Friday, October 17, 2014

Fantasy Sports Links

I feel a little guilty even posting these but at the same time I think it's kind of stupid not to.  I'm posting links for the various fantasy sites so if anyone that reads my blog wants to sign up and signs up through the links, I'll get a portion of your rakeback.  It's basically the same deal as how affiliates work with poker.

I actually received several offers through the years to post links, banners, etc. in my blog in return for a fee and always refused.  I've never really done the whole affiliate thing but with all the interest in Fantasy sports and all the people contacting me with questions and interest I think it would be dumb not to post them.  So if you are interested in Fantasy Sports, have liked my blog, and would like to give something back to me, the links are below.

I also linked the 2+2 "Well" in case you haven't seen it - you can ask me anything there and I'll be happy to respond.  Also I linked a PokerFuse article that was written the other day about my transition to Fantasy Sports.

I actually had decided a few months ago that I wanted to keep my decision to transition to DFS kind of low-key.  Oops.  Well that's all out the window at this point.  I really wasn't expecting so much attention and interest.

DFS Links:

DraftKings: https://www.draftkings.com/r/SteveAvery

FanDuel: https://www.fanduel.com/?invitedby=ronniegant&cnl=da

DraftDay: https://www.draftday.com/invite/TomGlavine

If anyone has any DFS questions regarding the sites, feel free to email me at tony.pirone@gmail.com

2+2 Well: http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/18/high-stakes-limit/retirement-poker-tpirahna-well-1479652/

PokerFuse: http://pokerfuse.com/features/in-depth/25931-online-poker-legend-quits-pursue-fantasy-sports/



Friday, October 3, 2014

Retirement

I’m officially retired from poker.  I've put off this blog post for a while trying to be certain that I’m done and while I’m still not 100% certain, I’m more certain now than at any other point.  That said I will probably play poker in some capacity in the future, even if only for recreational purposes.

A number of factors led me to this decision.  First and foremost, I’m sick of playing.  It was sometime last year that I realized I didn't want to be playing much longer.  I’m 39 years old now and it has become more and more difficult to sit in front of a computer all day with my attention constantly focused with decision after decision being presented for hour after hour.  Five years ago it was fairly easy for me to play six tables of short-handed LHE for many hours, remain focused at all of them, and have a pretty good idea of what was going on at each.  This year it felt like torture trying to playing four tables and I found it very difficult to have that same level of focus for any extended period of time.

More than just getting older, poker became less and less fun and more and more like work to the point where I've dreaded playing many days.  I've probably logged more online hours and possibly more hands of LHE than anyone alive. I started playing LHE over ten years ago and have put in a tremendous amount of volume each of those years.  I don’t know how many hours I played but I’d estimate I played around six million hands.   When I started I was eager to play every day and brought my laptop with me everywhere (literally everywhere) not of necessity, but out of a burning desire to play.  That desire is long gone.

Another factor that led to this decision is the current environment in online poker.  Making money in high-stakes online games is more about table selection, seat selection, and quickness to the tables than about actual skill.  The actual skill is still a prerequisite for making money but the vast majority of high stakes regulars at LHE are separated in skill by a fraction of a big bet.  So the other non-poker related skills carry much greater weight than they previously did.   I can’t really complain about these non-poker related skills as I've easily benefited from them as much as anyone and have been aware of their importance for quite some time.  But now that nearly everyone is aware of them, the landscape has transformed into a race to get to tables, and into a contest to see who can get position on the recreational player.  What was once an easy advantage has turned into a major headache when trying to multi-table.  If I was only playing a few hours a day at a few tables, I don’t think it would be much trouble to have all the tables open and hop on one immediately when a recreational player sits.  But when trying to multi-table for endless hours, also trying to keep every table open while vigilantly watching to see if a seat is about to be taken can be maddening. 

Much more than that, it takes away from the fun of the game and the actual game of poker itself. 

Yet another factor (and there are many more) in the decision to retire was the constant travel after Black Friday.  As cool as it is to experience different cultures and live in exotic locations, it also gets old after a while.  There are a LOT of things in the US that I miss,  most of all playing pool.  I've spent more time playing pool in my life than I have playing poker to give you an idea and if faced with a choice of being able to do either (and being able to make the same amount of money) I’d choose pool in a heartbeat.  And I would of said that at any time during my poker career.

