Sunday, May 31, 2009


Changing Landscape

So the WSOP's off and running with the $40K NL. Well done and/or commiserations to Neil for his run and 20th place finish, I think that's pretty much 1/1 for the tournament as there wasn't really anyone else I was funking for :-). Now, one thing I don't want to do is point to the results of one tournament and say "Look, Internet players rule !". It annoys me enough when people do that for the live stars. But there was an interesting comment on Pokernews next to the live updates :

"besides Raymer and forrest, the dream final table espn was looking for wont happen"

Indeed it won't, and indeed that was exactly what ESPN were looking for. Their problem is, there's no longer any way they can make this happen in an open tournament. If the buyin is high enough to keep the riff-raff out, as it was here, then what happens instead is that a lot of very good Internet players step up to play. And not just the tournament players either. There were a lot of guys in this tournament like Ansky and Traheho who have made the final, also Raptor, Durrr, Brian Townsend, Terrence Chan, and so on. The difference between tournament and cash play is often over-stated IMO ; if you're a good cash player it's really not hard to learn how to play the 20BB stack (as hard as some of the live players make it look). But these guys are really, really, really good with 100BB+, especially compared to a lot of the tournament specialists (whether live or online).

ESPN's best bet for a "stacked" final table remains the $50K HORSE, which was the whole point of the event in the first place, but predictably enough they have realised that most of their audience is going "He can't go all in ? Why not ? Wait, split pot ? What the hell is this crap ?". Which is why they've ended up putting the charity tournament on their 4-event schedule. Can't blame them, I can totally see why they did it. There's also a "tournament of champions" or something like that which may be televised, I'm not sure.

This is neither good nor bad. It just is. Everyone involved simply has to adapt. It's one reason why so many sponsored pros spent such a big part of their budget on this event. It was by far their best shot at TV exposure. If they have any sense they'll buy in for the charity event ASAP before it fills up. The charity angle looks good too. And it's not even their money ! Win win :-)

Update : As it happens, in the first version of this post I fell into another classic trap. I know that the live updating is a difficult job, but the fact is that the hand reports you see online are not very reliable. Again, just how it is, but they're simply not accurate enough of the time to use them to make judgements on peoples' play. So that's something else I'm going to try to avoid !

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Making The Grade

I don't know all the ins and outs of who did what in the Black Belt Poker Grading, but I do think it's an interesting example of how the journey is more important than the destination. You can see two extremes on the Grading page, irrespective of who actually became what belt. There are people who tried to make the most of the process day by day and people who seem totally focussed on the end result and whether they "passed or failed".

Needless to say the first group will have developed as poker players, and maybe even as people, far more than the second. And, paradoxically, I'm sure that the people who did pay most attention to what they were doing day by day, hour by hour, hand by hand actually had the best chance of achieving the desired result in the end. With this being the topic du jour on the forums, that's the angle I wanted to highlight anyway.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Vegas !

Booked the flight this morning, to cover the Main Event and the $5K at Venetian if I'm out of the ME. The indecision was playing on my mind so I thought I'd better just do it :-). Worst case I have to cancel and I can still change the flight to next year.

They have changed the payout structure in the ME this year ; I wouldn't say "fixed" but it's an improvement. Apparently they were all set on arsing it up again until Greenstein rolled up and said "you guys need any help with that ?". According to the internet (so it must be true) they were trying to do it by hand. FFS, have they not even heard of spreadsheets ? Anyway, sort of 14th-6th is quite flat, which is potentially fantastic if you're on the last two tables and not too bothered/delusional about how much sponsorship $ the FT is worth. That should be the bubble of all bubbles. And seeing as nobody got Tonya Harding-d last year in the delay, that just about swings it. I'll probably stay in the Venetian, and as I said below, accept what I need to accept about how it all works and enjoy it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Vegas ?

I might go out to Vegas for 10 days after all. I'm so indecisive. Or am I ? But it's quite tempting because there are certain things I can do to make it more enjoyable, as follows :

- Man up and play some bigger comps. If I want to spin up $30K, do it in like 6 tournaments in 10 days instead of drakking around playing $1500s for 5 weeks. The fields will probably be tougher but then again lol donkaments, plus smaller fields makes for a better chance of a final table run.

- Stay somewhere other than the Rio. Wynn/Venetian are only a $10 cab ride away and then if I'm not playing I can just chill, not bad places to hang out !

- Ignore everything I don't like about it and accept what I can't ignore. That's the way it is.

- Book for 10-14 days and come back if I haven't won anything. If I hit big, stay out and live it large !

I might leave it late. Hotels shouldn't be a problem and if I have to pay a grand extra for a late flight, what's that compared to the spinup anyway !

Update : Surprisingly, I changed my mind again. Looking at Main Event / Venetian $5K if bust out / holiday if bust out of that, for about 2 weeks.

Monday, May 11, 2009


EZ Life

I moan a bit sometimes, as we all do, but it's just letting off steam. In truth, I have a sick EZ life. I play a game of cards for 15 hours a week and that enables me to have everything I need. Everything I want, even. I can make my own hours and play as little or as much as I like. I've had a pretty sketchy year so far online, no score over $15K that I can recall, and I've still made as much as I ever made in an entire year of having a good job. And that's just online, not counting the TV donkament.

But the point of this post isn't just as a brag. Well not entirely anyway :-). I wanted to express how perplexed I am by the fact that half of 2+2 wonders why I do it. For example :

Why Play MTTs ?

Cliff notes, "Simple question: why should I or anybody else play MTTs, especially NLHE MTTs?"

My response

I love the stuff about "not pure poker". It makes me think of a pair of "Suits You Sir" tailors going "Well Sir, did we win this money in donkaments ? Went ALL IN a lot did we Sir ? Get out of here you scum, we don't want your money". Except that never happens, does it.

