Sunday, October 21, 2012

Ask a Silly Question

Actually it's not a silly question at all.  I just kind of liked that title.  Here is a (series of) question(s) I received (first on 2p2, and then via email at my request) and my rambling response to it.  I hope it makes for good reading.

Hi Jesse,

Thanks for the responses on my forum thread.  Just curious, did you ask me to email you because my thread topic isn't fit for discussion on the forum?  Or just that you would like to keep your thoughts on this matter private?

I found your blog a few weeks ago.  Your posts are fascinating, thanks for sharing your experiences with the poker community.  In particular, I was surprised by how candid you were with your actual poker results, that's definitely something I wasn't expecting from poker players.  Whenever I talk to one of the regulars while playing at Commerce, I would never ask them outright what their hourly win rate is, I just ask them what they think is a good win rate, and usually I would just get some vague response.

Have you ever done day parting for your live results?  Parse your results by each day of the week and see which days are more profitable than others?  Weekends are definitely better than weekdays, but I am interested to find out which weekdays are better and which we should avoid.  I have done that for my own results but I have no where near enough hours for that result to be meaningful.

I just didn't really feel like typing up what I think for all to hear, I guess.  Also I don't really read 2p2 anywhere but my phone, so typing a long response is...tough.  (Edit:  turns out this wasn't true as I'm putting the entire thing up on the old blog)

I used to be a lot more candid that I am now.  I'm not sure why I did that, but it was probably ego.  If you'll notice I haven't really been giving any sort of aggregate results for over a year now, and it'd be difficult to parse together exactly how I've been doing.  Like, there is a massive range of results I could have for the year given the info on my blog.  At least I think.

If I were you (or I guess if I were everybody) there would never be any discussion whatsoever at the poker table suggesting that ANYBODY ever won in the games I play.  You really don't ever want the fish realizing there are winners and losers and which they are and all that.  You really want them to think everyone is there just to gamble.  It's just not in the best interest of the game for them to be thinking about anything other than the fact that last time they were stuck this much they managed to win it all back.

I have never made any attempt to separate out my results by day of the week, and I don't think doing so would/could ever be productive.  You'd need literally tens of thousands of hours in the game you were trying to sort out, and you'd need them to be in the same "conditions" or whatever.  that's the dirty little secret about live results...the conditions of the games change so quickly that your results are ALWAYS meaningless.  No matter what.  My results are meaningless.  The fact that I beat up the Bay 101 and Garden City games 4 years ago doesn't matter at all, in the slightest.  The 20 game at commerce is always changing.  New pros come in, new pros go bust.  They work different schedules, they go on vacation.  Whales arrive, they drop to 8/16 (a lot of that recently) and in general even a sample of 1000 hours is just laughably small, so it's completely impossible to ever generate anything meaningful.  All we can do is speculate on which days or schedules TEND to be the best.  You simply can't take something that is as inherently noisy as LHE results and then add another degree of randomness (who's in the game) or two (how you're playing) and except to generate an output that is actually a signal of something.

The only thing you could do in this regard that might prove helpful is keep some sort of journal or database of your own rankings of the game conditions you see at various times of the day/week.  Every two hours look around and give a numerical ranking, or even keep a journal.  Even this would be tough in the 40s, as the case at 4pm is often "wow the main games are great" and "wow the must move is horrendous".  But it's...something.

Now that I have rambled almost without end, I'll try to answer the questions from your post on 2p2, inline I suppose

First time poster. Please let me know if there is a more appropriate forum for this thread, thanks. I have been playing a bit in the Commerce 20 and would like to ask the Commerce regulars some questions regarding realistic win rates in the current state of the game.

From what I have read from various corners of the poker world, and gathering from conversations with some long time commerce regulars, it sounds like that as recently as a few years ago, the realistic win rate for a good Commerce 20 player is about 1BB/hr ($40/hr) while the top players can attain roughly 1.4BB/hr ($56/hr). 

I wasn't around for this, mostly, but I have had conversations with several people that indicate more than 1 bet per hour was doable in the 20s as recently as maybe 3 years ago.  I specifically spoke with someone I respect (and you would also) about the LA games, and in 2008 he suggested that the 20 could be beaten for $60/hour, the 40 $90/hour.  I'm sure if I asked him again he'd drop those numbers substantially.

