Thursday, September 15, 2005
"One way to stop a runaway horse is to bet on him."
Thanks for stopping by this humble poker blog. I've some fine stuff for you tonight.
Ok, maybe not so much fine as verbose. Hell, read on and decide for yourself.
This post brought to you by Bonus Code IGGY on Party Poker.
I'm announcing the WPBT blogger and reader tournament right now since Pauly & I finally decided on a site. I'm gonna call this one Pauly's Birthday Bash because next Tuesday is his 33rd Birthday and what better way to celebrate than with some poker and some drunken friends?
WPBT Tourney - Pauly's Birthday Bash
Tuesday - September 20th
Open to ALL bloggers and readers. I'm excited as hell to get everyone to play together again. And sure, we coulda ran this on Stars again, but Otis gets screwed everytime we play there, which sucks. So Pauly and I decided on Titan Poker. It's getting rave reviews and Joanne from Chick & a Chair and CardSquad gave it a thumbs up for the soft games. And besides, it's always fun to try out a new poker site.
Best of all, they've agreed to change their normal tourney structure for us. We'll start with 1500 in chips and the blinds will escalate every 20 minutes. Pretty damn cool.
Plus, they have a $500 matching deposit bonus.
Please, for the love of all things decent, if you enjoy this silly poker blog, please consider signing up with my links. I don't get much from it but it's still a sign that it's worthwhile for me to come on here and bang out uber-posts for you. So again, consider supporting this humble blog by clicking on the Titan Poker links here.
Damn, Pauly is The Man. Now he's off in Barcelona, Amsterdam and AC. Honestly, Pauly's life is a fantasy camp. People should PAY money to live life as Pauly.
One quick note: I truly enjoyed Wil Wheaton on the PokerStars radio broadcast of the WCOOP event #10 final table. And not to be a dick, but co-host Rick Charles was painful. Yes, I know he lost everything in Katrina but that still doesn't make him a good announcer. Voice of poker, my ass.
Don't make me post the Paul Phillips flame about him, damnit.
First, a little rambling about my recent ugly downswing. First off, I've experienced some especially ugly sessions. In reviewing my hand histories, it's clear that I've had plenty of second best hands, but more importantly, I've been making some truly awful reads. Dreadful. And while hand-reading probably isn't as important in limit versus no-limit, it's still a crucial skill in the mid-higher limit games.
I'm a pretty tight player. But I've also gotten used to the (often) hyper-aggressive games on Party Poker, by fighting fire with fire. Serious aggression. Once I became comfortable stomaching the swings, I was able to really begin to push thin edges. And that's part of what allowed me to become a profitable player. Because, after all, most of your profit comes from borderline decisions.
And let's face it, in limit poker, you have many borderline decisions. Often one action seems just as good as another, on the face of it. It's reasonable that many of these decisions are borderline because, so often, in poker, you're dealing with plays that will only earn or lose a small percentage one way or the other. The one thing you Don't want to do is maneuver around that borderline at whim, sometimes going one way, sometimes deciding another. And I've had the aggression factor amped up too much.
Part of the problem is that there are so many borderline decisions because of the speed of play, most especially online. If you were able to call a timeout and sit back and concentrate for a few hours, you could easily come up with the correct decision, looking at all the factors involved instead of the more superficial feel. I mean, there's hundreds of factors involved in playing poker. But again, that ain't our beloved game. Poker is fast.
And frankly, it's these thin edges that I'm making wrong decisions on. Over and over.
I could wax poetic about all the psychological factors involved here but I don't want to bore you (too late!) and frankly, I can sum it up by saying, "I'm playing some shitty poker." No harm in recognizing that.
In fact, it's huge. Not acknowledging this fact will seriously damage my bankroll, if I allow it.
One of the best poker lessons I've gleaned from playing at the boat so much is that most poker players are mentally treating a poker session as a win or lose proposition. Only focusing on the single session. That's crazy, but they do. Most of em feel they have have to get even or cut their losses for the session. But the right attitude is far different. The correct attitude - the one you should always strive to have - is that you are ALWAYS even when the hand begins. No matter what's happened previously - play your hand for what it's worth NOW.
Hell, some folks at the boat stop playing good poker once they're winning....they don't want to risk their "winnings" thus far. Or worse, they start really gambling it up, figuring that they are "free-rolling" now. This Doyle Brunson approach is fine and dandy for Doyle but I doubt any of us would compare ourselves to him. And then, some players fall apart when losing - turning an average loss into a major one. Do some thinking about your own play.
And then remember. Play the hand for what it's worth now.
Note to self - take your own advice. Idiot.
Stream of consciousness posts rule.
It's what I do.
And hell, now I've lost my train of thought and want to write about bankroll management. I'll save that for next time as it segues nicely into this post:
Subject: Poker, Bankroll, and Marriage
Have had a fairly succesful year +1850 on the internet and + 1550 on home games (mostly 25 dollar buy in tourneys)and B&M - now here's my question
Has anyone here had problems with their wife "dipping" into bankroll saying ... GREAT WIN honey that'll really come in handy for ... gifts ... extra vacation whatever.. "
I was ok with this UNTIL i get the bitching about "you've lost quite a bit lately" etc ... etc...
MY answer has gotta be to completely seperate my poker bankroll.... but i like to provide extras for the family etc...
This is a subject near and dear to my heart. Mostly because one of the most difficult adjustments since leaving corporate America has been "living off my bankroll." I still hate it. It was so much more fun having this separate account that was strictly for poker, instead of paying bills (and taxes) with it. I've said it many times before - poker has made me fiscally responsible. Growing my bankroll back in my nascent days taught me how important bankroll management was.
This kinda sucks - I really do have a ton to say but am feeling scattered and inhibited cause of the parents factor. I received some good advice from a friend today telling me to open my books to them - show them how I've done and allay their fears.
But I digress.
The reality is that despite this ugly downswing, I'm still in great shape. I'm just gonna take some time off from the online poker tables and regroup. If anything, I'll jump on Party Poker and screw around on the Badbeat JackPot tables.
Hey, did everyone read HDouble's classic new movie post? You better go, if not:
The Poker Wisdom of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Here's another post on a topic I struggle with. Sometimes I'm bored shitless playing limit poker.
Picking a discipline?
I read a post a while back either here or on 2+2 that spoke about picking a discipline and sticking with it, i.e. either play limit cash, NL cash, MTT, or SnG's. The article suggested devoting all your time towards one of these and mastering it.
I've been grinding limit for a while, up to 5/10. The money is great, but I've run into a problem. I really don't feel like i'm getting any better at poker, and part of me tells me that all the fish will be playing NL or tourneys [like on TV!]
Is it worth trying my hand at other things even though I feel like I have a bigger edge at limit cash games?
Of course, playing poker for a living has its downsides. I've struggled long and hard about the ethics and/or purpose of doing so. And being the fantastic rationalizer that I am, finally came to grips with the negatives. Here's a fine post about it all:
Subject: The ethics of playing poker
You may call me old-fashioned (or something worse), but I just had to raise this issue here. First, I want to say that I believe that any decent or civilized practitioner of some long-term vocation or job should judge its ethical status.
Asking oneself what are the moral consequences of one's primary (or secondary) occupation seems reasonable and minimally decent. Sometimes, it's a quick question with a quick answer ('Negligible.' 'Unknowable.' 'Neutral to good.'
I'm not saying that the answer should solely determine one's choice of work (there are almost always other factors to consider, and sometimes all the realistic alternatives are worse, anyway), I'm just saying it's more humane to at least answer the question for oneself rather than blithely dismissing it ('Who cares? It's fun.' Or 'Who cares? It's work.')
So I was wondering about the case of poker. Say that you play for a living, or play regularly to supplement your income; you belong to that fabled 15% of winning poker players and rely on the other 85% for your profits. You also rely on some of the following: the booming popularity of poker, the fact that it's harder than it looks, the fact that it sucks in gambling types and over-confident novices.
I'm not denying that it takes diligence and intelligence to become a disciplined, winning player. But to what sort of enterprise have these two commendable traits been applied?
I have heard glib arguments ranging from 'taxing the stupid' and 'Darwinism' to 'caveat emptor' and 'capitalism, baby!' I've also heard more direct and substantial responses to the question of moral consequences: poor players lose a little and leave, to be replaced by new ones, so that no one individual is grossly harmed; those who keep playing get better and win their losses back. Or: yes, it seems marginally unethical to target weaker players who don't know any better, but it's actually a kind of win-win situation: they're paying for entertainment and we're on the receiving end of that process.
