Thursday, November 14, 2013


I apologize for not posting this sooner.  It does not look like I'll be offering coaching this year.  I'm pretty wrapped up in some other things right now and don't have the time or energy for it.  It's possible that could change, especially by next year, and I will be sure to post here with any changes.

Good luck everyone.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

2013 Statistical Year in Review

I don't know why I enjoy doing this so much, I guess I really like statistics.  It does provide some insight to where my money is coming from, the variance involved, and changes in the LHE environment.

The first number listed is from 2012, the second from 2013 comes after the slash, and if there's a third, it's the cumulative.


Hands Played: 510471/519500
Money Won: $296971/$349061
Rakeback Earned: ~$120,000/$120000
Total Money Won:$416971/$469061
Money Won Per Hand:$0.82/$0.90
Total Hours Played: 2082/2235
$/Hour: $200.27/$210
Average Hours Played per Week: 58/60

% of Hands Played By Limit (2012 #'s don't include some hands played in December): 

5/10: .4%/1.31%
10/20:  24.4%/30.61%
15/30: 29.5%/27.14%
30/60: 24%/30.61%
50/10: 12.4%/12.36%
100/200: 6.5%/3.38%
200/400: 2.6%/1.6%

30/60+: 45.5%/40.92%

Win Rate by Limit in Big Bets/100 Hands.  Standard Error assume Standard Deviation of 19

5/10: (2.64)/2.02  Cum:.0.81   Standard Error: 1.98 BB/100
10/20 .79/.08 Cum 0.39          Standard Error: .36 BB/100
15/30 1.27/.49 Cum: .90         Standard Error: .35 BB/100
30/60 .85/2.07 Cum: 1.44       Standard Error: .38 BB/100
50/100 .84/1.52 Cum: 1.17     Standard Error: .53 BB/100
100/200: .88/2.03 Cum: 1.25  Standard Error: .82 BB/100
200/400: .25/.1 Cum 0.2         Standard Error: 1.26 BB/100

Average $ Won Per Hand By Limit Including Rakeback:

10/20: $0.39/$0.23  Cum: .$0.30
15/30: $0.64/$0.38  Cum: $0.52
30/60: $0.84/$1.47  Cum: $1.15
50/100: $1.06/$1.78  Cum: $1.41
100/200: $1.86/$4.33 Cum: $2.65
200/400: $3.15/$0.69 Cum: $2.25


Two biggest Downswings in BB's:

860 BB's (In 13K Hands!)/ 730 BB's in ~30K hands
690 BB's (In 31K Hands)/ 680 BB's in ~55K hands

Biggest Upswing: 2400 BB's over 130K hands (No downswing more than 250 BB's over that stretch)
Biggest Upswing 2013: 3900 BB's over 350K hands (No downswing more than 350 BB's) *Amazing good luck

Longest Breakeven Stretch: 173,000 Hands / ~160K hands

Biggest Downswings in $ (Excluding Rakeback):

102K over 30K hands / 68K in 27K hands
70K over 24K hands / 50K in 13K hands

Biggest Upswings in $ (Excluding Rakeback):

203K over 169K Hands (No downswing more than 28K over that stretch) /143K over 120K hands
98K over 47K hands / 110K over 75K hands

Longest Breakeven Stretch:

238,000 Hands / 159,000 Hands (I actually won $8K over this stretch)


Approximate money lost to power outages and internet disconnects:$16,000 / <$1,000
Approximate money paid/to be paid in taxes before deductions: $175,000/ / $197,0000

Monday, October 14, 2013

5 In a Row!

Rejoice mid/high stakes limit HE players, I won't be sitting at all your tables for twelve hours a day at least for another two to three months.  I'm hoping to take the rest of the year off and come back in mid January but that's dependent on how my other gambling endeavors go, mainly sports betting.  There's a chance I may make a 1-2 week to Toronto to visit friends and play, otherwise it'll be next year.

