Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Random PM #607

I've always made it my policy to answer any question anyone asks me. Someday that may change, but for now it's how I roll. Here then is a PM I received on 2p2 with a ton of questions, interspersed with some perhaps vaguely useful answers.

Hey jesse thanks. I was looking through google and saw you had a blog called jesse takes a shot.

I'm from the east coast though so the only limit holdem action though that is close to Borgata and Foxwoods. I was primarily an online sng player and did that only as my income before Black Friday. I have played limit holdem but it was small stakes online back like 6 years ago maybe but never bothered to study it much. I had read small stakes holdem maybe 3 times though.

I am very curious about how much can one person who play limit holdem possibly make a year? I spoke to a few people and they told me 1BB per hour was basically not possible in the current condition and most live pros make 0.5BB per hour.

I agree 100%. I think that that's very difficult to make a full bet per hour while playing serious hours. In order to achieve a bet per hour I think you need to game select and quit aggressively when conditions go south, and doing that really cuts into your hours total.

The thing is assuming a player does 40hrs a week and say 0.5BB per hour and say this was 20/40 limit... that means this player would make $20/hr and $800/week. I know most pros will take some vacation time and lets say out of 52 weeks, they play 48 weeks during the year. That woud come out to a bit under 40k pretax. Now assuming it was 40/80 limit... that would be $40/hr x 40 hours= $1600/week. $1600 X 48 weeks = $76800 pretax. Now i know many pros who make a lot of money like those big NL players take a ton of vacation time and play little, so are these estimates for limit holdem way too high?

There is nothing inherently wrong with your math, but hours played per week and weeks played per year are very individual choices. There really is no way to tell how much volume you'll be able to put in until you take the leap and give it a go. From my experience and knowledge of friends' habits, roughing in 2000 hours a year is way too high. 1500 on the other hand is completely reasonable; I booked over 1800 last year. Also remember that the swings associated with being a .5 bet per hour winner are quite large. The 40/80 player you mention will need to withstand $25K downers to make that $75K.

In a 20/40 limit thread, you mentioned that a winning pro would make between $5k-$80000 a year playing 20/40 limit. Is this true? I had assumed someone who played like 40/80 limit for a living would make 100k a year if they were a very good player but it seems like this number is a dream? Also, there has to be players who play 20/40 or 40/80 limit for a living who have had losing years right?

I was making a dramatic point, but I do believe it to be roughly true. The vast majority of "pros" with reasonable win rates at 20/40 will book years in that range. Of course losing years can happen, but if you actually played a game 40 hours a week for an entire year and lost money, the odds of you having a substantial (greater than .5 bets per hour) win rate are extremely long. Regarding making $100K/year playing 40/80, it's possible but extremely difficult. Given that you're asking these questions I'd say you've very likely currently not capable of it. That doesn't mean you couldn't get there, but you probably have a long way to go.

I had spoken to someone who played the 20/40 limit game at borgata for like 9 months and then quit because he hated the live poker life. He did say he made about 37 per hour which was just a bit under 1BB. He told me based on his calcuations, the most a 20/40 limit player could make a year was 75k and when you said this, i know for sure he means that he has to be running very good for the year. Also, not sure if you know this but at borgata, theres like just 1 or 2 tables max during the week only at 20/40 and no 40/80 there unless its the weekend. I read you play in LA where that is the mecca to play limit holdem.

How many hours did he play, and what is the rake structure? The long run is very, very long and few if any players ever see it in live limit hold 'em. By the time you get there so many things have changed (your opponents, the rake structure, your skill level) that in effect you're trying to reach a new long run. People tend to play fewer hours when they're running good (weird but true), so I'd guess your friend played only like 1000 hours; a $37/hour win rate over that time frame sadly means very little. Sure he probably is not a losing player, but that's likely about all we can say. Paging callipygian to do some fancy math....

I was just wondering if you say limit holdem is worth learning? I mean, i played NL at the casino but its just very dry and boring to me especially if you play a TAG game. Someone told me that even though he played 10/20 limit... though hes an older guy he said its very easy to get bored playing live NL because there are so little decisions and you would get bored.

I agree completely; live NL is horrifically slow and boring.

I also spoke to a guy named Barbadar? Do you know who that is? He is a coach apparently from what i saw in his profile here on 2p2. He told me he plays limit holdem for a living but does it online mostly even though he lives in the us so games are not good but does play live sometimes. He also told me live limit holdem is really tough to make a living and that its better to just play at least 2/5NL instead. Would you agree with this?

I assume you mean BigBadBabar, and yes I would definitely agree. To a player just starting out with a SNG background and a likely limited bankroll it makes much more sense to learn and play live no limit, if you could avoid the above implied problem of wanting to kill yourself every time some douche bag tanks for 2 minutes on the turn with a flush draw.

The thing is when i played online before BF... i made mid 5 digits and it wasn't stressful at all since i heavily multitabled sngs and there was fpp i got from stars. I know that in online, its not that hard to make mid 5 figures if you are a decent player espeically when there is fpp which converts into dollars on pokerstars. And many who play a lot of tables can lose 30k a year but then make 100k from Supernova elite for a 70k profit.

You must have been a very good and dedicated SNG player; I can't imagine playing that many of them, but the fact that you apparently did speaks volumes about your potential to succeed at any form of poker.

Also, i was reading your blog and you mentioned you might quit playing soon? Is the limit holdem live really stressful as it sounds in many of your posts? I had spoken to someone and said i thought that life might be fun in a way and that person told me yep thats what they thought first too. Then after 9 months, it felt depressing and thats why he quit.

I am not quitting, but have toyed with it recently. I have other reasonably appealing options available to me, and am probably making a financial mistake by continuing to play. The main problem I have is dealing with all the assholes here in Southern California. So in a nutshell yes it is very stressful; it's not glamorous, it's not even that much fun a lot of the time, and you might get very bored and angry. It has turned me into a horrible person, and done far worse to far better people, so be extremely careful as to how you proceed.

