Monday, April 30, 2012

[ ] Contained

The last 30 days have been some of the best I've had yet as a professional poker player.  I've learned a ton about "GTO" or "Nash Equilibrium" play, I've developed some theories about game selection and quitting, I've advanced relationships with a few poker friends, and I've pushed myself a few times to see if I could play well enough to stay in an amazing game well past the point where I'd usually have tapped out and called it a night.  Heck, there's even the whole "we might get our full tilt money" thing going on, which would be the best thing to happen to the poker ecosystem since...ok, probably ever.  I mean really, think about it.  $300M that tens of thousands of people had completely written off as gone forever just getting disbursed back into the gambling world.  In short, things are grand.

The official statistics for my April are pretty fantastic, at least to me.  I played 196 hours, almost certainly my most ever, which actually has me on pace to clock over 2000 for the year.  It doesn't even feel like I've been playing that much, and given that I was saddled by my prop job through March 3rd it would seem like my hours per week could actually INCREASE from here on out, despite the 14 weddings I will be attending this summer (and by 14 I mean 3).  Where did I find the time to do all this?  Well, I can think of 3 or 4 things that have contributed.

1.  I kind of dropped off the face of two plus two entirely.  Like, I haven't made a post in mid-stakes in over a month, and really have just done a few pop ins in the small stakes low content thread.  That wasn't really intentional, it just kind of...happened.

2.  Danielle and I pretty much stopped watching TV.  We caught up on Breaking Bad, finished The West Wing, and now just occasionally watch a movie.

3.  This should be obvious, but blog output has slowed dramatically.

4.  I was so used to the propping lifestyle and the insane hours of casino time it took just to book 35 hour weeks that now 45 or 50 hours doesn't seem that hard.

So I guess that sort of sums it up.  None of those things individually seem like a big deal, but they definitely used to consume over 10 hours a week of my time and now they just don't.  Am I happier?  Sort of.  Should I be doing even more to take care of myself (sleeping more, eating better, making it to the gym every day)?  Sure.  But for now I'll take what I can get and just be happy about it for a bit.

And then there has been the winning.  The constant, day in and day out, mind boggling, winning.  It really is stunning just how good you can run in this game.  I know my online graphs show periods of utter insanity, with me seemingly unable to lose a pot for thousands and thousands of hands.  But when you do it live it can just  It's just been fantastic, and thanks to the high hour count and the run good I booked my most profitable month ever (I didn't officially keep this statistic before Jan 2011, but I'm positive I've never won $1K/day for an entire month before).  So yeah, things are just swell.  They can not stop me, and so far they really can't even hope to contain me.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bone Marrow

A couple of life times ago, way back when I was a freshman at MIT, there was a guy on the swim team that I really looked up to.  His name was Stefan, he was one of the captains, senior, nice to everyone, just top to bottom a great guy.  Anyway, some way or another he had found his way into what was at the time called I think the National Bone Marrow Registry, and some way or another he was a match for somebody and everything just fell into place and he basically just saved a kid's life one random Friday afternoon.  Like, no big deal, no fanfare, no nothing, he just showed up at the meet Saturday morning with bandages on his hips kind of looped out on vicodin, anchored the 4x100 freestyle relay to victory even though our coach didn't want to let him swim and that was sort of the end of it.  Sort of. 

Being a young and impressionable mind I signed up for the registry immediately, giving a blood sample I suppose (although I have zero memory of this event).  Over the years they've managed to keep track of me (when you're running something like that you kind of have to be good at keeping track of people, I suppose), and other than that there wasn't much to tell until this morning, when I got a call from a nice woman at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute telling me I was a preliminary match for a teenager with severe aplastic anemia.  Nothing definite has happened yet, but I filled out a health survey (that I'll pass with flying colors unless they really hold me up for Danielle living in Africa for 8 weeks), and after that apparently will go one of three ways, which are "we need another test", "we found a better match", or "you may have already won!"