I exceeded my expectations this year in terms of money won but my win rate decreased slightly from last year.  I still think there's quite a bit of room for improvement in my game though.  I put minimal effort into my game but plan on doing some work/studying when I get back home.  My biggest strength by far this year was emotional control.  The number of decisions I made that were influenced by emotion were less than any other year.  If I had to venture a guess, I'd say less than 1 out of every 1000 had any emotion involved.  So I'm happy there but not too happy with the overall progress of my game.  I also was extremely unhealthy for the last five months of this year.  I didn't work out a single time.  That's the biggest thing I need to change next year.

I will likely do a statistical review like I did last year and compare the two years.  Also starting next year I think I'm going to start tracking things daily like money won/lost, big bets won/lost, along with things like how much water I drank that day, whether I worked out, and my general mindset.  I'd like to get a gauge on just how much these things matter.  I'm not sure even a year worth of data is going to tell me too much but eventually I think the data could prove useful.  It also will commit me to staying hydrated, working out, and paying attention to my mental state.  And out of curiosity, I'm interested in the type of swings that can occur on a daily basis.  This year alone, I believe I had my winning-est day ever, winning 371 BB's along with three of biggest losing days ever: I lost around 250 BB's each of those days.  It's likely just variance at play but there seemed to be many more extreme days than usual.

This is what my year ended up looking like.  I'll be thrilled if I'm as successful next year.

Good luck to everyone still chasing SNE.

Monday, September 30, 2013

September in the Books and SNE Thoughts

Despite ending the month on about a 250 BB/10K downswing, September ended up being my best month of the year and third best since Black Friday.  This coming after my worst month in nine years.  I guess that's what statisticians are referring to when they talk about "regression to the mean".

I ended up winning 76K plus 18K in bonuses.  I also finished 6th in the WCOOP limit event for about 6K so it just barely ended up being a 6 figure month for only the second time post BF.  Congratulations to my friend Javier (Cosi on Stars) for winning the tournament.  He's a super tough high-stakes player and one of the very few people I hate seeing at my table (especially at the end of a tournament playing for tens of thousands of dollars!)

I think I played very well for a couple weeks in the middle of the month but mostly I just ran good, particularly at high limits (30/60-100/200):

Enough about results.  I'm nearing the end of the year with two weeks to go and am up to 940K VPPs.  This will be the fifth consecutive year reaching SNE so I thought I'd share some thoughts and tips regarding the journey.

One of the more important tips I can give is to set a VPP goal every day.  Poker Stars has a VPP Status Bar that can be added under options that will appear in the lobby and show your progress through the day.  By doing this, it takes the emphasis off of results and places them on playing hands (earning VPPs).  My primary goal every day is to reach my VPP goal and everything else becomes secondary.  There's a sense of accomplishment at the end of day regardless of my results if I've reached my VPP goal.

Without setting this type of goal, I think people have a tendency to put in volume based on their results.  Everyone is different in this regard but I'll give you a couple of examples from friends of mine.  One of them puts in lots of volume when he's running well but when he hits a losing streak, he takes days and sometimes weeks off.  Another of my friends is the opposite.  If he wins a lot of money, he loses his drive and motivation and stops putting in the volume.  I identify more with the latter but for a different reason. I have a tendency to play more when I'm losing.  In the back of my mind, I know that I'm eventually going to snap out of the losing streak and run well. I feel the more I can play, the sooner (in terms of time) I'll get out of the losing streak.  But again, setting a daily VPP goal alleviates some of this.

Another important tip that is incredibly simple to do: stay hydrated.  It's impossible to quantify how much it's cost me not to drink enough water but it's well into the tens of thousands of dollars at this point. There have been many, many days where I've woken up and downed cups of coffee and energy drinks and found myself unable to think straight.  Almost inevitably, I'm dehydrated and have been playing for hours without realizing it.  As soon as I drink a few bottles of water, my mind clears and my level of play rises.  The best way I've found to avoid this is to get into a routine where every day when I sit down to play, I grab two bottles of water and put them beside me.