Also, im curious but why didn't you play NL instead of limit? I read a lot of people who do a lot of hours who have winrates of around $35 per hour at 2/5NL. And from what i read, it seems like $35/hr is very hard in limit in at 40/80 limit? Is it because you get extra money on the side as a prop? I read you mentioned you are a prop at the casino so you get like an extra XX amount of dollars per hour? How much do you get by the way? Because i'm thinking if you get $10/hr at the minimum, and make say $30/hr playing, thats pretty decent. But when i look at online players, there are so many who play online and do like 12 tables and easily make $50 per hour after rakeback and they don't have to do the whole live poker where they have to travel, wait for games etc. Would like your thoughts on this if you played online previously.

I play limit because that is what was available in the Bay Area (where I started playing live seriously), because I hate live NL because of the reasons we've already discussed, and because my disposition is better suited to limit. Also limit hold 'em is more fun. $35/hour at 2/5 NL is either extreme run good or preposterously bad opposition, IMHO, but I know nothing so take that with a grain of salt. Propping is an added benefit or I guess option you have as a limit player, although there are NL props, but it had nothing to do with my choice to play limit instead of NL. I won't say exactly how much I make, but the industry standard rate for a prop is usually between .5 and .6 bets per hour (of the highest game propped), and much of that income is usually paid in the form of rake reimbursement (and therefore is not reported). Also I don't know many people who make $50/hour online, at least in the current environment, and I know even fewer who can 12 table for 8 hours a day. When I tried to play online seriously it was hard work for me to 4 table for 2 hours at a stretch. But that said yes.

Sorry if all my questions went over the place. I'm just typing my thoughts/questions as it popped into my head.


Beast Mode

I was going to turn this into a big long post, but honestly there isn't that much to say and doesn't make for very interesting writing. It's great and awesome and kind of exciting, but it's not really a story or narrative or anything. So here goes...

In my month (ish) of soul searching or whatever you'd call it I haven't really come to whole lot of interesting conclusions. To be honest, it was kind of disappointing. Like, I realized that I still don't like a whole lot of the things I do on a daily basis, but that I do fundamentally still enjoy playing poker for a living. I do not want to quit. I also realized that I cannot actually affect change regarding most of the things I don't like. What I can do is change how I react to them, and in that regard I am going to be much more diligent and hopefully short circuit a lot of the rage and frustration that comes with this territory. But that's pretty wishy washy, right? I mean, for a month of soul searching that is rather weak sauce.

But wait, there's more! I've realized that one thing I can actually change is the fact that a good bit of my frustration comes from a general lack of confidence, or more specifically making mistakes. If I get bludgeoned over the head by cold decks it really doesn't bother me that much. Sure it gets under my skin a little when it's done by certain high grade scum bags, but in general I take it pretty well, and I'm going to try to take it better by simply not reacting. What pisses me off the most, though, is when I butcher a hand or miss an opportunity to outplay somebody. I can't stand that shit. So what am I going to do about it? I'm actually going to take a renewed academic interest in the game! Amazing isn't it? I've been remiss in studying for far too long, and I'm just simply not going to let it slide anymore. I'm going to play poker for a living, and I'm going to be a soul crusher. I'm not just going to limp along and beat the snot out of these idiots the same way day in and day out. I'm going to study, talk hands, watch videos, think outside the box, reject dogma, become intimate with range equity calculations, and in general just work to destroy people. Pete has been saying this for a long time, and for some reason I just wasn't ready to listen to him. But I am now. I'm going to work hard, get better, and hopefully at the same time eliminate one of the biggest stress points in my daily life. No more West Wing, no more Law and Order, no more waiting around for Danielle, no more any of that shit. Podcasts in the car, lots of hand emails, study sessions with a good friend down here all the time....getting better at limit hold 'em is now, day in and day out, priority one. It is above playing, it is above Danielle, it is above the gym, it is above everything. This will be the way of things, and it will be glorious.

[X] Skiing

Danielle and I spent the last 4 days in Big Bear. I didn't mention it beforehand because it just felt kind of weird to declare that I wasn't going to be home for an entire weekend when we now live in, you know, a house and stuff. I dunno, it's not like anyone would ever even want to rob us (we have literally nothing of value beyond a TV), and then there is the security gate and well it just doesn't seem possible. But anyway, Danielle and I went up to the mountains (it was her Christmas present to me) and it was great.

As it turned out I hadn't skied in over eight years. That's right...eight...years. I couldn't believe it myself, as skiing was something I used to really enjoy, and even though it wasn't a large part of my life I managed to get out there once or twice a year pretty regularly right up through the end of college. Then we moved out here and apparently I just stopped going. Weird. So obviously I was a little worried about falling flat on my face or getting chopped in half by the lift or whatever on the first day, but as it turned out none of that was a concern. I rented a pair of (very short) parabolic skis and was just stupified by how easy everything was. You just point them in the right direction and boom that's where you go. Literally by the end of my second run I think I was skiing better than I was at the end of the my 10 days in Vail over two trips in 2003. We finished out the day on the slopes, picked up the dogs (they came on this trip....very fun) and returned to our sleepy little cabin in the woods. We didn't ski Monday, and were planning to go on a nature walk with the dogs but were prevented by a sudden "freak" snowstorm that ended up dropping 11 inches of fresh powder on the mounting starting in the early afternoon. So we played in the snow and finished the West Wing (what a terrible last 6 episodes or so....seriously they made me watch like a year of them changing characters and completely revamping the show only to just go off the air like that? Horrible) and tried to play Monopoly (three heads up games, me ceding two, Danielle ceding the "fast game" when I was dealt the green color group in my 4 free starters).

Tuesday we skied, and it was glorious. Other than the fact that we didn't get onto a lift until 10:30am on what Danielle's afternoon ski instructor called "the best day of the year", everything was fantastic. Nobody was there on this random Tuesday, and there was fresh snow everywhere. I decided to indulge a long time desire and rented a pair of "blades" for the day, and they were about as much fun as I expected. I was right all along, I should have been using them a decade ago when rental skis were crappy. Now they're just pretty fun, but didn't give me a whole lot more control or freedom than my 140 cm parabolics. Danielle said I looked "like I actually knew what I was doing" when I was on them towards the end of the day, which I suppose was comforting. The trick was to realize that despite the squirley-ness of the setup, actually falling down was extremely difficult because the skis themselves couldn't do anything tricky. You couldn't get your tips crossed, couldn't get them going in different directions, couldn't go over a little bump the wrong way and get them out of matter what you did with them you simply kept going down the hill. If you lost your balance a little all you had to do was lean back and boom, you'd be back upright. Now admittedly they were pretty bad for "powder", but since we didn't get on the mountain until 2 hours after the lifts opened, that wasn't much of a problem. For a self taught, reasonably strong, athletic and compact guy with probably 4 figures of roller blading experience, they were a fantastic choice. Real skiers would probably hate them, but hey, to each is own.

