Archive for April, 2010

Balance. It’s something we take for granted in our everyday lives. Some people have more of it than others, but in order to perform even the most mundane activities in life we are required to maintain balance. As a teenager into your college years most posses a ridiculous ability to balance family, friends, sports, school, fun, sleep, etc. all with a giant smile on their face. It’s no coincidence that the majority of us look back on our youth as the best time of our life. I promise a lot of that has to do w/balance. Buddhism is practically centered around this philosophy of living a balanced life. Unfortunately into adulthood responsibilities become concentrated and hold so much more weight that they take precedence over leading a balanced life. Quickly we all become part of the rat race focused on the big cheese rather than what once made us happy, balance. It’s like attempting to walk a tight rope w/only one leg…unhealthy.
That philosophy has many times been lost on me throughout my poker career and adult life. This week after a long period of life getting in the way and complacency setting the tone, I decided to make some changes. I’m a firm believer that if you get life right all the details will fall into place so I went back to the basics. I’ve been up at 8-9 am everyday, working out by noon. My diet is simple and functional w/no room for garbage. I’ve talked to some combination of my family and friends everyday. I’m also committing myself to playing ball, even if it means sacrificing a few Sunday sessions. I’ve rediscovered my love for baseball on and off the field.

After watching about 10 hrs of ball this week I was reminded both how far we’ve come technologically(easily the best sport to watch in HD) and how much I enjoy studying and picking apart the intricacies that make up my two biggest passions, baseball and poker. That being said I’ve always followed the mantra of “If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.” There’s no room to take steps back and find success. I spent a lot of hours playing, no different than usual, but I was certain to ensure they were quality hours of play rather than just grinding for the sake of grinding. I also have been doing a lot of reading when I get a spare minute. I’m currently getting through a book called, “Treat poker like a business” that is really cementing home a lot of things I began to tweak and touch upon since the new year. My results have been mixed as far as a success standpoint is concerned. However, my mindset couldn’t be any more on track.

On to a little poker analysis. I was proposed what from the surface seems to be a pretty trivial question. I guess there really are no bad questions, though, as this ended in what I feel is a pretty important/overlooked understanding of variance and how it applies in our career.

“newhanddealt wrote:
If you believe in variance over luck…
is it possible some people’s positive/negative variance is greater than others?”

 

Now when you say, “If I believe in variance over luck” you are implying it’s a topic up for debate. It’s a mathematical fact, simple statistics. Technically luck is what is the made up term, and is very rarely observed in everyday life. Luck is the equivalent of a statistical anomaly or outlier that is associated w/good fortune. So drilling a 1 outter isn’t lucky. 5% of the time w/2 to come you’ll find that case card you’re looking for, that means it will in fact happen, period. However,drilling a one outter in the most important pot of your life, say to win the WSOP main event, that would be lucky as now you would have to factor in the odds of making to HU’s w/the odd’s of needing a one outter along w/the odds of getting there and it’s an isolated incident so the “long-term” has no effect in this scenario.

All that being said I do believe variance can affect people differently. See we’re human thus do nothing to perfection. So no matter what people say, variance plays a specific role in affecting our play. Positive variance makes people play better, strategically press every edge worth pressing, make less mistakes. Negative variance can do the opposite, force people into small hidden mistakes that seem fine but actually increase their variance significantly(which when positive goes unnoticed but when negative sticks out as what seems like a statistical anomaly.) The best players will ride the high of positive variance as far as it will take them, maximizing profits along the way. And when experiencing the down side minimize their losses through passing on small edges w/high risk which is 100% indicative of their play and how they adjust to variance. No one has an endless bankroll nor even keel emotions, so as pros we tried to stay w/in our means and close to neutral emotionally. You approach each situation uniquely and take the appropriate lines that will yield you the highest return w/accurately calculated risk. A lot of guys raised in this game via online would argue that point, saying to never pass on a plus ev spot and to always take the most optimal line yielding the highest return regardless of the risk. However, those guys aren’t as good at accurately calculating risk thus what seems like a slightly plus ev situation, given all the factors rather than just strictly applicable math, becomes much more neutral. It’s profitable, but in my experience impossible to maintain a career barring an endless bankroll(hence why the majority of MTT grinders are backed; high variance game w/high variance styles = small edge if any.). Being that the “long term” has never mathematically been quantified it’s easy to believe that in one’s lifetime they may not run to their truest equity. But to think that someone can be “so lucky/unlucky” that they experience the vast majority of positive or negative variance is mathematically unlikely.

