300+25 NL tourney, where one out of ninety participants get a $27,000 package which includes a $25,000+300 seat in the World Poker Tour finals at the Bellagio in April. Of course, I'm not a favorite, because I have to contend with all of the people who bought in for $325 cash. There will probably be between ten and fifteen seats awarded, but one will have to beat a thousand foes to get one.

Should I clear my calendar for the end of April?

Wow, I'm a robot!

Thanks to Dave for the following link. It turns out, I'm Bender:

Which Colossal Death Robot Are You?

Wow, I'm Playing Poker!

I've got to give out thanks to Hdouble for suggesting three tables at once, rather than my usual two. It makes it even easier than usual to fold marginal hands, and when you're running well (like I am today) it results in a huge day. As I write this I'm up $86, $57.50, and $251, after closing a broken table up $106.50. I needed it, though; I've only posted one other win this week, the one at the Trump I already mentioned. And, even though today looks like I'll post more than a $500 win, I'll still end the week a bit down.

Of course, the cards are hitting me pretty hard. (Or, maybe it just seems like more big hands, since I'm playing more hands.)

I've got to mention PokerTracker's latest patch—if you haven't downloaded it yet, do it. They let you export statistics on your opponents out into PartyPoker's (or others') notes file, so that you can see at a glance how well your opponents play, if you've played them before. I only just started doing this manually, but doing it automatically saves a LOT of time. (No, I wasn't ignoring this information before, but it's difficult to set up the "game time" windows for multiple tables and keep the data current.)

  Sunday, March 14, 2004

You May or May Not Be Able to Make This Shit Up

A new entry on a friend's infrequently updated blog left me confused. It's by the same author as Ralph Nader's Chocolate Poker Jam (see link on right), his seemingly even less-often updated poker blog. And it's funnier.

The Streak is Broken at Last

I finally won money in live play, for the first time in at least eight sessions (the streak goes back at least as long as I've been logging my sessions). Gil and I went to the Trump casino in Gary on Saturday, after Dave and I went down there on Friday. Friday I didn't lose the farm, but it was a down session, losing $55.50 at $3/$6 after going up $7 at $5/$10. I remember the $5/$10 table; I won a single pot when my KK held up. But on the $3/$6 table, even though it was a better table in terms of the game itself, I didn't get much in the way of cards, and so I folded my way to a $55.50 loss. I did get some respect for my raises late; people told me several times that they "knew" I had AKs or AQs when I actually had nothing better than K♣J♠ just because I hardly ever raised.

Then on Saturday, Gil and I returned. I brought along a change of shirt (and underwear and socks), expecting that we'd want to spend the night. There weren't any seats for us when we got there (which is unusual that early in the day), so we got to wait for twenty or thirty minutes before a seat opened on $5/$10 for me, and they opened a new $3/$6 game for Gil. They pulled me off the $3/$6 list when I sat $5/$10, which I wasn't sure how I felt about, but I didn't complain.

Gil happened to draw a dream table, almost entirely loose-passive with at least one total newbie on the table at all times. Good cards help him take advantage, and he goes up well over $200 before cashing out +$175.

I, on the other hand, get horrid cards. I get AKo once, but that's the best starting hand I see; I had a small pocket pair a couple of times but didn't flop anything out of it. As I did the day before, I got a lot of respect for my raises, and was able to buy a pot or two because of it. In one hand, I had (let's say) K♣J, and the board flopped Q82. It checked around, and when the turn was the 10, I immediately bet out. The two players in middle position folded, and the player in late position paused for a minute, looked at his cards, looked at me, and then mucked, saying, "Well, even if you're buying it, I can't call you." Immediately, the players on each side of him said, "No, he didn't buy it." One said, "If he didn't just make the flush, he made two pair." This turned out to be a great opportunity to use my poker face, because of course I had no such thing. All I had was a straight draw with a three-flush on the board. But hey, I'll take respect any day if it means I get money for it.

