Saturday, December 29, 2007

Lou Krieger Calls Out Absolute Poker

I have read many forum posts asking why people still play at and still trust Absolute Poker, but I haven't seen anyone with a good amount of credibility come out and ask that question until now. Lou Krieger hits the nail on the head:

http://loukrieger.blogspot.com/2007/12/im-calling-out-absolute-poker.html

HURRY! Only 2 days left to vote in my blog music poll. The fate of music on my blog is in YOUR hands!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

New Outlook and New FTP Mod

Well, I've taken some more hits to my bankroll this month. But, like last month, I think I've played well. I've just run across some evil suckouts. However, the point is that I have been reading a new book that says that this attitude of mine is a good thing. It says to the affect that when analyzing your losses, it is best to understand the quality of your own play more than the monetary amount of your losses. So I guess I have that half right. I do appreciate when I lose but make the correct plays, but my precise tracking of my monetary gains and losses could be hindering my progress. I just might have to change my spreadsheet/graph tracking to be more general in nature. The book I'm reading makes it a point to say that a good player can't be hung up on the value of money. I've heard this said before, but this book explains it in a way that hits home for me. I think I'll start the new year with a more general method of bankroll tracking.

BTW, I'm only 30 pages into this book and it seems excellent. Exactly what my game is needing. It's so great that I am thinking of NOT doing a book review for this blog since I might want to keep the advantage to myself and not share it with possible opponents. But I'll think about it.

MUSIC POLL: The poll ends on Dec. 31st, so make sure you get your vote tallied before then. The "Yes", music is distracting selection is winning by a small margin.

NEW FTP MOD: On Crummy's request, I have made an FTP table with the logo of the NHL's Columbus Bluejackets.


Friday, December 7, 2007

Book Review: "Texas Hold'Em Odds and Probabilities" by Matthew Hilger

I have to say that this book took me a while to finish for a few reasons, but the main one was that I stopped in the middle of it to read "Why You Lose at Poker" because I was losing at poker. LOL.

The case with this book is that you CAN judge this one by its cover. It is about the calculations needed to excel at Hold'em. No techniques, no plays, no moves. Just pure numbers and how they affect your poker decisions. Very precise, very complex, very involved.

It basically has 4 sections. The 1st one is about how to calculate. Hilger calls it "Basic Math", but I'd say it's far from basic. I'd consider myself of slightly above average overall intelligence & uptake and I achieved average grades in high school algebra, but we never got this far. Judging by how he quickly explains all of his "basic" calculations in this section, I think he assumes his average reader took some college calculus. I would have liked more explanation in a way that your standard beer-drinking, ball cap-wearing, foul-mouthed poker player could grasp a bit better. You don't need a college degree to succeed at poker, but you might to read this book. Anyway, it's a short, but important section since it shows the formulas he uses for the rest of the book. I should have put a permanent bookmark in this section since I was constantly flipping back to it to grasp things mentioned later in the book.

The 2nd section is on applying the formulas to Limit Hold'em and the 3rd is for No-Limit. Aside from the above mentioned backtracking I needed to grasp the formulas as they were applied to specifics in this section, the information in these sections is very useful. Much of the Limit applications could be applied to NL. The part in the NL section that helped me the most was on "Effective Implied Odds". This concept has more to do with "expectation" than "potential". It really shed some light for me. The "Test Your Skills" hands in these sections were a bit tedious, but overall these were good sections.

I think the 4th section is the most helpful in the book. It contains a ton of charts used for commonly-needed calculations in Hold'em. Though there are a few charts scattered throughout the other 3 sections, I think this section is the meat of the book. Did you know that 65s has a better chance against AA than KQs? I didn't until I read a chart in here. This is definitely a section I will reference many times in the future.

The book comes with a CD ROM, but it is mostly just an advertisement for a pay service that has pros that are supposed to help you analyze your play. Not much else to it.

Overall, I'd recommend this book as a good reference much like I would a really good dictionary or encyclopedia. But as a read straight through, I would have to warn folks that it could be a difficult read for most and that they should try to digest it in small parts. I think it actually helped me when I took that break in the middle so I could soak it in before continuing until finished.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Bad Luck November Not So Bad

Well, I feel like I played fairly well in November (mostly) but just couldn't catch enough breaks. I ended up -$160, but it could have been worse:



I've gone over many hands from November and I think I only played a small minority of them badly. Plus, I don't remember much tilting going on. I do know one thing: I need to work on my game selection. IMO, the lobby numbers don't always paint the correct picture. So now I've made a commitment to re-analyzing the table I am at after 20 hands. If I don't feel like I can beat the table by then, I'll move. Sometimes while multi-tabling, I get tuned into the cards and not the players. So before I know it, my stack at one table is down 20% after 30 hands or so. I'm finding I'm beginning to be able to "feel" 4 tables now, when I could previously only feel confident with 3. By "feel", I mean reading my opponents and being able to correctly anticipate how to play them. I don't like to play tables unless I can feel them, even while multi-tabling.

Anyway, I'm not going to blame my bad month completely on bad luck since my play was far from perfect. But I still feel good that my problems with tilt and bad hero calls weren't as prominent as last month.

POLL VOTING: Amazingly, the top 3 vote-getting selections in my music poll are currently even and there has been a decent amount of votes. I have the poll set to close on Dec. 31st, so hopefully one selection will take a lead. Otherwise, I'll have to try another one with just "Yes" and "No" as the selections. I've put a new song on the site that is from Duran Duran's latest album. I actually think it fits the blog a bit better.

Coming soon: I just finished the "Odds and Probabilities" book by Matthew Hilger, so expect a book review soon.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Near Month End Misc.

Slowly climbing out of my hole. I cut my deficit to -$150 for the month. Still grinding away. I was actually doing better at $25NL rings than at $50NL, until Tenbob got lucky on me and flopped 2 pair. He didn't slowplay and shoved the flop so I called what I thought was a bluff with my overpair of 10's. No catch. Thanks TB.

Anyway, I really like the Xfire service. But I have to shut it down because my computer is so old and can't handle the extra program running when I'm multi-tabling. I'll get back on Xfire when/if I get a new comp.

Also, the blog music poll is split evenly as of this moment. Need more votes to make a decision on the fate of blog music.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Trying to Turn a Bad Month Good

November has been a bad month so far. I'm down around $230 in 3 weeks. I actually think I'm playing well, but I'm coming up against some major bad luck suckouts. I guess that's why I'm not really upset about it. Yes, I've made some bad plays. But it seems like they haven't been as plentiful as the coolers this month. In an interesting switch, I have been doing better at SNG's than cash rings. Dunno why, but I guess I'll steer more towards the SNG's until I can turn things around. Anyway, I've got 9 days to salvage the month. We'll see how it goes.

Be sure to vote in my poll regarding the music that plays on the blog page. Its fate could be determined by you!

Friday, November 9, 2007

More Gems For My Readers

I was messing around with another Full Tilt mod and I made a racetrack table featuring the NHL's Edmonton Oilers' Logo:



I also made a new ringtone for my phone. I works great so I decided to share it here. If you are a fan of TV poker, I think you'll recognize it.

Also, I joined a website called "Xfire". It is primarily a video gamers' site, but it has an interface that tracks online gameplay time and that tracking includes poker sites. It runs in the background like an IM program and even lets you see if your friends are online and what they are playing. And of course, it has a chat feature. I've included my Xfire profile with my time tally at the top of the page below the header, so that folks can see how much I play and when I'm online. I thought it would be cool to try out and to see how much time I actually play online poker.

And finally: I added some music to the page for a change. I found a site called "eSnips" and they make it really easy to add the music. I started out with an old and rare track by Duran Duran, but I'll be changing it periodically. Please feel free to comment and LET ME KNOW if the music is too annoying for a poker blog or if you do like it. Thanks.