So now I'm back home, writing a blog post at 7:30am because I went to bed exhausted last night at 9. I'm back on the poker trail and have made some decisions regarding my future, which I'll detail in my next post.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Day Worthy of Three Posts

I've never made three blog posts in a single day, but I've also never had a day like today. My first post summed up the morning hours very nicely (what with the traffic and the no action), and my second post mostly covered my 5 hours prop shift (during which I sat in 5 separate games, and was yanked from juicy seats unsurprisingly 4 times), leaving out only some business details. The long and short of it is over the last week or so my boss has been telling me he has been fighting to get me (and two other guys) full time status, and that it has been looking good. He's been giving me this info really without me doing a whole lot of badgering, so once again I actually believed him that it might happen. Today just before noon he told me he had approval from one guy, and that all that was left was approval from another person, and that that would be easy. In a sense he gave me a pat on the back congrats blah blah blah. Less than two hours later I get the news that it's a no go, it would be too expensive to make us full time, we have to wait until after March. So for the third (or fourth, I can't keep track) time I have been jerked around and lied to in what appears to be an effort to manipulate my behavior. I've come in the last two Sundays, played some overtime off the clock trying to help out, etc etc. My general response to this whole situation was "bite me" and I clocked out and left the building immediately upon the conclusion of my five hours. And went to...Commerce. For the second time in one day.

And oh what a fucking disaster that was. I walk into the room and the 40 and 60 lists look pretty long, so I approach the 20/40 floor man and just ask him to list me for all three games. He has a 7 handed 20 game and for some idiotic reason I sit in it. Mistake 1. I take my blind, and within seconds am called for the 60. I declare lock it up (Mistake 2...why am I getting this seat? Because the game isn't very good) and play til my blind, finishing a 10 minute session. I do not take my blind immediately in the 60 because I don't have chips. I get chips, then run off to the bathroom but miss my CO hand to post behind (Mistake 3). I then post in the HJ (Mistake 4), realize they are starting a 40 and don't snake the chips back as the dealer is dealing (Mistake 5) and end up playing a 4 hand 60/120 session and losing...$60. But wait, there's more! I do something right for once and sit in the new 40/80 game and go back and check out the 1/2 which looks amazing. I put myself on the list but am like 20th up so I don't think much of it, then play 30 minutes of 40/80 and get slobberknocked (I don't remember how it happened, it just kind of...did). Then lo and behold as I'm in the middle of a seat change (waiting for my big blind for 3 hands) I get called for the...1/2. I walk over, check out the game and decide what the fuck it looks alright there is this one guy who's pretty bad and these two other pros I know are sitting in an 8 handed game, there are some faces I don't know...should be fine. Alarm bells are going off that I somehow got this seat from 20th up, that I don't even know the floorman who is giving it to me, that basically every other human in the casino could have had this seat and chose not to take it, but whatever. I go to the cage for my 4th color of chips and bring $5000 in quarters (lol just two racks) to the game. This is my big fucking moment. Xavier, the guy who dry raped me that week at HG, is there. Hakke (or DPR? I get those guys confused) is in the game. I'm sitting in the 1/2, I am the fucking shit, here we go. I watch 3 hands and seat 5 is clearly the mark, open limping and losing all three. Great. I post my natural blind in seat 4 five folds his hand, racks up his chips and walks away. I swear to fucking god this actually happened. Hakke (and I aplogize to you sir if you're DPR and I'm confused) looks at me from the 7 seat and just laughs and is like "We were all happy before you got here, just limping along, playing a friendly game of poker" and it's just seriously amazing. The two other pros I know insta-quit the game for greener pastures, and 4 hands later it's my turn to post the blind 5 handed. I opt to take my $600 loss, lick my wounds and walk back over to Jack (with Xavier) and relist myself for all the games I've already quit. That then, was the popping of my 1/2 cherry. It was, to say the least, a bit anticlimactic.

Eventually I manage to sit and play 40 for like 3 hours (my 11th table of the day, not counting getting must moved), and I play these two hands:

Hand 1.

Gun opens, Gun Plus One calls, HJ Calls, I 3 bet the CO with AQo, the blinds fold, Gun calls, and Gun Plus One...back caps. HJ calls, I call, and away we go welcome to Commerce.


Gun checks, Gun Plus One bets, HJ calls, I call, Gun folds (lol seriously bro?) and we see a turn of:


Gun Plus One makes like he's going to bet, then decides not to and and checks. HJ checks, I bite and bet you know my stone nuts, and Gun Plus One unleashes the c/r. HJ tanks for like 30 seconds then folds, and during his tank I almost start talking to myself out loud at the table, something to the tune of "jesus christ is it really possible? can he really have it here? Is he going to show me 22? Just wow", and then I call.

Gun Plus One smoke bets the river. The river is dealt:


I call and he shows me 64dd. That's the hand alright...6. 4. diamonds. [x] flushie

Hand 2

This one is short and simple. I open the CO with red queens, button calls, HU


I bet/3/5 and he calls. Turn is a 3, I bet and he...folds. Once again, welcome to Commerce.

The Problem With Propping

We start a 40 and I snake an amazing seat. The game is so good that I get to play exactly 10 hands before giving my seat to Mr. Ace Deuce off from 2 posts ago. During those 10 hands I am so focused on not getting picked up I fail to fold AJhh on KJ6dd-4 HU closing the action getting 9:1 (I am literally drawing dead like 80% of the time). So I give up a $200/hour seat and am so worried about it I make a $160 mistake in the process.

I really need to think about this whole mess.

