Archive for April, 2009

Prop bets and other money hating

Posted: April 23, 2009 in General

So the other day my roomies and I made it to the basketball courts. I’m very sketchy on the details but somehow I ended up taking a prop bet that I could make more 3 pointers shooting w/my off hand that my roommate, brandon, could make w/his natural hand. He was offering me 2-1 on $1k. Once again I open my mouth too quickly when taking a prop because I would say Brandon’s expectation is about 20%, which I think is about the peak of my expectation w/my off hand. 2-1 isn’t a bad bet in my mind, but I think I could have gotten 3-1 on $500 which I would have been much more comfortable with. Anyway I accept(keep in mind I’ve never taken a right handed shot in my life) and we take 3 shots a piece from 5 stations on the court. He starts off hitting 1 of his first 3. I match. We both go 0-3 in the next station. I take the lead hittin 1-3 from the top of the arc. I whiff the next station and he pulls a miraculous 2-3 to take the lead and put me in a spot where I’m probably gonna tie at best…this would have been a good spot to swallow my pride and buy out of the bet. He leads off the last station 0-3. I hit the front of the rim on my first shot, rim out the 2nd and totally air ball the 3rd :(
Wasn’t a great bet on my part, but I’m pretty sure if we ran that back 2 more times I’d break even at worse. Now as a whole our group makes these bets and usually the loser gets a shot at his cash back, but Brandon is notorious for making bets w/me and then backing out of them so I don’t anticipate getting my fair shake anytime soon…thus to neutralize that fact, I’ve decided I will pay him $10/day for the next 100 days.

I have other action w/my newest roommate as well. The bet is that I won’t be able to dunk a basketball by Aug. 31st. The terms are loser is personal assistant for a week. To win I have to dunk a basketball clean(as judged by 3 impartial people) by the end of Aug. In college I’ve dunked on more than one occasion, my biggest obstacle is I can’t palm the ball. I’m pretty confident I’ll lock this bet up long before Aug. so long as I’m not lazy about it.

Last blog I spoke of my first losing session out of the past 15, I promptly followed that up w/another loser where I’d say I played my B+ game. Still some strides to take but I’m not very discouraged…However, I did decide to do some money hating to make myself feel better about the losses. Between eastbay, guess, buckle and other random mall stores(including $100 at lids, I remember when hats were $15) I managed to go a little over board, but you’ll have that once or twice a year.

The weather is finally getting consistent and I am addicted to being outside. I’m encouraged by the fact that my roomies are getting out in the sunlight w/me to toss the football around. I really look forward to Sundays when I can play ball. I’ve logged more and more innings between 1B and OF which is resulting in me getting some at bats. It’s really rejuvenating my love of the game. I’m still pitching one game a week as well, which minus some lack of defense, is going well. Wood bat team and Aluminum bat team those sites will keep things updated to some degree for anyone interested. I’m really trying to talk myself into getting interested in golf. But it’s soooooo lame to me. It’s low impact, slow-paced, and frustrating. I’ve gone once in my life and renting left-handed clubs is impossible, so the likelihood of me buying a set and starting seems pretty slim. This may change tho if I can keep betting w/Brandon.

Pens should lock up round 1 tonight and are ahead of the curve for the run for the cup again. Hopefully someone will knock Detroit off along the way to actually give us a shot at it. On top of that the Buccos are actually above .500 for the first time since the Bonds era. Given that the Steelers won the Super Bowl, PSU almost went undefeated + Men’s hoops won the NIT + Pitt made a run in the NCAA’s, this may be the best sports year for Pittsburgh, PA since the mid 70’s. Alright kids that’s all I’ve got from sunny Vegas…

My biggest flaws

Posted: April 19, 2009 in General
Last night I had my first losing session out of the past 15 and it was a doozy. From the outside looking in I played fine just got in some bad spots. Alex actually witnessed me losing an 11k pot(to date the largest pot I’ve ever lost) which he thought to be a fold pre but standard as played…

When I lose I reflect. I looked back at my session and to the everyday player it just looked like a standard night where the deck was against me. It’s easy to say well I had to lose eventually, it was out of my hands, and those situations were “standard” but that approach is 50% of my biggest flaw in life and poker specifically…excusing failure. We all do it, it keeps us sane. However, in no way shape or form is it beneficial to our game, psyche, or competitive drive. I’ve proven to myself that I’m the best player in that game day in and day out and for me to lose and lose big means there was a fundamental flaw in my game. I didn’t get cooled off, luck had nothing to do w/it. I flat-out made poor decision after poor decision and I feel sick about it. To be honest I’m actually happy about it, it’s bringing me to a point I don’t think I’ve been before. A point where I’m ready to succeed…

