Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Rough Patch (final post from last year)

Just found this draft of a blog from my demise last year. It doesn't provide all the figures at the bottom but it gives you the gist of what transpired.

I haven't won a session in a week. I am down to the felt for the time being so it looks like I will have to pick up some type of regular work to pay my share of the bills. I only lasted one month as a full time pro, so that really has me depressed. and the thing of it is I literally watched in astonishment as river after river brought my opponent a three or four outer. in another spot, I had my Aces cracked by a J9o and a three handed pot where it was only a limper in middle position, the small blind, and me in the big blind. I raised to build the pot and they both came along. the flop is jack high, I bet and only the limper calls. the turn brings a nine and I get check raised. I should have just mucked there but when you've been card dead for a week you just get attached to your lonely pair of Aces that take 221 hands to appear. about 30 minutes after that hand and I was down to my last $50 I picked up AJs in middle position and decided to limp because I had been raising with all my good hands (AK 5x being suited 3x and only winning one pot out of those holdings.) Only the small blind completes and the big blind checks and the flop comes Jack high. it was bet in first position, called by the big blind, and I called with the strategy of raising on the turn. turn looked safe, the first position checks, the big blind bets, I raise (which also works to hopefully limit the hand to a heads up confrontation) and the small blind folds. the big blind calls and the river comes with a Queen. the big blind checks and I bet, he calls and I show what I believe to be the winning hand of a pair of Jacks with the boss kicker. he tables 26o for a deuce through six straight. I am dumbfounded at what has transpired over the past week. and I am now broke to go with it.

"I'm down to the felt Knish."

But I still believe in my skills and abilities and I will be back in the game soon enough. I just hate the thought of actually having to get a real job which requires regular hours and the like.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The First Losing Session Of The Month

I've been on a bit of a roll to start of this month. Things really just couldn't go wrong. Usually, I find that I win but always feel like I should have won more had I not been sucked out on so much. For the first two weeks of this month, I was the one sucking out when behind (but I was also having most of my strong hands stand up to boot.) The past two days have seen a role reversal. On Tuesday, I couldn't make a hand stand up and was getting beat by two and three outers in big pots. Tuesday if luck had run average I would have come home about $150 ahead. but since my luck was running so good before, I know this is just part of the deal. when the dust settles and the numbers get back in line with how the probablities predict them, I know I'll be ahead of the game through superior hand selection and post-flop play. Well, at least until I build my bankroll and then move up in stakes. then we will see how I match up against the better competition. Wednesday I persevered and finally scratched and clawed my way back to water level.

Yesterday was more of the same. for the four hours I sat there, I was card dead for 3 1/2 hours worth of the session. the kind of stretch is meaningless in the long run, but to fold hand after hand for three hours gets kind of monotonous. every time I found a hand in a position where I thought I could be the first in and take control somebody in front of me beat me to the punch. There was an Asian man two seats to my right who I had played with on Wednesday and knew that he liked to raise without the needed hand values (hands like ATo and KJo) but I couldn't find a hand of my own to make it three bets to go when he bumped it up. There was an Asian lady four seats to my right that was also raising way to much. Alas, I never could find the goods to isolate either of them the way I would have liked. I worked my stack all the way down to the felt and then after putting another $50 on the table I worked my stack back up to where I started. Then an interesting hand came up and I am not sure if I played it correctly. I will go over it in detail and I welcome any feedback you may have as to how I could have played it better.

The table is down to six players at this point and the aforementioned Asian lady has just won her second pot in a row to make it a kill game of $6/$12. She is in middle position and it gets folded around to me on the button. I look down at Q8s in diamonds and decide that with position I am going to raise and isolate her. Preflop the plan works to perfection as the $12 to go gets the blinds out of the way and I am now heads up with an overly aggressive player. the flop comes down 8-T-x rainbow and I have flopped middle pair. She checks to me and I bet hoping to pick up the pot right there but if not I am still pretty sure I have her beat at the moment. I thought I sensed weakness in her call. the turn brings another 8 and I bet out again. This time she raises me. My read was that she had also hit the 8 with me but had a lesser kicker. I re-raised her and she played back at me again. Ut-oh. well, I am not totally sure I am beat or drawing dead at this point since she was so aggressive she could have made that play with an 8 since I felt her read of me was I had a big pocket pair since I raised preflop and had been playing so tight the entire session. I flat called her raise and called her river bet. she turned over pocket tens for a flopped set and a turned boat, leaving me drawing dead to an 8 on the river. by the way, the river was a meaning card but thankfully not a Q. I would have lost another couple of big bets (actually bigger bets since these were $12 increments due to the kill) had that occurred. Replaying the hand in my head the only spot I am not sure about re-raising her raise on the turn. but rather than second guess myself, I feel it is much better to trust your instincts and reads. otherwise, why try to play the game at a high level if you do not try to push your edges when you perceive you have one. maybe I should have gotten up after weathering the storm and getting my stack back, but the opposite could have also been true. I could be telling you about how my read was spot on and I won an additional rack after being down all day. hey, it's one long session anyway, so as long as the game is good and I am not tilting or tired, I should be in there battling away. I did feel like I got sucker punched after that hand and left the table shortly there after to pick up the real bread winner of the house.