I'm not really sure why I'm writing this post, other than it's something very interesting that could be about to happen to me, and to encourage everyone reading to sign up.  I'm no expert, but "lots" of people die from conditions that could be treated (or even cured) by a relatively simple bone marrow transplant.  The more people that are in the registry, the more matches will be found.  And that's just swell.  As for me, I of course feel good about the opportunity to help someone, but I've been curiously emotionless about the whole thing so far.  I guess it's because there really is nothing I can do and no decision that I'll have to make.  I'll either match and do it, or won't and won't.  If everything in life was that simple I'd sure have a lot less stress :)

Wall Street Journal

And they claim to have a source

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Full Tilt News

I cannot imagine there is anyone out there who reads my blog who has not heard this yet, but supposedly stars is buying full tilt and paying everyone back

Monday, April 23, 2012

Investing Update

For anyone interested, here is my original post regarding getting started in the stock market, in which I espoused a basic strategy of owning as few ETF's as possible and keeping costs low.

For the first, I don't even know, very long time that I was a professional poker player, my net worth remained pathetically stagnant.  I started in August 2008, and for the first 10 months or so just won and won and won and won, but during that time basically lost my ass in the stock market.  Then from June 2009 until late 2010 I pretty much didn't win any money whatsoever (in retrospect it's SHOCKING that I'm still at this), but my investments did quite well.  So on the whole for the first I suppose 2.5 years of my poker career I really didn't get anywhere.  I exacerbated the problem by not studying enough and continuing to not play 40 due to very short term bad results (even though I was rolled for the game) and a general fear of going quote unquote "broke", which to me just meant losing more than some arbitrary amount that I set for myself to lose.  There were lots of other reasons I didn't succeed that I've chronicled at length here, but that's not the point.  The point is that over the last 16 months I've actually managed to win at poker AND have the bottom not fall out of the stock market, and therefore for the first time since my days at Oracle I've actually been accumulating money.  This is all kind of pathetic if I think about it too long, but for now I'm just enjoying it and looking at those first 2.5 years as a learning experience.  Anyway, here is an update on the holdings of my portfolio, updated a few days ago when I purchased some more of the international funds

Domestic Equities

IVV - 27%
VO - 17%
VB - 15%

International Equities

VEU - 15%
VWO - 16%


BND - 10%

Obviously this thing is very equities heavy and specifically very focused on the United States.  I'm planning to move away from that over the next year or so, adding to the international and bond pools more so than the domestic equities.  And the money is split pretty haphazardly over two accounts, a tax advantaged IRA and a standard brokerage account, which isn't great.  But the point is that I've kept up with it and kept it simple enough that at no point have I thrown up my hands and gotten frustrated, which to me is just a big honking win.  I've also done the beginning research into buying a rental property, which to be honest is just a daunting and terrifying endeavor that I'm not really sure I can pull off.  However, that is how you see normal people end up with comfortable income streams in their 40s and 50s, so I should probably give it another long hard look while money is almost free and prices are bouncing around what hopefully should be the bottom.  But realistically I needed to get that done before the summer started to happen since everybody I know is getting married and I'm going to have no time whatsoever.  So for now I'm going to keep my head down and try to keep up my winning ways.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

This Actually Happened

So I roll up to the bike at 10:30am and what do I find? Two players eating breakfast wondering why there is no game. Normally I'd bail immediately, but these players are extremely special so I hang out for a while to see if the game can go. After 15 minutes the woman calls commerce and is off; she is one of the great hit and run artists of all time, and her loss is no great one as she is also a stark raving bitch. She is just amazing, quitting after as little as 15 minutes if she wins but playing overnight to chase a loss. As an aside the only player who can compete with her in this regard played a 30 hour session this week....

So anyway she bails and it's just me and my buddy AA and to be frank things are looking grim. But this guy is world class so I resolve to teach him Chinese poker and pray for some action to walk in the door. I text everyone while explaining the game to him. And in the conversation with me and the dealer he explains his problem with the NBA and PGA Tour, in a thick accent:

"I can't watch basketball because it's all monkeys running around. And the golf? The same thing, the top player is a monkey"

It's 2012, in Southern California, and this guy is openly referring to black people as monkeys. And I have to be nice to him to try and win $1000 today. I mean...really? REALLY? I excuse myself to the starbucks, re-steel myself and come back to play an hour of Chinese. Eventually we give up and move the game to commerce, where we start a 2nd 40 and I Jesus seat him as he loses five $400 buy ins in 90 minutes. There is some justice...but just some.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Completely Results Oriented Brag

Since the day I quit my job I have won $21K in 240 hours, including everything right up until I picked up 15 minutes ago for an extremely silly reason. Most likely the upgrade in results has had almost nothing to do with my decision to quit, but I'm going to let myself be very happy about it and do some serious self back patting nonetheless. Objectively my stress level has been quite a bit lower and I'm getting in way more hours (it's been less than 7 weeks and I basically took 9 days off straight when my dad was in town), and I'm having no trouble putting myself in great spots. Like sure, from time to time (like now) the must move game is amazing and I'm trapped in the main game, but that's the exception, not the rule. The bike promotion has also been extremely kind to me, netting me so far MORE than I would have been getting paid. So really I guess the only question left regarding the quit is "what took you so long?

