Friday, 30 December 2011

Occupy PokerStars Mass Sit Out

Due to recent actions taken by PokerStars:
  • First changing to Weighted Contributed costing regs piles of money and moving the vast majority of it not into bonuses for deserving recreational players but rather right out of the poker economy and into Stars bottom line.
  • Second, at first offering to make some rake structure changes that would have recalibrated the new system to give some of that windfall back to players (True Rake + Rake reductions to 4.5%).
  • Third, abruptly reneging on all of the rake changes except for switching to WC merely one day after the original announcement.

The ensuing uproar after the initial announcement was against the site wide reduction in number of FPPs, FPP value reduction and the increase in rake cap on 5 handed pots from $2 to $3. This was somehow taken as a backlash against the rake changes as a whole. Thus, they have decided to keep the change to WC, but have now removed all of the rake structure changes leaving everyone even worse off than they would have been under the original announcement.

In response, players have galvanized and are planning a 2 hour mass sit out protest for January 1st whereby they will load 24 tables and sit out on all of them politely informing inquiring players about what is happening.

French players on the site are reportedly also staging a sit out for the changes that are going to occur on that site.

The current set of demands deemed to be an acceptable way to soften the FPP reduction blow by a high consensus of regs are as follows:

(Originally posted by TheMetetrown)
1. Rake caps of $.50/$1/$1.5/$2/$3 for 2/3/4/5/6+ handed play
2. 4.5% linear rake up to the cap
3. The same proposed reductions [as the original proposal] for Rake at the micro limits. [4% and 4.25%]


3a. Winner take all rake calculation method
4a. 6x VPP across the board


3b. WC rake calculation method
4b. 6.5x VPP across the board
Note that Stars would still end up with more $/hand using the above consolations on January 1st than they will be getting on the old Dealt method on December 31st. These consolations would quite frankly help some games survive that are going to be killed off under a new WC system due to a complete lack of winners in some games with small edges after rake is effectively increased as well as be enough to satisfy regs in other games just enough to continue to play at the site.

Occupy PokerStars Mass Sit Out Details

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Rake Change Update

After planning changes to the rake structur for a year and still being undecided as of Dec 17th, you'll know that Steve announced the changes as per my last post.

There was one simple overreach in the original announcement. An increase in max rake for 5 handed play. This is where the vast majority of outrage was directed, if you consider people feel like switching to WC is already done.

Today, Steve returned with a new announcement. They are now canceling all of the changes to rake structure due to "player request" even though they think the original deal was still in our best interests.

So instead of fixing one outrageous item in the list the scrap everything including the True rake method and lower rake percentages that would have mitigated the loss of vpp damage done by going to WC in the first place. Note that True actually hurts fixed limit and they're better off with incremental rake which can and should be maintained to keep those games viable.

There is now a full fledged growing mass of players planning a mass sit out to blockade tables (as well as French players apparently doing the same to protest the changes in their games).

Head on over to the zoo to voice your opinion in the sit out or official changes threads.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

PokerStars 2012 Rake Changes: First Impression

Well after the gongshow that was the "big" unveiling of the new ad campaign this morning, PS Steve did come along and announce the VIP (read: rake) changes for 2012. You can read full details about the changes on or in the official thread.

I haven't seen many people attempt to tackle this whole thing yet from a math perspective and I certainly don't blame anyone. It's a big mess. So please point out any flaws in my logic or math.

The basics:
  • Switching to Weighted Contributed rake.
  • Switching from Incremental to True rake.
  • Adjusting some rake caps.

There is an uproar and a growing movement among the high volume and higher stakes players to organize a sit out. It is still unclear as to exactly how much this change is going to affect micro players although they are generally still upset about any loss. A couple of points of interest here:
  • There is a change from $2 to $3 rake cap on tables with 5 players. 6max players are stating that about 25% of their hands are with 5 players. This is obviously going to cost them a lot more and will penalize players that are trying to keep tables going as well as table starters before tables become full.
  • The general consensus is that the WC switch is going to cost most regs between 10-25% of benefits depending on their style and game choice. This is gonig to affect higher volume players more than low volume regs in that 20% of 65% rakeback is obviously much more than 20% of 40% rakeback.

