Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Online Poker and the GOLDSTAR approach to wellroundedness

So I haven't posted for a while. True, but then again I haven't played too much live poker in a while either. One could say they go hand in hand. Since my last diatribe I have attempted to regulate myself emotionally and rectify some of the glaring leaks in my "non-poker game" game. I apologized to the guy who I threw cards at and he was oblivious to what I was referring to. I contemplated going and finding the verbal jouster with which I fought with but having been informed by an acquaintence that he is a maniac that threatened to kill said informant, I opted away from socializing with him altogether.

As far as live poker goes, I played once this week at the Hustler and posted a nice $1200 profit (its been way too long) and I met my sister, robert and his family in vegas last weekend and played a little NLHE and O8 but still came out down about $200 due to a bad play at Green Valley Ranch. The majority of my recent poker activities has been online. For the past month and a half I have been playing pretty regularly on PokerStars. I don't play NLHE at all online for various reasons but I do play almost every other game. Online play is being used to practice and refine all my skills in Omaha 8 or better, 7 card Stud, 7 card stud 8 or better, Razz, H.O.R.S.E, Pot Limit Omaha 8 or bettor, Pot Limit Omaha High, and to a degree Limit Hold'em. I do play NLHE in tournaments online and I can say without a doubt that although the majority of these tournaments are crapshoots they have some massive overlays and are a great opportunity to make some money if you fade some idiots taking every longshot at you.

I must admit though that I am becoming addicted to the FPP system. Its pretty ridiculous to be playing 50% for the money and 50% to accumulate Frequent Player Points. But the allure of prizes is really much more tempting then their actual value. For instance, one of my goals is to hit 40,000 FPPs to get an Xbox 360 Elite console. Now after 1 1/2 months of playing online I have reached about 9000 FPPs so at the rate im going (now that I have reached GOLDSTAR, more on that later) I should be able to reach in 40K in 2-3 months. The thing itself is only worth around $400. Now I am sure you can appreciate the colossal inefficiency of this pursuit but somehow the idea of directly getting a prize for "free" rather than taking $400 of my own money and going out to buy it is too tempting. Yes, you could argue that it is merely a bonus to the money I am making online. Unfortunately, I am still playing fairly low stakes to what I am compared to and since most of these games are not my forte (although I am rapidly improving) I am still only slightly better than breakeven online. I started with $500 on Pokerstars, sold off about $120 and am currently sitting at about $540 for a profit of about $160 over the past month and half. Depressing, isn't it?

On the bright side though, I am reached Gold Star Status. Which just means that I have played 4000+ raked hands in a month. Its not that big of a deal except for the fact that you get an accelerated rate of return on your FPPs. I started out as a Bronze Star which gives 1:1 on FPPs for VPPs or raked hands, then last month I progressed to Silver Star which gave 1.5:1 on FPPs, and now as of a few days ago I managed to hit Gold Star which now gives 2:1 on FPPs. So on my meaningless and time wasting FPPS quest I am moving right along. Some other FPP goals outside of the Xbox is a 270K 60in plasma High Def TV or a 3 million FPP Porshe. Needless to say these latter two goals will take much much longer. The next FPP step (and highest) is Platinum Star which pays 2.5:1 on FPPs but also required 10,000 VPPs in one month which is asking quite a lot. If you can hit 100,000 VPPs in one year you become a Supernova which pays 3:1 on FPPs and if you are insane enough and socially inept enough to somehow obtain 1,000,000 VPPs in one year then you can become a Supernova Elite which pays 3.5:1 on FPPs along with some other perks. I don't intend or expect to ever be a Supernova Elite as that would require putting in about 40-50 hours a week for a whole year multitabling about 4+ tables that get raked almost every hand. Needless to say, this honor is bestowed on only the most dedicated of online poker professionals. It might be nice to maybe become Supernova next year ( no chance this year as I just started) and maybe to hit Platinum Star a few times. All pessimism aside, though, I have found numerous opportunites to make money in the ring games online as low as 1/2 limit games. If you multitable 3-4 tables and know your games well then you can make anywhere from $10-$20 per table per hour which equates to $30-$80 an hour on a good day. 40 hrs a week for a year at that rate will net you anywhere from $60K to $150K, plus of course the FPPs :).

