Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Month in Review

I'm heading home for Thanksgiving tomorrow for about a week, so the month of November is basically wrapped. I'll probably play a little while I'm home, but nothing like what I've been doing the rest of the month. The numbers for month one of "Jesse plays poker on the internet" are extremely promising. I managed to log over 44K hands in 24 days, taking only one day completely off and in general booking over 2K hands a day during the week (days that I considered full time). I'm getting very good about keeping focused when I play and quitting when I feel like I might not be at my best, and that has led to my rate of play slowing over the course of the month. I've also found that just like in other endeavors of my life (developing software, playing sports, etc) most of what I'm going to accomplish for the day gets accomplished before 1pm. After that first initial spurt of productivity it gets harder and harder for me to maintain a high level of effort and focus. Obviously this was horrible for live play and is part of the reason moving down here was such a disaster for me. At Bay 101 I could show up at 10:30 and reasonably expect to be in a good game by 11am. Down here that just wasn't the case, and I think my results suffered for it. Playing at Commerce before 2pm was just silly, and realistically it makes way more sense to be a night owl down here than it ever did up north. Anyway....

The "lifestyle" has pros and cons, and if I'm going to continue it I'm going to have to make some changes/concessions to keep myself sane. It's fun to work from your dining room table; for a while. But try doing it 20 days in a row and things start to get a little bit dull. By nature I'm a social person, and I enjoy being around people (not necessarily the jerks you see at Commerce, but you get the jist). I've found myself seeking out as many social situations as possible and waiting almost anxiously for Danielle to come home for the day so that I can just have some normal interactions with someone. So I need to find some ways to get out of the house, and I'm going to start with a winter softball season in January and February. One thing I definitely don't miss is driving. My car has basically sat idle for an entire month, and I realized that that alone has saved me so so so much, and not just money either. I figure in 3.5 weeks I have avoided over 1000 miles of driving, which just off the cuff saves me several hundred dollars in gas/maintenance, 40+ hours of actual time, countless amounts of stress, and some unknown number of millimorts (let's face it, the last two years if suddenly one day you were told simply that "Jesse is dead" the odds that it happened while driving down the freeway would have been 10:1 in favor or better).

All in all I'd say the first month went substantially better than I expected, and even so good as to be deemed a success (honestly I thought it would be a failure). In terms of this being an actually viable way for me to make a living, well, we're not there yet, but we are certainly close. Here are some cold hard numbers about my actual play:

As I said, I logged 44K+ hands. Over half of those (23K) were logged at 2/4, at which I was simply not allowed to lose a hand under any circumstances. My WR for the month in those hands was 2.7 bets per 100 hands. The bulk of the rest of my hands (18K) were played at 3/6, at which I was quickly smoted every single time I put together anything that resembled a winning streak. In the 18K 3/6 hands I managed a WR of .2 bets per 100. The rest of my hands were played at 5/T and 1/2, but since we're only talking about 3K hands total it's not really worth reading anything into the results (for the record I lost about 20 bets at 5/T and won a little bit at 1/2). For those of you who don't want to piece all the math together to figure out how much I won, basically just go with "he played 23K hands of 2/4 and won 2.7 bets per 100 but broke even across all other games". That's basically accurate, and doesn't really net out a viable salary. However, there's a little more to it. First of all, rakeback. According to HEM my MGR number for the month is about $4400; I get 27% of that back, so we're talking something like $1200. Between playing during Happy Hour and my 2X points for black card status, my 44K hands resulting in me booking somewhere in the neighborhood of 80K full tilt points. The $5K bonus in the black card store sells for 1.1M points but involves a single MGR hit so let's say these are worth about $300. Then finally there is the Ironman program which is not completely dead; making Iron this month gets me a $100 bonus and 200 medals (which I think is basically worth like 10K more points so ok not really very much). The point is that when you add all this stuff up, I managed to make about $4K from the comfort of my home playing cheeseburger stakes in my very first month. Like I said....success. I ran hotter than the sun at 2/4, but also broke even over the 20K hands I played at other stakes. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that those two things basically cancel out to me running about average. If I can up the volume by 30% and up the effective stakes and WR by another 30% all of a sudden we're looking at me being able to make $6K/month without wearing pants. I could do worse. In closing, I will leave you with some pictures. First, all my hands:

And second, just my 2/4 hands, because that graph looks really, really impressive:

Thanks to everyone who's been supportive this month, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving with whomever you decide to spend it with.

Monday, November 22, 2010

On Rush LHE Tunamelts

So Bella, I'm inclined to agree with you and Patrick because your argument makes perfectly logical sense. You have an edge, more hands is more edge, etc, etc. The logic is pretty unassailable. I have several problems though:

1. No matter what, it seems like eventually in a LHE tournament after about level 4 if you ever lose 3 hands in a row you are basically out. Like no matter how hot you've run to that point, if you have been around for 5 hours in the WSOP limit hold 'em events and all of a sudden you lose 3 hands at showdown in a row, you're going to be crippled.

2. The Big Potato is a smart dude. I can't recall him being flat out wrong about anything, so I'm hesitant to declare him so on this point. He and I once had a discussion about tournaments where we sorta concluded the following from our limited observations. In NL tournaments as you look around later and later the players get more and more solid. In LHE tournaments as you look around later and later the field seems to get polarized. Super aggressive players who have run well are alive, and super conservative tight players are hanging on. The "solid" guys (the equivalent of like TAG or maybe LAGTAG winners online) seem to die out pretty quickly. It feels like this could happen because their games are built around having infinite (for all intents and purposes) bankrolls that seek out every ounce of value.

3. The limiting case argument is pretty strong here. I'm sure you're familiar with the idea, but for those who I have confused by making up a phrase and pretending it is common knowledge just now....I like to think of problems in terms of the limiting case. If you're not sure what will happen at a certain value N or as N increases or decreases, make N equal zero or infinity and see what happens there. Unless f(N) is complex (specifically with a complicated second derivative I think) this often gives you an idea if more N is a good or bad thing. Well in the case of this limit hold 'em tournament, there are two limiting cases:

A. You play infinite hands on a fixed bankroll.
B. You play zero hands on a fixed bankroll.

You can see what's going on here. In case (A) you can make a strong argument that you will go broke, since the stakes will be increasing rapidly, much faster than the expected rate at which you can accumulate chips. But that's not really that interesting and a little hard to wrap your head around. What's easy to see is that if you and your 8 opponents take 5 hours to play the first hand, you will finish in places 2 through 10 most of the time. Supposing there were 750 or so entries, like the FTOPS event we were discussing, even 10th place is obviously better than expectation for even the best player in the world (and especially for me lol). So if playing zero hands is better than playing the expected number of hands, we need a complicated derivative, and I don't really see how we're going to get one.