[ ] Action

So last night Danielle basically is falling asleep on the couch at like 9:45 and I'm like "we should just go to bed" and she agrees. We manage to turn off the lights at 10:45 (a pretty good effort in our lives these days it seems...if I could know where any hour of my life goes, I'd want to know about that one, the one between when I decide to go to bed and when I'm actually trying to sleep, because it's 4% of my life just vanishing) and boom somehow I sleep like a baby and wake up at 6am feeling sharp fresh and happy to be alive. Weird, right? 7 hours of sleep, I feel great, happy about the world, etc, etc. Well don't get too excited because here comes "The City of Angels Poker Scene" TM to destroy everything. I know I'm right up against it, so I quickly shower, run the dogs, and have my car moving towards the gambool at 6:20am. Seriously, it took me 1/3rd as long to get from bed to my car as it did to go from my couch to my bed, and there was a SHOWER involved. I don't get it...anyway it doesn't matter, LA traffic cannot be defeated simply by leaving your house at 6:20am. I call my employer and of course there is no game. Some days there is a game, some days there is, no game. That's a bad beat already, a large part of the gain here would be getting paid to play a juicy overnight game then coming off the clock at noon. But OK, whatever, Commerce always has action. The map looks kind of not horrible when I leave, but by the time I need to make a call on the 5 vs the 91 it's just all fucked three ways from Tuesday. Seriously it's just incomprehensible, as if every single person in LA is locked in a struggle to get to his or her desk as early as possible and then fall directly asleep for two hours just to prove a fucking point. I choose the 91 and it just absolutely, categorically does not make a shit lick of difference. 55 minutes later I arrive at Commerce, and the situation is as follows:

8/16 - No Game, No Board
20/40 - One Game, I'm 5th up
40/80 - No Game, 3 names counting me
60/120 - One Game, I'm 5th up

I swear to you this has actually happened, and is why I am at Commerce table 135 writing a blog post. I did text Mr Volleyball on my way in, and he reported a good 20/40 game going at Hawaiian Gardens. But it's Hawaiian here I sit. 7:30am, locked out of action, with really no hope of getting in any time soon. God damn it sometimes I hate this place so much.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

More Hands

I'm just going to post two more hand because they are amazing. The details of the first are a little sketchy but the basics are 100% accurate. A fish limps and I raise with JTss. We are in late position. The big blind 3 bets, we call, and the flop is:


I may have the 3 wrong, but it's not important. The big blind bets, the fish calls, I raise, the big blind 3 bets, the fish calls again and I just call.


What a terrible card. The big blind bets, the fish folds (just wow), and I call.


X was less than 7 and didn't pair the 3. The big blind bet, I called, and he declared with a great flourish "ACE QUEEN" and tabled exactly that. A black ace and a black queen. That's his hand. Ace. Queen. High. Moving right along....

I open the gun 8 handed and the gun plus 1 3 bets me. The same fish from before pads the pot in the big blind and see a flop. I happen to have KQcc and MikeL is standing behind me on sweat patrol. Villain mutters something in barely discernible English about how I cannot win with a black cat standing behind me, and I tell Mike to stand behind her. He obliges and she's not happy about it.


The fish checks, I check, villain bets, the fish folds, I raise, villain 3 bets, I 4 bet and villain 5 bets. I just call, planning to donk safe turns. Trust me.


That's not safe at all. I check/call.


We put in like 6 bets or something and she shows AhQd. MikeL laughs hysterically and says "It's not even diamonds" while she is berating me for sucking out on her.

Monday, February 20, 2012

[x] 220 bets

That's the current depth of the downswing. I've actually run kind of "good" during it as the total loss is only like $16K, so pretty much I just get crushed for $300 during my daily 30 minute 20/40 session. Hands like this one aren't helping:

EP limps and villain overlimps in MP. I limp along in the HJ with T8hh, the blinds come along and we see a flop 5 ways. Villain is a long time old school professional poker player. To my knowledge he has supported himself playing poker for several decades.


3 checks and villain bets. I just call. I'm super duper unbalanced here, and my range is just very weird given that I limped along preflop. If you think about it for a minute really all I have is shitty flush draws when I call here. That's literally it. But my preflop range is just loaded with queens, and everyone probably assumes I'd make expert slow play with those so in a way I have tons of cover. That's not important though as everyone folds (pretty bad result for me) and we see a turn HU


That's kind of a weird card. Just as I'm deciding what to do if villain bets he...checks. Huh, OK this is easy I have the best hand the best draw the best everything so I bet (honestly if I didn't get help on the turn and he bet I might have considered folding). He calls pretty much instantly (as instantly as he can good lord this guy plays so slowly and deliberately it's very annoying) and we see a river.


He checks again and it occurs to me that he's just not calling with the hand he's supposed to have. 86s or whatever just isn't calling my river bet here, and the ace is actually kind of a scary card because well, it just is. Like, this guy...I don't know how to describe it, it's hard to believe he can have an ace here unless it's a flush draw, but if he does have it he's calling with it and I can't beat I check it back. And he shows me:


Seriously. That's the hand he shows me. 30 year vet, full time professional, that's the hand he shows me. Ace of diamonds. Deuce of hearts.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

As Long as I Don't Get Cold Decked

MikeL says that all the time and it's usually pretty funny. Today I played 6.5 hours of on shift 40, and it was just kind of awesome. Like sure I lost every pot and simply couldn't get any traction whatsoever, but just the idea of getting to sit in a game for 6.5 hours straight, and get paid to do so, is good enough for me to consider the day a tremendous success. I played alright, made some mistakes here and there, but in general was happy with the the way the things I could control turned out. I'm pretty much abandoning the new schedule in anticipation of finally getting my promotion to full time status (which comes with all sorts of goodies, 12 hours to clock that I'm usually at the casino anyway, sick time, vacation time, benefits...the whole nine yards that real employees actually get), so for now it's just back to being aware of my surroundings and mental energy reserves and getting the fuck out of dodge when they aren't favorable. I did a poor job of that yesterday, but Friday's are always sticky. Traffic is a mess from like 2pm until literally 8 or 9, so there just isn't a good answer. I stayed too long, played bad, got angry, etc, etc. But we live and learn.

On to the hands of the day, I will give you two quickies. First, I raise with AK in pretty early position and villain, on my immediate left, cold calls...immediately. Like he doesn't hesitate, doesn't hem or haw, just gets right in there. There are some other calls and we take the flop maybe 5 ways.


