Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Tired

I'm tired of losing money.

I'm tired of getting drawn out on.

Third day in a row of losing huge amounts of money at the tables. Maybe all that bitching to customer service is costing me now. If they are able to control what cards you get and how "unlucky" you get, then I must be in the shit-hole with them. Variance, standard deviation, whatever it is. Just make it stop, please.

I'm going to take a break for a while. A long, long while.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Pissed Off at PartyPoker's Customer Service

Ok, so I'm missing about 500 hand histories. And it seems that I'm not the only person who is not getting his hand histories properly.

I've sent several e-mails back and forth with the customer service teams and each time, their reply runs along the line of this:

"Please click on the Request Hand Histories button on the upper left of the PartyPoker screen."

Fuck! You think I've been playing all this time without knowing how to request hand histories?!?! My problem isn't that I don't know how to request them; it's that they're not being sent after I request them!!!

Of course, I said it much nicer than that, but still, these incompetent fools are pissing me off.

So after saying the same thing to me over and over, I requested in an e-mail to speak with Lucy Jones about this problem and the incompetent customer service help I had been receiving.

She is conveniently "away" from her desk or "on vacation." Now, I'm starting to wonder if Lucy Jones is a real person! Or maybe she is a made up figure, and I'm just a naive person who believed that she was real. Either way, I was able to reach another "manager" who went by the name of Brij who insisted that if I send my e-mails with his/her (I really have no idea) name in the subject line, he/she will personally read it. So I sent one. And what do I get?

Another incompetent customer service employee who says, "Please check your e-mail. It may be in the junk mail folder."

What the fuck! What the hell do you think I've been doing all this time?! I have my hand histories filtered through directly to my inbox. I have received them in the past. But for the past week, there have been unsent hand histories. This is what I want resolved! Not for them to tell me how to check my e-mail!!!

Fucking unbelievable. I can't believe that these people get paid. PartyPoker is too stingy to hire real help (who actually have an idea of how the software and the server runs) from the U.S.A. and instead hire third world idiots who probably don't even own a computer.

"Please check your e-mail."

Fuck! How the fuck do you think have I been receiving and sending all these e-mails to you PartyPoker customer service morons?!?! You think I can reply to your e-mails if I don't check my fucking inbox? Shit!

Do not play on PartyPoker expecting any kind of competent customer service. If you have problems, you're basically on your own and screwed.

Thank God that I play there for the fish. If it wasn't so profitable, I would have disavowed Party and be playing at other sites.

...

Ok, so readers may be thinking that I'm going completely nuts over something as trivial as hand histories. The problem is that lately (especially this past week), my results have been horrible. Going up and down (down mostly). I need these hand histories to review my game play to try and improve and be a better poker player. Out of about 1200 hands played this week, I have only received about 600. That's half my entire play for the week. And that's going to hurt me right now because I won't be able to figure out what went wrong.

I have ideas of how I may have misplayed hands, but I won't be able to confirm them without my hand histories. That is why they are so important to me. Getting drawn out on is irritating. Not receiving hand histories to review are frustrating. Having to deal with the dumb shits at PartyPoker are enfuriating!

Frustrating

Today was one of the most frustrating poker days of my life. I dropped over a hundred again today, suffering the worst suck outs imaginable including the one described below this post.

None of my pocket Aces stood up today. They all lost to underpairs. A straight, a flush, a four-of-a-kind. Why not throw in a straight flush for good measure, huh? Actually, today, I won a small pot with a royal flush which was fun. Unfortunately, the board scared everyone away.

But today was a tough day for me to take. After an up and down afternoon, the night sessions were just brutal. The suck outs after suck outs were just killing me. And the sad thing was that no matter how many times I rebought and played tight and sat with these fish drawing out on me, I was never able to win anything against them. And I just kept busting out to them again and again.

The only consolation I have is that I have added their screen names to the PartyPoker "fish finder." And I hope to play against them as many times as possible for as long as possible in the future. I hope the Law of Large Numbers really works.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

"Soul Crushing"

Party Poker No-Limit Hold'em, $0.50 BB (6 max, 4 handed)

Hero ($24.75)
SB ($26.15)
BB ($33.80)
UTG ($44.95)

Preflop: Hero is Button with A of diamonds, A of clubs.
UTG folds, Hero raises to $1.5, SB folds, BB raises to $2.5, Hero raises to $3.5, BB raises to $4.5, Hero raises to $10, BB raises to $33.8 (All-In), Hero calls $14.75 (All-In).