EDIT: Vote in the POLL below the music player, added 11/11/07.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Erratic October Ended Well For Me

My October profit graph looks like the Swiss Alps:



I've actually found another problem with my game thanks to an article I read in Bluff Magazine. It's a concept called "hero calling". It's when you make a big call on the river with a semi-good hand, but not the nuts, because you think your opponent is either weaker than you or bluffing. I make some great hero calls but I also make some very, very poor ones. Lately, my poor ones have cost me more money than my great ones make. The 4 vicious downswings you see in the graph are from a combination of some wrong hero calls and some bad luck. Otherwise, I feel my overall play in October was not too bad. I use a program called "PokerEV" to track my luck factor. It's a free little program put together by a poster on 2+2.

Anyway, I ended up finishing the month at only +$5 after getting a handle on my hero calls. Not really the best results, but it's better than ending in the negative. A couple more positive notes this month were: 1) My permanent jump to $50NL has allowed me to become a SilverStar on PokerStars. 2) I won my first 45-player SNG ($5+.50). 2 very promising developments indeed.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Silverstar and a New FTP Table Mod

I finally made Silverstar status at PokerStars a few days ago when I hit 1500 FPP's in 20 days. The amazing part isn't that I made it. It's how I made it. I made it by stepping up to $50NL, both 6-max and 9-max. When I tried $50NL in the past, I hadn't done so well. I guess I had some mental block relating to my bankroll. I'd either play too tight or make desperation plays and lose my stack. Then I'd slide back down to $25NL and do just fine. I guess I finally got my bankroll up to the point where I don't play "scared". There is a slight difference in the way the tables at each stakes play, but I am getting a grasp of that and doing fine. Now I just have to figure out which poker books I want to buy with the increased FPP's I'll be getting.


Here's my latest FTP creation. A table featuring my 2nd favorite NASCAR driver, Tony Stewart:

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Just When You Thought It Was Over: More AP Stuff

Seems the Absolute Poker Superuser account may have been in use for as long as 3 years and AP staff may have known about it all along. Instead of $700K, try a possible $7 million scammed. Read more here:

http://www.point-spreads.com/poker/102207-absolute-poker-super-user-scams-7-million.html

Wow! GG, AP!

Monday, October 22, 2007

AP Finally Comes Clean (Except For His Name)

Absolute Poker has finally released a complete and comprehensible statement regarding the "Superuser" issue. They have begun reparations and are giving refunds to their deserving customers. Read more here:

http://www.pokernews.com/news/2007/10/absolute-kahnawake-norton-issues-statement.htm

Let's just hope this "scandal" hasn't done much damage to the reputation of our cherished industry.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Top Poker Forum Pulls Absolute Poker Ads

As the backlash against Absolute Poker continues regarding the "Superuser" issue, Cardschat.com, a leading online poker forum, has decided to suspend all AP advertising and promotions. Here is the official statement from Cardschat owner, Nick Kisberg:

"After reviewing the evidence from the recent scandal and in the interests of the safety and security of our members, Cardschat will be suspending all promotion of Absolute Poker until we see a more responsible course of action from the site.

We do our very best to ensure that all poker sites that Cardschat endorses act with integrity and take every step to ensure that players are protected from rogue activities - especially when money is on the line. Although Absolute Poker have provided a statement, subsequent investigations have indicated that the statement provided is almost certainly neither reasonable nor valid and as more details of the incident are unravelled, it's looking worse and worse. I have spoken to our Absolute Poker rep and urged the company to somehow try and make good of this really terrible situation, starting with releasing an *honest* and accurate statement - and to refund the money of the players who have lost out of this.

Until further notice, there will be no further endorsement of Absolute Poker on Cardschat.com.

Nick Kisberg
Cardschat.com, A WorldWide Poker Community"

Many online poker observers feel the same way. The overly-careful way AP has handled this issue has angered many who have seen the overwhelming evidence that something is not right there at AP. Maybe more actions like those of Cardschat could have an effect on AP and force them to change their perceived lack of decisiveness towards this matter that could have possible widespread repercussions throughout the online poker community as a whole. An industry's reputation could be at stake.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Absolute Poker Responds to 'Superuser' Issue Via Peculiar Channels

Yes. Absolute Poker has officially responded to the "Superuser" scandal. If you haven't heard about this response, it's because AP released it on an affiliate forum and Mark Seif's blog at Bluff Magazine. Wouldn't AP want to trumpet it to the world? Why don't they put it on their main page and send emails to all their players to assure them that everything is OK? Some folks think that AP is hiding something and that AP hopes that their users never heard about the issue in the first place. Read more here:

http://www.poker-king.com/poker-king-articles.php?article=279

Count me as one who won't be playing at AP anymore. Even AP skins.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Even More Full Tilt Mods

I've been having fun playing around with making themed Full Tilt racetrack tables. I find the colored tables (thanks again "Gregg777") and I add my own graphics to them. Here's a couple more I made:







For those who don't know how to make these work in Full Tilt, instructions are here.

Also remember: To see the center part of these (the actual table part), you have to make Full Tilt's green felt table transparent. See how to do that here.

I went ahead and compiled a list of links to each of my FTP tables in the right margin of my blog for easier reference.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Stick's Video: 3-Tabling $25NL Full Ring 10/02/07

Here's a video of a PokerStars session for folks to critique. 98MB AVI, 33 mins. Look for an exciting AJ suited hand near the 20-minute mark. I'm second guessing my play in it. Feel free to post your opinions here or on forum. Enjoy!

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=6YWK061G

Monday, October 1, 2007

Great September Results!

I ended September up $308. While this might not seem like much to some folks who read this, it is hugely positive for me considering my recent struggles. I believe it could be the best monthly result of my poker career, though I'm not 100% sure. It equals better than a $10 average profit per day, which was a goal of mine for a while (Now I can set my goal to $12). The monthly graph still didn't draw up as consistently as I would like, though. I had a couple of hard downswings that lasted 2 or 3 days each. I approached the $400 mark at one point before one of the downswings, but I'm still happy to break $300.



After 2 negative months, how did I have such a positive month? Well, I have mentioned before how much reading the book "Why You Lose At Poker" has helped my game. Also, I am finally getting a grip on tilt. I still have spells of it, but they don't last as long as before.

My only slight problem now is that I still have a temptation to step up to $50NL on occasion. I try it once in a while with mixed success, but I believe I can blame my dabbling there for one of the September downswings. It's not so much that I can't handle the action at $50NL. It's that my online BR is divided between 2 sites and it doesn't quite fit my bankroll management, at least from a mental standpoint. I'll either have to combine the 2 halves at one site or stay at $25NL for a while longer. We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Stick's Audio: My Radio Spots From 1990

For those who don't know, I used to be an on-air radio DJ near Chico, CA for a year in 1990. This wasn't a college thing. This was actually a real commercial radio station and I had to go to broadcasting school to get the gig. It was a lot of fun while it lasted. When they changed the format from Top-40 Pop to Adult Hits, they let me and others go in favor of more mature-sounding voices. After all the hard work and overnight shifts I had pulled (they even made me work the day after I got married - no honeymoon 'til later), they just kicked me to the curb. Needless to say, I ditched that career after finding out I could be discarded so easily. I guess it was a normal thing in the radio biz.

Anyway, I bring this up because recently I found an old tape of a few commercials I produced for air. Looking back, some sound kinda funny. Here they are as MP3's. Check out the old prices in the market ad. Enjoy!

