Let’s get right to the meat and potatoes, I’m writing again flat out because I see a direct correlation between dumping my brain onto paper and achieving the goals I set for myself. I took a break from writing when donkeyfishpoker was absorbed by Deepstack University.  Donkeyfish was a fairly private community I was comfortable with and rarely, if ever, did I play with anyone who had read any of my entries. However, Deepstack is a business that seems to only be growing with the introduction of their tournament tour in ’12, and will likely draw more attention of those serious about improving their game at higher stake levels. My writing is purely self serving and never do I intend to draw a road map for my peers to find a way to exploit me. That being said if you are reading this you are likely a good friend or a non poker player. Hopefully you take something away from these scattered thoughts; if not, I’m sorry, I’m not sorry.

Sticking to the self improvement theme, today is day 1 of what I will refer to as the “Things I want to achieve before 30” challenge:

First up is a gentleman’s bet I have with my roommate Dan in which we are going to hit it hard til Thanksgiving, % of body fat lost will be the deciding factor. That’s merely the mid way point though, my 30th birthday, Jan 29th will be the final weigh in and measurement. The stakes are a handful of house chores, including cleaning up dog shit for a month, as well as a few bucks. We agreed to keep it friendly in hopes of actually pushing one another for once. We both weighed in at 205 lbs with my body fat being 15.75% and his 19%. I’m going to set the bar high for myself hoping to achieve 10.5% by Thanksgiving and 8% or less by my birthday.  It’s going to take a level of dedication I’m not sure I still possess to get back to my college playing shape. However, with age comes wisdom so hopefully a more precise diet and workout regiment will lead to similar results. Stay tuned for weekly installments of my shin splints, sprains, breaks, and bruised ego.

On deck we have career improvements, but first let me go into a little detail as to what happens when you neglect your profession. I was quietly on pace to meet my yearly goal through the end of the world series, then came the downswing. I lost a chunk in bad games the following month, then I just decided to wait it out and enjoy the summer. I didn’t have nearly enough fun, making the ensuing downswing even tougher to swallow. All toll between backing and my current downswing I have the yearly win rate of a moderate 2/5 grinder. The worst aspect of career missteps is the reflection of the mistake in my net worth, consequently the restrictions that follow due to bankroll adjustments. In my case I lost over a third of my net worth, forcing me to scale back one horse to strictly cash while cutting the other. It pains me to give away equity and to see a friend in a bad spot, but mistakes were made by all parties involved and I certainly let them compound.

From a business perspective disaster was eminent. I was playing the biggest stakes at any given time along with a moderate tournament schedule. Throw in expenses and I was in a comfortable, at best, situation for myself. However, I arrogantly chose to over extended myself. Fine, no gamble no future. Problem with backing is you can only control one real variable: amount invested. Unfortunately the concept of getting a horse to the long term clouds judgment, leading to biting off more than I could chew. Online going down really crushed things as well forcing our hand at more expensive live buyins. Ultimately it came down to taking the reigns of an opportunity rather than wishing in one hand and shitting in the other, needless to say my hand stinks.

Onward and upward. Adjustments need to be made. I likely won’t drop stakes in cash as the 10-20-40 is rarely running these days, which I can easily game select when it goes. I do plan on spending some hours at 5/10 working on some new concepts and patching up a few areas I feel I’ve neglected. I will scale back my tournament buyins indefinitely, which I’m not exactly shedding a tear over. I don’t foresee me playing any big buy in events until Jan. at the earliest. I expect to be in a position to play PCA along with LAPC. I have very lofty expectations of myself over the ensuing months leading up to PCA and my birthday. There are 105 available days to play, I expect to play 75 of them. My goal is to triple my net worth in that allotted time, which barring a big tourney score, would be an upswing of epic proportion. Both of these would be career achievements for myself and the tip of the iceberg. I lack those bullet point achievements that separate the elite and it’s a long time coming for me bolster my resume.

