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.


  1. Hi Tony,

    Maybe it's now a good moment to stat making videos for Cardrunners or does this consume to much of your time?

  2. It is a bit time consuming but mostly it's just not worth it in terms of what they pay per video and what I'd be giving away to people.

    If I did ever start making videos again I would probably propose to Phil Galfond to make them on RunItOnce.

  3. nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo traitor :'( !!!!! don't go to plo :(

    I understand why but I don't like my biggest LHE idol and the reason why i started playing Limit is changing over to plo.. its so boring to watch and dream about being as good as you or the better players phil etc. You actually have a fixed limit fan you knew that ? :)

  4. No worries, I'm a long, long way from being a PLO player.

  5. yay :D but im very surprised you are playing as low as 0.5/1 .. to start with. thats really admirable. when your sitting in some 200/400 games vs kingrama :D (im spectating you as the true fan i am :D)

    my dreams are you teaching me how to beat 25/50c :D (my mental game won't allow me to be profitable at that limit) :( any suggestions ? I am a very aggressive person. Its not like i tilt and play 72o for a cap. but i am used to playing a 30/21/9 style. but when i move up to 25/50c i play 20/16/0 or something. maybe because of cold deck ? but for 10k hands im down what 200BB :( very demotivating when its first time shots ..

  6. Yeah it's never fun to move up in limits and run bad. My advice would be to keep taking shots with maybe 100 BB's. Eventually you'll hit a good stretch of cards and be comfortable with the limit.

    Those limits are extremely difficult, if not impossible to beat, due to the high rake. I think looking at your win rate pre-rake is a much better guage of how you're actually faring at those limits. In other words if you're winning 4 BB/100 before rake but losing 2 BB/100 after rake, there's really nothing to be upset about. I would be more focused on obtaining a bigger poker bankroll (outside of poker) so that I could move up to a limit where the rake isn't so substantial. If you look at my own results, my worst results have consistently been at my lowest limits and this is because the amount of rake taken is greater than the skill level difference between the limits.

    Good Luck.

    1. Yeah theres no other way than to keep taking shots i guess.

      The limits are not impossible to beat you should know that of all people :D so many terrible players. you would be doing 6 - 10 BB/100 at these limits if you tried. I know several friends who average 4 - 5 BB/100 on 25/50c - 0.5/1 But really when you think about it , why are you so focused on rake ? its not like you actually could have earned it. I look at rake as a part of the game just like variance is. Its just there. so we should just look at our overall winrate and be happy with that and not compare it to how big rake is. and find the need to have over a 3BB/100 winrate to beat the rake. (as i have calculated over 100k hands no sample i know) at 5/10c . I would need a 3.50BB/100 winrate to beat the rake. and i do 4BB/100 .. Its my most comfortable stake. and even if rake takes 2/3 of my "should be winnings" my bankroll increases. so I cant complain..

      You suggest that I should go and earn some money outside of poker and then deposit a huge chunk (like lets say $500) and go attack 0.5/1 / 1/2 ? , I have always thought to myself and heard that . I would need to prove to myself that im able to beat each limit before i move up. Don't you think since im used to 5/10c and i have these problems with 25/50c .. Do you suggest really i just deposit enough to get up to 1/2 and go try that out ? Wouldn't that be a waste of money ? looking at the mental issues/game.. albeit I have 1/2 - 10/20 friends who have told me i definitely should be able to beat 1/2.. But since its one hell of a huge jump and considering I already have problems with moving up to 25/50c. I cant imagine it would be good to move up to 1/2 in the near future ?

    2. I will try to respond to this in more detail when I have a little more time but one question, is the rake really only 3 BB/100 at 5/10c? I believe it's close to that at 5/10$

    3. Wow I'm looking at a rake comparison chart and it's 28 cents at 5/10c so you are correct. Yeah with that type of rake, the limit is definitely beatable. I'm assuming they reduced that recently because even looking at $5/$10 it's lower than I remember. That makes a huge difference. I still will try to respond later when I'm not playing to some of your other points.

    4. thats actually a while ago they changed the rake last i heard. a few months at least ?

      and im beating the rake on 5/10c this year (50k hands) by having a 3.50 - 4 BB/100 winrate.

      many thanks for you taking your time to answering the rest of my long long post :D you prove to me that you definitely are the idol i want in FL :D <3 Ill be looking forward to your next answers.

    5. remember its 6max not FR.. I just checked a rake chart on ptr. 28c on fr and 0.43 (i think on 6max) but still its still like 3 - 3.50 BB/100 which definitely is possible.

    6. 43 cents is a lot more significant than 28 cents, that's almost a 50% increase. I still would think the games are beatable but that's a huge chunk of your win rate going to rake.

      The reason I'm always looking at rake is because the skill level difference between limits doesn't always match the rake difference. For example the rake difference between 15/30 and 10/20 along with 30/60 and 15/30 is greater than difference in skill level between those limits. So it's actually easier to beat the higher limits. This is what I'm getting at when I say you should put a lot of emphasis on moving up where there isn't as much rake.

      That said, I can't speak for low limits. I don't know how the skill level vs. rake difference between 5c/10c compares with 10c/25c. But it is something I think you should consider.

      And yes I've very much taken the approach that I'd only move up in limits when I'm completely confident I could beat the limit I'm playing at. If I could go back and do it over again though, I'd be a little more aggressive in taking shots at higher limits. I think I always overestimated the players at the next level above what I was playing. It wasn't until I'd move up that I'd realize they really aren't that different. On that subject, I am probably one of the most extreme cases of moving up slowly. I was playing $1/$2 9 years ago and have basically progressed one limit up every year.