I bet, villain raises, and everyone else clears out. Let's enter Jesse's brain:

It's fucking great to be me right now. He has a shitty king and I'm going to win all the bets I can from him. He'd make smoov with a set to tarp me, and probably wouldn't raise anything like 99. He is capable of hero folding, so I don't want to do something silly like c/r the turn, I'll just 3 bet him immediately and he'll shrug and call down and I'll win. I hope he doesn't have a flush draw because that actually has some equity.

So I 3 bet immediately, he calls, and we see a turn of:

K65ddc-3c (I could have these board cards slightly off, but there were 3 cards between 6 and 3 on this board and two flush draws)

I bet and he...raises. LOL que? My decision making machinery kind of breaks down here and I revert to bad habits.

Huh, I just got raised on the turn and I only have one pair. Time to call down.

I don't think very hard about what he's got, but it's completely obvious if you spend even 5 seconds to ponder it. Like, step by step here we go. He raised the flop, so he has either a flush draw or a king (villain probably isn't aggro enough on the flop to raise something like 88...and he probably is aggro enough to 3 bet it preflop). He doesn't have a set . There is almost no chance he just made a straight or two pair because I mean just look at the hand he would have to have for that to be true. Cold call 53s, then raise the flop with bottom pair? 74s? Villain just doesn't have that kind of spew in him. So what does he have? He has a king that just picked up a flush draw, dummy. K9-KQ of clubs. That's all, that's it, those 4 combos make up like 94% of his range after you discount everything else. So what should I do? I should 3 bet. What do I do? I just call. River please


I check and as I'm calling his bet declare "as long as I don't get cold decked" and he responds "you just did" and shows me the K9cc. The 6th street chatter is pretty hilarious ("I knew I was behind but I had too many outs!") and I manage to bite my tongue pretty well, because I mean given my image of him his turn raise should be horrendous, but because I suck at poker I let him off the hook and didn't charge him the 3rd bet when he was behind and let him dictate exactly how many bets were going into the pot (had he missed the river I'm sure this would have been a FSDR). That's what happens when you don't play your A game I suppose. Moving right along...

The overnight spot raises and I 3-bet with AJo. The same villain from the previous hand calls 3 cold (his range is super, duper narrow) and we see the flop three ways:


I bet and they both call. This is troubling, but an interesting opportunity has just become available. I happen to have AJo, which is pretty big trouble against villain's range at this point. However, if I barrel a blankish turn he's going to be in a very difficult spot and have to fold some hands that beat me (specifically the 12 combos of AQ, and maybe even AK that has to be discounted but I honestly don't think he caps preflop) with the fishy spot left to act behind him. And she has, well, shit box basically. So away we go.


She checks, I fire the cannon and villain goes into the tank for a few seconds but I immediately know he's about to fold exactly one of the two hands I just mentioned, forfeiting practically all of his equity to me. His read on the spot here just isn't up to code, because her c/c on the flop pretty much means she has UI high cards. I mean there is some chance she has me beat, but I'm definitely way ahead of her range (it's the widest of the three of us by a huge margin) and this bet is just glorious. Villain folds, the spot insta-calls (so fast in fact that I'm a little concerned). The river peels off:


She checks and I insta-check back, hoping she missed it (hands like QT were definitely still in her range here). She shakes her head and turns over the A7ss for a clean miss. I roll the AJ and villain (I think) realizes what just happened. I scoop up the $700 pot quietly but also....

Thursday, February 16, 2012

New Schedule So Far

Results have been rather mixed. I've run the schedule 3 times, and really not even once have things gone extremely well. First of all, traffic is just not beatable. This morning I left the house at 5:15am, and yes I did beat traffic, but when I left at 6 and 5:45 the days before it was till horrendous. Also I had a 77 minute commute home yesterday (thanks to the rain), and still got bonked by traffic today even though I left the casino at 2:30pm. So on that front it appears that the urban waste land could actually be unbeatable, at least with regards to attempting to still work "days". Like yeah I could leave at 5am and beat it on the way in, but I still couldn't win on the way home and it's already too early. Waking up at 6am is borderline doable. Waking up at 4:30 or 5 simply is not, as getting enough sleep becomes almost completely impossible (if I ever want to see Danielle). And that brings us to the next big fail, that being that even if I do attempt to go to bed at 10 (which again isn't really early enough) it drastically cuts the time her and I have to spend together. Last night she got home at 9:15. Tonight it's going to be later than that because of basketball. If I continue to work this schedule we'll have to find some sort of compromise, and I just don't see how one can be worked out. I basically haven't seen her since Tuesday, and if I'm sticking to my guns I need to go to bed BEFORE she gets home tonight. It's just not gonna work. And to top it all off, having a few hours at home to yourself once a week is great. Getting home at 4pm 4 or 5 days a week simply isn't something I'm currently wired for. I'd need to come up with some activities, or something, but the truth of the matter is there just aren't a whole lot of things going on before, you know, everyone is done with work. So far I've been watching a lot of law and order and getting really good at Carcasonne, but that's getting pretty old. In theory I should be able to fill the time pretty well, and I guess I could learn, but these last few days I've been so tired it just hasn't gone very well.

This is all kind of sad, because the schedule has objectively helped a lot in terms of solving the main problem. Specifically the games in the morning have been much less combative and angry, and in general I've been coming home pretty happy about the world. Basically I've managed to put a peaceful and calm part of my day first, which doesn't do much in terms of chipping away at my emotional armor. Then I work my shift, make a serious effort not to react to things, and then boom it's 3pm and I head home. Like, this is definitely doable. But the catch is that all the problems I listed above still make me feel like poker has completely taken over my life. Like, I'm still not doing ANYTHING else, and now I don't even have those few hours at night to spend with Danielle. I come home, I tool around on my computer, watch Law and Order, am generally exhausted, then go to bed. And that just pretty much sucks.

