Midlife Crisis? What Midlife Crisis?

    • jbpatzer
      jbpatzer
      Bronze
      Joined: 22.11.2009 Posts: 6,947
      After reading endless blogs by students and 20-somethings, some of which are very entertaining, I thought it might be nice to write my own, focussing on the what it's like to try to play poker when you have stuff going on in your life that tends to get in the way. Reading blogs by people like TwiceT just makes me feel simultaneously jealous, old and also relieved that I'm not that young any more (this will only make sense to the over 40's).

      I have
      a) A wife
      b) Three kids, ages 3, 8 and 15. Anyone like to guess which one is the most troublesome?
      c) A full time job
      d) 44 years of wear and tear, both mental and physical, to cope with.
      e) An unfortunate tendency to compile lists.

      About me
      ---------

      I'm a maths professor at a British University. I'm not going to say which, as I want to stay anonymous. I'd be horrified if any of my students worked out that this is me. However, it's a very good university, and if you do work out which one it is, you should definitely encourage your teenage children to come here. I specialise in mathematical methods and modelling, mainly continuum mechanics, but I'm trying to learn some game theory in a feeble attempt to improve my poker (more on this later). I used to be a keen and quite good sportsman (cricket and badminton) but dodgy ankles have recently caught up with me, and I'm slowly expanding (think Jabba the Hut!). Poker does not help much in this regard.

      I've always been interested in games. My grandparents taught me a rummy-like game called Kalooki (just googled this and found there's a web site! Can't believe it!) and we used to play for Licourice Allsorts, so I suppose I have a history of gambling from an early age. Remember, no video games and no internet when I was a kid. I also used to play Bridge (badly) when I was a teenager, mainly because my friend and I could play at the Bridge evening at our local tennis club when we were too young to get into the pub, and get served at the bar (50p a pint!). There was one memorable occasion when we went to the Young Chelsea Bridge Club (so many wanky posh kids there!) to play a duplicate tournament, and my mate wandered off to the bar mid game, and had to be dragged off the fruit machine claiming he was too pissed to carry on. We finished exactly half way and earned Bridge Master Points. Who says it's a game of skill! Anyway, I haven't played Bridge for years, but I've always been a keen chess player and still turn out for my local team (current grade 170 BCF = 2000 ELO for those who know about these things. County standard for those who don't.).

      Edit: For all you Americans, 'pissed' means drunk. We say 'pissed off' when you say 'pissed'.


      Me and Poker
      -------------

      I always thought that poker was a game invented in Westerns as an excuse for people to shoot each other, and that it was now mainly played by Texans in silly hats and gangsters. Of course, I was right, but it turned out that normal people can have fun playing it too. I discovered this last August when my brother-in-law showed me that you could play Zynga poker on Facebook. I quickly became hooked, and after about 6 weeks could even reliably remember that a full house beats a flush.

      I have a shed load of books on chess, so it seemed only natural to get some on poker. Started with the books by Harrington (brilliant!) and Moshman (also brilliant, but what a dreadful writer. His style makes the average scientific paper look like it was written by Nick Hornby.). Then found I could win tons of chips on Zynga using Moshman's SnG tactics. I decided it was time to play for money. I deposited $50 on 888 poker, nearly lost all of it immediately, but fluked my way into 3rd place in a new depositer's freeroll for $50. Managed to build my BR up to $100 playing cash and SnGs, then withdrew my initial $50, and haven't deposited since. This is an essential element, as my wife thought I was going to become addicted to gambling and throw away all our money. I assured her that I am addicted to poker, not gambling. This does however mean that my BR management is very conservative, as I will be in big trouble with her if I ever have to redeposit, and I want to keep my gonads intact for now.

      Discovered pokerstrategy.com last November, eagerly claimed my $50, and started playing on FT. I've tried lots of different games on there and had some success with super turbos, rush and steps. I also continued playing on 888 and came 2nd for $150 in a $2 MTT. Once my bankroll reached $350, I deposited on Pokerstars and, inspired by chenny's TableNinja video, have been 12 tabling $3.40 SnGs to try to clear my bonus ($110 so far, and as a nice side effect, gold status. I'm going to have a break to read some gold articles and watch some gold videos over the next couple of weeks).