All in all, a $59 win with horrid cards is a good day, approximately 1BB/h for the six hours we played. I'm a little ticked that Gil wanted to go home rather than stay overnight and play again Sunday, because I knew he'd want to play somewhere on Sunday, and I am sick of the two- and three-hour car rides each way just to play a couple of hours of poker. More and more, I feel I have to move to Las Vegas, even though I can't afford it yet.

Of course, Gil wanted to go play poker again in the morning, but he should have listened to me the night before.

This has been a poor week overall; I'm booking very few wins even if I'm not losing a ridiculous amount of money. However, earlier today my Q10 managed to get a board of A-x-K-x-J for my second-ever Royal Flush. Last time, I think it was spades, but I also had two cards of it in my hand.

  Thursday, March 11, 2004

Warning: Math ahead

As promised, here is my PokerTracker summary data. It turns out there is no good way to dump this report into a text file (even cut-and-paste doesn't work). Which meant lots of copying, and then lots of HTML table-izing, which was the really hard part (and meant three times as much typing). If I ever post this table again, though, I'll much more be able to plug the numbers into the (now) made template for this report.

I'm looking, after about 10,000 $3/$6 hands, for the really glaring things, first, and the subtle things, second. I do want to hear comments like "It looks like you never fold to a raise on the turn" or "you're not raising enough on the river." But I made those up; give me suggestions that bear on reality.

Would it be fruitful to publish, say, the 30 or so hands that I play the most and how they fare? I probably see a few too many flops; would this help winnow them?

(Should I even be publishing this at all? Am I giving away too much information?)

Total [$3/$6] Hands: 9,630
Vol. Put $ in Pot: 19.13 % (1832 times out of 9630)
Vol. Put $ in From SB: 30.57 % (347 times out of 1135)
Saw Flop (All Hands): 25.13 % (2420 times out of 9630)
Saw Flop (Not a Blind): 17.65 % (1293 times out of 7325)
Folded SB to Steal: 73.91 % (34 times out of 46)
Folded BB to Steal: 71.15 % (37 times out of 52)
Fold BB to Steal Headsup: 70.59 % (24 times out of 34)
Blind Defense: Times Fold% Ww/oSD% WSD% W$SD%
Small Blind 12 33.33 8.33 58.33 57.14
Big Blind 15 33.33 13.3353.33 62.50
Attempt to Steal Blinds: 34.77 % (121 times out of 348)
Steal Success: No Flop% Fold% Ww/oSD% WSD% W$SD%
19.83 11.57 47.93 40.50 36.73
Won $ When Saw Flop: 33.43 % (809 times out of 2,420)
Amount won $1,182.25
Win Rate per 100 Hands: $12.28
Big Bets Won per 100 Hands: 2.05
Went to Showdown 31.36 % (759 times out of 2,420)
Won $ At Showdown 49.54 % (376 times out of 759)
Raised Pre-flop 6.94 % (668 times out of 9,630)
Limp/Call Reraise PF 0.02 % (2 times out of 9,630)
First Action on Flop After a Pre-Flop Raise:
Raise: 8.38 % (56 times out of 668)
Bet: 68.56 % (458 times out of 668)
Call: 7.19 % (48 times out of 668)
Check: 3.89 % (26 times out of 668)
Check/Raise: 0.15 % (1 time out of 668)
Fold: 2.40 % (16 times out of 668)
No Flop: 8.83 % (59 times out of 668)
Player Actions: Poss.Actions Raise% Bet% Call% Check% Fold% Factor*
Pre-flop: 9,887 7.02 - 14.39 6.56 72.02 0.49
Flop: 3,325 6.68 25.95 17.32 27.07 22.98 1.88
Turn: 1,932 6.52 38.61 17.13 21.07 16.67 2.63
River: 1,243 5.55 40.47 17.70 24.94 11.34 2.60
Total:16,3876.78 12.89 15.56 13.83 50.94 1.26
* Aggression Factor is calculated as (Raise% + Bet%) / Call%
* General rule of thumb: less than 0.70 is passive, more than 1.50 is aggressive
Bet/Raised/Check-Raised Just Called
Player Actions: Ww/oSD% Fold% WSD% W$SD% Ww/oSD% Fold% WSD% W$SD%
Pre-flop: 35.18 18.86 45.96 46.58 13.12 59.45 27.43 52.48
Flop: 31.88 17.84 50.28 49.06 10.71 47.78 41.51 53.46
Turn: 31.75 8.41 59.83 47.53 3.85 26.92 69.23 37.65
River: 24.01 3.07 72.92 64.85 0.00 0.63 99.38 18.24
Folded to River Bet: 43.06 % (121 times out of 281)
When Folds Hand: No Fold % Pre-flop % Flop % Turn % River %
13.31 73.95 7.93 3.34 1.46
Check-Raises: Times % of Possible Actions Flop % Turn % River %
80 1.23 50.00 38.75 11.25