I say this all the time but do not underestimate variance.  Without fail every year on Poker Stars I see decent players run exceptionally well and start playing above their heads in terms of stakes and also in terms of game selection.  And without fail, these people disappear within a few months.

I tend to get more careless and less focused when I'm in the midst of a huge winning streak.  This has been one of my faults over the years and I worked hard this year to make sure I was giving one hundred percent effort regardless of how I was running.

I also see great players run incredibly bad for long stretches and their games fall apart.  Some of these people never recover and quit poker, others take many months or years before their games recover.  These aren't just average regulars it happens to, it's some of the very best regulars.  Myself and other high volume players may have an advantage in this regard.  Imagine you're a high-stakes player with a win-rate of .5 BB/100 that plays ten thousand hands a month.  And imagine you hit a seventy or hundred thousand hand stretch like I did last month.  You're going to experience at least a seven to ten month stretch losing money.  Maybe you take time off as well because you're so discouraged by the results and maybe your game deteriorates as well because you start second-guessing everything your doing and your win rate is no longer .5 BB/100. Now the losing streak can last well over a year and you very well may give up or try another form of poker.

In summary, don't get too high on yourself or get careless when things are going great.  And don't underestimate how bad things can go.  I've had several 100K hand break-even stretches both in terms of money and big bets, and several 600-900 BB downswings over the last couple years.

Another piece of advice is to eliminate distractions as much as possible.  This is something I've known for years and done a very good job of but for some unknown reason last month, completely disregarded.  Table chat tends to be a big distraction for me and I think potentially can be for any regular that's putting in a lot of volume.  Several times a month, players (regulars and rec alike) will type some sort of disparaging comments towards me (I see this happen to many players).  My natural tendency is to respond and defend myself but all that does is further upset me when the comments escalate, and further distract me when I'm trying to type and retort while multitabling.  It's best to either turn chat off or completely ignore it.

Something I don't really have the luxury of doing, having to make SNE in less than nine months, but that I highly recommend is taking time off.  Whether it's a certain part of the day or a certain day of the week, it's extremely beneficial to get away from the computer and do something completely unrelated to poker.

I've been playing 12-14 hours a day now, every single day, for almost three months straight.  There are quite a few damaging side-effects to this.  One is that I wake up so many days, completely unmotivated to play poker.  I'd rather be doing anything else but playing poker.  These are the days where I'm just going through the motions, putting very little mental effort into my game, and trying to earn my VPPs for the day.  When I was in Playa Del Carmen earlier this year I made an effort to go out several times a week and I felt so much more refreshed and motivated at the tables.  It really can't be understated how beneficial this is for your game.  For those of you that have a full twelve months to make SNE, I'd suggest planning out your days and weeks so that you have adequate balance in your life while still being able to attain SNE.

Another very strange side effect I thought I'd share is sometimes during the middle of the day, my mind just forces me to stop playing and to lie down.  I try to take a nap whenever this happens but I'm not able to fall asleep.  I close my eyes, and tables keep flashing in front of me with decisions to make.  I'm not in a dream state where I'm getting aces at every table or rivering people in big pots.  It's an incredibly realistic state where I'm being dealt random hands at four tables, random flops, and the hands are playing out in different ways with me winning some and losing some.  My attention is constantly being diverted from table to table to make decisions exactly as it is when I'm playing.  This usually lasts for about 30-40 minutes before my mind finally settles down and is able to focus on something else.  Unfortunately this is normally when I jump out of bed and head immediately to my computer to play more.

I read Dusty Schmidt's blog post a while back that talks a little about this:

I'm not really convinced I'm going to die of a stroke before age 50 as Dusty was told but I don't think it can be very healthy either.  And there most certainly are short-term effects where I'm basically a vegetable for an hour or so after a long session.

