Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Text of the Day

I send and receive an awful lot of texts. Many months I have to ration to stay inside my allotment of 1500; I even have two "free texting" apps on my phone. Today I had a conversation with Pete in which he was toying with short stacking the 200/400 game with $6K. I told him to go get 'em, and offered to take 5% of his action. He opted for a "super juicy" 40/80 game instead, which was kind of a downer for me, and eventually sent this, my Text of the Day:

The fish are learning. Al now open limps co and then folds for 2 more.

Monday, August 30, 2010

So Much Stuff; So Little Poker

I realized that I've had quite a bit of stuff going on lately, and very little of it has had to deal with the actual playing of poker by me. Some of these could be entire posts, but I think I'm just going to lump them all together. Here goes.

I officially destroyed the weight loss bet, basically crushing souls because for some reason most of the other people who ponied up cash to play didn't make their goals. When I started this endeavor I was just hoping to break even and actually lose some weight; I never dreamed I would win $400+ off the thing. Hurray for me. Another weight loss bet is starting up in the micros forum (I feel sickly proud that this thread would not have started without my vague statement 4 months ago "Anybody want to do a weight loss prop bet?") and I've decided not to enter, despite the fact that I feel like I could lose another 10 pounds pretty easily and crush some more souls. Instead, I'm going to switch my fitness focus to continuing to eat healthy (basically no fried food, no red meat, smaller portions, etc), lifting weights every 2-3 days, swimming to get ready for the Aquathon (donations still appreciated, and by "get ready for" I mean "attempt to avoid injury in") and perhaps making a run at completing 100 push ups (perhaps another 2p2 bet is in order after all). I feel very healthy and happy after this whole thing, and strongly encourage anyone out there who is considering it to jump into the Micros bet.

Fantasy football is afoot, and I once again will be co-managing two teams with my father, who was playing fantasy football before many of you were born, back when only touchdowns mattered (but you got more points for longer ones), you started two quarterbacks, there was a "rookie" position, and you had to manually extract the scores from USA Today to find out who had to buy the donuts on Wednesday morning. One of my earliest football memories is of sitting in my parents bed watching the Steelers get blown out by I believe the Houston Oilers and my father lamenting that Tim Worley wasn't worth a sack of beans. That may or may not have been the same year Doug Drabek lost a no- hitter with 2 outs in the ninth inning. Anyway, I'm in the middle of a draft for my "fun only" league, which somehow has dwindled to eight teams this year meaning that basically everyone's team is going to be stacked. We nabbed Michael Turner and Andre Johnson with the wrapper 8-9 pick and I think are off to a solid start, mainly because as we all know one measure of your fantasy team is the quality of your number 1 Johnson. My other league is run by my buddy Dave, and has an extremely quixotic set of rules (basically set down by Bill Simmons 6 years ago) in which you can flex a quarterback 6 times a year, and the playoffs actually happen, gasp, during the playoffs. I have finished 2nd, 4th, and 2nd in this league in the three years I've played, and am hoping to take Ben's Appendage all the way this season. As an aside the team started off as "Ben's Appendix" and was renamed "Ben's Appendage" after the Lake Tahoe incident. I'm considering changing the "Ben's Therapist" in memory of Celebrity Jeopardy on SNL, where Sean Connery says "I'll take The Rapists for $200".

Online poker is going kind of well, sort of. I'm using Fulltilt's Ironman Promotion to keep myself engaged, which has me playing several hundred hands on more days than not. The promotion itself is kind of silly and is really only considered a small part of their customer loyalty program (Rakeback is the primary component; I've earned something like $2000 in rake back this year). My graph for the year is preposterous, with something like a $3000 downswing right smack in the middle of it, basically never playing any higher than 3/6. I think I was playing pretty crappily a while back when I tried to have "online only" days, forcing myself to play several thousand hands, so for now I'm just trying to stay involved and never go more than a day or two without logging in and playing a couple hundred hands. It's a work in progress, but hopefully I can keep it going and keep improving to the point that I feel confident that I know enough (about game selection, my own concentration/focus) to win consistently. This month I'm only going to make the silver level, so the official goal is gold in September.