But I was hoping for some of your thoughts. Are you completely at ease about the ethics of playing poker, or are there some minor twinges? Are there never any 'real' victims, or rarely, or regularly, and in what moral position does this put the one who profits?
(Thank you for reading and sorry if it was grim or boring; I was just really curious.)
I've experienced much more than minor twinges, for the record.
I think most people picture the life of an online poker pro as being something like this:
Of course, it's pretty close.
I know some folks count on me for insider stuff on RGP and I'm here to deliver. The best news is that crazy Russ Gorgeiv GCA is finally getting ignored. He just keeps posting the same old fucking posts and emails and FINALLY getting zero comments. Not that this will stop him, oh no. But we can hope.
Anyway, I loved this parody post heckling Russ for his supposed "pro bowling past".
Subject: Re: Before I was a Pro Poker Player "GCA"
Wait, let me guess, you were the best cheater around but only after all
the other top bowlers took you under their wing and taught you to cheat
first because you were winning too much. If you had refused their offer
to join their gang, well, they would have made you an offer you could
"We used a special set of magnetized pins, they weren't cheap let me
tell you. Every time one of the cheating gang was in danger of only
knocking down only 9 pins we turned the juice on one of the sides of
the pin enclosure full blast to help it fall down. Similarly whenever
one of the naive (mind boggling that anyone can think pro bowling is
not fixed) oppostion was about to strike the pins, the floor under the
pins was magnetized, tending to keep a pin up here and there.
"It was very subtle in its effect. Only a professional bowling cheat
catcher would know what to look for.
We have proof. More will follow."
Is this close?
I love the poker bloggers. Isn't that obvious?
And Mr. Rini posted the latest news on our big get-together in Vegas in early December. You can't even imagine the fun, trust me.
This sums up how I feel after a winning month at Party Poker.
Or after taking someones stack at the boat:
I'm looking forward to feeling that way again.
K, I think I posted this before, but this 2+2 thread is so freaking funny it simply must be read. Stockman has taken trolling to a new level. Mathematical genius, indeed!
ONLINE POKER IS 100% RIGGED
This was a superb response in an "online poker is rigged" thread.
Post and top-notch reply follows.
Subject: How Do Rigged Poker Sites Designate...
Here's a typical scenario:
We have a full table. There is one good player whose DOOM SWITCH has been turned on, and the remaining players are all MAJOR suckers (no BJ jokes please).
It's a family capped pot. The good player has KK. The flop is something like K-8-2, all different suits.
Now we *KNOW* KK is going to lose by the river, that's a given. But how does the poker site determine which sucker is going to win the pot?
Practically all poker sites cater to US customers. Obviously, and like all things having to do with the average American citizen and their money, the sites primary motivation would be to satisfy their wealthier customers while culling their poorer clientele.
Hence this would be tied to their individual credit score. The higher that score, the more disposable income that player has. The more such wealth available - the more valuable that player is to the site.
Hence the doom switch is flipped on all those within the lower aggregate percentiles of the customer base as a whole. Perhaps the bottom third as an estimate. There you have it - the rich get richer, the poor get poorer and the poker site has an ever richer field to mine for rake as time goes by.
Here's the Rolling Stone article about Hunter S. Thompson's funeral and they even published his suicide note. Bless you Dr. Gonzo.
Football Season Is Over
Dr. Hunter S. Thompson's final note . . . Entering the no more fun zone
I somehow forgot to point out this article about online team poker play, after a well-known player, Noah Boeken, admitted to playing a tourney with multiple accounts at Poker Stars. Details by Jon Eaton over at Poker Trails:
Team Play Online – Destroying Online Play?
Todd Brunson is interviewed over at Poker Lizard. Go read the disturbing story behind a high-stakes game and water spitting with Sam Farha, Chau Giang and Annie Duke.
I haven't tried the new show over at Poker Talk Show so I'm blogging it here for my own edification. Plus, I think I read that esteemed Matt Matros might be doing some announcing there. Do you think Matt knows he has legions of girl fans?
Speaking of poker bloggers, this is me at the bloggers table. I try, at least.
Subject: Playing EVERY hand no matter what
I posted on this late last night but I thought it was a sufficiently interesting
poker topic to bring it up again.
As an experiment in loose-mostly passive play, I played 5 cheap sit and goes last night with one goal: play every single hand regardless of what I was holding, position, or chip stacks. In the most extreme example, if I had 7/2 off and someone went all-in, I called. For these 5 games, the only time I didn't see a flop was when it was folded to me in the big blind or when I made a pre-flop raise and everyone folded.
I lost several big pots when someone moved in with a premium hand and I had terrible cards, but I was dedicated to my experiment and gave no consideration to anything other than playing every hand. I also sucked out on AA, KK, and AK several times with trash cards.
For the most part I played normally after the flop, although my post-flop strategy was altered by the fact that everyone knew I was playing every hand no matter what (in each game I eventually told the table what I was doing in response to various player's outraged comments).
With the table(s) knowing I was playing every hand regardless of my holding, it threw
everyone off their game, and thus altered my post-flop play a bit. No one ever knew where I was in a hand, so I found there to be more value in playing passively when I caught a flop. I let others do much of the betting for me, and used the check-raise much more than I normally would.
My results for 5 games were three 2nd place finishes, one 3rd place finish, and one 5th place finish. For the four in-the-money finishes I was the chip leader when it got down to three players and I think it likely that I would have won each time if I had shifted gears and changed my strategy to normal play after getting to the money, but I wanted the experiment to go all the way.
I found this very interesting because to some extent it challenges the conventional wisdom in single table tournaments to just sit back and wait for big hands while the other players eliminate each other. Granted, five games is not much of a sample size, but it's better than one game! Except for the game in which I finished 5th, I was amazed at how often my crap cards turned into strong hands on the flop.
The effect this has on the other players is the most interesting part. People tend to become very tentative when they see your 4/8 offsuit crack AA on one hand, and your 5/7 crack AK on the next. I'm going to try this again today, only this time I'm going to revert to more or less normal play after getting in the top 3.
Requiring yourself to play every hand no matter what is an educational and entertaining experience. I encourage everyone to try this experiment in whatever game is a throw-away amount of money for you. Afterwards, please post your impressions.
Ahhh, it's just like old times, cranking this post out. It's gotta be more fun to read than write. Wait, don't answer that.
Here's an interesting 2+2 thread talking about the Neteller debit card which then tangented into people trying to "hide" money from the IRS.
Why would anyone use the Neteller Debit Card
I guess it's obvious that Howard Beale is one of my favorite RGP posters. Of course, he doesn't have much competition over there anymore, but I still look forward to his nuggets and tales. Here's a good one.
Subject: Math, Schmath Or: The Idiot "Pro"
Yesterday I left the 8-16 when Casino Arizona's Tuesday tournament started
at 7pm and the game got short to go have a bowl of Matzo Ball soup. Next
time I get the small.
An hour later I'm seated again in the 6 seat and there is now a "Rounder Kid" in the 8. He is decked out as you expect. He had his buddies checking in regularly and he was denigrating the level of play at the table. He was whiny, smart-alecky and aggravating.
He spouted odds, statistics, outs, how the hands should be played and everything else you could imagine. And he was losing. On my right was a very loose player who will call down with any pair, plays weak hands too far and had been getting lucky. The Kid won't stop riding him and lecturing. He talked about the loose players' play to his buddies, snickering. I tried to tell him to shut up but it's NG. He even tells his buds that this player called him with Ace high and says "He won with the Ace high but it was a stupid call."
Another player, a young nerdy-looking Vietnamese kid, was torturing the "pro." His overcards were hitting on the turn to the "pro's" small pocket pair. This happened 3 times in a row and the "pro" called everytime. He was fuming and I could read his mind. "How could this idiot beat me? He doesn't know what he's doing! I'm the smart player here and everybody should know it! I have a baseball cap on! Backwards!"
After the Vietnames nerdy guy (all 120 lbs of him) won for the third time when his overcards hit the "pro" went totally off. I have a great memory so I'll relate the entire barrage:
"How could you beat me like that 3 times in a row? Dealer, how could you put overcards on the board like that 3 times in a row? Do you know what the odds are of me starting with the best hand and then losing 3 times in a row are? I had the best hand to start! I always have the best hand to start! The odds are:
shouldsubtract8! Did you know you should subtract 8 when Saturn is in it's current position? Of course not but I know it!"