Another side-effect to playing so many hours is that my ability to think, and hence my level of play, fluctuates quite a bit during the day.  It's very rare that I go an entire day thinking clearly and playing well.  Often I'll wake up in a fog and it'll take me several hours (and cups of coffee) before I'm tuned in and playing well.  Sometimes during the middle of the day, I'll hit a two to three hour stretch where I'm very low on energy and unfocused.  I've paid a lot more attention to my mental state this year and have made adjustments to the stakes I'm playing based on it.  If I wake up in a fog, which happens often, I won't play any games above 50-100 and even with 50-100, I'll only play in extremely good games.  Likewise if I feel my energy and focus fading during the day, I'll trade some of my higher limit tables for lower limit tables.  The key with this is to really be in tune with your state of mind.  I almost have to step outside of myself sometimes and assess my mental state and playing ability and then make adjustments based on that.

There's much more to say about the SNE journey but as you might of guessed I played twelve hours today and am totally exhausted.  If anyone has questions, feel free to post in the comments and I will answer them.

Two weeks to go!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Month to Forget

August ended up being my worst month in 8 years as a professional poker player.  I barely staved off a losing month, coming out slightly ahead after rakeback.  The scariest part to me is I don't think I ran that bad. On a scale of 1-10, maybe a 3.  If I had to rate my play on a scale of 1-10, it would be about a 2 or 3.  I was totally unfocused, unmotivated, and distracted throughout the month.  One major distraction was the 2+2 forums and I've stopped posting there as a result.  I think I had about 500 posts in 6 years there and I probably have over 500 this year.  I've known all along that posting there offers very little benefit so it was pretty stupid of me to start posting there again.  I've also shut the chat off of most players and am just trying to focus on the games.

One the VPP front, I'm up to 800K.  I've got a month and a half left and need to average about 4500/day. One of my best friends is coming to visit for 3 days so I'm actually going to have to do closer to 5K/day on the days he's not here.  I'm not too concerned about making SNE in time, but I'm very concerned with finding my motivation and focus.  Usually a bad losing streak is what jolts me and motivates me but despite my worst month ever, I really didn't go through any big downswings.  It was just back and forth all month as you can see in the graphs below.

Anyway, not in a blogging mood.  I'm pretty frustrated with poker.  What I really need is a break, unfortunately that's not going to happen (thank you DOJ/Black Friday).

Good Luck at the tables everyone.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Poker Stars Hall of Fame and A Look Back (With Results)

I just earned my five millionth VPP and an induction into the Poker Stars Hall of Fame.  I haven't actually submitted my bio yet but I should be up shortly.  According to the site, I'm the first exclusively fixed limit player to make it and the twenty-second player overall to earn at least five million VPPs.  It's one of my biggest accomplishments as a poker player, a reflection of all my hard work and dedication, and something I'm very proud of.

I vividly remember the first night I started the SNE chase about four and a half years ago.  I was sitting on a bed in a Las Vegas hotel room and opened four 10/20 tables.  In fact, I have a picture of it that used to be my profile picture for this blog.  I remember being very excited and possessing an incredible desire and motivation to play.

Although I've been playing on Poker Stars for about eight years now, prior to my decision to go for SNE, the majority of my play was on Ultimate Bet, and prior to that, Party and Paradise Poker.  I remember making the decision to leave the safety of my UB hosting job with 100% rakeback, and feeling very apprehensive about playing on Stars.  Although I played in a lot of tough short-handed games against other hosts on UB, I wasn't really a 6-max player and I felt like I was going to have to practice very strict game selection to succeed.  I think I was very fortunate the first year to run really well at 15/30 which initially was my highest limit.  That allowed me move to 30/60 very quickly where I also ran fairly well.

This is what my lifetime results on Stars have looked like:

Looking at these results it looks like it's been a walk in the park but the reality is that nothing could be further from the truth.  I've experienced countless 300-900 BB and 50K-100K downswings.  The graphs don't come close to doing justice to just how wild of a roller coaster ride it's been.

