Sunday, 10 July 2011

42 Year Old Man Or 19 Year Old Geek?

There are many ways to divide the world into two. One such division that often comes up in my world is "Are you a live player or an online player?" It's a question that most poker players can answer instantly without much thought, but I find it tough to answer. Most players will spend the majority of their time and money playing either live or online. But I spend roughly the same amount of time each week playing online and playing live, and I enjoy the positives of both and get annoyed by the negatives of both in roughly equal measure. Before I answer the question I'll use this post to talk about a few of the differences between online and live tournaments.

Tonight I was involved in a hand that will help illustrate some of the differences. We were deep in the big $11R with about 100 left. Blinds were 3.5k/7k and average stack was about 120k. It was folded to the cutoff who raised to 17k. Folded to me in the Big Blind and I went all-in for 80k with A4. The cutoff (100k stack) thought for a long time before calling me with Q8. Needless to say the flop was QT2 and I was out. I am certain that the same player in a live tournament would have folded his hand, so why did he call me here?

There are a few reasons. Firstly, given the availability and frequency of online poker tournaments the player was probably playing many tables and didn't consider it to be a disaster if he busted one of his tournaments, he still had many other tournaments he could play if he wished. In a live tournament, when you bust you have to go home or maybe play cash, either way you cannot get your buzz of tournament action until another night. Therefore people guard their tournament life more carefully than they do online.

Secondly live tournaments are played tighter than online tournaments, partly because people guard their chips more heavily as mentioned above. This means that my all-in range in his eyes in a live tournament is much tighter and he is much more likely to be dominated. Whereas online, where aggression is king, he probably assumed that my range was wide and he was unlikely to be dominated. Therefore he figured he was getting nearly a fair price to call based on pot odds.

A third reason he would not call in a live tournament but will online is because there are consequences to calling with Q8 in a live card room that do not exist online. If you make this call playing live with questionable pot odds you will be branded a fish by the rest of the table, you will make the person you called very angry, and you will be embarrassed to show your cards. This creates an uncomfortable situation that players will simply avoid by folding the Q8 when it is a marginal decision. None of this happens online of course, you can simply call and gamble if you want to and relax in complete anonymity.

A fourth reason he calls here is because most online players are happy to gamble with the worst hand in order to accumulate a big stack because they see it as their best chance of beating a large field. There are ten times as many runners in online tournaments than live. Because of this people try to gamble in spots to accumulate chips which they can use to bully shorter stacks. A big stack allows a player to progress more smoothly than if they were short stacked. The average good player is happy to finish in 45th place gambling with the worst hand to get a big stack as opposed to making sure they make the final 18 if it means they will be most likely be short stacked. This is an understandable strategy given how top heavy prize structures are, and the advantage gained for a good player if he has a big chip stack with not many players left.

Because of these reasons there is a higher degree of luck in online tournaments than live. The fact that I am willing to make this statement is probably an indication that I am more of a live player than online. Also I tend to enjoy the experience of playing live more than online in most situations. However I have made more money playing online than live over the last two years, and it is something I take more seriously in terms of BRM and volume. So it is hard to answer the initial question one way or another, online or live? Maybe it's just that I am a rare breed of the two: an onlive player.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

The Ramblings Of A Tired Old Man

Brief Edit: I wrote this post a few months ago but never published it because before publishing it I started to run good and felt like it was inappropriate to moan after having some good fortune. However due to popular demand and after re-reading it I think that I raise some fair points that would be interesting to read. This is the original post un-edited, written 20/02/11:

I went to bed at 4am last night but for some reason woke up at 7.30am and despite lying in bed for the last two hours have been unable to get back to sleep. If I'm being honest I haven't been sleeping properly for months. Insomnia is never something I have suffered from previously, in fact the opposite could probably be said as I used to get more than my fair share of sleep. However recently it has become a problem. And so I decided to write about the thoughts that were going through my head as I lay there.