In closing, it must be said that LAG Asian lady had the best hand start to finish. it goes that way sometimes, but I would still raise in that spot with those cards ten times out of ten. With position and the dead money in the blinds I feel like that spot is a long term money winner for me. My read was off this time, but hopefully as a result it will become sharper and I will become more aware. I'm experienced enough to know that when the board pairs there is a certain likelihood of a 'house at the showdown and that was what I fully expected to see in this hand as well after the turn betting sequence. but with the pot so big, as David Sklansky would say it would be a "mathematical catestrophe" to lay throw away the winner for one more bet. getting about 8 to 1 on the call, I only have to be right one in nine times. I can almost guarantee that she would have played trip 8's the same way in this spot so after further review I am not so disgusted with my play. just a little bummed.

here are figures for the week to date. looks like I'm treading water at the moment.

Hours Played This Session: 2.75
Take: $161
$ Per Hour: $58.55

Month to Date: $771
Year to Date: $1,011
Hourly Rate Year to Date: $13.62
Career Earnings: $1,628

Hours Played This Session: 3.25
Take: $6
$ Per Hour: $1.85

Month to Date: $777
Year to Date: $1,017
Hourly Rate Year to Date: $13.13
Career Earnings: $1,634

Hours Played This Session: 4
Gave: -$105
$ Per Hour: -$26.25

Month to Date: $672
Year to Date: $912
Hourly Rate Year to Date: $11.19
Career Earnings: $1,529

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Living Right

No bad beat stories here. Actually, I think I am on the right side of variance for once. I've always believed that you're not as bad as you seem to be when things are running bad and you're not as good you appear to be when you're getting beaten over the head by the deck. I just try and maintain a levelness that Andy Reid would be envious of. with that said, the regulars I play against are just plain bad. most are weak tight calling stations. they can't get away from top pair, decent kicker to a check raise from a player (that would be me) who has a stack of their chips in front of him and hasn't shown a bad hand all session, let alone not too many in the two weeks I've been playing with them. but who am I to complain since the money is flowing in my direction? I'll save that for when they start to suck out on me. I was rolling through my session yesterday and would have been pleased to spend my entire day there and break every single one of them, but duty called in the shape of wifey getting done her shift early. I decided to take my daily nut and run over to Quinn's Irish Pub for a couple of dunkel weisses (I know, I know, German beer doesn't seem right in an Irish establishment.) my regular bartender Danny wasn't there (Tuesday and Wednesday are his vegas weekend) so Franky was taking care of me today. turns out, Franky is a regular no limit player and we got to talking. he was psyched to find out that not only do I play, but I have a sense of ego control about my play in that I am always looking to improve my game. he asked if I read and in between sips of my wheat ale I knodded in the affirmative. He pulled out a copy of Alan Schoonmaker, Ph. D.'s The Psychology of Poker from behind the bar and asked if I had read it yet. I replied that I had book that very book for my father a couple of Christmas's ago but I, myself, had not yet had the opportunity to study it. I've attached the link to Amazon.com so if you want to check it out just click on the image below. It looks like I may have finally found a running partner and poker buddy to share my experiences with locally out here. he asked me about record keeping and I told him I use Statking (mentioned in my first blog entry) and how much I loved it. he said he was still keeping records by hand. I offered to lend him my copy to upload and a friendship was born. maybe I'll get some free frosty beverages out of it as well :-) I'm honestly amped about maybe having someone to talk to about strategy and all the other things that surround playing poker at a profitable level consistently over the long haul.
on another note, I've decided to change the heading Total Bankroll under my record keeping section at the bottom of each post to Career Earnings since total bankroll is a bit misleading since I use a portion of my winnings to pay my living expenses. I will from time to time let you know how my cash on hand has grown and when I've decided to jump in limit. I plan on keeping this a very gradual process. once i have about a G in my safe at home, will take a single stab at a bigger game probably once per week but keep my regular play at the limit I am at. hopefully the Peter Principle does not pertain to me for quite a while as I'd like to get up to at least the $20/$40 game within a year. for those not familiar, the concept states that people are promoted to their level of incompentcy. I don't want to self limit myself in how high I think I will be able to play at my skills progress, but with that said I am not going to work for years moving up higher and higher only to find a level that I cannot beat and go broke. I'd rather make a living playing $20/$40 or $30/$60 rather than play $100/$200 and be asking for loans all the time because I ran myself down to the felt. That is a rather long time off but I figured I'd go on a rant about it now since I am on the topic. I am also going to work on my no limit skills once I build my bankroll up since there are always soft no limit games going around the clock. I decided to forego the $45 buy-in no limit tourney today. I'm feeling really good about my cash game play and want to stay focused on it. I think I am capable of switching mindsets from tourney play to limit cash game play, but I fear that I may take a bad beat in the tourney and not be in the right mind set to play my A game come ring game time. my paltry bankroll can't afford that right now.