4. I like to argue with smart people and write interesting things and letting something like this go would be less fun than writing about it :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Random Topics on Poker

Back when I lived in the North lands I had a core group of friends that had lunch once a month. My claim to fame at these lunches was losing 3 of the first 4 flips for the check (4 to 6 handed no less), and I still actually have managed to attend a couple since I moved down south thanks to gracious scheduling considerations from Pete (he actually joked last time that I was easier to schedule around than the ceo). I've been doing alright keeping this tradition alive down here and today held another gathering at BJs Brewhouse. This lunch drew the largest crowd yet, with a total of seven serious poker players showing up from all over the great Las Angeles area. In all I was at the restaurant for 3 hours and felt like we talked about a lot of stuff that could make an interesting blog post, so here we go.

At 11:05 the Big Potato texted to alert me that he had already arrived. The man is chronically early, partially because that's just the way he is and mostly because if I worked 10pm to 6am I'd be pretty likely to show up early for anything labeled lunch also. Imagine if someone invited you to a dinner event that started at 11pm; you wouldn't be late, right? So I closed up 2p2 and skedaddled over there and he and I shot the shit about Hawaiian Gardens and how they've dropped the 40 game down to 30 with a 1/3rd kill and yada yada yada. Eventually everyone else filtered in, and all told we ended up with seven brave souls and a bunch of funny stories and extremely thoughtful points of view which I'll now list in basically random order.

Joe Tall is a family man now, and trying to player serious poker on the internet while managing a child's going to bed routine seems to be one of the more interesting parts of his daily routine. As an aside every time I try to schedule one of these lunches both Joe and the Big Potato are supporters 1A and 1B. Their response is typically near instant, no matter how I ask them, and it is invariably something to the effect of "Yes let's do lunch just tell me when and where woo hoo!" I think this is because both of them don't get enough opportunities to interact with people, socially, who have a reasonable clue of what exactly it is that they do for a living. I feel exactly the same way, which is why I set up the lunches. Joe fancies himself a stud stud these days (I think he is exploiting an efficiency in the market....young guns just never really got into stud and therefore I imagine the game has not progressed as much as limit hold 'em has over the past five years....there are some interesting points about stud, like the fact that you'd think you couldn't really mass multi-table because the action is more complex, but in fact since it's an ante game you can have up 4 tables and just sit out of two of them anytime you want without missing "free" hands) and one night recently found himself sitting at a game with one of the legendary Chinese collusion specialists and a mega-fish who was sitting out. Joe's intention was merely to sit in the seat, put his daughter to bed, and come back to see if the game had managed to fill up. But a recent software change had eliminated the "auto-post" option (it used to be that you could be sitting in but not auto-posting your antes, which IMO is completely retarded....if you don't want a hand, you're sitting out) and he found himself instantly dealt a hand huhu against the collusion guy. The door cards aren't even off the deck and his wife is calling to him "She's ready!" and Joe is basically like "crap". So he clicks "sit out next hand" and proceeds to execute the most flawless hit 'n run in the history of poker (against a known cheater no less). He is dealt split jacks and puts in some action, then makes jacks and 7s on 4th street against a guy showing like a 4 and 3 who just calls. With five cards out he has a full house (with nothing but a pair of 7s showing) and the other player proceeds directly to apeshit. They cap it on 5th, 6th, and 7th with the other player drawing stone dead, having somehow someway made a wheel on 5th street. All the while during this series of clicking Joe's wife is calling to him wondering why he is being such a bad father. The instant the pot is shipped to him (I don't even know how many bets...what like 35? I mean we're talking about a $1000 HUHU 15/30 stud pot here people) he insta-sits out. LOL, nice hand Joe.

Joe also shared with us the story of the great "Cole South Dom Freeroll", the basics of which are this. Joe Tall goes to Vegas and hangs out with many ballers. Joe Tall repeatedly loses flips for dinner, to the tune of $3300, losing something like 7 out of 10 and 5 in a row. His wife is not pleased, so when he goes to super fancy dinner with NL ballers he declares that he is buying out before they even crack the wine list. They finish dinner and everyone is not having him buying out. Cole South offers a freeroll; if Joe doesn't buy out of the flip AND Cole ends up losing, he will buy 2 bottles of Dom for the entire table, nearly doubling the check. After four cards are removed from contention it is of course down to Joe Tall and Cole and....bink, Joe Tall ships the free roll and they drink Dom for an hour.

A good portion of the rest of the lunch involved some interesting poker discussion, but mostly at a high level on things such as the state of the market/industry/LA poker scene, ways for betting yourself, etc etc (Joe's stud hit 'n roll was the most detailed hand we discussed). Here are some of the points:

1. Bellatrix and the Potato debated the merits of intentionally playing extremely slowly in a rush poker tournament. Bellatrix argued that if you have an edge you should try to play as many hands as possible to maximize it. The Potato argued that in any tournament you are basically over-betting your bankroll every time you play a hand, and therefore it should make sense to slow down as much as you can. I think I agree with the Potato, but am not 100% sure.

2. Joe Tall explained his theory that online poker is both a gift and a curse. It's always there, always available, which is a gift in that it allows you to do what I've been up to the past three weeks (play 2000 hands a day from my dining room table), but a curse in that you can get totally wrapped up in it or play when you're not at your best extremely easily. I feel that so far I've been managing online poker very well. When I drove to Commerce and things started off poorly or the game wasn't as good as I hoped or whatever, I never, ever left. Like I just drove fucking 45 minutes to get there, traffic is terrible, what am I gonna do, turn around and go home? Sure I'd try to take tilt breaks and whatever but there's only so much that walking around a casino can do for your state of mind. But online the game is always there, and you can always get to it. If you're on tilt, shut the shit down and take a break. It's truly wonderful. At the same time just today I realized that it is a bit of a curse, in that online poker is like sweeping. I hate sweeping, easily my least favorite of menial house chores, and you know why? You're never done. Ever. If you're sweeping up the kitchen guess what? There is always a little more shit on the floor you haven't gotten yet. Same with the deck. There is always one more leave, one more piece of dirt, one more pebble, one more everything. Online poker is like that; there is always more action, and you've gotta be careful to get the right amount.