Flop: ($58.80) 7 of hearts, 4 of diamonds, A of hearts (2 players, 2 all-in)

Turn: ($58.80) 7 of spades (2 players, 2 all-in)

River: ($58.80) 9 of clubs (2 players, 2 all-in)

Final Pot: $58.80
Main Pot: $49.75, between Hero and BB.

BB shows 7c 7d (four of a kind, sevens).
Hero shows Ad Ac (full house, aces full of sevens).
Outcome: BB wins $58.80.

Ouch...

The other players at the table were trying to console me by relating their own similar bad beats with pocket Aces. But I just had to go over to PokerSavvy's Bad-Beat-o-Meter to check out my score, and I got 2425...very close to "soul crushing."

One of the worst beats of my life. But it's ok. I've drawn to a one-outer before and hit. That was way back when I was first starting out. I drew to an inside straight-flush draw to hit and bust out a guy who had the Ace high flush. I guess it finally came back to bite me in the ass. Haha. Fortunately, I didn't lose more money than I did. Because I'm sure that if we both had a hundred dollars in front of us, we would have gone all in. That would have hurt even more. Oh well. I guess I got "lucky" in a way. =P

Crappy Support at PartyPoker

Now. I'm not usually one to gripe about bad service or customer support. These days, I just can't seem to expect good customer support from any company. I get so amazed when a kind, helpful person ever responds with anything that actually helps provide a solution to a problem. So I wasn't expecting much from PartyPoker, especially after all the crap I heard about them. But when I encountered this problem, I just had to get this off my chest. The incompetence of the customer support at PartyPoker is unbelievable. They are far worse than any other incompetent customer support team I have ever come across.

The problem started when my requested hand histories were not arriving. Because PartyPoker limits its requests to 100 hand histories, I have to frequently request them in the middle of play. If the hand histories request does not get processed, then I will have played an additional 20 or so hands before I realize that they are not coming. So if I send out the request again, I will only get the last 100 hands and will not be able to receive the first 20 hands that I played. Confused? I'm sorry I'm not as articulate as the other bloggers. But when I'm pissed, I can't think clearly.

Anyway, here's a few e-mail transactions with PartyPoker's customer service team.

First, my request:
> >I've been requesting my past hand histories yesterday, but I have not
> >received any of them yet. I've requested about 150 to 200 hand
>histories,
> >but because they have not arrived, I'm afraid I won't be able to view
>them
> >at all. Please send me my past 200 hand histories. Thank you.
> >
> >Sincerely,
> >Stephen

PartyPoker's response:
> >Dear Stephen,
> >
> >Thank you for contacting us.
> >
> >With reference to your email, we would like to inform you that we would
>not
> >be able to send you 200 hand histories.
> >
> >We apologize for the inconvenience .
> >
> >However you can view your last 100 hand histories by logging on to the
> >lobby and by clicking on My Account on the top left hand corner and by
> >clicking on request hand history.
> >
> >If you have any questions or suggestions, please do not hesitate to
>contact
> >our Customer Care Department at any time. We are here 24/7 to assist you
> >via email.
> >
> >Thank you for choosing us as your online gaming site!
> >
> >John M.
> >Poker Customer Care

I left this automatic response at that. Fine. They're lost. I'll get over it. But it happened again.

>PartyPoker has done it again. I've asked for the past 100 hand histories.
>And a few minutes later, I requested 7 more. The 7 hand histories came,
>but
>the 100 did not arrive. Please look into this matter and fix this problem.
>There were numerous times when I wished for a certain hand history and it
>would not be found anywhere even though I've requested it.
>
>Also, I've noticed that other poker sites allow up to 200 hand histories to
>be requested. Why can't PartyPoker do this as well. It will be easier on
>the patrons such as myself who play a large volume of hands at one sitting.
>We won't be forced to continually request hand histories during the middle
>of play.
>
>Sincerely,
>Stephen

PartyPoker's response:
>Dear Stephen,
>
>Thank you for contacting us.
>
>With reference to your email, we apologize for the inconvenience caused.
>
>In order to retrieve your last 100 hand histories, just log on to the lobby
>and go to the top extreme left hand corner where you will find My Account,
>just click on that option and you will get a drop box which will give you
>an option called Retrieve Hand History, just click on that and you will get
>the last 100 hand histories.
>
>If you have any questions or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact
>our Customer Care Department at any time. We are here 24/7 to assist you
>via email.
>
>Thank you for choosing us as your online gaming site!
>
>John M.
>Poker Customer Care

Ok, so the only thing this seems to know how to do is tell me how to request hand histories. But that wasn't my problem! Does this idiot think that I don't know how to properly click a button?!