Stick's 1990 Radio Spots: A market & a Mexican restaurant. 1:07, 1.54MB MP3

Stick's 1990 Radio Spots: A cowboy clothing store & a car show. 1:15, 1.73MB MP3

Stick's 1990 Radio Spots: A hair salon w/goofy backup singers. 0:55, 1.27MB MP3

Monday, September 24, 2007

Full Tilt Is On The Ball!

Unlike Absolute Poker, Full Tilt Poker has swiftly solved and resolved their own case of cheating:

http://poker.sportinglife.com/News/story_120951.shtml

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

'Superuser' Scandal Has 'Absolute' Reach

IMO, the speculation about "superuser" accounts at Absolute Poker will not only affect AP's reputation, but also online poker's reputation as a whole. Let's hope AP handles this correctly & swiftly for the sake of the industry. Here's the story:

http://uk.pokernews.com/news/2007/9/absolutepoker-superuser.htm

Friday, September 14, 2007

Stick's Video: $10NL Full Ring Stars 09/14/07

Here's a video of me donking off my stack at 10NL with some other folks from Cardschat. 47mb AVI, 27 mins. The last 3 hands killed me and I think I played them incorrectly. Go ahead and tell me what you think of those plays (comment here or on forum). The sound is just a tad scratchy. I edited it to make it cleaner than it was originally, so it's not too bad.

(BTW, I uploaded the video to my blog on Blogger. But it took 4 times as long as Megaupload and it only showed in a tiny flash player. Not good.)

More Full Tilt Mods

I had to show off a few more new Full Tilt table mods I made up featuring my favorite NASCAR driver, Robby Gordon:







Next mods: Another driver, Tony Stewart. Plus I might try some more mods on PokerStars.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Stick's Video: 3-Tabling $25NL Full Ring 09/09/07

Here's a recent video of me 3-tabling $25NL full ring cash tables at PokerStars. 115MB AVI, 34 minutes. There are 2 strange AA hands. One at the beginning and one at the end. (Part way through, the sound starts to skip very slightly ahead of the action but it isn't too bad.) Feel free to critique my play and post your comments here or on forum. Cheers.

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=XIAEPPGB


Thursday, September 6, 2007

Book Review: "Why You Lose at Poker" by Fox & Harker



Finally, the book review I've been promising. I say "finally" but I actually finished this in under a month. That is really fast for me. I usually have trouble paying attention to a book for more than a few pages in a sitting. Might be a form of A.D.D. But this book (206 pages) captured my attention so well that I was averaging 10 pages per sitting.

The authors of the book, Russell Fox and Scott T. Harker, got its premise after seeing a book called "Why You Lose at Bridge". A line from the foreword says it all: "Every (poker) book wants to talk about winning; it's time for a book to talk about losing". They lay out the book in chapters addressing each specific problem or leak that they deem important. Sure, they mention the standard issues like bankroll management and playing too many hands. But they also have eye-opening chapters like "Losing Because You're Not Properly Educated" and "Losing Because You're Playing in Tournaments" (arguable, but still containing some very valid points). They have made up characters who illustrate these problems for different types of players. The maniac, the tight, scared player, the careless player, the chaser, the newbie, and more are represented here so that virtually every reader/player can see themselves in the characters and they can see what happens when each mistake is committed. Both limit and no-limit hold'em situations are represented, but these situations are strictly for cash games (except for the one chapter mentioned above). At the end of the book, there are sample hands in which the characters participate. The descriptions and analysis of each are short, very direct, and easily understood. Not like some of the samples in books by Sklansky and Harrington.

I must say that the book is also another "easy read" in that the chapters are not too long and the font & line spacing are pleasant enough. This is important for readers like me who can easily tire of reading textbook- or dictionary-style pages. Also, this book has had such an impact on my game that I can see myself referring back to it for many years to come. With the help of this book, I was able to identify a few problems in my game and begin to fix them rather quickly. Out of the 10 or so poker books I've read, this one will definitely be the one I revisit the most. I can solidly recommend it to anyone who thinks their game is less than perfect, which would be almost everyone. It would be especially useful for losing players who haven't a clue what their leak or problem is, but are eager to find it.. This book WILL help them find it. This book is available in the PokerStars FPP store for a very reasonable price, so ditch the cap or stress ball notions if you want to get your game together.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

August Another Downer; My New FTP Mods

Another struggle in August:



I'm thankful that I found the book "Why You Lose At Poker" to help my skid, but it turned out to be not enough. I think I got anxious about my comeback from more than $200 down and I pushed too hard when I got back close to even. I did salvage a couple of good days to end the month at -$121 and I figured out a few more things.

One is that I need to avoid turbo SnG's. My tight, waiting style is not conducive to the accelerated blind structure. Pity because I like to get them over with sooner, but I'd also rather have a better chance to win. The other thing I figured out is that I do better in ring games if I tell myself that it is OK to wait for good hands. In the past, I have felt weak or too tight if I didn't play enough hands while at a table. So I tried bluffs or chases that were poor and usually found trouble. Enough of that!

(30 pages to go for "Why You Lose At Poker." Review coming soon.)

FULL TILT MODS: Been working on some Full Tilt backgrounds featuring my favorite NASCAR driver, Robby Gordon:





I just found the tables on 2+2 (thanks Gregg777) and added the Robby Gordon stuff to jazz them up. I'm working on a red one with Robby's Jim Beam paint scheme and I think I'll try an orange table with my second favorite driver, Tony Stewart. Also, I've dabbled in some PokerStars backgrounds but they are much more difficult. Try PS theme guru, "BarNuthin" at PSThemes.com for some really cool ones.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Car Crash: Our Buddy Shawn Needs Help!

One of the members of Cardschat Poker Forum, Shawn AKA Brutus, was in a car crash and can't work for a while. While he should heal just fine, his lack of income is putting a strain on his family. There is an online fundraising account set up for him for folks who would like to donate via credit card or PayPal:

https://www.fundable.org/groupactions/groupaction.2007-08-25.5112748616/groupaction_view

For more on the story or to donate via Full Tilt or PokerStars transfer, try this:

http://www.cardschat.com/f4/important-cardschat-friend-need-brutus-91974/

Any little bit will help. Cheers.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Needing to Believe!!

I've identified another leak in my game. It is the affliction of disbelief. At the stakes I play, I often tend to not believe players when they raise, re-raise, or check-raise. Here's a perfect example of me wrongfully thinking this guy had AK or AQ:

FullTiltPoker Game #3343752977: Table Bataan (6 max) - $0.10/$0.25 - No Limit Hold'em - 19:56:28 ET - 2007/08/23
Seat 1: bedrick ($14.80)
Seat 2: arcios ($39.70)
Seat 3: imadonkey21 ($28.85)
Seat 4: Superion ($26.35)
Seat 5: kiahbree ($20.15)
Seat 6: MrSticker ($19.45)
arcios posts the small blind of $0.10
imadonkey21 posts the big blind of $0.25
The button is in seat #6
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to MrSticker [Td Tc]
Superion folds
kiahbree folds
MrSticker raises to $0.85
arcios raises to $2.80
imadonkey21 folds
MrSticker has 15 seconds left to act
MrSticker raises to $8.60
arcios raises to $39.70, and is all in
MrSticker calls $10.85, and is all in
arcios shows [Qd Qs]
MrSticker shows [Td Tc]
Uncalled bet of $20.25 returned to arcios
*** FLOP *** [Kc 3d Qc]
*** TURN *** [Kc 3d Qc] [8s]
*** RIVER *** [Kc 3d Qc 8s] [3c]
arcios shows a full house, Queens full of Threes
MrSticker shows two pair, Tens and Threes
arcios wins the pot ($37.20) with a full house, Queens full of Threes
MrSticker is sitting out
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $39.15 Rake $1.95
Board: [Kc 3d Qc 8s 3c]
Seat 1: bedrick is sitting out
Seat 2: arcios (small blind) showed [Qd Qs] and won ($37.20) with a full house, Queens full of Threes
Seat 3: imadonkey21 (big blind) folded before the Flop
Seat 4: Superion didn't bet (folded)
Seat 5: kiahbree didn't bet (folded)
Seat 6: MrSticker (button) showed [Td Tc] and lost with two pair, Tens and Threes


Lately in the heat of the battle, I just go for it and hope. I know if I had more time to think over the situation, like you do in live play, I wouldn't react like this. But it is just too easy to click "Max" and "Bet" without thinking. It has almost become a subconscious action for me and it is costing me a lot of money. Even though Full Tilt has caught up with Pokerstars by implementing their new "Time Bank" feature, it still doesn't seem like enough time for me. I must find a solution within myself. Either that or start playing live more, which I actually am thinking of doing.