3. My dopelganger and I discussed the Commerce 40 at length after lunch ended, and I postulated my theory that playing the Commerce 20 tends to make one "sloppy". Basically you can simply get away with a ton of shit and none of it matters because everyone is so terrible that you're never going to get punished. Basically 75% of the hands you play will reach the following point; you raise preflop, some people call, you bet the flop, some people call, and they all check to you on the turn. That's it. And in 20/40 just blindly barreling the turn really is often fine because they peel so light that even if you're sitting there with a naked ace high your bet still really is sorta for value and if they check/raise you they have the stone nuts so whatever, just bet. But at 40 when they peel the flop they usually have SOMETHING and if they raise the turn they MIGHT be bluffing so you really can't just blindly bet. He turned me on to a new series on DC in which Mike L and Death Donkey walk through hands from the Commerce 40 (check it out it's quite good). He seems a lot like I was 18 months ago, with something like 700 hours of live 20 logged and the distinct impression that it is completely impossible to lose. Best of luck dopelganger :)

4. Primetime asked Joe "What do you do for a living?" and Joe humbly said he had founded a business. When Primetime pressed it was eventually explained to him that this extremely tall guy named Joe wearing a redsox hat was Joe Tall, co-founder of Deuces Cracked. Primetime was stunned; it was hilarious.

5. I postulated my theory of poker mistakes and the lifetime heater while we were disparaging The Grinder (whose wife is apparently spewing off thousands in the Commerce 20 these days and complaining when her husband only comes in 3rd in a gigantic tournament). My theory of the lifetime heater is explained in the extremely long rambling post above, but in short it's possible to run like the very wind itself for basically your entire live limit hold 'em career because you can simply just flop too many sets. Sets are like nuclear bombs in limit hold 'em. They are a monstrous made hand, and hold draw basically as strong as four flush or four card straight against ANYTHING that somehow manages to be ahead of them. So if you're running hot for weeks or months or years because you always flop a set, you're going to keep playing every single pocket pair no matter what happens in front of you. This lead to a discussion on the three dimensions of a poker mistake:

Is it definitely a mistake?
How big of a mistake is it?
Is it a variance increasing mistake?

Basically if you and I watch a player do something, we could be quite sure that he's making a mistake. What's important, however, is to quantify the magnitude of the mistake. If someone cold calls first in with 22 in a limit hold 'em game, that's probably a mistake. But if he does it in very early position in a game in which he's likely to get a few cold callers, it might not be. If the game is off the chain and nobody ever folds, it's probably not even a mistake. And it's definitely a variance increasing mistake, which means that doing it increases your chances of hitting the life time heater. The Potato basically proclaimed that "all those vietnemese guys" who sit in all the mid stakes games around LA are just like this. They don't have a clue why they're doing what they're doing, and they make a ton of very small mistakes, so the tendency is to label them as fish and not think too hard about beating them. But they're actually better than average players who do a lot of stuff right.

6. This one's just mine that I thought of today (while sweeping the kitchen). The poker ecosystem really is like a bunch of aquariums. There are lots of separate ones (different games, casinos, websites, etc) and it's important that some of them be kept relatively shark-free so that the fishes in them can get just a little bigger and stronger and eventually move to bigger and better aquariums. Think about it....who gets to the 100/200 game at Commerce? There are guys who grind their way up the hard way, guys who are independently wealthy, and fish who lifetime heater their way through the 20, 40 and 60 games. For the long term health of the game it is extremely important that some aquariums be available for new players to cut their teeth and occasionally catch lighting in a bottle and get way over their heads, bringing tons of money up from the 20 game all the way to the 200/400 or even above.

That's about all I'm going to write for now, as I really need to get back to the business of being a professional poker player.


Playing online poker really has taught me that all the vagaries of live poker that troubled me so (losing 4 racks in a day, losing for 2 weeks straight, etc) really were just silly. You can't truly internalize the variance you're dealing with until you put in big volume online and take a look at the shit that happens to you, both good and bad. Here is an example of some of the good, my most recent hands at 2/4.

I mean really, look at this thing. This is 400o hands (over 100 hours of live poker) during which I was simply not permitted to lose a hand. I won 9 bets per 100 while fighting through extremely oppressive rake. Imagine if you were playing live poker twice a week for three hours at a clip and this happened to you for four months. You'd be absolutely hooked for life. Anyway, just wanted to put up a fun graph, cue the doom switch immediately.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Jesse Plays Triple Draw; Hilarity Ensues

My life has become a lot less interesting since I quit playing live poker 2 weeks ago. Literally hours will go by where the only words I speak are aimed at one of my pets. And they usually don't listen to me (for the record our household contains two dogs, a blind cat, and a snake...perhaps I can write a post about them someday). Today was another frustrating day online, with me shooting out of the gate like a rocket ship (up 120 bets, 80 of them in the course of 250 hands, by 11am), and then slowly but surely coasting back down to Earth until a few minutes ago when I finally closed up shop and checked my results, realizing that for the day I was up nine (9) bets total. Things have been going better lately in terms of winning at 3/6, and today I was actually permitted to win a small sum at 5/T (despite losing a THIRTY FIVE bet pot when a guy spiked his set of jacks on the turn to crack my kings....the reason the pot got so large is that since we were still five handed on the turn I decided to put in a 3 bet...he obviously capped it up with the nuts and at that point I realized I was getting like 50% more than the price I needed to draw at my own 2 outter. Then the dude with jacks promptly got rivered).

Where was I? Ah yes, life being boring. So in order to combat this boringness I went to the Bike on Friday night because Bellatrix promised me there would be 3/6 mixed game with the 2p2 Poker Cast guys. So I rolled up around 4pm and proceeded with my phony pro routine that the Big Potato taught me a few weeks back at the Bike. That day he just showed up, pressed a few palms, settled a few debts, and boom was out the door to Commerce where he assured me he did the same thing. You see it's kind of (gasp) relaxing to be at a casino and not feel pressure to get into a game and get action. This was me at the Bike on Friday. I hung out with the Potato (again, at the casino, not making the gambool), talked to Babar's boy (who doesn't have a nickname yet) from Vegas and even hung out with Joker for a little while waiting for Bellatrix to show up and introduce me to the pokercast guys who were pretty obviously hanging out by the bar but I mean I didn't know a single one of them so what am I gonna do just roll up and be like "Hi my name is Jesse"? Well I guess I could...eventually Joker and I walk over there after he owns some poor schmuck in the 20/40 game with 6s on like a QJ94-K board or some such absurdity where he turned his hand into a bluff on the river and he introduces me to the guys because he's fucking Joker he knows fucking e'rybody. The crew has created started a 7-game 3/6 mix with the following rotation:

Triple Draw
211 Poker (actually spread at the Bike I shit you not)
2nd Best Hold 'Em (I have developed a theory of how to crush this game)
Omaha 8
$20 PLO flips

This wasn't the exactly order, but it was something like that and the game had just started up so I sauntered into a seat and was immediately dealt in for what was to be the next to last hand of triple draw. Now keep in mind I didn't know any of these guys and was still shaking hands getting names and stuff when I get dealt my first hand and behold:


If you're not familiar with triple draw, the idea is to make the worst 5 card poker hand. It's called deuce to seven triple draw because the worst hand you can make (and therefore the best hand in this game) is 75432. You get three draws to make your hand, and there are four rounds of betting with the the amount doubling for rounds 3 and 4 (just like limit hold 'em). Anyway, that hand I've got there is a verifiable monster. I stick in a raise and some action happens, and Joker is still hanging out behind me on sweat patrol and audibly gasps when he sees me draw the 6 to make a pat 76542 after a single draw. I bet and to be honest I don't remember the action, all I know is that it gets headsup between me and one of the poker cast bigwig guys who drew four on the last round (obviously he's just having some fun). I pat, he draws like 3 more or something absurd, and I then we go 7 bets on the turn. Seven. After he puts in the 4 bet he says "you're really not gonna like this", and after he 6 bets I almost lose my nerve but stick in the 7 bet and he just calls. We both "pat the river" obviously and he calls my last bet and shows that he actually made a smoothish 8 after two draws of 4 and 3 cards. Remember, this is my first hand at the table (my chips were delivered while the cards were in the air) and I realize, rather embarrassed, that my hands are shaking as I try to stack up the mountain of $1 chips in front of me.

All in all there were many good times over the next three hours. We were right by the bar and most of the table was drinking heavily (the poker cast crew had a tab and was paying for everything....believe it or not I am still successfully on the no drinking plan since week 1 of the NFL season) and everyone was slinging chips into the pot as if you could buy more racks for only $100 a piece. It was actually a struggle for me to play enough hands not to look like a nit (as a former live grinder I have an incredible ability to sit at a casino and pass on hands....most of these guys were, I believe, internet players), but I managed sort of OK. I got into a few pots I definitely shouldn't have, made some questionable call downs (actually saying to Bellatrix at one point "OK, I'll just give you $12) and in general ran like ass after my initial win. I did win one of the $20 PLO flips, but despite that and the monster pot I already dragged, I still eventually left the game down about a rack (the round of "no folding preflop" omaha 8 or better put a pretty big dent in my stack). It was well worth it, though, because I formulated my theory of 2nd best hold 'em which I am about to share with all of you.

First, the rules for those of you that don't know are simple. After river betting completes, everyone turns over his/her cards and the pot is pushed to the second best hand (you have to make your best hand if you have a 1 card flush you can't decide not to play it and instead claim 3 high because then you'd need showdown order to determine who won and since this game is only ever played by drunken professional poker players that would just be unacceptable). That's all there is to it. The catch is that NOBODY knows what they are doing. At all. My theory used to be to try to get the pot heads up and make the nut low, and that worked out OK for me for a while, but my new theory is much much simpler. Call all bets (or even put in some raises if you want) with any cards that don't flop a hand you'd be happy about in real hold 'em. Proceed to the river, and then check/raise. People will throw their hands up in the air, be extremely confused, and generally do something silly like throw their hand away. Really at that point so long as you don't have like top pair or something, it's pretty random who's going to win the hand (so long as there are like 4+ people getting to the river, like in this game), and if you knock a few people out, your chances probably go up tremendously. So that's my theory and I'm sticking to it.

And and update on, you know, playing poker online for a's going about as well as could be expected, which leaves me making really not enough money. Things had sort of turned around at 3/6 this morning, but this afternoon I blew back a bunch of bets and am sitting at a winrate in the game of .4 bets per 100. I'm cruising along at 2/4 at 1.5 bets per 100, and 5/T I still only have 1700 hands (the game doesn't go as often) and have lost 17 bets. Overall I've played 30,900 hands, and HEM reports that it's taken me about 95 hours to do so (this is a little misleading, as it records the time from when I fire up my first table until the time I close my last there are a few minutes on the front and back of each session where really not much is going on). That means I'm playing over 300 hands per hour, which I guess is good. Honestly I don't really know. The most terrifying number is that I have paid $3200 in rake, or roughly $10 per 100 hands. At the end of the day, it's working out that about half of my winnings are coming from my 27% rakeback. I'm enjoying myself so far, but for this to work as a long term solution I really am going to have to beat bigger games.

Friday, November 12, 2010

[x] Black Card

Today I achieved Black Card Status on Full Tilt. What does this get me, you ask? Not a whole lot....basically double rewards points which were previously nearly useless, and the ability to spend them on cash bonuses which are convenient but a slightly worse deal that tournament tickets if I'm not mistaken (that doesn't account for the time it takes to actually play a tournament, or the fact that I'd likely be a losing player in the ones I played, so actually I guess the bonii are somewhat useful). There has been a lot of hooting and hollering on the internet about this new way of doing things at Full Tilt, and my general research indicates the following. I could be wrong about all this, but I'd have to be off by a fair bit for it to be correct for me to switch over to Stars.

1. It's slightly easier to achieve Supernova on Stars than maintain Black Card status for a full year.

2. It's still a better deal to play on Full Tilt unless you can achieve Supnova Elite status on Stars, which takes a metric ass ton of hands (a million points in a year, and 6 points to the table for every dollar raked, so roughly speaking....I mean a lot of freaking hands).

In other news I am getting much better at internet poker. I realized I had been over adjusting and kind of tilting at the same time. Once I started to lose, I started making just absurd call downs, justifying them by saying "It's the internet everyone bluffs all the time!" That attitude isn't really accurate. Sure a lot of people bluff, but different player types do it in different (and fairly predictable) ways. Like if a loose passive fish does the old check/call check/raise he still usually has the nuts. Really the key is figuring out who you're dealing with and what his raise is likely to mean, then making a decision (this is super duper obvious I know but the salient point for me is that the array of player types I'm dealing with now is much larger than the one I had to contend with live 20/40, basically everyone is loose/passive). My first week ended on a rough note, but so far in 12 days I have played 25K hands and am showing a total win rate of 1.05 big bets per 100. I'm back above water in 3/6, and am close to break even in 5/T, and am still obliterating the 2/4 games. It's actually a pretty simple way to make a not that great living so far, but if I can crank up the stakes and volume just a little over the coming weeks it will really make sense to make the switch permanently.