The arbitrary deadline of my 30th birthday only serves the purpose of a wake up call. I recognize the opportunities that youth, freedom and intelligence provide, yet ignore how limited life can become when squandering any/or all of the above. In kissing my 20’s goodbye I hope to tread lightly, paying a little more attention to the here and now. And currently I want to be accomplished. I have a lot to prove to myself and want to raise the bar to an unreachable level. If I fail, great so long as I don’t walk away with a gap between my effort and capabilities.


Reality Bites

Posted: May 18, 2011 in poker

The only thing worse than a reality check is a reoccurring reality check. Less than a month ago I suffered the biggest losing session of my career. Granted it was in one of the bigger games I’ve ever played, but given the lineup, the stars really had to align for me to set a new high score in the red. I evaluated my mistakes, made adjustments and moved on. Refocused I got back on the horse and put together 8 winners in a row, including my 3rd biggest winner to date.

With half the month to go I had my mind made up I would shoot to win 100k, which I was about 12% behind schedule on. Difficult, but not impossible. I had big plans for the WSOP, between playing and backing, and a big month would help expand. Immediately reality pinches me in the form of a wealthy German who isn’t interested in the money, but rather the pain he can inflict upon bankrolls.

At first glance I just assumed he was an online Euro who was in town for the 25k WPT main. However, after an orbit and him showing me his receipt to the 100k high roller, I quickly realized carnage would ensue. I give him his first double when he flats my squeeze w/T8o and flops trips vs my overs and nut fd. He then proceeds to 3bet/call ATo for 3k pre, followed by stuffing 10k on the flop of QTx vs another regular’s AA, immediately turning a T. The big blow would come when he opens $340 (blinds are 10/20/40 standard open is $140) I 3 bet to $1100 with AKs. A short stack behind me goes all in for $2700, German cold calls. I 5-bet to $7700 leaving myself $10k behind. He calls and then shoves on a K23 board. I call, he shows 44. Turn Ace, river 4. Break out the body bags the carcasses are beginning to pile…

Once I awoke from my self-pity induced coma, sometime late this afternoon, I took a hard look at my upcoming reality. It’s very clear to me that I was pie-eyed with my expectations of the series this year. I’m all for calculated risks, but between FullTilt never returning our funds, uncleared makeup and other financial situations there is no way we can go forward w/any sort of real volume. Don’t get me wrong having last night’s losses back would certainly ease the process, but by no means would it have made it ok to proceed w/my initial plans. That being said I’m extremely optimistic that a lot of money can be made this summer. We’ve revamped our horses schedules and hope to see them crush the Venetian’s Deep Stacks along w/the WSOP $1k events. As of now I plan to proceed w/about 19 events, including the main. I’m hoping the fire stays lit to keep me grinding cash throughout.

It’s a shame we are such a functionally flawed species that we require failure in order to keep ourselves grounded, hungry, and focused. It’d be nice to be stuck at the top of the roller coaster for a while. However, as much as I dread the ride down, in a twisted way, I appreciate the experiences that shine a spot light on my flaws.

Over the past few months there have been numerous incidents involving poker players/rooms/casinos being robbed. To be more specific I’ve heard of a high limit player being mugged in the Bellagio bathroom, taking a brick to the head. Two people I back were in a local game at the SunCoast casino when it’s poker room cashier was robbed at gun point. Shortly after the same person strolled into the Bellagio and stole 1.5 Mil from the craps tables. Finally, a few nights ago a local 2/5 player was followed home from Red Rock and cornered in his garage at gun point. Couple that w/myself being cat burglarized last March and I’m feeling less and less ok about living in this shady desert.

I take the necessary precautions and have had numerous discussions w/my peers only to discover that we are in an extremely exploitable position as professionals. That scares me that there isn’t anything/anyone out there looking out for our best interests. I mean this isn’t the wild west. I don’t want to have to fear for my safety every time I play a big game w/$10k in front of me. Take for instance the Bellagio mugging. Now they openly admit that they relinquish any responsibility for the money that THEIR customers play with. In other words, if you have $10k on the table, be it in chips or cash, and someone walks by while you’re in the bathroom and takes it, the Bellagio considers that on you. Furthermore, if you elect to take the money with you and you are mugged, again we assume all the risk. Now granted it’s not a complete solution, but simply adding bathroom attendants to these casinos would at least deter some of these crimes(I’ve heard of at least 3 incidents of people getting mugged in the Bellagio bathroom over the past year and half). Moreover why isn’t the casino protecting their customers? Are they really that arrogant? I mean they are insured, last I checked there is nothing we can do as individuals that can protect us from these incidents. Maybe I’ve found the business venture I’ve been looking for, insuring pro poker player’s capital against theft…?