I wanted to make a quick mention of my title for this entry. What I mean by living right is I am using my winnings and taking care of my personal responsibilities rather than blowing my profits on less than useful things like toys or sports wagers. It makes me feel good to know I am doing the right thing and that transcends itself into my play. I go into each session feeling good about my life outside of the green baize and I think it reflects in my play. I don't feel the need to play small pairs upfront or suited connectors in the same spots when the game conditions do not call for it. it's not to say I won't play those types of hands from there, but the conditions must be right. if I even have one loose aggressive player at the table these types of hands can become unprofitable since I may not get the multiway action I need to get paid off in many spots should I hit my hand hard.

Yesterday's figures for your review:

Hours Played This Session: 1.58
Take: $134
$ Per Hour: $84.81

Month to Date: $587
Year to Date: $850
Hourly Rate Year to Date: $11.89
Career Earnings: $1,467

PS - I'd like to thank GVR for the nifty travel ID holders they provided the players of the poker room with a couple days ago. while they are quite touristy, they will come in handy for holding a passport, Id, some cash, credit cards, and travelers checks should we go on vacation out of the country. I've provided a scanned image below. it's meant to be worn around your neck and tucked under your shirt so that you cannot get pick pocketed and be SOL. got one for wifey too :-)

Monday, June 9, 2008

Sometimes Things Go Right

Things have been pretty copacetic the past three days. Biggest win of the campaign followed by a break even day, followed by (what I hope to be my average daily take) win of $100. I feel like I am starting to see the game three plays ahead now, just like I used to see the game when I played soccer. I am starting to sense when my medium pocket pair is good even though an overcard has fallen and I am up against two other opponents. I am beginning to pay attention to things like who is willing to muck their hands after the flop if they don't connect and who is going to call you down with bottom pair or ace high. it adds to my bottom line by being able to run a bluff (or shoot a second barrel on fourth street) against the first player while against the second player betting for value and realizing that I am going to have to check the flop in position and take a free card or check in first position and hope the opponent checks behind me. I'm learning which of the regulars are calling stations and which actually have some balls and will run a play at you from time to time. So far, I have not come to be resented by any of the regulars even though I tend to walk away with an extra rack or more than what I showed up with. I've even gotten comfortable enough to start telling jokes and have some fun while still staying focused on the action and taking mental notes. in essence, my game is starting to come around on levels outside of how to play particular hands in certain situations. saying all this, i hope i don't tank my session today. I will be going in feeling pretty confident since I am making my second bank deposit of winnings since I've started playing. I do get a rush carrying around or having on hand in the house a bunch of big bills, but the last thing I need is for somebody to break into our apartment (by either getting past our deadbolted front door or jimming our sliding door which has a single hook as the deterrent for unwanted house guests) and cleaning me out. after all I am more-the-less self-employed and currency is the commodity I trade in.

