In for the long haul

    • belayd
      belayd
      Global
      Joined: 17.03.2011 Posts: 1,021
      I made a very bad start at blogging and have decided to try again and do it right. Hopefully this blog will be more mundane and less controversial, but still interesting enough that people will follow it.

      To begin with, there are several things that make me different from the average PokerStrategy member. I'm middle-aged (turn 46 in June). I'm retired. I haven't been in school for a good 26 years (which helps explain why passing the quiz without cheating was hard for me until I'd done enough studying to rebuild some atrophied brain muscles). I'm short, fat, soft and sedentary. I go to sleep fairly early and rise fairly early, a habit left over from all those years hauling my butt off to work in the morning. I bathe once a week because I no longer have to smell fresh to my bosses. I've been both a rigtard and a poker hater (if you see two of my Helium.com articles under the byline Michael Smoker). I wear my heart on my sleeve and am significantly emo, although that's dying down as I get older. I suffered from fairly severe narcissistic personality disorder for the first 30 years of my life, until life itself brought me down to earth. I never graduated from college, but I still self-taught enough about psychology to successfully treat myself for severe castration anxiety with self-administered desensitization therapy (it's simple: google "penile injury" and read about 200 to 300 medical articles and then look at about 150 hospital photos of damaged dicks). I got 54% as a final mark in 12th-grade math and am totally lost trying to understand the formulas in Excel (which is something that probably makes me VERY different from the average poker player). And something I've known for a while but only managed to verbalize recently: because of bad habits acquired in early childhood, I'm a minimalist who expends little effort on things and tends to give up when things aren't easy. I'm trying to change that, but when you're 45, changing things that were ingrained in you when you were 4 and reinforced by decades of practice is very, very difficult.

      Me and poker? I started playing poker just to pass the time, because I often found myself bored. After bleeding enough fishy money I quit poker for a while. Then I discovered PokerStrategy and decided to become a Serious Student of Poker--while totally lacking the mental makeup for it. Of course, I got frustrated early and gave up...but couldn't make myself stop playing. Even when I'm on a cooler (which is nearly all the time), there is something about poker that draws me, and maybe even fulfils me. So I'm going to keep playing and trying to get better in my own slow, relaxed way. It might take me the rest of my life to break even, but it no longer affects me emotionally quite as much when I lose.

      This blog will be the diary of someone who is serious about poker but still no more than a casual player, simply by virtue of being a casual person. Grinding is not something I've ever done particularly well because it takes patience and persistence, and I've historically lacked both. Maybe poker will teach them to me. More likely, I'll plod along at 400 hands a day until the heavy smoking finally catches up to me maybe 10 years from now. And I have a feeling it'll be a good journey.
  • 37 replies
    • Salivanth
      Salivanth
      Bronze
      Joined: 01.01.2011 Posts: 587
      I find it ironic that you're talking about being in it for the long haul, plodding along steadily, even if it takes the rest of your life to even break even...and yet you claim to lack patience and persistence :P Grinding doesn't require all that much patience. In fact, it was only when I became more patient that I STOPPED grinding, and started learning, rather than just trying to push buttons as fast as possible on 12-16 tables.

      "This blog will be the diary of someone who is serious about poker but still no more than a casual player, simply by virtue of being a casual person"

      This sounds exactly like me. I take my Poker very seriously, but that doesn't mean I won't take 2-3 days off randomly because I just don't feel like it. Right now I'm trying to earn the 25 bucks from the Take 2 promotion, which is why I've been playing every day.

      You appear to have made the reverse of the mistake most bloggers make: They talk too much about their Poker, and not enough about themselves. You've told us heaps about your life, but nothing about your Poker :) How long have you been playing for? What game/limit do you play? How many tables? Etc.