So to make a long story pretty short, I'm not sure how well this is going to work out. I could go to the Big Potato schedule strategy, which is to not really have a schedule and sleep just sort of whenever you can fit it in. But realistically I'm not capable of that. I could just try to do the early thing 2 days a week, but that will likely result in me being tired 100% of the time (which I guess is the result I'm seeing right now so I suppose that's not actually too awful). So for now the plan is to try to come up with a few tweaks and see if the basic principle of the schedule can be saved. But to be honest, I'm not very hopeful.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Drastic Measures

The last week or so of soul searching has led me to some interesting but also predictable conclusions. First and foremost, I do still enjoy playing poker for a living. That should be obvious. Second and almost as importantly, it is destroying my soul, spirit, and anything else you might consider an integral part of being a good and useful human being. So what am I going to do about it? I've put myself on a new schedule, starting today, which many in the poker world would deem completely insane. I am going to wake up at 5:30am (I tried 5:45 this morning, but that still wasn't early enough to beat traffic) and leave the house as quickly as possible. If my place of employment has a game going, I'll drive there to save it. If not, I'll drive to LA's friendliest, play 2-3 hours of whatever game I can get into (today was 60/120), then head over to work for my shift from 10-3. When my shift ends I will...go home. I will allow for up to 1 hour of OT after the shift, but that is all. I'm out of there by 4pm, no matter how good the game is.

But Jesse, that's insane! You'll never make it!

Yeah, you could be right, but I've done a schedule like this once before in my life, specifically when I worked at Oracle and was leaving the house around 6am, working out at the on campus gym, then getting to my desk around 8am. It was a wonderful schedule, because it allowed me to get home nice and early and actually enjoy my evenings, and also maximized my productivity. I hate to admit this, but I am inherently a morning person, and my brain function pretty much declines linearly throughout the day. So I should be able to play when I'm sharper, instead of logging OT hours at the end of the day when my brain is just a pile of mush. And most importantly I'll be spending time in the casinos during less hectic, less toxic, times. The people playing at 7am simply can't be that big of douche bags; they no longer have the required energy reserves available. I've played at that time of day only a few times in the past, but I've never been at a particularly hostile table.

So that's my plan, and I'm sticking to it. Obviously the primary concern is that Danielle doesn't get home from work until 8pm on good days, and I'm planning to go to bed by 10 at the latest, which still doesn't really get me enough sleep. But if I can manage to sleep enough, I really think this could be a valid answer to continuing to play full time.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Again...This Happened

I really just want to write this down on paper because to be honest I'm not sure how it even happened. So I roll up to commerce around 4:30 and put my name up on the boards for 20, 40 and 60. I'm 1st up for 40 and there are 3 games, so I don't put a whole lot of focus on anything else, and sure enough that's the seat I get within 10 minutes. The must move 60 looks kind of not terrible, and there are 15 names on the board, but it's going to break as soon as like the 1 or 2 spots quit. There are like 4 winning pros in it, including howmany, and really I just don't want anything to do with it. So I'm playing 40 and sailboats cruises in and says basically "bro the 1/2 is amazing" and i'm like "...." and I walk back there and sure enough the game is amazing. So I list myself. Why not, right? So then I'm back to playing 40 and I get called for the 60 and don't take it, then they go through the "calling the whole board" thing and nobody takes it and sure enough the game is like 4 to 6 handed for a bit and whatever.

At this point I should have seen it coming, but...well...nope. I go check on the 1/2 board (it's way in the back like 150 feet away) and talk to my old boss who is a commerce floorman now about the fact that he owes me a W2, and tell where I am and that I do want the 1/2 seat. I'm actually second up, so like I'm probably gonna get in. Sailboats has been in the game for like 45 minutes at this point, and the only reason I'm in this mess is that I didn't list myself when I got there, but whatever. So then it happens. I go back to my 40 and get bludgeoned for like 2 racks (somehow I left stuck only like $600 today everyone at my table must have been trying to lose) and the 60...breaks. And then, under cover of darkness, an entire, 9 handed, must move 1/2 is created. They don't call the game down over the no. They just sit and play. I walk back to the board and realize I'm now...3rd. And the board was rewritten. "That's weird" i say to myself. I still don't know the second game has even started, so I talk to another floorman who tells me I'm first up. "Great!" I respond. So I go back to the 40 and only then do I realize that howmany, ontherail, and 7 other humans have created an entire full game, which is now cock-blocking me from the main. I am shocked, but not really surprised, and tell the floor to take me off the list.

So that's how I didn't play 1/2 today.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

So Boring

I woke up today and to be completely honest had no idea what to do with myself. I don't really do well when there isn't a plan for the day, for several reasons. First of all I'm a "what's next" kind of guy. I go through progressions, make to do lists, all the usual stuff people like that do, and when there isn't a "next" I tend to get anxious and fidgety. This trait is a big reason I struggled as a developer; I didn't really have like a "what's next" thing for say 6 or 12 months out. At school it was always easy; do this problem set, then study for this test so you'll pass this class so you can take 4 more classes next term. Turns out it wasn't so simple in the real world. Anyway...another reason I need a plan is that it bothers me if I end up doing something inefficiently. Like I'll look back on the day and be like "I could have gotten that all done a lot faster" and feel bad about it. That's just stupid and I need to stop it. So anyway I tooled around online for a few hours being vaguely productive, then almost gave into the urge to play poker because let's be honest I just don't know what to do with myself otherwise. I went to the gym, and then Babar saved the day, demanding my presence at "lunch" (which in babar time happens around 2pm), then went bowling (145/128 second game was so awful I did things like 5-spare 2-4 all of a sudden that's 18 through 2 frames) and now am back home tricking myself into thinking I'm being productive.

What does that have to do with anything, you ask? Well I'll tell you. I just sort of finished up my lifetime stats project and can present you with some numbers from 2008-2011. I only bothered with 15/30 games and above, and only limit hold 'em. I've found in times of stress, anger, and in general dissatisfaction it's always helpful to look at lifetime numbers. So, drum roll, please...

Total Hours: 5756

That ain't bad, given all the constraints we're dealing with here. I wasn't even a full time pro for the first 7 months of this time period, so we're really looking at 3.5 years, so basically right around 16oo hours/year. That's about right, and it doesn't count time spent in smaller games (there were garden city prop shifts where I spent the entire night in the 8/16 game) and NL and all other stuff.

Total Bets Won: 3851

That ain't bad either. It works out to almost exactly 2/3rds of a bet per hour. To be honest with how bad I play from time to time this really makes me think that a bet per hour is probably doable. However I'm pretty sure my win rate has plummeted since my first 1000 hours or so. A little more detail:

20/40 Stats: 3812 hours at .79 bets per hour

This is quite good, but again is affected greatly by my initial run hot period. To wit, through my first ~1700 hours of 20/40 or so (2008 and 2009 results from Bay 101 and Garden City, specifically) I ran at over 1.1 bets per hour. Think about what that means I've done since then and you'll kind of cringe a little.'s not good. Did I play better back then? I'd hate to think that. Did I run better? For sure. And here's the kicker...were the games better? Abso-freaking-lutely.

