Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Cake Challenge II: The Cakening

It has been over a year since the last Cake Challenge.

I was just browsing over some of our blogs for it, and realizing how much we all learned and gained from it. I have been fooling around a bit online, but mainly been focusing on live play as of late. Some of our most regular players (Chuck and Woodrow for example) weren't really around for the heyday of the Cake Challenge.

I am proposing the Cake Challenge II today. I am going to lay out some groundwork for it, but I think anyone who is interested should give their input, and we can pick the terms as a group.

For me, there are 3 main reasons to do a challenge like this.

1. Motivation. I am a competitive person and always seem to do better when I am being put against someone else than when I am on my own. I doubt I am the only one in our group that feels this way.

2. Bankroll Management. The #1 most important factor for the Cake Challenge is simply managing your bankroll properly, which is a skill that has applications in real life poker and also outside of poker.

3. The Grind. One of the most important things in poker is just putting in the hours. This often goes overlooked, but if you want to succeed at poker, you have to be willing to put in the time, and this urges you to do that.

So here is the deal as I see it:

You start with a set bankroll. In the first challenge we started with $50.00, but I think maybe $100 or $200 is more appropriate this time around. This initial buy-in represents your ENTIRE poker bankroll for the purposes of the challenge. This means that if you lose this amount, you are busto, broke, out. No re-buys are allowed. You are challenged to treat this relatively small amount of money as if it were your entire net worth.

This isn't easy. You can't have a moment where you just say "Ah fuck it, it's only a hundred bucks" and just punt it off cause you are steamed.

This also means that playing within your roll and game selection will be key.

Last time around, most players chose around 5% of their current roll as the most they were willing to put on the table at once. Percentages for tournaments varied amongst participants.

Part of this challenge is to come up with your own bankroll management system. This can include stop-losses, shot taking, capping your wins etc. You have to come up with something that works for you while protecting your roll at the same time. There are no set rules for this at all.

I am proposing that this happen on Cake again for 2 main reasons:

1. Most of us are comfortable with Cake and the player pool is generally kinda bad.

2. Rakeback.

The downside to Cake is that they don't allow HUD's on their site. (Although Hold'em Manager does work now for capturing your own data and analyzing it).

One other part of the challenge is that you are expected to keep track of your progress accurately (again, HEM should be great for this).

So who is in?

For those interested, what do you think the buy-in should be? Any other suggestions?


chuck m said...

I'm 100% in for this since I missed the first cake challenge. I'm all for a starting buy in of $200 as it allows you to start at 10nl (or 10plol, or 10 whatever game(s) you want to grind) with reasonalbe BR management or at least not play too much 4nl, but I think $100 would be a fine start too.

What time period do you propose we run this challenge over? A month seems too short but a year seems too long, maybe split the difference at 6 months?

Marshall said...

Good question.

Last time we left it open-ended time wise, and I think that would probably work here again.

I think that people within can make whatever extra challenges or bets they wish to. But that when you put a definitive timeline on it, it makes it sub-optimal because in the real world if you were going full time poker pro, you wouldn't have that restriction and it can create pressure that isn't really realistic.

I think each person can bail or keep going as they see fit, but 6 months seems like a fine check in point for progress.

I have this site still:


and I think I will go ahead and restart it and use it to log progress again.

I am going to say $100.00 for the bankroll number for now unless we have people that want to change it btw.

Marshall said...

Also in reference to Chuck's comment, you can play whatever games or tournies you want as well.

MTT's are less desirable as you will tend to either just burn through your roll or hit a nice score, neither of which really proves much in the short run. SNG's seem better for this type of thing, but again, it's up to you.

If you decide to put it down on a bunch of MTT's, go busto, then we all get to learn that MTT's are high-variance :)

chuck m said...

The reason I don't like it being completely open-ended is that, at least for me, a big part of the motivation comes from competition, and open-ended competitions are dumb. Obv people in the challenge aren't restricted to only playing on Cake for the length of the challenge, they can play for as long as they want and don't have to play if they don't want to. It would just help me personally if this challenge had a more clear goal, such as after X ammount of time whoever ran their roll up the highest is the winnar. But, then again, maybe that's just better suited for props. Still in regardless and looking for action on time based props :D

Woodrow said...

