Sunday, September 23, 2007

Room for improvement

Recently, I was fortunate enough to buy into Full Tilt Poker, run up my stack to just over 7 times my buy in and then cashed out for just over 3x buy in. I then proceeded to donk off all my remaining dollars, for a net gain of just over 2x buy in. I think I made every mistake in the book on my downhill slide, tilted, played too many hands and tried to outplay everyone, and then started way too much negative thinking - all the times I was raised I assumed I was beat, bluffed at the wrong times etc. I, of course can blame a bit on bad luck, lost my stack with Kings against Aces 6 handed, then picked up aces in a tourney, got all in against Kings, and a King hits on the river. But it was mainly donk play.

Time for an adjustment. Cut way back on poker, stopped playing on line and joined For those of you unfamiliar with cardrunners, it is a site started by a guy named Taylor, who bought in on line for $35.00 and ran up his stack so he can comfortably play on line in NL Holdem ring games for $10,000 buy ins. Brian Townsend, who is supposed to be the best High Limit NL Holdem player in the world, regularly contributes to the site. Brian plays $400/$800 NL Holdem and Pot Limit Omaha, mainly on line. He claims to have a 58% Win RATE, and he is likely telling the truth. Unless his blog is filled with BS, which I doubt, he appears to be making a handsome living, likely in the low to mid 7 figures annually (just a guess).
Brian too started playing in $10 tourneys on line.

What is the site like? There are a bunch of good articles written by pros similar to the strategies and analysis articles in Cardplayer magazine. Some are just brushing up on the basics - things like position matters, playing in a casino vs. playing on line, and sit and go strategies. Others concepts are more advanced like betting based on board textures against tight weak opponents, and a concept called ghosting, essentially using position and reads to get opponents to fold. The other cool thing is watching videos of pros playing on line games while they provide commentary on why they made certain moves.

The basic philosophy of the site is to play LAG poker (Loose aggressive) and then make your decisions based upon your equity in the hand. Your equity is determined by your hand vs. a range of hands that you put your opponent on. To get this figure you need pokerstove (applause to Martin for pointing out this site). In a real game, you obviously don't have time to put the range of hands into pokerstove, but, with experience, you can have a pretty good idea where you stand.

Some decisions are still made on feel, like Marsh did recently on a hand against me. The flop was 3,4,5 rainbow, it was checked around, the turn was a 3, I made a weak bet from the small blind and said "I think I have the best hand." Marsh raised me with what he said was 10,7 os, ( I believe him). I call with Ace High. The final card is a Q, I check Marsh throws in about a 3/4 size of the pot bet, and I fold. Great play by Marsh who essentially ghosted me, using position and feel to get the opponent to fold the best hand.

I encourage you all to take a look at the site. It would be really cool if someone from the WNP crowd could mount a big stack, either on line or with casino play, to make us all proud. Many of us have the aptitude, but since we all have still have day jobs (except of course Martin), I don't think any of us can yet confidently say we have a substantial EV with our stack when we play against other good players. The cardrunner guys, especially Brian, are playing against the best, as I doubt there are many casual players at the $400/$800 NL Holdem games. With continued improvement, one or more of us, can hopefully achieve long run EV against tough tables.


Marshall said...

Good post. I think that you are a prime candidate for the Cake Poker Challenge. I think we have all had similar experiences with online poker, but I think a big part of it is simply bankroll management.

I would typically buy in for $100.00, and play at the $50.00 tables. This is pretty horrific bankroll management really. I was always hoping to just run up a nice score and get a roll going. It never happened.

I mean, even if you run/play well for the initial stretch, you are still fighting an uphill battle. If I bought in for $100.00, and ran it up to $600.00, I would play either 50 or 100 buy in games. Even at those stakes, with 600.00, you are likely to hit a bad stretch of luck or a nice tilt session to set you back half or all of your roll.

Hence us doing the challenge to try to figure out a system that lets us play, but also is as bulletproof as possible to bad swings and tilt. Jesus Ferguson uses 5% of his roll as the most he will put on the line at any given time, and double that as the amount he will have on the table at risk at any time. He only moves up a game when his roll can support it.

Maybe you want to take 10% of your roll and try a MTT for a big score. Or maybe you think 2% is safer. We are trying to find these things out, and also test our discipline, tilt avoidance, patience, and game adjustment skills all the while compiling bragging rights and competition.

You can use FTP if that is better for you, but Cake gives us all an even opponent field.

Thoughts Jase?

jason said...

I did want to play on Cake, but I may as well bonus one of you for the sign up fee. It looks like the bonus is $100.00 for me and $100.00 for the referrer. So if you, Joe, and Ryan, the only folks I know that play on cake wish to draw straws let me know who won and then send me your e-mail and sign in name which I probably need to bonus you.

I am hesitant to play in the cake poker challenge. Not because I don't like a challenge, just because I can honestly say I am an action junkie with a big flaw of lacking patience. I really slowed down over the past week or 2 to learn patience. Patience for me does not mean waiting for a good hand, that is not my style. Patience is waiting for a flaw in the table and then exploiting it.

Yesterday, I played on a 10/25 cent table with $25.00 buy in. I immediately noticed a very aggressive player raising most all pots pre flop. The table folded to me in the sb and I had 7,4 suited. I raised to 3 times the blind he called. Flop comes K,9, 4. Normally, I would bet here but I checked. He checks. Next card is a K, I check, he bets, I call. Next card is a blank, I check, he bets half the pot I call and show bottom pair, he shows Ace High and I know I have him on minor tilt as he was running the table.