Judging by the adjusted rake caps it appears that microstakes may not be severely affected. The True rake is essentially a set percentage on every penny that's in the pot compared to the former Incremental where a certain dollar value was taken out for every increment in pot size -- $0.05 for every $1.00 for example. This results in a rake increase on smaller pots but overall it seems true that rake will effectively be decreased for most regs who don't play a lot of 2-2.5 bb pots and open for at least 3bb.

5NL - old rake in red, new rake in blue

So if we use the numbers from FTP experience (note to PT3 users there is apparently a custom stat you can use to find your WC equivalent), and we take a 20% cut in rakeback while overall receiving a 10% reduction in rake in the micros on average, a Supernova is generally going to end up with the following if my numbers are correct:

Before: 40/100 for 40% rakeback (insert your number instead of 40)
After (40*0.8)/(100*0.9) for 32/90 or 36% rakeback compared to 2011

I'm hoping that the 20% number is on the high side. Games weren't nearly as nitty on FTP as they are on Stars so hopefully the $-contributed/hand average -- the single factor for determining rakeback (vpip is a spurious correlation) -- for the player pool as a whole gets dragged down a ton by the shear number of tighter players and it endsup having less of an impact on losses.

Keep in mind that everything I've written and calculated here should be taken with a grain of salt. WC by it's
nature is a very convoluted process that depends on a number of varriables and is impossible to calculate in the straightforward way Dealt is for every player if you don't have all the data. So regs have a solid argument that in general they are all going to lose money, but the fact that very few of them have concrete numbers to put on display that can be applied to other players that the debate about what to do and how much compensation should be required breaks down since everyone is forced into talking about generalities.

As for game softness it is true that no sites that have made the switch have gotten softer so there's really not much reason to believe it will help. Most people arguing it will are plainly just nit-haters. The one argument I can see is that we haven't seen a site make the switch while having a really high rakeback % under dealt which would allow a small subsection of players to survive on Stars but nowhere else regardless of method. We might end up seeing a small forced exodus based on those players now thinking it's not worth it or becoming outright unprofitable.

I'm sure this will be big news through January so I'm definitely going to try to keep on top of the numbers.
Happy New Year everyone and good luck in 2012.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Potential Stars Rake Changes Update

Note: This is the draft post I eluded to and wrote a few days ago when the news came out. As of the time of this post, Stars has yet to comment to players. I am reserving my thoughts on the VIP program as a whole until they do comment as any additional changes could potentially radically alter the ramifications. I was going to withhold my thoughts on this until there was an official announcement but this is basically all anyone is talking about right now anyways.

I have not paid any attention to what is going on with SNGs and MTTs. These comments are strictly regarding cash games. And of course there is always the outside chance that they are changing payment calculations for affiliates but not for players. This scenario seems rather unlikely.

December 19th:

The proverbial cat is out of the bag. From the PokerStars Partners T&C:

1.1 Ring Game Gross Revenue

shall mean the sum total of a Qualified Poker Player's contributions to Rakes in a Ring Game Hand while playing on software downloadable from the Site(s). Any Qualified Poker Player's contribution to a Rake shall be determined by dividing the total amount that a Qualified Poker Player has contributed to the Pot in any Ring Game Hand by the size of the Pot in that Ring Game Hand and multiplying it by the total Rake taken from that Pot in that Ring Game Hand regardless of the number of players dealt in such Ring Game Hand.
The same was confirmed in an affiliate email sent out today.

They are going to need to make some serious consolations to make up for the reduction in bonus money being paid out because as it stands, a change to Weighted Contributed in isolation is going to have the appearance of a rather large cash grab evidenced by math you can pretty much do without a calculator:

Recreational players contribute more to the pot more often and therefore they will receive a higher vpp/hand rate. Regs contribute less and therefore will receive a lower vpp/hand rate.