Everyone is quitting. The problem with playing poker for a living is that most of your friends have a relatively short shelf life, and if they don't they are fairly likely to re-locate, either geographically or stakes-wise within a year or two of you becoming friends with them. I moved to LA 6 months ago, and in the interim two of my closest poker friends up north have (1) quit and gotten a real job and (2) changed jobs to a situation that is likely to seriously hamper his ability to keep playing at the same level for much longer. And a good friend down here is also considering quitting, mostly because he's found it's not worth the stress and he's not feeling challenged enough to continue putting in the time/effort that could be better spent on, you know, the rest of his goals in life. So basically what I'm saying here is that a lot of the people I know that are very competent at life and have the skills to succeed at poker also seem to have very high opportunity costs (they could produce a lot with their efforts elsewhere) which makes it harder to justify continuing to play. This is sort of a similar situation for me, and I've known for about 6 months now that I'm making the incorrect decision from a financial point of view by keeping at this. But it makes me happy, in general. Last week I actually had a nightmare, the premise of which was that I had a job and my first day was today and I had to go in but didn't know where to go or who my boss was or what I was even going to be doing. It was quite awful, actually, which re-enforced to me that I'm not ready to give this up yet.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Back in Action

I have returned from the giant broiler that is Lake Havasu without so much as a scratch. The day we left the mercury read 119 degrees (thats one hundred and nine teen), and to be honest I'm surprised there wasn't an incident. I learned how to wakeboard, and will eventually put up some pictures of me sloshing around behind the boat.

As for poker, it's time for me to get back to it. I played for 5 hours or so yesterday at Commerce and was saddened to find a pretty crappy situation. For the entire day I had zero ability to table change (there were only two games for most of the day, and a third did start but Archie never took the must move off because it wasn't "healthy enough") and my game quite frankly wasn't that good. At one point I looked around and saw myself, numbnutz, Kangster, two guys who play every day and aren't that bad, two guys I'd never seen before but weren't doing anything truly horrendous, and basically one fish halfway across the table who was often getting double iso-raised before the action got to me. So I quit early stuck a rack and am hoping to get back on the horse today.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Tommy Angelo Strikes Again

I just had one of those moments where I had a choice to make and based my decision on a realization that had NEVER occurred to me before. In a sense, I had an "Aha!" moment, and I think I sorta owe it to Tommy Angelo. I'm listening to his video series on DC (8 Fold Path to Poker Enlightenment), and specifically yesterday I listened to the reciprocality episode. Here's what went down, and the concepts I used to make my decision.

So I'm in the 1 hole in a so-so 20/40 game. There are two notably bad players, positioned in seats 2 and 5. Obviously I am looking to change seats ASAP, as my seat is poor from both EV and comfort points of view. Seat 4 opens, and I instinctively reach for a chip to lock it up; the inbound player is also a fish, and getting position on him and the guy in 2 would be awesome. But A second later, and it really only took that long, I stand pat. Here's why.

Conventional wisdom, at least to me, is that seat selection should be solved greedily. If the open seat is better than yours, upgrade now. There seems to be no point in not changing seats because a better one might come along. What I realized today is that the above is not entirely true. Tommy's concept of reciprocality basically says that you should view all your decisions in light of what your opponents would have done. If you make a decision differently, be it betting, quitting, showing a hand, whatever, only then do you truly make money. You don't "win" just by dragging a pot with aces. If the guy who paid you off would have won just as much from you, had the situation been reversed, the hand is a tie.

Hmmmm....so what does that mean? I make money when I make decisions differently than my opponents would. And, in theory, I am good at doing so. Seat selection falls under this set of assumptions. All that's the easy part. What I realized is that if I "play good" in a certain aspect of the game, I want to raise the stakes. By not taking the open seat I would be allowing the creation of a sort of "uber Jesus" seat, putting the trio of fish in seats 2-5. I was in a must move game, so seats would come available; and most likely it would be me, not some other player, who would grab the 6 or 7 when it came open. In short I could create an extremely high variance situation, intentionally, and rely on my skills to capitalize on it.

The high level lesson, the "aha" moment, was simple. If you are an expert at solving a very specific aspect of a game, strive to create high variance (difficult) situations regarding that aspect of the game, then crush your opponents at it. I was in seat 6 fifteen minutes later (results oriented maybe) and proceeded to start typing this post.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bon Voyage

This "weekend" finds me going on another summer trip (my 4th such 4-5 day trip this summer, not counting two of the excursions to Vegas to play in the WSOP, during which minimal to zero poker will have been played), this time to Lake Havasu for 4 days of water skiing with Danielle, her father, and my friend Chris. I'm far and away the least accomplished skier in the group, but that didn't stop me from having a blast last time (2 years ago to the month, just after I started this whole "poker for a living" business).

