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.