40/80 Stats: 1077 hours at .56 bets per hour

These numbers are pretty astonishing, to be honest. At least to me, anyway, and therefore I'd assume to most people reading. I only played 1077 hours of 40/80? Seriously? And despite my initial devastation (- 130 bets at Bay 101 in 2008 and 2009, -125 bets at HG in a week in early 2010, -230 bets lifetime in the Commerce 40) I am showing a substantial win rate? Holy crap that's great and leads us too....

Current Employer 40/80 Bets/Hour: 1.25

That's right. Last year I made an even, flat, $100/hour when I was sitting in the 40/80 game where I work. Which really makes you wonder why exactly I bother staying on the payroll at all. Looking at all this stuff really has made me wonder what kind of damage I can do this year if I am really truly committed. Like you read about....

You see that's the thing here. A lot of the advice I've been getting has been that I need to just chill out and not let stuff bother me. A lot of it has been along the lines of me having white people problems (usually referred to as rich people problems but let's be honest and get the pc bullshit here), specifically that I'm pretty much surrounded by good options why am I stressing out about picking the absolute best one? One way you could take this advice, in its entirety, is that I need to just chill out, accept that there are parts of this life style that suck, but be aware of and manage my reactions to those sucky parts and make the best of the situation, which when evaluated on an objective basis is pretty fucking awesome. I had a discussion with a friend over In 'N Out last night and he found me interesting, in that I was at the decision point of giving up or pushing onward and upward and really trying to become elite at what I do. And that makes good sense, when rolled up with the stuff I said about "what's next" in the front of this blog post. Right now I don't really have a "what's next" and that is causing me to have trouble giving a shit and going in to work and studying and all sorts of other stuff. But if I re-dedicated myself to getting better and setting goals (it's funny to say I'm going to commit to setting goals, but that's really what we're talking about here), AND changed my attitude and mental approach to dealing with the stuff I deal with on a daily basis, maybe I could make this work again.

Monday, February 6, 2012

[ ] Jackpot

I know there is a lot going on but in the meantime I must continue to play poker at some passable level so here are two things that actually happened to me during my last two shifts:


I am the last prop standing in our 40/80 game when La Peste walks in the room. I yell over to him at the cage, asking if he's here to play poker. He looks a little confused and nods his head up and down, so I curse a little and tell him he can have my seat. I'm about to be under the gun and declare to the table "I'm up $19 guys...if I play this hand, get out of the way" Of course I pick up queens, raise, and get 3 bet by a feisty older gentleman. The small blind calls them cold, I cap and we see a flop of:


The old man raises me, which is wonderful news since it means he doesn't have an ace. The small blind calls, which is horrendous news since it means he has an ace. I call getting 17:1 planning to bink a queen or at least get to see the river for free thanks to the feisty guy.


Checks through. Brilliant!


That's right, the board is A75AA and I have queens. The jackpot is $34K. The small blind bets, I call, feisty calls, and the small blind produces...A2ss. Feisty has TT, and I do not pass go, nor do I collect $17,000


The game is now 20/40, so the jackpot is bigger, $41,600 to be precise. This kid is making noise about seat changing for like 10 minutes, then finally does, switching from 7 to 5, with me in the 6. So for the next two hands he gets exactly my starters and I get exactly his; after that how we play our hands will have changed everything. So the very next hand a prop raises UTG, the kid folds, and I look down at the A6dd and send it into the muck without so much as a second thought. The small blind 3 bets, UTG calls, and the board runs out:


And the SB has jacks. I swear to god this happened. There is a zero percent chance the kid would have ever folded my hand, so if he doesn't seat change we bonk the jackpot and my table share is over $2K (only 7 people were dealt in). But he did change, so he didn't win $10K, I didn't win $2K, and generally speaking nothing good happened.

Saturday, February 4, 2012


Never in my life can I remember doing such an about face so quickly. Most of my recent posts have been very positive, with me painting a picture of a life of contentment. Rereading them now I cannot even believe I even wrote the words on the screen, let alone wrote them just a few short days ago. I've realized a bunch of stuff the last few days, and I'm probably going to ramble almost incoherently now to just get it all down on paper. The key here is to look back at that one extremely negative post from a few weeks ago, where I simply could not deal with the idiot at my table who was literally attempting to stuff $100 bills into my pockets. I couldn't handle him, I couldn't handle what he represents, and am now questioning if I can handle being a professional poker player.

I don't really even know where to begin, but it all started to unravel yesterday when I found out that a friend of mine has been having trouble dealing with all of this "poker as a job" stuff and was planning to take a break (incidentally as usual the big potato is on top of all this shit, taking the month of February off and likely parting in Cabo right now). I ended up speaking with Babar about the whole thing and he had a couple of terrible and truthful things to say, specifically that he had noticed that both my friend and I had basically become...well, simply put, worse, since the last time he saw us. We were colder, harsher, quicker to pass judgement, and in general just not as pleasant to be around. The conversation continued and he said he's seen it in others. Eventually I had to go home for the evening, but I ended up calling him from my car on the way home and was nearly moved to tears when he answered a simple question.

"You've been playing out here for a week or so now. Do you think it's possible to put yourself in this environment, week in and week out, without it destroying you?"


Babar is a very thoughtful person, and in the history of our relationship he has very rarely, if ever, been flat wrong. He considers things logically and carefully, and is usually able to remove emotion from nearly all of his decision making machinery. But he didn't even blink when I hit him with that one. He paused for maybe like 2 seconds before just flat out leveling with me. No, it probably cannot be done. I have to stress, this isn't coming from just anybody. Babar is on an extremely short list of people whose advice I simply will not ignore, because he has been at this whole poker thing for quite a long time and simply seems...happy. His life isn't perfect, but just as I cannot recall him being patently wrong about something, I also cannot remember seeing him even remotely stressed out. He's helped me with a lot of things in my life (both poker and personal) and to be honest fair value for his counsel ranges well into the thousands of dollars. And here I am, hearing this man for whom I have such great respect tell me that what I am doing will, unequivocally, destroy me. Think about that. Think about the depth and scope of that event.