I'm in, obv

Marshall said...

Chuckles: I think that it is best suited to props to do the time frame stuff.

One of the hardest things about playing poker for long term results is playing your A-game as much as possible. This means often *not* playing even though you have the time, because you are tired/angry/distracted whatever.

If we have the challenge based on a timeframe, it greatly rewards the player who plays more. This challenge should reward the player who makes the best choices, including not playing sometimes.

Now between me and you, (and anyone else who wants in) let the props fly.

It's just not something that should be part of the base of the competition imo.

royalbacon said...

I’m in, although as before I probably won’t be able to play as often as others, but I’m ok with that. According to my Cake Blog, I should still have $66.04 in my account.

I’d be looking for someone to transfer the $34 remaining into my account to bring it up to $100 (as was done before).

Marshall said...

Awesome Royal. I was just reading your blog about it, good stuff still.

We can all work out the money thing, and maybe work with Jason too for anything else that is needed.

So I think we are good to go on $100.00, Cake if possible but if not then wherever you get rakeback is ideal.

Feel free to begin whenever you want, as this isn't really a race as much a marathon anyway..

jason said...

Wow, great timing Marsh I was contemplating on creating a blog on how friggin hard it is to be the $2/4PLO game on cake.

Basically here is the scenario,

I typically buy in for $240.

Playing will be typically

T Dogg
Monster In Law
Wind Tunnel
Que Pasa
Rock Paper FU
and if we are lucky one fish

These guys are brutal to play against. They 3 bet u from position, C bet most flops, almost always follow through on the turn even if they still miss, check raise you with any flush draw or a monster like a set, bluff appropriately on rivers, and will not pay you off too often with second best hands. Generally, all the qualities you don't want in villains.

So you are basically hoping to either run good or hope some fish shows up and you are the beneficiary.

The NL PLO8 games are somewhat easier to beat but they have degenerated into a shove fest pre flop between short stacks where you need to call these folks down with AK24 single suited. Before only AAxx hands were callable hands on a preflop shove.

Anyways,enough of my exploits and back to the challenge.

Some thoughts:

The starting buyin should allow someone to realistically play above micro stakes starting out. I know Chuck loves to play PLO and get feedback from myself but grinding .02/.04 is just not fun.

I do realize that everyone has a poker budget though so we need to make it affordable for everyone involved. $200 seems like the right number to me. I think everyone has lost this much at just one session so losing it on line assuming a bust out should not be too painful.

Playing in cyberspace without a group to share ideas with is way lonely so the challenge will allow us to share best practices. If it were not for Ryan saying PLO8 looks beatable, I would likely still be grinding .25/.50 NLHE. Sharing hand histories and getting feedback is fantastic and I do appreciate all that have shared their views on the gazillion hands I have posted or IM ed.

Unless I run really bad, I can likely fund anyone who needs funding assuming a $200 Buyin.

Prop bets are a great idea.

A bit on the fence about myself participating as I know what a time suck it can be with little monetary reward at the lower stakes. But the camraderie factor is a plus.

We could join a new site like Aced. The advantage is that you get the 100% buyin bonus if you log enough hands. The disadvantage is less action at PLO games and possible deposit problems. Cake is fine too, just a suggestion.

Anyways, great idea Marsh!

Marshall said...

Ok I have spoken with Chuck, Woody, Drew, and we have heard from Royal and Jason.

I am going to go ahead and call the buy in amount at $100.00, and say to begin now.

Important to remember here, but this isn't a race again, it's a longer term thing, where the person with the best results will show over the long term, so don't feel pressure to play right away, but if you are ready to go, then GOOO!

Good luck to everyone!

I am going to be posting up on That's Not Cake again, just to help keep things well documented.

URL is here: http://thatsnotcake.blogspot.com/

Adam said...