Well, Math, Schmath and Odds, Schmods. I don't need no stinking odds to know that when the Vietnamese guy bets at me and looks at me like it's the Vietnamese Happy New Year to know I'm beat. And I don't take my pocket 5's to the river against a guy who can't bet fast enough, either.
Most people on here know to keep their mouth shut and not lecture, wise-up or denigrate the losing players but nobody has yet come up with a way to make someone else stop doing it and until a death-ray is invented it's going to stay that way.
The "pro" eventually won a big pot, got even, and ran away.
Enjoyed this article by Daniel Kimberg entitled" Is Poker Skill Just Intelligence?
There's more to poker ability than just intelligence. Check it out.
This is a strange thing to post, but hell, a lot of people appreciated it on RGP. So I'm doing the same here.
Subject: Some good basic fraud advice
Hey all - Got this from a friend, some good basic advice.
ATTORNEY'S ADVICE -- NO CHARGE
A corporate attorney sent the following out to the employees in his
1. The next time you order checks have only your initials (instead of
first name) and last name put on them. If someone takes your checkbook,
they will not know if you sign your checks with just your initials or your
first name, but your bank will know how you sign your checks.
2. Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put "PHOTO ID
3. When you are writing checks to pay on your credit card accounts, DO
NOT put the complete account number on the "For" line. Instead, just put
the last four numbers. The credit card company knows the rest of the
number, and anyone who might be handling your check as it passes through
all the check processing channels won't have access to it.
4. Put your work phone # on your checks instead of your home phone. If
you have a PO Box use that instead of your home address. If you do not
have a PO Box, use your work address. Never have your SS# printed on your
checks. You can add it if it is necessary. But if you have it printed,
anyone can get it.
5. Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine. Do both
sides of each license, credit card, etc. You will know what you had in
your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and
cancel. Keep the photocopy in a safe place. I also carry a photocopy of
my passport when I travel either here or abroad. We've all heard horror
stories about fraud that's committed on us in stealing a name, address,
Social Security number, credit cards.
Unfortunately I, an attorney, have firsthand knowledge because my wallet
was stolen last month. Within a week, the thieve(s) ordered an expensive
monthly cell phone package, applied for a VISA credit card, had a credit
line approved to buy a Gateway computer, received a PIN number from DMV to
change my driving record information online, and more. But here's some
critical information to limit the damage in case this happens to you or
someone you know:
1. We have been told we should cancel our credit cards immediately. But
the key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you
know whom to call. Keep those where you can find them.
2. File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your
credit cards, etc., were stolen. This proves to credit providers you were
diligent, and this is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever
But here's what is perhaps most important of all : (I never even
thought to do this.)
3. Call the 3 national credit reporting organizations immediately to
place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security number. I had never
heard of doing that until advised by a bank that called to tell me an
application for credit was made over the Internet in my name. The alert
means any company that checks your credit knows your information was
stolen, and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit.
By the time I was advised to do this, almost two weeks after the theft,
all the damage had been done. There are records of all the credit checks
initiated by the thieves' purchases, none of which I knew about before
placing the alert. Since then, no additional damage has been done, and
the thieves threw my wallet away this weekend (someone turned it in). It
seems to have stopped them dead in their tracks.
Now, here are the numbers you always need to contact about your wallet,
etc., has been stolen:
1.) Social Security Administration (fraud line): 1-800-269-0271
2.) Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
3.) Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742
4.) Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289
Mildly amusing post about a mildly amusing hand:
Subject: Mildly Amusing Hand from Borgata Last NIght & A Question
So last night my dad has a business obligation at the Borgata, after which he decided to play some 1/2 NL. Now, my dad has never played poker in a B&M before and was understandably a little nervous. He also tends to overplays TPGK and flush and str8 draws. Anyway, he messed around for a while, +/- 50 the whole night until the following hand came up. Not sure of the stacks:
Villian (immediately to his left): 4x4x
Dad bets out $20 (about the size of the pot i think after all the limpers), Villian calls.
Turn: Xc. Dad bets out $50, Villian calls.
River: Xc. Dad bets out $75, Villians calls and shows his set.
Dad sees the set, picks his cards up a little high, still face down though, and tosses them down a few inches in front of him (not entirely into the muck but in a gesture of defeat) obviously not realizing he had the flush.
The dealer, as he's collecting the cards, doesn't turn them over but takes a peek at my dad's cards. Then the following convo took place:
Dealer: "You know what you had right?" Dad: "Yeah, a King". Dealer: "You know what the other card was right?" Dad: "A Queen". Dealer: "Do you know which suit?"
Dad's face goes red. Almost a $300 pot goes to the Villian bec he mis-read his hand/the board. They were laughing about it on the table the whole night, and whenver a 4-flush was on the board they would offer my Dad eyeglasses and stuff (good-natured ribbing).
My question is, was the dealer justified in peeking at the cards after they were tossed? If so, how far must the cards travel in order to indicate "mucking" them? Just wondering as I never throw my cards at the muck, I usually flick them my finger.
I enjoyed this funny tale from Poker Chips about the English only rule at the poker tables in Vegas.
I was playing at the $3/$6 holdem tables at the Stardust in Vegas this last weekend. And at one point, I looked at my hole cards, and I said, "Carpe diem". Then I raised.
The dealer shoots me a dirty look and says, "English only at the table, sir!"
Here's another classic post of poker wisdom. I wonder how much this guy charges.
Subject: Need a poker pro to tutor you?
As a full time professional poker player, I've decided to offer my services to anyone wishing to become better at NL HE. Below is my story. I hope you find it inspiring.
For anyone who is currently struggling and having doubts about their poker playing ability, I just wanted to offer a few words of encouragement.
I discovered internet poker a couple of years ago. It became an obsession. I was determined to become the best poker player I could possibly be. I studied several books and practiced as much as possible.
My devotion did not have an immediate pay-off, however. I played correctly, as defined by the experts, but I kept losing. This did not discourage me. I kept playing. But, unfortunately, I kept losing. And money wasn't the only thing I lost. While I was pursuing my dream, I lost my job, my wife, my home, virtually everything but my car and my laptop.
For awhile, I abandoned my dream. I collected unemployment and wallowed in self-pity, missing my wife and kids. But the dream would not die. My life was now radically different -- for the first time in my life I was all alone and practically broke -- but I still had the burning desire to play poker for a living. So I put the past behind me and began playing again, two games at a time, often for as long as 14 hours a day.
It didn't happen overnight and it was a journey with many obstacles, but I am proud to say I did finally achieve my dream. As I sit in this hotel room typing on my old beat up laptop, I have a smile on my face. I have earned nearly $15,000 playing poker this year.
I did it and so can you. Don't dwell on the bad beats you encounter at the poker table or in life. Stay focused on your goal and don't let anything get in your way. You CAN succeed at poker! I'm living proof. Good luck, everyone.
I got the Poker Bustouts DVD. Wasn't that good. If you watch the 3 minute video snippet on their website, you've pretty much seen the movie right there.
Lots of people are curious about poker professionals online poker screen names. Here's a fine updated list for you:
Re: Pro Poker Players Online Usernames
Josh Arieh - razorbax
Aaron Bartley - GambleAB
David Benyamine - magicpitch
Steve Billirikas - MrSmokey1
Noah Boeken - Exclusive
David Colclough - el blondie
Hoyt Corkins - EasyH
Scott Fischman - Emptyseat88
Layne Flack - reloadthis
Prahlad Friedman - Prefontaine
Kirill Gerasimov - kirillG
Pete Giordano - TheBeat
Gus Hansen - broksi
Phil Hellmuth - #1_Lucky_One
Brett Jungblutt - gank
Thomas "Thunder" Keller - bigglesworth
Kathy Liebert - Kathy Liebert
Erick Lindgren - EDOGN
Hans "Tuna" Lund - luckysucker
Marcel Luske - El Capitano
Mike Matusow - MrPokeJoke
Chris Moneymaker - money800
Dan Negreanu - DoubleSuited
Scotty Nguyen - Noo limit
The Poker Babe - Siren
Greg Raymer - Fossilman
Shawn Rice - WestTexasMan
Erik Sagstrom - Erik123
Simon "Aces" Trumper - PateK
David Williams - RugDoctor
Todd Witteles - Dan Druff
Dustin Woolf - neverwin
David Benyamine - magicpitch
Lyle Berman - buckskin
Freddy Deeb - kid44/kid55
Annie Duke - Annie Duke
Layne Flack - LayneFlack
Prahlad Friedman - Spirit Rock/Mahatma
Russ Hamilton - pokerchamp94
Phil Hellmuth - Phil Hellmuth
Bobby Hoff - DaWiz
Phil Ivey - joe buttons
Thomas Keller - GummyBear
Shawn Keller - catchoftheday
Erick Lindgren - Mr Belvedere
Dave "Devilfish" Ulliot - Devilfish
James Worth - KrazyKanuck
If you play online poker and dont read my blog every day, you are deeply and profoundly retarded. Even more so if you aren't playing at Party Poker.