Along the way people have warned me that this would happen. James warned me, way back when I first declared I was taking my shot. Kit told me it was a horrendous idea. DougL and Private Joker agreed it was foolish. But did I listen? Of course not. I was sure I was different and that they had no idea what was best for me. Besides, it was only a 6 week shot; what was the worst that could happen?

Yeah, great planning, Jesse. I didn't take into account my incredibly propensity for inertia. I've had trouble quitting things my entire life; relationships, jobs, sports teams, really everything that can be quit, I've been bad at quitting. So now here we are, nearly 200 weeks later, and I'm still grinding away. And what do I have to show for it? Money? Not really. I'm way behind where I would be financially if I'd just stayed at Oracle and kept my nose down (let alone tried to company hop once or twice and gotten sneaky raises, or worked for a start up that actually turned out). You just can't overcome what happpend to me between the my Southwest trip and like Christmas 2010. Happiness? Certainly not. The term grinding is an extremely accurate way to describe poker, because that's exactly what it's become for and done to me. I'm losing pieces of myself, day by day, week by week, month by month, and to be honest I'm not exactly sure how to stop it (or even if I can). I don't know if it's really just being in LA and driving for almost two hours a day and dealing with all the douche bags down here, but I suspect that is only a partial answer. The Bay Area poker scene was starting to wear on me, too. It's even possible that the change of venue actually extended my shelf life. I don't know if it's the constant combative environment of being a prop, but that certainly hasn't helped. My employer laid off all the 20/40 props on February first (and by all I think I mean almost all but I don't know nobody would ever tell me the truth and by laid off I mean put on forced leaves of absence) and I am positive they are considering axing the remaining 40/80 props next. Like, they canned guys that had been there 10 and 15 years. I've been there 9 months and am a part time employee. To think they will do anything but drop me like a radioactive marble the instant it strikes them as remotely profitable to do so would be ridiculous.

Friendships? Relationships? To be honest I have developed some of those, but at this point my two best poker friends live in San Jose and Balitmore (sorry to anyone I offended, but that's just the way it is). Really at this point poker is just a job, and a job that requires a great deal of patience and emotional effort. It's not the life of freedom that everyone makes it out to be, and I don't know if it could ever be that for me again because I simply might not be good enough to make it on my own (where by "make it" I mean book 6 figure years without a prop salary to back me up) because I've gotten so...tired. I guess I'm kind of noticing a pattern in my life, and that's that I seem to get very tired of stuff after a few years. School got pretty tiresome towards the end. Software development lasted just over 3 years, but honestly should have been more like half that. But the difference here is that I still enjoy playing poker. I still like going to the card room to play, I enjoy the challenge of it, the talent I have for it, I really do. But at the same time I've realized that all the bullshit that comes along with it, the assholes the traffic the political bullshit of being a prop the worrying about getting laid off the staking the everything just might be more than I can take.

So what am I going to do? Well to be completely honest I don't have a fucking clue. One thing I'm not going to do is quit my prop job when I suspect that simply going to work for a few more weeks will result in me getting unemployment benefits. Plus in a weird way I don't want to give them the satisfaction. If they're going to can me, they need to actually fucking do it. So there is that. But do I intend to quit playing poker for a living? Do I intend to actually re-enter the workforce and real world and buy some pants and shirts and actually be a productive member of society? The mere thought of it is horrifying. I haven't had a deadline, action item, meeting, or really any responsibility beyond showing up for 3.5 years. Aside from the fact that my skills have degraded (that's actually a minor concern, I think I'd actually be a favorite to get a job at Google now if I put my mind to it), I just don't have any interest in sitting at a desk 8 hours a day. Like literally none whatsoever. I could try something new (the finance industry is what I always kick around) but I don't know if I have that level of effort in me right now. I could try to spin poker into some other profitable venture (coaching and writing a book come to mind...I'm probably qualified to coach poker and tutor a bunch of other stuff to be honest but that's just so much work). Staking is going pretty well, but there's a limit to how much of that you can do because to be honest there just aren't that many guys out there and it's a lot of headaches.

No, I don't think I really want to do any of that right now, so I'm going to try the Pete approach to life and just see how it goes. We were talking about happiness or contentment or whatever on 2p2 and he hit the nail right on the head. He said that the key to being happy is to prioritize every single thing in your life above your job. Everything. And you know what, that make perfect sense. I proposed this approach to MikeL yesterday and he agreed almost instantly that it was a great idea; in fact he basically said that's exactly what he does. And that man has somehow survived poker in LA for over a decade, so he must have at least some idea of how to get through this wasteland with some small portion of your soul intact because, at least to me, he doesn't seem dead inside. And that's exactly what I'm going to be if I don't make some changes, just a husk of my former self, with no goodness or joy left in me, and I just can't let that happen. So from now until I get laid off, poker is my last priority. Everything else comes first. Housework? First. The gym? First. My dogs? First. Danielle? First. My parents? First. Friends? First. Softball? First. Every single thing in my life is going to get prioritized over the act of playing poker for a living. If I don't feel like playing, I'm going to quit immediately when my shift ends. If I have ANYTHING else to do whatsoever I'm not going to play on my days off. If the game goes over night or needs help in the evening, I am not going to give a flying fuck. Poker is last and that's all there is to it. This is the least drastic measure I can think of that has some chance of actually working, so it's the one I'm going to implement. And come March 1st, I'll hopefully have some more information and maybe be able to make an actual, real, painful decision regarding what exactly I'm doing with my life.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

January Recap

Playing poker for a living has never been so pleasant. Everything I do just seems to work. My horses are generally winning (not unilaterally, but they are doing well-ish), I've been taking pieces of of a couple players who are shooting at the local 40/80 games (but are slightly under-rolled for the endeavor) and they do nothing but crush, and I've been just booking win after win after win personally. I logged 173 hours for the month and won like 90 bets (for the record half a bet per hour is the new bet per hour as far as I'm concerned), and even overcame the $6000 brain blowout without more than 12 hours of fetal position (9 of which were spent sleeping). In short, life is wonderful.