Quite simply, VPPs would be redistributed and devalued through a two-prong approach:
  • More VPPs will be going to players with a lower FPP multiplier resulting in less FPPs in the system.
  • More FPPs will be traded in at a lower dollar value.
  • A Bronzestar VPP is worth 1 VPP x 1 FPP x $0.010/FPP = $0.010
  • A Supernova VPP is worth 1 VPP x 3.5 FPP x $0.016/FPP = $0.056

The more VPPs you siphon towards the lower end of the VIP program, the more you pocket. So that leaves us hoping for some sort of consolation in terms of increased milestones or multipliers or completely revamping the entire system.

The standard argument for Weighted Contributed rakeback is that everyone gets their fair share. That was certainly FTP's line. I agree, however I think that the liquidity and health of the poker economy vastly outweighs the fair share argument. Making a statement along the lines of giving players what they deserve -- and being forced to oblige by removing money from the poker economy by pocketing the difference -- just isn't going to fly. Thus, Weighted Contributed is the most fair and could possibly be used if everyone were getting the same deal. If they're not, it's by far the worst option since it gives everyone their share but also hurts everyone at the same time.

Regs want a good deal to act as props. Recreationals want to play the game they want to play when they want to play it. In my opinion, this is how the Dealt method made Stars the run-away monopoly that it is. Unfair Weighted Contributed turns this entire notion on it's head. Regs are here for the money and WC takes that away from them. Recreationals are here for the recreation and if games aren't running because regs decided it wasn't worth it, you take the recreation away from recreationals.

It's a lose/lose/lose because if games aren't running, the site isn't raking tables. Is it really worth risking the flat out massive rake that regs generate in order to take back some of their rewards? In general, the rake paid dwarfs the rewards clawed back.

Take a full ring 100k Supernova for example:
  • 100k VPP =  $16,666 paid in dealt rake.
  • He receives $6400 in rakeback.
  • If you manage to take back 25% of that through WC redistributed FPPs, you profit an extra $1600 minus the slight increase you have to give to lower level players.
  • That means you're laying yourself 10.5:1 odds hoping that he doesn't pick up his chips and leave.

If these numbers were accurate, it would mean that if more than 10% of the 100k Supernova regs leave due to this change -- which in my estimation is completely plausible given that there's an army of slightly above breakeven regs who might deem Stars not worth it anymore -- you've just shot yourself in the foot. And to top it off, your new program certainly isn't going to attract any new rake generators.

Like I said, I'll hold off on my thoughts for the program as a whole until we hear the rest of the story, but I wanted to post an in depth analysis of why I think an unfair version of Weighted Contributed is a terrible idea for everyone involved. Increases to multipliers or milestones or FPP value would be needed to make up for the loss in VPPs so we'll be waiting to see if that happens.

December 21st Update:  I've run a bunch of calculations based on the speculation going on in the 3 threads that have been overwhelmed by this in the Zoo and Bonus forums (SNE Pursuit thread and Poll thread in the Zoo, and 2012 Changes thread in the Bonus forum) and I suggest you check those threads out for more discussion.

As a preliminary conclusion to those calculations based on past experience with sites switching to WC, it seems about right that if Stars were in fact to increase the rake --> Table VPP multipliers to 6 and 6.5 to make up for the losses that regs would be receiving, the whole thing would be a push and probably decently fair enough, slightly hurting nits while rewarding fish more and giving everyone else an amount relatively close to what they have now. Of course we'll have to wait and see what the actual decisions are and how they affect game quality to really get a handle on where this is going.

I've been glued to the Zoo and will likely post again very shortly after an official announcement has been made. Stay tuned.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Stars Rake Method Speculation

I had written up a post regarding what I feel is a near certainty regarding changes to the rakeback structure on Stars based on all of the circumstantial evidence piled up so far. But I do think that at this point it might still be considered speculation on a technicality in that the reported switch to weighted contributed is so far only confirmed to be affecting affiliates starting January 1.

I will re-post my thoughts on weighted contributed along with any other changes Stars does or does not make after they officially comment on what the changes for players will be.

Sunday, 18 December 2011


I mentioned this in an earlier post but thought I'd explain in a little more detail. I've been using the "moneyball" Oakland A's approach to building my Fantasy Hockey team. I'm in a 10 team roto league where the owners agreed that they wanted to make this year more interesting by adding some role-player stats like blocks and hits as well as switch all of the percetage and average stats to their cumulative counterparts in order to better reward consistency -- average time on ice to cumulative time on ice, goals against average to cumulative goals against. Note that before this year and the return of the Jets, I had not even followed the game until playoffs most years and probably couldn't even name 3 players on each team.

