Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Times They Are a Changin'

A lot of you are somewhat in the loop as to what's been going on with me of late (even more so than what I've posted on here). I've spent the last week getting my sea legs on Full Tilt Poker, seeing if there is any conceivable way I could stomach something that I once thought was unthinkable. With about 70% of precincts reporting the result is becoming fairly certain; I seem to be able to play poker exclusively online. I haven't played a live hand since 6/22 (sorry Mom and Dad, that's the reason I haven't called....I haven't been wasting 90+ minutes of my life a day driving through LA traffic), and I'm actually starting to like it. So here's the basic 12 step program to turning your brick and mortar poker lifestyle into one of pointing and clicking.

Step 1 - Decimate (or at least half-istate) Bankroll

These part really is easy. All you have to do is enter a few WSOP events, step foot inside the Bellagio, fail to play enough drunken craps, black jack, and bowling to keep up with your losses, and then run bad at commerce once you come home.

Step 2 - Get a Pep Talk From Babar

In order to do this you need to know Babar and be a person he at least somewhat respects, or pay the stated rate of $100/hour for his wisdom. In this pep talk you receive some great wisdom which is actually common sense but coming from someone as accomplished as Babar borders on a proclamation from a higher power. You will not mess with you iPhone when you play live. You will watch 6-10 DC videos per month. You will not post bad beats of any form via any media for one month. You will not open a thread in 2p2 and think to yourself "Meh I have no idea" and simply close the thread without responding. You will take breaks when feel tilty. You will become involved in the SSHE forum on 2p2. This pep talk will energize you to rededicate yourself to your craft .

Step 3 - Lose 6 Racks in Two Days

With your fresh dedication to playing well, playing rested, and focusing your attention on the game, you must incinerate 6 racks in less than 15 hours of play. Again, this is easy.

Step 4 - Lose Hope

Your bankroll was in trouble before. You had already declared that you were not dipping into your investments to further fund this shot, and this last round of beatings has you looking at access to about $10K in liquid money spread basically all to hell (online, in a pair of bank accounts, in my sock drawer, pending debts). If you bust it, you've promised yourself you'll quit, and things couldn't look bleaker. Playing at Commerce is just such a hassle. It takes forever to get there, sometimes you have to wait for a game, sometimes your game grinds to a halt, and the people are such douchebags you find yourself lobbying for tilt prevention at least five times more frequently than you did in the Bay Area. Once last week you left your apartment at 11am and did not get home until 9pm and managed to log only 6.5 hours of play! If you're going to continue to play on a short roll, you'll have to grind as many hours as humanly possible so that your life expenses can't catch up to you and eat what's left. And grinding 50 hours a week at Commerce might just kill you.

Step 5 - Consider Taking Staking

I actually asked around quite a bit trying to work out some sort of staking deal for 20/40. The basic deal I wanted was for someone to buy half my action at 15-20% discount of what it was worth. I don't want to get into the numbers, but for some reason nobody wants to put that trade on, which is a little puzzling to me. If I win $40/hour at 20/40, it would seem to me that paying $16/hour for the right to 50% of my action over a reasonable time frame (several hundred hours) is a decidedly +EV thing to do (with admittedly pretty high variance obviously). Meh, nobody wanted to do it and I wasn't even really sure it was the right thing to do anyway so.

Step 6 - Consider Playing Online Exclusively

This step was actually performed in concert with step 5. Honestly it's not that big of a stretch for me to make at least "getting by" money on Full Tilt. 4 tabling 3/6 results in playing 400-500 hands per hour, and if you can win just 1 big bet per hundred, after rakeback you're pulling in $40-$50/hour. Skillwise this is probably at the upper bound of what I'm currently capable, but it's definitely not a stretch. The real problem is actually doing it for 5+ hours a day. Can I play 2000 hand days? Sure. Can I play 6 of them a week? Time will tell. I have several months to figure it out, since without the threat of losing 10 more racks in a 20/40 game I actually have enough money to support my "food and rent" habit for several months comfortably.

Step 7 - Play a Ton Online. Get Blown Up

The first two days of my endeavor went like this.

Step 8 - Never Surrender

Since then, however, it has gone like this.

Step 9 - Talk to Babar Again

This happened just yesterday and he set me straight on a few things. First of all, I'd been playing primarily 2/4 and mixing in some 1/2 games from time to time. He pointed out that this is insane, and that I should basically just be game selecting from the 2/4 and 3/6 games. So I'm doing that. I'd been avoiding the 3/6 games because my numbers in them didn't look so hot, but realistically I can beat those games and playing 1/2 is just a waste of time (at 500 hands an hour I think you could make something like $17/hour). Second of all he conveyed his opinion that taking staking was a horrible idea, based on the information he had about my situation (which is to say the last rather unique...what other professional poker players just decide that the lion's share of his net worth is untouchable).