That's just an entree though for this very interesting thread :

Most makeup / How long

Just ignore the last 100 posts or so which are nits arguing about selling makeup. It's the eternal question of whether playing the live circuit with a backer is really a good idea. Maybe it's even more basic than that, going right back to Joey Knish v Mike McDermott. Grind or glory ?

First of all, I don't really understand what makes one form of poker more of a grind than another. Over a year (or a decade, or a lifetime), you play X hands of poker for $Y. What difference whether it's tournament or cash ? Or X hours for $Y if it's online vs live. But again, what difference ? You play poker, you get paid.

If you want to argue that it's cooler, or more fun, to play the live circuit for big money, I might well accept that. If you were playing off your own money. I'm the big shot, I'm playing the $25K Bellagio. Er, if my backer agrees it. Right. And it must be lots of fun to be 6 figures in the hole and needing to win that back before you see dollar one.

So anyway, in this thread, I end up getting into it with Gobbo starting from post 258. I didn't want to be personal about it, and fortunately I did resist the temptation to react when he called me "retarded" and "a nit", but the fact is that his statement "MTTs are really fucking hard to make a living in" is total nonsense. See the title of this blog post for the actuality. If he meant "getting out of $100s of K in make up is really fucking hard", fine, but then that's what he should have said !

There are some great posts in the thread though, especially from Seabeast and Timex. One of the things Timex said was that many people over-estimate their EV in live tournaments. Judging by Gobbo's estimate of $500/hr, he's one of them. I didn't get to ask him if that was before giving the backer his cut (in which case the player EV is $250/hr which is no better than what you can do online) or after (in which case he's claiming a base EV of $1000/hr, O RLY). The reason I didn't get to ask him is because he left the thread after I asked him to explain this :

"So you're telling me being a nit and sacrificing hundreds of thousands in equity so you can grind out a living and never turn poker into anything is a good goal to have? That seems awful. I would quit poker now if I didn't think I could turn it into something eventually."

Something ? What ? What does he mean ? I have no idea. And maybe this gets to the heart of the disconnect. People are chasing ... something. I don't know what it is. They don't seem to know themselves. But they need this something to make it all worthwhile. Gobbo would "quit now" if he couldn't turn it into "something".

If there's one thing I can tell you from my life (lol sample size 1), it's screw tomorrow and live for today. I tried to "make a career", I had pensions and PEPs, I scrimped and cut back so I could "invest for tomorrow". And for what ? If it wasn't for poker I'd still be living hand to mouth right now. As soon as I said "fuck this, I'm getting off" my quality of life went through the roof. And if it hadn't worked out, big deal, like I wanted to be a Business Unit Manager anyway (yes really, a BUM). I could have got a job in a library and been just as happy (happier if anything, I could tell people to shut up all day).

You don't need "career goals" and you don't need to "turn poker (or whatever you do) into something". That's snake oil they sell you to keep your nose to the grindstone, or keep you coming to the WSOP every year. I don't know where I was going with this post, but now I'm here ! Just like life :-)

Update : Seabeast nails it here. Absolutely nails it.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


Calling All Sickos

I received an Email today telling me about the latest poker software aid. If you sign up to this service, you will be Emailed or text messaged any time a particular player sits at an online cash table. What I loved was the reasons they gave why anyone would want this :

"Whether you are looking for your friends, keeping tabs on one of your horses, or just want to know when your favorite pro has signed on to an online poker room"

Super lol. As if anyone would use this for anything except being messaged when the Guy Laliberte of their stakes sits down ! It takes bumhunting to a new level. When you reach this point, maybe you need to take a look at your life IMO. Imagine teeing off at the 14th, or perusing the dessert menu, when the text arrives. Drop everything ! I could make a slightly higher hourly rate than normal !

Meanwhile I finished 12th in the 100 rebuy again last night. And 7th and 13th in a couple of turbos, FML. Having lots more fun with the UTG reraise dynamic. Last night someone click-4 bet me from UTG and I totally fell for it, he had AA. slkedfsklfnslkdfn.

Saturday, May 02, 2009


April Wrap

After all that to-ing and fro-ing, I still managed to put $25K in play through April, and made an acceptable profit considering the absence of a big score - August was the last one which is a little disappointing but there's nothing you can do about it but keep at it and there's always next Sunday !

I've tweaked my schedule again and it feels really good now. I play both $100 rebuys on Stars ; for the first one, I'm just nitting it up for the rebuy period while I'm eating dinner, surfing the net or whatever, then I add in some of the shorter tournaments that start at 8pm - Party 150, Paradise E50R, Ongame 50R, Betfair 100 and so on. I take up any slack with turbo satellites on Full Tilt (they have some nice turbo FTOPS sats at the moment), kick off the $100 rebuy turbo at 9, and round it off with some more turbos from 10-11, finishing with the $200 FT Turbo.

This means I'm leaving out some tournaments that I've done well in this year (like the iPoker 2045 comp and the Tilt 100 rebuy), basically because they just go on too long. The way I have it set up now, if I'm still in anything at midnight then it'll be very close to the business end. In the long run, tournaments is tournaments, and results in one particular tournament are so dominated by variance that it's a mistake to read too much into them.

I'm quickly adjusting to the dynamic in the Stars 100 rebuys, with 3 deep runs last week - annoyingly losing flips to finish 15th, 6th and 10th, but that should come soon enough. This way I can put $2K in play in a 4-5 hour session, and because it doesn't go so late, happily play more nights per week which is great.

Finally, I'm going to be playing a few Omaha tournaments this month, in FTOPS and ECOOP, as part of a fun project with BoylePoker, so look out for that. The angle is "teach a NL donk [me] to play Omaha tournaments [in two weeks]". But how hard can it be :-)

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