A week ago a good friend of mine did a four way deal in the sunday quarter million for $16k. He beat 33,000 other people to get that far which is an incredible achievement. The trouble with a game such as poker is the luck factor which can't be controlled. The guy in question is an excellent poker player but I hope he won't mind me writing that he got very lucky repeatedly, which is necessary to beat a field of that size. I saw him win four hands in a row where he was 30% to win and couldn't help thinking that I wish that would happen to me. I am delighted for him that he had a very nice draw, but when you rail someone hit those hands and then you yourself can't win just one of those hands when it is crucial, it does hurt a bit. I wish I didn't feel selfishly jealous in that way but when you play a game where luck is so important and it falls on your friends but misses you, it's impossible not to feel that way. Maybe that makes me a bastard, maybe I'm just human. I'm hoping the latter.

Which brings me onto my next point: I can't outdraw anyone! Spoken like a true fish I know, but to be honest to go deep in comps you have to be able to outdraw people sometimes. I'm not getting wildly outdrawn with the best hand at the moment, but whenever I make a good shove and get called by a better hand, even when I am only slightly behind, I cannot hit. This makes tournament poker extremely difficult.

I know there will be plenty of people reading this thinking that it is simply variance and that at some point in the future I will start hitting crucial hands, but it is hard to find that comforting when the problem with tournament poker is that variance is (largely) irrelevant. You cannot be happy by knowing that despite losing you were ahead because you will never be in that situation ever again for it to go the other way. I'm struggling to phrase this point correctly so I will give you an example. Let's say you are playing two tables of 50c/$1 cash and you are all-in on both of them with AK suited against pocket nines. One pot is $220 and one pot is $150. Now it would be fair to win one flip and lose the other, and if that happens you will either be $35 up or $35 down overall, which is all taken in to your stride for a 50/1 player as it is a third of a buyin. Now lets say you have two tounrnament tables up one of which is the late stages of a $50 freezeout and one of which is the early stages of a $11 rebuy and you are all-in on both for a 500k pot in the freezeout and a 8k pot in the rebuy again with AK suited against nines. Well again it would be fair to win one of these hands and lose the other. But here the difference is likely to be in the region of winning a pot with a value of about $1k compared to a pot with a value of about $10. Now all of a sudden one hand is responsible for a swing of a hundred buyins.

Playing cash you will regularly be all-in and flipping for similar sized pots so variance has a chance to balance itself out, as it will happen thousands of times over a year and you will hopefully be close to even. In tournaments however you will maybe encouter ten or twenty flips over the course of a year where the result is massively important and over such a small sample size variance has no chance of balancing out. You have to be very lucky in crucial pots when playing tournaments because there won't be time for luck to even out. There is no long-run to consider, only the current hand, so you better hope you run good.

I hope at least part of this rant makes a little bit of sense and that you can understand where I am coming from. But then again, maybe I'm just having a mid-life crisis.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Mitchell Street Masters 2011

Well this is a brief write-up of the MSM11. Below are all the events and the results. It was a brilliant weekend and I need to say a big thank you to everyone who lent me chairs, helped me clear up and helped the general smooth running of the weekend.

I had a great weekend, perhaps the highlight of which being the game of Scattergories on saturday night with Joel, Tyler, Seb and Will which ended with most of us crying with laughter. All the events ran smoothly and it was great to award five bracelets to five different players.

The Lottery was won by James Tyler and the seven of hearts, the high card draw HU shootout was won by Adam Rivers and the main event buffet was won by everyone. I cannot wait until the next Mitchell Street Masters.

