Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Unreasonable Expectations

I enjoyed this documentary which someone linked to in a thread on 2+2. It's one of those "pick 4 people and follow them through the WSOP" jobs, in this case Isabelle Mercier, Fabrice Soulier, Luca Pagano and (somewhat incongruously) Joe Hachem. This takes place in 2006 when Hachem was the "defending champ".


If you're interested, watch it before reading the rest of this post where I spoil it. Anyway, what I find interesting is the emotional reaction of the players to their results, as follows.

- Pagano whiffs everything. He's obviously quite down about it but drives off into the sunset saying he's going to get back to work online and on the Euro circuit.

- Soulier doesn't even make a Day 2 until the very last event, which was one of the bracelet events they tacked on in 2006 after the ME had started. He finishes 4th for $50K to get out of it (it's the one that Praz won). That's pretty much what I did in 2007, so I know how relieved you feel to get out of it like that. Soulier looks relieved as well and comes across fairly positive on his way out.

- Mercier makes a final table quite early and finishes 5th for $175K. But she's gutted that she didn't win. She whiffs everything else and ends up storming out of the ME saying stuff like "six months preparation for the worst day of my life" and "I was sure I was going to win". This is where pumping yourself up too much for the WSOP can get you, and it's not a good place. Cashing for (presumably) $100K+ profit is something a good player will manage only one year in 3 or 4. If you're still not happy when you do it, you're setting yourself up to be depressed every year. To what extent Isabelle believes what she says about always being so sure she's going to do well is unclear. It might just be a form of positive thinking to get into a confident mindset. That's all very well until you start believing it, which is a major problem going into something like the WSOP where the variance is so high and so few people walk away with a bracelet, if that's your only goal.

- Hachem ... well we know what Joe's like by now. Despite making two finals and a good profit, we get shots of moody Joe staring into the sunset and playing online alone in a darkened room. Tough life. The thing is, in a way I feel sorry for him. I don't think this guy is ever going to be happy until he gets some professional mental help. Whatever he wins will never be enough to "prove himself" to his (perceived) critics and enemies.

Getting your head right going into the WSOP is a very difficult balancing act. You have to accept that you're probably not going to make what you could have made in your regular game at home in the same time ; probably not even going to make a profit ; and, on a day-by-day basis, probably not going to cash the next tournament. It's the one year in 4 or 5 where you do really well that makes it worth while. At the same time, you have to be positive and confident enough to play your best. Pumping yourself up with "I'm the best, I'm going to win one this year" is just setting yourself up for a fall, mentally, when it doesn't happen.

What works for me is to remember that they're just another bunch of donkaments no different from any other. Which, when you strip away all the hype, is exactly what they are. But in Vegas, the city of hype, and in the Rio, with pictures of winners flaunting the bling everywhere you look, that can be very hard to do. In the end, if you're a professional player, you have to ask yourself whether it's worth taking 6 weeks off your regular game (and maybe another month afterwards due to the comedown) to put yourself through this, in tournaments that are less and less value with each passing year. I'm glad I didn't this year, although I would be, seeing as I had my best month ever online. Whichever way you do it, you can't escape the variance :-)

Monday, July 20, 2009


Looking Like A Dork

*** WARNING this post contains spoilers of European Poker Open shows that will be on your screens in the next month. Look away now if you don't want to see them ! ***

If it's not too late, anyway :-). I've seen them (semi-final and final) and they both make me look like a dork. Partly because I have this habit of swaying back and forward in my chair like a 6-year-old, but mostly because of the way the poker hands look. Basically, twice in each show, I ran my bag of filth into JJ+, which never looks good. I know, myself, that all the plays were standard (albeit one or two were a bit thin), and I guarantee you that in spots where commentators wanted me to fold to reraises, that would have been ridiculously exploitable, and there were definitely players on each table (Neil and Karl for a start) capable of exploiting. And as we know, 90% of the moves that get through end up on the cutting room floor.

But I knew all that before I saw the DVD. What surprises me now is how rattled I look at one point in the final. I remember feeling a little off balance but certainly not as much as I look on screen. The overall impression is of someone with a very one-dimensional "shove and hope" game. But you know what ? Maybe that's not a mile off. I was wondering this evening, while spinning a few turbo tournaments, whether too much short-stack online tournament play inhibits my development as a player. Luckily I soon pulled myself together and came up with the correct answer - so do I have to give any of the money back ? *Dr Evil voice* how about Nooo.

