Saturday, May 28, 2005

Irony?

It's funny, really. Whenever I think I'm going through a terrible week, I usually end up winning quite a bit. The cards have been really awful this week, but I somehow managed to make a few bucks. Nice.

And I finally learned that the fish are abundant on Party/Empire on the weekends. I haven't been able to play much on the weekends until tonight. Boy, it's so nice to see all those guppies back in the pond. Where the hell they go during the week, I don't know.

I'm making my biggest winnings off of maniac players. And there seems to be a growing number of them. I haven't seen these many crazy raises in a while. Don't you love it when they raise you when you're holding the nuts? Of course, there are those times when they just keep raising and reraising you, and you find out that your pocket Aces have just been busted by a 10-5 offsuit. There are times when no matter what you try, you just can't beat those maniacs who keep catching their cards. I've learned to just walk away when that happens. Even though I may have the mathematical edge, when they're lucky, they're lucky. Better to save what you have left for another battle against them another day. That's what the "Buddy List" is for, right?

I've also looked into being an online prop, but it just doesn't seem profitable for me. I thought I'd might as well get paid to play while I'm playing, but the rules and restrictions are just too much. Plus, they don't pay you nearly enough. Much like B&M props back in the day? Although it's rare to see any props in the cardrooms of major casinos anymore these days.

Memorial weekend. I'll take some time to go hit the beach, finally.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Now I Remember...

Ah...now I remember the weird and crappy customer service that PartyPoker used to have.

I recently sent an e-mail to info@partypoker.com and received two e-mails back. One from PartyPoker and one from IntertopsPoker.

?...

I don't have an IntertopsPoker account.

?...

I really have no idea how PartyPoker gets things so mixed up. It's one of the reasons why I'm so hesitant about investing in them when they go public. The uninformed masses may be streaming in, but they all soon leave as can be evidenced by the overall tightened play of all the tables I've been playing at recently.

The strange thing is PokerStars has caught up in the fish department, in my opinion. Their no limit hold'em games are full of loose, passive calling stations. I haven't checked their limit hold'em yet.

I'm not saying that it's too difficult to grind it out on Party, but it has gotten harder.

Online Poker...Software = Cheating?

This is from PartyPoker's updated "Terms and Conditions" page on their website:

7. Anti-Cheating Software.
We are committed to detecting and preventing software programs which are designed to enable artificial intelligence ("AI Software") to play on our site such as, but not limited to opponent-profiling, player collusion, cheating software or anything else that we deem enables you to have an unfair advantage over other players. You acknowledge that the Company will take measures to detect and prevent the use of such programs and AI Software using methods including but not limited to screen scraping or reading the list of currently running programs on a player's computer and you agree not to use any AI Software and/or any such programs.


Now, I understand their concerns about player collusions, pokerbots, and cheating software, but do programs that help you profile your opponents constitute as cheating?

I've been utilizing PokerTracker more with the PokerTracker Guide. And one feature that I've downloaded and used that has been extremely beneficial is GameTime+. GameTime+ enables me to instantly see my opponents' tendencies based on the information I've gathered about them through PokerTracker.

It's really convenient knowing whether I should call a maniac's preflop raise or not at a glance, especially if I'm multi-tabling.

So is it ok for PartyPoker to say that using programs such as GameTime+ is cheating and may freeze my account because of it?

Player-profiling programs such as GameTime+ basically helps me remember how a player plays by showing me their statistics. How is that cheating? If the program did not exist, it would probably be done in my head anyway. It's just that the program makes playing poker online a bit more convenient for me. Am I cheating in any way? I still can't see their hole cards. I don't know what's coming up on the flop. I just get to see some statistics. That's all. The idea that player-profiling is cheating is ridiculous. We all "size-up" opponents automatically when we play poker. When we play against someone, we deem that person a fish (loose/passive), tight player, maniac, etc., etc.

At least PokerStars has a little more sense in that Lee Jones has come right out and stated that since they can't enforce the B&M rule of one person to a hand, they won't make a rule against it. Online poker is a different demon than B&M poker. These virtual cardrooms should understand that and see that having a software tell me a person's statistics is no different than someone sitting with a pen and paper and recording all of an opponent's moves and calculating the statistics himself. Will PartyPoker make a rule against that?


Oh, and I still haven't been able to win any money on PartyPoker since the last time I busted out there. It seems like Party really hates me. But I'm able to scrape by on EmpirePoker which occassionally allows me to win. Just enough to keep me playing there. If anybody has any good recommendations on sites with fish to play on, I'd like to try those out.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Where Have All the Fish Gone?

I've been playing a lot of the low no limit hold'em tables in an effort to rebuild my bankroll on Empire/Party. But I've noticed that all the players have gotten so much tighter. Just a few months ago, the no limit tables were where the fish came to play "just like on t.v." And I used to relish watching players see almost every flop and call you down with nothing. Of course, a lot of bad beats were also suffered at the hands of these fish. But hey, that's poker, and I was looking forward to it.

But these past few days, I've noticed that the play has gotten much, much tighter. Any bet thrown out on the flop is usually enough to enduce a fold from those one or two players that did come in to see it with you. No more people drawing. No chasing. What happened here?