Beyond feeling a little vulnerable while playing these big games, it’s very easy to take that insecurity home with you. Imagine the bull’s eye we put on ourselves playing these bigger games. These rooms are packed, the majority of the players being low-limit, lifetime losing players as well as a whole casino full of degenerates that I wouldn’t trust as far as I can throw them. Anyone of them would kill to be in the position to have 5-digit cash amounts in their pocket, and I don’t doubt the capability to do what it takes to make that happen is well within a lot of their personalities. Fact is this town is extremely small and ingrained with the concept of exploitation. It’s no wonder we spend so much time looking over our shoulders.

I never thought part of my career would be protecting myself from scum bags and deviants. This game is hard enough to excel at on its own. So what’s the answer? I can’t foresee me ever giving up playing live cash(unless it becomes unprofitable), so that option is out. Obviously valeting, getting a box and living in a gated community is a solid start(though I was robbed in a guarded community, and I’m certain people have still been followed home despite taking the precaution of valet). I feel that more groups such as the PPA need to be organized. Obviously they deal more w/the legal aspect of protecting us as players, but we as a poker community need to unite and form some sort of protective group in order to pressure these casinos to better serve/protect us as customers. I feel that traveling more will ultimately be the end all be all. When you are staying at a casino, keeping your $ in a box/safe, along with only being in town for a limited time, there is really no opportunity for someone to get the upper hand. That being said I’m finding less and less reason to continue to reside in Las Vegas. I hate that in my mind moving back to Pittsburgh is a financial step backward, otherwise I would have made the move long ago. I’m hoping this year better defines my future in this game and living situation. Until then I’ll continue to take the appropriate steps to ensure that I don’t end up another victim…

Coming into 2011 I’m in unfamiliar territory. I managed to accomplish all of my 2010 goals which when making them I would have considered lofty. I may be setting myself up for failure, but I don’t think I would be doing myself justice if I didn’t continually try to raise the bar.

Poker Goals (’11):

-Profit $500k for the year. Two years ago a couple of people made this their goal and I played devil’s advocate asking them how they planned to meet such a huge number. No one really had an answer aside from bink something huge. I’m going to attempt to find a better way. I plan to travel more this year and in doing so will be playing the biggest cash games I can find. Couple that with a handful of 10k’s and other prelims where first will near/surpass 6-figs. and I think this goal is obtainable.

-Add one or two more horses in live action. Though online is convenient I still feel that live poker is infinitely more profitable. Currently I’m backing two guys in live cash and one in small stakes MTTs online. I hope to gradually move him over into the live venue as well as add one or two more guys in both live cash and mtts. This is a really grey area as finding talented players who are willing to accept coaching all while not over extending my bankroll is a lot to ask for. Just like any other investment I feel it necessary to be both meticulous as well as selective.

-Win a FTOPS, (S/W)COOP, WSOP Bracelet, or WPT. Super lofty and, considering my low volume, very unlikely. However, I’ve gotten a 3rd and 2nd in FTOPS events, an 8th in a WCOOP, and two top 50 finishes at the WSOP. So I’m knocking on the door, probably as good a time as any to cash in.

-Put a big emphasis back on the business end of the game. Toward the tail end of ’10 I got away from doing the things necessary to run a profitable business, and my bottom line suffered because of it. I need to get back to dissecting the game on a regular basis. Spending more time pushing my horses to the next level. Planning out the first quarter of the year’s travel/live MTTs.

-Stay above the 200k life money mark. Once my taxes are paid I’ll have work to do to get back over the hump.