These graphs are something I will refer to anytime I'm in the midst of a downswing.  In fact, that's something I've always done over the years.  As miserable as some downswings can be, once they're put in their proper prospective, they don't seem nearly as bad.

The thing I'm most proud of looking at my results is my specifically 6-handed play.  I've averaged nearly 1 BB/100 hands for 1.2 million hands.

I've spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours over the last five years working on my 6-max game.  I remember towards the end of my hosting job at UB, where I was primarily a heads up and short handed player, looking at specifically 6-handed results and having a negative win rate.  I sent an email to several other hosts asking to check their 6-handed results.  Every one of them responded to say theirs was negative as well.  This really jolted me and brought me to the realization that there was an enormous amount of room for improvement in our games.  This is when I committed a lot of time and effort to studying preflop situations in PT and HEM, analyzing postflop decisions, and discussing hands and strategies with friends.  And these are all things I do to this day and will likely do as long as I"m playing.

Back to the present day, I had a great month last month, in fact I can't remember even having a single losing day.  I ran exceptionally well and played equally as well.  This month it feels like someone flipped a switch and I feel lost at the tables.  I'm around even big bet wise and up a few thousand but I've had incredible difficulty focusing and even keeping track of the action.  I've probably made more mistakes in six days then I did all of last month.  I wish I had an explanation for this but I don't.   This has happened to me a number of times over the last few years and I always seem to snap out of it.  But it's always scary nonetheless.  It's a really uneasy and strange feeling to go from playing my A game for an extended period to immediately playing my C game and not being able to find an easy way to snap out of it.

I think the grind of playing ten hours a day, every single day, may have something to do with my lack of focus.  I'm feeling pretty burnt out right at the moment.  My brother is coming to visit me next week so I'm planning on taking some much needed time off from the tables.  By time off, I mean playing five hours a day instead of ten hours a day.  As ridiculous as that sounds, it will give me time to go to the beach, some restaurants, play tennis, etc.  All things I've done very little of this trip.  I'm up to about 700K VPPs and need to average around 4400 a day to be done by October 15th.  It shouldn't be a problem but I need to find motivation and focus quickly.

Good luck at the tables everyone.

Monday, July 1, 2013


I've received a lot of emails and comments since mentioning that I may offer coaching this fall.  The main obstacle in coaching is that I don't think it's worthwhile for me to be improve my direct competition, even at $500/HR.  And the vast majority of people who can afford that price tag are going to fall under that category.  So I've come up with a different possibility:

What I'm thinking of doing is offering group coaching via Skype, conference call, or some other communication medium.  I could coach approximately 5 people at a time and the price would be around $75/Hour per person.  The students would be limited to micro, small, and medium stakes players.  $5/$10 would be the highest limit a student could be playing to be eligible for coaching.

There are a couple different coaching formats I'm envisioning and frankly I'm open to any ideas that people have.  One format would be to have a question and answer hour where people take turns asking me questions.  The questions could be based on any topic.  They could be as broad as preflop play or as specific as what action to take on a specific street from a hand that was played

Another possible format is to have a mutually agreed upon topic that we discuss, for example 3-betting or big blind defense, and I'd spend the hour talking about that and answering questions related to it.  In addition to the hour, I would offer to answer one or two follow-up questions via email and be accessible in the future via email for the odd question here and there.

None of this is set in stone by any means but I'd like to hear people's thoughts and get a feel for the type of interest.  So please email me at or leave a comment in the comments section if you are interested.  I will be home October 15th so if there's enough interest and I'm feeling up to doing it, the coaching would likely run from the end of October to the end of December.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

June In The Books

June ended up being a great month, my best of the year.  Looking back at the previous thirty-six months, it ranked sixth in terms of money won and I believe second or third in terms of big bets won.  I was up 1000 big bets after twenty-six thousand hands this month which I believe is the shortest amount of time I've ever reached 1000 BB's since playing on Stars.  I was playing a lot of heads up earlier this month against several regulars including Jama-Dharma, whom I'm sure many of you are aware of our public feud.  The added heads up hands were probably the single biggest contributor to that stretch, I ran at close to 10 BB/100.  Considering how dead the high limit games were, I'm extremely happy and fortunate with the results - 61% of my hands came at 15/30 and lower.