Stats: Goals, Assists, +/-, PIM, TOI, Shots, Hits, Blocks, Powerplay Points, Wins, Goals Against, Saves

I immediately made several observations on the league rules:
  • Role player stats translate directly to defenceman stats. Stats like hits, blocked shots and cumulative TOI make defenceman vastly superior to forwards, especially offensive minded defenceman that can do it all, shooting, playing a ton on the powerplay etc.
  • Goalies are the least valuable and highest variance position given that they only account for 3 stats, the pace at which coaches change their mind about who the "starter" is and how much an injury can decimate your chances for doing well on a shallow roster of goalies. There is also a very obvious way to angle the goalie categories. We have a minimum 60 games out of 164 max started for goalie stats to qualify for points. If you're willing to concede the Wins category and ignore the volatile Saves category, you can easily take first in the goals against category by simply playing the minimum 60 games and then benching all your goalies.
  • The more stats being used the better for this system. Your competitors are still thinking about player value in terms of name recognition and standard offensive stats like points. A lot of equal value stats separates the true team playing stat-monster superstars (Chara, Getzlaf) from the one trick ponies (Sedin brothers).

I recently traded away Henrik Sedin for what was deemed a mediocre player. The league was ready to snap veto the trade thinking I was getting ripped off until I stepped in and said I actually initiated it at which point I was told I was an idiot. Quite simply he gets a ton of assists and above average +/- and people are in awe of a recognizable name on a 100 point pace, but that's all he does. In contrast the player I traded for still gets 2/3 the points but also had 2 to 3 times the number of shots, hits, blocks and TOI so I clearly came out the winner on the trade. My only mistake was I didn't go for an even better "mediocre" player. Players like Sedin are simply outliers in one stat but get recognition if it happens to be points while outliers like Brouwer (hits) and Downie (+/-) are deemed rather worthless. Believe it or not, Sedin was consistently the 4th worst player on my team.

Before the draft I simply created a spreadsheet that gave equal value to all stats and dumped the projected stats from espn into it giving each player a summed value based on each stat relative to the player pool. And then it got labor intensive as I had to readjust my draft order with players moving up to +/- 75 in the top 400.

My Team with Team Value Ratings

After the draft I converted my sheet into player ranking charts for each team giving me a good idea of how valuable the owner thinks they are versus reality. I can quickly see who I need to bench or who I need to play to make up for certain stats. It doesn't help to lead goals and assists by a 3 to 1 margin at the expense of everything else, but that is everyone else's strategy. I can easily dump potential acquisitions into my team to see if they'd be good contributors to the overall makeup of my team allowing me to see the sleepers coming a mile away.

League with Current Team Makeup Power Rankings

Needless to say I was obviously the most clueless dead money owner at the draft. I started Day 1 in first place with an 8 point margin and have remained there ever since. If you want to have some fun with a fantasy sports league I highly recommend joining a stat heavy roto league which provides a mistake rich environment. Take note of how the league rules dictate optimal strategy and how that compares to your opponents' obvious pyschological state as trained, ingrained fans rather than statisticians.

Current Standings - Crushing most stats
Note that I've played more games than anyone, but I'm only 1% ahead of pace.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

PC Wars

Acer Aspire M3470 - $579 (saved $70!)
  • AMD A8-3800 2.4 GHz quad-core processor and 8GB DDR3 SDRAM
  • 1.5TB storage capacity 
  • AMD Radeon HD6550D
After my KSOD episode, I went out and got myself an Acer Aspire. The first thing I do after the obligatory first setup and Firefox download is unhook everything and try to drop my old video card in to give myself dual monitor support again. Pop that thing in, hook up my monitors via DVI and power up.