-Embrace the fact that tourneys are a necessary evil. I spend a lot of time hating everything about tournament play, except the big scores. Though my opinions may not change, I’m slowly realizing that in order to have big years tourney scores are a must.

-Play at least 10 sessions of 25/50 NL this year.

-Repeat my approach to the WSOP. Last year I was very organized and as a result had the best series of my short career(even w/o the main event score). I set lofty/achievable goals, maintained a strict schedule, and constantly put myself in high equity situations.

-Continue to act like a professional and make professional decisions. This has always been a strength of mine, but I feel it’s still worth mentioning. The profit that results from a proper approach to this career is like a year-end bonus for doing your job well.

Life Goals(’11):

-Buy a house. This will most likely be in Pittsburgh, and I’ve already begun the process, it’s just a matter of having the guts/confidence to follow through on such a big investment/commitment.

-Buckle down on my money management. Since the WSOP I’ve really been living up to the phrase “You can’t take it with you.” This year I’d like to plug a few leaks and more importantly set myself up for life after poker.

-Spend more time w/people I care the most about. This hasn’t ever been a problem in the past, but you can never spend enough time w/loved ones.

-Stop drinking energy drinks. This should be easy, but those long days at the table make it easy to give in.

-Get health insurance. One of the few goals I didn’t reach last year. I guess educating myself or getting good advice is what has held me back in the past.

-Start hooping again. Working out hasn’t been much of an issue, but I’ve almost totally stopped playing basketball.

-Continue to stay dedicated to baseball. I had two awesome seasons this past year resulting in two Championships. I’m in some of the best shape of my life so there is no reason to slow down now.

-Start enjoying my nephew more. He’s at the perfect age where I can really do a lot of fun stuff with him. I’m so angry at myself for not taking him to the Winter Classic, those big sporting events don’t come around often and being a Pittsburger we’ve been spoiled in our lifetime w/great athletic events.

-Make an effort. I tend to not do this enough, as if I expect the world to come to me.

Of the four years that I’ve done these goals/resolutions this was by far the hardest to compile and likely one of the more lackluster lists. I’m hoping that is a reflection of achieving a large part of what I want in life and not a sign of complacency. My best estimation is that it’s a combination of both. Either way I anticipate revisiting this list shortly down the road and adding/adjusting w/a little more substance.

It is very odd how difficult it is to enjoy without over indulging. To relax without becoming complacent. To maintain perspective while my head is in the clouds. To find a solid balance on shaky ground. However, those fine lines encompass what it is to lead a healthy, balanced life. In an effort to allocate my focus, I’ve decided I need to expand upon and create new goals.

Short Term Business:
– Profit $150k for FTOPS/miniFTOPS+WCOOP(between playing/backing)
– Profit $75k live (Aug. – Dec.)
– Really dissect my live cash game play
– Rededicate some time toward MTT strategy
– Put in a solid Sunday volume during non event times
– Play 10 live events (Aug. – Dec.)
– Be diligent with improving the guys I invest in
– Find a better outlet to iron out leaks; Stop relying so heavily on myself

Long Term Business:
– Diversify: Examine long term investments outside of poker; Develop a retirement plan
– Really examine the value in where my money goes
– Be careful not to fall into the lure of Tourney poker or jumping stakes too soon. Play what is profitable
– Profit $1 Million over 12 months
– Embrace the traveling
– Determine if Vegas needs to be home and if so for how long

– Lose 10 lbs or 8% body fat (by Nov.)
– Make sure time is well spent(i.e. work, play, gym, etc. put in quality hours.)
– Stay hungry
– Upgrade house
– Trade in car
– Closely examine having a place in/around Pitt even if just something small to go home to a few weeks/yr
– Make more trips to Tahoe
– Stay dedicated to Baseball
– Spend more time outside

