Thursday, October 21, 2010

What Is To Be Made Of This?

Many poker players try not to look at their results. I have a friend who is currently engaged in a prop bet that he won't check his online results (graphs, poker track, account balance, anything) for the entire month of October. The guy plays for a living and probably has 5 figure days from time to time. Basically it's accepted that looking at your short term results isn't a good way to say in the right frame of mind, because to be honest they carry almost no information whatsoever. After I posted those three graphs of my "full ring" "5-6 handed" and "4 or less handed" play, the main response I got from people who know about this sort of thing was that the 7K hand sample size for the 4 handed play graph made it completely meaningless. Doug L likened it to picking a major baseball player and calculating his batting average during Tuesday afternoon games with 1 out. The point is, and this is hard to truly internalize and understand, even several months worth of results for a live player really don't mean that much and in a perfect world you wouldn't torture yourself with them. I've tried to do this with my 20/40 results, but yesterday I gave in and decided I wanted to generate my lifetime graph. Part of me was afraid of what I'd find, but another part of me realizes I need to make an honest assessment as to how long I should keep this up. So here you go, dollars on the vertical, hours on the horizontal:

As you can see, I've played almost 3000 hours of live 20/40, which I have to admit is both way more and way less than I'd hoped. On the one hand, I wanted to be entrenched as a 40/80 full timer by now, and that just hasn't worked out (mainly because of failed shots and using my "bankroll" for living're supposed to have living expenses separate, but if you have no other income...well, you get the picture), leaving me with more 20/40 hours than honestly anybody else know. But at the same time in the past 12 calendar months I have only played about 1150 hours of live 20/40, well under the accepted "2000 hours a year" full time number. Why is that? Well I spent a fair number of weeks propping during that time, which obviously cost me hours (both spent sitting around and playing other games). I played a good bit of 15/30 and 30/60 at the Oaks on my off days back in the Bay Area, and spent some time playing 40/80 as well during the stretch (and even a few days at Hustler in the 25). So all in all I think my total hours played/worked isn't that far below 2000, but I don't have the time/energy/desire to actually figure it out. For now I'm content to keep playing as much as I can without burning out.

At the peak of my run good (around Thanksgiving 2008) my lifetime win rate through 750 hours was over $60. As of yesterday it was pegged at $36, without accounting for jackpot shares or other player promotion rewards thingies which would push it up very close to the gold standard of $40/hour. The questions here are obvious. Why has it felt like I've been getting killed when I've been winning basically at the exact rate a professional is supposed to win at, a rate that would get me labelled online as a superuser who practically had to be cheating? Was I running exceptionally well the first 1000 hours, exceptionally badly after that, or a little of both? Has my play deteriorated? Am I playing in tougher games? It's tempting to derive answers to these questions from the graph, when in fact doing so could be downright dangerous. But the real question is this. If I've really run "averagely" over the past 26 months, and been as miserable for long stretches as I have been, do I really want to continue? For right now the answer is still, unbelievably, yes.


bellatrix78 said...

Holy shit! Good job!

Patrick said...

But look at it realisticly from an overall life EV. If you had a job that paid like 60k a year, and played poker part time, you could likely get in 10 hours a week live and another 5-10 hours online. You would be playing only when games were better (weekends and nights) and also wouldn't have to drain your bankroll to pay for life, since you have a job to pay for life. You could also play stress free poker, and maybe make more in the long run. I know people in poker hate jobs, but they make poker swings much more bearable.

And yes, the games are getting harder. I think back 3 years ago when every table in our room was filled most evenings, and the nightly tourney that got 130 players always had like 20 alternates, and you would have to get to the casino over an hour before the first football game on Sunday to make sure you got a seat. All those things are no longer true. Which players aren't showing up anymore? The people who were winning, or the people who were losing? Even if it was an even distribution, you lost a lot more losers than winners (since there are more of those to begin with).

And finally, I think your promotions and jackpot winnings SHOULD count in your winrate, especially if money is being taken out for jackpot drop. If you win a big jackpot it will obviously skew your results for the short term, but it will flatten over the long term and approach your true winrate anyways. So you won a $3k jackpot, you have over 100k in winnings. That $3k is clearly in the noise.

Phil said...

I feel like you probably were more miserable because your 40/80 results were below average. It's pretty easy to see how one could run at expectation in all games and feel terrible, because they lost in big ones and won in small ones.

Captain R said...

I think you should be proud to have made it to 3k hours grinding over several years and having a solid winrate. I'm sure it's tougher than most people think and is a testament to being able to play at a high level for long periods of time. Which is something most people probably can't do, myself included.