Wednesday, 29 December 2010

200k VPP Tomorrow

Tomorrow's my last day. Finally. It's been a very tough grind since I decided in early November to get to work on reaching 200k VPP, I believe I had about 145k at the time. I was starting to lag behind last week so I decided I needed to increase my VPP production since I am fairly burned out and the thought of putting in more volume per day than I have been was just gross. Played some 100NL FR with some mixed results, not terrible but I hated the larger dollar swings.

Then I decided to switch it up and mass table 6max. 20-50bb 6max. What a gong show. The variance is actually kind of low ime, which is weird since people are absolutely terrible and willing to get it in a lot. It is very refreshing to bet/bet/shove your TPTK for value again. I mean you can't really go wrong shoving turns against half-half stackers.

Also fixed a lot of my game the past few days using a fancy poker program I call a calculator. It's free, just search your computer for calc.exe. Started punching in numbers in terms of required success frequencies and came out with some very obvious answers. Of course I've known for a very long time that aggression doesn't have to work often and that's why it wins, but it has always seemed very counter-intuitive to me for some reason. I said enough is enough, just do it. And it works! Still selective aggression obviously. But there's a lot of spots that go under selective.

I have 800 VPP to go and should finish it up tomorrow. Or the next day if I slack off. It's another 3 hours of play basically and I've been doing 4 hours per day. Today was extremely fun. Aggression got me the following results: + mucho Sklansky bucks, lots of 6max 50bb reg beration for doing apparently stupid things and skydive without a parachute off the EV cliff to end the day. I'm so happy about being finished with this race that I'm finding a lot of things funny again.

Still deciding on 2011. No official announcement from Stars on buyin structures. The 2011 VIP thread was apparently for announcing the non-changes to the loyalty program while, to paraphrase Stars' rep in that thread "buyin issues will be dealt with separately." Like Stars is actually going to set off the bomb to start another flame war between short and full stacks to announce they aren't changing anything.

I've noticed my blogroll over on the right hasn't updated in a lot of cases, which is completely understandable as blogs typically come and go as does motivation to write. I won't remove anyone since they're still good reads, but I am looking to add some fresh content so if you'd like to do a blog link exchange send me a message here or on 2p2.

Happy New Year everyone! Good Luck in 2011!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

lol Poll Spinaments

I was just reading an article on CNN headlined "Bad News for Palin" in which a new poll stated that 6/10 Americans would not consider voting for Palin. I'm personally not for or against her as I haven't really paid much attention to her policies. My initial impression in 2008 was that she was a bit of a gimmick, and my 2nd impression is based on the only episode I watched of Palin's Alaska in which she seemed like that loud relative that is often out of line but is someone you can depend on to stick up for you when you're in trouble.

Anyways, I just found the spin on the poll results to be kind of silly. I'm going to round this to make it simple. 6/10 said they would not consider her. 3/10 said they would consider her. 1/10 said they would definitely support her. This is apparently bad news for Palin if you believe the media. I'm no statistics or poll expert but a little bit of rational logic works wonders here.

Assumptions to keep this simple:
The US is 50/50 Republican and Democrat
All Democrats said they would not consider her.
All people that said they would consider her are Republicans.

If 50% of the no consideration results are Democrats, that means the remaining 10% are Republicans that would not consider her. Lets then break down the Republican vote which will double the remaining numbers to total 100% of the (R) vote:

20% will not consider her.
60% will consider her.
20% will definitely support her.

Now maybe the general US population has not been exposed as much to the effect of splitting the vote among multiple candidates as we are here in Canada with 4 major parties and 1 or 2 legitimate fringe parties which lets you form majority governments with less than 50% of the vote, but these poll results are hardly bad news when you consider the number of candidates in the primaries.

Lets say there are 10 candidates that make it to the debates. Her 20% definite support alone is double her fair share. If she were then to receive only her fair share of the 60% considering her, she'd be sitting at 26% of Republican support. This definitely puts her into contention when you split the vote. If she were to receive no extra share of support from the 60% considering her, she would still have more than her share of total support until they were down to 4 people due solely to the 20%. 25% can put you in the top three vs two other 25% support candidates with the remaining 25% split up between a number of long shots.

So already, 2 years before the election, she's already ahead of, if not leading, the pool of Republican candidates. And in the end if she were to win the nomination, it's most likely those 20% of Republicans that said they would not consider her would suck it up to prevent a Democrat from winning, or at least not vote at all, it's not like those 20% are ever going to vote (D).