On the one hand I'm looking forward to the trip quite a bit. My recent hot streak has allowed me to go off and enjoy myself without constantly worrying that the cost of life is going to catch up to me and that before I know it I'll be poker busto. At the same time however, I'm a little concerned about a few things. First of all, it's pretty common knowledge that you're supposed to keep playing when you're winning. There are several good reasons for this, but the most important three are 1. You're likely having fun and this is supposed to be fun and 2. If you're winning on average that means you're in a better situation (weaker opponents and better focus on your part) and 3. If you're up 3 racks you probably have a pretty solid table image and your life should be a lot easier. These three reasons are meant to apply to a specific session and are counter to the way most people play poker. You've seen the guys who lock up moderate wins in their game but will play for 15 hours straight trying to "get even" if they're stuck. Hell I know props that do this. I mean there is actually a little merit to this if you have, say, spousal pressure to report your results and may lose some play time if you come home stuck the over 50% of the time (which is what should happen to most players), but the real solution to that problem is to educate your spouse (which I realize is entering unicorn fantasy land for the players I'm talking about, since most of them don't even understand the concepts themselves). But the simply truth is that it's very important to pick up stuck very frequently if you're playing full time, and also very important to grind out a few extra hours here and there when you're already up. Just last Monday I turned a $700 win into a $1900 win by playing hours 8 and 9 of my session because damn it the game was fantastic. Anyway, the point is that these principles really should also apply over several sessions or weeks. I've been winning, so I'm having fun, I'm confident, and on average have probably been putting myself in good games (the goodness of the games is sorta cyclical), so I should play a bunch more hours.

My other main concern is that I feel like I need this break already. As I stated above I've taken a freaking ton of vacation this summer, and I am starting to wonder if I'm ever going to be able to truly sustain even 40 hour weeks. Before I started this whole shot I ran a test trial, working at Oracle and driving to either Bay 101 or Garden City 22 days in a row (that's right, every day for over 3 weeks) to play poker, to see if it would get old. It didn't, and when I wasn't able to play on day 23 I was bummed. Everyone warned me that if I treated poker like a job that it would become, well, a job, and I wouldn't enjoy it nearly as much. That has been true to some extent these past two years, but I feel like I was keeping it under control by managing the other stresses in my life well. Down here in the Southlands those other stresses (not having as many good friends, traffic, jerks at the table) have grown basically unchecked and I'm concerned that they are wilting away my passion for poker.

Anyway, I'll be gone until the middle of next week (weekend is a very generous term when you don't have a job you see), attempting to avoid heatstroke. In the mean time I leave you with roughly 100 videos I took during my trip to Yellowstone. Enjoy.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Heat Goes On

My last 8 playing days I have been winning at a nearly unimaginable clip. When I walked into Commerce on 8/8/2010 I was a husk of a poker player. My bankroll had been reduced to smoldering ruins, my confidence was shot, and I was extremely close to giving up. As I left Hawaiian Gardens today, I couldn't remember a better run. Upon checking my spreadsheet I wasn't even surprised to see the numbers; just a shade under $8000 of profits in 8 playing days, or 2/3rds of a "valid 300 big bet bankroll" in basically a week. I have committed all manner of heinous atrocities to secure these wins, and I'll relate a few of the choice hands that I can remember below:

I defend my blind with KQ and flop KT5. We go five bets before I get the picture, and eventually I make broadway to crack his AK.

I open JJ, someone cold calls, and Al (a regular who's honestly not that bad) 3 bets me. Someone takes three to the face so I cap it (I'm probably behind Al, but with two fish coming along how bad can it be?) and we see the flop 4 ways. Q74 I bet, the first cold caller calls and Al calls (the guy who took 3 to the face preflop on the button folds). Turn is a blank and the cold caller calls and Al promptly makes a speech....and folds KK face up. The table is beside it self. I bet the river board pair and get looked up by 88 and Al turns blue.

I raise AJ and take a flop seven ways. That's seven. The board runs out J93ss-4c-3d, 5 people call the flop, 3 more the turn, and 2 the river, and MHIG. Seriously, this happened.

