Sunday, October 21, 2007

Full Tilt Challenge - Jason

Full Tilt Challenge

Somewhat like Martin’s fake cake poker challenge, I am taking part in the challenge with slightly altered rules. Since I am bending the rules, I will acknowledge that Joe, Ryan, Marsh or Austin will be the true winner regardless of my result, I am just hoping for an honorary mention.

Here are my rules, which are admittedly completely unfair. I had just posted $60 on Full Tilt, on or about the same date the challenge started. It was just a coincidence as I bought in before I knew the challenge existed. I do not receive a rakeback, and I am not sure if the cake players do. I play for way too high stakes for effective bankroll management. I started playing at the 10 cent/25 cent level with a full $25.00 buy in. As an action junkie, I knew I would be decimated at the micro stakes level as I would play way too impatiently. I also figured that if I went bust, my worse case scenario was that I would join the cake players and then would challenge Ryan each night for heads up Omaha, a challenge I know he would not say no to.

Here are my results. If anyone cares, I will update weekly or monthly. I would be also OK with a response that I am not following the spirit of the competition, so I am ineligible even to blog.

Grinding it out at the 10/25 cent tables, I built my bankroll up to about $125.00 then moved to the 25 cent/50 cent with a full $50.00 buy in. I built up to $180.00 and then came up with the brilliant idea to practice Pot Limit Omaha on Full Tilt in preparation for my first mixed game night. Before Pot Limit, I never went on tilt once, played a LAG style of NL Holdem, and consistently seemed to win.

Pot Limit Omaha was a disaster for me, mostly because I was clueless, partly because I had bad luck. My bankroll dwindled to $15.00. I went on tilt, played all night, and donked excessively. Back to 5 cent/10 cent, the lowest level on Full Tilt. Tripled up to $30+ dollars, and then moved to 10/25 cent. Nearly tripled up again to $70+ dollars. Key hand was limping from UTG with AJ suited in spades, a golden hand as it is impossible to be beaten by the true Spainer. Raise to 5x the blind from seat 4, 6 handed. Flop has 2 spades. Check, Check. Next card is a spade giving me the nuts. Check, raise, reraise, all in, call. Seat 4 has K-10 of spades drawing dead. Got to love having the best hand with the second best hand right there with me.

Had funds of about $110+ over the weekend winning many pots by someone who would constantly bluff the river with ¼ size pot bets. Called him down as light as AK high and constantly seemed to notch him.

Played some more and made too many hero calls. You need to do this occasionally at higher stakes and at TNP, but hero calls are a waste at small stakes on line. Top pair crummy kicker should just always be released to pot sized river bets. Donk move by me. Down to about $90, then hit another run playing NL .10/25 cent. Up to about $112. New brilliant idea, play some more Omaha, did not learn my lesson the first time. Actually manage to lose but at a much slower rate. Lose about $10 over a 2-3 hour time frame. Stack size of $102. Sunday morning, play 2 sit and gos, $5 buyin, multitabling, 18 person, and 45 person. Bust out of the 18 person when my QQ loses to 77 on a river 7. Major heater on the 45 person, win first 6 out of 7 showdowns, easily cruise into the final table. Get beat by an open ender vs. my top pair, then a cooler, dwindling down to just under 3x the blinds. 2 or 3 lucky all ins later and I find my self heads up for first place. My opponent is aggressive, bluffs plenty, and can sniff out my bluffs. Should be a good match. He has been playing very well and then the following hand is pivotal to the match. I limp from the button with 6,9, relatively equal stacks, about 25x the blind. He calls. Flop is 6,5,3 with 2 hearts. He min bets, I raise with a 3 bet. He calls. The next card is a 9 hooray. Not much better than top 2 pair heads up. He puts in a small bet, I raise all in, he calls. Last card blanks, I show 2 pair and he shows 10,2 suited in spades. A meltdown. Bottom end of the gutshot straight draw???? I go on to win for $85. Bank roll at $176.

I am amazed at the discipline Ryan shows at microstakes. I just am not patient enough to play this way. Most all of the hands Ryan plays are premium hands, I play lots of hands, but usually from position.

I have almost tripled my bankroll, but I will admit, this accomplishment pales in comparison to the frontrunners of the competition, Ryan and Marsh. Nearly doubling up and having the patience to play true Microstakes is a feat I don’t think I could ever accomplish.


Bob Loblaw said...

I know I should probably refrain from jumping in here, as I'm not even participating in the cake challenge, but...

I think you've got the idea for the cake challenge all wrong, Jason. It's not that you're not doing it right -- the point is you get to do it however you want to do it. Start with $50 (or cheat a little and start with $60 -- not that that extra $10 has become a factor in your game, yet), and see how large you can make your stack. I actually think it's great that you're playing this way, as it's the complete antithesis to the Ferguson rules (how Ryan is playing 100% of the time, and how Marsh is playing 90% of the time. Haven't seen enough updates from Austin to make a correct percentage assumption). Your play shows the opposite end of the spectrum, something that will help everybody at TNP learn from the experience.