      After trying lots of different formats, I feel I want to concentrate on SnGs and MTTs. My current BR is $530 and my plan is
      i) Clear bonus on Pokerstars
      ii) Move to FT and grind $6.50 turbos
      iii) Use my FTPs to buy step 1 tickets, turn them into step 3 tickets (super turbos are the way to go for this) and play occasional $24 MTTs with them. Maybe try for the odd step 4 ticket.
      iv) Grow BR to $2.5K so that I can play $10 and $20 MTTs and whatever SnGs seem most profitable.
      v) Take out $500 whenever BR exceeds $3K.

      You know, I get paid quite well, but have five hungry mouths to feed, and there never seems to be any money left over at the end of the month, so any extra would be very welcome!

      Things I ought to do for my 'poker development'
      ----------------------------------------------
      i) Play some NL10 and NL25 to improve my early SnG play. Maybe at shallow stack tables, as you're never really deep stacked in a SnG.
      ii) Learn how to play stud (why not?!)
      iii) Play some more Omaha and Omaha HiLo (because it's fun)
      iv) Watch more PS videos and read more books
      v) Play some live poker. Have so far only played with my wife and teenage son. My wife only just learnt and hasn't passed the 'bluffing by calling on the river' stage yet. I strongly suspect that in a while she will completely own (too old to write 'pwn') me, as she reads me like a book! She's still probably a better player than Jennifer 'check the turn and river IP for value' Tilly, or Norma Snockers as I call her (if you haven't seen it, you must watch this video. It's hilarious!). My son thinks he's Phil Ivey and is destined to lose vast amounts of money playing poker, if and when he grows up. I live a 30 minute drive away from Dusk Till Dawn, but have never been there. Am planning to take a group of mathematicians there soon to try our luck in a beginners' MTT. Sadly, I feel I may be 'crawling with tells like ticks on a deer' (can't remember where I read that expression, but it seems right. Maybe 'Kill Everyone'?).

      Things I like about poker
      ------------------------
      i) It's so much more human than chess. I like to think that a combination of social and maths/analytical skills is what is required, so why shouldn't I be good at it? If I was as good at poker as I am at chess, I think I'd be a winning player.
      ii) I think the theory is still in it's infancy, particularly for MTTs. If you read 'Winning Poker Tournaments One Hand at a Time' (excellent book) and 'The Poker Tournament Formula' (also excellent and much more entertaining than your average poker book), you'll realize that there are lots of different ideas out there. I think the combination of analysis, hand reading, person reading, stack/blind ratio and tournament structure considerations makes MTT poker a unique, and potentially lucrative, challenge.
      iii) There's lots of scope for mathematical analysis. I tried this with some success in the recent 'Maths Question' thread in the forum. I'm going to offer undergraduate projects on poker related themes next year (e.g. ICM and alternatives, AKQ game and extensions). 'The Mathematics of Poker' will be required reading for this (really interesting book, but horribly badly written. Even I thought there were far too many equations in it!).

      On the difficulties of having a life
      ------------------------------------
      Things I have to do
      i) Keep my wife happy
      ii) Play with kids
      iii) Produce at least three good scientific papers a year
      iv) Manage applied maths department

      Things I like to do
      i) Keep my wife happy
      ii) Play with kids (but not as often as they want me too)
      iii) Poker!
      iv) Chess
      vi) Read
      vii) Listen to music (Porcupine Tree are the best band in the world! Saw them in Wolverhampton last year, and it was both the best gig I've ever been to, and I've been to a few, and the nearest I'm ever likely to get to a religious experience. Any other fans out there?)
      viii) Watch movies
      ix) See friends

      How can I fit poker into my life? Sometimes I say to the kids 'Daddy's just going to play an hour of poker, then he'll play with you'. This rarely results in a winning session, as they are unable to leave me alone, and if they do, they spend the hour screaming at each other. Even after they've gone to bed, if my wife is out, there's often a cry of 'Dad!' when I'm approaching the bubble on about five tables. This is -EV. If my wife is at home, 'I can't go, I'm playing poker' doesn't really play too well with her either. Mind you, when I won $150, she was quite pleased, at least until I told her it was poker money and not real money, and therefore not available for spending!