Success is something I’ve always been privy to. I was a natural student, and a workaholic on the athletic field. I’ve never been one to succumb to defeat. Basically I’m generally good at anything I do, never great though. I’ve recently realized that I’ve never been one to accept the highest level of success. It’s like I’ve feared what would happen if my aspirations actually came true so I get close and self destruct. It’s happened time and time again in baseball; my freshman year of college I was cut, I transferred from DIII to DII and after an offseason of killing myself earned a spot in the starting rotation only to go 0-6 and lose that spot by season’s end. So the following offseason I busted my ass harder, hard enough to be voted captain by my peers, hard enough to get back in as a starter, hard enough to go 5-2, not hard enough to stay injury free. Almost as if I create hurdles for myself in order to keep me motivated, but to hold me back at the same time. It’s happened to me in school, with girls I’m interested in, and tho I haven’t realized it til now it sums up my poker career…2 steps forward, 1 step back

I’m such a backward unit, most people fear the worst and the caution they use to avoid the worst case usually holds them back. I’ve never feared failing, I’ve never worried about going broke despite the countless times I’ve had my entire bankroll on the table, I’ve never worried my starting pitching job would be in jeopardy despite the times where i may have been close, I’ve never feared failing a test despite the countless times I showed up unprepared…those are situations I EXCEL in. It’s the 6-figure score, throwing for scouts, getting the girl that i’ve already convinced myself was out of my league…those are the situations where I shut down. I have spent the last week not thrilled that I haven’t lost in over a month but instead attempting to determine how/when I would lose next and how devastating it would be. I’m hell-bent to change my ways and achieve what I believe I am capable of. It may be too late for me to make the pros or to graduate w/honors but I’ll be damned if I’m going to be just another grinder. End result, it’s time to break out and reap the benefits of all the off the table work I’ve put in…

*Highlight the blank space for the hand history of my $11k pot*
An active player opens to $80 gets called by the c/o and button, I defend from the sb w/Q7h. Flop 7s 4h 3h. Checks to c/o who bets $$240. I raise to $700. He flats. Turn 2h. I lead for $680. He raises to $1680. I flat w/4k behind. River Js. I check, he tank shoves. I call, he shows AKh.

Now Alex’s critique is that because of reverse implied odds(i.e. the exact situation that happened, along w/the fact that it’s tough to make a hand to stack someone w/Q7s I should fold pre, but post flop was fine. I disagree. Online, sure everything he said is true, but only because the skill levels are even across the board. Live people make mistakes, and big ones. Calling pre IMO is fine, Ch/R flop is fine. Not following my read is terrible. This is a 50-year-old man who puts his hand on his forehead. When he raises the turn I’m beat. But even worse is that when I flat the 1k I do so knowing that he’ll NEVER bet the river w/o the nuts. So w/4k behind the river is an easy fold. Me being stuck was too large of a factor in my call. Now if say that’s Alex on the other end, then ya I fold pre but as played I’m fine w/it cuz he’s a good player who will be value betting/bluffing way worse.

Calling my shot

Posted: April 10, 2009 in General
The Babe doesn’t have shit on me. Tonight before heading to Bellagio I predicted that I would win my 10th straight session at 10/20 and that it would be to the tune of 10k+. 3 hours in and it was mission accomplished. I also predicted that I would play one Venetian event(tomorrow’s $500 to be specific) this series and I would win it, along w/a tourney win on Easter Sunday. May all be hot air, or possibly the best weekend ever…time will tell.

Downloaded that iApp Rounder showed in his blog. Thought it was kinda neat so I figured I’d post my graphs through March. One thing is painfully obvious, I need to play more often…

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In the past year or two MTT’s have become very trendy. Between the media coverage and the $$ that comes w/winning an event poker players far and wide have been drawn heavily to these events both live and (even more so) online. Which I personally am thrilled about. It keeps the young poker savvy minds away from the live cash games, and the ones who do try to pull double duty often lack tons of fundamentals. However, after living w/3 guys who strictly play MTT’s for a living and meeting 5-10 of the “biggest names” in the online MTT world I’ve acquired some gripes…