      Shall be following this. Good luck!
    • belayd
      belayd
      Global
      Joined: 17.03.2011 Posts: 1,021
      The latest events in the online poker world have really shaken things up, and not everyone is well informed about what's going on--not even some news organizations. A friend in Arkansas (the heart of Bible Belt country) emailed me yesterday about a local TV newscast she'd seen. She was under the impression that three "American" online poker rooms had been charged with "embezzleme nt" and had moved their "operations" overseas in order to evade prosecution. When I politely straightened her out on what's really going on (in a long email that touched on many things, including Tzvetkoff's probable involvement) she was extremely grateful, and quite angry at the way she had been misled by the local "news"cast. Her boyfriend loves to play for play money, and the only thing I could do is advise her to tell him NOT to deposit funds in an online poker room, at least not the way things are right now. To his discredit he had been thinking about it but has now been properly scared off.

      I think that we poker afficionados, both winning and losing players, have a responsibility to educate the general public about what poker is and what events in the poker world really are. Many people not familiar with poker are going to be misinformed. If you have friends, acquaintances or associates who express interest in the topic, or who even reveal with stray comments that they have an erroneous belief, keep your temper and politely tell them the truth.

      Meanwhile, my poker playing life goes on. I had been concentrating on the Full Tilt $1 STTs but, after Friday's events, I lost enthusiasm for playing on Full Tilt. Instead I've gone back to grinding the 4NL cash tables on Cake. Yesterday I two-tabled for about three hours overall and lost about $4 or $5. Today I've one-tabled for about an hour and won $6. I'm ashamed to say I haven't been keeping up with my studying. My play continues to improve through simple exposure to the game, and my decisions are sounder now. It helps my mindset that my "winnings" on cake over about 2K hands are at -$6 or so but my all-in EV is at about +$10 or so. I realize I'm running significantly below EV--four full buyins--and am just waiting for the stats to even out. Who knows, I might drop 20 BI below EV the way some have reported here happening to them, but even if that happens I'm not going to get discouraged.

      Cake Poker has a ridiculous rule that the minimum cashout by check is $500. I've dealt with that by topping up my account through Moneybookers, which now permits me to cash out a much smaller amount should I be so minded. The only sad thing is that, when I tested my Moneybookers transfer to my bank account, my bank charged me a $14 processing fee. While most payment processors transfer money by EFT, Moneybookers uses a bank wire, and my bank has fairly high fees to receive wires. But at least I'm now satisfied that everything I'm doing with my bank and Moneybookers is totally legit and I shouldn't have problems in the future--unless, of course, Canada follows the U.S.'s lead and takes action against online poker in the money-see-monkey-do way the Canadian government has of imitating American things.

      My Party Poker account is currently empty because I transferred my small BR there to Cake in order to take advantage of the 33% rakeback. (My Cake account is tracked through PS but my Party account isn't.) But with the new Party reload bonus being in effect, I'll try to scrounge up some spare funds to make a deposit on Party and try to clear the deposit bonus. Party veterans know that clearing a Party deposit bonus is fiendishly hard at the microstakes. One thing I'm pleased about, however, is that Party is doing exactly the opposite of what I expected. I had thought they would count on getting lots of new players moving over from Stars and FT and make their promoions even more draconian than before. Instead, they're IMPROVING their promotions in order to get a larger slice of the pie. That makes me want to play on Party again despite their relatively cruddy interface. I'll deposit enough to grind the 4NL or 5NL tables and maybe play a few $3 STTs.

      I deliberately donked off the remaining $9 of my starting capital in the William Hill account and am pondering whether to bother redepositing. I'll have a look at the deposit bonus/rakeback rules for WH again before making a decision. The problem with WH is that their interface is horrifyingly bad and that puts me off my A game (which is hardly that good to begin with).

      If you're following this blog, thank you very much. I look forward to any comments that readers might choose to make.
    • Salivanth
      Salivanth
      Bronze
      Joined: 01.01.2011 Posts: 587
      I like the long posts. Sounds like another poker blog you know of :P

      "I think that we poker afficionados, both winning and losing players, have a responsibility to educate the general public about what poker is and what events in the poker world really are."

      Absolutely. If we aren't willing to stand up for our hobby, why should anyone else?
    • belayd
      belayd
      Global
      Joined: 17.03.2011 Posts: 1,021
      I'm still grinding at 4NL on Cake, mostly just holding my own but experiencing a silly variance of about $6 per day. On some days I'm up $5 and then down $6 and on other days I'm down $5 and then up $6. The net result is that my bankroll is hovering around the same level. But I'm collecting decent rakeback, and I'm about 4/5ths of the way to clearing the first tranche of my deposit bonus. The bonus, once I clear that first tranche, will make me a profitable player on Cake for the first time ever.

