Thursday, August 27, 2009

Luck, lucky and luckier: Part 3

Over the last few weeks, my previous posts (here & here) have been generating traffic from interesting searches.
  • short tem luck in poker
  • full tilt lucky people
  • things to do to get luckier at a poker game
  • poker's just luck
  • is fulltilt poker luckier when you first join
  • luck factor by richard weisman
  • can't find the fold button
  • deebakes blog poker
What makes me so interested in this is just how much people want to be believe it's true. It's really fascinating to me the people always have to find an external force that's gonna change the way that random events happen.

There's a story I've heard that claims Mike "The Mouth" Matusow tracked his hands to show that online poker's results are skewed out of the statistical norms.

I've kept a every hand history I've ever played on every sight where money was involved. Running the numbers on those histories, it would appear I'm behind the curve when it comes to getting monster hands. It took me 49, 837 hands to hit my first royal flush. If found that in the 2 + 2 Forums, it was calculated that you should be apart of a royal flush every 30,939 hands. Every 32,486 hands using one of your hole cards. This would mean that I'm way behind on my royals, but interestingly, I've seen a modest growth rate in my bankroll, or in other words, I've been play other people's money for years. My record for not being dealt AA, KK or QQ is 763 hands. Heck, in live poker, I lost to quads 4 times in 2 months playing only one night a week in a bar.

How is this possible? I've already proven that statistically, I'm on the unlucky side of variance. If anything, I should have been broke several times already. Unlucky people shouldn't be's just unAmerican.

Luck is an illusion. It helps us to cope with things we can't control or things we don't realize we can control. In TripJax's posts, he mentions making your own luck. I think that's the part the people don't quite understand about poker. They miss the nuances that make this game different.

In poker, we are asked to make some decisions: Raise, call, fold. Those are the usual suspects, but we have a little wiggle room in the raise option. Depending on the game, we can raise a little or a lot or just the right amount. It's been said by the pros for years, poker winning are the sum difference between your mistakes and your opponents mistakes.

Poker is also a game of imperfect information. The better player you are, the more details you get from the ether. Knowing more information can help you lay down a hand that's got inferior probabilities then you might normally think or keep you in a pot because you know your opponent is weak. There is no luck when you see all the cards.

One of my favorite days as a part time rounder was a trip down to an Iowa casino to play some $1/$2 NLHE. In 4.5 hours of play, I eeked out a small profit. I was really card dead that day, but you'll notice, I eeked out a profit.

How? I was card dead (read unlucky)? You see there were a couple of farmers there with money and time to burn. They had tells when it came to how they played their hands. One in particular had a bad habit of holding his cards when he was on a draw and capping them when he had a big hand. I played every hand with him know this and when I saw him holding his cards, I never missed an opportunity to bet and raise. You see, math tells us that a person on a draw will only hit their draw every so often. I pumped up the pot because I knew that he would just call and when we got to the river, he'd lay it down when he missed. Every time.

Mathematically, I'm profitable over the long term because when he does hit, I don't bet the river, I save those bets, but I made up the ones I lost the other 7 times he was going for a flush draw.

I too get bitten by the bug that I'm just running bad, but I really try not to let it get in my head. We do from time to time spend more time on the losing side of variance, sometimes longer then we want to, but it's in the nature of the game. It's not bad luck, it just the natural flow of the cards. Keep playing profitable poker and learn how to make better decisions, pick better games and look for the soft spot to exploit and your bankroll will see the difference.

My not really poker play friend I've talked about before that thinks that poker is mostly about luck said something that had my mind turning. He hypothesized that if you took the 2 great players in the world and put them heads up, the game would be decided by the cards and the cards alone. I just don't believe this. I've watched the pros play, sure it was mostly on TV, but still, when you watch them even online, you notice that they are masters at mixing up their games. It's this ability to alter your game to your opponent that makes them better pros then me.

How lucky are you? Do you make your own luck? Have you found a way to close the lid when you start losing your mind, your edge?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Summer Bankroll Challenge: A Post Mortem

I missed all the prop bets, but I think there is hope I could still get a gold star...a slim glimmer of's my wrap up. And here's what coulda been...had I not had a fantastic summer with the family and missed the entire completing of the prop betting process. I think I'm becoming a grand master of missed opportunities.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Other Winter Classic #WPBT

It would seem that the time to plan the trip to Las Vegas for the gathering is now, at least officially. Ain't it August?

OhCountess and I started planning our next trip to the winter gathering on the flight home last year, so the thought of not going this year hasn't been at issue, our biggest issue is where to stay. There are worse problems. The other thing to think about is what to do. Saturday, I haven't heard of anyone getting married, ain't renewing already, are you? So Saturday should be left open for the big tourney. I just really hope people have their bounties. I knocked out several people last year, and got only one REALLY COOL bounty, but that's a whole other post.