Folded around to me an orbit or 2 later, I pick up pocket jacks in the sb. I raise to 3x the blind, I know he puts me on rags and he raises to 11x the blind. I call. Flop is 9,9,6 with 2 spades, I check he bets 2/3 the pot, I raise 3.5x his bet, he thinks for a while and puts me all in. I am getting 4x to call, so in the unlikely event I am behind I may call anyway. He has 10,8 os, the next 2 cards brick and I double up.

I admire you guys for playing good poker with 2 cent and 4 cent blinds. I just don't believe I can do it. I have a swingy style and I lack some patience at 10 25 cent blinds.

I did just buy in at Full Tilt for $60.00 but wont be able to use Ferguson style bank roll management. I am happy to let you know what my results are but I will likely be the first one to double up or bust out.

Marshall said...

Well I am going under the assumption that you want to get better. That you are trying to improve. So if your style works for you online, by all means use it. From reading your response it seems you are in it more for the pure entertainment value, which is cool.

I am doing the challenge in order to round out parts of my game. My bankroll management, my patience, tilting online, and also mainly my long term goals with poker. I think like this: If I can't beat the .02-.04 games and work my way up from there, what have I learned all this time I have been playing?

It doesn't really matter at all where you start, what limits, what buy ins etc, all that matters is that you treat your roll like your pride and joy, and that you come up with a way to not lose it while moving up. The bragging rights/competition aspect serve as big motivation for me. It also gives me a long term goal.

The play at the lower levels isn't as bad as I thought it would be, but its not good obviously. I would encourage you to come along and throw your hat in the ring, but if you just can't see yourself doing it then I understand. I would question what you are accomplishing at the levels you are at, and what your goals are. I know you are a family man and not going to throw 10k down at the WSOP or anything.

But I ask, what is the point of doing something if you aren't going to give it your best shot?

If it's just for entertainment, that I can understand, but not agree with you on :)

jason said...

There is a great article on cardrunners titled, why do I play poker. A great question and the answer is always changing.

I played as a kid for large stakes at the time, probably $5 or $10 buyins I can't remember. This is big money when the paper route pays $3 per week. I think I was decent, I can't remember but I enjoyed it. Then Martin introduced me to Sunday nite poker. Read some books went to Vegas, lost my whole limit while I was there, about $700.00.

I got really sick about a year ago and played enormous amounts on line. It was the only thing that got me through the day. I think I made $300 or $400 bucks but alot of it was the sign up bonuses. I knew I was at least good enough to beat the rake.

I recently went through an itis phase with lots of winnings and losings. Part of the game but a couple things bothered me. I would stay up all nite to try to get unstuck and then would be tired all weekend. While I don't berate myself for staying up late for live games, playing all nite on line is dumb.

The other problem was that I was not improving. If you don't learn knew things and are constantly exhausted, then why I am playing poker. So I joined cardrunners. With all the knowledge you will gain, you still have to execute and make some very tough and difficult plays. So you may still not master the game, it truly does take a lifetime to master.

Here is an example of a very difficult decision from cardrunner. You are playing $50/$100 NL, the river comes and brings you a flush. The board is double paired. In your gut you believe your opponent has nothing. You make a small bet of $3000 into a $10000 pot, specifically to entice a bluff raise which you intend to call. Your opponent goes all in for $25000 more. Now what? Real life situation. The pro said he could not pull the trigger and his opponent flashed Ace High. Its a very tough call and I would think that very few of us from WNP can make it. Sure, if there is $10 in the pot we can probably make the call for $25 more. But if there is a $1000 in the pot and the opponent moves all in for $2500 more can we make the call? I know stakes should not matter, we should really play based on bets relative to the pot, but its just a much tougher call in a high stakes game.

So here are my goals for poker:

Have fun, if I am not having fun, stop playing,at least for a while. I virtually always have fun at WNP, win or lose, though winning is way more fun.

Constantly try to improve.

If I can get good enough so that my expected value when I walk into a casino is positive, this would be ideal. If you ever play in Palm Desert, most all of us would have a positive expected value, the play there is horrible, this is where MB had her win on a four way all in with AQ.

I actually would like to play in the WSOP tournament, though very unlikely I would ante up the $10,000 for the main event. Lots of the other tourneys there do interest me.

A very long answer to your question, but the poker challenge does not fit into my immediate goals. Bankroll management, at least for now, has not been a problem, even on line. I am lucky enough to be ahead lifetime on line, not much a few hundred bucks. AND I do get the joy of competing live with all of the WNP crowd already in live games which are way more fun.

By the way, I think you are a prime candidate for cardrunners, it will definitely improve your game and give you some new insights you did not have before. The LAG style they play (Loose Aggressive) fits your style well, at least your style at WNP.

Marshall said...

Good stuff Jase, I have been considering cardrunners for awhile, and I think I might pull the trigger soon.

The one thing I might refute about your last post is that you said that bankroll management hasn't been a problem.

You said you built your stack to 7 (!) times your buy in, but barely got 2x out of it in the end. If you ask me, that is very poor bankroll management, and you are probably going to see yourself in that same cycle if you don't make some changes.

What changes you ask? Well that's what we are trying to learn with the challenge.

Side note: I consider anyone who does the challenge automatically better at poker than anyone who doesn't. This means that Austin owns you Jase, think about that...


Bob Loblaw said...

Damn it, that means I've been pwned, too.

**goes to talk to his IT guy one more time about getting Parallels or something similar installed on his work Mac**