But according to these same players and blogs such as JesseTakesAShot, it sounds like those win rates may no longer be possible in today's games. If that is the case, what should a good player shoot for as a realistic win rate in today's games? 0.6BB/hr for a good player and 1BB/hr for the top players?

This is actually pretty inline with what I think is doable for a "big hours" guy in the commerce 20.  Note that I feel it's a pretty important distinction that you are attempting to be a "big hours" kind of guy.  By playing 1500+ hours/year you inherently put yourself in worse spots.  You have to pass on good quits sometimes.  You have to sit in bad games sometimes because you just got there for the day and I mean really what else are you going to do?  Throughout my career I have seen lots of players report big win rates over seemingly large samples (myself included).  Most of them eventually hit a 300 bet downer, or 500 hour break even stretch (or both) that brings their win rate back down to Earth.  But if you're talented, are willing to put in the hours, and don't go on any serious form of tilt, I do believe that .7 to 1 is still doable.

What about the difference in the win rate for 2 similarly skilled players, but one of them playing mostly during daytime on weekdays while the other player mostly play during weekends and week nights? I would expect the weekends and week nights player to attain a higher win rate than the weekday daytime player, but how big of a difference in win rate should these 2 players expect to get?

I have no idea on this one, and could only speculate based on the experiences I have seen reported from other players.  I do know of specifically two 20/40 grinders who have chose to completely avoid playing before about 2pm (and one before 8pm), and both report that the quality of the games is just unbelievable in the wee hours of the night.  This makes sense, and lines up with what everyone seems to think/report.  I for one have found that the commerce 40s are just amazing on Saturday and sunday afternoons.  Just yesterday, for example, there were FIVE 40 games running at 2pm and they were all fantastic.

What about the modern win rate in the Commerce 40? I have never played in the Commerce 40 before, but I would imagine that a Commerce 20 1BB/hr player should be able to win somewhere between 0.2 to 0.8 BB/hr in the Commerce 40 game. If this Commerce 20 player play in the 40 and ends up winning 0.5BB/hr while experiencing 2x+ variance/swing, there is really no point, other than a desire to play against tougher opponents. A Commerce 20 break even player would probably get destroyed in the 40 game, but what about a Commerce 20 0.5BB/hr player? What win rate should a Commerce 20 player achieve in the 20, and for how long a period of time, before even thinking about taking a shot at the 40?

This is something I have just recently spent a lot of time and energy pondering, and while the establishment will probably pull my card for saying it, I think you could sadly be pretty much spot on.  I just added up my last 4 months of commerce 40 results and roughed it all in, and the results are just the most depressing thing pretty much ever.  I've only got 500 or so hours of commerce 40 lifetime (seriously....most of my readers would have probably booked the over 2000) and I am stuck about 10k (or losing about 5/8ths of a bet per hour).  That's correct...I am a limit hold em professional in the los angeles area and I am a lifetime loser in the commerce 40 game.  That's just...amazing.  Not that I've played 500 hours and lost....that's not that hard to do.  But merely that I have actually dumped money (I've lost way more than the rake) into that game.  So I'm pretty biased obviously when it comes to this specific question, regarding the win rates between the 20 and the 40 games at that casino in particular, but obviously from my extremely small sample size you should just never ever consider playing the 40 and just play the 20 for the rest of time.  Or jump straight to the 60, where my results have been more like 1.5 bets per hour over 350 or so hours.  But I've spoken to several people I respect on the matter, and there is at least some support for the idea that it could be more profitable to beat the snot out of the yellow chips games than to let your pride get in the way and force yourself to play as much 40 or higher as possible.  For example, I am buried $25k in the 1/2 game since June 28th.  That's not...good.  It's also meaningless.  Whatever, it's 125 bets, you can lose that in 500 hands theoretically.  No matter how anyone feels about it, I'm confident that it's at a minimum correct (financially) for most players to CONSIDER playing the 20/40 games, which to be honest I almost never do anymore.


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