Poker is not a sport, it's not about being on TV and it's not about being a face on the circuit. It's about getting the fucking money. THE MONEY. To get the money, you find bad players and you play lots of hands against them. This guy [1] understands it - he's like the cash version of me IMO. Find worse players than you and play a ton of hands against them. I know what my hourly is and I know how few people in poker can match it, and in live poker, how very very very few. And if the style of play required to do what I do is considered one-dimensional, hell if it is one-dimensional, then so much the better, because that makes it easier and so I can do it listening to Megadeth. If I want to expand my brain I can use my considerable free time to go and take a philosophy course, or whatever. Which I might just do.

[1] Yes, the latest entry is about ligging it up in Vegas. Everyone can have a holiday :-).

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Post Mortem

On reflection, I'm not going to lose a lot of sleep over a tournament in which the following happened :

- I lost 45K "Sklansky Chips" in preflop allin situations
- I flopped one set in 22 hours and didn't get on
- I had a net chip loss with AA over the tournament
- I had a ridiculously tough table on Day 1

Now, it's true that I had some "hidden luck". No one came over one of my 3-bets in 22 hours [1]. I had a couple of key pots on Day 2 when I was low and I would have been in big trouble if my opponent had hit the flop (with whatever he was holding). But it's a stretch to call my luck even average over the 3 days, and as I said before, you need a hell of a lot more than average luck to go deep.

If there's one thing I might have done it's make a couple or three river folds. Having said that, I played all the hands to induce on turn and river and when you do that it's really not a big leak to make those calls. Other players might well have lost the same amount and not even got to showdown, while losing value against any worse hands. I probably should have folded the Aces against the king of the nits on a TTxxK board, but the other two I can live with.

Overall, once I broke my 0/3 streak of unlucky table draws (counting 2007 and this year), I could see how much value this event really is. Amateurs just can't keep it together for 10 hours of poker, unless they're constantly increasing their stack. So many people fall apart once they lose a pot or two, or can't make anything happen for a level. You can almost see them thinking "I had 50K an hour ago .. jeez, got to get it back". Some of the plays I saw on Day 3 were so bad, generally when people were scared to play multiple streets and made overbets that would get called by a better hand and only a better hand. Or ludicrous river checks with big hands because people didn't want to get raised when they weren't holding the nuts.

I'm definitely going to stay till Friday, why not. Playing online tomorrow, we'll see how that goes, mostly in terms of physical comfort playing on a laptop without my space-age chair. Then I have the option of playing the Venetian $5K on Monday or online for the rest of the trip, or even having a couple of days off, it is allowed :-).

[1] Technically the old guy on Day 3 put his 25K in on top of my 15K 3-bet. Seeing as I was committed and I had the best hand though, I don't think that counts.



Sigh. Frustrating but there wasn't much I could do really. Briefly and without trying to spin anything :

- Moved up to 150K after turning a full house OOP, could maybe have made some more but meh
- Lost flip when old guy inexplicably raise-called 20BBs with Q9s. I had A3s but lost.
- 3-bet an UTG raiser with KQs, thought it would look strong enough to fold out most of his range and I have a flexible hand if I get called. Apparently not as he called with 22. Flop Q92, check behind/call/(perhaps questionably) call. Annoying because he only wins the hand if he flops a 2, and he only makes more than one bet if I flop top pair as well. None of which gets me my chips back.
- Drain down to 30 missing and getting played back at on every flop
- Snap Hevad Khan's SB push with K9 and chop with his K6
- Open-jam a couple, then re-ship 18BBs with K9s, he calls TT, it holds gg.

Which is a shame because my first table was really soft. Major donktastic action again and again. But it was the kind of over-aggressive donkery that you need a hand to punish, and I didn't find one. Ho hum. I wasn't bothered about min-cashing anyway, and I'd need one hell of a lot more luck than that to go deep. I'll see if I can change flights and come back on Monday. Ehhh, or I might stay (till Friday), play some US timezone online.

Thursday, July 09, 2009


Back And Forth

Pretty strange day today. First of all I was epically slowrolled by the floorstaff. I turned up to my expected table, only to find it full. An announcement directed all Seat 10 players into Amazon, so I found someone in there and showed him my slip. "Oh yes, " he said, "You're on the ESPN Final Table". ZOMG ! I looked at his list of players and the name Phil Hellmuth was the first I saw. Super ZOMG ! XOMG ! Then I looked for my name. Just as I realised it wasn't there he said "Oh no, wait a minute".