Enter the possible solution to all my problems: Daily Fantasy Sports

-Totally legal in the US which solves the travel issue (along with a host of other issues including the ongoing banking nightmare that stems from being an American online poker player)

-Extremely fun as I love sports and competition.   It’s a new challenge that I wake up every day excited to try to take on.

-Makes good use of a lot of my biggest strengths.  Math/odds, knowledge of sports betting markets and lines, psychology, bankroll management, etc. etc.

-A relatively new industry very similar to poker ten years ago in terms of growth and money making potential.  There are a number of other striking similarities but I won’t get into them here. 

It still remains to be seen whether I can support myself and family playing DFS and hence why I’m not 100% certain I’m done with poker.  I will say I’m very optimistic about my chances and have done exceptionally well in the nine weeks or so I’ve been playing.  One thing that is for certain is that I’ll be doing everything in my power to make it work and not have to come back to poker.  It wouldn’t bother me a bit if I never played another hand of online poker again (fingers crossed).

So this is likely to be my last blog post though I may post some personal stuff here from time to time.  Like if I’m lucky enough to play Efren Reyes in pool again J

I would like to extend an offer to 2+2, hopefully one of the moderators there will read this.  I would be happy to do a “Well” on 2+2 where I answer any and all questions related to poker.  I’d be willing to answer pretty much anything and would take the time to thoughtfully answer as many questions as possible.  I think I could probably do something on par to the Phil Galfond well that was done a while back. I actually have some downtime with DFS over the next three weeks so that would be the best time for me to do it.  I can be reached at tony.pirone@gmail.com

That’s hopefully it.  I hope everyone enjoyed following this blog, maybe learned something from it, and possibly gained some inspiration from it.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Likely The End Of The Chase

Several people have asked me when I'm going to update my blog and I apologize for the delay.  I just haven't felt like blogging and the updates from here on out will likely be sporadic.  I know people really enjoy seeing my results so that's the majority of what will be posted.

I'm right about at would be the midpoint of the year VPP wise but it's extremely unlikely at this point that I'll try to make SNE.  I just don't have the same drive this year and have no interest in killing myself for next 2-3 months to do it.  This is my 10th consecutive year putting in this type of volume (6 on Stars and 4 on UB) and it's really wearing on me.  Things would be so much easier if I could play from the US but alas it is what it is.  So unless something changes drastically for me financially, I'm not even going to try.

My plan at this point is still to play about 40 hours a week but to try to play during the busiest times and play some really focused poker.  Playing 4-5 tables for endless hours makes it nearly impossible to be totally focused and motivated so I'm hoping the reduced hours help with that.

This is what the year has looked liked so far big bet wise:















It looks like a pretty typical TPirahna graph.


Here's what the year has looked like in terms of $ won:















This is by far the worst 250K+ hand stretch I've had in the last 4 years despite the recent upswing.











As you can see in the last screen capture, I'm actually down money at my three highest limits combined.  I believe only a month ago, I was down over 40K between the 3 limits so I feel very good about where I stand right now.  Funny how your perspective and emotions can change depending on whether the money was won and then lost or lost and then won.

I've played some really good poker the last few weeks, easily the best of the year.  I think making the decision to abandon SNE has given me a sense of freedom and control back.  It's refreshing in a way and I've felt really comfortable and focused while playing.  It makes such a big difference to want to play as opposed to being forced to play.  I'm still forced to play to some degree because I need the money but 40 hours a week seems like a breeze compared to the 70+ I was playing.

I'll have another update likely by the end of August.  Good luck at the tables everyone.


Sunday, June 1, 2014

May in the Books

I finally rebounded a bit in May and had a pretty respectable month.  In terms of big bets won, it's one of my best in the past couple years.










Overall, I'm still very concerned with my mental state.  I'm completely unmotivated and going through the motions way too often.  My primary focus is on VPPs every day and it feels like torture trying to reach the VPP goals I set.  I have some moments or hours of clarity where I'm thinking clearly, focused, and know what's going on at my tables.  But those moments are few and far between.  Far more often I'm in sort of a haze just going through the motions and struggling to focus.