The Second Poker Blogger Classic

I wasn't in the WBT2, because I only tried to register moments before the tournament and TruePoker didn't like my debit card (which PartyPoker has no problem with). They would have taken NeTeller or FirePay, but my PP account is set up with IGM-pay, neither of those. Oh well.

I can't say I was impressed with the software. The sound was interesting, but if I played there every day I'm sure I'd be annoyed by it. The un-sizable table window was annoying, but only bevcause I'm not used to their software: PartyPoker's tables can't be resized, and that doesn't bother me at all. Or, at least, not much.

Congratulations to Otis at Up for Poker for winning the tournament.

Old School Computer Games

I know, I said I'd post my PokerTracker summary ... I still will; I spent last night editing every single post in my blog to use <p> and </p>, as in correct HTML, instead of letting Blogger convert all my line breaks into <br />'s. The <br />'s were messing up my tables. (While I was at it, I converted my earlier tables into real HTML tables, and fixed a few typos and missed characters ... I like playing with the §Þ€Ç†∂£ characters, and there were a few that got missed.

I noticed during the tourney that the PokerGrub chose the name "Frobozz" (and a buxom blonde avatar), which is a character from Zork II, one of the old Infocom games. (The Wizard of Frobozz was not, however, a buxom blonde.)

When I asked him about it, a whole bunch of fellow bloggers said things like "Wow, they still play those?" and "Zork rules!"—apparently I'm not the only one who remembers those games fondly. And so, fifteen years out of date, my top eight best Infocom games:


The conclusion of the Enchanter trilogy, this game was a good bit larger than the previous two games in the excellent series. But best of all were the puzzles: Almost entirely magic-based, they nonetheless made perfect sense (except for the one about the compass rose). I still to this day wish I had the tinsot and izyuk spells. The genius: They pile several puzzles into a simple stone oubliette without any of them being either forced or obvious. I was actually disappointed with the conclusion: It was well done, but it meant no more games in this œuvre.

Zork II

The aforementioned Zork II is second on my list. Better than its predecessor and much better than its successor, Zork II ranks high on my list for the same reason as Spellbreaker: The quality of the puzzles. Zork II lacked some of the consistency of Infocom's later games, in that machinery and magic exist side-by-side in the game, but the puzzles, again, were abundant and made sense. And who wouldn't want to slay the dragon and save the princess?


This was the second chapter in the Enchanter trilogy, and again the puzzles were superior, and mostly made sense. The glass maze and its solution were both inspired, and of course anyone who ignores the bat guano will regret it. But cleverest of all is the time-travel puzzle near the end.


Same reasoning: Great puzzles. This game had a science-fiction theme, and may have earned its "expert" level rating because at one point the player is required to determine which diagram represents oxygen—by text descriptions! By the time the game is finished, you really feel that the space station is a real place.


Another science-fiction themed game, this one makes it in almost entirely because of Floyd the Robot. When he died, it brought a tear to one's eye. The game lacks one of the things that I think helps focus the others on this list: they in many ways come down to "collect the twenty treasures," which is the stated goal of Zork I. In Spellbreaker one collects spell scrolls and white cubes, in Zork II one must collect "enough" treasure to satisfy the guardian of a locked door, in Sorceror one collects spell scrolls and potions, and in Starcross one collects crystal rods. The player here does collect magnetic key-cards, but that forms too small a part of the game.