And finally, I'm actually "going out tonight", where "out" is "The Bike" and "tonight" is basically the middle of the afternoon. Maybe I'll see some of you there.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Games Are Fair to Middling

Even after I checked my note on the guy, which read "batshit pyscho do not fold" and added a new line "never never never ever fold", I was still impressed.

Full Tilt Poker $2/$4 Limit Hold'em - 5 players
The Official 2+2 Hand Converter By DeucesCracked Poker Videos

Pre Flop: (1.5 SB) Hero is SB with Q 8
1 fold, CO calls, BTN calls, Hero calls, BB raises, CO calls, BTN calls, Hero calls

Flop: (8 SB) 4 8 3 (4 players)
Hero checks, BB bets, CO calls, BTN calls, Hero raises, BB 3-bets, CO folds, BTN calls, Hero calls

Turn: (9 BB) 8 (3 players)
Hero checks, BB bets, BTN calls, Hero raises, BB 3-bets, BTN folds, Hero caps!, BB calls

River: (18 BB) 2 (2 players)
Hero bets, BB raises all in, Hero calls

Final Pot: 20.5 BB
Hero shows Q 8 (three of a kind, Eights)
BB shows 6 A (a pair of Eights)
Hero wins 19.75 BB
(Rake: $3.00)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Perhaps the Most Astounding Thing I Have Ever Seen

I have seen some shit in my life. Yeah yeah, I'm not even 30 (thank goodness) and haven't really been at poker very long, but still I have seen some incredible things. What I am about to show you trumps pretty much all of it. I was playing online when one of my bestest buddies sat down immediately to my right. After playing with him for a few hundred more hands and just sitting slack jawed in awe of his talents, I decided I had to know; I looked him up on PokerTableRatings. I knew I was going to see something awesome. I wasn't prepared for this:

Look at it's smoothness! There are almost no bumps, no dips, nothing whatsoever standing in the way of the direct march to oblivion. To go along with this amazing graph there are some cold, stark numbers. He's played 96K hands and lost $48K, at a rate of over 5 big bets per 100. I once speculated with Pete about just how much the biggest of the big fish in our 20 games lose. We hemmed and hawed, but came to something like consensus that 3 big bets per hour was probably about as much as you could lose. So I got to thinking that this guy isn't even really lose that much, so surely there must be a bigger fish out there, right? Sure enough, my truly bestest friend on all of the internet sat down at my table, reminding me of his existence and forcing me to instantly look him up on PTR. If there are children in the room, you should cover their eyes now:

Behold! I give to you one of the most amazing fish in the history of internet poker. The numbers....213K hands, $87K lost at a rate of nine (9) big bets per 100. The line just...goes...straight...down. What is this guy telling himself? How is he justifying to continue to play? The lion's share of his losses (over $60K) have come at 2/4 and 3/6 limited bet hold them. That is all.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Warning: Contains Poker-Like Substance

Just barely. This is one of those "well what am I going to do with the next 45 minutes" posts where I trick myself into believing that writing my blog actually counts as being productive. LOL, that really shouldn't be the case, but whatever, my poker synapses are shot for the day and I really shouldn't be playing anymore, so at least in that sense writing these words is productive. In no particular order....

It really is hard not to check your results. Like I got a seat at a table and saw my account balance and it was "whoa where'd the money go" low and then all of a sudden I was loading up my graph for the day and just wow it's kinda tough. And now I feel like shit because I lost and well yeah I guess I just really need to try harder.

I'm finding it difficult to stay productive because I don't always have ready access to a bunch of games. I'm being pretty selective where I'll sit, and it means I'm ending up spending a good deal of time 3 or 4 tabling, which really isn't enough. Like I said at the beginning, for this to be even close to a valid option for me I have to have no problem logging 3000 or so hands a day. So far in 9 attempts I've only cracked that number once (my first day). Like today I spent almost no time studying, didn't watch a video, and still only played 2200 hands. Where did all the time go? I just don't know....I've been awake for almost 13 hours and might have watched 20 minutes of TV....I guess I need to be more diligent keeping on task, but like I said it's tough.

I'm considering putting in some play on other sites, if for no reason than to eliminate the problem of not playing at max capacity.

Since I looked at my results I know the following things to be true. I have played almost 19000 hands. I have destroyed the 2/4 games for over 2 big bets per 100 over about 8000 hands, and have lost .5 big bets per 100 in the 3/6 games over 9000 hands. I have played 1350 hands of 5/T and of course gotten obliterated , and actually played a few hundred hands of 1/2 (both the regular games and rush poker just for fun) and crushed it. Overall I have won .57 bets per 100, meaning that I'm up something like 100 big bets. Unfortunately since, as usual, I have run well in small games and poorly in big games, I am basically break even over the 9 days before rakeback. And actually if I put in a filter for 7 handed or more things get even worse (with me being $300 to the red despite winning .2 bets per 100 overall), so apparently short-handed play has actually been going well.

Ah rakeback....I have paid almost $2000 in rake over the 19000 hands, which in theory means I should be getting back something like 27% of that. Full tilt now uses the "weighted contributed" method to calculate how much you get instead of the "dealt" method, which I'm sure is costing me a ton of money but since I don't really have numbers from before I don't really know. For those interested....the dealt method is simply that. If 9 people are dealt in and $1 is raked, each is given 11.11 cents in raked credit towards their manager account. The contributed method is based on how much you put in the pot. If the final pot is $100 and the rake is $3, that $3 credit is divided in proportion to who put the money into the pot. If I put in $30, I get 30% of the $3 credit. If you just put in your $2 blind, you get 2% of the credit. It's more "fair" but people are pissed off yada yada yada. I noticed this before, but the 3/6 games are raked harder in big bets per 100 than the 2/4 games (that is to say that there is more than 50% more rake even though the game is only 50% bigger). My numbers show this to be clearly the case, and are even skewed towards paying MORE rake at 2/4 because I have actually won (and therefore likely won more pots) while at 3/6 after rake I am underwater. Anyway, it's kind of scary to think about, but basically I have broke even over the entire 19000 hands, but full tilt has made almost $2000 off me. Aiyah. Come to think of it I don't know how HEM is calculating these numbers as they aren't in whole dollar increments....which is odd. I'll try and figure that out later.