8/13 – 8/18: Friends in town (Skipping FTOPS MAIN :( )
8/18 – 8/20: L.A. w/said friends
8/20 – 8/30: More friends in twn
9/1 – 9/13: Home, Lake House in Erie(Labor day), Home
9-14 – 9/22: Borgata WPT
10/14 – 10/17: Georgia; wedding
10/17 – 10/29: Foxwoods
10/30 – 10/31: State College PSU vs Mich (if not in Foxwoods main)
11/24 – 11/29: Home Thanksgiving/H.S. Reunion
12/24 – 1/4: Home Christmas/NYE/Winter Classic

Main Event Reflection

Posted: July 23, 2010 in General, poker

I had an intro here but accidentally deleted it. Let’s cut to the action…

Day one was a little rocky, I actually lost a 60k where a guy spazz bet/called off his last 12k at 100/200 w/AK high vs my AQs on a 9776 two spade board and held. I ended w/25k, slightly below avg. but still 60bbs. I thought my tourney would end after I bled down to 9k on day 2. I ended up squeeze shoving over a utg open and flat with KQs at 300/600 for 8k. The button re-jams, folding out the first two players who claimed to have 77 and AK. He tables AK to dominate me but I was fortunate enough to make broadway. I would go on to end the day w/100k.

Day 3 I again find myself in a huge pot that will for all purposes cripple me. I limp KK utg at 800/1600 200 ante and play a 3 way pot against just the blinds. Flop is 877, I have black Kings. Sb leads 5k into 6400, bb flats. I flat. Pot: $21400. Turn 3. Sb leads 20k bb tank flats with 40k behind. I have both covered w/100k total in front and elect to jam. Sb folds, bb calls, tabling J8, the sb says he folded T8 so only the case 8 will save him, which he promptly found on the river. This happened to end day 3 leaving me with ~18bbs(44k) going into day 4, approaching the bubble.

Day 4 was easily the softest day of the tourney for me. I was actually extremely fortunate w/all of my table draws throughout, day 7 included, but day 4 was a cake walk. The first hand of the day I opened AQ utg and was flatted by a loose passive older man to my left. Jason Mercier was the bb and someone I consider a good friend, one way or another that is relevant as he squeeze jams his 60bb stack. I would be calling off this spot against most randoms but I’m pretty confident he’s never squeezing light as he knows the only hands in my opening range that I would ever consider laying down in this spot, w/this stack, is AQ and TT(both of which I would usually limp/jam had it not been the first hand of the day). I fold and he later tells me he had TT. It obv worked out as I go on to run AA into QQ to double, KK into JTs on Txx to double again. Upon chipping up to 225k I opened QQ utg+1 at 1500/3k. The button is a younger kid who has stayed totally in-line all day and has me covered. He 3 bets to 21k, I flat. Flop 956 two hearts, I ch/call 25k. Turn 6s I check, and he over jams ~175k. I fold face up. Later I take the same line against the same kid, I open AK same spot as before he 3 bet to 26k at 2/4k. I flatted, Kxx I ch/c. Turn paired middle pair, I ch/c his over jam. He has KQ and I hold. He later told me he had A7hh the hand I folded QQ. I was fairly certain I was folding the best of it, but the table dynamics were so soft I thought better spots would present themselves. Also I was somewhat sure that if I showed the QQ I would come off as semi weak attempting to avoid awkward spots and that he would attempt to put me in the same situation again. After that hand Jason and I basically ran the table over finishing w/400k and 600k respectively.

Day 5 started off great w/a super soft table. I more than doubled w/o being all in and had about 1.3 Mil once the dynamics changed. 4 guys I have experience w/in 10/20 NL games sit down all w/over a mil (blinds were 4k/8k) as well as Theo Tran and JP Kelly to my left, also with above avg. stacks. I feel like every pot was 3 and 4 bet, seeing flops was tough and for the first time all tourney I was forced to play very TAG. I chipped down to about 800k when a misclick gone good happened. Duey Le, who was the CL to start the day and now has well over 2.5Mil, opened the hi-jack at 5k/10k to 27k. I’m in the 1 seat and think the action has folded to me, so I elect to flat TT, that is until the dealer alerts me to the fact that the button has yet to act in the 9 seat…dammit. He’s completely competent and has over 1 mil in chips. He 3 bets to 75k which I assumed was to force me out w/a hand that isn’t going to play very well 3 way, as well as AA and KK. So I tank and decided I hate a 4 bet, but an over call isn’t going to hurt me as I play post pretty well in these spots. Duey folded. Flop QT9 two diamonds. I led 125k into 200k. He called. Turn 6h I over jam 550k into 450k assuming he has either AQ, KK, AA, JJ or AJ/AK that I can’t get any more value from, as well as QQ or KJ that I’m going broke to anyway. He snap calls w/KK. I go on to end the day w/1.8 Mil which is about double the avg.