Yo, Marsh. I missed the initial Cake Challenge and am not completely following. Is it as simple as everyone starts with $100 and tracks progress from there over 6 months?

Where are results tracked/posted?

Regardless, I'll participate...but it's always nice to know the rules first....

Marshall said...


Basically yes what you said.

More detail:

Couple years ago Chris Ferguson started with like literally nothing on Full Tilt and ground it up to like 10k before either stopping or going busto.

We were inspired by this and thought it would be a great bankroll exercise to try something similar ourselves. A group of us signed up for (the then fledgling) Cake Poker and each bought in for $50.00.

The premise is that this is your ENTIRE poker net worth and losing this meant leaving the competition/dieing.

The main goal was to practice proper bankroll management. Jesus put rules on himself of never buying in for more than 5% of his total roll on any single table, and leaving at the next orbit if he ever got about 10% of his roll on the table for any reason.

Most of us modeled our bankroll strategies after this roughly, but opinions did differ.

I think we all learned a lot more than just bankroll management through the course of the Challenge. You can see my progress here:


Also on that site, you can see links on the right side to Ryan's, Royal's, Martin's (later) and I just added Woody's but that is for this current run.

The emphasis here is on proper play, tilt management, and bankroll management. Good play helps too though.

The Challenge at the time (and this time as well) is to build it up as high as you can. There is no set time frame, but Chuck and I have set 6 months as the first major check in point.

Obviously this is skewed towards players that play more hands than others, but whatever. The main thing at the end of the day is how much you make, regardless of how much time you did or didn't put in.

Also, this teaches tough lessons like going back down in levels when it's necessary and facing your results when they aren't good. And facing the other challengers for that matter.

Please join, but if you do join on Cake, let me know so we can get you set up properly with rakeback.

jason said...


I think after thinking it over that I will be out for the challenge but will be more than willing to cooperate by funding someone on cake and giving anyone my opinion, if they care, on any PLO or PLO8 hands.

I truly hope that at least one or more of you are successful and can join me in trying to beat the mid stakes on line games on cake.

Marshall said...

Oh the rules.

Buy in on Cake preferably but any site is ok for 100.00.

You can and should get rakeback.

You can come up with any method you think is best to accumulate money. If you think throwing it all down on one table is the best way then go for it. (hint: it's not) Your own risk tolerance is a big part of the challenge and how fast you rise (or fall).

If you go busto, you are out, there are no rebuys.

At 6 months we will have our first big check-in, and see how everyone is doing.

Recording your progress is *highly* recommended, and doing it on a blog has a lot of benefits:

1. You can go back and read your old stuff to see how good you are now.

2. Facing your buddies about tough or tilt losses is a humbling but self-improving act imo.

3. Perhaps most importantly, the others in the challenge can learn from your mistakes, successes, hand histories and observations.

All that being said, it's not required at all, although keeping records is because how else do you measure your progress?

You can play any combination of games and tournaments that you see fit also.

If you have any other questions just ask and we can clarify.

Marshall said...


Cool man, I am sure anyone playing PLO or O8 will be asking you plenty, I know I did.

royalbacon said...

@Adam To clarify one thing that Marsh mentioned in passing: DO NOT sign up on Cake until you have the Rakeback info. It’s impossible to get hooked up with Rakeback AFTER you’ve signed up on Cake.

I know through experience.

Adam said...

@ Marsh & Royal:

I'm in, and I already have a funded Cake account (with rakeback). Started with $200 a year ago ($ from Jason). After a year of *very* intermittent play, my bankroll's now swelled to, wait for it, $219, or something like that.

I'll simply ignore $119 of it, and go from there.

Marsh, I'll chat you up tonight about how you log results. I see the chart on thatsnotcake, but it's unclear to me if there's a centralized log, or what. I didn't see the links for you, woody, etc.

Also, isn't the rakeback deposited back into your account each month? If so, do you treat that as simply a natural part of your results, or do you exclude that somehow? If that's included, it obviously skews the results between those with and those without rakeback set up, right?

Marshall said...


FYI rakeback is weekly now.