      Here's my graph since I started using TableNinja on the $3.40 turbos on Pokerstars. A massive heater followed by slow decline. I review my hands after each session, and regularly post them in the forum (thanks for all your help chaps), so I think I can turn this around. Watch this space!



      I'd be interested to see how many of you are in a similar situation to me. Let's show these youngsters we can do it too!
  • 8598 replies
    • supeyrio
      supeyrio
      Bronze
      Joined: 11.11.2009 Posts: 3,106
      hi prof! i bet the 8yo is the most troublesome one! anyhow best of luck, will be keeping tabs!

      p.s. i bet you took ages to type this whole introduction! (based on the length of the intro and your age :P )
    • jbpatzer
      jbpatzer
      Bronze
      Joined: 22.11.2009 Posts: 6,947
      Originally posted by supeyrio
      hi prof! i bet the 8yo is the most troublesome one! anyhow best of luck, will be keeping tabs!

      p.s. i bet you took ages to type this whole introduction! (based on the length of the intro and your age :P )
      Wrong! 15 year old most troublesome. And yes, it took me a while. Will have to rest my fingers for a week now.:f_zZz:
    • gormless
      gormless
      Silver
      Joined: 12.01.2010 Posts: 164
      Hi,

      I'm not quite as old as you (-10 years), but certainly in a similar position.

      Married with one (second due in November) and own non-poker related business
      which occupies most of my time.

      I try to find at least 1 hour a day to play, and am lucky if I can manage more than 3.

      It is refreshing to see a blog from another poker part timer like me. I will follow with interest.
    • Waiboy
      Waiboy
      Bronze
      Joined: 18.09.2008 Posts: 4,877
      I literally LOL'd at the Moshman/Hornby reference.

      Hmmm.. mine are 6/near as 5 as makes no difference/5 months. I'd say it's a toss up between the 15 year old and his upcoming car fetish and associated drop kick mates and the 3 year old. Given the 15 year old probably hasn't fully developed the car fetish I'm going to go with the 3 year old: inquisitive, mobile and finds disobedience hilarious.

      Best of luck with your poker time/development. And I expect the undergraduate project will attract a significant amount of interest (and, in all probability break your cover).

      *EDIT: dammit, that will teach me to open/answer threads and play at the same time. At least I have a good eight years to wait.
    • jbpatzer
      jbpatzer
      Bronze
      Joined: 22.11.2009 Posts: 6,947
      Originally posted by Waiboy
      I'd say it's a toss up between the 15 year old and his upcoming car fetish and associated drop kick mates and the 3 year old. Given the 15 year old probably hasn't fully developed the car fetish I'm going to go with the 3 year old: inquisitive, mobile and finds disobedience hilarious.

      *EDIT: dammit, that will teach me to open/answer threads and play at the same time. At least I have a good eight years to wait.
      Amused that both guesses have been wrong so far! My three year old is also all of those things, but doesn't quite measure up to the awesome level of idiocy that my 15 year old can manage.
    • jbpatzer
      jbpatzer
      Bronze
      Joined: 22.11.2009 Posts: 6,947
      Originally posted by gormless


      Married with one (second due in November) and own non-poker related business which occupies most of my time.

      Take my advice and stick with just two kids!

      What's the 'poker related business'?
    • gormless
      gormless
      Silver
      Joined: 12.01.2010 Posts: 164
      The way my wife feels at the moment, I don't think there is any danger of a third :)
      Business is NON-poker related, IT support
    • jbpatzer
      jbpatzer
      Bronze
      Joined: 22.11.2009 Posts: 6,947
      Originally posted by gormless
      Business is NON-poker related, IT support
      Just think how much more smoothly my life would go if I could actually read. :f_rolleyes:
    • dotarian
      dotarian
      Bronze
      Joined: 04.06.2009 Posts: 71
      great start for a blog sir, really nicely wrote, i will be following this for sure. gl at the tables!
    • Dendra
      Dendra
      Bronze
      Joined: 28.01.2009 Posts: 479
      hiyo, nice introduction. glad you found us (ps.com) and glad you seem to throw in some subtle humour in your texts :P

      btw about your kids - I'm disappointed there were already two guesses so it'll look like I'm freerolling to the correct answer now, but anyway - my first thought was - it must be the 15yr old one.