Here's an interesting take of a guy playing as a pro poker player for a few years.
Three years without a regular job, two years of Online play
A recap on playing as a pro, with my very biased opinions.
The last "regular" job I had working for a company was in Sept. of 2002 - so three years, and since then I have had some investment income, and also secondary income, but the bulk of my income has come from live and online play.
During the past two years, 90% of my "poker" income has been via the internet, and after starting at .50/$1 I have played as high as $30/$60 but regularly play $5/$10 and some $10/$20. My income spiked at $74 an hour, but overall for this period is $33 an hour (It's tough raising your hourly when you have hundreds of hours at a micro-limit).
I'm being honest here, for those interested (expecially those that are new to online play), there is some nice money to be made, but I am starting to reach a point where it isn't much fun. If I was making $250K, it might be different, but I am looking at a job offer in Greece because its over 100K plus housing, and that's more than I will make this year.
I played as a pro in the 1980's (I'm 46) and quit college to do so, but have been back in college since April of '04, and will get a degree in about a year. I wish I had just finished when I was younger. High school and college should be a major highlight in your life, and losing that to poker is a mistake. The more I see poker "taking off," the more I think it will be around way past your graduation. My opinion is enjoy your schooling, play poker on the side, and get your degree.
I had my first five-figure down swing, then took a week in San Diego with the family, and am back home - I've had a great time playing poker in my life, but I need a break/vacation about every two months now, and I'm not sure that's a good thing.
I'm hoping to see a great deal from the "O'Doyle" group that can get me to 3-4 major tournaments next year, and that will probably be enough to keep me playing, but without that, I may give it a rest.
If I had to sum up my life, and poker, I would use one word:
Before you play poker, you should leave your ego at the door. I've done way too many foolish things due to my ego, instead of not worrying what other people might think of me or my situation. Don't let that happen to you. Do what's right for you - after giving all avenues an honest look. We get in certain games because of our ego, we chase down a player who "drew-out" on us because of ego, we often don't see the truth because our ego does not want to see it. Hell, I post here because of ego - and it's probably time to rethink that too.
Good luck everybody.
Conventional wisdom says the casino industry (and taverns) is recession-proof, but this might be taking it too far. Steve Lopez of the LA Times has a fine tale about someone gambling in Lake Charles, Louisiana, even though his New Orleans-area home is still underwater. Evidence, perhaps, that the human urge to gamble is almost as strong as the survival instinct.
"I've been cryin' for a week," a red-eyed Gail Plank of eastern Texas said as she played the 25-cent Sizzling 7 slot machines Sunday morning and drew hard on a Doral cigarette.
"I have family that's still lost."
Plank insisted she wasn't really in the mood to yank slots after the Gulf states tested their luck against Katrina and lost big.
But she gambles so often, she was invited to participate in the Lazy Labor Day Slot Tournament at Harrah's Casino & Hotel, so she figured why not?
If she wins, Plank said, Hurricane Katrina evacuees are in luck.
"I'm giving it all to the Red Cross."
I had seen the riverboat out of the corner of my eye as I sped toward the center of the disaster zone and drove right past it before realizing it was a casino.
Who, I wondered, would be throwing money away in a casino when thousands of Gulf shore residents have lost their lives, their homes and their jobs? When the Big One hits Los Angeles and one-story houses suddenly become split-levels, will we all meet up around a poker table in the City of Commerce?
Doubling back to Harrah's, I figured maybe the place was being used as a staging or rest area for rescue crews, even though Lake Charles is two hours from the worst of the damage.
But I was wrong, of course.
Down the long corridor I walked, past the food court, past the "Come On Down" $1 million giveaway promotion and down the ramp to two riverboat gambling halls: Pride of Lake Charles and Star of Lake Charles.
I went with the Pride, and although it was sparsely populated, it was filling up fast with gamblers, not rescue workers.
Not far away, I noticed another man whose body language said "losing streak." He was wearing a shirt that read, "I Got Out Of Bed For This?"
"Oh, I'm losing all right," Ralph Moten said as a slot machine ate his quarters. "Down $100 already." Yeah, that is a lot.
"I lost my house," he went on. "Lost everything."
You lost what?
"Lost my house."
To the hurricane?
Yes, he said, hitting the "Bet One Credit" button again.
Moten said he left his four-bedroom home in Metairie, close to the New Orleans boundary, just before the hurricane hit. Neighbors who stayed behind have told him the whole area is underwater, including much of his house.
Moten and 11 other family members, including seven grandchildren, made their way to Lake Charles and met a cop who escorted them to a shelter at the local civic center.
It's all been a bit too much to handle, said Moten, 56, a former welder who is on disability after a serious car accident several years ago. He has no idea how badly damaged his house is or when he'll be able to return, and his bed is now a narrow cot in a crammed, noisy auditorium, where he tosses all night but can't really turn.
"I had to get out of there," he said. "It's too much stress and too depressing, and one little baby cried all night." One of the other evacuees said he'd been to the casino for a little relief, and Moten found himself out back of the civic auditorium, looking across the lake at the casino.
"You can see the riverboats from there," he said in his own defense. "I had a $10 Harrah's coupon in my pocket, so I had to come."
Moten didn't tell any of the relatives what he was up to. "I just said I'm going for a ride."
Now he wondered if he should quit while he still had enough money to buy lunch. Then again, he was way overdue for a change of luck.
It's all a roll of the dice, Moten knows all too well. Who loses his house in a hurricane, who wins a million bucks at a casino. A roll of the dice.
I saw him a half hour later, way up on the third floor of the Pride. The casino was mobbed by then, and he was playing the 1-cent slots, still waiting for that lucky break.
Here's a poker movie tidbit for my west coast readers.
Subject: Indie Poker Movie "Freeze Out" to Premiere in L.A. Sun. Oct. 2nd
Sunday Oct. 2nd 10:30PM as part of the Westwood International Film Festival.
"Freeze Out" is an independent comedy about 8 friends who play poker and the night that their home game goes terribly awry. Plus cameos from poker pros: Scottie Nguyen, Mark Seif, Kathy Leibert, and Peter Costa.
You can see the trailer at www.freeze-out.com
If you're in L.A. and you want to see a funny comedy about poker please come
check it out.
-M.J. Loheedwriter/director "Freeze Out"
Anyone out there interested in the near future of Vegas? If so, this is a must read.
From the fine folks at Vegas Tripping: a feature about the Project City Center.
Over The Boardwalk : Project CityCenter
Alrighty then, I guess that does it. Hope you enjoyed this drivel.
Aw hell, you know what? I'm gonna pimp some new poker blogs, in honour of our WPBT blogger tournament coming up next Tuesday. Go check out the new kids on the block:
First up, here's "The Marks" wife who knocked Otis out at Bradoween.
From GVegas, it's:
TrumpJosh is back and posting fresh in his new blog. He's been enjoying playing poker at the blogger tables.
The Armchair Fisherman
Rabbit Plays Poker
Raise The Hammer
A poor man's attempt at beating the game. Unlike poker, Life is ultimately a game with no outs.
Biggestron Plays Poker
Blogs have not only jumped the shark, they've taken off their waterskis and are having a beer on the dock
The written account of a 30-something IT professional learning the ropes of online poker.
Low Limit Grinder
Follow a low limit poker player on his journey (hopefully) up the ladder.
I'm all in....
Raemius is a proud Canuck!
Random Poker and Other Stuff
Some hands, tourneys, good play, bad beats and thoughts on Texas Hold 'em, mostly NL and Tourney NL.
This is the web log of Angela Adams, poker fish, artist, WSOP junkie.
Recently turned pro
Poker tales, talk and a whole lotta whatnot.
Poker and Music
Life, Poker, and Video Games
And finally, but certainly not least, is
Texas Holdem Newbie - an adventure in online poker - The reason this blog is so damn interesting is that he's posting his diary entries from his service time in Iraq. Very interesting read.
And Thus Endeth the Pimpage. Whew. I gotta say, this sure as hell feels like an uber post. I sure hope some people didn't get any work done today. That's when I know I've done my job, damnit.
Where do these freaks come from?