(I'm about 3/4 through "Why You Lose At Poker", so a book review will be coming soon.)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Clearing Up Online Poker "Account Sharing"

I've seen some debate on forums about online poker account sharing. Say you have to go somewhere important and you are in the middle of a tournament. So you call up a buddy to come over or just have him sign on from his house to finish the tournament for you. Is this morally acceptable? How about if you are playing on your dad's account because you want to conceal your identity and avoid those old PokerTracker stats in your opponents' databases that are usually attached to your avatar? Well, "morally" no longer matters. Actually, it looks like the poker rooms themselves are cracking down, no matter what the reason is for the sharing. Here's the story:

http://www.pokerlistings.com/poker-rooms-serious-about-game-integrity-17598

Can your wife play for you if she makes you walk the dog? Can your buddy play for you if you have a hot date? I guess we now know the answer is "no".

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Most Amazing Thing Since Sliced Bread

So between 8/1 & 8/6, I lost $213 from my bankroll. This wouldn't be too bad if it weren't for the fact that I lost $427 last month and I was looking forward to righting the ship. I had been reading a book called "Texas Hold'em Odds & Probabilities" by Matthew Hilger, but it was getting a bit difficult to keep my head in the book through this bad streak. I knew poker math wasn't my problem. So I thought "Wait a minute! I have other poker books that might help me get my head together." So I looked at my bookshelf. I thumbed through "The Tao of Poker", which have read before. But it didn't seem to have what I was looking for. As I was putting that one back, the answer hit me. I saw a book called "Why You Lose At Poker" by Fox & Harker. "Excellent! I forgot I had this!" Boy, am I glad I did.

After reading just a few of the shortish chapters, I was back on my game. 2 positive days at poker and I was learning a ton from this book. It is really rattling the cobwebs from the good ol' brain. I will definitely share a book review when I am finished with it. So far, so good.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

A Month of Dealing With Tilt = Big Trouble

Profit-wise, July was the worst month of my poker career. Things got out of control during the first half and I couldn't turn it around in the second half.




As I wrote previously, I discovered that I had a tilt problem involving over-aggressive play. But I struggled to find a way to cure this problem. This month, I am going to try a few experiments.

One is figuring out how I can educate myself about how to handle my ego in regards to poker. What got me thinking about this was an article by Irexes on CardsChat called "Poker and the Ego". My ego is definitely a problem for me in poker. I grew up racing motorcycles and bicycles with a little bit of football, baseball, and basketball sprinkled in. So competition was always about instantly beating the other guy. A guy passes you on the course and you have to get him back right away. Unfortunately, this instinct has crept into my poker game. When someone beats me in a hand, whether with a bluff or a poor play that gets lucky, I seem to get this feeling that I want to get him back right away. I must find a way to change this feeling. It is definitely NOT a good instinct to have in poker.

Here's a few other experiments I am willing to try:

  • Play more SnG's and maybe a few more MTT's.
  • Switch to $25NL 6-player rings. I liked playing at $50NL 6-pl., but the variance is a bit too high for someone struggling with tilt.
  • Taking more time with decisions within a hand.
  • More investigation on the effects that caffeine has on me.

I will update as I find results with each one.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tuff Fish, The Lobbyist

Online poker's old pal and court jester, "Tuff Fish", is now gathering signatures on a petition for the legality of online poker in California.

http://www.pokernews.com/news/2007/07/Tuff-Fish-antes-with-California-online-poker-petition.htm

Go, go buddy! Where do I sign?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Beating Freeroll Maniacs: Rule #1

Rule number 1 on how to beat freeroll donkeys is: "Never let them draw."

FullTiltPoker Game #3026468152: Cardschat.com Freeroll (21660312), Table 42 - 120/240 Ante 25 - No Limit Hold'em - 16:46:15 ET - 2007/07/22
Seat 1: xLuckyJoker (5,266)
Seat 2: kevbowen (4,005)
Seat 3: MrSticker (21,680)
Seat 4: Tas2828 (8,525)
Seat 5: alg2006 (8,680)
Seat 6: buckster436 (5,169)
Seat 7: pokerguy1982 (23,435)
Seat 8: Broke31 (6,865)
xLuckyJoker antes 25
kevbowen antes 25
MrSticker antes 25
Tas2828 antes 25
alg2006 antes 25
buckster436 antes 25
pokerguy1982 antes 25
Broke31 antes 25
pokerguy1982 posts the small blind of 120
Broke31 posts the big blind of 240
The button is in seat #6
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to MrSticker [Qc Qd]
xLuckyJoker folds
kevbowen folds
MrSticker raises to 800
Tas2828 folds
alg2006 folds
buckster436 folds
pokerguy1982 calls 680
Broke31 folds
*** FLOP *** [2h 8s 6d]
pokerguy1982 bets 2,040
MrSticker calls 2,040
*** TURN *** [2h 8s 6d] [3s]
pokerguy1982 bets 6,120
MrSticker calls 6,120
*** RIVER *** [2h 8s 6d 3s] [Js]
pokerguy1982 bets 14,450, and is all in
MrSticker calls 12,695, and is all in
Uncalled bet of 1,755 returned to pokerguy1982
*** SHOW DOWN ***
pokerguy1982 shows [Ks 7s] a flush, King high
MrSticker mucks
pokerguy1982 wins the pot (43,750) with a flush, King high
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 43,750 Rake 0
Board: [2h 8s 6d 3s Js]
Seat 1: xLuckyJoker folded before the Flop
Seat 2: kevbowen folded before the Flop
Seat 3: MrSticker mucked [Qc Qd] - a pair of Queens
Seat 4: Tas2828 folded before the Flop
Seat 5: alg2006 folded before the Flop
Seat 6: buckster436 (button) folded before the Flop
Seat 7: pokerguy1982 (small blind) showed [Ks 7s] and won (43,750) with a flush, King high
Seat 8: Broke31 (big blind) folded before the Flop


I knew he was a bad player. I was afraid his flop bet was a set or 2 pair, so I just called down like a donkey myself. Little did I know that he was drawing to his King and hit a runner-runner flush. I was prepared to die with my hand, so I should have re-raised or pushed his flop bet and tried to make him fold. Oh well. Another lesson learned.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Inspector Stick Finds a Clue!

Just in time for my birthday, I found a major problem in my game and I believe it is the primary cause of my latest monster downswing. The leak (well, gusher) I found was that I get too aggressive in many situations. Can you believe that? Me, Mr. Tighter-than-tight. I've even been called "weak-tight" by some. Too many C-bets, taking bluffs too far, and wrongly suspecting bluffs too often have been my weaknesses lately. A friend told me yesterday "You rarely check a flop" and I think he's right.