      In May I might concentrate on live play a bit. There is a reputable poker room just outside town that offers $2 NL, and another one just outside town in the opposite direction that offers $5 limit. I'm going to give both a try for about a month to see how I like them and how I do. Since the logical times to play are Friday and Saturday evenings, I'll go to the limit room this coming Friday and to the NL room this coming Saturday. I'm not sure yet whether I'll play at them between 3 pm and 9 pm or between 9 pm and 4 am. The latter is juicier prime poker-playing time, but it also involves keeping a later schedule than I'm accustomed to. I normally sleep between about 11 pm and 7 am, so I can see myself getting sleepy around one in the morning and having to quit early because I no longer have my A game.

      I've been reviewing the Basic and Bronze BSS articles here on PS and finding things I missed when I was reading and rereading them earlier. I'm also deviating from the recommended strategy with good results. Quite a number of players at the Cake micro tables will use contibets and fold to a bluff raise. the key is to know which opponents are solid enough to fold and which are fish who will call any bluff. I've also had success betting second and even third pair in multiway pots where everyone checks around.

      One element of style I've developed as a break-even player is disguising my hands with no betting pattern variation. If I raise 4x preflop with every qualifying hand and bet 1/2 pot on the flop with my whole range, my opponents have a tough time figuring out what I've got. It helps if I mix in junk hands once in a while because then my range becomes very hard to pin down. I know the conventional wisdom is that you're supposed to vary the size of your bets according to your hand, but I find that uniform bet sizes work well for disguising my hand.

      One area where I've improved hugely is defending my blinds and blind stealing from the button and cutoff positions. If I'm lucky enough to have tight players immediately to my left, then I am often able to steal the blinds on every second or third circuit when the button or cutoff comes to me.

      Another thing I've found is very important: When someone minraises preflop, I nearly always call, even with junk. A minraise is very rarely the sign of a nit who plays only monster hands, but most often the sign of a player who doesn't know what s/he is doing and can be taken with solid postflop play.

      That's it for now. My next blog post will probably be a summary of my experience playing live next weekend. Thank you for reading, and all comments welcome.
    • Salivanth
      Salivanth
      Bronze
      Joined: 01.01.2011 Posts: 587
      Very interesting, I never thought of trying to take down minraisers with better postflop play. I may have to try that. I bet uniformly as well, no matter what I have, I shall bet:

      4BB in EP-MP
      3BB in LP-Blinds.
      2/3 pot contibet (Unless I think the opponent is set-mining, then 1/2 pot)

      Good post!
    • brobz
      brobz
      Bronze
      Joined: 22.03.2011 Posts: 569
      belayd,

      shot you an e-mail about the weekend, don't think I can join, other than thaty GL on your blog and check out mine ;) , I'm going to get started on it real soon and it's just strictly my grind on Cake(been busy withs school n martial arts so I havent gotten down to start posting the first session, but I made the thread)

      lso in my e-mail I sent you a good book that will help you...We should still hit up midtown poker club downtown this summer but we'll talk about that, enjoy the live game let us know how you do
    • belayd
      belayd
      Global
      Joined: 17.03.2011 Posts: 1,021
      Belated update on my online play, as I decided to concentrate on live play in May until bronchitis knocked me out of action.

      After some ugly beats on William Hill I went on tilt and donked away the remaining $9 of my starting capital. I was getting tired of the clumsy William Hill interface anyway. Whether I'll bother to deposit there remains to be seen.

      On Cake I went a horrible 14 buyins below EV before deciding to try limit. I played the lowest level, 4LHE, but because my bankroll was so beat up I couldn't withstand the variance, and that account is also now at zero.

      For the rest of this month I'm concentrating on article review, hand analysis, videos and live coaching sessions. There was a very good LHE live coaching session yesterday that I attended for about half an hour, and I learned quite a bit.