No one would say, wow Phil Ivey only has 5% of the chips at the final table of the WSOP, yet he's estimated to win 20% of the time, that's terrible news for him. Contrary. That's great news for him. Yes it's true that Phil Ivey and Sarah Palin will both not win the majority of the time. That holds true for all politicians as a whole. The majority will lose most of the time in races when there's one seat and more than 2 people running for it. Simple math.

Kind of reminds me of the financial 'experts' they put on the news saying XYZ stock is probably going to drop today. They base their analysis on the fact that the stock is expected to drop 70% of the time. They then go on to ignore the pertinent fact that if it drops 70% of the time and loses 10% of it's value, but goes up 30% of the time and gains 100% of it's value, it's a better bet to buy it than not due to expected value. Of course the experts are more concerned with appearing right most of the time than actually saying something right most of the time.

I find it odd that these are the people that we let govern mainstream thought and public discourse. Whether through shear ineptitude or outright playmaster spin they somehow always make statistics and polls say whatever they want them to say, even if it's exactly the opposite of reality.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Variance: Disillusioned

My test-pro project is coming to an end. My goal was to be able to consistently win and put in a long term winrate of 4-6 bb/100 over a large sample.Variance has thoroughly scuttled my attempts. While I don't have an extremely large sample because of the demotivation to put in volume I've experienced the past 6 months, it is still a relatively large sample of 288k hands. I'm becoming somewhat disillusioned and synical with poker and it's going to take some crazy sick run good in the next 2 weeks or a 1 outer announcement of rake reduction to even make me want to sit down at my computer next year. I'm in all out grind my milestone and be done mode as of right now.

It kind of sucks that this blog has turned into my personal whine centre but I don't really have much else to do lately.

2010 graph so you can kind of see where my head is at right now. That point where the green goes down and red continues to go up is where Stars changed the structure. Maybe the structure isn't really that bad in terms of game quality. But for some reason they decided to doomswitch me at the exact same time to make me think it was that instead of someone cranking up the variance voltage.

Here's a better look at the carnage since that point.

There's only so many times I can say I'll wake up one day and it will all turn around. Extremely frustrated with everything. Now I'm in this stupid milestone chase that's eating up insane amounts of my day because I took so many breaks the past couple of months, especially a wicked November, and don't feel like playing at all.

Oh and we can't forget the SECT street by street EV graph which is a much better measure than all-in EV. Yes that's 120 buyins.

gg Pokerstars RNG.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Bad session, some thoughts about goals

This post is more for my own reflection more than anything - some whining, some complaining, some thoughts. Skip this one if you don't like hearing about other people's bad luck.

I ran terrible today. Played about 4.5k hands and managed to run 14 buyins below EV. AA

The past 6 months have been an utter nightmare in my EV world. Not just the standard stuff that shows up in the graph but all the tops of ranges that don't show up in the graph as well. I've gone from being a 100nl reg taking successful shots at 200nl earlier this year to struggling to breakeven at 50nl. I still have a lot of confidence in my game but I'm not sure how worth it it is to put myself through this breakeven hell and sweating every AA AIPF. I've become a fairly grumpy person and I don't want my life to reflect whatever my graph is doing.

I've got a long way to go in terms of emotional control. I need to make some major changes in my approach to the game if I'm going to continue with it in 2011. I've put a lot of pressure on myself to get better so I could go (semi)pro and make what are to me the insane amounts of money 200nl+ regs make but instead seem to have taken a few steps backwards this year although I am starting to move forwards again. That pressure is leading to a lot of forcing things while playing and it's become one of my major stumbling blocks on my road back up.

A little brainstorming for my options:

Play less tables. Try to improve. Try to play competitively at small and midstakes. I hope the Peter Principle doesn't apply to me at 100nl already, but it seems you have to be fairly competent there already just to be a small marginal winner. I would be extremely happy if I could get back here with my former winrate. This all takes a lot of work and effort which is tough when you don't have as much time to watch videos and review hands and do sweat sessions and discuss strategy compared to the time my competition spends doing those things.

Continue to mass-table micros. Possibly drop to 25nl where it's basically easy money. This is my life for the past 2 to 3 years and it's the definition of insanity if I'm trying to improve. Same thing year after year with the same results - getting no where. Seriously how many people out there have put in more than a couple million hands and they're still playing 50nl with the intention of moving up?