Zork I

The game that started it all. Zork started its life as a project by a number of students at MIT, who created Dungeon, and then formed their own company and decided that it should be their first product. Zork I is a subset of that old game (as are Zork II and Zork III), and collecting the twenty treasures of Zork is one's first best introduction to the text adventure.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

A romp through many of the areas seen in the first book or two, although the main plot stops when the Heart of Gold lands on the legendary lost planet of Magrathea. The Babel-Fish puzzle is inspired, and I'm proud to say that I managed to solve it—entirely without help. At one time Infocom sold "I got the Babel Fish" T-shirts, but I didn't get one.

Zork Zero

Infocom answered the blizzard of email asking for Zork IV, by doing the exact opposite. (Actually, in Zork III, they refer to Enchanter as Zork IV, and the product code for Enchanter was "IZ4," so maybe they couldn't make Zork IV anyway.) This game is the largest they ever created, and most of the puzzles are pretty good, but the game has a little bit of a desperate feel to it—sort of like Infocom knew that the end was near (they'd been bought by Activision at this point), and they had to produce their magnum opus in a hurry. With the exception of playing Double Fanucci, the graphical puzzles were mostly puzzles stolen from the public domain, so that for example the Tower of Hanoi puzzle became the "Tower of Bozbar" and you even get to do that game you see in bars sometimes where you have to jump the golf tees around until there aren't any left. But the sheer size of the game is impressive.

Honorable Mention

Deadline, the only mystery I liked; Enchanter, still good but the sequels were better; Suspended, where the different robots' take on the same thing was excellently done, A Mind Forever Voyaging, a high concept; Trinity, probably the best from a literary standpoint; Leather Goddesses of Phobos, a PG-rated romp through 1930s comic books; Hollywood Hijinx, one of the few games set in contemporary times; Bureaucracy, the second Douglas Adams effort; Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail of It, a game of puns and wordplay; Beyond Zork, a semi-successful blend of text adventure and traditional role-playing game; Sherlock and the Riddle of the Crown Jewels, another literary collaboration (of sorts); and Journey, a successful combination of text adventure and graphics, although the graphics are today exceptionally dated.

Poker, anyone?

I had to stand up from the tables after a few horrid hours, down over $200; I may return (probably will) in a few hours but even when the deck hits me, I still can't pull off a big win the last couple of days. I know my BB/h is positive, but doing poorly makes one question one's real skill. Even with horrid players on the table, not enough of their money ends up in my stack. On the plus side, a couple of fellow bloggers joined me on the $3/$6 tables for a good bit of the time. They didn't do that well, either.

  Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Week Five Wrapup

Week five was up, in the range it's supposed to be up, but still leaves me a bit unsatisfied.

Week one was absolutely stellar, as I reported, going up (I believe) +$1377. Then, I gave it back and more during weeks two and three, but I've also said that I don't really have a good idea how much I lost. So, I started keeping a log for week four, and registered a small positive gain. And finally, in week five, I registered a gain I think of as "average."

But even though I'm winning, I am given to wonder if I am winning enough. In 500 hands or more a night, I feel like I should be winning more than the 3.5 BB/c, 2.21 BB/hr, that I have been.

Okay, I look at those numbers (I used PokerTracker to filter out sessions from before two weeks ago) and they don't actually seem that bad. Clearly I'm whining about nothing.

But I still want to improve my game. I look at posts like this one that I linked yesterday, and wonder how my game is. Specifically, my preflop raise percentage is lower than the author (responder, really) suggests is appropriate.

I think sometime (later tonight, probably) I'll post up my PokerTracker "more details" for comments. I'll filter it for the last five weeks, or maybe less; there's a few hands of $5/$10, 50¢/$1, $1/$2, $1/$2 6-max, and others which would skew my stats.