Here's how I found out my problem. In PokerTracker, I printed out the hand histories of my 22 worst losses and studied them. Of the 22, 5 were suckouts/bad luck and 17 were from being "too aggro". I'm not sure what has triggered this aggression. Maybe I have had a secret desire to play LAG style. Maybe I'm on desperation tilt after having a couple mediocre months. How about too much caffeine? LOL! What ever it is, I feel confident that I can "get a grip" on my aggression and salvage one of the worst months I've had in my poker career. Wish me luck.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Need to Get a Grip on July; Reno Report



Horrible, sad start to July. I'm not really sure what the problem is. I've tried everything from moving up in ring stakes to moving down. I've tried switching to SnG's and even a few MTT's. I'm really at a loss. I started today well, so I can just hope it continues. I'm gonna try to read more of my poker books and try to relax about the current losses. Gotta grab some confidence!

It seems lately that I'm better at online cash games than SnG's & MTT's. But in Reno, I was just the opposite. I blew a wad on cash games, but did well in one SnG. Even though I felt a bit nervous playing live, my game seems more suited to the live environment. I read other players better and have more time to think. In online games, I seem to be rushed from time to time. I think I might pull out more of my online BR and hit the cardrooms around here.

RENO TRIP REPORT: Well, it was very hot at the brewfest. My wife and I seemed to take it the worst in our group. My wife even passed out from it. At first I thought she had too much to drink, but that wasn't the case. I think we didn't eat and hydrate enough before hand. Lesson learned! We even have ideas for cooling ourselves (and others) next year.

The poker in Reno was great. We played exclusively at Circus Circus. One of the head guys there named Quincy is really cool. Even though I was still feeling the effects of the heat from the first day, it was excellent playing with the folks in our CardsChat group. My cash game could be summed up in 2 quick hands in 2 days. 1) I got all in preflop with pocket Aces and got cracked by a set of Queens. 2) I limped K9 and flopped top pair Kings. Then got check raised for my short stack and I called as I read him wrong as bluffing. He had KQ. But I did take 2nd in a $30 10-player SnG. $60 prize = $30 profit, but that only made a small dent in my cash game losses. Oh well. Still had fun with some great new friends and learned a TON!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

June Ring Stats Ended Well

After posting a graph in my last post regarding ring game variance, things got better. So here's another graph showing my entire month of June:



As you can see, I had some wicked variance mid-month. It would seem like I'd be doing well to get above even, then have a setback. I'd win some big hands and then lose a few big hands. I think a couple things I really grasped late in the month were my pre-flop aggression and my post-flop decisions. I started playing position more pre-flop and improved my post-flop analysis of a current hand to deeper degrees. Even late in the month, not everything went swimmingly. But the good runs were of better quality and of longer duration.

One note: Even though the June graph says I ended my ring games pretty well, I did pretty poorly in SnG's. So I only ended up +$28 for the month. I either have to work on my tourney game or just stick to rings.

I've started July on a slight down run, but have already started to recover. I learn something new everyday and I get better & better at applying what I've learned. Staying positive really helps. So does being able to reach back and apply the knowledge stuck in my brain. In the past, I have had trouble remembering all my poker studies. I hope things keep improving.

(As you can see, I have made an attempt at conquering my poker superstition by relating my status and mentioning numbers. Shhhh. We'll see how it goes. LOL)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

It's Called "Variance". LOL!

My June has been a rollercoaster ride, to say the least. My SNG's have been so bad that I've been playing almost exclusively ring games. Mostly $25 NLHE. My ring variance has been wild. I'm not sure if it has been my emotions or just plain luck, but see for yourself:



I'll keep pluging away. I'm still learning a lot, though my tendancy has been to get myself into a hole early in the month and have to dig to recover. Still staying cool about it, though.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Stick's Update: Videos and Whatnot

It's been a while since last update. I've been really immersing myself in my poker education by reading and playing at Stars & UB. I've also made a couple of AVI videos of my less-than-stellar play on Stars for folks to critique:

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=MG78FFEP

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=B51KN9NH

(These links will eventually expire.)

When I get more confident of my game, I'm thinking of starting to play live more. We'll be heading to Reno for the BBQ, Blues, & Brews Festival in a couple of weeks, so I'll see how I do there in live games. Then I can check out the cardrooms in the Sacramento area.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

WSOP Fantasy Pool

Checkout Mischman's WSOP Fantasy Pool. He's a swell guy, it's only $5, and it looks like fun. A cool way to keep up on the WSOP and it pays top 3 spots.

(Pool Now Closed)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Introducing: Stick's Chatbox Hall of Shame

A new feature here on my blog will be my "Chatbox Hall of Shame". When I witness any words of wit typed in a poker site's chatbox that are worthy of dubious distinction, I will bestow them upon the CHOS page for all my readers to endure. We wouldn't want them to be wasted on just the few players and onlookers at the specific table now, would we?

The CHOS page link now appears in the right margin of Stick's Poker Blog.


Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Book Review: "Hold'em Wisdom for All Players" by Daniel Negreanu

I just finished reading "Hold'em Wisdom for All Players" and I was very impressed. It isn't a technical book of poker science like Sklansky and it isn't a deep "How-To" manual like Harrington. But on its scale and merit, I think this book is a blockbuster.

The first thing one will notice is the price. $14.95 is peanuts in today's world of poker books. I figured "If it stinks, I didn't spend a fortune." The next thing to be noticed is the size of the book. While not pocket-sized, it does come in at a lightweight 166 pages. At first glance, this may seem like this could be a book without substance (even the 1st 14 pages are intro stuff and the table of contents). But in my opinion, that couldn't be farther from the truth. Another thing I personally noticed about the actual book was the page font. It is light and pleasant, which I believe promotes an easier read. This point may seem like ridiculous filler thought up by a high-schooler to satisfy his word quota for a book report, but I am serious. I'm the type of reader who can get mentally worn out by focusing on bold print for too long. It took me 6 months to read Sklansky's "The Theory of Poker" and I believe it was because I could only digest 5-10 pages worth of poker science in textbook-style print at a time. I was reading this book in 20-30 page spurts and finished it in about 2 weeks.

The cover of Daniel's book touts "50 powerful tips to make you a winning player". While a few of his tips are not really tips (1 rant about how soft playing is cheating and another about how the odds are against a pro player winning the World Series again) and a few are very basic beginner stuff, a good majority of Daniel's tips do live up to their billing (maybe 35-40). The tips are set up as 50 small 2-3 page chapters, which I think makes for easy future reference. Things like "Pondering Pocket Jacks", "Bullying a Bully", and "Top 10 Trouble Hands" are just a few examples of Daniel's quite useful insight well explained in a manner that is noticably in his style. You can tell this was actually written by him and not just a corporate expansion of a few of his ideas.

This book is such a refreshing change of pace from the sometimes tedious poker reads that many feel are required for any true student of the game. It won't wear you out. It won't take a lot of repeat digestion. There is something for most players at nearly every level of expertise. I think just about anyone is bound to read something from this book and think "Gee, I never thought of it that way."

Considering its price and size, I highly recommend this book for all but the most elite of poker players. That means it's a great value for the average and above-average Joe.

Monday, April 30, 2007

In Poker, Emotions Are #1

IMO (as always), a poker player can learn all the best techniques and have great poker skill, but will fail miserably if he can't keep his emotions in check. I believe this is the absolute key to excelling at poker. I bring up this subject because I have experienced an emotional roller coaster during the month of April. From an excellent start to the month to a miserable middle to a topsy-turvy but mediocre end, I've learned quite a bit about my emotions and what puts me on tilt.