My response back:
"The problem is that by the time I realize that the 100 hand histories I want
are not arriving, I have already played an additional 20 or so hands. So I
can not request for the first 20 or so hands if I can only request 100 at a
time, can I?

I'm not asking you to teach me how to request hand histories. I already
know to do that. I am asking if PartyPoker can extend the 100 hand
histories to 200. Or if PartyPoker can somehow solve these problems some
other way."

And of course:
Dear Stephen,

Thank you for contacting us.

"With reference to your email , if you would like to retrieve the latest 20 hand histories, just log on to the lobby and click on My
Account , and when you get a drop box where you need to specify as to how many hand histories you want, just type 20 and click ok.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact our Customer Care Department at any time. We are here
24/7 to assist you via email.

Thank you for choosing us as your online gaming site!

John M.
Poker Customer Care"

It's like a one track mind that I'm dealing with here. Customer service at PartyPoker sucks.

If it wasn't for all the plentiful fish and the money I make off of them at Party, I'd be playing somewhere else where the customer service team knows how to actually provide useful information.

Sigh.

Happy Belated First Year Anniversary

I'm never one to keep a good record of historical dates. D-day, Pearl Harbor, the St. Valentine's Day Massacre (kidding about that last one). I forget people's birthdays and such. So it's no wonder that I even forgot my own anniversary. Doh!

Now I wish I had a beautiful woman to remember an anniversary with. No. I'm talking about my poker anniversary. My christening. My rebirth. The day I jumped into the pool of poker to be baptized by online players hungry to take my money away.

May 16, 2003.

And four days have already passed by before I realized that I had a one-year mark to look forward to.

It's strange because in many ways, it seems like I haven't been playing poker that long. And in many ways, I feel like I've been playing for years. Poker is now just another part of my life.

But the days preceding my dive into real money poker are still fresh in my memory. I had been watching the movie Rounders religiously everyday for the past few weeks. I had been reading Lee Jones' and Sklansky and Malmuth. I believed that I was prepared to take the plunge into shark-infested waters. And I plopped down my $50 into PartyPoker, and I began my journey.

It's been so long yet so short.

Of course, back then, I never played with the intention of making serious money off of poker (not that I make that kind of money now). But the idea of poker being a beatable game is clearer and more real to me.

Here's to poker and my first year of playing for real money. It was a year of learning and growing. And I believe I've matured both as a poker player and as a person. Back then I was a guy who played poker. Now, I can look at myself and say, "I'm a poker player." =)

P.S. I just read HDouble's blog. It's cool how we basically started playing at around the same time. His blog's a very interesting read. I can relate to many of the things he talks about.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Woohoo!

After going through a very tough session earlier today, I just had the greatest half hour session of my life! It just goes to show that if you stay with it, all things will work out in the end. You just have to wait for the right opportunities.

Sigh

So my last session lasted about an hour and a half.

Flops seen: 14%
Hands won: 1%

Lost about a hundred that last session. It was a tough one. But for some reason, I managed to just look forward to playing the next hand. Unfortunately, towards the end of the session, I realized that the cards weren't coming and that I was mostly getting outplayed by a few guys. So I closed the tables down and pushed away from my comp.

How do I feel?

Strangely optimistic. =)

Monday, May 17, 2004

Big Blind = Big Loss

So, while I keep reeling between winnings and losses, I made the smartest move an online poker player can make. And that was to register my Poker Tracker software. Perhaps a review of the thousand or so hands I've imported so far would help me seek out the chinks in my poker game. And there it was...in red.

I lose most of my money on the Big Blind. I guess it's true what they say...blinds are where poker players lose a lot of money.

So far, the only hand that earned any money on my Big Blind was pocket Aces. Pocket Kings, Queens, Jacks are big losers. Big Slick is a big loser. All the hands I've played on my Big Blind are eventual losers (or even money).

Thus I have come to a conclusion. Until I can figure out how to better play the Big Blind, I will not voluntarily put my money into the pot whenever I'm on the Big Blind (unless I have Aces). Amazing. And it only cost me an additional $55 to see where my troubles were. But I'm sure that $55 investment will more than make up for itself when I start to save money on the Big Blind. So, while I give myself a pat on the back, I'll be kicking myself in the ass trying to figure out how to make my Big Blind game profitable. But until then, I'll be clicking a lot on the Fold button.

Backbone

From Iggy's site, a quote from Bobby Baldwin:

"Playing poker for a living gives you backbone. You cannot survive without that intangible quality we call heart. I don't care how bad you are going or how good, you have to stand solid. Poker is a character builder - especially the bad times. The mark of a top player is not how much he wins when he is winning, but how he handles his losses. If you win for thirty days in a row, that makes no difference if on the thirty-first you have a bad night, go crazy, and throw it all away."