And that will do it, my friends. Hurry up and get signed up on Titan Poker for our tournament on Tuesday. It's gonna be a hoot and I'm even gonna throw in some prizes.
The details again:
WPBT Tourney - Pauly's Birthday Bash
Tuesday - September 20th
Sign up now, damnit! Support your local poker blogger who helps you Destroy Workplace Productivity!
Well hell, now that this monstrosity of a post is finally completed, I can start drinking with impunity. It's about damn time.
I leave you now with arguably the worst troll post ever on 2+2. I lost the link to the entire damn thread, sadly, but just imagine the responses this post received.
i dropped out of high school today
its my senior year and school just got back in session.
i wake up in one of the periods, second or third, i couldnt remember which subject it even was until i heard the teacher mr. harrison running his fat mouth about how we students need to work harder studying and need to stop screwing around or we will end up in downward spiral in a sewer eating dog food for dinner. you know that pep talk teachers give you. they pretend they care about you, but really, the only reason they teach is for power.
its a math class that i flunked last year due to absenses. i spent the entire summer 12 tabling SNG's on party and i was up all night playing until 6 am when i caught the school bus. i slept all through the class so far.
one of the jock rejects in the back says something to harrison like: Why do we need math in the real world.
to not get all-in with TT in EP on the bubble of a MTT I say a little too loudly.
harrison gets pissed that i interrupted him and wants to know what the hell im talking about. i say that i am a pro poker player and i am trying to give him a hand helping these donkeys understand math better.
he basically tells me to stfu. he says poker is a great way to become a degenerate. he says its a sinful and motions to the jesus on his desk. he says that if ive gotten lucky i outta put that money in a mutual fund and save it for my future.
i cant take anymore. lucky?, i say. i make more in a hour then you do in a week you min-wage 40-hour Clown.
he is a little pissed off and tells me to watch it. he says something about anyone can get lucky.
I mutter, over 70K hands? Keep dreaming Grandpa.
I take a deck of cards from my jean pocket and put it on my desk. You want some of this bitch?, I say.
He goes mad at that, and tells me to get out of his classroom. At this point my future is written. Im done with high school. I pick up my backpack and empty it on the floor. I knock over a row of books on my way out the door. I know that i wont be coming back to that class or any class.
I jump over the fence to avoid the min-wage affro security guard whose always stoned I jog home hoping to catch the next $100 MTT Nl Holdem on party.
i was born in the wind, and will die in the wind.
Link of the Day:
Tragic: The Gathering
The real cause of New Orleans' problems was this card: "All creatures with power greater than 1 take no damage this turn. All creatures with power of 1 or less are destroyed."
Subject: The 'sickest' gambling story ever - told by Howard Beale
I have been reformed. Looking back it is hard to imagine the depths to
which I had sunk. I have no hope of ever reaching the surface but at
least I can see the light. It is dark, dark, dark down at the bottom.
- - - - - - - - -
Atlantic City casinos were irresistable to me. I went to Resorts
International Hotel/Casino with a friend on the 3rd day after it opened,
got there at 5am and stood on line until the casino opened at 10. They
pulled aside a rope barrier after the hotel guests were let in and the
crowd literally ran to the tables to get into any game, ANY GAME!, they
could. There were people standing 3 deep behind each blackjack seat,
waiting for a chance. When we left, the line to get into the casino was a
quarter of a mile long down the Boardwalk. I was too stupid to buy stock
in the company or I would now be writing from the beach in the Dominican
Republic, covered in baby oil and barely legal girls.
Needless to say I was hooked and began going to AC regularly. It was not
that much of a problem as I was playing with-in my budget but I was well
aware that I was a problem gambler. I either came home with a pile of
money or no money. When I say no money I mean maybe run out of gas and no
stopping at McDonalds and run the toll booths on the Garden State Parkway
(25 cents each) no money. I don't need to tell anybody which one happened
almost 9 out of 10 times. But I noticed, as I am sure many gamblers have
noticed, that there was often a time during the trip when I was winning
and often enough substantially. The problem was a lack of self control.
If I "had the casino's money" I really sent it in and it was boom or
(mostly) bust. I had to come up with a way to prevent this behavior while
still allowing me to feed the gambling jones.
My solution was to visit the locksmith shop that I did business with. I
brought a casino chip with me and explained that I wanted a small safe. I
wanted one that opened with a key and could not be easily opened and could
be carried around. The owner showed me a small safe that was designed to
be bolted to the floor and was very popular with the local drug dealers,
he said. The thing weighed about 25lbs but was the smallest suitable
safe. I opened it up and explained that I wanted a metal barrier welded
down the middle of the safe and gave him the casino chip. I told him to
cut a slot above one side of the divided safe so that the casino chip
could just be dropped in without any chance of getting it out. On the
other side I told him to drill a 1/4in. hole.
On the next trip to AC I put this 25lb safe into a leather overnight bag I
have, locked it with the key which I of course left at home. I lugged the
thing with me where ever I went, which was to all the casinos. I doubt
that I could do that today because security might think it was a bomb.
When I gambled, and was ahead, I would take a few chips and drop them down
the chip slot into the safe. When I cashed out I would take some bills,
roll them up tight, and shove them down the hole. I would do this the
entire time and it worked great. I would go broke but when I got home I
had a pile of chips and a bunch of cash. I had found the perfect
solution, or so I had thought.
This "system" worked great for a month until one Saturday night at
Resort's. It was 3am. I was at the craps table and started to run bad,
real bad. I had been putting chips and money into the box steadily during
the day, and at that table, but now I was running out of money fast and I
wasn't scheduled to leave AC until Sunday night. Who can stay in AC
without gambling? Not me. And I didn't even think of going home early.
Let me point out that the dealers and the pit bosses had been watching me
occasionally bend over and fiddle around with the leather bag on the
floor. They were real curious but didn't ask what the heck I was doing
between rolls of the dice when I hit a number.
Finally, I was almost
broke and was playing for small money when I asked the dealer "Is there an
all night supermarket open anywhere in Atlantic City, or a Walgreens,
maybe?" "What do you need a supermarket or a Walgreens for?" he asked.
It was hard to get out of my mouth but I said "I need a drill." "A WHAT?"
"A drill." "What do you need a drill for?" "I just need a drill." The
dealer called over the floorman and told him that I needed a drill. "A
WHAT?" "I just need a drill." "What do you need a drill for?" With a
reluctance I can not describe I put my leather bag up onto the craps table
rail and opened it, revealing the safe. "I need to get into this thing."
When the dealers and pit bosses finished laughing I found myself being
escorted by a security guard deep into the bowels of the Resorts
International Hotel/Casino where I was led to the machine shop. A
maintenance man placed the safe under his drill press and in a minute the
safe was opened. I took out the money, tipped him and the woman guard,
and told him to throw the safe away.
Of course I went bust. That was a tough drive home and I was sick to my
stomach for the next few days but the weekend was coming up, I knew I was
going back to AC, and I had to try again. I went back to the locksmith
but this time, after the locksmith finished laughing, I picked a mailbox
(much lighter and smaller) the kind you nail to the wall next to your
front door and headed off to AC with that.
This time I was at Trump Plaza playing blackjack. High limit section. It
was 4am Sunday morning. I had a pile of money and chips in the mailbox,
but I was broke, again. I looked at the dealer and said "Call the pit
boss." "What can we do for you Mr. Beale (not my real name)?"
"I want a drill press."
Why play on Empire Poker?
Geez, it's been a long time since I had to explain this.
Empire Poker is a skin of Party Poker.
What does that mean? Same exact games except for the multi-table tourneys.
You can have a second identity. It's huge if you want to make money in online poker.
Go sign up with Bonus Code IGGY1 on Empire Poker.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Damnit, I forgot to mention the Katrina tournament tonight!
Wil will be playing. Nuff said.
Where: Poker Stars
When: Wednesday Sept. 14 at 9:30 EST
I really am starting an uber-post, I swear. I even wrote two paragraphs so far!
But I wanted to share this lengthy post and thread with ya'll for now.
From 2+2, if you care to read the many responses this post generated.
One particular apropos message was, "Posts like these are about the only thing that make me feel guilty about winning."