This will be the last month I post any results in my blog aside from posting losing streaks and perhaps an end of the year recap.  I'm finding a lot of the regulars are employing my strategies against me and it's undoubtedly due to me making my success public.  I've made three major changes to my game over the last year or so and there are several regulars now that have implemented the same or similar changes to their games. It's really quite frustrating because I put a lot of work and thought into my game and I almost feel like my ideas are being stolen. So I don't think it makes sense to keep publicly posting about my success and having people copy my strategies.  I realize people are still going to copy my strategies regardless of whether I post results here but I do think it will help the situation somewhat over the long run.

I've had several people either write in the comments or email me that they really enjoy reading about my downswings, my mental state during them, and fighting through them.  So I will continue to post those along with my thoughts.

On the VPP front, I'm up to about 535K and need to average 4400 a day for the rest of my time in Cabo.  That should be very doable.  I'm going to shoot for 5,000/day so that I have the flexibility to take time off if necessary.

I hope everyone has a profitable July, good luck at the tables.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Halfway Home

I mean that literally, I just earned my 500,000th VPP of the year and am halfway to heading back home to California and hopefully taking the rest of the year off.  I've been on an incredible tear this month and am on pace to break my single month big bet record.  As of today, I'm up about 1100 BB's and at one point was up close to 1300.

This month in terms of games has been the slowest of the year.  This is undoubtedly due to the World Series.  Some good comes with this though as most of the top tier regulars aren't online and this certainly has contributed to my success this month.

Looking back at the first half of the year, the games on a whole have been a lot more active than I anticipated.  It's still nothing like it was even two years ago but given what I expected particularly after my post about the death of limit hold-em late last year, I'm quite encouraged.  It's very fickle though, all it takes is for two or three of the higher volume recreational players to stop playing and suddenly the games are near dead.

In terms of my play at the tables, I'm very happy overall with my game.  I'm ahead of last year's pace in terms of money won and big bets won though still off my pace of two and three years ago but that's largely due to the lack of high limit games.  My game has continued to evolve and improve particularly the mental side. I've had incredible emotional control all year and it's likely the single biggest contributor to my improved results.

We've extended our stay in Cabo San Lucas until October 15th and I'm planning on making SuperNova Elite by then.  I believe I have to average around 4600 VPPs a day which is about 500 per day less than  I've averaged over the last six weeks.  Barring the games completely drying up, I should be able to make it in time without much problem.  I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to that last three months of the year where I can play pool, relax, and not worry about grinding every day.

On the subject of the end of the year, I am giving serious consideration to offering coaching this fall.  The price will likely be $500/Hour and would include follow up conversations and emails in addition to an hour lesson.  I haven't ironed out all the details yet and am not positive I want to make the commitment but it's more likely at this point than any point in the last few years.  If anyone is interested in receiving coaching, please email me at  I'd like to get an idea of the type of interest before I make a decision.  My guess is that I could take on two or three students a week.  Ideally I'd like to work with serious, dedicated players who love the game and want to take their game to the next level.  If I do decide to offer coaching, I will be sure to post here with all the details of what it would include.

Good luck at the tables everyone.  And this is what my year has looked like so far, I will be thrilled if the second half is as successful.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Merciful End to May

This is what my trip has looked like so far:

After winning about 770 BB's in 16K hands, I went on an 770 BB downer over my next sixty thousand hands.  I'll skip the obvious, I ran extremely bad.  But I also played about as bad as I ever played for a 5-10K hand stretch.