And boy, I hope I'm growing a real strong backbone right now because my luck could not be any worse.

The worst thing for me is when I'm sitting at a table full of fish, and I continually lose to the fish. It kinda makes me wonder who the real fish is.

I know that I'm supposed to like the way they play. I know that a bad beat shows that I'm playing against the right people. But it sucks when I keep losing. And I bust to them; reload; sit tight; bust out again; and the process is repeated.

I know I should be beating them. But I can't. Hand after hand after hand. If it's not a bad beat, my pocket pairs are just dominated. Set over set. I can't figure it out. All the statistics in the world can show that this isn't supposed to happen (very often at least). But I just can't seem to win. Is there a cash-out curse? Are the sites rigging the games to force players to keep rebuying?

The pain in my head says these things are true. Even my logic can't figure it out. But somewhere, deep inside, I know that I've put just as many bad beats on others as I have suffered. I just refuse to acknowledge it.

There are countless times I got lucky against another player. For example, last night I played some 2/4 full ring games. I limped in with KJ in mid position behind a couple other players. I made my top pair of Kings and pushed the flop hard. I then hit my Jack for top two pair and rammed and jammed the turn. Then a third King came on the river giving me a nice boat to take down a huge pot. What did the other guy have? He had flopped the nut straight and tried to slowplay it. Actually, I believe he was just another passive player on PartyPoker, and just kept calling without raising. I hit runner-runner to beat his straight. How much luckier can a guy get?

Of course, as I'm playing in a $25 no limit 6 max table, a guy who sat down with only $5 went on an amazing run (I, of course, contributed to his now $80 when my flopped bottom set of Sixes ran into his flopped set of Eights -which he also turned the quads to add insult to injury-). Have I gone on rushes like that? Maybe not from $5 to $80, but certainly, I must have had some really lucky circumstances in the past as well. So how do I get over this discrepancy in my perception?

I believe a poker player's pride and ego can be his/her greatest enemy. Confidence in one's abilities is one thing, but these two characteristics cause misconceptions about one's abiltiies. When we win, we want to believe that it was our skill, and only our skill, that led to a winning session. But when we lose, we need to blame an outside source, something uncontrollable such as luck, so that we can provide a scapegoat for our losses. The thinking goes, "We are not to blame for our losses, only bad luck."

Well, yes; bad luck may be a part of it. But statistically, anything is possible. Even though that guy may hit runner-runner flush on you (just like what happened right now when my AK which flopped top pair got cracked by a K9), it wasn't something that was impossible. The chances of him hitting it may have been small, but he still had that shot, and he made it. So good for him.

My pocket Aces may be favorites over Q2 suited. But that doesn't mean that the Aces will never get beaten by the Q2 (just like they did at the beginning of my session today). I need to realize that. And although it hurts to see my money being pushed towards that other guy's screen name, that's the nature of the game I choose to play. I may base my decisions on odds and probabilites, but in poker, anything can happen. And it will. That's life and poker. And I need to grow some backbone.

Losing money hurts. But the game is beatable if you can handle the swings. Keep at it.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

"I Knew You Were Bluffing"

The games are as juicy as ever over at PartyPoker.

I sat down at a full ten-handed $50 no limit table in Party the other day. And I noticed a couple of loose players that were willing to give away their chips. So I wiped my drool with my sleeve and just sat and waited for the right cards to come along. So I folded and waited. And I folded and waited. And I folded some more.

But no worry. The fish still had plenty of chips in front of him. And I knew I would get a decent starting hand sooner or later. And then it happened.

I am on the button when I see the old Ace-Queen offsuit, a beautiful, yet troublesome hand at times. One mid position limps. The loose player to my right limps. I raise a decent amount (around $5). The small blind calls. The big blind folds. Mid position folds. Loosey-goosey calls.

Flop comes Ace-Ten-Eight, all hearts.

Small Blind checks. Loose guy checks. I fire $10 into the pot. Small Blind calls. Loose guy calls. Hmmm.

Turn is a black Seven.

Small Blind bets $20. Loose guy calls. Uh-oh. But for some reason, I felt like the Small Blind was on a steal. And as for the loose, calling station, I had no idea what he had. He could have a flush, top pair, bottom pair. I had no clue. So I did the dumb thing and raised all-in. Small Blind calls. Loose guy calls. I'm in trouble.

River is a blank.

The Small Blind shows down A-5 for top pair and 5 kicker. Loose guy, of course, turns over the J-9 offsuit for the straight. Doh! And I mucked.