Day 6 went extremely smooth. I had Bryn Kenney to my right and that’s about it. I chipped up all day just flatting him in position and woke up a couple of times in good squeeze spots where he was driving the action. I ended day 6 with 5.5 Mil and was finally creeping on the leader board at 12th.

Day 7 was a nightmare far as the mistakes that people were getting away with. I won the first hand I played w/K high vs The Grinder, who w/in an orbit dusted off his top 3 stack from 7 mil to below 3 just never folding. First major pot I play was a very straight forward player opened in mid pos and got flatted by the sb who had 25bbs. I squeeze to 10bbs from the bb w/AQ both players flat. We checked around on a KQx board. Turn K sb leads 1/5th pot leaving himself 600k behind(25/50k blinds) I flatted, player behind folded. 7h was the river, which completed a back doored flush. He snap jams, which I planned on paying off but if ever there was a card for him to check hands I beat(i.e. non king or non flush) that would be the one. I decided he can’t be bluffing and I fold face up, he tabled K7s for a full house. It was so frustrating to chip down in that manner against such a huge pre flop mistake.

I hung around 3-4 mil until I moved to the second feature table. One of the first hands(I anticipate this being one of two hands I make it on tv for) I flatted a c/o raise w/ATo from the sb. flop: QJ7r and I ch/r to 800k leaving myself 2.5 behind. He flatted. We check a turned J and I elected to check the river upon improving w/the Ac. He checked back and I scoop the pot. That line was somewhat important for my essential bust hand. With just over 4 mil to start the hand at (40k/80k) I flatted a c/o raise of 200k from the bb w/T6dd. The flop was 636r and I chose to take the exact same line as the AT. This should show close to max profit I can gain here as I doubt he ever folds to my ch/r and could be floating dead w/a hand like AK, AQ, KQ etc. I ch/r his 245k c-bet to 650k. He called. Turn 8d giving me a fd also. Ch/Ch. River 2c. I tanked and decided to lead big as I think he’s never folding a pair and has room to both hero call w/A high or bluff jam random floats. Only problem w/this mentality is that I’m paying off the random 45s and houses he may have made. I bet 1.2 of his 3.1 mil stack. He jammed. I just couldn’t really find too many folds here, though w/1.9 behind I would still have over 20bbs. I called and saw my dreams dashed as he rolled over the 88 for a house. I was all in w/42o in the sb to bust the next hand…

I’m not sure if this game has just jaded me so much or if I just managed to keep perspective, but I honestly didn’t have one negative emotion upon busting. It was really one of the most physically/mentally draining experience of my poker career but emotionally, aside from the KK one outter, I remained extremely even keeled. It was an amazing experience I hope to relive in the future.

Post WSOP the boys and I have escaped into the mountains of Tahoe. If you haven’t done it yet, book it. This lake is one of the most amazing places I’ve had the privilege to visit. The activities available are endless, from boating to fishing to jet skiing to playing NL at Harrah’s. The only disappointment this trip has been that we don’t have anywhere to build a fire, but there are other ways to make smores. I haven’t really spent much time thinking up what my plans will be for the rest of the year, aside from going to Borgata for the WPT in Sept. All of my goals have been met so I guess step one will be to start a new list.