I see players making better bets on the flop to protect their hands. I see the table averaging two to three players per flop. I mean, this is Party Poker, damnit! Where have all the fish gone?

Maybe it's because of the times I've been playing at (usually around 4-6 P.M. and after 10 P.M.), but it's strange for me to see all these players just folding. Is this really Empire I'm playing at?

Because of this, I've had to adjust my strategy quite a bit. Long gone are the days when my hand went to the showdown. The rise in the IQ of of players means that they're being more selective with their preflop hands and chasing less on the flop. I've been able to keep an edge by four-tabling and simply turning my aggression level up a notch after the flop.

I'm not that good in keeping track of a lot of different things at once. In the past, I've limited myself to playing at two tables. But because, with my new strategy, I'll be picking up a lot of more small pots more than those few big ones I was used to getting, I need to play more table simultaneously in an effort to keep my hourly earnings up.

By being more aggressive, I'm not talking about always just throwing a bet out there with nothing. But after seeing the flop and feeling the table out, I'm usually able to tell whether someone has really hit something or not. If they did, fine, I'll muck. But often, I'm able to take that pot (albeit, a very, very small pot) with just a decent sized bet or raise. Of course, you have to watch out for those slowplaying, but they have been very rare on these tables I've been at.

Is this why everybody's drifting towards other poker sites? Is Party, and skins, losing all their valuable fish which we used to feed on? I don't know. But I hope this trend doesn't continue. Pretty soon, trying to grind out the $.50/$1 tables on Party may feel like grinding out the $5/$10 games. (Ok, so I'm exaggerating). But still...

The live $3/$6 tables at my local tables are much more profitable and filled with fish action. Like I said, by adjusting your strategy and adapting to the conditions, you can still make a profitable hourly earning. But it's just gotten a bit harder.

On another note, check out Justin Zee (link to the right). Here's a 19 year-old kid who's already a pro. WTF? I used to look down upon younger players. I mean, I considered myself a real young guy. But guys like Justin Zee are making me look old and bad at poker.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Crazy Gambler

"Limit hold'em is a card catching contest and it was clear that I caught the most cards...Mimi is an excellent limit hold'em player. Me beating her doesn't really say very much. These challenge matches that I'm playing don't equate to, "Whoever wins must be the better player." It's a relatively short time span we’re dealing with...So while I thoroughly enjoy these matches, win or lose it doesn't say much about "who's better" if that's what you are looking for. That's not at all what I'm looking for though, I'm just lookin' to gamble!" - Daniel Negreanu

Go check out his blog if you haven't already. It's always interesting to see what a professional poker player is thinking.

Well, his post answers the comments about who's better or whatnot. Forget it. Daniel's just a crazy guy looking to gamble!

A $300,000 profit after two nights of playing limit hold'em. Wow. I'd like to earn that kind of money.

On a side note, people were discussing Barry Greenstein's interest in this match because Mimi Tran is one of his "students," and Barry had apparently backed Mimi completely for this match against Daniel. Wow, that's half a million down the drain after backing one of your students. Maybe Barry will send Tuan Le, another one of his "students," to seek revenge on Daniel. But will Barry back him 100% like he did for Mimi? That's a potential $1,000,000 loss for Barry against Daniel. And then maybe Barry himself will have to up the stakes and challenge Daniel to a $1,000,000 freeze-out just to try and get back even. That's a potential $2 million that Daniel could win off of Barry. And that's after Barry saying he belongs in the top tier of poker players while Daniel doesn't. Heck, I would take $2 million and say that I don't belong up there. As long as I win that kind of money against him, I'd be satisfied. =)

Poker Egos

It seems to me that in order to be a great poker player, you need to have confidence. And that confidence can be viewed in many ways by people, sometimes as arrogance or an ego. I bring this up because in light of Daniel Negreanu's recent open challenge at the Wynn casino, I've been reading a lot of different opinions by people posting on various poker forums about the arrogance of Daniel.

Personally, I love watching Daniel Negreanu play. I think he is one of the best poker players. It kind of shocked me when people started saying that Daniel had such a big ego because he was willing to play anybody any poker game that the Wynn casino offered for between $100,000 and $500,000.

Then I realize that I also like Phil Hellmuth and Barry Greenstein. And these two may have the biggest egos in the entire poker world. They each believe they are the greatest and often speak out publicly about their opinions, if not verbally then on the columns they write for various poker magazines.

Where is the line drawn when it comes to a poker player's confidence in that he can beat the game and arrogance in that he is the best? Obviously whether a person can back up their words with their actions.

A lot of people may scoff at these challenges, calling them pissing contests or as one forum poster put it, "dick-waving" contests. But I don't see anything wrong with these types of challenges and gamesmanship. In fact, I think it may actually help poker rise in popularity.

Ah crap.

I was about to write a long-winded essay about how sports fans like a little ego in their favorite "athletes" and such. But I'm too tired. Midterms and too much time spent in libraries have my brain in a jumble.