Every time I've needed to catch up, I have. Today I 3-bet from the button with AQo and took a flop 4 ways of 432r. Such a flop presents interesting dynamics, since it's a moral certainly nobody with an ace is going to fold before the river is dealt. In short, if you have king high you know you need to fire three shots to bluff out the best hand, but if you have, say, AQ, you can probably extract a little more value than usual. Anyway I value bet the flop and two of them call, then the turn is an 8 and I value bet again and only one calls. River? Queen, no problem. I bet again and he shakes his head in disgust after he calls (meaning that I was in fact behind because there was no way this guy was calling with ace high). Oh and the sets. There has been no end to the sets. Big sets, little sets, heads up, five way, pretty much every type of set you possibly could flop, I have flopped.

It's been really fantastic actually, to run like the wind and remember why I've been doing this as long as I have. It's also comforting to realize that such a drastic heater (200 bets in 53 hours) indicates that the reverse (something like -150 bets in 50 hours) has to happen from time to time (which as everyone here is aware, has been the case for me). I'd like to credit my new-found resolve to concentration, focus, and study, but to be honest it's mostly just been running hot. Here's hoping I can keep it up the rest of the week before I go on the now bi-annual (that means every two years, right?) water skiing trip.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Just a Hand

Full Tilt Poker $3/$6 Limit Hold'em - 9 players - View hand 862127
The Official
DeucesCracked.com Hand History Converter

Pre Flop: (1.5 SB) Hero is CO with 8 of diamonds 8 of clubs
5 folds, Hero raises, BTN 3-bets, 2 folds, Hero calls

Flop: (7.5 SB) Q of diamonds 9 of hearts T of diamonds (2 players)
Hero checks,
BTN bets, Hero calls

Turn: (4.75 BB) 9 of diamonds (2 players)
Hero checks,
BTN bets, Hero calls

River: (6.75 BB) J of diamonds (2 players)
Hero bets, BTN raises, Hero 3-bets, BTN calls

Final Pot: 12.75 BB
Hero shows 8 of diamonds 8 of clubs (a straight flush, Queen high)
BTN shows 9 of spades 9 of clubs (four of a kind, Nines)
Hero wins 12.25 BB

That is all.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Variance Simulator

I don't know if I've ever put this up on my blog, so here is a really fun variance simulator for limit hold 'em (or any other game that you can define in terms of an expected win rate and standard deviation per some unit). The default units are "per 100 hands", but you can easily trick it into "per hour" if you put in the right data. For example, if you wanted to simulate a full time year in the life of me, a 20/40 player, make the following entries:

Winrate: 40
SD: 440 (this is an estimate but it's within 10%)
Hands: 200000 (2000*100 and we're trying to simulate 2000 hours)
# of Players: 100

The graph you get is the result of running an experiment where 100 players with the above true win rates and standard deviations play for 2000 hours. The results are pretty mind boggling if you're not ready for it. If you couple in playing multiple stake levels they get even worse; imagine what it could look like if each player took 400 of his hours off this graph and added in 400 hours at double the stakes, in a tougher and more aggressive game, where his win rate went up by only 60-80% (or not at all), but his standard deviation increased by say 125%. That's basically what I did in the second half of 2009, which turned out to be a complete disaster. I think I mentioned on here that at one point I had 200 hour stretch where I won exactly 1 big bet per hour but broke even, due to playing everywhere from a little 6/12 all the way up to 40/80.

I used to run these simulations using a true win rate of $50/hour, and admittedly they look a lot better when you do that. The constant tidal wave of positive expectation keeps the downswings and break even stretches much shorter; you're just absolutely crushing the game. But as you reduce that number towards the "accepted" maximum win rate, you start getting a lot of the artifacts you see here, with guys winning less than $20,000 for an entire year, or being under water for 1500 hours. Enjoy the toy.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

My First Patent

Patents are a big deal. At Oracle there was a big push to patent as much crap as possible; I think there was one woman who's full time job was exactly that. I obviously never filed for one back then, but feel confident I have hit upon a patentable process at long last and should be well on my way to unlimited riches. Stay with me here.