I learned that I'm more aggressive during a card rush. I learned that I get overly cautious after some heavy losses, but I get too aggressive after a bad beat. I learned I feel a kind of sadness after I make a stupid play and lose. Much like the same sadness I felt when I would strike out in Little League because I wanted to impress my dad who was my team's manager. I even found out just exactly how caffeine-sensitive I really am. Less than half a can of Pepsi makes me want to jump into the screen deal the cards myself. Caffeine is great for me to accomplish chores around the house, but terrible for me to play poker on. It's worse for my game than alcohol. Very odd. So many different kinds of tilt.

Anyway, these types of feelings need to be recognized and controlled so they don't upset one's game. I believe that proper preparedness could be the answer. If "XYZ" happens, how will the player react? What situations are easy to handle and which ones are harder to bear? What kinds of thoughts can be used to conquer the tougher times? Everyone is different so I'll have to find my own keys that work for me. I think I'll try reviewing some hand histories and recreating some losses in order to prepare myself to better handle their likely recurrence.

Again, I believe having control of one's emotions is THE #1 KEY to success in poker. Wish me luck with controlling mine.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Experience Counts Or Your Promotion Will Fail

(Please excuse the fact that I haven't posted in 2 weeks. I've been deeply immersed in my poker playing. This post is about something I discovered during that immersion.)

Promotion? Are we talking about a job position? Well, some consider poker as their job. So yes, we are in a way. Here's some background on what the title means:

With the help of a friend, I started the month of April with a bang. I had moved up one level in NL stakes and was breaking personal records for gains. Not just breaking them. Shattering them. (My superstition prevents me from mentioning numbers, so I'll leave it at that.) So I thought "Hey! This is easy! Why don't I move up again!" Bad idea. I had less than 2 weeks of experience at that stakes level and I wanted to move up again?? Well, I paid the price. Literally. I broke personal records again, but this time it was for losses. In 3 days, I lost almost all of my April gains. I learned a valuable lesson the hard way.

What I learned was that if you "promote" yourself to the next level before you have enough experience at your current level, your promotion will most likely fail. I believe this to be true in any field. If a long-term journeyman employee gets promoted to an assistant manager and then to a senior manager right away without enough experience at the assistant level, that employee has a greater chance of failure. Even though one person can play the game of poker basically the same way at any level, there are subtle differences at every stakes level that can change the type of moves and decisions the player will have to make at each of those levels.

So I moved back down to my successful level and I'm seemingly back on track. Though I lost some money on my earlier excursion, I am glad I did it and was able to learn now what may have cost me more if I did it at more expensive levels. Cheers.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Tips on Doyle's-Room-to-Full-Tilt Funds Transfer

A little background first: When I first heard that Doyle's Room was going to succumb to the effect of the UIGEA and disallow US players, I initially thought I would need to withdraw via mailed check. They charge $10 for that, so I played a little more and heard about the available option to transfer my funds balance and points to Full Tilt Poker. I thought that was great and initiated the transfer before the February 28th cut off of money games for US customers. I figured this would avoid the rush and I'd get my transfer done in a more timely manner. I had heard it would take 24-48 hours. In my case, that was incorrect.

I'll try to make this part short: No funds after 2 days, so I contacted DBPN (Doyle's Room) and they said to wait some more. After 7 days, I contacted DBPN and they re-sent the transfer. They said to contact FTP if it didn't show up after 4 hours. I waited a day and contacted FTP. My points showed up but I got a canned response saying something about "a high volume of transfers". I went back into my FTP info and saw that my phone number field was blank, so I filled it in with my number. I went though more emails with FTP for a couple of weeks with no success. Then around the 1-month mark, I went back to DBPN's live chat and begged them for help. At first, the guy told me to contact FTP. Then I begged some more and he sent the transfer again. This time, my funds showed up at FTP in 5 minutes!! Holy mole'!!

So I'm posting these 2 tips as a help to my readers with the same problem:

  1. Make sure your phone number at FTP is the same as at DBPN. I'm not really sure if that is what got my transfer though finally, but it might help.
  2. Don't give up with DBPN. Be nice, but be persistent. They'll tell you to contact FTP, but just beg them to try the transfer again. It worked for me. In fact, my guy's name was "JasonE" who helped me and after my funds showed up at FTP, I got him back on live chat to thank him.

Good luck, folks.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Mom's Theory on Name Calling

So, I got my mom signed up to receive the updates to my poker blog via email. Though she may not understand all the poker terms, she reads the entries anyway. After she read my last post about me and online name calling, she emailed me her theory on why I do it:

"...because your dad did it. (It has been said that) the same sex parent has the most impact on a child. You were saturated with that type of reaction about anything competitive from day one. Don't beat yourself up. You're just imitating. You know, like the baby chimps that bang their sticks on a rock because they saw their parents do it. No deep analysis needed."

Sounds about right to me. The proverbial nail was struck flush. I hope this new info helps in my effort to conquer the problem. So far, so good. I haven't typed a bad name in a chat box since just before I wrote my initial post about it and I have had plenty of opportunities. Like today when someone with 2nd pair 8's on the flop re-raised all-in after my pot-sized bet with pocket Aces. He hit a 7 on the river to make 2 pair and crack my Aces. My hand crept toward the keyboard, but I caught myself before I typed anything. It feels good to have the discipline.

So some thanks to Mom. You always seem to have the answers to life's stubborn questions.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

...And I'm a Name-Caller-Aholic

My name is Stick and I'm a "name-caller-aholic". While playing online poker and someone makes a bad play to beat me, I have a bad habit of calling them a name in the chat box. The name is usually "idiot" or "donkey". One time, I even called a guy a "d u m b a s s". But the next day, I found him and apologized. I know name calling is wrong. I know it is very unprofessional. I know it can induce the player and others at the table to play better, thus making it harder for me to profit. But I've still done it and I know it is time to change it.

It's like a drug. I make the correct plays. Raise 4 times the BB pre-flop with QQ. Make pot-sized bets on the 2-flush flop and turn so that chasing the flush is against the odds. Then the river makes the flush and they flip over 74 suited for the flush. The feeling I get is not one of defeat. Not like I feel beat. It is one of astonishment and violation. Like when another driver on the road rides your bumper for a while, then speeds past you and you want to go and catch him to ride his bumper for a while. Like you've been violated and want to ask him "What the hell are you doing, you idiot?" (No, I have never done and will never do this). They know tailgating and speeding is wrong, so what makes them so special that they can violate the law like they are not supposed to and get away with it? In poker, why does the donkey play like they are not supposed to and get away with it by winning? That's how it makes me feel. It's like a kind of "road rage" to me.

I get a type of relief when I type the word "idiot" or "donkey" (Oh yeah. Another one I have used is "clueless"). It's just barely enough revenge to satisfy the rage that has been caused. However, there's no way I'd ever do this playing live. I've been beaten by some pretty horrible plays in live games and I've shown restraint and professionalism. Not because they were bigger than me (one was a tiny lady), but because I value my personal image. When asked about how well he takes bad beats, I saw Howard Lederer on TV say "I don't get visibly upset because I don't want them to know how bad I feel." So I've remembered this and I try to live by it, also.

The worst part is that I've been called names online and have scoffed at it. I've never really cussed online, but I've been called just about every name in the book (and my mother, too). I even made a post to this blog entitled "Verbal Abuse In Online Poker". So why do I myself do it? Lack of consequences, maybe? Revenge factor?

I guess the online thing has the aspect of anonymity and all I am is a name online. No face, no "personal image". Just words on a screen. It still doesn't make it right, but I think that's why I am a name caller. If I want to stop this, I'll need to address the "rage" feeling first so the urge for retaliation will not come up again. Why do I get that feeling that I've been violated? Maybe I'm feeling robbed or something? I dunno. Half the time, I then go on tilt the next few hands. Not good. Maybe I'll go back and read the book called "The Tao of Poker". It addresses the issue of tilt in depth.