In other news, and this is some seriously scary shit, I'm 30 years old now. That's Nothing terrifying has transpired, yet, unless you count the funeral I went to that day. Seriously, no joke, I went to a funeral on my birthday. Running hot for sure on that one. It's hard to believe that I've been at this for close to 4 years now and to be completely honest don't really have any sort of long term plan or exit strategy. For now I'm pretty content to keep grinding pretty stress free, spend some more time studying up and trying to get better, and hopefully book another good year.

I was thinking about responding to the comments that my last post generated, but don't really feel like it's that big of a deal. I wasn't trying to sound like I actually have a fucking clue what I'm talking about or anything, I just wanted to write down some thoughts and opinions, as is my custom since last time I checked that's one of the main reasons this blog persists. A hand I played today kind of illustrates my point, though:

I open OTB with tens (freaking tens!) and Mr. Lee defends his big blind. The flop is


And he check/raises me. Let's pause the action right now and state some facts

1. Any strategy hoping to replicate any sort of nash equilibrium demands that I never ever consider folding my hand. I am WAY too far up in my distribution for that to be acceptable.

2. Mr. Lee is a stone nit who bifurcates his ranges too early. He is HEAVILY weighted towards having a jack here.

So we play out the rest of the hand and it comes like 6-8r and as he's betting the river it occurs to me that just what on Earth am I trying to beat when I call? Like, everything about the hand screams "he has a jack" and yet there I am putting 2.5 big bets into the pot with less than 20% equity and of course he shows me the queen jack ball (with the queen of spades no less). And this is one of those weirdo hands that always have and always will give me trouble. No self respecting poker player would ever fold tens here...ever. But against Mr. Lee I have a sinking suspicion that doing so could actually be correct. I can't post the hand on 2p2 or really anywhere else, because anybody with half a brain will say the same you can't fold. And here's the kicker....if you're going to fold, the place to do it is probably on the flop. Because if you call the flop you're certainly not drawing; you're doing it because you have enough equity to call down. So once the turn and river sorta brick off (they aren't really bricks because they make two pairs sometimes and fill in sets which are the only value hands I could ever conceive of him showing up with) there really is no good exit ramp in the hand. Back in 2008, when I won $55/hour playing 20/40 for 700 hours, I used to bet fold flops like this. And sometimes I wonder if growing out of that nittery was perhaps a bad thing.

Friday, April 13, 2012

GTO Musings

OK that's a pretty heavy title for what probably won't be a very long or interesting post, but I've spent a lot of time and energy on GTO (game theory optimal) play recently and it just sorta feels like I should write something about it. So I guess, here it is....

I recently read The Intelligent Poker Player, which spends a good bit of ink explaining the difference between the GTO (math, balance) and exploitative (feel, soul reading) schools of thought. For those who are not, you know, professional poker players, the basic ideas here can be stated rather simply. Limit Hold'em is a solvable game, at least in heads up situations, and there exists a Nash Equilibrium nirvana known as "GTO". If you play this way, or even very close to this way, with a good understanding of your opponents ranges, you are basically unbeatable. No matter what anybody else does, they cannot win money from you in the long run. An example of a GTO concept would be having 1 bluffing combo in your river betting range for every 10 value betting combos in a 10 big bet pot. There are lots of other ideas and concepts, but it shouldn't be that hard to wrap your head around the fact that there is a "correct" way to play that involves balancing your bluffs and value bets and call downs in such a way that you are not exploitable. Another concept is that if your opponent raises you on the river, putting the 7th and 8th bets into the pot, you should not fold more than 1/4th of the time. If you do, he should raise you 100% of the time, since he's risking only 2 bets to steal 6 (I think I did that math right there).