That being a good segue into my next topic. I've worked out my monthly nut and it looks like I will need to make around $1,500 per month to keep on top of my current obligations which include student loans, car insurance, my portion of the rent, cell phone, and credit card payments. the figure I've assigned to the credit cards payments will have them paid off in about 3 months. fornuately the car insurance is paid for 4 consecutive months and then I have 2 months without payments before the cycle repeats. I ran some figures through Statking using an hourly rate of $21 and a bankroll of $750 to get my monthly nut of $1,500. the chance of ruin (aka going broke) was roughly 10% so I'm about a 1-9 favorite to make it assuming the figures I entered are close to being correct (garbage in garbage out so I used a conservative hourly rate of $21 although my actual current win rate at GVR where I pretty much play exclusively now is $28.96. that being said, my sample size is minute with only 31 hours played there so far. still I feel confident about my play and about the weakness of my opponents at this venue.) $21 per hour is exactly 2 5/8 big bets per hour. it sounds really high but at this level of competition I think it's pretty accurate. I actually hope to be earning more that $1,500 per month so that I can do things like build my bankroll or enjoy such luxuries as buying groceries, going binge drinking or playing a 5 team parlay. I actually plan on adding some low buy-in tournies to my repetoire to see if I can build my bankroll further. GVR has a 10 am tourney with a $45 buy-in that regulary pays about $500 to the winner. from what i've noticed, there is normally a deal made so getting in the final three would be worth a little over $300. and the tourney would start about 2 hours ahead of the $4/$8 game getting going, so I'd be able to hop right into that either after getting busted or making it to the money. I'll keep you posted on how that goes. may play in my first morning tourney tomorrow (depending how I do today.)

OK, enough chat, I've got to get to the bank and then make my way to my office. my colleagues will be expecting me. the past three days are below:

Hours Played This Session: 3
Take: $191
$ Per Hour: $63.67

Month to Date: $359
Year to Date: $599
Hourly Rate Year to Date: $9.16
Total Bankroll: $1,216

Hours Played This Session: 2.5
Take: $10
$ Per Hour: $4

Month to Date: $369
Year to Date: $609
Hourly Rate Year to Date: $8.97
Total Bankroll: $1,226

Hours Played This Session: 2
Take: $107
$ Per Hour: $53.50

Month to Date: $476
Year to Date: $716
Hourly Rate Year to Date: $10.24
Total Bankroll: $1,333

Friday, June 6, 2008

It's Not Gambling Anymore...

...It's become a test of how unlucky I can get. I say that tongue in cheek, but quite frankly I'm getting used to the swings of this line of work. They don't quite make me as hot under the collar as when I was a greenhorn a month ago. I guess it's like any job. It takes a month or two to find out the quirks and nuances of the gig. I'm getting used to the swings and roller coaster rides that make up the profession. I've gotten rivered more times than I can count and I've in turn rivered countless opponents. problem is, I keep getting rivered in big pots and rivering opponents in smaller ones. makes for a frustating time but luck will no doubt even out and my superior play will pay dividends much like the house edge eats away at the mopes in the pits. I also had my first taste of collusion, though I noticed it too late in the session to pick up on it. only after retrospect did I realize that I got shut out of a huge pot by two playes in cahoots. I knew it would happen sooner or later but now I know how to pick up on it. Turns out they usually sit next to one another and bet and raise in big pots to make it difficult for opponents in late position to capitalize on the inherent advantage that position allows for. Canada Bill Jones was once asked why he played in a crooked game and his response was "it was the only game in town." sometimes it feels that way when only one table of the game you play is spread and there are enough fish at the table to still make it worth your while. the lesson to be learned is, sometimes when you suspect it you have to call down a double bet when normal card sense would suggest you through away your hand. it will add to your variance, but in the long run will still add to your bottom line as you pick up more money in pots where you might only win a single additional bet.

anyway, the story i was going to write was supposed to be laden with how i have been surveying the poker scene on the strip and telling you how i found some soft spots loaded with tourists with heavy wallets. i found that at the venetian but that is also where i found the team play going on. buyer be ware.

(6/4 - MGM Grand $3/$6 limit hold'em))
Hours Played This Session: 3
Take: $1
$ Per Hour: $0.33

Earn: Month to Date: $146
Year to Date: $386
Hourly Rate Year to Date: $6.50
Total Bankroll: $1,003

(6/5- Venetian $4/$8 limit hold'em)
Hours Played This Session: 3
Take: $22
$ Per Hour: $7.33

Month to Date: $168
Year to Date: $408
Hourly Rate Year to Date: $6.54
Total Bankroll: $1,025