Step 10 - Assess Your Life

At first sitting around my apartment for 12 hours every day and pecking away at a computer screen seemed impossible. Then I lost 200 bets and it seemed even harder than that. But the last several days have seen some marked improvements. I'm not getting killed, which is good. I'm learning how to control my tilt, which is critical. I'm learning what things to pay attention to and what things I can kind of let slip away (4 tabling 6max online lets you see literally 10-12 times as many hands as you would live. You simply have to miss things). I reset my HUD to show me some more valuable things. And I'm actually enjoying the solitude and relaxation of my apartment. If I'm a little on tilt I take my dogs for a walk or watch Sportscenter for 20 minutes. That's way more relaxing than walking around Commerce.

Step 11 - Give it the Old College Try

As I said in (10), my life seems to not suck, so I'm going to give this a try. In two weeks I may be batshit insane, but there are those who might argue such a state an improvement over my attitude of the last month. So here it is for the world to see....I am moving my operation online. No more hour+ commutes, no more poo flingers at Commerce, no more $5K downswings. Just me, my mouse, and my boxer shorts.

Step 12 - Profit

At least that's the plan. I'll keep you posted on this last part.


ExMember said...

"My bankroll is the amount of money I would spend or lose before I got a job. It is calculated by adding my net worth to whatever I can borrow." -- Tommy Angelo

You've done a lot to confirm that I made the right choice picking no-limit over limit.

Oren said...

Really nice post.
Why totally abandon live play? Wouldnt it make sense to put in a single weekend (if the games are better & traffic lighter) session in?

bellatrix78 said...

the only way staking makes sense is in a super high variance environment like tournaments. Staking in live LHE games where a good player has a 3BB/100 edge (1BB/hour) means that somebody on either side is getting hustled.

jesse8888 said...


First of all, traffic is not lighter on the weekends in LA. It's in fact usually worse. Second of all, doing something like that would introduce an incredibly amount of variance into my life. I'm pretty sure 2-3 months is enough time to figure out playing online. Playing 20/40 once a week could easily knock that time frame down to 4-6 weeks, which is really not what I'm looking for.

Like I said here, the right solution is either to play as many live hours as humanly possible or to give up altogether and become a ghost. I've chosen the ghost.

Captain R said...

So this is interesting. I didn't realize you actually don't need as big a bankroll to play online as you do live for the same hourly rate.

For example, if you can 4-table 3/6 to make $40+/hr., you really only need about a 1000BB bankroll, or $6k.

To make $40+/hr. live, you'd have to play 20/40, and $6k is nowhere near enough money to play that game.

jesse8888 said...

You're spot on Captain, I'm glad to see that my life is still teaching you things from time to time. 1000 big bets online is pretty darn conservative, and the 20/40 live number for that level of safety is probably around $30K.

I am definitely seeing a lot of the appeal of online play. You have a realistic chance of playing to the long run, and therefore if you're a long term runner you will eventually, well, win. It's also very possible to grind your way up pretty quickly, which as I'm sure you're aware is very tough live (present company who started at 2/4 live and has run out of games to crush not included).

Tyler said...

i wish you the best of luck online. keep putting in volume. don't be afraid to give me a call/text a hand if you want to talk shop sometime...

The blindman said...

I can tell you from experience, that 1000BB is a pretty borderline bankroll for online 3/6.

Here's a graph I posted a little while ago:

Since then, I've dropped about another K. I'm not pro, and I have some bad habits, but even taking that into consideration, it's horrific.

Good luck Jesse, I sincerely hope it doesn't happen to you.

that_pope said...

1000 BB bankroll is plenty if you can beat the game for 1 BB/100 and game select well. Obviously if you sit at tables with 5 regulars who are average to decent, you won't be a 1 BB/100, which will add greatly to your variance.

As for game selection, Jesse has it easy. He just sees what games I am in or am on the waiting list, and joins those, since I am a game selection nit.

JFF said...


A couple questions,

1 how do you figure 400-500 hands an hour playing 4 tables? That seems a little high,

2, at 1bb / 100 at 3/6 that's $24 / hour, are the rakeback numbers really $26-36 hour

3 what are your new hours, I'd imagine you'll,have to be playing a little bit later, even on the west coast

jesse8888 said...

400-500 hands an hour is a little high but only because you're going to be moving in and out of games. If you just sat at 4 tables for an hour straight I'm sure you'd get at least 400 hands. And rake back seems to be be over $5/hour at 3/6 6max from my sample so far.

I don't have set hours, but yes it seems I'll have to accept playing later in the day.

The blindman said...

@Patrick, I'm running at -5BB/100 over my last 22000 hands in games which were profitable over at least 200000 hands prior. Sure, game selection is important but it really is possible to run that bad.