It would be great if you were to post actual things that you're learning from your experience as part of the challenge, but it's by no means required.

Not that you're really learning anything anyway, you donkey.

I love watching how everybody is attacking it slightly differently. Can't wait for Martin to come into the cash game, but it's nice that I'm still able to learn a lot from his posts. Not learning much from your post here, Jason, but that's ok!

Keep it up!

Sushi Cowboy said...

The spirit of the Cake Challenge is a lesson in bankroll management. Marsh, Ryan, Austin, and Joe have been Caking away at microstakes real money and I've been pounding away at the play money tables to gain an appreciation for the discipline that is needed to properly manage one's bankroll.

If the objective is to just 2x, 3x, 4x, etc. up as fast as possible then you'd see all of us going to the closest Omaha Hi/Lo table and throwing everything down on the first decent hi/lo hand we can get our hands on and try to get everyone all-in and 10x up our original buy in.

When you say "...if I went bust, my worse case scenario was that I would join the cake players...", put $50 of a $125 bankroll on the table at risk, and then drive a $180 bankroll down to $15, etc., I think you are missing the objective of the exercise.

The idea is that you CANNOT jeopardize your starting bankroll. If you bust, you fail, you don't just reach back into your pocket and start over. Playing at the stakes you were playing at with the bankroll you had would be classified as reckless bankroll management.

So while it is interesting that you were able to double your original stake and then repeatedly triple up your roll after burning off 90% of it, I don't think you are getting as much out of the exercise as the rest of us because I think you are concentrating too much on the ROT of the final tally and not on how you got there.

Bob Loblaw said...

Huh! I had it all wrong, I guess. Sorry for the wrong accusation there, Jason. I thought the "challenge" part of the cake challenge was to see how high you can get your $50 buy-in. Apparently the challenge is actually to fight every urge in your play and play microstakes using Ferguson's rules. I seem to remember previous posts about this when we first started talking about the cake challenge, but I don't have the energy to look them up.

Either way, I don't think the goal is to be the "winner" here (it would be easier to declare a winner if the challenge were to get as much out of your $50 as possible. I don't know how there'd be a winner if the only rule/goal of the challenge was to play by Ferguson's rules). Either way, there isn't a "winning" amount, is there? There's no upper limit where we'd declare the challenge over, is there?

The real goal is to learn something from your play of that $50. And I don't feel you're really learning anything, other than that you're reaffirming your loose-cannon playing.

I think if one of you gets your cake balance up to the point that you can retire from your day job and live off your winnings, then you've won the challenge.

Sushi Cowboy said...

Mr. Loblaw brings up a valid point. There are no bankroll management rules and the objective *is* to build a larger bankroll but if you are are building a bankroll with no regard to the risk being taken then I don't believe that you are benefiting from the challenge.

It would be different if Jason had explained how putting nearly half your bankroll down at a .10/.25 table has a higher expectancy to double up than trying to beat players who won't fold and the rake at the microstakes tables then I would say that Jason has constructive input that the Cakers can glean something from. But I don't see much information in the way of bankroll management other than having to move down stakes after dumping almost of his stake on Omaha.

You know what? I take that all back. I actually am learning a lot about bankroll management from Jason's post. Thanks for the information Jason. I look forward to seeing more reports on how you do with your version of the Cake Challenge.

Marshall said...

As was pointed out, the point of the challenge is to see how high we could build our bankroll off of ONE buy in of 50.00. You are to take whatever paths you want to get your roll built up, but you only get the one. You should treat your 50.00 as your only money.

The point though, is to build up you roll as big as possible. The hard part is that you can't lose it. And therein lies the challenge. You have to come up with a way to safeguard your roll against almost all storms, yet move up the chain with good play. Some of us have incorporated more risk than others. Ryan and I have adopted Jesus' guidelines more or less, minus the playing style.

Jason, your cake challenge is fine, but what the others said is valid. What are you learning/teaching/trying out? When I read your post, it just reads like a "My weekend in internet poker" post. You are obviously willing to go completely broke with your roll, and I have zero doubt in my mind that you will. This has nothing to do with your play, but everything to do with how you are managing your roll.

Bottom line, don't hesitate to post on here about how you are doing at internet poker, your posts are always welcome. But if you are going to do the cake challenge or some variety of it, you have to treat your roll like its your last money on earth. If you want to try to run it up by buying into the bigger games, by all means do so. We can all learn from it. But don't just play your normal game online and then think you are doing the same thing the cakers are.

Marshall said...

Post from Jason:

Thanks for all your comments. Royal, your comments were good ones as I realize my post was more of a story rather than getting into specifics on my play and specific hands.
Much of my play, particularly on line, revolves around position plays and trying to read my opponents, classic LAG play (Loose Aggressive).