Do you like peanut butter? Of course you do. I've never met someone who didn't like peanut butter, and if I did I would assume it was due to some sort of rare genetic condition that interfered with the person's ability to taste "awesome". But here's the real question. Crunchy or smooth? Everyone has a side here. Sure some people are close to the fence, or even hanging off one side of it, but nobody is on top straddling it. You have a preference on the matter. Now this is all well and good, but what if your significant other is on the other side of the fence? This doesn't make her a bad person; just wrong. Nobody is perfect. You love her, though, and want this peanut butter matter to, well, not matter. But what to do? Sure, you could purchase both kinds, and that's the solution your grocery store would have you believe is best. But we all know that, economincally speaking, peanut butter is best purchaed in the ginormous family sized tub that a small dog could drown inside of. That thing costs like $5.99, and the next size down, 50% smaller, is $4.99. So how's a savvy consumer to avoid taking it in the shorts? You could buy BOTH ginormous tubs, but at the risk of your own well being (it is possible to own too much peanut butter; I know it's hard to accept but you've gotta trust me here).

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you now an elegant solution to the above outlined dilemma; the horizontal crunchy-smooth demarcation via trunk encapsulation. Start with one ginormous tub of crunchy peanut butter, walk to your car, open the trunk, and wedge said tub between the wall and the first aid kit (or dead hooker or whatever it is that's always thumping around back there....maybe if you had a first aid kit like me you could have saved her). Go about your business for the day, making sure to park your car outside in the sun for at least a few hours. After dark simply retrieve the now cooled tub and presto, you have half smooth, half extra crunchy peanut butter, divided vertically! Simply open the top and you can access either side instantly. You've saved $3.99, your health, and your relationship in one fell swoop! And on top of that, us crunchy lovers have the equivalent of a quadruple stuffed Oreo without the hassle of throwing away the two extra black pieces. It's EXTRA crunchy people.

Stay tuned....next week I'll explain how to make do with only "pulpy" orange juice. Hint: shake before serving is just a suggestion.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Positive Update

I've come to a realization the last few days. I think I've gotten kind of complacent about my situation in life. I haven't been studying as much as I should be; people on 2p2 can attest that my post rate has plummetted, and I haven't exactly been burning up the Deuces Cracked servers downloading videos. Part of this was due to traveling a lot the last 10 weeks, and yet more was a disenchantment with the poker establishment due to an unfortunate situation that happened to a close personal friend, but the bulk can be attributed specifically to laziness. I think I've also gotten complacent in the way that I've been going about the actual playing of hands. Specifically I think that I've been lighting 2 big bets on fire way too often in the name of not being "exploitable", but I can think of some other situations where I have auto-piloted hands that required way more thought. I stand by my guns that live 20/40 is beaten fiercely not by people who play GTO strategies (although those people should still obviously win), but by people who learn to best exploit their exploitable opponents while not being taken advantage of by the few players in their games who have a clue. In a way I've developed a sense of entitlement, just assuming that if I keep doing the same thing eventually my results will be different. I think Einstein said that was the definition of insanity. Also, I've kind of just adopted a woe is me attitude about the entire LA situation (the traffic, the assholes at the tables, not having any friends) instead of trying to improve the situation.

So I'm ramping up study time again, focusing my energy when I play and trusting my gut more than the little voice in the back of my head screaming "but if you fold here you're folding so much that he has a profitable raise with any two cards". I'll still listen to that voice, but I'll ask him if there is any possible way the other guy knows or even understands that. If he says no, then my opponent isn't going to get my $80. I'm going to work on finding some vague semblance of a schedule that suits my circadian rhythm, allows me to see Danielle, and avoids traffic (admittedly this might actually be impossible). I'm going to try to have a more positive attitude towards the players around me, engaging them in mindless banter. I mean most of them are pricks, but there are usually 1 or 2 guys at the table who are actually nice people that I could have some reasonable conversation with. And I'm going to redouble my efforts to build friendships with other players in the area. The Sloth and I are getting to be pretty good friends. Quantum Hoops and I have fallen out of touch for scheduling reasons, but I'm working on an appearance at the Physics Mansion in Bel Air. I had a drink with Bellatrix last week. The Big Potato relentlessly responds to my texts about silly blind defense hands. I'm going to get lunch with Joe Tall (and pick up my power supply and Danielle's skirt, which were both left behind at Babar's place in Vegas....maybe that's why I haven't been doing so well online) who is a super nice guy and obviously worth knowing.