I guess that's really about it. Basically I'm getting crushed at 3/6 and 5/T and am not really sure why. Today it was actually comical the beats I was taking....several times I paid off knowing exactly what hand I was going to see, to the point that I began to think maybe I was playing badly. Then of course I'd pick off a few three street bluffs and remember where I was and that folding really wasn't as good of a plan as it is in my live games. Anyway, I guess that's about all for now. I was planning to write about the Steelers and fantasy football and some other interesting things, but my fingers are tired.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Bringing Your Shit to Bear

A few numerical things. There is a tradition on 2p2 that for certain milestone posts you write something somewhat deep and meaningful, meant to share knowledge you have gained throughout your life or career to help others who might take the time to read it. My pooh-bah post was released over two years ago, and in it I declared that I was quitting my job and giving full time poker a shot. Well, right now I'm sitting on 8887 posts on 2p2, which for most people wouldn't mean a damn thing, but for me, having randomly decided to add four 8s to the end of my first name when I signed up for the site, seems like it should mean something. So here is my 8888th post, which I will also put into the thread linked above.

As far as I'm concerned, the single most important thing that you have to do in order to be successful at limit hold 'em is this; every single time you play, you must bring your shit to bear. All the weapons you have in your belt, all the tools in your box, all the talents that you have should be brought to bear upon your opponents 100% of the time. You must not just sit there in a live 20/40 game telling yourself you need 3 more hours for the day, barely paying attention, simply assuming that when a good hand comes you'll be able to tune back into the game and crush the guy sitting across from you. I have been guilty of this more times than I care to count, and doing so can be summed up succinctly in two words; fucking fail. You are not entitled to win, and like it or not your edge is extremely small (unless your opponents are actually trying to give their money away....OK sometimes it seems like they are, but still) and you simply cannot afford to give any of it away. If you bet the turn when you should check behind, or make a silly call down because you haven't been paying attention to the nut-peddler's nut peddling ways for the past 15 minutes because Roy Cooke's article in Card Player about saving bets in the Bellagio 30 was just too riveting (or hilarious) to put down, guess what? You should have just gone home. In the entire last hour you've been trying to win 1 big bet, right? And you just fucked up and gave the nut peddler 2 bets you didn't have to because you weren't bringing your shit to bear. You really should have just gone home.

The same goes for playing online, as I'm learning this month. I'm finding it much easier to tell when I'm "in the zone" online and making good decisions and bringing my shit to bear. When I am, I'm looking for spots to steal pots, I'm not c-betting mindlessly, I'm thinking hard about barreling the turn, I'm developing a plan for the hand before I click the buttons. I'm checking guys stats, looking to see if I'm likely to get check/raised if there is merit to barreling off with this gutshot or if he really is so tight that I can fold these jacks right here even though I know they are an over pair but jeebus what do you think the 30/2/.4 has when he caps you preflop? When I'm not in the zone and not brining my shit to bear I'm just sort of mindlessly clicking the buttons, usually "raise" preflop and "bet" and "bet" without thinking too much of it. This is simply unacceptable. Poker is not like a real job where less than 100% of your effort still gets 100% of your pay (at least in the short term). In poker it simply doesn't work that way, and it's not even linear. There could be games where at 100% focus and attention you are a 1 big bet per 100 winner, but at even 75% focus and attention you are actually a losing player! Imagine if your boss docked you for coming into work and surfing the web when you were supposed to finishing up your TPS reports? That would really change your perspective, wouldn't it? Yet poker players show up to play less than 100% ALL THE TIME and think nothing of it, or worse, think arrogantly that their B game can still crush these fools while browsing 2p2 and checking their email while texting and listening to music all at the same time. Guess probably can't, and if you can, you could probably crush them more if you simply brought your shit to bear.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Wise Words From a Wise Man

A post on 2p2 reminded me of a story from my past. I have been quoted as saying that life is all about the generation of stories, and I have been remiss in telling them on my blog. So here we go; the details of the specific timing might not be 100% accurate, but all of it happened.

Towards the end of my college career I found myself in a bit of a predicament. I wanted to stick around for a Master's Degree (M.Eng) because I wasn't really ready to leave college, had been planning to do so all along, and needed only one (1) more class to finish the requirements (plus something called a thesis no biggie amirite?). My predicament had many components. I was super busy in the fall (I had just started dating Danielle, was about to tie the MIT Swimming and Diving record for "times quit", and despite my plan was whole-heartedly job hunting, which required a lot of time at the career center and several trips to other cities for interviews). I didn't REALLY have a project. Like I sorta had a few leads but nothing very promising. And my financial situation was a complete disaster. That was the big one.

MIT was pretty good about financial aid, but I simply didn't qualify for very much my first 3 years at the school. Both my parents worked solid white collar jobs (teaching and engineering) and with a total household income comfortably into the 6 figures an only child simply wasn't gonna get much from MIT. I qualified for loans and stuff, and went through the rigamorale of applying each year, but really just so I could get a few grand in loans. Little did I freaking know....MIT has a policy that white kids (and probably Asian kids too I think) only get 4 years of aid, no matter what. So freshman year when I applied for aid, qualified for like 3K in cheap loans, and my parents forgot to sign the notes (lol remember that dad? I got off the hook scott free that year), I burned an entire year of eligibility. Now 18 year old me might not have been smart enough then to realize it, but 21 year old me certainly saw the writing on the wall. I had heard of lots of students receiving their M.Eng in 5 years, but receiving both degrees at the end of their time at MIT, effectively staying an undergrad for their 5th year. Why would you do this? Financial aid was one reason. Underrepresented minorities got 5 years, first of all. Good lord that pissed me off at the time (I have mellowed a little on the matter, but boy oh boy was I mad back then). You see what had happened my senior year was a little unexpected, and to make a long story extremely short I received a great deal of financial aid because of some serious changes in my parent's situation. If I'm not mistaken my parents barely paid a cent for my 4th year, and I actually took a loan from my friend Chris ($1500, interest paid in 30 packs of bud light I'm not even kidding). As an aside here, it's not like my parents didn't have any money, and it's not like they wouldn't have given me every single dollar they had if I had asked. They most certainly would have. I just didn't ask because I knew things were difficult enough for them without money becoming an issue so I took matters into my own hands and was lucky enough to get a favorable outcome. If I hadn't, well, I'd have probably come to them hat in hand like any 21 year old kid would.

