Thursday, December 04, 2008

Egos, Entitlement, and Poker

Playing a ton of LHE of late has been interesting on various fronts, as it's the first time I've strayed from NL in years, despite getting started back in the day at the LHE tables like so many people. I've been spending a lot of time watching CardRunner LHE videos, as there not only was a lot of rust to knock off my LHE game but I'm coming to realize that I was in general playing pretty far from optimal to begin with, as far as blind defense, undervaluing combo/backdoor draws, etc.

As mentioned yesterday, the LHE games at Cake can be surprisingly good at times, especially on weekend nights. There are some catastrophically bad players who, week after week, scrape together the money to buy into a 3/6 LHE game for $60 and proceed to call 3 bets cold with 35o, because, you know, if they get lucky they'll win a big pot, and then call any number of bets to the river on a flop of A A 3, because they caught a piece of it and someone might always be bluffing.

So it's not a struggle to find juicy tables, with a little game selection. But what I am struggling with, more than I'd have thought, is tilt control, when faced with the inevitable times in LHE when players like the above get hot and take you to the cleaners, over and over and over. That's an adjustment from NL that's a bit surprising for me, as I've gotten to the point where I'm relatively tilt-free in NL games. Yeah, the mouse may take some abuse when I finally get the resident table luckbox all-in with set over set (in a good way) and he spiked his one outer for quads on the river, but it takes a good bit to get my off my game when playing NL.

Not so much with LHE, at least at the moment, and it's dragging down my overall results. I've even found myself going off on people in chat, which I haven't done in years, and is terrible all the way around, especially when it's a live one that bleeds chips on a regular basis. I'm not sure why the lemur in the above hand catching a 2 on the turn and a 4 on the river for a straight to take down my AK is so much more galling and monkey-tilt inducing to me, but it is.

Which is all the more damaging in LHE, as it's too easy to get tilty and start donking off a big bet here, two more over there, calling down with A high hands too much against the wrong opponents, yada yada yada.

It's part of the bigger entitlement issue, too, and what you expect from the game, what your capabilities are, and how you carry yourself. I'm still toying with the idea of quitting the day job and relying on my various small streams of income to tide me over until I can build them up into larger streams of income, being able to dedicate myself to it full-time. Poker could be a key part of that if I can consistently pull out a decent chunk of money from the games, thus some of the rationale behind my putting more time in at the tables of late.

While 2008 has been solidly in the black, poker-wise, I haven't quite gotten over the hump where I feel like I'm consistently beating the game. I still have the occasional black hole downswong where I undo a week of steady, consistent work in the span of half a day of tilty play, triggered by the above. Much of it is simple monkey tilt but some of it is also petty frustration, as I've been playing this stupid damn game for a long time now, and still not where I want to be, despite a lot of time and effort and cogitation.

It's a bit of the chicken/egg conundrum, but the biggest thing I want to work on next year poker-wise is the emotional side of things, losing the pettiness and misguided sense of entitlement. One thing I've noticed on the live events I've been on with PokerRoom/bwin is that, without fail, the biggest, most consistent winners of the players on the trips are almost always the ones you'd never expect. There's actually a pretty clear relationship between the players who talk about beating the games the most (usually actually not at all, when you look at their stats) and those who never even bring up their results at all, unless you pry it out of them.

Those are the 2008 results for one of the quiet types mentioned above. Not too shabby at all, and he's got similar stats for his play on Full Tilt, as the graphic just shows Ongame results. You'd never guess it, though, if you met him, as he's as average as can be, still works part-time as he's involved in a strange niche industry and doesn't want to quit and leave his boss in a bind, as replacing him would be hard. Getting him to talk poker is easy, as far as strategy, playing hands, etc., but getting him to talk about his own success is next to impossible. He's suffered some of the worst beats I've seen in $10,000 buy-in events and was hardly fazed, only remarking that he's just grateful that poker still affords him the chance to get his money in so good against such bad players.