Thanks to everyone who kept a close eye on me throughout the WSOP, it was unbelievably humbling to see such over whelming support. I did a couple over the phone interviews for Pittsburgh papers/magazines so I’ll be sure to post them if they run…

WSOP Wrap Up

Posted: June 30, 2010 in General

This month absolutely flew by. Easily this has been the most dedicated I’ve ever found myself to all forms of poker. I don’t really recall more than 2 or 3 days where I didn’t play cash or both cash and mtts. I had set some really lofty goals for the series. I wanted to play 5+ events on my own as well as have at least half of myself in the main event. I actually ended up playing 12 events, cashing in 2 for about $13k as well as a 2nd in Venetian for ~$30k. I have all of myself in the main as well as a big piece of one of my boys. The major goal I failed to meet was profiting 100k for the series. I know it was a big figure and I still have the main to play, but i really felt like it was obtainable if I had played as well at cash as I had been(especially considering I picked up a score in the Venetian). I only made 20k in cash which was about a third of what I expected, tho I didn’t play much 10/20 and I’ll be missing the next 6 days due to a wedding I’m going home for.

All and all this has been far and away my most successful series along w/the most volume. I’m excited for a short break and really looking forward to seeing some college friends and seeing my old roomie tie the knot. After that it’s all eyes on the main event in what I hope to be a deep run. Now that the hustle and bustle of the WSOP is concluding I am looking to get more involved in studying the game again which will in turn lead to more blogging

WSOP State of Mind

Posted: May 27, 2010 in General

I preach that preparation ultimately is the biggest key to success. That being said I don’t think anyone can be fully prepared for the mayhem that is the World Series. It’s so incredibly easy to get lost in the lure of tournament poker, fame and success. Moreover overwhelmed by the never-ending games to choose from. It’s like online variety meets the poor play of live poker, thus heaven and hell all in one mixed bag. I’ve gone over a 100 different plans of attack, but none seem that optimal aside from the “play the first 1k and the main event, stick to cash games.” Optimal bankroll control, maybe, optimal equity noooooooo way. Anyone who knows me will be quick to say that BR considerations are probably the last thing I look at when playing poker. I’m trying to be more conscious of it, but cmon it’s the WSOP I’m gonna bang around a little. So w/that my tentative schedule is as follows:
Event #3b $1k – 163rd $2870
Event#11 $1500 –  bust early
event #13 $1000
Event#17 6-max $1500
event #24 $1000
Event#26 6-max $2500
event #36 $1000
Event#39 $1500 shootout
Event#42 $1500 (tentative)
Event#45 $1500 (tentative)
Event#47 last $1k
Main Event -$10k

My plan is 1 tourney/week. I still may revise this schedule, skipping the 6-max’s in exchange for 3 or 4 1k’s pending on how cash is going. Also $20k toward Tourneys is out of my BR so if I stick to said schedule I’d be selling off or sattying into the Main. I hate the thought of Tweeting so getting a twitter is so close to out of the question in my mind, but if I keep getting bugged about it I may make it happen. Thoughts?

Now on to the real problem of the next 45 days, burnout. I have tremendous anxiety about being able to maintain my focus while putting in the hours and still leading a balanced life. In the past I’ve gone into ubber grind mode playing 24/7 and it’s just not that profitable. It’s impossible to keep a healthy state of mind and maintain a high win rate when you are all work, no play. Besides who wants to spend summer that way. I’d give anything to fly one of my boys in from home who has no involvement with poker whatsoever just to keep me grounded. Force me to hoop/workout daily, take a break and go out from time to time, basically embrace/enjoy the series rather than loathe what should be the most profitable time of year. On my computer desktop are both my poker and life goals for ’10. Hopefully looking at them daily will be constant reminder to take a deep breath and perform to my ability consistently.

Upon further review

Posted: May 17, 2010 in General
For the past few weeks I’ve been helping a friend improve his live cash game skill set. In doing so I’ve had him really explore his strengths and weaknesses. Seems like an easy task, but I dare you to find a poker player who can set his ego aside and self actualized in an honest manner. Always looking to improve, I decided what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. So this blog is going to be an inside look at what I feel my biggest flaws are and how they relate to my poker career.