As a noob last year, I was clueless of what was all the WPBT had to offer. With a year under my belt, I can safely say that I'm still basically clueless but now I have options. CK and Bam are putting together the official golf outing. I love golf and what a great photo-op! Well, I wasn't chosen as the Official Photographer. Yeah, that honor went to Astin. So I may need to actually pony up the cash to play and shoot. Gotta talk to the Mrs tonight about that. I'm officially on the fence. Oh, and I haven't played golf in about 9 years...

The lovely Katitude has a fantastic idea, visit the Neon Museum! The hours for this are sketchy at the moment. Probably a good thing that it's August. My camera was jumping out of the bag to shoot this place. Looking at the rules, there might need to be some more research into just how to shoot this place. Gawd, I hate photo rules...and this place has them...

And lastly, PirateLawyer and myself would like to remind everyone that we are going to the Pinball Hall of Fame. This place is a BLAST! Here's my recap from last year. Anyone is welcome to join us. There is a bus stop near by so you can come and go as you please. If you plan on taking a cab, print off the map, direction and write down the address. Most of the cabby's will have no idea what you are talking about. You don't HAVE to go with us per se, it's just more fun when you are making the machine crack over and over with games are the bomb!

Looking at this day, I'm not sure how I'm gonna do all of this. I think I'll request a longer day on Friday. If last year is any indication, the day will most likely be fueled with antacids and caffeine with a handful of ibuprofen. Cheap beer is a killer and that's all they serve at the Geisha Bar at the IP. Sorry Bostonians...Sam Adams ain't that good.

Let me know if you are going or want to be reminded about the Pinball Hall of Fame. I can't wait to get back...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

What's your motivation?

Last night, PushMonkey, NumbBono, and I were talking on Buddy Dank Radio about what motivates you in poker. The conversation started when Numb brought up my recent victory at Poker League. Push had mentioned that it takes at least $10 for him to really care about a poker game. To many, bar poker lacks the necessary motivation for people to play poker correctly. It's a freeroll and the prizes are usually not life altering.

Last week, I wrote a post and talked about how I am an extremely competitive person. I hate losing. Be it for $1 or $1000, losing to me is more important then the money. Sick, I know. I began this season of poker league with one goal, win it. Second wasn't an option. Second sucks. I've placed second, it sucks monster huge monkey balls.

I'm sitting here wondering how I use this information about myself and others. I remember watching an episode of (can't remember the name so I'm making this one up) Cribs CardPlayer edition, where they should the home of Barry Greenstein. I've always found it fascinating how he talked about how huge a bet needed to be to get his "juices flowing".

I've played poker where the only outcome was bragging rights...and fought my ass off to win them. Probably my most motivating prop bets of all time were not wanting to by Bodie25 a bowel of soup at Olive Garden. For me, it was never about the money, it was about making sure Bodie25 had to buy me soup.

Why is it that for me, the thrill of competition is enough and for others there has to be a much more tangible sting? An even more important question for a competitive person like me is how do I exploit this at the card table? I think I'll be using this as means to control my opponents motivation. If I know they are playing for the money, minimize it. If they play for a sick desire to win, fasten my seat belt. Not sure.

So, what motivates you? How do you use other's motivation to your favor? Why did I just send my brain down this path? Is four flushing Push more fun then one person should have playing the Mookie? (the answer to that last one is you must try it to taste just how sweet it is :-P)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Whew! Goal Accomplished!

Just a quick note before I collapse.

Going into tonight at poker league, I was exactly 94 points out of first place and a 104 point lead on the guy in 3rd. Tonight, I needed a pretty deep run and for the first place guy to bust before the points to take over the lead.

With 2 tables to go, Chad busts.

I played short stack ninja for what seemed forever. Waiting patiently for people to bust only getting aggressive when I was up against the medium stacks. The patience paid off I held on to get to the 3rd place finish I needed to retake the the league lead in points!

For a little bit more fun, I took a 2 bet stack into heads up. Got very aggressive and after about 30 minutes, stacked every last chip in front of me.

WHEW! I did it!

My goal for the season was simple. Win the whole thing. I'd taken 2nd place too many times. Goal accomplished.

Drizz...I should be seeing you at Running Aces now. I'll be the guy on a freeroll :)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Down to the wire

Looks like a made a mistake in calculating the points for poker league. I ended last week 1 lousy point behind the league leader. I busted with 2 tables left when my K6o couldn't beat 44 even with the spiked K on the flop. The river 4 really sucked. The guy one point ahead of me was still in it when I left, I'm pretty sure he knows how to fold. The two guys in second and third busted long before me, so unless he goes really deep, we will be down to the wire next week. I've finished second at least twice before...

On my way home tonight, I was thinking about why I really prefer tournaments to cash games. I think it has a lot do with the fact that I REALLY hate to lose. In a cash game, you sometimes get felted or lose a big pot, it's supposed to happen. When it happens to me, I just hate it. I really try to avoid to rebuying into a cash game. I'm usually really tilty when it happens. At least in a tournament, I'm out, for the most part, I usually don't have time to buy into another one...which is usually for the best.

Winning is fun. Losing sucks.

My two cents for the day. Coin flips suck.