Monday, September 07, 2009

Black Swan

Well, I'm back. Fleetingly. Not much has changed, except I now win so little children in Chinese workhouses shake their heads at my hourly rate. The WSOP was fun, in the sense that it started to look like Phil Ivey had nearly won all the money in the poker economy. I've not seen anyone definitively say, but I'd bet that (a) there was a settlement (b) it would have still been enormous. The fantasy of the poker dot-com has finally burst, with pokerroad suspending the only interesting feed they had, the mini Ivey interview. If they can't "monetize" that, then those eyeballs are not for monetizing.

The bottom line is, however, I'm disappointed. I did a tour of the blogs and in two years, they are no better, if not worse. Same old results orientated thinking. Same old only sing when I'm winning. Same old lack of fucking interesting insight. I guess with the games getting harder, only the IS's survived.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Blast from the Past

WSOP '07 has prompted me out of my lethargy. God, I miss the old days. Listening *live* to the Mortensen main event win. Those newspaper like reports Conjelco used to do. Glazer, when he wasn't fantasising over Hellmuth in the hot tub, actually mentioning what was happening in the cash games. But now the ESPN sport steamroller is flattening everything, even to the extent the live coverage now is no longer live. Amusingly, one of those WSOP inbreeds, who is so irrelevant that I can't bother to even google who it was, basically justified that the WSOP was a sport because people watched it and there was a lot of prize money. So if they paid guys to wank on TV that would be a sport? (Ok, they do, its called porn, and is the true purpose of the internet and the reason why playing poker one handed is so essential.) This is the kind of powerful logical thinking that got the US and its 53rd state into Iraqistan I guess.

Andy W, bless him, pointed out that Eli E has saved the WSOP with his prop bets amongst the big game players. Although he was a little kind hearted letting Brunson out of it, I would have let the King of Poker sweat it out a little longer, tottering from pee wee tournament to the next, heart thumping through blind pride. It just shows that arrogance can overtake intellect even amongst the best of them. Other breaking news seems to be that some of those big name stars are busto! - gasp! Better breaking news is the *uncapped* 1k/2k/4k NL/PLO that aba is playing in, often just headsup vs Sammy Farha. Now that is a monster game. The gossip so far is that aba is a big winner - at one point they did flips for 100K. (I just threw up :()

Michael Craig. WTF. I mean What The Fuck! I actually liked his book on the Big Game, although when Gryko mentioned, in passing, once again fist fucking me in a shorthanded Omaha limit game, that it was a "bit of a love letter to the pros", he got me thinking. But the courtship is now over and it is full on, cheesy, 80s hard core porn. Not since Jesse May did that awful, fawning, can't-speak-with-his-mouth full, interview with Padraig Parkinson has there been such a deluge of sycophancy. Doesn't he get embarrassed at his new "best friend to the pros" status? Don't they get embarrassed? Some of it is bad, most of it is just toe-curlingly awful. For example, he once said Clonie Gowen had movie star looks. Hmmm.

On the poker front, i am ticking along, but not making half as much as I was last year. I have played too many types of game, and with the exception of triple draw, I've won at them all. Just not won well. I've had to ship out a ton of money on that damn real life expenses stuff, which hasn't helped. Ho hum. See you soon. Maybe.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

An Interrupted Cry

I thought I would do my year end early, not because like MBK I won't be playing much poker, but just to get it out of the fucking way. As I have a lot to say, my usual artful prose will be replaced with semi-random bullet points:

Ennui. For me poker and ennui have always been familiar bedfellows, but fuck me. I could seriously give it up. Maybe.

It's been a good year. Not in the scale of MBK or Wint, but considering my all-round amateurishness I'm moderately pleased. I won just about twice what I won last year. Thank you 6 max NL.

I could and perhaps should have won more. But I spent all my winnings and never really moved up. Goddamn you high on the hog uber-extravagant lifestyle you!

Rolf S's book is by far the best book on PLO. This isn't saying much but is true. Most of the short stackers who have appeared on places like Stars have seemed to have completely misunderstood what Rolf was writing about.

On the subject of Stars, I tried their NL 6 max games and they were much tougher than their old days Crypto equivalents. There were lots of VIP 20, PFR 20 types and the squeeze or thin 3 bet was very common. Bye, bye again Stars.

Betfair – what a fuck up. I mean what a serious fuck up.

If you're not following my blog by a feed reader, you need to. I suspect this will be about as active as GROAN's blog. This could very well be the last post. Then again it might not either. But don't hold your breath.

High Stakes Poker. By far the best poker tv show. Mostly because Gabe Kaplan's commentary is so good. Funny, and occasionally even perceptive.

Danny Boy on said High Stakes show. Man, he was bad. Some bad beats of epic proportions but many, many times he would say “I can't believe you've just so obviously hit a monster and now betting. So unreal. So obvious. But I call anyway.” In comparison Phil Laak looked v v good. And I liked his T-shirts.