The exploitative approach doesn't really worry about a lot of these concepts, and it's not hard to see why. The concepts I stated above rely on your opponents having half a brain and figuring out that you have a "hole in your swing", as it were. Most of the people I play with day in and day out simply aren't going to get to the river in a 10 bet pot and realize they have a profitable air bluffing opportunity with 100% of their range. Heck, most of them aren't going to bluff the river even close to the correct percentage of the time, and some will literally NEVER do it. So making these sorts of GTO justified calls on the river really can, to quote a bike 20 player, put a lot of wear and tear on the old bankroll. You see, the idea of GTO play is to make sure that nobody can exploit you and ensure that you will win. The idea is not, however, to play in a way to maximize your expected value against weak opposition. Bet/folding the river is one of the bread and butter plays of beating low and mid-stakes limit hold 'em. I'm sure that I do it way more than GTO would ever allow, and I'm also sure that the vast majority of my opponents have no hope of ever taking advantage of it. There are other times when relying on GTO concepts is simply leaving money on the table, for example when an opponent simply is never folding. These times in theory should not exist, but there are opponent and line combinations from which you can sometimes deduce that your bluff with NEVER succeed. So save the bet....

I've spoken with a few friends about the subject, and spent some time thinking about some pros I know that come from each school. Most of the hotshot internet guys turned live pros (DosEquis, Juice, Sailboats, La Peste) come down decidedly on the GTO side of things. Other players, often those who have played live forever (MikeL), are definitely more in the exploitative camp. And there's quite a bit of contention and name calling along these lines, more so than you'd probably expect. The online guys, the ones who have seen the long run and have played millions of hands in pretty big games against some tough opposition and managed to show a positive win rate often label us live guys (and I'm definitely a live guy...I've probably logged less than 300K hands on the internet) as downright fish. And you know what, we don't really have a good response, because in truth what they do IS more sophisticated than what we do and they did beat games that we could never beat, but the fact of the matter is that a lot of them spend way too much time thinking about how they play their entire range in a certain spot than they do just attacking the low hanging fruit. I'm not saying that GTO play is the wrong approach, or even a less than wonderful one. What I'm saying is that if you find yourself playing in games where you need to be considering GTO concepts against more than a few of your opponents, you should probably look for a better game. Sure, there are definitely spots where it's important. If you find yourself playing 200/400 at Commerce with 4 world class pros, 2 live pros and 2 big fish, you're going to need to be pretty close to GTO against the pros in order to avoid losing back your profits from the fish. So yes, guys who have a very strong, almost second nature style understanding of GTO play have a big advantage in that they can safely sit in almost any game.

But are these concepts a big part of beating up the LA mid stakes games? Certainly not. The way to win in the games I play is to study your opponents, figure out what mistakes they are making, and adjust your play in order to exploit them. A guy opens too many hands? 3 bet him light. A guy always seems to be showing down and quietly folding his hand? Value bet him thin. A guy barrels the turn too much? Delay your aggression until the turn with both your value hands and semi-bluffs, and also fold the flop a little more because you won't really ever be seeing the river for free. A guy bet folds the turn a ton? Delay your value raises until the river, and raise the turn almost exclusively as a bluff. A guy literally never value bets the river? Donk when you make your hand (I did this to the biggest fish in our game like 3 or 4 times today). If you find yourself thinking about GTO concepts against more than 1 or perhaps 2 of the players in your 40/80 game, you're probably in a bad game and you should find a better one unless you have an amazing seat. Again, I'm not saying that you shouldn't strive to understand GTO play as you move up the poker ladder. What I am saying is that you should be careful not to see every situation as a nail and GTO as your only hammer. Most of the time the most +EV play in a good mid stakes game will involve deviating from the GTO book, and the pros who understand that concept and apply it consistently correctly are the ones who post big (close to a bet per hour) win rates over reasonable (thousands of hour) samples.

I thought I was done, but I have one more thing to say. In a high volume online environment, it is very easy to have a relatively small win rate and still produce quite a bit of income. For example, back when I was grinding away on the Full Tilt 3/6 games, it was pretty easy for me to play 300 hands/hour. Supposing a win rate of only 1 bet per 100 hands, you could win $18/hour. Throw in rake back and the rewards program and you could basically double that, and all of a sudden you were making something like $35/hour from the comfort of your office without the inconvenience of wearing pants. If you played much higher than that, obviously things got even better. The point here though is that with high volume (and rake back) comes the ability to have a small win rate. Live players with win rates of 1 bet per 100 stand almost no chance of surviving. Go ahead, run it if you want, but things are just brutal when your WR is that low. Remember that most people assume 30 hands per hour (I personally think that 40 is more realistic, but haven't ever been able to count), so 1 bet per 100 hands is literally something like .3 to .4 bets per hour. In order to survive on that rate you need to be playing pretty big; obviously 20/40 isn't really going to cut it. And the downswings you're going to hit...just brutal really.