As I mentioned in my last post, there's nothing left in the game for me except money.  There's no other incentive or motivation at this point.  Despite some of the obvious problems with PTR, it at least gave me something to shoot for - being the leading $ winner at the various limits or racing for the all-time $ lead.  I wish that aspect was brought back, it least would give me something else to shoot for.  As it stands, my poker days are numbered.  When I get home in the fall, I'm going to work hard to transition into some other forms of gambling that I enjoy more.

As far as my mass multitabling plan of low-limits, it lasted about 3 days.  I believe I won 510 BB's in 3 days 6-7 tabling 5/10 to 15/30 but I'm confident it's some of the worst poker I've played in a long, long time. I have a lot of difficulty committing myself to doing something where I know I'm not doing it to the best of my ability.  It frustrates me to know I'm making countless mistakes that could be avoided by dropping tables and slowing down. There's a trade-off of course which is I earn VPPs at a much faster rate.  So at this point I've modified my plan and am alternating between playing some "mindless" sessions where I'm 5-6 tabling low limits and focused (at least trying to focus) sessions of 3-4 tables from 10/20 to 50/100.  I'm done at the moment playing 100/200 and 200/400 and it's unlikely I'll play very much more in the future until Poker Stars fixes their non-random button issue.  It's to the point where many of the games are totally unplayable because of the rec players hopping tables - this inevitably causes the players that aren't starting the tables to play more blind positions than non-blind positions.  Additionally, it's a lot less stress not having $40K-$100K swings every month or two.  Ultimately it will mean less money but I think the tradeoff of less stress is worth it at this point.

On the VPP front, I'm about a month behind pace, currently at 340K VPPs.  It seems like every day I wake up with a goal to do at least 5K VPPs and I consistently fall short.  It's very hard to believe that I once did 7K per day for 3 months straight.  5K seems like an eternity these days.  I have no idea if I'll make SNE this year, at the rate I'm going, it doesn't look like it.  Hopefully I'll find some motivation and drive somewhere.

Good Luck to everyone at the WSOP and online in June.



Monday, May 26, 2014

Serious Variance

I figured this would be as good a time as any for my annual, sometimes bi-annual, post on just how utterly insane the variance in this game is.

My prior fifty thousand hands leading into this month looked like this:




















My next 57Kish this month have looked like this:




















Even that graph doesn't do justice to how insanely well I've run.  I'm up over 1800 BB's pre-rake which I'm quite sure is a one month record for me











This could be the time to get carried away with myself and talk about how I've mastered the game, have soul reads on all the regulars, and am ready to jump into the 1K/2K games (pretending they ever ran) because I'll never lose again.

Nothing really could be further from the truth and that line of thinking greatly increases the chances that my next 50K will look a lot more like the 1st graph and a lot less like the 2nd (I've made this mistake many times in the past).  I've played well this month but it's all so subjective.  When you consistently run into the bottom of your opponent's ranges, sure all your bluffs are going to work and you're going to feel like you're playing your A game.  When your opponents are consistently running into the top of your range with their bluffs, you're going to feel like you're "owning" them.  When you win 70% of the 15+ BB pots you're involved in, you're very likely to be on a massive heater and actually start believing that you should be winning that percentage of big pots on a consistent basis.  In the end, it's all just variance.

I say this every year and will keep saying it, do not under any circumstances underestimate the variance in this game.  50K hands is nothing, 1000 big bets (won or lost) is very little.  The key is to stay even keel with your emotions and be focused on one thing: making the best decision possible with all the information you have available, each and every decision.

I'll have another update at the end of the month along with some details on how my low-limit multi-tabling plan went.

Good luck everyone.


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Stake Variance Continues in Costa Rica

My frustrating year continues:











In terms of money won, it's my worst start to a year in nine years as a pro.  It's easy to blame it all on variance but I've also been less motivated this year than any other and feel like I've played some of the worst poker I've played in recent memory.  I'm sure the truth is somewhere between and it's some combination of running bad and playing bad.  One thing's for sure, I've run terribly at high limits.

I've given serious consideration to quitting online poker or at least doing it in a reduced fashion and pursuing some other interests,  As nice as it is to visit all these exotic locations, all the travel is getting tiresome and I'd much prefer to be home. Also the grind of playing ten to twelve hours a day for nine months is really wearing on me as well.  The idea is to be happy and even though I have the last three months of the year off, I'm not too happy the other nine.  This has been in the back of my mind for a while and I think it's only a matter of time before I pursue something else.