Event 1: £15 Short-Handed Shootout

1st - Lewis Jeal £90
2nd - Alex Wakeham £60
3rd - James Tyler £30

Then in order 4th onwards: Ben Millar, Seb Fairhurst, Rich Jones, Will Rawson, Mike Cutler, James Tidey, Joe Boyle, Stephen Woodhead, Ed Ball

Event 2: £5 Pot Limit Holdem Rebuy

1st - James Tyler £165
2nd - Rich Jones £100
3rd - Joe Boyle £70

Then in order 4th onwards: Joel Lambo, Will Rawson, Lewis Jeal, Stephen Woodhead, Alex Wakeham, Mike Cutler, Seb Fairhurst

Event 3: £5 Pot Limit Omaha Rebuy

1st - Alex Wakeham £240
2nd - James Tidey £140
3rd - Lewis Jeal £95

Then in order 4th onwards: Will Rawson, Rich Jones, Joe Boyle, Jan Mueller, Joel Lambo, James Tyler, Stephen Woodhead, Dave Dawson

Event 4: £25 Deepstack No Limit Holdem Main Event

1st - Adam Rivers £170
2nd - Lewis Ralph £105
3rd - Chris Brown £60
4th - Rich Jones £40

Then in order 5th onwards: Stephen Woodhead, Seb Fairhurst, Dave Dawson, James Tidey, Johnny King, Jan Mueller, Lewis Jeal, James Tyler, Alex Wakeham, Ben Millar

Player Of The Series

1st - Rich Jones 230
2nd - Alex Wakeham 220
3rd - Lewis Jeal 215
4th - James Tyler 200
5th - Adam Rivers 150

Then in order: James Tidey 125, Lewis Ralph 120, Will Rawson 115, Stephen Woodhead 110, Joe Boyle 105, Seb Fairhurst 100, Chris Brown 100, Ben Millar 70, Joel Lambo 70, Dave Dawson 50, Jan Mueller 45, Mike Cutler 35, Johnny King 25, Ed Ball 10

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

World Blogger Championship Of Online Poker (WBCOOP)

Online Poker

I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker! The WBCOOP is a free online Poker tournament open to all Bloggers, so register on WBCOOP to play.

Registration code: XXXXXX 317662

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Reach for the (Platinum) Stars

Well, my main goal for August is to achieve PlatinumStar VIP status on Pokerstars. The main benefts of which will include generating a lot of FPPs which can be used to buy cash and for tourney buyins, and I will also earn entry into the weekly 30k and monthly 100k freerolls. I will need to put in a lot of hours to get there, however it is achievable now that I am 10-tabling $25 NLO8 instead of 6-tabling.

FullTilt got back to me about the job I applied for in their media and marketing department, asking me to complete an online recruitment test, for which there were 20 questions and a 2-hour time limit. It was split into two parts, the first being poker knowledge and the second being poker media and marketing. The first part was relatively straight forward with most of the questions being multiple choice.

One question was a little strange. It read "Small suited connectors are easier to play out of position than small pocket pairs, true or false?" To be honest both hands can be tough to play out of position, and my initial thought was false because when the blinds are small you can simply check fold small pairs if you dont hit a set, making them easy to play post-flop. However with small suited connectors if you flop a straight or flush draw they can be very hard to play out of position as it is hard to see free cards and hard to semi-bluff. However when the blinds are big, suited connectors are easy to play out of position as they are normally a fold preflop, or if you do call they are hands that you can check fold if you miss or check-raise all-in if you flop a nice draw. Small pairs now become hard to play as it is often hard to know whether or not you are ahead on many flops given the aggressive nature of late tourney poker. I put false in the end but I wonder what other peoples opinions are.

The last question in the poker knowledge section was fruity. It read, "You make the final table of a small mtt. There is one chip leader and everyone else has even stacks. The chip leader makes a standard raise UTG. You have JJ in the hijack. What do you do and why?" Lovely question. I spent about 25 minutes on my answer, and wrote 5 paragraphs, and still wasn't too happy with it. I explored a few different angles given the lack of information in the question, and mainly talked about what I would do with various stack sizes. It was a tough question and i'm not sure why it was in a recuitment test. As Keysie said to me when I told him about it, "What job are you applying for, to be a red pro?"