First I’ll go into why I despise tournament poker, keep in mind this is merely a rant as I would hate to see tournament play go by the waste side. My biggest beef is the significant rake casino’s charge on top of the standard 3-5% that they withhold from the prize pool. It pains me to see sooooooo much money being taken out of the poker economy, and as interest in MTTs grows casinos indirectly pull more and more money out of my pocket. My second beef is that there hasn’t been a wide-spread standard structure developed yet. This is absurd to me, if there are TDA rules there should be a standard TDA structure. To further elaborate on that, the new trend toward deep starting stacks puts me on life tilt. Why can’t these tournament directors comprehend that no one wants to sit around and fold for 6 hours only to find that there is zero play when it matters. Deep stacks leads to tighter play in the early rounds which leads to less busts and a significantly lower avg. stack in accordance to the blinds. Flipping for stacks in the early levels is way better than having to do so when there are 5 and 6 digit scores on the line. Besides don’t they want business else where? Don’t they want people to bust in the first 2 hours and move on to cash games? I remember the days when the only time I could expect to find a big NL game going would be during a tourney series, as people busted these games filled and got juicy. No longer, now no one busts til 4-6 hours in and at that point they are exhausted.

Prelims in general are another thing that make me wanna die. There are just soooooo many frickin events, there is no anticipation, no excitement to play. The market is so saturated. Look how small these Bellagio prelims are, 26 people for a 5k? Like who the hell sees value in an event like that. And it’s not just 26 randoms, it’s a tough field. So far I’ve mostly attacked live events but I actually think they are 100x more profitable than online events. With the exception of Sundays, these fields are essentially laden w/solid competent players. The only long-term winner is the rake. Variance in online MTT play is higher than what you would find in limit holdem or even omaha. Given the knowledgable fields and essentially shallow stacks online MTT’s play out very hot n cold, in the sense that most of your hands play out to their truest equity due to the high rate of all in hands. Since MTT’s are played more as a strategic game of cat and mouse rather than as poker itself, there are a lot of moves and counter moves leading to light shoves/calls significantly increasing variance.

Now the MTT’r is a special beast. Sorry if I step on any toes here, but these guys are of a different breed. To some degree understandably so. I mean these guys see more all in hands in a day than I do in a month playing cash. They are constantly playing w/their tourney life on the line and yet they support this faulty way of thinking that variance is a myth and that actually since everyone plays soooooooooo badly the millions aren’t far away. Lemme first touch upon the poker riches…none of us are going to be millionaires via poker, least not anytime soon barring a 7-figure tourney score that someone doesn’t have half of. Fact is poker is a great way to make an above avg. living, but no matter how high you are playing it’s pretty tough put your expectation at the 500k-mil+ mark/year over a 5 yr+ span. That being said there’s a reason why 95% of MTT guys are backed, because the majority of them are always broke. Find me a guy who has made 100k profit for 5 years in a row (a task easily done at the 2/5-5/10NL level). All these big name guys w/all this attention(live and online), but in the long run they can’t beat the variance. This is indirectly what leads to the broken monitors, the bad beat forums, and the two phrases that absolutely make me want to die: “One time…” and “NO ONE RUNS WORSE THAN ME!!!!”

Just a typical Sunday in my house is enough to put it all in perspective. Everyone up bright and early w/excitement on their face for the torture they are about to endure. We’re all chatty at breakfast w/the prospects of who will pick up the elusive 6-figure score, reality of the situation is mathematically as a household we’re <.01% to pick up said score and considering half the house is staked and 25k+ in makeup even w/such a score you won’t have shit to show for it. Fast forward two hours, one by one we fall from the warmup and one by one we angrily explain our bust hand to whoever is listening(which no one ever is) w/o ever removing our eyes from our monitors. As the day goes on Gatorade bottles go flying, return keys are dislodged and obscenities become a second language. occasionally something great happens, generally everyone is 2-5k poorer. You try to chalk the busts up to variance, hell sometimes even poor play on your end but the fact remains that even if you are the best player in the tournament your expectation can’t be more than 50% ROI??? Which is fine if you are playing 10ks. But $330 return on a $215 = a torturous grind that I never want to endure. Funny part is MTT guys understand this, but they ignore it seeing each day independent to the other. Because honestly if every time they signed up for a tourney they said to themselves, “Well there’s another easy hundo in my pocket.” insanity would either set in, or they would just get a real job w/less stress that was actually enjoyable.

I’m going to just take MTT’s for what they are, poker lottery. I’ll continue to buy my ticket on occasion, but I promise you this. If I’m fortunate enough to pick up life changing money, you can bet your ass I will put in the smallest tournament volume of any known player since moneymaker…

*Again this is just a rant as I actually love what MTT’s have done for poker in general. They bring a lot of interest and money into the game as well as have bred a new type of player, one whose biggest strength is preflop play…a street in cash games that is damn near meaningless.