I decided yesterday to make a pretty drastic strategy change in how I'm approaching things.  Up until today, I've been trying to play the majority of hands at 30/60+.  The result of this is a lot of downtime when no games are running, a lot of lobby/table watching which takes away from focus on the games and a lot of frustration with the table hopping (and the unavoidable consequences that come with this) that's en vogue with the high limit recreational players these days.

So my new plan (for now at least), is to 6-8 table 5/10 to 50/100 and try to earn 7-8K VPPs a day.  I'm pretty far behind SNE pace as is and if I continue what I'm doing currently, I'm either going to have to play fourteen hours a day to make it or make a third trip at the end of year for at least a month.  More than that though, it's a much less stressful and faster way to make SNE.  I don't anticipate I'll be able to make as much money as I have the last three to four years but I think the tradeoff of not being stressed out and having a lot of extra time off is worth it. To be frank, I'm pretty fed up with the whole high limit situation as is.  The two biggest recreational players sit in the same seat every time and most of the regulars starting tables are always seated in the seat that guarantees them position on these players or start tables with the button.  So without having all the tables open and constantly monitoring them, it's near impossible to start a game with the button or get position on these players.  Combine that with the fact, they're often playing short sessions and changing tables, it's one big headache and a costly headache at that.

If I end up sticking with this plan, I should be able to earn about 200k-240k VPPs in a month and be done by September.  This would give me an extra month to relax and really focus on the high limit games if I decide I want to.  At that point, I can have all the tables open, be able to get good seats, and not be distracted with other games since I'll just be focusing on those.  I also can 2-3 table those games and really hone in and play my best game as opposed to multitabling, lobby watching, and constantly trying to shuffle tables in and out.

That's the plan anyway.  I will have an update in a month or so with how it's going.

Good luck at the tables everyone.




Friday, March 14, 2014

Argentina In The Books

It's been a really frustrating start to the year:









This is about as bad of a stretch of stake variance as I've had since playing high limits.  Basically all my winrates are reversed from the last few years.  It seemed like every time I sat down to play this month, regardless of what stakes I was playing, I was always getting crushed at whatever table was my highest limit. The last few weeks in particular were tough to stomach.  It'd been a while, probably a year or so, since I've run that bad.  I think I got a little too comfortable after running well for the last half of last year and forgot just how bad you can run at this game.

My win rate isn't too far off of what it normally is so there isn't much cause for concern.  That said I don't feel like I've played well at any point this year.  I'm really struggling with motivation and as a result have put in about half the volume I normally do.  I'm setting myself up for a near impossible grind at the end of this year so it's entirely possible I don't make SNE.

I'm headed back to the US tomorrow.  I'm planning on doing some studying while home that I neglected this past fall.  After getting home, it's off to Vegas for some much needed fun with friends and then it'll most likely be off to Costa Rica.  It's looking like I'll be in Costa Rica from April to October.  I'll have an update when I get there.

Good luck at the tables everyone.

Friday, February 28, 2014

End to a Frustrating February

At first glance it looks like a pretty good month:















But the reality is:























I went through a similar stretch to this about two years ago, even worse if I remember right so it's just a matter of playing through it.  On the bright side, I'm beating 10/20 for a change!

Besides being frustrated, it's been a pretty perplexing start to the year for me.  I've been really unmotivated and haven't been playing a lot of hands.  The perplexing part is that I don't feel like I've played well overall but I also don't feel like I've run well and somehow I'm at 1.34 BB/100 after my first 50K hands.  That scares me to some degree because if my sense that I've played poorly is correct, I could be in a for an extended downswing if I don't get my game in gear quickly.

I'm still in Bariloche (Patagonia) and will be here for another couple weeks.  Then it's back the US to do taxes and my annual Vegas trip with friends and then it'll be off again in early April to play.  I still haven't decided whether I'm going for SNE, I'm pretty far behind pace at this point and not sure I could finish before September without playing some insane hours which I really don't want to do.  But it's also possible I make an extra trip this year and finish in December.