      Why? Teenagers = Trouble-agers.

      I obviously don't have kids (does having myself count as having a kid?), but it seems logical to me that the real problems start around 13-14++ because that's when kids get rebellious and also that's the time when parents will probably worry too much about the influence of their child's environment.

      Parents start feeling like they're losing control and I guess that's why building a good relationship prior to teen age is vital to have a less stressful time when your child's hormones go crazy.

      It's kind of like...there is like a village here in Croatia and to get to it you have to drive downhill, the funny thing is that the road leads straight to river Danube. So during summer time, it's all cool, but in winter if you got ice on the road, young drivers panic and start pushing the brake pedal to gain control of their car, while my aunt told me to never do that, if I lose control of my car - push the gas pedal to get those wheels spinning and thus regain control.

      So it is following opposite of the logic of a scared human mind - like wtf why the hell would I push forward towards a river when I don't want to end up in it? - I obviously don't know how this works in practice and if her advice was correct (I ride a bike, so no driving experience :P ).

      However, I guess this example perfectly fits into "raising a teenager" scenario. Your kid gets loose, you want to push the brakes and feel like you are still "capo di tutti" but sometimes you need to do the opposite :)


      Anyway, looking forward to following your blog, not so much because of your game of choice, but the style of writing :) - oh and by the way, we have a new Stud/Mixed games coach, he seems eager to convert all of us NL/SnG fish into Studs so I think you'll find his upcoming videos interesting (so far we only got the introductory video :P )
    • jbpatzer
      jbpatzer
      Bronze
      Joined: 22.11.2009 Posts: 6,947
      Originally posted by Dendra

      It's kind of like...there is like a village here in Croatia and to get to it you have to drive downhill, the funny thing is that the road leads straight to river Danube. So during summer time, it's all cool, but in winter if you got ice on the road, young drivers panic and start pushing the brake pedal to gain control of their car, while my aunt told me to never do that, if I lose control of my car - push the gas pedal to get those wheels spinning and thus regain control.

      So it is following opposite of the logic of a scared human mind - like wtf why the hell would I push forward towards a river when I don't want to end up in it? - I obviously don't know how this works in practice and if her advice was correct (I ride a bike, so no driving experience :P ).

      However, I guess this example perfectly fits into "raising a teenager" scenario. Your kid gets loose, you want to push the brakes and feel like you are still "capo di tutti" but sometimes you need to do the opposite :)
      I like the analogy. Picture the same road, with an enormous lorry driven by someone who refuses to look out of the window. That's my son!
    • hacacare
      hacacare
      Bronze
      Joined: 01.04.2009 Posts: 2,939
      Hi,

      this is the first English blog I add to favorites, I like your style. (maybe also the first English blog I am reading :) )

      Just wanted to give some idea... I'm in similar situation, have 3 kids, so finding time for poker is quite difficult. I started playing between 4 and 7 am 6 months ago, and it works for me. Everyone is sleeping in that time, so you don't have to worry about them much.

      The 15y old is obvious, mine are much younger and no problems with them so far, so problems must be coming later.
    • jbpatzer
      jbpatzer
      Bronze
      Joined: 22.11.2009 Posts: 6,947
      Originally posted by hacacare
      Hi,

      this is the first English blog I add to favorites, I like your style. (maybe also the first English blog I am reading :) )
      I am suitably flattered! :D

      Just wanted to give some idea... I'm in similar situation, have 3 kids, so finding time for poker is quite difficult. I started playing between 4 and 7 am 6 months ago, and it works for me. Everyone is sleeping in that time, so you don't have to worry about them much.

      4am to 7am??? The is me at 4am :f_ugly:

      I have to get up at 6.45am to get ready for work and help polish the children ready for school. I tend to play in the evenings.