Maybe I was wrong about the fish growing up. I'm on a couple of $3/$6 tables right now, and seeing a lot of loose-passive players. Maybe my initial thoughts about playing after midnight are incorrect; maybe the worse players, the recreational players, are playing during the evening. Which makes sense. (Actually, I look where PokerTracker keeps track of how you do by time of day, or day of week, and it's clear that I don't have enough of a statistical universe to draw any kind of conclusions. At all.)

I'm going to attempt an HTML table, here, rather than my usual fixed-width font table--it's got to be easier than replacing spaces with &nbsp;'s to make the table line up.

Date Location Time Limit Results Notes
3/2 PP MTT 11PM 3/1 Limit - 55.00 Finish 196th
Little River3:30PM Limit - 40.00 Tourney, Finish ~25th
PP C.R.9547 9:15P-9:45$3/$6 - 77.00
PP C.R.3043 9:15P-9:50$3/$6 - 28.00
3/2 TOTAL: -200.00
3/3 PP C.R.4222 7:35P-8:55$3/$6 - 34.00
PP C.R.2686 7:35P-8:35$3/$6 - 31.50
PP C.R.1389 8:35P-8:50$3/$6 - 13.00
3/3 TOTAL: - 78.50
3/4 PP C.R.3683 11:30A-11:55$3/$6- 12.00 Server Reset
PP C.R.3715 11:30A-11:55$3/$6- 89.00 Server Reset
PP Bellarista 8:30P-2:10A $3/$6+312.50
PP Over the Horizon 8:30P-9:35 $3/$6- 28.00 moore00--tough
PP It's Your Life 9:40P-2:10A $3/$6+125.63
3/4 TOTAL: +125.63
3/5 PP Bellarista 8:00P-8:35 $3/$6- 42.00
PP A nony loves a...8:00P-9:00 $3/$6- 61.50
PP French Fries 8:35P-9:10 $3/$6- 29.75
PP Connecting Vibes 9:00P-10:40 $3/$6+ 61.50
PP Multiplicity 9:15P-10:40 $3/$6-164.00 Rebuy
PP Jumpin Jacks 9:40P-11:25 $3/$6+ 4.25
PP Gallopin Goose...10:45P-11:20$3/$6- 25.00
PP High Hopes 12:40A-5:30 $3/$6+254.00 $100 rally at end
PP Gold Canyon 12:40A-1:05 $3/$6- 24.00
PP cuckoo's nest 1:05A-5:30 $3/$6+295.75 Deck hit me Huge
3/5 TOTAL: +268.75
3/6 PP Jumpin Jacks 1:10A-2:20 (3/7)$3/$6- 56.50
PP Peanuts 1:10A-2:00 $3/$6+ 36.37 Hdouble on table
PP Brownies 2:05A-4:10 $3/$6+ 12.75
PP Bohemian Rhapsody2:15A-2:45 $3/$6+ 52.00 Hdouble on table early
PP High Hopes 2:50A-3:00 $3/$6- 23.00
PP Chimney Sweeper 3:00A-5:20 $3/$6+ 16.50
PP Captain's Choice 4:10A-6:00 $3/$6+ 27.50
PP Push and Pull 5:20A-6:00 $3/$6- 92.75
3/6 TOTAL: - 27.13
3/7 PP Captain's Choice 12:10A-2:25(3/8)$3/$6- 63.00
PP Flombe 12:10A-1:45 $3/$6- 25.50 Tight
PP Ice Cheese 1:15A-4:40 $3/$6+312.00 Picked high avg pot table
PP On the rocks 2:30A-5:25 $3/$6+ 71.00
PP Tbl 12795 4:40A-5:25 $3/$6- 18.00
3/7 TOTAL: +276.60
3/8 PP Tick-tac-toe ~5P-? 50¢/$1- 9.51 Omaha Hi-lo experiment
PP High Hopes 1:10A-2:10(3/9)$3/$6-108.00
PP Over the Horizon 1:10A-3:05 $3/$6-156.00 Rebuy
PP On the Rocks 2:10A-6:45 $3/$6+112.75
PP cuckoo's nest 3:10A-6:45 $3/$6+ 60.75
3/8 TOTAL: -100.01
WEEK 5 TOTAL: +448.74

Whew! Okay, next time I see if Excel can generate HTML for a table ... this was, like, all hard, and stuff. I'm not sure this was any easier than the fixed-width tables I created the last couple of times. It looks better, though, at least after I see it and tweak it.