      The plan for June will be to play live on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and online on Mondays to Thursdays. I plan to concentrate on LHE.

      In terms of live play, I'll be playing 2/5 no-kill from about 3 pm to about 9 pm. My initial buyins will be $100 with a stop loss of $150 per session or $400 overall. Should I reach my overall stop loss, I'll spend the rest of the month concentrating on study. Since my daily expenses will be between $50 and $85, I don't expect to show a huge profit, but should my BR double I plan to give 5/10 a try.

      In terms of online play, I'll have $50 on Cake and $50 on Party and shall try my hand at 25LHE with a stop loss of $20 on each site (so $40 total). I figure 80 BB is enough of a cushion to account for variance, and if I'm down more than that, then the limit is just too tough for me and I need to drop down.

      This blog will deal with my online play, and my other blog will deal with live play.

      Thanks for reading.
    • m3ta
      m3ta
      Bronze
      Joined: 01.04.2009 Posts: 1,240
      I'm a losing player who has played about 30 $1+20 10-man STTs on Full Tilt with a ROI of about -3.4%. Do I qualify? Never mind. Sorry for trolling your thread.


      no - but never mind
    • belayd
      belayd
      Global
      Joined: 17.03.2011 Posts: 1,021
      As you've probably seen in the General Poker Discussion forum, I'm going through a period of disgust with online play, mostly because for me that has always meant microlimits. Right now the thought of sitting down at a virtual poker table where I don't see any of the other players, the cards aren't physically real, I can't physically handle the chips, and the big blind is TWO CENTS is turning my stomach.

      I don't know whether what I'm feeling right now is temporary and will pass, or whether the feeling is permanent. If anyone else has gone through a similar episode and come out of it loving online play again, please let me know. Conversely, if anyone else discovered live play and never looked back, let me know that as well.

      I know that online play has its uses: It enables people with small budgets to experience poker and improve their play at relatively low risk. As one member here pointed out to me, it also appeals to the generation who grew up playing MMPORGs over the internet and have an affinity for online things. Me, I grew up playing Defender and Dragon's Lair at a physical arcade where you fed quarters into great big clunky terminals. My background, hence my needs and experience, are different.

      What I have to wonder about, however, is the pros who have $100,000 in their pokerstars or full tilt account and play 1KNL for a living--online. Wouldn't they be better off playing $10 NL at a live cardroom? Black Friday had zero effect on live players. Vegas and Atlantic City weren't closed down by the feds. Meanwhile, last I heard, both pokerstars and full tilt still had their offices offshore, where few laws of any land can touch them, and they can thumb their noses at anyone who has the silly idea of suing them for his money.

      These are just idle thoughts from someone who is not a long-term winning player. Take them for what you will. Eventually I might return to online play, and if I do I shall post here about it.
    • Salivanth
      Salivanth
      Bronze
      Joined: 01.01.2011 Posts: 587
      Both have their advantages. Your point about the MMO generation is very valid, but there are also pros and cons to online Poker.

      Pros:

      Can play anywhere, anytime if you have a laptop.
      Lower limits are available than at a casino.
      Less expensive, as you don't need to pay for transport, food, etc.
      Can't be read by your body language.

      Cons:

      Don't get the 'full' Poker experience.
      Games are harder. (Yes, most of the best players in the world play live, but if you take an NL200 game online and an NL200 game at a casino, the casino is way softer from everything I have heard or read.)
      Can't rely on physical tells to help you.

      There are plenty of others, but imo those are the main ones. As for me, I don't have a casino nearby (or 200 bucks to spend on Poker), so when I get a job or an actual income from Poker, my plan shall probably be to play online Poker, and also compete in the Friday night 25-dollar MTT nearby occasionally, mostly for entertainment. The field is soft enough that I should at least be able to break even over time even though I'm not an MTT player. Get the best of both worlds.
    • belayd
      belayd
      Global
      Joined: 17.03.2011 Posts: 1,021
      I thought hard, and there happens to be one type of online game that does not disgust me--the $1 STT on Full Tilt. It's also been the game that I have come closest to breaking even on.