Anyway, enough BSing about online poker. I am probably going to play at the Hustler in an hour or two and grind out some bankroll building cash. My depleted bankroll has caused me to move down for a little while to smaller limits. I played the $100-$300 buyin 2/5 blinds at Hustler a few days ago and posted a nice $1200 profit as I said earlier. Besides being a nice establishment with a horrible clientele, the Hustler has a lower rake then Commerce, better food (although its not comped) and a player's card. Plus, the players at Hustler are all passive and let you know when they have a big hand so although the pots are generally smaller then other places unless you are building it, you have much more control and therefore less risk. The key at this type of establishment is realizing when your opponent is strong enough to call a bet and when they made some bs catch like 2 pair on the river and not betting it. It boils down to essentially refinded value betting combined with patience. There is no running over these tables because you have very little fold equity unless you have shown monsters. It takes alot of the weapons away from a competant poker player but greatly enhances the remaining ones, namely starting hand selection and value betting.

Until Next Time

P.s. Oh and if you want to play with me on POKERSTARS my screenname is TheNewMath.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Loss of Composure

I don't know if its the weather, girls, the "burden of knowledge" in poker, an insatiable urge to gamble (mine or others), an emotional imbalance, my overall tepid results for this year, or whatever else has been combined to create my psyche but its cracking. I have lost alot of my composure over the last two weeks and I can't seem to remedy it. It sounds like one of those incidences where someone recalls being outside of their body and watching themselves perform some act that they either wouldn't or couldn't perform normally. On one particularly aggregious beat last week, I managed to stand up and yell my outs for the river as they bricked out after getting it all in on the turn when my opponent hit his miracle card. Another thoughtless occasion saw a ridiculous player call multiple raises and an allin with nothing only to catch runner runner in the name of gambling. In this incident, I managed to stand up, throw my cards across the table at said player, and walk out all in one fell motion as I was all in. Then just tonight I proceeded to get in a verbal sparring match with a rather large fellow who got real lucky when he spiked a J when we got it all in preflop after a bet, raise, reraise, reraise, and all in with AA vs JJ. I pulled out the timeless (and quite tactless) "Let's go play heads up for $5000 and see how many sets you hit" after he made sure the entire casino knew that he outplayed me by getting all his money in a 4.5:1 dog.

Yes, all of these are bad beats inflicting on me. But that point is of zero consequence because I have taken all of these and worse many times over in the past 2 years. They used to never affect me. I was able to lose thousands of dollars when people nailed their gutshots against my top set and keep right on playing without a hitch in my step. I must say I am more ashamed of myself now then I have been in many years. I have violated every rule and thing I try to impart on others who look to me for advice. I am denigrating the integrity of what is supposed to be a fun recreational pursuit. Worst of all, I know there is no basis for any of this and for one of the first times in a long, long while my emotions are starting to take control of my logical faculties. I have become more and more results oriented which is a HUGE leak in poker player's game. I am watching myself associate a player's game play with their immuatable characteristics; i.e. when they make a bad play, somehow I find myself thinking that this person is in fact stupid and not just a bad player. This is not only a horrible way to jade and bias your poker playing but its a psychologically damaged way to view the world and really is a trademark of a lack of introspection. Which again worries me greatly as a misanthrope and recluse as that should be and always was one of my better qualities.

Most players who go through something like this associate it with playing too much and just take a nice healthy break. That makes perfect sense except for the fact that I havent played more than 40 hrs a week in at least a month since the WSOP much less any 12 hour or 24 hr sessions. In fact, about 50% of my "sessions" last less than 2 hrs and I am out the door in a huff and a hurry. So I really can't contribute it to "overworking". Maybe I am out of physical shape so therefore my focus and endurance with regards to patience have waned considerably? Again, I really can't say.

There are people who can play cards well and there are professionals. Those who play cards well know when to bet, raise, and fold but they don't know how to create an atmosphere or game in which to best maximize their winning potential. Professionals are such people and they are the ones who last in this most fickle of businesses. Players such as Doyle, Chip Reese, Barry Greenstein, and Phil Ivey didn't get to where they are by letting their emotions ruin the atmospheric elements of a game and the human interaction between players strong and weak alike. My behavior has been at best unprofessional and at worst downright insensitive and childish. I will do everything in my power to try and remedy this. In fact, I am contemplating doing something that I would NEVER have done in the past. I may go to the casino tomorrow and search out the guy I got into a feud with and apologize to him. This is unheard of for me as my "opponent" is a loud egotistical guy who reveled my defeat. I know this not only from his reactions but because I recognized so much of his lack of etiquette in my own behavior. This should be the first step in the right direction.