The second part was a little tougher with all of the questions being creative writing not multiple choice. Questions such as "If you had a $1m budget to spend on advertising FT, how would you spend it?" for which my answer in a nutshell was TV advertising during night-time entertainment shows with adverts specifically focussed on letting people know that they can learn poker and play poker free of charge, in an attempt to recruit new players to the site. There were various other questions about player promotions and online software, which my in-depth poker discussions with my affiliate Jamie in the past probably helped me answer.

I was fairly happy with my answers on the whole, there were no questions that I couldn't answer and I think I put in a fair result. I shall find out if my answers were good enough, and if they can overlook the lack of professional work on my CV sometime next week. Fingers crossed.

Not much else to report, I'll simply be putting in as many hours as possible this month on stars. The Gamblers link has been updated for all you degenerate gamblers out there. And some sad news to end this post is that it now looks very unlikely for the Mitchell Street Masters to be happening this year. Sadly there were problems with the venue, and the sponsors got cold feet once they found out that Phil Ivey was not going to attend, so it will have to wait another year. Sorry to all the MSM fans out there desperate to win a bracelet.


Rich xx

Edit: Since writing this blog post, I received the following email from FullTilt:

Hi Richard,

Thanks for completing the Full Tilt Poker online recruitment test. You scored 10/10 in the multiple choice questions and your essay answers were good enough to move you to the next stage in our recruitment process. The Human Resources department of our recruitment consultant company, Pocket Kings Ltd, will contact you to discuss your possible future with us.

Best regards,
Full Tilt Poker

I wonder how many stages of recruitment there are?

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

A Tornado meets a Volcano

Well, it's been an interesting few weeks since we last spoke. Firstly it looks highly likely that I will not be able to go to Vegas this year, which I am obviously gutted about but there is no point me going if I can't afford it. I would rather go next year and enjoy myself then go this year in debt and have the pressure of needing to win. I've been running very badly in tournaments recently seeming to lose every single flip and 60/40 which as result has meant that I've had quite a few low times over the last month. In particular about two weeks ago, when I had one of those days where everything went wrong. I've had to re-evaluate my online poker game as I can no longer afford to play tournaments on a regular basis, which is a shame as I have always made money playing tournaments and enjoyed them. However I couldn't find a new staking deal sadly and I don't have a big enough bankroll to play with my own money. So the plan has changed.

I am now grinding NLO8 cash on PokerStars. I play 6 tables at a time of 10c/25c and have to put in some long hours. It's not glamorous but it's the only way for me to rebuild my bankroll and pay my bills. I have played six days so far, and am about $300 up. It also has the perks of generating loads of fpps which are very handy on stars as I can use them to buy cash bonuses and buy into tournaments. I plan to put in lots of hours over the next six weeks to rebuild a healthy bankroll.

I have also applied for a job at FullTilt Poker in their media and marketing department. It is obviously a longshot to get the job and I don't have my hopes up but it is a possibility and I figured it was worth a shot. I am also considering applying for jobs at other poker companies if the bankroll rebuild doesn't go according to plan. Thankyou to everyone reading this who gave me a reference for my CV, it was appreciated.

I've been looking forward to the next few days for a while now. Tomorrow I am going to Thorpe Park all day with Jase, Dave and Tash which should be great fun, although it does involve getting up at 5.45am which could be quite a challenge. Then on friday it's Barry's 40th birthday party which should be good fun as most of my friends on the poker scene are going, and I am sure it will be accompanied by equally large measures of alcohol and banter. Then on saturday it is Jeal's birthday poker trip to Dusk for the £100 6max freezeout, which I am secretly planning on winning.

Sorry it's been so long since the last update I will try to update more frequently. Hopefully the next post will contain more positive poker news, as long as the NLO8 cash games treat me nicely. The Gambler's Link has also been updated on the right hand side of this page just below the personal details section. And for those of you haven't heard it yet, go and buy Eminem - Recovery, if you're a fan you'll love it.