So that's the plan for the time being; study more, focus more, make friends. If you live in the LA area and want to help with the last one, just drop me a line.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

He Thinks He's a Pro

So there I was yesterday, minding my own business in the main game with my ear buds stuck to my head, basically just trying to stay as emotionally detached from the game as physically possible when Jeff, an irritating regular who must drop tens of thousands of dollars a year in the game (he's there every single weekday for at least 4 or 5 hours, often longer) comes over and starts whispering something to Tak (another regular who is actually probably wins). Now I'm in the 4 seat, Tak in the 6, and Jeff is standing sorta behind the 5, and I realize he points directly at me because he lives in a fantasy world where he can say and do anything he wants with no consequences or concern for what others think. So I turn my head to focus my ears (the music is off, as it often is....yes I use the ear buds simply as a giant "Do Not Disturb" sign from time to time just like 99.9% of other poker players) and all I catch is him snickering and saying "He thinks he's a pro" before Jeff walks back to the must move game to continue stoking his ceremonial chip pyre. Tak just kind of laughs and takes it in stride pretending nothing happens, and as soon as Jeff is gone I say to him, without removing the ear buds, "Does he think that I can't hear him?" and Tak turns blue. Like actually blue. He's a fairly nice guy and his reaction makes it clear that even though Jeff said the comment pretty loudly it wasn't one of those "I'm going to pretend like I'm being quiet even though I know you'll hear me just as a sort of busting your balls sort of thing" but rather an actual attempt to be covert and not have me hear what was said. He's immediately embarrassed for Jeff's idiocy, and I say to him "Don't worry, it's not your fault he's an ass" and go back to ignoring every human being around me and thinking about how I just laid down topsies to a turn raise and the guy flashed me the stone nuts and I'm going to make changes and start winning again because I've gotten too lazy and have just resigned myself to showing down hopelessly in an effort to not be exploitable. Jeff is quite a sight, to be honest. He's terribad, doing all the things that terribad players did in like 2007 that even most of the complete idiots have figured out aren't really action items on the road to riches. And he bitches constantly about bad beats, the dealers, etc, etc. In short he acts as a role model for the players who aren't quite complete assholes yet but strive to be. I smile every time he loses, which is saying something given what a bad steward of his chips he is.

So I kinda forget about this comment and eventually Jeff is at my table trying to talk to me and be nice, and I just sit there and take it and whatever. He's a douche-bag, but it's easier to be nice and have fun then to be a prick (at least for me). So eventually he's almost out of chips, as he always is because of the aforementioned fact that he's fucking terrible, and sends his last 5 chips into the pot preflop. There is much action, perhaps a raise, I don't know, but the flop is seen at least 5 ways:


And at least 3 players go 4 bets. It was in fact most likely 4. Remember, Jeff is all in and just waiting patiently for the showdown. The turn is an a brick and 2 bets go in from at least 3 players, and again there could be 4 of them I just don't remember. The side pot is ginormous, and the iddy-biddy 25 chip main pot is practically getting in the way of the action. The river falls:


And there is a bet and Tak pays off to see the guys T9cc. A mountain of chips, something like 15 or 20 bets, is being pushed to the winner when I realize Jeff hasn't mucked his hand yet. Holy crap, this is gonna be hilarious. Yup, there it is...Jeff tables Q8o FTW and wins $125 for his efforts. If he'd started the hand with even $200 he'd have dragged a 2 racker, and the smile on my face doesn't fade for 15 full minutes.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Big Potato; All Up In Your Soul

The Big Potato has been kind enough to discuss hands with me of late, mostly from a game theory HUHU point of view (as I feel this an area at which he excels relative to me). He is a very talented player and I respect his opinion greatly, and occasionally says hilariously true things. So here is a text conversation from two days ago, based on the merits of check raising borderline air HU against a weak/tight opponent in a blind defense.

Me: Hand? Prop opens button. He's weak/tight but not by prop standards. I defend K8hh. J75 one heart I c/r. Reasonable?

BP: Check call is better from a game theory perspective I think....

Me: What does c/c accomplish? Am I really hoping to get to showdown UI some % of the time?

Me: What if I had Q8hh? That I'd c/r confidently. A8hh I'd c/c for sure.

BP: Check call for value. could be leading + draw. Q8 w bdf seems like solid cr candidate. Bryce in hu matches liked to bias towards call call folding k hi combos

BP: On certain board textures....