And before I forget since I've promised my friend I'd give him a shout out here.  To anyone that sports bet I highly recommend signing up for the service below.  Anthony is possibly the best unknown NBA handicapper in the world.  I don't say that lightly, I've followed dozens of handicappers, tracked hundreds of others and have been sports betting seriously for five years now.

http://www.sweetjones55.com/

And he's being tracked by a reputable independent monitor here:

https://onedrive.live.com/view.aspx?cid=c45467016f6cf879&id=documents&resid=C45467016F6CF879%21150&app=Excel&authkey=!AK0XvD7fyoQ3Q7M&

Good luck at the tables everyone.

Friday, January 31, 2014

January in the Books and Bariloche Bound

I barely staved off my first losing month at poker in nine years.  Going into today, it was about 98% to happen and I just ran insanely hot at high limits.  I didn't play a whole lot this month and am pretty happy with the results overall considering how rusty I was to start and the fact I was sick the first week in Argentina.









I'm starting to feel a lot more comfortable at the tables and feel like I'm back to about 90% of where I was when I left last fall.  It's always a scary feeling to start back up after an extended layoff, I feel pretty lost for the first couple thousand hands and am left wondering if I'm ever going to remember how to play.  But slowly it's come back and I think my thought process is pretty much where it needs to be at this point.  I need to start ramping up the volume or I'm setting myself up for another 12 hours a day/7 days a week grind at the end of the summer that I don't want to have happen.

We're off to Bariloche tomorrow, our 3rd and final destination in Argentina.  I'm really looking forward to this place, it'll be the nicest of the places we've stayed here and away from the hustle and far bustle of the city. Here's a pic of the apartment:

















I'll very likely be sitting on that couch with the table pulled up and monitor and laptop on top of it.  I'll try to post some more pics when we get there.

Good luck to everyone at the tables this month.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

BA Trip Report with Pics

Here are some random thoughts on BA:

Buenos Aires has been OK for me so far.  I have been really sick the last 3 days so I haven't had a chance to get out too much.  We're in Recoleta at the moment and then moving to a different part of the city next week.  And then it's off to a place much further south away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

My first impressions of Argentines were people with class but also with gamble.  Don't ask me how those impressions came about but that's what popped in my head.  I may be getting the "gamble" from a very well known online Argentine player.   Buenos Aires itself is very nice, heavily European influenced so a lot of nice architecture.

Things here are very cheap since they've been in a financial crisis of sorts.  In fact our hotel is exchanging Argentine Pesos for US Dollars at a rate of 8.5-1 when the going rate in the financial markets is 6.5-1.  I'm still in disbelief over that.  There are people on the street offering up to 10-1 but the higher the rate being offered, the more likely there is to be counterfeit money involved so it's probably best to stick with exchanging at reputable places.

On the subject of counterfeit money, one of the big tourist scams is taxi drivers switching your $100 bills (Equivalent to about 12 bucks USD)  with counterfeit money when you pay, then acting like you gave it to them and refusing to accept it.  Apparently there's a lot of pick-pocketing that goes on here too though I don't think so much where we're staying.

We've been out to three restaurants so far and the food was good to excellent at all of them, so high marks there.

Here are some pics. my wife took.  I'll do my best to post these wherever we end up travelling.






Thursday, January 16, 2014

Back to Grinding in Argentina

Quick Update:

I'm in Buenos Aires and back playing poker.  I played today for a few hours and as expected was very rusty.  I've come back from extended layoffs two or three times now so I sort of know what to expect.  It should only be a week or so before I'm back to playing at full capacity (hopefully).

I will try to post some pictures of the places I'm staying at this year.  The place we're at now is in downtown Buenos Aires and is nothing too special so no pics on this one.  But we're moving to a different part of the city in about 11 days and then moving much further south to a place overlooking a lake at the base of the Andes.  I'll definitely put some pics up of the last place.

Also worth mentioning, I may not go for SNE this year.  There's a greater chance this year than any other, I'd put it at about 25% right now that I don't go for it.  I have some other income opportunities I've been working hard at and depending upon how they pan out will determine whether I go for SNE.  I'd say it's inevitable though that my SNE chase days are coming to an end - this very well could be my last year.  My ultimate goal as to cut way down on the poker I play, maybe a few months out of the year.

Good luck to everyone at the tables.