So what's the point? In order to survive playing poker live for a living, you HAVE to have a very high win rate, one that can perhaps only be generated by playing an exploitative style against relatively weak opposition on a regular basis. If you're trying to eek out .2 bets hour playing in tough 200/400 games, sure you're theoretically making $80/hour, but the bankroll you need to survive the swings that come with that territory is so large that you obviously (existence proof) have the ability to make more than that (or at least close to that) much doing something else. So while I haven't thought this out completely, I think that I might think that playing a maximally exploitative style and making sure you put yourself in good games could be more important in determining your success as a professional poker player than knowing the first thing about GTO play.

At least now that they blew up the internet :)

Monday, April 9, 2012


Nothing will dampen your spirits after one of your best weeks of all time like writing checks for almost 2 years worth of taxes in one sitting. I didn't make estimated payments in 2011 because...well, because I was lazy mostly but also because I made so little money in 2010 my required payments were so low it didn't really matter that I didn't send them in. The minimum required payments for year N+1 are based on tax liability for year N, and if you don't send them in you get dinged with an interest penalty, but that just wasn't going to be enough to make me care. So other than the tax withheld from my prop paychecks, I just fired off everything I owed from last year, Q1 for 2012, and wrote the checks for my estimated payments for the remaining 3 quarters of this year (which will sit on a shelf until they need to be mailed). It was just...brutal.

Other than that, though, life has been grand so far in the month of April. I just get to win and win and win, and I've been doing a lot of hand reviews and study work with a friend that at least make me feel confident and give me a sense of self improvement. This week I played 6 days, had a 6 rack win, 3.5 rack win, and 2.5 rack win, and was in the black on the other three days combined. And what was kind of funny about it was that throughout the week I noticed everyday that the pros were literally taking ALL the money. I could rattle off about a half dozen names that combined to take probably $60k out of the bike 40/80 game last week. I mean, I could be wrong, as I didn't see all their results, but what I did see really made it appear that way. It's just kind of the way of things, really. When the pros run bad they lose small or break even for 3 or 4 months at a time. But when they win, the just crush the game for $200/hour for a month or more, and if a couple of them do it at the same time...well, let's just say I hope we don't bust too many people.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Bless Me, Father

For I have sinned.

A few ingredients were mixed perfectly today for me to have a good laugh at someone else's expense. They were, in no particular order:

Several lifetimes ago I actually stood apart from many of my peers based on my "people skills." At both MIT and Oracle I had way above average communication skills (at Oracle English as a first language was all you needed for this), and generally was considered one of the funny guys. While these skills have laid (lain?) fallow for some time, they are always right there, under the surface, and occasionally do make an appearance.

My recent time spent at the bike, dealing with my boss and a few other choice people that I realized were always saying the right thing to manipulate others made me realize that "hey, I could do that. I've just never bothered to try!"

I've been feeling physically fantastic lately. Strong, energetic, just top to bottom great. This is probably due to at least 4 or 5 small changes I have made or achieved, but the net result has just been swell.

And finally, I had the perfect victim. There is this woman who plays in my game who just has some amazing personality quirks. She's one of those people who simply does not get sarcasm; ever. She hears a sentence and takes it literally, 100 percent of the time. She is therefore impossible to joke around with, and over the past few days I've actually taken to verbally poking and prodding her as an academic exercise, just to see what makes her go and, as it turns out, what makes her explode. I have my reasons for doing this, namely it is fun and it's possible I'll learn something about Danielle through this mad scientist style experimentation. You see, Danielle has some of the same traits as this woman, just expressed far less drastically. So anyway....let's call the girl Kat....and here we go.