But my basic point is this: I like competitiveness in players. I like clashing egos and finding out who is really better. So what's wrong with Daniel's actions? Should he forever hide his face from the public and say to everyone that he's not the best? If he can back it up, let him say and do what he wants. If after his challenges are met, and Daniel's results are less than satisfactory, then say what you want about him being egotistical or whatnot. So far, Daniel's put his money where his mouth is, and he's willing to prove that he's good enough to be among the best (unlike others *cough*Sklanksy and Malmuth*cough*). Hehe, just kidding. I think they have published great books that have helped thousands of players get better at poker.

But until Daniel has been proven a weak player who's just running his mouth off, leave him alone.

Play to Win

"Failure inspires winners. And failure defeats losers...The greatest secret of winners is that failure inspires winning; thus, they're not afraid of losing. Repeating Fran Tarkenton's quote, 'Winning means being unafraid to lose.' People like Fran Tarkenton are not afraid of losing because they know who they are. They hate losing, so they know that losing will only inspire them to become better...The main reason that over 90 percent of the American public struggles financially is because they play not to lose. They don't play to win." - Robert Kiyosaki, Rich Dad Poor Dad.

It may seem strange that I would put up a quote by an investment guru who regularly has infomercials about real estate and investing, but I see many similarities between success in investing, life, and poker. What is poker if it is not simply you investing money against another person about who you think has the better hand? I know they're not exactly the same, but you get my idea, right?

And Kiyosaki mentions that a lot of people struggle financially because they are afraid of losing their money. It's the same concept in poker, in my opinion. You hear winning poker players talk occassionally about "scared money." If you play poker with the fear of losing, then you are bound to lose.

I struggle to get myself to not play scared. Because, to be honest, I don't have deep pockets, and if my limited bankroll goes bust, I may be done for with poker. So many times, I catch myself thinking about leaving a profitable game when I have made a little money. With a couple wins, I may start playing too tight and second-guessing those calls at the end. I wonder about following through with a nut flush draw even though I may be getting good odds. But in order to be a winning player, I have to recognize that I should not be afraid of losing. Instead, I have to hate losing so that I may improve my game.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Poker Wars

"It is like a game, played seriously." - Bruce Lee's philosophy on fighting

"You gotta think of it as a war." - Micheal McDermott, Rounders

Although poker rarely leads to physical violence anymore considering how it has gone mainstream, it is similar to an actual fight in my opinion. I come to the table, with the desire to win, and my goal is to beat someone else. Therefore, I have decided to rename my blog "Poker Wars."

Poker offers all of the classic battles man (or woman) fights:
1) man vs. man
2) man vs. society (the laws and mores concerning poker)
3) man vs. nature (or destiny, I guess, in that we can't influence what cards will appear next)
4) man vs. himself

In order to be a consistent winner at this game, you must be able to conquer all of the above. And I hope to do so with a renewed attitude towards the game.

Blowing Off Some Steam

I apologize.

I try hard not to show weakness at the poker tables. But a few times, I just can't help myself, and I lose it.

I feel a bit ashamed in a way. Does the fact that I need to blow off some steam every once in a while make me any less of a man? Yes, call me a masochistic pig, but I believe that a man should be able to control himself better. I've been doing it all my life, trying to put up a cheerful front when I'm pissed off inside, but every once in a while, there is a leak.

Saying that I'm not going to play online poker, or blog even, is irrational. I should know better. I just needed to be irrational for a little bit to let out some anger. Poker is such an emotionally turbulent game. I've never heeded all those sayings that I need to learn to ride the rollercoasters of playing poker: the swings in my bankroll, the variance of hand outcomes, the emotional ride. Heck, you'd think that reading and studying poker books such as Inside the Poker Mind would've made me get rid of all those things. But I have to admit that it's a lot harder than it looks. Reading and studying about it is one thing; actually doing it and keeping it all under control is another.

I'll be playing again...real soon, in fact. Empire's offering me a 50% reload bonus on Tuesday, and I have until then for a 20% PokerStars bonus as well. This time, I'll deposit more and manage my bankroll better to try and handle the swings.

Special thanks to mortal_one for his encouraging comment. I never knew people, other than those few internet surfers who accidentally come upon this site, actually read the stuff I blab about.

Time to gather the pieces of myself up and rebuild my dreams.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Unfucking Believable

So after three "Soul Crushing" bad beats in the Bad-Beat-o-Meter, and subsequently losing my entire bankroll again, I've decided to quit online poker. This is just so fucking ridiculous. I understand that people experience bad beats. But in a matter of thirty minutes, I've lost my entire bankroll again because a few idiots called all-in on a chase and caught their fucking one-outer not once, not twice, but three times in a row.

I don't think online poker is rigged. It's just that the skill part of poker seems to have disappeared now. And I just can't handle losing to these dumb fucks anymore. I used to think of these guys as fish which I'll eventually win my money back from, but it just ain't happening. I keep getting beat when I go all-in with the best of it. It's better to be lucky than good. And I am the unluckiest guy in the world.

"When the money's gone, it's time to move on." And I guess I'm just gonna move on from poker and put my efforts into something else. Good luck to the rest of you, because no matter how good you are, you still need it.