The problem is I need to align what I'm doing with my goals to get rid of my stress. Alternatively, align my goals with what I'm doing. So it looks like I can set my goals to either put in serious study and less tables to improve and get to the stakes I want to, or just accept playing micros without any intentions of moving up. I haven't decided which is my new goal yet but right now my actions and current goal are conflicting and it pisses me off to no end.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

VPP goal down to the wire

I'm coming down to needing to put in some serious hours to finish up 200k VPPs and get milestone bonus. I currently have about 22k remaining. My situation isn't that much better than before as I thought in my last post now that I consider it. The days that I do work will most likely result in maybe an hour of play at the most due to longer days, whereas before I would have gotten in 3-4 hours after work.

So that means that I need to get down to business during the days I do have off to make up for it. 20 weekdays left to play. Assuming I don't play at all on Saturdays or Sundays, that's 1100/day. At about 225/hour playing 50nl, that's 5 hours/day. Sounds very doable if you don't understand how much time I waste getting sucked into checking my hockey pool for potential sleeper free agents in a league that's winner take all that I have no chance of winning at this point along with all the 'interesting' stuff going on in the zoo and checking 4x per day to see if Stars has announced changes for 2011. I'm going to try my best to put in 2 hours on days that I work to chop off 900 more each week which should leave me an extra hour of room to slack off each day that I don't.

The Stars VIP program is really great but it does have that one caveat that it runs as an annual program and everyone throws good play and improvement out the window in December in favor of mass grinding to purely put in volume. I think that whatever I decide to do next year, I'm going to pace myself to hit it at the end of November instead so that I can ignore the program after that and keep working on things in December and take advantage of all the people like myself.

Here's to FPP pro-ing the next 4 weeks!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Good news for me!

I thought I was supposed to work 13 days this month and use 5 days of my personal holiday time + 5 days of Christmas vacation. Instead, I am supposed to work 9 days this month and use 0 days of personal holiday time + 5 days of Christmas vacation. And still get paid exactly the same thing. Yay me!

200k VPP is going to be lol-easy now.

Current state of upper-micro / low-small games on Stars

Something needs to change in 2011. Either Stars has to unkill the games or I have to get better. Hopefully both. Prepare yourself for a very long read. I suggest an x-large coffee.

Jesus Lester posted a very sobering comment about the current state of the games and I am tending to agree with him a lot on these points. I'll just quote him in entirety (names wrt graphs omitted, bold is my emphasis):

"At $0.5/1 20-50 tables, the games are almost unbeatable right now, I don't know if this is true at other limits but I'm guessing everyone's winrate has taken a hit. Very good shortstackers like xxxxxx or xxxxxx are still doing well by feasting on chumps like me, as are solid fullstackers like xxxx or xxxxxxx who adjust well to the games. However, their winrates have also taken a hit and if they aren't beating the game, nobody is.

It's not that the 20-50 games are a terrible idea, however; it's that the games are loaded with semi-competent regulars who can still be beaten by great players, but the edge for anyone who is actually going to put in time at 100nl is so small. Take a look at the graphs of myself, xxxxx, xxxxx, xxxxxxx, and others starting at about the middle of this year and while all of us are terrible, we're all losing a lot more than we used to, so much so that if the games continue to get tougher many of us are going to be forced into retirement. I don't know how much those guys in Mexico are willing to play for but I'm not gonna go crazy next year for $50 an hour, it's either get better at poker, which I am unlikely to be able to do, or go back into the workforce.

Now, looking at these graphs, or the graphs of any other serious volume player at 100nl, will surely bring a huge smile to many in this thread, but remember you reap what you sow. It's not only shorstackers that are suffering, but the weak, nitty fullstacked regs who the solid players used to crush. These guys are playing 20-50 because, though most of them are losing there, having to play in the deepstacked games against solid regulars is even worse. Guys like xxxxxx, xxxxxx, xxxxxxxx, or xxxxxx have all seen their winrates drop precipitously.

I know MT2R gets absolutely no respect on here, but his concerns about the games being broken up and the shortstackers unintentionally protecting the fish are on point; this is demosntrated by the dwindling winrates of the weak regulars post-changes. Many of these regulars were sick of playing against shortstacks but they, like many of you, cannot see the forest through the trees.