First of all, Kat and I are, or at least were, kind of friends. We've exchanged messages on facebook, not really ever talking about much, but you know, that's more than I can say for 99% of the people I've played poker with. She's a pro and is actually irritatingly talented (like she wins for sure, at a reasonable clip), and most of the time we just talk about how irritating some of the people we have to deal with are. The other thing we've discussed is her seat changing habits. You see, one of the quirks she has is an inability to understand when her actions may or may not seem appropriate or awkward. All pro fight for good seats, to some extent. But she absolutely must always attempt to have the best seat at all times, to the point that the players she's trying to get position on definitely notice. She also will always "challenge" for the next seat change, which basically means "you had priority for this one, but now I am trumping you and have priority for the next one". In SoCal priority for seats is based solely on seniority, and remains that way forever if no one challenges....anyway. I've told her she takes it too far, and her basic response was "whatever I'm here to be in the best seat and win the most money" which is a pretty valid argument, at least one I can't really refute. But she just has a way of being...awkward...about it. So on to today.

We are playing 40/80 texas at the bike, as is our custom (lol I have 43 $15 dollar scans already this month in 4 days) and it comes to pass that the local hit n run specialist wins his $1000 for the day and vacates the 6 seat. I am in seat 9, a crazy old man named after a video game character is in 7, and a super loose and aggressive player is in seat 5. The only reason I'm in 9 is that was the best seat available when we started the game an hour ago; my move to 7 now is obvious. So I make my play and Kat declares that she challenges my seat change. That's fine, that's her right, but then moves from seat 1 to seat 9. And so it begins. I immediately challenge her seat change, which puts me back on top of her in the priority list, and she looks at me like I have two heads.

"You can't do that!" she protests.

"A rule is a rule" I say, mocking one of the players we share a common hatred of.

"That's just dirty...even for me...I've never done that before" she continues. And it's true; what I just did is pretty silly. But lessons need to be taught. Here is where shit starts to get extremely funny. The loose aggressive player in seat 5 (he's an older guy, literally could be like my Dad's older brother or my Grandpa's younger brother, from the south, plays a billion hands and just puts in all kinds of action post flop, great sense of humor, etc, let's call him Alpha Lag) seat changes! He almost never, ever seat changes, but he knows what's going on and bang he's on the 1 seat (to Kat's immediate left, a complete disaster for her) like flies on shit. He's doing it just to fuck with Kat, plain and simple. It is an bold and aggressive move, one to be expected from a man who won 11 iPads during 5 hour competitions to see who could win the most pots. That's right...he won ELEVEN times. He's going to deal off, which means he just played his button and will wait for it to pass then come in for free. In the confusion the button skips the other crazy old man in the 6 seat and lands on me, and Kat slings a chip to the 5 seat to lock it up 9 (her seat is now the worst at the table due to the alpha lag's move). Logic would dictate she move before taking her big blind, but she can't go now because if the error is not corrected she'll get to skip her big blind (a savings of literally like $20 in equity) and needs to try to let the angle just...happen. As an aside I used to always speak up if the button was wrong. Now my policy is not to say anything if it helps me. Scummy? Sure. But every other asshole down here does it, and when in Rome...anyway. In this case someone from across the table has obviously noticed that the button is wrong and starts to say something, and I jump in and point out that it's incorrect. So it moves back to seat 6 (for all of this hubbub seat 8 is away from the table with a missed blind case anyone made a diagram).

This is the moment where Kat gets a little flustered. The Asian guy from the must move has arrived at the table and is asking which seat is his. As the dealer is pitching cards I tell him seat 9, that Kat is moving to five, but "I'm not sure why she's taking her blind". This is an example of her doing something rude and pointless. She should just move...she'll have to wait the same number of hands either way, and moving now would cause less fuss and be less awkward and generally alert the fish to less of what is happening, less of the way in which we are literally all just hunting them. Perhaps just because of the button mistake she didn't have it all together, but more likely because concerns like this just don't enter into any of her decision making machinery, she snaps at me "I'm going to deal off!" to which I respond "OK, that's fine, but I'm challenging this seat change, also". Her anger begins to boil at this point. Fast forward two hands (with Asian guy still kind of just standing around, wondering why he's being made to wait) and Kat is winning a pot from the button. She declares to the dealer "push it there" and signals to five. She moves her chips over there, then realizes 4 is now also open because another hit n run specialist has reached the day's quota and is picking up, and instead scrambles to get to that seat. The button jumps from 9 (her seat) to 2 (past the alpha lag, who is dealing off), like three people are moving around and grabbing new seats and and she just plops right over there and...posts her big blind.

The dealer get the hand out of the fucking deck. As I'm watching this all happen it literally appears to be going in super slow motion, matrix style. At this moment my senses are so keen, so aware, that I could almost certainly actually dodge a bullet. He cuts the deck. He picks it up, he begins to pitch the cards....