      I also kinda like the Daily Dollar freezeout, since it's cheap and brings a possibility of a significant payoff for next to nothing.

      I still have $61 in my Full Tilt account, so I thought what the hey--why not grind a bit at the $1 STTs and play the occasional Daily Dollar freezeout, just to keep myself occupied Mondays to Thursdays, when I'm not playing live?

      So I've created a new HEM database and am going to spend the rest of today reviewing the SNG strategy here on PS. Starting tomorrow, the grind begins.

      Here are my rather modest goals:

      1. Play at least 10 STTs per day, Monday to Thursday
      2. Play the daily dollar freezeout at least once every two days, Monday to Thursday
      3. Avoid needing to deposit before June 17th
      4. Achieve at least a break-even overall ROI by June 17th
      5. Start studying the silver level SNG strategy articles by June 17th

      In this blog I'm going to post daily play summaries and some hand histories, so it will be a much more conventional blog than it has been so far.

      Thanks for reading, and all comments welcome
    • belayd
      belayd
      Global
      Joined: 17.03.2011 Posts: 1,021
      On the first day I've exceeded my goal in terms of number of STTs played and met my goal in terms of MTTs, but, alas, I'm still a losing player. In 11 STTs I have finished 1st once and 2nd once and OOTM nine times. My gross losses are exactly $6, although I did clear a $1 tranche of bonus and thus reduce that to $5. When I play my next STT I should clear another tranche of bonus as well.

      One heartening thing is that I'm running about four buyins below EV, and I do remember having taken a few ugly beats, so hopefully things will even out.

      I sewered out of the Lucky Dollar freezeout yesterday evening and am planning to do something foolish: play the Lucky Dollar rebuy in about one hour and 15 minutes. The tournament will cost me a maximum of $5 (three rebuys and one addon), but that's still way outside good BRM. Still, a guaranteed prize pool of $7,500 is just too tempting.
    • belayd
      belayd
      Global
      Joined: 17.03.2011 Posts: 1,021
      On the second day I've met my STTs volume goal in terms of average per day. I played 9 today and now have a total of 20. It's too early to talk results, but I've finished 1st once, 2nd twice and 3rd once, for a fairly ugly ITM rate of 20%.

      I also discovered that, if I'm single-tabling, 10 STTs a day is about my limit in terms of volume. If I have trouble meeting that goal in the future, I'll reduce it. For now I still hope to average 40 STTs per week, playing Monday to Thursday.

      I've played one Daily Dollar freezeout (Monday) and one Daily Dollar rebuy (yesterday). In the rebuy I finished 277th of more than 3,000 and earned $6.50 on an investment of $3. I'm playing the Daily Dollar rebuy again in about 20 minutes, and it looks like I'll have some rail just after the addon break.

      There are no particularly interesting hands for me to post over the first 22 tourneys, except for one I posted elsewhere that was merely an ugly beat.

      I'm pretty much recovered from the bronchitis except that my throat still hurts, especially on the right side. If I hadn't had my tonsils out 36 years ago I'd suspect tonsilitis.

      That's it for today. Thanks for reading.
    • belayd
      belayd
      Global
      Joined: 17.03.2011 Posts: 1,021
      On the third day I failed to meet my volume goal. I played only seven STTs. The positive is that I was ITM in four of them, finishing 1st once and 3rd three times. That's an unholy ITM rate of 57%.

      I should be happy with how I did today, except that in two of those three 3rd place finishes I should have been at least 2nd. I need to work on my shorthanded game. Maybe I'll attend some live coachings on shorthanded play.

      Now, here's the ugly news. Yesterday I played the Daily Dollar rebuy and foolishly invested $11. Yes, boyz n gorillas, nine rebuys and one addon. At the end of it I finished on the bubble and recovered none of my investment. I'm playing the Daily Dollar rebuy again today and plan to be far more disciplined.

      There's a small gang of PS members who play the Daily Dollar rebuy, and there are also railbirds who don't. I've started a Daily Dollar thread in the Full Tilt forum for us to make contact. There's always fun in numbers.