Me: I mean that seems to be giving opponent no credit for triple barreling...but Bryce is obv correct so...

I feel like c/c then c/c the turn is just tough if I don't fine SOME help. Like am I c/c a black deuce?

Now at this point I kinda got involved in the playing of other poker hands and put my phone away to stop texting with the Big Potato. And he pontificated mightily in my absence.

BP: I mean cr isn't bad. I'm sure its fine. But its probably a decent calling candidate. But since this prop is probably playing fit, raising 'too much' is prob

BP: An asset rather than liability.

BP: I dunno I play poker there. Against some prop you prob aren't doing well on deuce turns. But if he always double barrels then maybe you can do something..

BP: I dunno all you medium stakes 2+2 are bluff catch phobic and you love to instead raise that portion of your range so I knee jerk want to disagree w you but...

BP: I'm liking the raise now...but calling is still fine. Like everything depends on how opponent nd how you craft your ranges generally..

BP: I don't know how many barrels I'd fire if he calls depending on the t and r. I'd probably just look into his soul and make the exact correct decision bc props are

BP: So ground down that they are very autopiloty and telly.

Me: LOL thanks I appreciate it. How's life?

BP: Pretty decent. Workout like a beast. Dating tons. Working on O8 and other games. Running so so.

BP: Can't complain. How about you? Read your blog. Congrats on the anniversary. almost all of us don't take the straight path to success. You should be proud imo

Me: It'd be pretty boring to just have won the whole way to 1/2 I suppose. Thanks. You have that 6-pack yet.

The Potato is engaged in a prop bet, the details of which are roughly his developing a 6-pack against a female of extremely limited athletic ability completing a marathon. Don't hold your breath on this one folks.

BP: No not close really but I look way better naked than I ever have. So I'm happy.

Me: Nice hand

Me: BTW I think imaturn this text conversation into a blog post if you don't mind.

BP: Post away

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Well Played Sir

Even for Commerce this was truly special. Dude power limps the HJ which I find slightly odd as he's not a megafish but as I've discussed before eventually everyone does something retarded so I raise the KTs on the button and HU we go.


I fire a bullet and he calls.


He checks and I check it back.


He checks and instinctively I reach for chips. I have the nuts, do I not? But something isn't right....and besides, what can he call with? I guess baby pocket pairs but there aren't many of those and my gut tells me he can still have an ace so I check.

And I was right, sort of. He rolls not one but two aces.

Friday, August 6, 2010

How to Lose Weight

This post is a little premature, as the prop bet doesn't end for two weeks, but I have no more trips planned and weighed in this morning at 163.2 pounds, so I am 100% confident my final weigh in will be well below the 162.0 I need to get full points in the bet. Many people struggle with their weight; I know I certainly have since the day I quit swimming (the first time....true story I believe I am at least tied as the record holder for "Times Quit MIT Swim Team" with two. I sincerely doubt anyone has ever quit three times. It's like the dude who threw back to back no-hitters; ain't nobody breaking that one). For years I'd make some progress (lose 5 pounds), then fall off the wagon, and in general just not be able to ever lose a substantial amount of weight. Now perhaps part of the problem was that for a good portion of this period I was not actually very overweight, but I'm assuming people that really want to lose weight don't have that issue. So here it is, my keys to substantial (10%) weight loss in 90 days (in my case, a drop in BMI from 28.2 to 25.4).

1. Chart your progress. I weighed myself immediately after every single time I woke up in my own bed. This reduced the variance caused by non-standard time weigh-ins tremendously, and eventually I got to the point where I was able to predict how much I'd weigh to within half a pound or so. Some people say not to do this, and that might be true if your plan is to lose weight over the course of, say, a year. But for the 90 day 10% plan, just weight yourself every day and make a graph.

2. Work out daily, but do not kill yourself. I found that on days when I really pushed myself I just ended up starving and needing to eat more. Remember, your goal is to lose weight, not get into great cardiovascular shape. I literally rode an exercise bike for probably 30 minutes, 5 days a week, and that was about it. People are amazed by this.

3. Drastically reduce the size of your "meals". In order to do this I found it extremely helpful to basically eliminate foods from our pantry that were not "OK" for me to eat (I was able to do this thanks to Danielle's free food at Google), and stock the shelves with rice cakes, bread, and Coke Zero. For a full two weeks I basically subsisted off of rice cakes (I emptied Ralph's shelves at least 3 times over the course of this thing) and liquids, and the weight just melted off me.