So I was packed back off to Court 318 where I spent the rest of the day. The first two levels were a complete non-event, I made 3K profit, mostly thanks to TT > JJ against a short-stack. The next hour and a half was a complete mare, I was stationed out of 50K chips, the worst one being AA v AT on a flop of TTx. Worst thing was my opponent, a classic old American nit (right down to the bracelet from 1989), was shaking his head throughout the entire hand. Just like he did when he had quad Aces. Sigh. Luckily I won a couple of key pots, I 3-bet squeezed another old guy and Robert Mizrachi (who was on my immediate right) with AJo, Mizrachi called, flop A high and I had to go with it with only 1.5 x pot left, but he folded. I 3-bet the same old guy with KQo and got to showdown on a KJxxx board, beating AJ.

From then on I ground and ground and ground, raise/c-bet and 3-betting when I could. As the day neared its end I met with less and less resistance. By the last half hour I was calling and outflopping people just to annoy them, and I finished with 118. If only every level was the last of the day. Half the field tightens up and half the rest just crack wide open. Old guy #2 called 25% pre with JTs to flop a straight flush draw against KK and get there on the turn. One of the stations cold 4-bet KQs with no fold equity. And so on.

Mizrachi was the only "face" at my table all day, and he wasn't a problem, which isn't so much as a comment on his play, which was fine, but just the fact that no one short of Ivey is really a problem when you have position on them every hand. Amazingly, I'm pretty sure that no one has come over one of my 3-bets in two days. 18 hours of poker. Amazingly lucky probably, but I'll take it, seeing of course as I had a real hand about 10% of the time. So I will have a little over average with 2000 players left on Friday, which is not exactly poised to win it all, but it's nice to have a shot.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009


One Down ...

I had a great day 1 yesterday and finished with 96K. This looked very unlikely at one point. To start with, Phil Galfond sat down 2 to my left, probably one of the 10 players in the entire event I least want to be on my left playing 300BBs. On his left was a player he obviously knew, who turned out to be Shannon Shorr. Two to my right was a player who entered a ton of pots ; initially I thought he might be the value but on the first break I found out it was Scott Seiver. Seat 1 was playing really well too (as Shannon says in his blog).

After getting involved in a levelling war vs Shannon in the last hand before the break (I 4-bet/folded 98s lol) I was down to 23K before dragging my first pot when I rivered a straight against Scott. Then I started to take the aggressive route and reraise pre where possible, which is risky but I think has to be done on a tough table. Through the day I reraised AK and AQ in a lot of spots where I would just have called online. Luckily I hit enough flops for this to work, it's hell when you get called and miss in that spot. It's also worth noting that my high 3-bet frequency helped me in the pot against Shannon below.

A couple of things happened to change the dynamic ; first of all I 3-bet Scott 4 times in about an hour and he passed them all, then he started open-limping and min-raising instead. Shannon knocked Phil out blind-vs-blind and a much weaker player took Phil's seat, in fact I think I took all his chips by the end of the day in about 3 chunks. I started to hit some hands and pick up 10K here and there.

After the dinner break the cracks started to open up in the weaker players, as tends to happen, particularly a couple of older guys who decided to show those whippersnappers that they couldn't be pushed around, with predictable consequences. I 4-bet jammed QJs on Phil's replacement when he made a perfect 3-bet to be shoved on and he insta-folded, next time he jammed on me and I had AA, must be nice. I took about 20K off Shannon in the hand he describes in his blog (at the end), I thought he might have had AQ there. I'd also like to officially confirm here that I was not playing with Shannon's balls.

I 3-bet/folded one towards the end and we only played 3 hands after they stopped the clock (ZOMG this system is so so much better than just playing out the level) so I didn't quite make 100K. Once I got going I really enjoyed it, it was a tough table but at least there was no bullshit, no hollywooding, just a tough game played with respect. I don't recognise anyone on my Day 2 draw, but I have two Frenchmen on my immediate left so that should be fun !

Update : Phil Galfond's ME blog here. I didn't really play a hand with him so I have no idea whether he considered me a "solid young player" or "soft spot" :-). Really surprised he folded KK, he must have had a heck of a tell because the simple dynamic of how often he was open-raising skews the hand to such an extent that I would have thought KK was a snap-shove there.