One final point, which at first seems obvious, but I've not seen it explicitly said. At the very highest stakes the skill differential is so small you are competiting on bankrolls and the ability to weather variance and emotional control. If all your Foes have 5 times the tank you have, ceteris paribus, you are going to need to be lucky to survive.

Merry Christmas, and Ho, Fucking, Ho.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

It's Great When You're Straight

This post was going to be a review of Rolf's new book, but I couldn't be bothered. Over the last month or so, since the bubble burst, the NL since has taken a battering. The crypto network went pop, and Betfair have made the inexplicable decision to borrow PokerChamps software, which not only doesn't have hand histories, but shuts the door on all that PT shenanigans. Maybe it was deliberate.

I have been putting in the hours playing a fair chunk of limit hilo, having my usual rush followed by my usual crunch, although this time I have managed to stop playing before I have started losing money in the game. Anyway, envious of MBK - in a good way I might add - I thought I would give PLO a spin again. (Short interlude, I think its telling of all the poker bloggers etc that Ben has bounced back from a crushing setback. Ok, Gryko too but that was awhile ago. Cue Neitzche quotes.)

Here are some hands I'm proud of:

Poker Stars
Pot Limit Omaha Ring game
Blinds: $5/$10
8 players

Stack sizes:
UTG: $744.80
UTG+1: $1000
MP1: $1022
MP2: $1104
CO: $1669
Hero: $957
SB: $580.50
BB: $1865.30

Pre-flop: (8 players) Hero is Button with :as :8d :ah :5c
UTG calls, UTG+1 folds, MP1 raises to $45, MP2 calls, CO calls, Hero raises to $80, 3 folds, MP1 calls, MP2 calls, CO calls.

Flop: :kd :2h :jh ($345, 4 players)
MP1 bets $342, 2 folds, Hero folds.
Uncalled bets: $342 returned to MP1.

Final pot: $345


Poker Stars
Pot Limit Omaha Ring game
Blinds: $5/$10
3 players

Stack sizes:
Button: $714.20
Hero: $1509.80
BB: $1689
(Important note..this Foe is very, very aggro)

Pre-flop: (3 players) Hero is SB with :4c :5s :8c :9h
Button raises to $35, Hero calls, BB folds.

Flop: :8d :as :5c ($80, 2 players)
Hero checks, Button bets $79, Hero calls.

Turn: :7c ($238, 2 players)
Hero checks, Button checks.

River: :2c ($238, 2 players)
Hero bets $100, Button raises to $310, Hero calls.

Final pot: $858

I just noticed Pete had an interesting post on the ennui descending on the current spate of internet players. My fists got tired thumping the air with joy and my feet sore dancing with glee at the demise of these D&D playing mother-fuckers.

(Please refer to the last post and its comments if this outburst seems a little odd.)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

You're a Bleedin' Motherfucker Now Aren't You

I've just spent a fascinating hour or so reading a great blog. Okay, it was mine. Ego aside, click on some of the old post links on the right, then click on more of them on the new posts you selected. Be sure to read the comments. There is some good shit in there.

Well, the US finally went ahead and did it. They seem to becoming more of a theocracy day by day. It's gonna be hard to tell them from Iran soon. End of off-topic point. The real point is all the fun gnashing and grinding of teeth by all those young bucks on the HSNL forum. I suspect we won't be getting any “How Should I Invest My Millions into Being a Global CEO” posts soon. It's always tears at bedtime when you confiscate the mechanical pencils and d20 dice off the D&D society.

I had a battle through some of the WCOOP. Man, the standard was poor. I was no superstar, but there was a lot of dead wood in the events I played. The Razz event basically became the Bet Every Street event. I got a tiny draw in the plo8b, which I have written up for my paying job, so you will see it at CPE in a few months. Yes, tournament plo8b in a poker magazine. Fair credit to Rolf S; having spent most of my Net time arguing with and insulting him, he now pays me to write obscure stuff with obscurer titles. Back to the WCOOP, the main problem is still one of concentration. For awhile I was in a really good spot in the $320 NLHE, but I'm sure the fact I was playing 4+ other cash games at the same time didn't help my performance. Knowing that I'm unlikely to win, I tend to see them as a waste of time that needs to be filled by playing proper, profitable poker. Thankfully man-flu prevented me from spunking off any more money past the plo8b event.

I have been playing PLO and PLO8b as a change of pace on Party recently. The standard, at least at the 5-10 levels, is still surprisingly low. Unfortunately, I have not been playing great either, and PLO variance has been cruel. Certainly it seems that PLO brings out the gambler in me. I have been more than a little ring rusty. Having said that, I have lost *ALL* my big pots. That is, $17k or so of pots where I've put my money in well, or thereabouts. Also, it's easy how soon you forget how many hands end up being crooked coin tosses. I must be running at 20-30% on them too so results have matched performance. I may persevere though – the games look that good. Thank god for NLHE and its robust crushing edges for bailing me out.