    7. Oh i see. Yeah that makes sense I guess. Higher limits easier to beat than lower and now that you say the rake etc taking my wr I actually realize how much it takes. I guess I can drop my only 5/10c no looking at stats/graphs/cashier and move up to 10/20 and see if I can get enough for 25/50c.. at 25/50 there's definitely more regs than fish .. at 5/10c I can easily get 4+ tables with me vs 5 60/0+ fish stats.. but yeah I don't really want to spend 9 years on getting up to 1/2 ;D

      Thanks for taking your time.. very much appreciated .. ill let you know soon I moved up safely :D .. because the skill difference is basically the same.. only a few more 3betting LAGTAGS that aren't all that great anyway.. there's 2 guys with 3bet more than 20 % over a large sample . A bit too much I'd say hehe again thanks .. your definitely the fl idol I want :D

      BTW. That the rake is so much lower on fr .. does that mean fr 5/10c should be 50% more profitable to grind ?

    8. (im not sure if i already gave a reply to this as i did it over my phone but it screwed up so allow me to reply on my computer again)

      yeah so if its 50% increase. then are you saying FR 5/10c is easier to beat ? or should be 50% more profitable for lets say me to grind ? Im not expecting it would require much change in my playstyle to beat FR compared to 6max .. it would however equal me doing more tables. more hands put in. I tried earlier on 2/4c just to show my friend and i had absolutely no problems crushing with 4BB/100 over 6k hands playing 12 - 15 tables at once.

      I really want to play at 6max though.. PokerStars is not offering 10/25c FL at least i cant find it. but 10/20c they do .. and on that rake analysis chart it says on "10/25c" it should be cheapest at stars.

      that totally makes sense that higher stakes is easier to beat than the lower ones :D no i get it hehe. maybe i should increase my br with the help from outside poker.

      the next cheapest rake limit on stars seems to be $1/$2 ..

      hehe. yeah i like the confident i can beat the stake im playing before moving up.

      thanks for all your help so far .. really really

    9. No problem. And not exactly, it's harder to make money at FR because you don't make as many decisions per hour playing that since there are more players. But with the reduced rake that should help to offset your lower earn. So it's hard to say if it would be more profitable.

    10. oh i see. well im perfectly content with 6max. thats where ive spent all my FL time ever. started there so. but 50% seems like a huge jump. As i think i mentioned above i just moved up to 10/20c and grinding that instead. still not the best rake out there .. but i also have done very fine on that limit this year. so just gonna grind up to 25/50c. get some real life money in to have more and get up the ladder :D Promise me a HU match if i ever get up to 15/30 :D

    11. Ha I'm not much of a heads up player anymore but sure. Best of luck on your way up the ladder.

      And actually a question for you. Just out of curiosity, how many VPP's per hand do you earn roughly at 10/20c?

  7. So what's a good stake to play where the rake hasn't have a catastrofic effect on your winnnings?

  8. You probably won't like this answer but it's 15/30. If you're SNE and getting ~70% rakeback, then nearly all limits are profitable.

  9. Ouch, indeed i don't like that answere. Hoped $0.5/$1 good be beatable when playing reasonable.

  10. Hi Tony,

    I'm a little late dropping in the conversation but I would like to ask you two questions:

    - you talk about the rake comparison chart, can you please tell where can I find that info? (been looking but all I get is info from 2010 and before);

    - I have followed your thread for quite a while (on and off) and I remember the black Friday etc...question is: instead of moving why don't you change your VPN and play from the states?


  11. my last comment....where is it?

  12. I'm not sure how up to date this is but here is the rake comparison chart:

    And for your 2nd question, you can't use a VPN with Poker Stars, they will seize your funds and close your account if they catch you - this has happened to a number of people.

    Take care.

  13. Hi Tony,

    I am a full time FL pro and have really been enjoying reading your blog and it inspires me to work and focus harder every day. I always come back here for comfort when enduring an extended losing streak.

    Anyway, I was surprised to hear you say that you aren't much of a HU player anymore. I assumed that in order to achieve the volume that you do, you must play every game available to you, even bad ones (is there a bad game in your world?). As a result you must play HU at times to maintain existing games and start new ones. What percentage of your volume these days would you say are HU hands? And why don't you enjoy playing HU as much as you used to? I understand the HU tables have all but died lately, but there are some pretty good HU opportunities to be had at sparsely populated 6-max tables.

    My FL background is as a prop, so while I also no longer sit at HU tables, I still find myself playing HU a fair percentage of the time.

    Keep up the great work,

  14. Thanks Dylan and glad you like my blog. I don't play nearly as much HU these days. I just took a look and 2% of my hands this year are heads up. This was actually the first month where I started playing some of the HU regs at mid/high limits and my overall HU volume is up to 3%.

    It's hard to say why I don't enjoy playing heads up anymore. I put all of my focus on becoming a better 6-max player for the last four years and when I'm multitabling I tend to find heads up distracting particularly if it's against a good player because it requires a good deal of thought. That said though, I should be playing a lot more. My results have always been very good even against the more regular heads up players.

    As far as good heads up opportunities like against recreational players, those pretty much don't exist anymore. The instant a rec player sits the table fills. The only exception is if the rec player insists on heads up and types it in the chat, then the other regulars will abide by his wishes. But that's really rare.

    Take care,