Flameout in life and in Poker
Flameout in life and in Poker (VERY LONG)
I’ve lurked here for a long time, but I’ve never been compelled to post until now. I never really read the Psychology forums until recently, for reasons that will be clearer later on. This will be for some a long boring excursion into one degenerate gambler’s demise that I’m sure you’ve read countless times. Others may actually feel empathy and will relate to what I presume many of you have gone through. While for others it may be a cautionary tale. I’m not writing this for purely selfless reasons (i.e. to warn others of the dangers of gambling or whatnot, although that does play a part), I’m mainly writing this for cathartic and self-therapeutic reasons (as suggested by a therapist). Sometimes it is easier to be honest to a group of strangers in an anonymous forum than it is to be honest with yourself. I know I’ve had blinders on for many many years and I have battled many a demon not understanding the underlying subconscious needs and wants that are driving my oftentimes erratic and self-sabotaging behavior.
I know I will get flamed for this post. I’m expecting the snarky and wittily insightful remarks like “come sit at my table,” “don’t blame poker for your inability to reign in your emotions” or “maybe you just suck at poker.” BTW, I realize that that statement practically invites someone to post those lines verbatim, but I don’t care. What I am hoping for is possibly some encouragement and positive feedback, although from the postings I understand that this is probably one of the lesser read forums. I just hope that my story well get through to someone in similar circumstances and maybe reveal the dark underbelly of poker. Obviously, sites like 2+2 have a vested interest in portraying poker in its best light possible. Reading a site like this would lead a poker novice to overestimate the number of long term winners in poker, because all the posters here seem to be in the magic 2% - 10% (depending on who you believe, I believe it’s closer to the lower end) of long term poker winners. Yes I understand that it is a skewed sample and that the better players tend to study and post more on poker, but that is not my point. What about us 90 + percenters…i.e. the donators?? I suppose, and rightfully so, most poker sites don’t want to kill the golden goose, so they promote poker as a harmless hobby or even a lucrative career choice. What they don’t like to reveal is how insidious and harmful poker can be to those who play despite being severely overmatched, underbankrolled, and undereducated on what appears to be such a deceptively simple game, at least on TV. Add to that those who play despite (or should I say in spite of) being positively pathological in their compulsion to gamble.
All that and I still haven’t said anything about me. Well, how to begin? Well, I’ve played poker for about a decade now. Im in my early 30s now. I started playing mainly as a diversion from school. I thought I could keep in under control. And I did…at first. Somehow, I managed to maintain a 3.8 GPA in college and make it through law school. I have an extremely short attention span, unless it involves gambling. Uh, what was I saying? Nevermind. Ok did I inject some humor in this mawkish topic? Ok, I remember breezing through college, because frankly, college was easy for me. I could gamble and still get high marks in college. There were no consequences to my addiction back then, at least they weren’t readily apparent. Going to law school, well suddenly I was average among my peers. That is very disheartening and quite a blow to my ego, especially to someone who is raised to believe that he is somehow intellectually “gifted.” Invariably, the gambling increased, seemingly in proportion to the difficulty of my coursework. Not a good combination. Somehow, I managed to graduate law school in the top ¼ of my class, whilst being known as the campus slacker. I did as little as possible to get an A, however, success at this level didn’t come as easy as in my undergraduate studies. I am unhappy going to law school, but I grind it out thinking it will pay off later. Ring a bell? I am paying my dues at low limit knowing I will be in the big game soon. God I am sure I am boring what readers I have left, but like I said… this is mainly therapeutic for me.
Fast forward a few years later. Good job, nice car, engaged to a wonderful girl, everything seems to be looking up. Except it isn’t. I used to think that this was what I always wanted. To be materially successful and have a beautiful trophy wife. I was happy the first few years. When you come from middle class to making more than your parents combined your first year out of school it’s quite a culture shock. Yes I had fun, and I worked hard, and I hardly gambled. I thought I had it all. But, there was always that nagging suspicion in the back of my head telling me…this is not what you want. The life of a young layer in a big firm is a life sucker. 40 billable hours a week translates to about 60-70 hours in the office. I worked in Chapter 11 bankruptcies (corporate bankruptcies) which is about as tedious and mind-numbing as law can get. If I wanted to make partner in 8 years I would have to bring in so much dollars to my firm a year. It appreared I had the golden life, but I was dying inside.
I began to see signs of career burnout. It was frightening. Had I worked so hard and so long to do something I hate. Even my fiancé wasn’t much consolation. It became readily apparent that deep meaningful conversations were not her strong suit. I began to suspect that without all the accoutrements of high society, she might not be happy with me. I mentioned resigning and settling for a less demanding career as a government attorney. She balked at the idea. How were we going to make the mortgage payments and keep the fancy cars and such. I said we’ll will just have to downsize I said. She had never worked a day in her life so the prospect of actually working for a living was completely alien to her. I began to see my life circling down the drain. I became deeply depressed and felt my life and career circling down the drain. I suggested to her that maybe we should postpone the wedding. She told me if I wasn’t 100% sure than maybe we shouldn’t get married. It was an empty threat on her part, but in the back of my mind I knew she was right. I called her bluff and called off the wedding. She went ballistic. She said that I would never get anyone of her quality again. She said many many hurtful things which I don’t think I could ever forgive her for, even if they were untrue. I kicked her out of my house and for 2 weeks after she begged me to take her back. I was weak and eventually took her back.
I decided, however, that I would tell her I was leaving my job and I was planning on going back to school to become a teacher. I was only half serious, but I wanted to know how she would react. She placated me and said she would support me in any decision I made. I didn’t believe her. I took a leave of absence from work due to personal issues. People at my work knew I had broken up with her, they didn’t know we were back together. I knew taking an extended leave of absence would torpedo any chance of making partner, but I didn’t care. Work was becoming unmanageable with too many distractions, and by then, I was gambling quite heavily in Atlantic City on the weekends. My mind was always wandering, thinking about gambling. It was my drug. It numbed my brain, between work and my fiancé… I was losing it. The more I gambled, the more I became preoccupied with it. The wedding had become almost a non issue at that point. It was understood we would discuss a date when we got our problems resolved.
I asked for 2 months off so I could get my head in order. I didn’t care what that did to my career. I couldn’t take it anymore. I was unhappy in my career and my life. I didn’t see a way out. But gambling was a salve, it made the pain go away. I am by far a winning player at poker, I tilt too easily. I play oftentimes, not to win money, but to beat certain individuals at my table that had pissed me off in one way or another. Sometimes I would donk off my stack trying to put bad beats on people. At best, I was a break even player, if I didn’t tilt. Consciously I didn’t know where this unwarranted aggressive behavior came from, but I eventually learned that it was one way of lashing out at convenient targets, because the things I truly was angry at I was unable to express my anger at. I was angry at myself, at my fiancé, and to some extent my parents. They had always expected me to be a lawyer or a doctor because I was always told I was “gifted.” Maybe that’s not what I wanted.
Eventually I got tired of driving 2 hours to gamble. So I tired playing online. That’s like going from cocaine to crack (speaking metaphorically of course, not from personal experience). Always in actions, always available, games never break up. At the casino, I would be the last one left when a table broke, I would ask anyone and everyone if they wanted to play heads up or shorthanded, even at games or stakes I wasn’t comfortable with. I was a true degenerate. Magnify that 100 times online. There is never a shortage of games…ever. I started playing my usual stakes online which were mid limits 15-30 to 30-60. For some reason I did well, even though the opponents were tougher online. Maybe it’s because I didn’t try to tilt people or donk off my stack trying to put bad beats on people. Well…I did, but not as much. When people irritated me online I could switch tables. Live in a must move game…not so easy to do. For one glorious month I was consistently beating the mid limits online. I thought I found my true calling. I had read many books and of course 2+2. I knew about pot odds, implied odds, EV, position, etc so I wasn’t a complete fish. However, I glossed over the bankroll suggestions. Variance is a bitch. Yes I know, I wasn’t thinking clearly.
Up until recently, I think, (is it still?) the 100-200 at Pstars was restricted. Meaning you couldn’t sit at the table without a sufficient bankroll. This was to protect the players from going on a bad streak and losing their entire bankroll, at least that’s what I assume. Well I figured those rules don’t apply to me…variance be damned! So I added onto my bankroll through Western Union (which is another story, since they explicity state on their site that they won’t do transfers for gambling purposes…it seems that they have a don’t ask done tell policy with pokerstars and a tacit agreement not to look into it as long as Pstars does it surreptitiously) since I had already had requested and received 3 monthly deposit limit upgrades. So I have a roll big enough for Pstars 100-200 game, but still underbankrolled according to most poker authors. Surprisingly, that wasn’t the problem. It was the 10-20NL game that did me in. I rarely played NL, but once I got a taste. I couldn’t go back to limit. The thought of making several thousand a day like I saw some players do regularly was too great a temptation. So I had a substantial amount of money online, which most of it i deposited rather than winning it. People write about how it stings to build up a big roll and lose it. Well…I t stings more when you put that money in and lose it. At least when you build it up, you didn’t earn it in the conventional sense. Well, needless to say, being a newbie to NL. I lost, and lost big. I kept chasing losses, all the while my life around me was crumbling. My fiancé knew I liked to gamble, but she had never seen me like this. I was dishelved, sometimes I didn’t shower for days. She threatened to leave, which eventually she made good on her threat. Then things got read bad.