So I hereby apologize to every online player I've ever called a name and I pledge to try to overcome my problem for the good of myself and the game of poker.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Poker Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Great news from the US political front regarding the UIGEA:

http://www.professional-poker.com/news/2007/mar/916-barney-frank-uigea.htm

Things are looking better every day.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Neteller Customer Coalition

I found some info that could help the folks who have money still stuck in Neteller:

http://www.professional-poker.com/news/2007/mar/915-neteller-customer-coalition.htm

I guess the group is all about being prepared to act if the court case requires it.

Monday, March 12, 2007

My Thoughts on "Poker Goals"

I've seen threads on Cardschat.com regarding "poker goals" and I've been thinking about mine a bit. As someone with a sales background, I know the importance of setting goals for one's self. If they are for things like losing weight or sales quotas, a person can set the goal with a certain time frame to achieve it. A person can monitor their progress and step it up if they fall behind or cruise if they are assured of hitting the goal in the homestretch. But in poker, things are not so predictable or easy to monitor. You can't "try harder" if you are behind or "slow down" when you are ahead of pace. If a player does those things in poker, they will either start tilting or start missing bets or pots. "Poker goals" are an entirely different animal than regular goals.

I'm of the opinion that poker goals must be adjustable because there are so many uncontrollable factors affecting our play. The nearest I can tell at lower levels, every cash table and every tourney table is different. The players or even the type of players is rarely the same. Even in freerolls this is true. Also, the cards never fall the same way at each table. No matter how much we poker fanatics deny it, luck will always be a factor in our game to varying degrees. Even the best poker pros in the world get robbed on the river.

I usually have a daily goal, a monthly goal, and a long-term goal tucked away somewhere. But I know the each can change at anytime. So when and how should we "adjust" our goals? I usually start a day of poker with a realistic goal relating to an amount I want to make. Then as the day passes, I assess that goal as conditions change. About every hour I consider things like if I'm tense, if I ran into some good players, if I had some bad beats. I'll even go back and look at some hands to see if I lost because of luck or bad play (I'm about 50/50, so far). If I'm running a negative amount, I usually reset my goal to getting back to or slightly back over "even".

So why reset a goal? Isn't that cheating, as goals go? My opinion is "No". The simplest way to explain my reasoning is just to re-utter that worn out phrase "That's poker." Basically translated, it means "I played that hand perfectly and I still lost. The luck in poker is what got me." Though it is advisable to avoid being "results-oriented" and to always play that hand the exact same correct way when faced with it again, I still think a player should then adjust his goal in allowance for the bad luck hand (or even the bad luck day or week, in some cases). I'd allow this since the play was correct and the result shouldn't penalize the player and hurt his progress towards his goal. I'd categorize this the same as having to take a week off from poker to go visit sick Aunt Bessie. An adjustment would surely be in order then.

It's all psychological. If a person wants to progress in their poker achievements, I think they should be able to adjust on the fly as conditions dictate. They should be able to treat themselves to a sense of accomplishment, even though they lost. It's good for the confidence. Now when I fail to reach a daily or even monthly goal, I do analyze my play and fix what needs it. I don't always "make excuses" for why I shouldn't worry about it. There's been plenty of times when my adjusted goal wasn't achieved and I had to realize I failed. Making goals would be fruitless if I always tried to "adjust" my way out of them. But I always keep perspective and put blame where it deserves to be. I think it's OK to be happy about a small loss and to also be unhappy with a big win. Luck can decide it both ways.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

My Thoughts on "Coming Back"

To me, a day where I lose a decent amount of bankroll early and come back to near-even can be at times more satisfying than a big day on the plus side. Even though I make little or no profit on those days, it feels like a very nice accomplishment. I guess it comes from remembering those days when I wasn't able to come back.

There's a zone that I sometimes get into. A "bad zone" where there's an element of panic, one of frustration, one of self-doubt, with a dash of self-pity thrown in. A bad recipe! Sure sounds like "tilt", but there's more to it. I bet many others have experienced it. Maybe you lose a couple big hands to bad beats or just bad plays on your part. You see your bankroll take a hit, so you switch tables. A couple more losses and you're ready for some sit-n-go's. You make a big bluff and some donkey calls it with 3rd pair and you're out. You try another SnG and another. Then you are down twice as much as when you were at the ring tables. I think we've all been there.

Well then, what are the keys to a correct recovery? I'm not a full-fledged poker expert, but I'm learning some of these keys by trial and error. Everyone pretty much knows that you should avoid panic/tilt and shouldn't get desperate. But the first key I have found that helps in this specific situation is to stay with the same type of game you began the day with. The reason is that you are looking for that satisfaction of conquering the monster that brought you down. If I lose some on a ring table, I switch to a different table of the same stakes or lower (bad idea to ever go up in stakes here). If I lose a couple SnG's, I try a lower buy-in or try turbo or even a different site's SnG's. I just stay with the same type of game because the satisfaction of a comeback will be greater than just the bankroll recovery. If I'm even or ahead for the day, then I'm OK with switching games to fight boredom.

How far back do I need to come to be satisfied? Well, I'd say around halfway back usually does it for me personally. If I get down $30 and can get back to under -$20, I usually feel good. Sometimes 1 or 2 SnG cashes usually does the trick, no matter the dollar amount. The key here is that everyone has their own threshold for satisfaction.

What if I can't get back to around "half down"? The key is that you gotta know when to stop. Lately I have gotten a good feel for when I should stop until tomorrow. Then I can usually carry over the comeback exercise to the next day and try to get the same satisfaction. Say if I lose $30 in a day and quit, my satisfaction would still exist if I make back $14 the next day.

This all depends on the confidence you have in your game. I've worked my way up from 1c/2c & 2c/4c NLHE, where a bustout doesn't hurt so badly, to 5c/10c & 10c/25c, which is within the limits of my current bankroll. At my current level, I have the confidence that I can lose half my stack and still come back to satisfaction. If you don't have that kind of confidence, stay in the lower stakes until you do. This goes back to some of my previous posts on what I call "Poker Psychology".

OK, what if I reverse it? Say I play about even all day and run bad late in the day before I have to hit the sack. What then? I personally try to think of how well I played until the bad run and just try to duplicate that tomorrow. Maybe try to postpone the comeback feeling until tomorrow. Try to link the days together. Hey, isn't life a big "comeback"?

It's all about not digging yourself a deep hole. It's about trying to stay positive. It's about avoiding desperation. I believe that confidence plays a major role in it all. That role is even bigger than the role bankroll size plays. A player could have a $10,000 bankroll. But if they don't have the confidence (and skill, of course) big enough to match that number, they had better stick with nickels until they do.

Monday, February 19, 2007

An Interesting Type Of "Tournament"

On Saturday, I went to Southern California to my brother's surprise 45th birthday party and his wife set up the party as a "Casino" theme. She hired a company to run casino games and they had craps, blackjack, and, of course, a Texas Hold'em table. Everyone was given 500 chips to start and the one person with the most chips from all the games combined at the end of the night won a $50 restaurant gift card.

Well I, of course, spent most of my time at the ring poker table. I was playing my usual normal mixed game (occasional bluffs) and my chip count was on a roller-coaster. I was hitting hands and getting called by "free-chip" donkeys, but my bluffs were getting called, too. There were a few drunk & careless players, a few brand-new-to-holdem, clueless players, and a few serious, but very poor players. I wasn't used to this mix and there were only one or 2 semi-decent players there that I knew I could beat with my regular game. So I was down to about 425 chips and I took a break.