Monday, July 06, 2009


Let Us Gogogogo

We're up to bat today then. 5 levels for us, and I expect to be 10-handed to start with at least. I've slept better with each night and feel OK at the moment, I did kind of conk out yesterday at 6-30pm so I hope I can do better than that - at least that coincides with the dinner break anyway.

I don't really mind what happens, in terms of results, I'll just try to focus on playing well and enjoying it. Process >>> results. Eckhart Tolle says so and Dr Bob Rotella agrees. This is easy to say when I've been getting the absolute online, but I'd have to go so deep in this to win a life-changing amount that it's super unlikely, plus my life is awesome so I probably don't even want to change it anyway. It's going to be mad today (at the least the field will be capped at 2700 and I expect them to squeeze more in somehow) so good luck finding any updates, but I'll try to update Facebook at dinner and on here at close of play. If not before, hopefully :-)

BTW I'll be starting on Brasilia 158 and wearing a T-shirt with "ZOMG" written on it if anyone wants to stop by.

Thursday, July 02, 2009


Vegas Checklist

[x] Gus Hansen haircut
[ ] $130K (can't get it off Stars in time, which is probably for the best)
[x] $25K
[x] Matches
[x] T-shirts with "LDO", "FML" and "ZOMG" written on them
[x] 7-disc Tarantino box set
[ ] Noise reducing headphones, can't find them skjdfbnskjfbdbd
[x] Liqourice comforts and Silk Cut for beleagured front-line troops

Let us gogogogo. And yes, this post is a transparent filler to present the last playlist :

Playlist 7

Metallica - S & M (Disc 2)
Whitesnake - 1987 (remastered)
Beck - Odelay
Live - V
The Cure - Greatest Hits
Tiger Lillies - Live In Russia 2000-2001
Tori Amos - Abnormally Attracted To Sin
... that seems to be it. Go to "Chants" playlist if still in I suppose.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


Software (2)

OK so before I got sidetracked owning Daniel Negreanu and rubbing $100s on my chest, I was talking about software. The two programs I have found useful with multi-tabling are Table Ninja (for Stars) and Full Tilt Shortcuts (for Full Tilt ldo).

Table Ninja was much easier to set up to work how I want it to, but after a couple of days of tweaking, FTS is now up to speed. If you have/pick up FTS and you want to use overlapping tables, the best bet is to go to the Table1 tab and set it up as follows :

- Highlight the Active Table with Pending Action
- Highlight (non-active) Tables with Pending Action
- Select "Activate the Next Table with Pending Action"
- Activate the Table the Mouse is Over

and leave everything else blank. That pretty much causes the correct table to come up and stay up until you've done something. Both of these allow you to set bet sizing to a reasonable default and tweak using the mouse wheel if required, which is great. TN lets you select a button to mash when you want to go all in (I use "Insert") which rules, but I can't seem to make FTS do that. Anyway both of these are recommended for multi-tabling. One gripe with FTS is that it can display your M on screen, which would be great, if it simply got it right. Half the time with antes in play it doesn't, so that actually costs you time because you look at it and then have to re-check it anyway.

They're both good for cash and/or Sit and Goes as well, when you set them up for SNGs they're great for auto-opening more tables when you're playing, which used to be the bane of my SNG life. Needless to say though, once I had one of "those" SNG sessions at the weekend I decided they weren't the future (again) after all, that always happens.

Those were the only two packages I shelled out for in the end, the others I tried didn't come up to scratch. Tournament Shark is a nice idea, in that it will automatically display buyin/ROI stats for every player at the table, unfortunately it clearly makes no attempt to calculate rebuy tournaments properly, which is enough for me to give it a miss. If you need to, you can use ThePokerDB to paste an HH into a box and it displays all the players' stats at once (usually), and it looks much more accurate to me.

If anyone likes any other add-ons or scripts that I haven't mentioned, do chip in with a comment !

Playlist 6

Megadeth - Rust In Peace
Presidents Of The USA - Presidents Of The USA
Smashing Pumpkins - MACHINA: The Machines Of God
Midnight Oil - Diesel And Dust
Blur - 13
Chris Isaak - Wicked Game
Some more Bach
Some more Gregorian Chants

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