For all that followed this oft rambling incoherent mess I thank you. If I get some responses I’ll post the rest of my story. Otherwise, I’ll tell it to someone who cares.
Please feel free to respond in any way you see fit, even if it is snarky, mean-spirited and generally unproductive.
Well, I cant sleep and I kind of feel better after writing that.
Ok…well on with the story. I had proceeded to donk away my entire bankroll playing No limit online, a situation which many of you I’m sure are familiar. I was feeling pretty low about myself. I thought I had discovered my true calling. I was wrong, I just didn’t know it then.
I read up every book on gambling I could get my hands on. I felt like I would come back better than before, knowing how and why and how to plug the leaks in my NL game. However, I got sidetracked and started to look into other forms of gambling. I became obsessed with gaining an edge no matter how small. For example, I read that statistically, the number 1 dog or horse is the statistical favorite, not by much, but a favorite nonetheless. When I was in Vegas I went to a sportsbook that had about 40 simulcast dog races from across the nation. I decided to place $100 on every 1 dog ( I had read this in a book, I forget which though). I actually came ahead about $600. I tried it again I lost about $900 that time. After several repeated trials I ended up about $400. I decided it wasn’t worth the risk and the huge outlay of cash it required. However, I did notice something while looking at the dozens of races. I saw that there might be other opportunities to exploit any small edges in dog racing. I realized in certain situations when one dog scratched and there were several long shots you could theoretically guarantee yourself a win if you bet on all the dogs. It worked thusly: by betting each dog depending on the odds, let’s say you want to win $500 on the winner you would bet like this: if dog 1 was a 4 to 1 favorite you would bet 125 to win, if dog 2 was a 25 to 1 favorite you would bet 20 to win, if dog 3 was 20 to 1 favorite you would bet 25 and so on and so on until you had every dog covered. Now this only works if your total outlay is less than what you expect to win. No sense in better $600 to win $500. Therefore, usually one dog had to scratch or there had to be several longshots for this system to work. Not surprisingly, this situation is not too common, and if you bet big enough to actually win real money the odds get skewed and you could take a bath.
After that realization, I decided that there had to be other edges in gambling that could be exploited. Having so much free time, I read voraciously and thought of ways to exploit any house edges. I decided that I would teach myself card counting. I tried to learn to count cards, but there were so many conflicting theories on the best way. I wasn’t convinced that basic card counting could provide enough of an edge. Besides it seemed like a dreadful grind. It seemed that if online blackjack didn’t use continuous shuffle it would be easy to program a bot to count cards and play perfect strategy for you. I suppose that is why they have continuous shuffle online. I read the book “Bringing down the House” about the MIT students who took Vegas for millions. I wanted to do that, but I didn’t have the patience or the mathematics background to replicate a system like the MIT group did (it was never fully revealed in the book, besides it required an enormous bankroll). Arrogantly, I decided I could come up with a system, despite having no mathematical background whatsoever, just a desire to exploit an edge.
Well, I came up with one. I decided in my years of playing blackjack that over extended periods of time you come upon lucky streaks. Eventually you will win 6 or more hands in a row. Problem is you never know when that hot streak will end so people are afraid to increase their bets. I decided that in order to maximize those streaks and the power of doubling I decided to try some progression blackjack. Basically, flat bet til u win. Then let it ride. Then let it ride again. Sounds simple, right? Basically at a 100-5000 spread blackjack table it only takes 7 wins in a row to hit the table max, less if you win a blackjack or a double down or a split. So I would flat bet 100 and try to get to table max. And then win again with table max and again. Usually I would stop at 8 wins in a row. 8 wins in a row meant $10,000. If you could do that twice in one nice it usually meant you were up a fair amount. So over a 10 hour period I would lose a bunch of minimum bets, but when I did win I won big. And I modified basic strategy a bit. I was thinking of the meta-game. Basic strategy accounts for the best chance of winning a particular hand. However, I figured that the best way to keep a win streak going would not to hit on stiff 15 and 16s, even against Tens and Aces. I would only hit on 12, 13, and 14s. I modified that sometimes and never took a bust card. The reason for that was paradoxically, although hitting a 14 would give you a higher percentage of winning that one individual hand, it would also decrease your odds of stringing a long win streak. Basically, I was trying to get up big before the inevitable Risk of Ruin caught up with me. After all, even with a 49% disadvantage you could go 1 million hands and still be up against the house. Obviously as that number approaches infinity your probability of being up approaches zero. However, the long term mathematically, compared to a human life span is enormous. I have read about people never having a losing year playing blackjack by only using basic strategy, while statistically unlikely, it is well within normal statistical standard deviation.
At the same time, I also concocted a plan for running up a large stake playing poker online. Something that is unique to playing online. The ease and availability of moving games. I decided that I would treat playing poker online like a tournament. The blinds go up, but then so do the pots. I decided to take several shots at my virtual tournament. I would buy in for say $400 and play $400 NL table. Once I doubled or tripled up I would move up to the next limit and so on and so on. It was like a big long tournament, except I got to determine when the blinds went up. Once again, progression betting. I know this is not sound poker strategy, but I didn’t see much difference between this strategy and playing a $400 buy in tourney. The only drawback being that the competition got tougher and tougher as the limits went up. However, if you are in the mindset that it is a tournament you wont feel as bad when you bust your $5000 because you only invested $400 to start and you had a shot at a whole lot more.
I then looked into the stock market for edges. For example scanning all the wire looking for bad news that could negatively impact an industry and shorting the stock in that industry. I also tried to come up with an idea that I called currency “float” that exploits the differences in foreign currency, but that idea requires too much money and may not be legal anways. The reason I post all this is because I want you to be aware that I wasn’t a complete degenerate. I tried to gamble with the best of it and was often trying of thinking in terms of paradigm shifts and meta-game theory. This was when my head was somewhat still clear.
Still Waiting for Godot
P.S. I’ll probably start a new thread for my next installment
Ok on with the story. Im in Vegas in June during the WSOP. However, poker isn’t my main focus. Originally it was, but I decide that I’m gonna take a run at blackjack. Starting with about 7k I manage to turn that into 170k over 5 days. Mind you, that is more than a years salary for me. I have never had that much cash in my possession, ever. I am completely freaked out. I can’t believe my luck. On Friday, my ex-fiance calls me. She tells me that she told my boss that I have a gambling problem and that was the cause of my leave of absence and not the breakup. She tells me that she loves me and she did it for my own good. She says that my boss was very understanding and would make sure I got the help I needed. I was livid. How dare she interfere with my life like that. On some level I wanted to believe she truly wanted to help me, but on another I believed she just wanted to see me suffer. I didn’t know what to think. I had so many mixed emotions, the high of my big win yet I could feel my career as an attorney slip away. I was also feeling intense anger toward Allison, but I couldn’t help but feel pangs of longing for her also. I knew she was wrong for me, in the same way I knew gambling was wrong. She was crying on the phone and saying she only was trying to save me. I impulsively said I would fly her out that night. I hadn’t told her about the money, and I didn’t plan too unless things went well.
After we hung up, I called and checked my voicemail at home, I hadn’t in about 3 days. There were several messages left by my boss to call him back immediately. I felt a sense of dread, like when you are 10 and your father is going to be home after work and your going to have to face him. It was Friday in Vegas and it was past 6pm on the East Coast. The office is usually clear of any partners after 4pm on a Friday, just us junior associates. I decided to call anyways as I was 99% sure he would not be there. Thankfully I was right and left a message apologizing profusely about not getting back to him earlier and I would straighten things out on Monday. That gave me two days to come up with a damn good excuse to save my job, which at that time I wasn’t sure if I wanted anyways. But I wanted to keep all my options open.