The immediate thing that one notices is that the trend seems mostly to be down ... except for a few big days, on a few big tables. I've noticed this when playing, too: My stack trends down, or fluctuates a bit with small pots, until I catch a big huge pot, and then I do the same from the new higher level. I don't know if that's normal; it seems to make sense, but I don't think any of the books I've seen have covered it.

The other thing I notice is a very high variance. Poker tracker reports, for the last two weeks, a Standard Deviation per Hour of $73.54, and a Standard Deviation per 100 Hands of $92.05. I don't know how this stacks up against other players; I'd be interested in hearing about their numbers. In fact, I'd be interested in comments generally. (I'll be posting my Summary a bit later tonight.)

  Monday, March 08, 2004

Midweek Sunday Gloaming

Actually, I'm not sure what "gloaming" is, but whatever it is, I think I've been doing it. The word sounds like it means skating along across the top of things, superficially, without ever really getting down into anything really deep. (I could look it up at Merriam-Webster.com, but I don't want to.)

Poker has been going OK, this week, although I haven't been out to the casino since Wednesday. Maybe that's why it's going OK. Bumped into Hdouble at a $3/$6 table last night, which turned out to be pretty tight for Party. St1ckman showed up, as well, two different times on two different tables. The blogger universe is taking over PartyPoker ... we need just to arrange for the fish to send us regular checks, because it's getting harder to find them. The guppies are growing up, and becoming sharks themselves.

It gladdened my heart to see Hdouble wasn't doing so well, either -- I thought I was the only one running bad last night. It ended up not horrid, a loss of $27.13, but a depressing result for five hours' play.

PokerTracker and Me

I've been looking for guidelines on analyzing one's play using PokerTracker. I haven't found them, but I did find this post out of the 2+2 forums regarding keeping track of the people you play against. Seeing as how I'm seeing a lot of the same people on the tables, and the tables are tightening up, I think I like this idea. It looks like NOTES.TXT, in the PartyPoker folder, can easily have data entered into it manually.

That might be a project for some night of cards, maybe even this night; enter notes on all the players for whom I have more than some arbitrary number of hands ... somewhere from 25 to 50 hands or more, put notes together for the person -- even if many of those people no longer play on Party.

On the other hand, the database created by PokerTracker is an Access database. I don't know a lot about Access, but it seems like it should be possible to have that program (Gil has the student version of Office, and I have a beta) create a report in a format that is readable by PartyPoker. Well, an excuse to learn Access.

I'm still looking for a good guide to using PokerTracker to evaluate one's play; if someone can point me in the right direction, let me know.

  Saturday, March 06, 2004

Someone is Reading This ...

I had the experience of having someone on a $3/$6 table a few minutes ago type into chat "Rhymes with Joker!"

I didn't recognize the name (Hi, st1ckman), but he said I was very "honest and open." High praise for my writing, but I hope I'm not so honest and open on the tables. Actually, it created a bit of pressure: Now if I do something stupid, he can let you all know about it.

So far tonight I've had a pretty rough time of it, from 8ish to 11ish, but now after a break I'm back and I'm clawing my way back. I hope to end tonight up $150ish, but it'll be a long climb to get there.

  Friday, March 05, 2004

PartyPoker is running this morning a whole string of "BETA test" freeroll multitable tournaments. No-Limit, they are, which isn't my game, but free is free.

My question is this: What are they beta-testing? Hopefully there are enough computer people in my limited audience to understand how that phrase is used in computerdom, but it's not at all clear what they're testing.