Peace, Rich x

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

The Polar Bear Has Escaped!

I have always loved playing live poker, ever since I first learned the game. I loved the social aspect of playing with my friends, and discussing individual hands with them for hours on end, as well as the game as a whole. I have been playing online poker for close to five years now and although I have always enjoyed it, when it came to the famous question in poker as to whether you see yourself as a 'live' or 'online' player, the answer for me has always been 'live'.

But that's about to change.

I've never really taken online poker as seriously as I should have. To be honest I've never really taken poker as seriously as I should have, but particularly online. My first substantial success online was on Full Tilt in January 07. I won around $12k in tournaments and around $8k playing $5/$10 NLHE 6max cash. I withdrew $10k and left $10k in my account. This was my first experience of the cashout curse, and I lost around $3k in tournaments and cash over the next 10 days or so, and then tilted hugely one night after another bad beat and lost the remaining $7k playing $25/$50 PLO 6max. It didn't bother me at the time as I had cashed out some money and had recently won a large amount of money in a live tournament, but looking back I hate myself for being such an idiot. Over the next few years I deposited and cashed out frequently, never really keeping much money online, instead choosing to spend my winnings on my lifestyle instead of re-investing them into my online poker.

Recently I have been winning decent money playing live cash but I have been struggling online and I feel this is due to changing my game in order to maximise my profits playing live. Norwich Poker Club has a very loose-passive game, and has changed my style considerably. When I first started playing at NPC I lost in the game and had to adapt to it, which I managed to do very successfully but at a cost of hindering my online game in my opinion. I have also been enjoying live poker a lot less recently, and now wish to concentrate my efforts on building an online MTT bankroll this summer. I wish to play on PokerStars but my DTheSandwichJ account has always ran bad and has never won it's fair amount of showdowns. It's no coincidence that it is the only online account I have ever had that is losing (only rice at -1% ROI tbf but still losing). I am now going to play on Panda's old account which is pandybear22 and try my luck on there. It's prob just supertstition but if it allows me to play with a greater degree of confidence then it must be a good thing.

I have also joined some advanced poker training sites. According to an independant poker training review site Bluefire poker got the highest overall score, and Pokerpwnage got the highest score in MTT training so I have joined both of those. I think that they will be very helpful in re-establishing my online tournament game and it will be interesting to hear other people's opinions on the game. I will also try and update my blog every monday which I know I have said before but I think it is advantageous to analyse my results and I find writing it is therapeutic.

I have added a Gambler's Link to my blog on the right hand side, which I will update whenever I post. It is a link that will take you somewhere different each time it is updated. It will usually be a link to a blog post or article that I have enjoyed or laughed at.

I had a fantastic holiday in Greece, definitely one of the best holidays I've ever had. I did jet skiing for the first time and absolutely loved it, and did it again later in the week. It's so much fun. Spent plenty of time on the beach during the day then at Milton's bar at night, for which he would not accept any money for drinks. Each time we tried to pay he told us we were insulting him. His generosity was overwhelming and I thank him greatly for it. I also thank Stefan for his hospitality and for doing all the driving.

I will miss many people at the poker club for which I have been a regular member for five years now but I feel that my time and effort would be better spent playing online poker full time and trying to build a healthy bankroll. Despite its flaws Norwich Poker Club will always greet you with a cup of tea and a piss-taking ogre, and I will greatly miss the many friendly faces that play there, and the often hilarious banter that keeps me smiling. I will still pop in occasionally, but The Polar Bear will no longer be a permanent attraction in the zoo that is NPC.

PS - Birthday night out this saturday after the england game. Everyone is welcome. Starting at the Slug and Lettuce at about 10pm, then moving down prince of wales. Text me for location if you're joining late.