That really threw a wet blanket on things for the night. I flew Allison out that night. She arrived around 2am. I was so tired I had a limo pick her up and bring her back to the hotel. I had proceeded to go on a drinking binge right after I hung up the phone with my office. I was no longer playing the way I had before and I proceeded to give the casino its money back. Which in turn caused me to drink even more heavily, which in turn caused me to play even worse. After about three hours of this I had erased about 45k of my win. Somehow I managed to find myself to my hotel room and I splashed all the chips and money haphazardly over the nightstand and on the bed. I had forgotten that I hadn’t told Allison about the money. So when she angrily knocked on the door I didn’t think to hide all the chips and cash lying around. She was furious that I wasn’t there to pick her up but when she saw all the money lying around her scowl turned into smile. I remember I fell back into bed and passed out. The next morning I saw that she had neatly arranged all the chips and hundreds into neat even stacks. My head was throbbing and I asked her, “did I really lose 40k last night or was it a dream?” She gave me an astonished look and asked me you mean you had 157k last night ? I had put 10k in the hotel safe so the total figure was about 167, but she was pretty close.
Then the next thing that she said almost made me fall out of bed…”So, does this mean your gonna buy me a new ring?” I almost lost it there. I was incredulous. I assume that she thought that the wedding was back on because I flew her out here. I flew her out here because I wanted to know exactly what she told my boss and who else knew, the status of our relationship was my last priority at that point. I told her no way would I even consider buying a ring until we somehow managed to settle our differences. The thing about my Allison is that she doesn’t like to be left hanging like that. She wants to know right now. I told her I had to think about it before committing to anything like that again. She was obviously unhappy, but I didn’t care. The only thing I wanted to do was to get back at the tables and win my 40k back.
But that wasn’t to be. This was her first time in Vegas, so she asked, no she demanded that I take her to see all the sites. I managed to hit and run a few times and I got about 11k back, but her incessant nagging prevented me from getting any solid streak together. It was amazing how I lost all conception of money at the blackjack tables. It was made painfully clear at dinner at a nice steakhouse when I was debating on ordering the petite or standard filet for 8 dollars more. She said your gonna bet 500 and 1000 a hand on blackjack and your gonna miser over 8 bucks. She was right, but to me it was whether I was hungry enough to eat the larger steak. I relented and paid the extra 8 bucks for the standard filet. But it made me think of how little I value money at the table and how scary that was, like I wasn’t in control or that the chips represented monopoly money. Of course I didn’t finish the steak, but I would’ve been annoyed if I ordered the smaller steak and wanted more.
Only a few days til the main event of the WSOP. It was starting on Thursday the following week and I had already paid the entry fee with my winnings. I had to come up with a good cover story why I couldn’t possibly be back to work before July 16, not that I expected to be at the final table or anything, but you never know. Things went pretty smoothly between me and Allison that weekend. Also she was mistaken on two separate occassions for a pro poker player named Erin Nes (sp?) who apparently got like 10 seconds face time on ESPN coverage last year which she strangely found to be very exciting. I don’t see how it is possible someone would see someone on tv for a few seconds and remember them the next year, maybe she is a bigger star than I imagine. Things seemed like old times that Saturday and I felt like I was being trapped into resuming our relationship through inertia. Because it would be easier to do that than break up again, even though we weren’t officially together.
After she went to bed that night I slipped out of the room with about 20k in chips headed for the BJ tables. For some strange reason, I felt like I was going to lose, maybe it was the guilt, Allison and the impending doom of talking to my boss on Monday, but things didn’t feel right. Maybe it was the incessant phone calls, presumably from Allison wondering where I snuck off to in the middle of the night. I turned off my phone after about the 7th straight call. Regardless I lost that 20k in about 30 minutes. I ran up to the room to grab another 30k and try to win my losses back. Predictably, Allison was sitting up in bed looking as mad as ever. I told her I lost 2k, she seemed to accept that answer, but she refused to let me leave again. Especially after seeing how many chips I had picked up. After arguing back in forth I decided to give in, while in the back of mind I was scheming on how I could work her departure from Vegas into the conversation. It’s too bad she didn’t have a job she had to go back to. Now I had two major unpleasant conversations to look forward to.
I appreciate all the support and encouragement I’ve been receiving since my first post. I braced myself to be mocked and ridiculed but instead all I got was kind words and I thank you all for that.
In response to the posters commenting on how much of a witch Allison is, well I suppose I hadn’t painted a full picture. I think I stated things too simplisticly, however, I didn’t feel it was important to flesh out every single detail. Suffice to say, I was an unreasonable jerk to her at times as she was to me. I think the last 6 months to a year was like a crucible that tested the strength of our relationship. She was never completely wrong and I was never completely right and vice versa. There are a million shades of gray. Yes, she is materialistic, yes she can be selfish and petty. However, she grew up the only daughter of a surgeon and never had want for any material needs. She grew up in a household where her father showed his love by the things he bought her and I think that she has issues because of that. Her father seems cold and distant, whereas her mother is very warm and affectionate. I wish she would take more after her mother, and I know that she craved attention and acknowledgement from her father, but I don’t think he knows or chooses not to express his love to his daughter and instead chooses to buy her things to prove that she is loved by him. Knowing these things I can understand her obsession with status and class. I’m not excusing it, but I do understand it. On the other hand, despite her materialistic ways she can be one of the kindest loving person at times and that’s why I fell in love with her in the first place.
When you receive a one sided portrait of a person it’s very easy to make snap judgments on that persons character and that is my fault for portraying her the way I did. She does have many redeeming qualities but she is far from perfect. Would I like some things to be different about her? Of course I would. However, if you’ve read my posts I should be the LAST person to point out character defects in another. That being said, it did become more and more apparent that we had many deep differences on our philosophies on life. It’s easy for a couple to get along when things are going well. It’s when things go south is when a couple’s true mettle is tested. I definitely think it’s harder on a person who grew up wealthy to face poverty than someone who wasn’t wealthy growing up. Your childhood affects you in so many ways and as my therapist would say, you spend your entire adult life getting over your childhood.
Ok so back to the story. To those who may be somewhat confused by the timeline, the events I described so far took place between 6 months to 3 months ago. Also, I might add after rereading some of my posts that they tend to be overly long and rambling, filled with grammatical errors and typos. I tend to write in a stream of consciousness fashion and I often don’t stop to correct my grammar except to insert paragraph breaks for readability so I apologize in advance if I my writing is murky at times and I will be more than happy to clear up any misunderstandings.
So I got bed that Saturday night (actually it’s technically about 4am Sunday morning, but you get the picture) wanting, nay dying to get back at the tables. But the argument is not worth it. I would be afraid she might make a scene at the tables if I try to go downstairs again. On the other hand, I am thinking that if we do argue she may give me an ultimatum, her or the gambling. I am afraid I might pick gambling. I am also afraid I might pick her. I don’t want to make that decision right now. Thinking about all these things, she pretends to be asleep. I know she’s not. I don’t know if she believes I am asleep, but I don’t bother to ask. I figure if I can wait out another hour or so I can escape like a thief in the night and face her wrath tomorrow. Except she has cuddled up with most of my chips and money in her bag. I’ll figure how to extract that when she’s asleep or I will take out a cash advance. Although I hate to expose myself to more loses when I have 6 figures in chips in my hotel room. As I sit there formulating what to do when she does actually fall asleep, I Somehow manage to drift off to sleep. I had only about 5 hours of sleep in the last 48 hours and I am exhausted and half drunk.
I know I might end my posts in melodramatic fashion and I admit… this episode may be disappointing to some…kinda like that Sorpanos episode last season where Tony just hangs out with his dad’s mistress. I’ll try to post later but if I don’t get a chance to post later I should be back Tuesday or Wednseday im going to be out of town for a few days.
Still Waiting for Godot
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Alright, I'm gonna start thinking about writing an uber-post. I'm overdue but I've been playing so much damn poker I haven't had time to write.
And I'm getting my ass handed to me this month. In a big way. To top that off, quarterly estimated taxes are due Thursday. Nothing beats paying taxes when you are fucking losing money. This is my second biggest slump ever so I'm a tad frustrated right now. And hung over. Not to mention my family found this fucking blog so I'm really close to hanging it up. Not trying to pull a donkeyfucker here, but turning out the lights is suddenly a very real option.
Hi Mom! Make sure to read the DonkeyFucker post!
Whine, whine, whine.
On the positive side, I had a blast playing with the bloggers last evening. Having DoubleAs on your left most of the evening is always fun. I think Monday evenings should be Home Game Night.
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Monday, September 12, 2005
Lots to say but it shall have to wait.
I just realized that there's a cheapo PokerStars Katrina charity event tonight.
It's only $5 so please sign up and play, damnit. I'm hoping a blogger NL game breaks out afterwards, as it usually does. Come join us and have some laughs.
Tonight - Sept. 12 at 9:30 EST
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