I don’t know what the average number of hands that go to showdown in cash games are but for me, it is often less than 10%. So here is one example of how I generated some of my winnings. Playing at 10/25 cent with a $25 buyin I built my stack up to about $31.00 and had a reputation of showing down winning hands. I noticed one of the players would raise preflop with a wide variety of holdings. His general pattern was a CB bet of 2/3 of the pot, and then he would give up and not double barrel if he got any callers. If he did bet on the turn, he had hit and would have some type of hand.

So I just called him down light on the flop from position and then bet the turn if he didn’t. He would always go away on a turn bet. Few players out there were as predictable as he was, but if you can find clear patterns it obviously gives you an edge on line.

I also like to bet heads up against insta checkers. Think of what you do when you have 7,8 suited in hearts and the flop comes out all black paint. You either bet like Marsh would with a continuation bet, or if you are passive, you say “Oh I missed” and insta check. Even if I missed too, I bet against the instacheckers. If they take a moment, think, then check, I typically will only bet if I hit.

The instacallers are a bit trickier to read. Typically, a sign of relative weakness like second pair or I am on a draw. But not always. Experienced players will sometimes instacall with really good hands like a pair and a draw as they know the price they are getting from the size of the bet is one they are willing to pay. I like to bet the next street against instacallers if it blanks, but this strategy is not nearly as effective as pattern recognition and betting against insta checkers.

Playing the microstakes like Marsh and Ryan are, I think their strategies are very effective. Play premium cards or in Marsh’s case, sort of premium hands, then stay aggressive. This is very effective against the passive donks at the microstakes. The only lesson they are learning though, in my opinion, is bankroll management. It is hard to improve your play against just donks. Ryan and Marsh made some good comments that they were recognizing patterns against players that he often saw at the tables. Recognizing patterns is what separates the really good players from the rest of the pack, particularly when the field gets tougher and almost everyone has the math skills.

To improve your play, I believe you need to move up in stakes. At Full Tilt cash games 6 handed, you get donk play at the 5 cent/10 cent, about ½ to ¾ of the players are good at 10/25 cent, most of the players are good at 25 cent/50 cent and I have not yet found a way to consistently beat the 50 cent/$1 players.

Tournaments are similar. $5 tournaments and sit and gos have passive players, $10 tournaments less so, and $20 and up tournaments have aggressive players.

Marsh, I realize I am not playing like a good caker. It appears you have put in about 18 hours of cash game play, plus tourney play, and netted just under $80.00. This is exceptional given the stakes you are playing. I just don’t have the patience for it.

What I am trying to do is improve my game, and pass on some of this knowledge to the TNP crowd. Just a suggestion, but if there is ever a Cake Challenge II, perhaps a higher starting point than $50.00 would be appropriate. I realize Chris Ferguson built up his bankroll to $10,000 with zero by playing a free roll. He has distinct advantages over the rest of the us though. One he is Chris Ferguson, one of the premier students of the game. Two, he gets to play on Full Tilt with his own avatar. To the pros, particularly at small stakes, this is a huge advantage. If you have 3,4 suited and Ferguson raises, what are you going to do. Call of course, how many times are you going to get to play against Chris. Then when you miss the flop, you will likely bet to try to outplay Chris. The pros know this and know that they will be bluffed into constantly and just wait for their spots. Unless they create Marsh, Ryan, Austin, Martin, and Jasonland avatars, we will never enjoy this advantage.

My play has improved I believe at NL on line, mainly from the cardrunner tips. At Omaha Hi, I have moved from horrible to mediocre. My challenge to the cakers is to start a different bankroll aside from the challenge money to try playing slightly higher stakes. Then we can all improve and benefit from the stories we receive.

Marshall said...

I agree Jason that we aren't learning specifics as far as playing hands. It's pretty much blunt force poker (.com?).

I will say, however, that it deals very much with all of the other aspects of poker. Bankroll management is the big one, but patience(huge deal here), long term thinking, avoiding/mitigating tilt, moving up and down levels, knowing where you stand in online poker, etc. are all being learned. I have played many many hours at .25-50 and .50-1 online, and I honestly haven't felt like I got anywhere.

In the time I have put in on the cake challenge, I feel like I have learned a LOT. I also feel that spending the time I am spending at the lower levels is showing me where I am. I can safely say that I can crush the lowest levels of cake. I am not saying this is particularly hard, but I wouldn't call it easy either. Getting sucked out on when you have KK and your opponent has 79s all in preflop is not an easy thing to take. Playing well when the amounts on-the-line are largely insignificant is also difficult. I would challenge you or anyone to do what we are doing. It's harder than you think. I would say, if you can't consistently beat the .02-.04, then you shouldn't be playing the higher levels.

I guess the main thing is also: What's the point? Do you think you can take a 200-300 buy in and run it up into the thousands? What would it take to do that? If you wanted to try, what tools/methods would you have to know to be successful?

Join the challenge and find out..