Now, there may be other explanations for dwindling winrates or a bunch of previous winners becoming losers-- for example, capping the buy-in at 50bb is obviously going to hurt the winrates of the fullstacked regs-- but primarily it is about the new environment the games were in, and the failure of the whiners and complainers to recognize that they had it a lot better than they thought they did. The current system is going to lose players one-by-one as the effect of the rake upon a game that has gotten significantly more difficult is huge.

Unfortunately for me there is no going back to the times where a pretty awful poker player can make money in games. I guess the best fullstacked regs are really getting over on this sytem, but even they should be suffering as the number of games they can play dwindles while all the breakeven-to-losing regs try to hold onto their glory as it slips away from them in the 20-50 games.

I know it might be classless to list weak players by name in this post, I want to make clear that almost all of these guys play better than I do and while it is obviously an insult to list them in this manner, I did so only so those of you who don't know what has happened to the games can take a look at PTR graphs and see the horror that has been foisted upon a significant portion of the population by a vociferous population of the best players (along with weak fullstacks who foolishly thought the changes would benefit them) and foolish Stars executives."

So I did some research of my own to figure out if it was true that other people were experiencing the same thing as me. There were a lot of players who's games are far better than mine that are still crushing everything they play and are still able to move up. But there are also a lot of players who's games are better than mine that seem to have severely stagnated like myself. I'm providing a sample of what I've found, my graph is included here as well. Names are obviously not needed. I'm just trying to establish a trend. The red line indicates approximately early June:

To add to what Jesus Lester said while thinking back to pre-changes, I can kind of see where everything went wrong now. Thank you captain hindsight. Fullstacks were complaining about playing against shortstacks. I was one of them. We were begging for a change -- although I don't think any of us wanted or anticipated the 20-50 games but rather hoped for 20-35 and 40-100 games. I do recall a lot of comments about overlap in game structures being a bad idea immediately after it was implemented.

That said, we used to have 20-100 and 50bb min games and I think a very important point that hasn't really been discussed is exactly how the segregation and migration was put in place but here's a snapshot:

20-100 --> Shortstacks + Fullstack Regs + Fish in nearly equal amounts
50bb min --> Fullstack Regs + Fish, my estimate being a 3.5:1 ratio.

20-50 --> Shortstacks + Halfstack Regs + Fish, 4:2:3
40-100 --> Fullstack Regs + Fish, 7:2

The fact that a ton of fish are playing 20-50 is only half the problem. And fwiw it's only in terms of the ratio of fish per table compared to regs. Less regs playing 20-50 obviously results in "more" fish and I think the argument about fish preferring shallow games is kind of silly. Take for example a pool of 5 players, 2 fish and 3 regs. 3 regs play 5 tables each while 2 fish play 2 tables each resulting in 15 reg seats and 4 fish seats. Reduce it to 2 regs and 2 fish. Now it's 10 reg seats and 4 fish seats. No more fish than before but it looks like there's more of them.

But back to segregation and migration... Pre-changes, regs were evenly spread out between games. Post-changes, regs have migrated to 40-100 in swarms. So what's happened is that you now have a choice between reg-infested 100bb poker with a smaller skill edge if any at all, or tolerable shallow games with a smaller inherent edge than what you were used to pre-changes due to stack size. Thus, Stars relatively killed their games by restructuring the ratios of player types per table along with buyin amounts.

I'm not sure how I would go about fixing this at this point. There will always be fish depositing and there will always be geniuses waiting to take their money. But I think the vast majority of a site's profit comes from the average non-genius regs (short and fullstacks) like myself who fill the tens of thousands of seats in between trying to get their small piece while sifting money through the rake machine. If you eliminate their edge and their piece and force them out of the game, you destroy your profits as money moves fast between fish and geniuses. We are the middle men grasping to hold on to nuggets here and there while they get chipped away by better players and the site.

I'm coming to accept that from a business standpoint, shortstacks generate a lot of rake and they will probably never get rid of them. That said, somebody in management really needs to come up with something to make everyone happier than they are now by adding more skill edge back into the game. I don't know if that means scrapping current structures and going back to 20-100 to right the ratios, or reducing rake a point or two, but in my opinion the current system is very clearly not sustainable when I, as a 200k VPP Supernova have to seriously consider site selection because tables are that bad and/or I'm just not that good and competition is only getting tougher, nevermind the guys that run closer to breakeven winrates or put in less volume.

I already used my one time applying for Online Pro so hopefully the player panel will step in and use their's to turn this thing around. I don't know first hand about what the games are like higher or lower, hence the title, but hearsay says the higher games are even worse off. 30 days and counting.