      I notice there have been no replies for a while. If anyone is reading this blog, please drop me a line and let me know.
    • Salivanth
      Salivanth
      Bronze
      Joined: 01.01.2011 Posts: 587
      I'm reading it still, don't worry mate. If you want some help with your SNG game, I'm happy to help you out: I'm not a great player, but I'm able to do well 4-tabling the 2.25's. You could contact me via PM (Just post that you've done so on my blog, I'm terrible at checking my messages) or via Skype. (I'm Salivanth on Skype as well) If you want to do a sweat session, I'm happy to do that too. Even if I spend the whole time teaching you stuff, that helps me cement the material in my own mind, so it's very +EV for both of us.

      EDIT: I also think my short-handed play is one of my strengths relative to the field, so I'm happy to help you out. I'm betting you're not aggressive enough.
    • belayd
      belayd
      Global
      Joined: 17.03.2011 Posts: 1,021
      Originally posted by Salivanth
      I'm reading it still, don't worry mate. If you want some help with your SNG game, I'm happy to help you out: I'm not a great player, but I'm able to do well 4-tabling the 2.25's. You could contact me via PM (Just post that you've done so on my blog, I'm terrible at checking my messages) or via Skype. (I'm Salivanth on Skype as well) If you want to do a sweat session, I'm happy to do that too. Even if I spend the whole time teaching you stuff, that helps me cement the material in my own mind, so it's very +EV for both of us.

      EDIT: I also think my short-handed play is one of my strengths relative to the field, so I'm happy to help you out. I'm betting you're not aggressive enough.
      Thanks very much! :) I'll add you on Skype, and then maybe we can do a sweat. It would be deeply appreciated.
    • Salivanth
      Salivanth
      Bronze
      Joined: 01.01.2011 Posts: 587
      I just finished a set, I'm free atm. Hopefully you check your blog compulsively :) I'll be available in about two minutes, and I'll wait for about thirty before beginning another set.
    • belayd
      belayd
      Global
      Joined: 17.03.2011 Posts: 1,021
      My volume this morning has been light. I played a 27-man and finished just barely ITM at 5th place. Then Salivanth and I did a three-hour training session in which he sweated me while I single-tabled two $1 STTs and then coached while he two-tabled a couple of STTs himself. I learned a lot about postflop play, shorthanded play and especially bubble play. My eternal gratitude to Salivanth for being willing to help out.

      Today was supposed to be a live play day for me but my cough and sore throat haven't completely cleared up yet, so I'll be staying home for another week. That will mean more online play this week than I originally planned.

      I plan to study the SNG stragegy articles again in order to get an even firmer grasp of the basic strategy, then review some of the bronze articles.

      Thanks for reading.
    • belayd
      belayd
      Global
      Joined: 17.03.2011 Posts: 1,021
      I've had light volume over the past two or three days again. In total I've played only 38 tournaments since Monday, which works out to about 5.5 per day.

      One nice thing I've discovered is the 27-man $1+20 SNGs. I've played seven and made final table three times, finishing 1st once and 5th once for a nice overall net profit of $4.62. I have a higher ITM rate in the $1+20 STTs but a lower ROI, so I think I'm going to concentrate on the 27-mans for the foreseeable future and see whether I can become a winning player at them.

      I'm still playing some STTs and 45-mans as well, but have yet to cash in the latter. And, of course, I'm playing the Daily Dollar rebuy and freezeout MTTs. My ITM rate in the Daily Dollar tourneys is a respectable 22%, but I have about 30 BI in overall losses, which is horrendous. I need to develop what it takes to go deeper in those tournaments once I make it ITM in order to avoid mincashing all the time. The saving grace is that even one single decent finish in a Daily Dollar would mean a positive ROI all of a sudden. So I'm going to keep plugging away at it.

      Of note is the Daily Dollar thread in the Full Tilt subforum, which is becoming more and more active every day as people join it. There are lots of us playing the Daily Dollars and we sometimes railbird each other, either while playing or after we bust out. A couple of mods/admins have also been nice enough to railbird me in the Daily Dollar rebuy when I've gone deep enough.

      Thanks for reading. If anyone wants to see my graph, let me know what minimum number of tourneys would make the graph meaningful.
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