I do, however, believe that someone can be lucky or unlucky in the moments that can define a career. Some people are just blessed. Since there is no mathematical equation to determine when you will experience you up and down swings, it’s more than reasonable for player A to run bad in spots he needs it most and player B to run well in the same situations. But generally that’s because career defining pots are usually few and far between. You don’t hear about the guys who come up short, it’s the ones who win a big flip for life changing money and then go on to use that money to further their careers that get the magazine covers. To coincide w/that I’m a firm believe in creating your own luck. If you play better than your opponents, time and time and time again you will constantly be in a position to take the best of it, ultimately succumbing to some good fortune. Those guys are on the covers for a reason, they are good. And even if they weren’t good when they caught their break, in order to become a staple in this community they have to become good…Most do, the rest fade to black; ala Moneymaker, Moon, Gold etc.

So in short, yes I believe some people are lucky or as I like to say blessed, but I don’t believe variance should ever play a big role in one’s poker career. If you can’t beat the game it has nothing to do w/luck…

Passing on the April Fools prank this year, due to a lack of motivation which has sadly hit all aspects of my life. Things have been pretty hectic the past month and a half culminating in not one but two moves. Wasn’t real thrilled w/either move, but ultimately I ended up in a set up that is pretty sweet for what I’m looking to get out of it. However, for the first time in my life I find myself living on my own. I’m an extremely independent person so the it’s not really a lonely factor that has put me in a funk. What I’m actually struggling the most with is self motivation. Not that I really got much aid from my previous roommates, as we didn’t exactly share much in common far as lifestyle and extra curricular activities go, but having 4 other guys around the house if nothing else kept me ambitious. When you only have God and yourself to answer to its very easy to succumb to complacency.

I went through a similar adjustment period playing ball in college. Going into that level I expected everyone to have the same goals as me, using college ball as a stepping stone for furthering a career in baseball, regardless of how unlikely that may have been. I was used to having someone along side me, pushing my limits. Sadly I saw a lot of wasted talent and mediocre effort. People worked hard, but never really outside of the requirements of practice and game time. It took me a red shirt freshman year where I ultimately would get cut to realize in order to reach my goals I would have to put in the time and work w/o being pushed to do so.

It’s never easy to grab life by the reigns and go beyond the call of duty to get what you want. Yet I don’t see any other way to get what I want out of life. That being said, I’ve spent some time reflecting over the first quarter of this year in comparison to my┬áresolutions.┬áSo far I’ve done fairly well to stay on pace. I’m about $4.2k/mo behind my goal of +$250k/yr. Chalk that up to lack of live play due in part to a hectic couple of months mixed in w/a minor down swing. I hope to remedy sooner than later. I’ve failed to get away from my online backing deal, but have had some success staking/coaching one of my good college friends. I’d love to get away from being backed, but playing live events mixed with $5/10+ live cash along w/dabbling in backing puts me in a spot where playing on my own dime online would spread me a little too thin. I don’t think I’m giving up too much equity w/my current situation as I still see live play as my bread and butter. Playing 10/20 and midstake live MTTs on my own dime is more important to me than having 100% of myself in online MTTs. I’ve read and reread my blogs of the past year and a few really stood out as informative and self-motivating, others seemed written for the sake of writing. I’ve fallen a little behind my 2/mo. quota, but mainly to avoid writing fluff that is mostly a waste of everyone’s time. I’m thinking writing a solid poker blog once a month alongside a solid life blog will prove to keep the content both interesting and informative all while providing me an outlet to routinely empty out my brain.

Far as life goals go it seems like they directly reflect my poker goals, though generally taking a back seat. I question my priorities often and hope to avoid poker getting in the way of life as much as it does. I’ve done well with staying in touch w/family and friends, but need to get on the ball w/making plans for a big trip w/the boys. The health reform has passed so looks like I’ll be obtaining health insurance in the near future. I’ve done a better job balancing Sunday baseball with Sunday poker. Hopefully as my arm gets closer to game shape this task will become easier.