As a general note, if you did know my screen names but now wonder why I'm so damned ignorant, it's simply that I've turned off chat. So no offence.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Not Donne

Now seems as good a time as any to comment on the WSOP (I originally wrote this before the end of the last Series, fwiw.) Now any Constant Reader will no doubt already know my view on poker-as-sport. If not, check out my old post 'Sport of Kings'. However, there was a very dim, but surprisingly significant chance that poker *could* have ended up as some kind of sport. But I think this WSOP was the death knell.

I am not the first to comment that a successful sport needs successful characters and the clashes and dramas therein. Skill, determination, domination and revival all wrapped up in the competitive arena. Crucially, these participants are aspirational. Everyday Joe Schmoe wants to be his stars, but appreciates and respects that there is an enormous divide between top pro and amateur. But that desire to approach, if not cross, the divide drives behaviour and ultimately unleashes the capitalistic process. Incredibly, against the odds, WPT season 1 almost had this. The continued success of a handful of players gave a sport-like feel to proceedings. How things have changed. Now there is an Everyman feel to tournament poker. It seems like 'anyone' can win a big event. This generates a certain appeal and plenty of drama. But this phenomenon is more in line with reality TV or a quiz show than a sport, and a pretty skill-less one at that. These kinds of things may generate a burst of interest, but that eventually wanes and the ratings die. And there go the sponsors.

For the last few years random donks have been winning dontaskically. Here are some of my favourites. At a WSOP circuit final table, 4 or so handed, Joe Hachem reraises - crucially putting in half his stack. Fellow chip leader reraises allin cold, i.e. he had no contribution to the pot so far, leaving Joe a handful of chips on his obvious, almost regardless of holding, compulsory call. The reraiser had QJs. This play is so bad I’m struggling for words. A better known one is the hand that crippled Greg Raymer in the 2005 Big Dance. Greg raises and continuation bets the ragged flop. He then goes allin on the turn with his KK. His foe has QJs and calls to hit his flush draw. The foe's play is hugely problematic. Firstly, why float no pair, no draw with no implied odds on the flop? Secondly, he called instantly on the turn - no calculation to even see if he was getting the right price. These plays and the success that ensues are akin to a golfing novice wining the US Open with a broomstick. But it gets worse. The WPT is deliberately deskilling the game. The blind increases actually accelerate once you get to the televised final table and it is not uncommon for headsup to be a battle of 10-15 big blind stacks. Lastly, look at the recent WSOP. Would the participants in any real sporting event be treated as shabbily as the poker mugs this year? Would Wimbledon field tatty old balls and saggy nets a la the big HORSE event? For me the coup de grace was the payouts of the Main Event. Once again the organiser arbitrally creates a final table structure to benefit headlines and not players. Nice gradual increases from 9th to 2nd then kachunk, a double the money increase to $12 million for first. I just wish they had done an overt, ugly deal to fuck up those marketing monkeys.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

A Change of Pace

For a change I thought I might talk about actual poker playing, as opposed to the usual GOM rants and ravings. August has been an interesting month. I started late, owing to my hols and got off to a reasonable start. Then, just a week or so ago, I was kicking around Stars looking at the WCOOP schedule, when I saw a new tab. “Other Games”. One click later I was looking at HORSE cash games. I guess the ESPN WSOP stuff was good for something after all. We all want to be Chip Reese now. Pretty soon I was on a 100BB rush in the 10-20 game and I started seeing a new, brighter future as a HORSE specialist. Now this fantasy didn’t quite run into busting down the Big Game in a couple of years, but I hate to admit that I actually was enjoying poker again. Not just enjoying the winning, but the actual game itself. And I could play it seemingly for hours at an end. In one day I did 10 hours, 7.5 in one session. And this was playing multiple tables as well. To put this into perspective, I probably haven’t done a big bet session over 4 hours in two years. It almost felt therapeutic.

Perhaps too much so, as I quickly hit a 170BB downswing and I had to stop visualising the delivery of the Porsche from the Stars VIP scheme. It struck me that I probably wasn’t that good after all. On a closer look, the problem seemed to be, paradoxically, in the HO’ element of HORSE (this is putting aside a pretty bad run of luck in Razz, which is truly a game to create the manically depressed.) The HORSE games are 8 handed but then often ran short. More than this, the H and the O were nearly *always* short, as people sat out to avoid paying the blinds. Now Faithful Readers will know of my issues with short handed Omaha. But I also kinda feel the same about short handed limit holdem too. Whereas I have a vague clue how to play 4 or 5 handed limit holdem – as opposed to the Omaha equivalent – I just don’t like it. Too much play “feels” like being a fish. In fact the levels of aggression are so pumped up and calling to the river very thin is so common it was hard to tell chump from champ. Time and again I would button raise, continuation bet against the BB caller and he would take a card off with just one overcard and no other draw. Whether this is right or not, I don’t really know. It may very well be the right play. I just don’t like playing poker like that.

In the end I think it comes down to the blinds. When the game becomes a fundamental scramble for that blind money, I’m just not as effective. It turns me into an alternating tight passive – insane aggro fish. Back to NL.

FWIW, my second article is up on the Cardplayer site here – probably a bit more similar in tone to the stuff here. And with a pretty picture too.