I say this every year and I'll probably continue saying it every year.  Do not underestimate the variance in poker, particular in limit hold-em.  However bad you think it can get, it can get much, much worse.  And don't underestimate the impact it will have on your game.  Every time without fail when I go through one of these extended stretches of run bad, my game completely deteriorates and I start making all kinds of errors I'd never make otherwise.

I've learned a couple things from this downswing.  One is that I need to start taking breaks.  I played 335 hours this month which took a severe toll on my game.  At one point, I misread the board three times in the span of an hour.  So starting next year, I'm committing myself to taking time off anytime I start to feel burned out.

The other thing I learned is that I can't wake up and jump into high limit games.  At least ten mornings this month I woke up, immediately sat in 4 high limit games and was down 5k in less than an hour.  I'm always groggy and can't think straight when I wake up.  It takes a while for my mind to get going and to be in a poker frame of mind.  What I was doing every day would be the equivalent of Ray Allen sleeping in the bleachers, rolling out of bed and immediately getting into a NBA basketball game with guys that had been competing for hours.  He'd have no shot of competing and neither do I.  Two days ago, I decided not to play anything higher than 30/60 until I'm confident I'm thinking clearly.

On the VPP front I'm up to 400K which I believe puts me right on SNE pace.  I'm hoping to finish by the end of September and will need to average about 150K/Month to accomplish that.

Good luck at the tables.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Off To The Races in Cabo

It's been a while since my last post.  I'm back in Mexico, Cabo San Lucas this time.  We got here about eight days ago and I've been on absolute tear playing.  It seems like every day I wake up to play and I'm up 5K before I know it.  It's really been an amazing stretch and I'm enjoying it as much as possible since I know it can and will turn at any time.

On the VPP front I'm up to about 280K, far behind SNE pace.  I want to be done playing by October and in order to do that I need to average about 5500 VPPs a day.  That's pretty ambitious considering it equates to about 10-12 hours of playing a day, every day.  So far so good, I've averaged that my first eight days here.  The plan is to stay here three months, head home for a week and then off to another destination for the remaining two months.

That's about it.  I feel like I"m playing some of the best poker I've ever played but I always feel that way when I run this well.  As always the goal is stay focused and make the best possible decisions at the table, each and every decision.

Good luck at the tables everyone.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Mexico in the Books and the Slow Death of Limit

This is what the year has looked like so far:

I started out the year running at ~3 BB/100 after my first 40K hands so it doesn't feel too good to end the trip on this note.  It's been quite a roller coaster so far, winning 1100 plus big bets, losing 750, winning 650, and ending on about a 250 downer.  I was extremely lucky to run well at high limits and run so poorly at lower limits: I ran at roughly 2.3 BB/100 at 30/60+ over 43K hands and (.38) BB/100 at 15/30 and lower over 83K hands.  My lowest win rates have always come at 10/20 and 15/30 and undoubtedly rake is playing a big part in that.  But there shouldn't be that big of a disparity, maybe 1 BB/100 or so which is close to the difference in rake. 

I played pretty poorly the last few weeks I was here.  I've felt really unmotivated and bored as of late.   This is partly due to the high limit games on Stars being exceptionally dead.  70% of my hands this month came at 15/30 and lower (the majority of those at 10/20) which is pretty scary.   In February, about 60% of my hands were 15/30 and lower and in January it was close to 50%.  Overall this year about 65% of my hands have been at 15/30 and lower.  Last year at this time only 45% were 15/30 and lower and I'd only played 17K hands of 10/20 compared with 51K this year.  Only two years ago at this time 90% of my hands were 30/60 and higher and 1% were at 10/20! 

What does this all mean?  Pretty much what we've known for a long time, limit HE is dying particularly high stakes.  It also means that I can't expect to earn anywhere near what I've earned in the past.  I've been very lucky this year to run good at my highest limits, reverse the limits and the variance and I easily could of broke even over this stretch.