If only I could have undone that useless year of aid I took freshman year, all I'd have to do is not march, stay an undergrad, and get 2 more semesters (or heck maybe just one....I only needed one more class and a thesis) for very cheap (a couple thousand). But that couldn't be undone; I was screwed unless I could somehow come into funding for my 5th year. I searched and searched, thinking (correctly) that I'd make a pretty decent Teaching Assistant (which came with a monthly stipend and full tuition). Being a Research Assistant was going to be tough, since I didn't really have many good relationships with professors and doing so is extremely expensive for them (basically they spent 50K on you out of their own budget for a year's work). Try and try as I might, though, I couldn't land a position. The problem was I was really only qualified to TA a few select classes, and most of the professors who taught those courses already had all their help lined up. It got to the point that my basic plan was to take the fall semester "off" and complete my thesis while unregistered (not technically allowed) and then somehow pay for the spring semester wherein I'd take my class and finish up the project and only incur 15K in tuition bills, not 30.

The end of the semester came and went (it is worth noting that I did in fact graduate, meaning I was free to cut bait and run at any point, except for the small matter of having not accepted a permanent position anywhere which I could literally have remedied in 6 weeks at the drop of a should have seen me I was a fucking interviewing machine at this point, a site to behold. I did an 8 hour day of white boarding at Microsoft for crying out loud. And answered the pirate question cold...knocked it out of the park...come to think of it that was for LimeWire the next year but whatever point is I was a stud) and I moved off to Manhattan to start what was purported to be "software development" position at Deusche Bank. It was, hands down, the worst 3.5 weeks of my life. The job was terrible, I had basically no responsibilities other than hacking with pearl scripts (something I barely knew how to do) in a horribly complex system, and I didn't even have a cube. I sat at a row of computers in a room that was close to 80 degrees, sweating my balls off day in and day out (those of you who know me can understand how truly awful this was for preferred ambient temperature is 66 degrees, give or take 1). On top of all this, since I was dirt poor and was only there for the money (I could have taken a position at Intuit outside of Boston, but didn't have a car and would have been paid some idiotically little amount less so I didn't take it cause I was dumb) I didn't have an apartment and instead chose to stay at the Columbia Sigma Nu House. Just wow....the entire fraternity was on the swim team, but their attitude about life during the summer simply wasn't in line with mine and let's just leave it pretty much alone.

So anyway I'm working this terrible job, living in this terrible place, just hoping I can somehow survive the summer, when what happens? Patrick Winston shoots me an email, saying he has an opening; would I like to TA 6.034? In what was undoubtedly the worst trade in the history of all TA staffs at MIT, Jake Beal, who had taught the class for something like 5 years running, was going to step down and work on his Ph.D thesis with another source of funding (one big upside for MIT prof's of teaching large classes was that they basically got to use all their own Ph.D students as TAs....6.034 had 5 TA spots I think) and I was going to step in and take his place. Eventually disaster did not ensue, but such an outcome was far from assured. Anyway, I worked the job at DB a few more days before I'd had enough and, no longer needing the money, bailed and moved back into the only place I've really felt at home for the past 10 years.

So I get back to MIT and realize I need to go meet with Patrick to see if there is anything that needs to be taken care of before the fall semester starts. I get into his office and this intellectual giant is sitting behind his computer; he waves me in with one hand, but is still just sitting there looking at the screen clicking away with his mouse, terribly vexed. I wait patiently for him to say something, anything, but have to wait what feels like 2 or 3 minutes before he finally, without taking his attention away from the screen, says:

"You know, by now I should have a 100 yard penis"

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Let's Play a Big Pot

I played this hand this morning and then posted it on 2p2. I think I played it pretty poorly in retrospect, but it's hard to be objective about the turn decision after seeing what happened:

Reads, and remember all stats filtered for 7+ handed.

Initial raiser seems laggy and decent but I only have like 50 hands.

First coldcaller is one of the worst players I have ever seen, 40/1 with amazing postflop tendencies.

CO is a bad nit. He's like 13/6/2 and obviously isn't great over a reasonable sample.

SB is a bad lag, 27/16/1.8 over 800 hands. However he just 3-bet half the table from the SB, so he probably has a pretty big hand.

Full Tilt Poker $5/$10 Limit Hold'em - 8 players
The Official 2+2 Hand Converter By DeucesCracked Poker Videos

Pre Flop: (1.5 SB) Hero is BTN with 7 8
2 folds, MP1 raises, MP2 calls, CO calls, Hero calls, SB 3-bets, 1 fold, MP1 caps!, MP2 calls, CO calls, Hero calls, SB calls

I got some advice that I should just 3-bet here, which I think has merit simply to expand your three betting range. But strictly in a vacuum regarding this hand, I think it's better to let the blinds come along in hopes of getting one more player to pad the pot while I'm drawing or dump bets into it when I do make my hand.

Flop: (21 SB) 7 9 J (5 players)
SB bets, MP1 raises, MP2 folds, CO 3-bets, Hero calls, SB calls, MP1 folds

Honestly my thinking here was that the SB was going to put the cap on for me most of the time anyway, so their really wasn't any reason to do it myself. But I should have just cold-capped it, my equity is monstrous but there are all kinds of hands I'd like to fold out to clean up some straight and two pair outs (specifically I'd like queens to fold). This is minor really; we are debating putting in a 4th bet that's pretty likely to go in anyway.

Turn: (16 BB) 2 (3 players)
SB checks, CO checks, Hero bets, SB raises, CO 3-bets, Hero calls, SB calls

Somehow someway MP1 folded the last street for 1 bet after putting in a raise. Specifically he folded at something like 31:1, admittedly not quite close the action but still. That's just hilarious. Now we come to my turn thought process which kind of went along the following lines. Hmmm, they both checked. That's just silly. I guess the SB really does have AK and the CO really does have a flush draw. Crap I have a flush draw, his is probably better than 8 high. But wait, I have a pair! I will bet for value. Besides if they have black aces and kings (which I mean really how the fuck can they have those hands they both just checked) I still have FORTY PERCENT EQUITY (which speaks to why I should have put on the cold cap on the flop but whatever). Things then promptly go directly to shit. They do not pass go, but someone is about to collect $200. I grit my teeth and call two bets cold for third time this hand (not counting the time I called 3 bets cold) and hope the SB doesn't find a cap with his aces or jacks or whatever it is that he has over that that he's so happy about. As an aside here, CO's line here is RIDICULOUS and my bullshit meter spiked off the charts. You're going to screw play check/raise the guy who called 3 bets cold on the flop? Really? After you 3 bet the previous street, you're not just going to blast away here, but rather risk giving a free card? Makes zero sense whatsoever honestly, but who am I to judge. At this point I pretty much decided that the CO had a set (remember he's a nit) and that the SB had aces (he could have jacks also I suppose). So to the river we go.