The funny thing was what the Small Blind said to me afterwards.

He typed in the chat box, "I knew you were bluffing. I felt like you were on a steal."

???

Um, then why bet $20 and then call the all-in with top pair 5 kicker (?!?!), I ask.

He said he figured me for at least trips. What the heck does that mean? Then why did he call with his hand?

He promptly left the table. Just another name to add to my "Buddy List." =)

I wound up making back all my money and then some against the loose guy. I love PartyPoker.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

A New Day

As expected, I've broken out of my slump. Actually, during my "slump," there were times when I believed I would never win a single hand again. But perseverance and patience helped me through, and I've had very positive sessions recently.

And indeed, it is patience and perseverance that are essential in a winning poker player's game. I knew that variance would take me in the other direction soon, and it has. Play is good. The fish are fishy. And I'm there just waiting for the right opportunity to take it down.

Just a reminder to myself and every poker player going through slumps right now, play on; play on. And the winnings will come.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

New Look

New look for Blogger! I will be updating soon; I just haven't had much to write about. Play has been up and down mostly. I will get back to this as soon as I can.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

The Cure for the Common Tilt

The past few days have been very rough for me. Two weeks ago, I had the best poker week of my life. And then immediately after, I suffered the biggest losses of my life. Now, to poker players, such swings are considered inevitable, and that's why a player needs a sufficient bankroll to overcome such swings. Variance, I believe it's called...variance in the statistical probabilities of winning with a certain hand at a certain point during the hand. And with poker, there's a lot of luck and dumb play you have to factor in which makes for a greater variance. And variance led to lots of losses. And many losses led to tilt. And tilt led to more losses.

But I've come to realize the perfect medicine for curing tilt. It's folding...a lot. Many people recommend standing up and staying away from the tables for a bit or to just take some time off. But I haven't been doing much of that. It's just so hard to stay away when there's so many fish just waiting for me at the tables, the same fish that have been chewing me up. Instead, I sat down at the best tables I could find and just folded away until I got the best hands (best hands meaning AA, KK, QQ, AKs, AKo). If I even got a little heat with any other hand, I would just fold. And I waited and waited for only the top hands. And when I won with these hands (and didn't get sucked out on like I normally do), I felt much better. And when I started feeling better, I tried to utilize a few more hands at advantageous positions. And then I felt much better. But it all started with this key: folding a lot.

I believe I know a few reasons why I tilted. First off, and most obviously, I kept getting out-drawn. And even though I knew it was a part of the game, it was hard for me to accept. It was difficult for me not to go on a Phil Hellmuthian tirade about why my hand should have won but didn't because some idiot got lucky on me. But after I kept folding, I came to accept the fact that no starting hand (no matter how premium) is guaranteed to win against a "weaker" hand. Even though the probabilities of getting sucked out on may be low, it doesn't mean that it can never happen. And it did. So I just have to fold more often instead of paying these guys off.

Next, when all these guys started winning with any two cards in their pocket, I started playing looser. Hey, if this guy can beat my Ace-Jack with a Ten-Seven, then I should be able to as well, right? Now I was trying to work against probability. And that was a losing proposition. I also ran through periods of cold cards, so I thought my poker playing skills will help me win with the crap I'm being dealt. This time, my ego got in the way. I should have folded and folded and kept folding some more. And when I've blinded away my money, I should have folded some more.

Lastly, after my recent huge success, my expectations became unrealistic. Two weeks ago, my average hourly earnings jumped up to an amazing $40 per hour. So I was expecting to keep that hourly rate going. What I failed to realize was that that was an anomaly, a variance just as when I kept getting sucked out on. I was getting lucky, but I failed to realize it. And when my wins were far below my expectations, I tried to force some wins by playing looser and trying fancy plays and such. I tried to manufacture a win to meet my previous win rate. But it was impossible. I did not realize that at the time, and I paid dearly for it. I should have folded and folded and folded and remembered what got me to my highest point ever in my bankroll: good, solid grinding. Grinding away a few bucks here and a few bucks there adds up to a decent hourly rate. But I got greedy, and I lost.

So the next time I'm in a funk, I'm just going to fold those hands away until I feel better and get a few good wins in. Then I'll be able to play my regular "A" game.

Good "luck" at the tables. And play smart.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Unlucky

I am the unluckiest guy on the planet. There's no point in me even seeing the flop anymore because by the turn or river, I will have the worst hand, and I can't get these damn players to fold no matter how much I bet. I am unlucky.

Monday, May 03, 2004

On Tilt

I'm steaming these days, so I'm gonna take a step back and try to cool off before I sit down at the tables again.