4. I'm sure you've heard that if you starve yourself your body will realize what is happening, slow down it's burn rate, and that consequently you will not lose weight. I did not find this to be true during the 10% 90 day plan. What I did find is that the first week was truly truly awful because I was literally hungry 12 hours a day. I'd eat a "meal", be hungry again in an hour, then not eat for 3, and repeat. There were nights that I could not fall asleep because I was too hungry. Obviously this is/was not healthy, but the point is that once I got through that adjustment period I was able to eat the same portions I'd reduced myself to without getting ravenously hungry and correspondingly cranky. So if you're going to do this, pick an "easy life week" to get the ball rolling. Once you get through that week, the next 3 will be pretty easy and you should lose a ton of weight.

5. Trips are incredibly bad. I shot out of the gate like gangbusters, but spent most of the last 7 weeks out of town (I went to Vegas 3 times, San Francisco for 5 days, and Yellowstone for 5 more). The reason for this is that it is extremely difficult to control exactly what you eat on trips. You're very likely to drink (beer is extremely bad for this), go out to eat, and in general eat a lot of junk. My only advice is to bring your diet food (rice cakes and diet soda) with you and to use them to skip meals on the trip.

6. Do not give in to societal pressure or standard convention. You do not actually need to eat dinner. In the past I had problems whereby Danielle basically made dinner while I was still playing and then I got home and we ate together, even though I wasn't really hungry. Your significant other should and certainly will support your endeavor, and if eating dinner doesn't fit into your daily plan then (s)he will understand and happily eat pasta alone. If (s)he wants to go out to eat sometimes, that can be fine to. Danielle and I literally went out to BJs a few times where I simply did not eat. She'd order a meal, and I'd just have a beer (obviously not a great plan, but you have to have some fun once in a while). If you're not hungry, you don't have to eat. And if you are hungry, it is OK to eat 3 rice cakes and a lite yogurt for dinner.

7. Diet drinks. Do not drink any calories. Just don't, it's silly and you don't need to do it. The possibly exception is things like Naked Juice or Odwalla, that actually pass as a meal and do fill you up and provide some sort of nutrition. We've all heard that diet soda is bad for you. Maybe this is true, but it's certainly more than offset by the health benefits of losing weight.

8. I didn't count calories. Not once. Sure I looked at the nutrition facts on things and if they were extremely high calorie either passed or only ate half or whatever, but I had no actual chart of what I was putting into my body. Basically all I did was make a game of my life, eating as little as I possibly could and still functioning in a reasonable fashion. For some people I have heard that the mere act of writing down what you eat helps you eat less; if that's the case, by all means give it a try. But I did not take such a measure and things seem to have worked out fine for me.

9. Enter a prop bet or otherwise have a partner to help you out. This kept me extremely motivated through the first week (which as I stated was extremely awful), after which my actual success was enough to keep me motivated. In general, make yourself in somehow accountable for reaching the goals that you have set. I used money, but you could do just about anything you want. If I lose this weight I get to go on this trip or take these days off or buy myself this new gadget or whatever. I don't know what the financial value is of losing 10% of your body weight if you're slightly overweight, but it has to be pretty substantial.

And that is that. This has been one of the best things I have accomplished in quite some time. I feel great. I feel light, fast, healthy, and confident. If I can do it, you probably can too, because trust me I am in no way special when it comes to ability to not consume things. I'll leave you with a picture of my progress so far.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Not Dead Yet

I have returned from my 5 days off feeling somewhat refreshed, albeit still greatly apprehensive about my future as a professional poker player. I have decided that in the near term I am going to continue to play, shifting from Hawaiian Gardens back to Commerce and moving to playing as late in the day as I can possibly muster. While subjectively the players at HG are complete idiots, objectively through 200 or more hours of play with them my results have been terrible. So I'm going back to poo-flinger central and hoping not to have to kill anyone within the first week or so at least.

Thanks to everyone who has sent well wishes by virtually every form of communication imaginable, and look here for a trip report on my vacation to Yellowstone with my mother in the coming days. Also, at some point I will start posting again on two plus two; pinky promise. I'm not dead yet, but things are still in quite a bit of limbo.