River: (25 BB) 8 (3 players)
SB checks, CO checks, Hero checks

After all that, I spike two pair, they both check, and I decided to check. My assumption on the turn was that I was dealing with a set, trying to make either a straight or a flush. Now that I have a chance to check back two pair I'm happy to do so. Stay tuned, I'll give results after the thread on 2p2 runs its course.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

So Far Sorta Meh

Three days of "Jesse Takes His Act To the Interwebs" are in the books, and the results are, by every metric I can think of, 2 out of 3. For two of the three days I enjoyed what I was doing, didn't have much trouble getting volume in, and in general considered the day a success. Yesterday was a bit of a clusterfuck, but I learned a good bit from it. Lessons so far are:

1. For now, 5 tables is my max. Any more than that and I start to lose track of the action from time to time and do weird stuff, like donking into the preflop raiser thinking it was a limped pot, etc etc. Also I lose a bit of creativity, and when your edge is extremely small to begin with and 1 big bet per 100 hands is extremely small any way you slice it) you can't afford to lose any edge whatsoever. For a little while one day I was experimenting with up to 8 tables and that was just a disaster. I was kidding myself thinking 6 was OK, and it sort of kind of is, but really for now I should stick to 4 or 5. Hopefully I can add a sixth at some point.

2. I am only allowed to check my results between exactly two hands once every 24 hours, preferably when I think I'm done playing for the day. I did well with this on Monday and today, but not on Tuesday, and I ended up spending a lot of brain cycles tilting myself about the fact that I was stuck like 100 bets or whatever it was. Today I played all day and didn't check my results until about 15 minutes ago, after I closed out my 3rd session of the day. I spent the day somewhat happy, basically not sure how I was doing. More importantly, I didn't waste time thinking about it, which is the whole point.

3. You've gotta take notes. Really if I'm going to be putting in this much volume there is no excuse for something that seems to happen to me a lot. A guy 3 bets me, and I hover my mouse over his name to see what I know because I have a thousand hands on him and....nothing. Really Jesse? You've played 1000 hands with a guy, the equivalent of 25 hours of live poker, and he hasn't done a single thing worth writing down? Fail. So now I'm taking notes at the highest rate I can, which seems to be a couple every orbit. I have to keep them short because realistically the way they are used demands it; when you're 5 tabling you're not going to parse 300 words of notes on a guy. 3 to 5 pieces of info is all you're gonna get before it's time to act.

4. They love to donk. It's as if all the loose passive 20/40 players I know who check/call with basically anything just decided that if they were going to call one bet why not just donk? It's incredible and it still has me confused, because it does seem to mean very different things for different players. I saw a guy donk K3o on t 754r board into 4 opponents in a raised pot. I mean, really? What is your thought process there? Anyway, taking donk specific notes is very important.

5. Use the HUD popups. This is freaking critical. You can only have so much info sitting there on your screen, especially if you're playing full ring, but there is so much more to be had when you have a couple thousand hands on a guy. So I'm using them more and more, trying to get into a pattern whenever I get headsup with a guy of checking my notes, then checking a popup for any specific information that might be relevant (is he more aggro on the turn, how much does he showdown, etc, etc).

So so far, so good I guess. The Big Potato just texted me with a very salient point:

I need to put some hours in (online). If you don't play online regularly you are going to suck. Hard to get around that.

So maybe I am going about this the right way. And in closing, my results so far for 3 days are somewhat encouraging. I have played 7602 hands and am winning, overall, at a rate of 1.69 bets per 100. Sadly I'm not actually up as many dollars as that number would suggest, since I've lost about 50 bets at 3/6 and won about 150 bets at 2/4. I've also played some 5/T and 1/2 and as you might suspect at first blush have obliterated the 1/2 games and lost a little in the 5/T (the sample sizes on these are truly meaningless, literally less than 300 hands total). If there's not a systematic reason I seem to crush 2/4 and struggle at 3/6 things should be a little more even moving forward. Here's hoping.

Monday, November 1, 2010

All the Cool Kids Are Doing It

So I'm going to give it another go. A few months back I decided to mix "online days" into my playing schedule and it didn't go so well. Maybe I got a little unlucky, but in retrospect it's pretty clear that I was unprepared mentally for the gauntlet that is online poker and mechanically for the aggressive 6 max games I was trying to play in. I've been working on my short-handed play, feel that I've learned a good bit about myself and the things I need to do to keep playing at a high level throughout a day in my apartment, and am committed to focusing on playing "fullish" games for the time being (meaning I'll play a lot of my bread and butter full rings games, and only mix in 6 max games at full tables where I have a good seat with at least 2 very weak players in the game). And I'm not going to be mixing this in; I'm going to play online exclusively every day this week and simply see if I go insane or not.

The numbers required for success here are daunting, however. Even if I crush the full ring games for 1 big bet per 100 (which as far as I know is about as well as you're allowed to do, give or take) I obviously need to play literally thousands of hands per day. Assuming I split my time between 2/4 and 3/6 games at first (so we can just use 1 big bet = $5), even playing 3000 hands a day would net....$150 in expectation. That's not really enough. There is some bonus money to be had from several sources such as rakeback, the ironman promotion, and frequent player points, but for full ring games these are secondary to the money actually won in the game. I'm not exactly sure, but my rough calculations suggest that combined they aren't worth $5/100 hands. First things first, though, I have to see if I'm able to actually log somewhere near the number of hands needed for a reasonable chance at success. If I go bonkers after 2K hands or find myself unable to play at a high level at more than 4 or 5 tables at once the entire situation will be a non-starter. If, however, I'm able to log 3 or 4 thousand hands a day by playing 6 or even 8 tables at once at nearly my best, there is hope I could make it work.

This is certainly not where I thought I'd end up when I started down this road over 2 years ago, but it's where I am and it's time to make the best of it. Spending 40 hours a week with the Chessmasters of the world is simply not what I want to do with my life. Clicking buttons on a screen for 8 hours a day doesn't seem much better at first, but I can't knock it 'til I try it. Wish me luck.