And on the other side of the fence we have this:

Unlike the solid, winning player above, it's almost impossible for this player to take a breath without mentioning this or that big tournament win of theirs. And they have had some big wins, as evidenced by the MTT profits. But they've bled it all back (plus some) in other formats, unable to stick to what works, playing in increasingly bigger games and increasingly losing more money. Any success they've had completely hamstrings them, as they feel entitled to more but can't back it up with results. When success doesn't come, it's always someone else's fault, a bad beat or suckout that crippled them late in a big tournament.

As much as I'd like to be the first player, I'm likely slightly more in the second player's camp, as much as it disappoints me to admit that. Well, minus the braggadocio. I need to get out of the trap on focusing only on what's taken from me at the tables instead of being grateful for all the donations, as only doom lies down that road. The only thing you should be entitled to is what you can earn from playing each and every street of each and every hand, to the best of your ability, at that moment in time. If you can outplay your opponents, you'll profit. If you can't, you won't. There's really not much more to it than that.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

ZOMG Online Poker is Illegal I'm Going to Jail

Indeed, I'm still alive. And it's pretty much more of the same, staying busy of late with a fair amount of poker, Fallout 3, and buying another investment property (well, not until December 22nd, when we officially close).

Here's the beaut of a 504 sq. ft. house that I'm buying, which runs you all of $8,500 in my neck of the woods:

It's actually not quite as bad as it looks, as the basic structure is in good shape and the interior has already been gutted in preparation of remodeling. With an addition on the back it'll be a decent little 2-1, about 650 sq. ft which should cashflow $250/$300 each month as a rental. One bright side of our economy swirling down the drain is that while trying to flip a house is increasingly difficult, finding potentially profitable rentals gets easier every day, especially if you're willing to tackle properties like the one above that obviously need a lot of work before they're livable. Which isn't a path to quick riches (boo), but a nice way to pick up rentals that immediately cash flow and have some equity in them, if you can pick them up cheaply enough and are smart with the renovations.

As far as poker goes, somehow or other I've found myself going full-circle and playing lots of LHE the last few weeks. 3/6 is the biggest LHE game that regularly runs on Cake with multiple tables, which is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it's just 3/6, so the upside is limited, but on the other hand it's like everyone just skips 1/2 and 2/4, so you get some crazy bad play at 3/6. Like Party Poker of ye olden times bad play, which even a lemur like myself can manage to profit from. Rakeback also piles up quickly when multi-tabling 4+ 6 max games, leading to a pretty damn juicy month in November at the tables. Traffic is also low enough at Cake that I actually won a decent sum of money in the November Cake rake race on RaketheRake, somthing impossible to do at FT or other high volume sites when competing against the insane grinders that play nine million hands a day.

Call me stupid, but I didn't think the 60 Minutes piece on UB/Absolute was all that bad, either from a reporting standpoint or as far as implications for the future of online poker. Yeah, sure, I kept yelling at the tv everytime they breezily mentioned online poker being illegal, but they got the basic facts right and could have cast things in a much more shady light than they did. At a certain point it's silly to claim that any of us involved with online poker are part of a misunderstood, socially uplifting activity. It isn't. We aren't. It's kind of shady and dodgy, as evidenced by the whole Kahnawakee regulatory situation and other similar things. It just is. That's the reality.

I also agree, of course, that it shouldn't be that way, and that a lot of the shadiness is a result of the US' ham-handed attempts to stamp out the unstampable, instead of embracing it, profiting from it, and making it legitimate. But that's just not where we are at the moment. Given where we are, lurking on the fringes, the 60 Minutes piece could have been so much worse. Because the UB/Absolute story was just about the worst thing that could have surfaced at just about the worst time, as far as online poker and legislation is involved. If this is the worst we suffer from that debacle, as far as inaccurate references to online poker being illegal and Dan Druff being kind of a dumbass when he should know better, well, I think we got off pretty light, all things considered.