      Where do you play, not that I'm ever likely to bump into you at that time of the morning!
    • chenny8888
      chenny8888
      Silver
      Joined: 03.10.2007 Posts: 19,324
      great read :)
    • hacacare
      hacacare
      Bronze
      Joined: 01.04.2009 Posts: 2,939
      Well, there not many places where you can play early, you need American opponents for such an entertainment. I play on Full Tilt ( or at, I am not sure ?( )
    • jbpatzer
      jbpatzer
      Bronze
      Joined: 22.11.2009 Posts: 6,947
      Originally posted by chenny8888
      great read :)
      Hope it sets you up for a final table tomorrow. And thanks for the videos and hand evaluations! :f_biggrin:

      PS. I think everyone posting in the <$5 SnG hand evaluation forum will understand if you don't look at our hands for a couple of days! :D
    • jbpatzer
      jbpatzer
      Bronze
      Joined: 22.11.2009 Posts: 6,947
      Originally posted by hacacare
      Well, there not many places where you can play early, you need American opponents for such an entertainment. I play on Full Tilt ( or at, I am not sure ?( )
      It's not even a civilised time in America! 11pm to 2pm? Maybe they're in China?

      I think 'at' Full Tilt. I never correct anyone's English unless they're

      a) One of my children
      b) American (American English! Pffffff!)
      c) They want me to.

      So let me know if you don't fit into any of these categories.

      :f_cool:
    • jbpatzer
      jbpatzer
      Bronze
      Joined: 22.11.2009 Posts: 6,947
      Played 24 $3.50 turbos tonight. Crappy results. At least I got some peace and quiet tonight. Mrs jb was out at the allotment (did I mention the allotment?) tending to the crops, and the kids weren't playing up for a change. Will review my hands tomorrow lunchtime.



      Not sure what I think about blogs with lots of results and graphs in. Get's a bit boring I think. I may just post graphs at the end of each week. That would probably be a bit less tedious. I'll probably just post hands in the <$5 forum as well. Just amusing ones here perhaps? Not sure. Will think about it.

      One thing I have noticed is that I tend to get more 1sts than 2nds or 3rds. Poker Tracker says

      745 STTs, 102 1sts, 70 2nds, 78 3rds

      This is good right?

      Watched Jonathan Little's videos on cbetting and 3betting as well. The 3betting one was quite an eyeopener. With 20BB he doesn't need much excuse to get all his chips in the middle! I suspect my play tonight may have been affected by this. I'll have to check out whether I went a bit mental tonight when I look at my hands tomorrow.
    • jbpatzer
      jbpatzer
      Bronze
      Joined: 22.11.2009 Posts: 6,947
      No traffic at all today so in to work early. Mission for the day: Find missing minus sign in big calculation. I seem to spend half my working life looking for minus signs. The temptation just to draw that one little vertical line that would make it all correct is often very strong, but us mathematicians have a technical term for this practise. It's called 'cheating'!

      My daughter asked for Cheerios and Frosties for breakfast, and then complained because they were layered in the bowl in the incorrect order. I resisted the temptation to invert the bowl on the table and say 'Now they're in the right order!' and persuaded her to eat them by less violent means.

      Mrs jb has to go and get one of our chickens put down today. We have four chickens: Hazel, Gertie, Frieda and the fourth one (the chickens are really her thing and I've forgotten the name). They produce eggs (good) and lots of poo (not so good). We also have Hermionie the hamster. She throws little pellets of poo out if her cage. (Suddenly I'm an expert on animal excrement. How did that happen?). She's also the only hamster I've ever seen that runs around the outside of her wheel! I often watch her while I'm grinding SnGs and try not to draw the obvious analogy. We also have a cat that tries to kill anything that moves and some guinea pigs. (What is the point of guinea pigs?), and a tank of fish that belongs to the owners of the house we're renting. They're currently suffering from some sort of disease that means they have a tendency to swim upside down or in circles, as if gravity has failed locally (it's a swim bladder infection according to Mrs jb).

      Anyway, this is just a displacement activity to stop me from looking for my minus sign. I will return with a session review at lunchtime.