You see, Kat didn't have her shit together and just made a massive mistake. She was entitled to wait for the button to pass and then enter the game for free in the cutoff, but instead took her big blind. For somebody who spends seemingly half her time and energy at the table fighting for the smallest conceivable positional advantage, this is just a disaster. Somehow, some way I manage to wait for it...WAIT FOR IT...and just as the dealer sends the second card to her say "Kat, I thought you were going to deal off?" in a quizzical and confused tone. The realization courses through her entire body, and the stare she gives me could kill a rodent. "It's not that big a deal!" she nearly yells. And then it happens...the coup de grace (I don't care how you spell it I'm on a fucking roll here people) comes, swift and merciless, from the Alpha Lag

"Man Jesse, if only you'd noticed in time!"

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April Fools

I was considering putting up some sort of joke post, but I just don't have the energy right now. Danielle spent half an hour today going through the internet reading about all the hacks and fake releases and stuff (the hungry hippo's iPad physical add on was probably my favorite, that or the Kodak printer that claims to produce real live kittens), but April Fool's has never really been my thing. Sure we filled Chris and Matt's truck and car with balloons that one year, but we were 17 and that's just the sort of thing you did back then. Anyway moving right along.

I just finished up my taxes (or more accurately my friend Eric at NinjaTax finished them up for a very reasonable fee), and since I made like no money in 2010, and therefore wasn't really required to make any estimated payments in 2011, I ended up owing a rather large sum. But I knew that was coming so it's fine really. I also had to go through my session results to figure out every time I drove from one casino to another (as a professional poker player you can deduct mileage spent driving from one casino to another, but not any drive that starts or ends at your house), which was a real pain in the ass. I'm glad I did it though, because I'd kind of forgotten that I stopped in at Hawaiian Gardens quite a few times and that ended up helping a fair bit. But in total it was less than 1000 miles so many might ask why bother and those many wouldn't be completely wrong.

I've had several discussions with poker players about taxes, and I get the sense that the vast majority are not very honest regarding how much they win. And I can only imagine that this trend is going to get worse, not better, in the wake of Black Friday and the federal government and full tilt basically stealing lord knows how much money ($400M is the number I always hear bandied about that is owed to players still). I mean, imagine you had like $10K sitting in Full Tilt and it had just completely vanished....would that make you more or less likely to take some liberties on your tax return? I'm not saying it's a good idea, but...I understand. I've always been completely honest, which to be completely honest makes me feel like a bit of a sucker. Like, none of these people are going to get caught. It's just not going to happen. And to be clear I'm not saying everyone cheats; I know at least three poker players who have always been 100% up and up with everything they have won (other than me), and I do commend them for paying their fair share.

I suppose today marks the beginning of the second quarter, and that lead me to just spend a few minutes with my sheet and figure out just how bad things have been going for the first 25% of the year. It's pretty hilarious, actually. I've played 472 hours (above the pace of 150/month I set for myself) and am basically break even. Now a huge percentage of the hours I've played have generated income in the form of either paychecks or the bike promo money, so counting that things are going of ok. But that money is supposed to be a supplement, not the lion's share of my earnings. I do think I've been running particularly badly, but I've also noticed that I have been spending more and more time in mediocre or even not good games. The biggest reason I was able to justify quitting the prop job was that I thought doing so would allow me to sit in higher quality games, but I sort of forgot that at the bike that's not always true. Like, I get to sit MORE often as a customer, but sometimes I am stuck in a main game that is no where near as good as the must move. As a prop, I'd have gotten to log an hour or sometimes more in that game, and it's frustrating whenever I see situations like that as they're occurring. But on the whole I've definitely been able to log more high quality hours now that I'm a happy go lucky free agent, not only by holding seats that I used to have to give up, but also also by managing my energy reserves and tilt control abilities longer and (at least so far) being able to man up for longer sessions when conditions are favorable. So that's good...but I still need to do better because you can't just play 500 hours and win zero dollars when you're not a prop...or at least you can't do it twice in a row.

Staking, on the other hand, has been a massive success. So I have that going for me, which is nice. Tomorrow it's back to the grind, after a day of relaxing and todo list trimming. I actually "weeded" today for the first time since I was probably like 13 or something, and it sucked just as much as I remembered. And for some reason I'm about to watch a women's college basketball game, but you know, it could actually be kind of fun.