Rather than sit idly and complain about it, it's time to learn a new game.  This is really something I should have done at least a year ago, the writings been on the wall.  PLO seems like the best money making opportunity, there are numerous games running around the clock at all stakes.  I've been reading, watching videos, and playing a little bit this past week.  I've got a long, long way to go to be where I want to be but I'm fully committed at this point to doing everything it takes to become proficient at PLO.  I'm playing 50 cent/$1 at the moment and won't move up until I'm confident I'm better than the vast majority of the players I'm playing against.  I'm hoping that within a year or so I'll be playing $1/2 and $2/4 and ultimately I'd like to play at least $10/$20.  So that's the plan.  I'll still be playing a lot of limit in the mean time to pay the bills and make SNE but nearly all my downtime will be spent on PLO.

I'm heading back to the US tomorrow for 3-4 weeks.  It's a much needed break, I feel burnt out with poker and discouraged at the lack of games.  I'm not sure where we're headed next but hopefully I'll come back fresh and motivated.

Good luck at the tables.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Inevitable Downswing

I knew it was coming and it came in a big way, to the tune of about 750 Big Bets and 50K.  In terms of money it could of been much, much worse so I've been very fortunate in that respect.  I've run pretty well at high limits all year, hopefully that keeps up.

I've now had the two biggest losing streaks of my ten year poker career in the last nine months.  As much as I'd like to attribute it to variance, I think it has more to do with a number of factors related to the toughness of the games.  I can't get into too many details but suffice to say the regulars are doing many of the intangible, away from the table, things a lot better than they were a year ago.  Also the general skill level of play continues to improve, albeit slowly.

Another big factor playing into these downswings is internet.  I would estimate it's cost me in excess of fifteen thousand this year alone.  My laptop died last week (powered off in the middle of an 1800 pot with three other tables going).  I bought a new one the next morning but it only has two USB ports.  The backup internet stick I have is pretty big and clunky and when plugged into one of the USB ports, nothing else can be plugged in.  So long story short, I had to keep that unplugged while playing for my wireless mouse and keyboard to work. The internet disconnected around fifteen times in three days and I wasn't able to get the stick in and connect in time.  I've since fixed the problem with a USB splitter but not before paying a big price.

Also the internet runs very slowly from time to time and that's been the case just about everywhere I've been the last two years.  That impacts my ability to get the best seats and sometimes just get to the table period.  Tables can fill in a matter of three seconds now so one hiccup can be the difference between getting in a game where my expected earn might be $500/HR and not getting in the game at all.

I haven't felt particularly motivated lately and my level of play has definitely dropped during this downswing.  I can't count the number of times I've made a play and seconds later realized it was the wrong play.  Part of the problem I'm having is that I haven't earned a whole lot of VPPs this year.  I'm at about 155K which I believe is a week or two off the pace I'd need just to make SNE by Jan 1st.  In reality, I need to make it by the end of September which means I have a ton of hands to get in between now and then.  If I want to give maximum focus at the tables, it cuts the number of VPPs I can earn in an hour almost in half which essentially doubles the amount of hours I need to play.  I'm already playing eight hours a day and there's no way I want to be playing sixteen.  So I'm left with the option of not putting as much thought into my play and playing faster to earn more VPPs.  The end result will be a  more mistakes but ultimately more money in the form of bonuses in less time. At this point, I'm trying to strike a balance between playing fast at lower limits and slowing down and playing with more thought at higher limits.

I've got about ten more days in Playa Del Carmen and then it's off to Cancun for two weeks and then back to the US for Easter.  I'm making my annual trip to Vegas with my best friends in mid-April and then it'll be off to play poker again likely until October.  We haven't decided exactly where the next poker destination will be but it's looking like somewhere in the Caribbean.  If anyone has suggestions for a good island to stay at, please post in the comments.  We're basically looking for something with reliable infrastructure, i.e internet, affordable beachfront apartments (4-5K month or less), friendly people, and safety.

Good luck at the tables.