-EGO: This could just as easily fall on my list of strengths, but just like any other competitive person I have an ego. It only becomes a flaw when it weighs in on the decision-making process. I admit I’ve passed on smaller soft games to play the biggest game in the casino. I admit I’ve played a bad game because I didn’t want to walk away a loser. Granted these aren’t really applicable any more, but my ego does get me into trouble at times when I hero call in a clear fold spot, or when I begin jawing w/a fish that has a big mouth. The more I’m able to remove ego and emotion from my game and rely upon skill, game theory and thought process the more profitable I’ll become.

-OVER ANALYZE: There are times I put myself into bad spots because I’ve over adjusted to a lineup or player in general. I’ve become very good at assessing players’ capabilities and there are a few situations where I make bad pay offs just because I think this person has to balance their play against me at some point. Just because a person is capable of developing a line to neutralize me doesn’t mean they are capable of following through. I need to realize the difference and force them to follow through rather than playing defense against the level of giving them credit for something unproven.

-BALANCING: This is much more of a life flaw that leaks into my poker game. When I’m winning I want to play 24/7. When I’m losing I want to focus on life activities 24/7. Where my work ethic is never in question with things regarding poker, I tend to half ass everything else going on in my life unless I’m losing. I have other commitments and I’d like to see myself give 100% to them during the time I spend involved w/them. Working out is a stellar example. Too often I put forth a mediocre effort and ultimately am disappointed w/the result. I remember what it took to be both physically and mentally successful, it’s draining but the end result is well worth the effort.

-TEACHING: I’m like a kid w/a big secret when it comes to knowing something others don’t, I can’t wait to spill the beans. I’m getting better at biting my tongue when I hear guys talking at the table, exchanging inaccurate information, but I still too often add my two cents. If nothing else this tips my hand to them as to just what it is I’m capable of which if they have even half a brain will lead to an adjustment. It’s like pulling $100 bills out of my pocket and lighting them on fire.

-COMPLACENCY: Too often I get comfortable. Be it a certain game, lineup, bankroll, even a $ amt to a win, far too often I find myself content. And generally it will take a big loss to open my eyes and drive me all over again. I’d like to skip the ass end of this cycle and work on being complacent while enjoying a vacation rather than in the middle of a win streak.

-WSOP: I’ve yet to have a stellar series, even from a cash game perspective. It’s the Christmas of poker and this year I’d really like to stay focused and earn a good portion of my yearly income over those couple of months. I think scheduling and bankroll management has been my biggest flaws in the past. This year I have a tentative list of events I’d like to play w/$5k set aside for sng’s/satties. The rest of my time will be spent between 5/10 and 10/20 pending on the lineup. The action in the right games is fast and loose leaving room for a bundle of money to be made, even if a big tourney score should elude me.

-PROCRASTINATION: Doesn’t directly apply to poker, but when I put things off it puts a lot more pressure on me to get things done hurriedly which ultimately can cut into session time or at worst leave me in a rushed mindset when beginning a session. It also does nothing for the task at hand as far as quality goes. Sometimes making unnecessary mistakes in life can be more detrimental than the ones made on the felt.

-PATIENCE: This is more directed toward live MTT play, but can be applied to all aspects of my game and life. I’m general a very patient person but something about being short in a live event lends itself to my impatient side. Generally speaking if I make a big mistake in any aspect of poker or life it’s because I didn’t take my time when making a decision.

-GETTING TOO THIN: I guess this is kinda like a lefty’s pickoff move in baseball,
if you never get called for a balk then you aren’t trying hard enough. That being said when I’m losing I’m getting called for too many balks. Getting thin value whether through a bluff or value bet is a tremendous asset to have in your repertoire, but going to the well too often will blow your cover leading to a major strength becoming a difficult leak to plug.

-NEGLECTING LIFE: It’s easy to get lost in the grind and forget that the best part of this career choice is the freedom it provides. I need to spend more time enjoying myself. More days playing ball, weekends w/friends and family, nights out w/a group of friends. The time spent doing so needs to be w/full effort too. Just like poker, putting the hours in isn’t enough; they need to be quality hours. Just makes the ship run so much smoother.

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…