After mingling at the party, taking a few pictures, and resisting the urge to play craps for 45 minutes, I went back to the poker table for the last half hour. My strategy was to tighten up with no more bluffs and be way over-aggressive with my monsters. There were a few big stacks and a few short stacks. I won a hand from a chaser who folded the river and got my chips up to over 600. After a few folds, the head casino company guy came out to the poker room/garage and said "5 more minutes!" Oh no! I was way off the chip lead!

Oh well, last hand. I had fun so I was deciding if I should push pre-flop or on the flop with anything. It was 5/10 NL and I was the SB. I get AhQh. Cool! Everyone limps, including me. Flop comes As,2d,Qc. BINGO! I'm UTG. I ask the dealer "You think this is the last hand of the night?" He says "Yeah, probably." I say "OK, then I guess I'll go all-in" in an "Oh-well" tone of voice. There's 1 other all-in and 4 other players match my stack. Qs hits the turn and the 4 bigger stacks all check down through the river, which was a blank. The other all-in had Ac4c and the rest had rags. My full house won the pot on the last hand AND I won the $50 with about 3500 chips since all the other drunks lost everything to the house at craps & blackjack.

My proud assessment: Sure, it was a lucky hand. But my baiting act UTG with the nuts got those people to push and won me the $50.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Current Odd State of Online Poker

I find online poker in an "odd state" right now. There are many US players who can't get their money either in or out of sites due to the unstable e-wallet market. I'm guessing the poker sites are loving this. Trapped on-site money means more rake. Fewer deposits mean less e-wallet headaches for them. Notice the lack of reload bonuses around? However, the conditions for the consumers are horrible right now. I'm hearing stories of high fees and long processing times with the current e-wallets.

I happen to be in a good position. I have semi-healthy bankrolls on 3 sites that I enjoy playing and have no need to deposit or withdraw. I'm just building until a solid method of payment comes along. If I do need to move funds in the near future, I think I'll try a mail-check withdrawal and a Visa gift card deposit. I've heard "All-Access" brand cards work at most sites and "Green-Dot" and "Vanilla" brands aren't as widely accepted. I've also heard the fees can be around only $6 for a $100 card, though I hope I don't have to go that route.

I read someone say that this current state of things is making them play a more solid game of poker since they can't deposit as easily if they bust. I guess there's always a silver lining. Let's hope for more silver to come.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

A Report On The State Of The Gutshot Club

If you've heard about the case in the UK regarding whether or not poker is a game of skill, then you know the accused is the Chairman of the Gutshot Club. It just so happens that one of my fellow members of the Cardschat Poker Forum also plays at the Gutshot Club. He has posted an interesting first-hand account of the current state of things during his latest trip there.

BTW, the obviously uninformed jury ruled that poker was a game of chance and a stiff fine will be levied against the accused. The ruling is currently being appealed in UK court.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Bluffing Is Hard For Some

I've discovered another anomaly in poker play. It seems to be simple for loose players to "tighten up", but it is so very difficult for many tight players to "loosen up". I don't mean it in such a way that a tight player couldn't limp 2 suiteds or raise K9 from UTG. Of course he could. I mean one simple word: Bluffing.

When I first started playing poker, I would consider my play then as pretty loose. But then my play became tinged with remembrances of major losses and perceived bad beats as I went along. As I learned how I should be playing, I went to the other extreme. I played tighter than a banjo string. I was being bluffed out of many, many pots as players learned my by-the-book style. When I did have a hand, the pot was rarely large. I wondered why I couldn't make much profit and why my losses were almost always larger than my wins.

After some serious analysis of my PokerTracker stats and some adjustment in my psychological approach to the game, I found out that there was something missing from my game. Especially my ring game play. I started to assess what I was willing to risk and my feel for each table. Better reads and more appropriate stakes. I found out that a player could know everything about every type of odds. But if he doesn't have the timing and feel for when and who to bluff, he will just be an educated but losing poker player.

There was a some talk on CardsChat recently about players who DON'T know odds. They just play by feel. While I do admire those who can play this way with some success, they are also missing the boat. But all these people have to do is pick up a poker book and maybe a calculator to complete themselves. In my opinion, they have it easier than the odds-without-feel players. I believe they would also excel more in live play once they complete their poker knowledge.

Anyway, my game is slowly coming around as I learn more about the feel and timing needed for correct bluffing. Also, I just happen to be reading the chapters in Sklansky's "Theory Of Poker" regarding bluffing. That is what prompted me to write this post. It's like finding that missing tool under the workbench. Now my cheap generic toolbox is complete. But someday, I'll step up and get a set of Snap-Ons. Cheers.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Optimism on This Neteller Thing

Despite some pessimistic views on the exit of Neteller from the US online gaming transactions market and its effect on the online poker industry as a whole, I am going to stay optimistic for a few reasons:

  1. There's too much money involved. Seeing dollar signs, some human being somewhere will find a smooth way for US customers to fund their online poker play somehow.
  2. The only reason Neteller had to pull out of US online gaming is because those 2 brainiacs thought they could live in the US and not get hassled. I hope all the other e-wallet companies' founders and execs get smart from this. (Many believe that Neteller's statement that they were "planning on pulling out of US gaming anyway" is just window dressing.)
  3. The poker industry isn't stupid enough to let this damage it. There's too many people who will lobby for online poker to get the same exemption as horse racing and lotteries. Sure, it might take a while. But there's too much at stake to say "Oh well."

Anyway, it's too early for US online poker players to play the "Death March". Let's give things a chance to develop. Try giving the other widely accepted e-wallet companies a shot.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Poker Superstitions

I have a dumb poker superstition (or "stupidstition") that I can't shake off. It is that I can't bring myself to talk in detail about how well I'm running. I know it's stupid but in the past when I have talked about a good day or a good tourney finish, it seems like I bomb the next day. I can say just that I'm running "good" or "not good". No explanations, no adjectives like "really" or "pretty", and definitely no mention of numbers. It applies to both my speech and in print (like right here). I may post hand histories and such, but you'll never see me post my bankroll status or periodic results ("Never say never"). Like I said, I know it's stupid. But it's worked so far, so I can't bring myself to go against this quirk. Oh well.

I've heard of other superstitions like someone who must play the first hand of every tournament they are in. I've even read about one that is more widely accepted amongst old-timers in the poker world regarding $50 bills. They don't like to accept or carry them for fear of bad luck. The bad luck is rooted in 2 interesting facts that make sense. One is that $50 bills are the least popular bill under $100. It is seen less by cashiers, making counterfeits easier to pass undetected. The other reason is that a $50 bill can be mistaken for a $5 bill by anyone that may be distracted or even a bit drunk. Sounds pretty sensible.

I guess the only way a person can rise above his superstitions is to break them and prove them wrong. The problem is that it's awfully hard to get up the nerve to try it when money is involved.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

PokerRoom.com Gives In; Founder Still Defensive

It looks like PokerRoom.com came to their senses regarding the $19K Christmas Tourney scandal. After a sea of negative buzz flowed their way, they have decided to pay the winners the original amounts in order to restore the calm. Here's a good article on the latest developments (note the defensive tone in the message from the "founder"):

http://www.professional-poker.com/news/2007/jan/840-pokerroom-dispute.htm

Even though PokerRoom may hope the storm is over, many still perceive the original "mistake" claim as second thoughts by PokerRoom. Some consumers familiar with the situation say that PokerRoom was probably banking on more than 950 entrants to the $20+2 tournament. This would have eliminated any cash overlay and the product prizes would be a promotional expense. But with only 265 players entered, the cash overlay was over $13K, not to mention the product prize costs. Due to this fact, many still think PokerRoom decided to claim "glitch" and recoup the huge loss directly from players' accounts.

Though the story has a happy ending, the extent of any PR damage to PokerRoom.com will remain to be seen.