Yes, they have a new client, or at least the client's lobby has been tweaked significantly. But what's different in tournament play? Oh: They didn't stop registration at 1000 or 1500, as they have in other free- or nearly free-rolls, so maybe that's it: they tweaked their software such that they can have 2688 people in a tournament without a problem. But with 289 tables, I'm on table #51 and Gil's on table #11 -- luck of the draw that we'll be on our tables for a while (we hope).

After nosing around the 2+2 forums (which I don't do, much), I notice that many participants have utter contempt for their opponents on the $15/$30 tables at PartyPoker.

I've never partaken, due to lack of bankroll and/or guts. Is it as bad as I hear? Am I missing a gold mine?

(Doing pretty well tonight at $3/$6. After a couple of mediocre days, today makes up for it.)

  Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Week Four Wrapup

Week four stopped the hemhorraging of weeks two and three. I didn't have a great week, but I didn't have a thoroughly horrid week, which is an improvement.

I started keeping a log of how I do. After some disappointing casino play in weeks two and three, I found that I really didn't have a good idea exactly how much I was down. I'd always scoffed at the logs in the past, reasoning that I knew about where I was, lifetime, in both online and casino play. But in weeks two and three I don't know, and that's the second time I didn't have a clear handle on how much I'd lost. I don't like that.

My streak of doing worse in the casinos than online continued. My last post had in it what I'd lost over the weekend, and though it wasn't much, when I rely on $100 a day in income, losing $150ish over two days becomes a true loss of $350. Truly, I don't entirely know why this should be, the doing worse in the casino; the immediate thought is that I might have some obvious tell that others are picking up on. But I win nice pots with my nice hands, usually, so that's probably not the case. What I actually think it is, is game selection; particularly, too much playing at the higher limits, particularly at the Trump. Little River doesn't have the higher limits, but as I've said, they have tough players, usually; most days their $4/$8 game is the toughest you'll find.

The grisly details:

Date Location Time Limit Results Notes
2/24 PP C.R.4139 3AM-3:40 $3/$6 -$ 46.50
PP C.R.3715 3AM-6:05 $3/$6 -$ 76.50
PP C.R.1983 3:40-:45 $3/$6 +$ 34.00 (AA, AA, KQ, consec'ly)
PP C.R.4789 3:45-6AM $3/$6 +$ 8.00
Trump Gary 2PM-5:45 $3/$6 -$ 7.50 (Stupid hand to Gil)
TOTAL FOR 2/24: -$ 88.50
2/25 PP C.R.3848 8:55-10PM $3/$6 +$ 40.00
PP C.R.8762 8:55-10PM $3/$6 +$ 69.50
TOTAL FOR 2/25: +$109.50
2/26 PP Ice Cream 4:10P-5:30 $3/$6 -$141.50
PP C.R.3689 4:10P-5:30 $3/$6 +$ 41.50
TOTAL FOR 2/26: -$100.00
2/27 PP C.R.5092 7:10A-9:10 $3/$6 +$165.50
PP Haw.Delite 7:15A-9:10 $3/$6 +$ 13.50
Trump Gary ?-? $5/$10 -$117.50
TOTAL FOR 2/27: +$ 61.50
2/28 Little River 12P-12A $4/$8 -$ 11.00 (Big rally and big decline)
TOTAL FOR 2/28: -$ 11.00
2/29 Little River 10AM-2PM $4/$8 -~$100.00 (Tough table)
Little River 2PM-5:30 $4/$8 -$ 21.00 (Table of Dreams)
TOTAL FOR 2/29: -$121.00
3/1 PP C.R.4223 10:35A-1:40 $3/$6 +$242.50 (Steady build)
PP C.R.3647 10:35-11AM $3/$6 +$ 2.00
PP C.R.4103 11AM-1:45 $3/$6 +$ 24.00
PP C.R.4139 8:45P-9:35 $3/$6 -$ 33.50
PP C.R.3689 8:50P-9:40 $3/$6 +$153.50
TOTAL FOR 3/1: +$388.50
TOTAL FOR WEEK 4: +$239.00