Remove video card. Re-connect to onboard card. Receive BSOD on third ever startup. Forced into recovery mode which does some more damage in the dll file department ultimately preventing me from installing postgres no matter what I try nevermind doing it the easy way with the HEM installer. Great. Rinse and repeat recovery process 3 times, getting various FUBAR error messages along the way intermittently researching why on earth I should ever need to uninstall an onboard card on a brand new PC in the 2011 plug and play era to even have my other card recognized. Check the return policy on my iPod while simultaneously resetting the entire POS back to factory presets. Re-pack the box to the best of my abilities. No idea where these cardboard spacers go.

HP Pavillion - $699 (cause you get what you pay for)

  • AMD A8-3850 2.9 GHz Quad-Core Accelerated Processor and 8GB DDR3 SDRAM
  • 2TB storage capacity 
  • AMD Radeon HD 6450 
  • Integrated Wi-Fi
First thing I notice on unpacking is that it has one DVI port. The box said dual monitor support. FML. But what's this? At the bottom of the case there are 2 more DVI ports oddly enough with covers on them that say "Do not remove." Serious? Yes according to multiple sources, completely serious.

Thankfully I notice an HDMI port alongside the uncovered DVI. Check the back of my newer monitor. We're in business. Now there's only 15 thousand different types of video outputs available to the techno-illiterate public and I have nearly as many cables so there's a good chance that I actually have one of these.

Wife: "Didn't you get one of those with the monitor?"

Me:  ... ... ... jackpot.

Now I've had HP desktops for the past 12 years and they've never failed me until the electric company decides it's time to help out the electronics industry again and my surge protector goes on vacation. I obviously decide to kamikaze my way into first installation and plug in every last peripheral that I own before initial startup.

Power on. Standard Next, Next, Next, No, Yes, Next, Large Appealing GO button considering what I've been through the past couple days indicating success!
[x] Dual monitors
[x] Beloved MX Revolution mouse
[x] Network / Internet 
[x] Printer (with network support)
[x] Photoshop tablet
[x] Game controller

Everything instantly works and I hit the ground running with easy first installs of Stars, HEM/postgres and TN! Which reminds me, I'm going to actually be able to run TST with a HUD now!

As I type this up I am importing 22 of 68 parts of large file # 3/45. I could be here a while.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

General Life Clutter

Isn't mid December a wonderful time for all of the clutter you've piled up to come crashing down all at the same time?

I have 3 blogposts in draft mode right now and highly doubt I will end up publishing them. They seem like interesting concepts to write about based off changes happening in the poker industry and recent posts from other blogs I read, but once I actually get down to writing them I've been hitting a wall because I either can't convince myself of the factuality of the general statements I want to believe or the concept is too big for me to encompasse everything that needs to be taken into context and make it a cohesive read.

I still need to start Christmas shopping for my nieces and my immediate family. My extended family has said for the last 3 years that we should just stop buying each other gifts and just buy some toys for the kids instead and be done. It's kind of silly when me and my brother swap $50 in Staples giftcards for $50 in Walmart giftcards effectively tying up cash that doesn't need to be spent at those stores in the first place and no one can think of anything they actually want or need. Has it always been this way with adults or is it just a function of the newer card swipe society buying everything they want when they want it? I seem to remember being able to buy awesome gifts for people until I was ~16... But we always end up reverting back to the status quo to make sure that one side doesn't end up changing their mind and getting nothing in return. This year I think we're actually going to stick to it since we decided on a good alternative. We're going to lump our Christmas gift money together and buy some cows/goats/chickens for people in Africa or South America.

My 5 year old PC went into a coma on Thursday due to successive power failures resulting in black screen of death (KSOD) where you get a black screen and your mouse cursor and that's it. Stupid me disabled sticky keys which apparently lets you hack back in to fix this problem. PSA to everyone that puts too much faith in technology: have multiple physical backups of anything important like family photos. We have taken about 2000 pictures per year since our kids have been born compared to the 200 max our parents took, yet we haven't developed anything due to photo overload whearas they had 50/200 decent pictures to add to an album. Luckily I was able to retrieve them through the file backup wizard in my recovery program and I'm going to start looking at cloud options and actually taking the best of them down to the printers.

I bought a new PC on Friday, which I was planning to do soon anyways even though I'm 95% confident my old one will work once I factory restore it, is having issues installing all sorts of stuff. Windows 7 64 bit is driving me a little bit crazy with 2 factory restores already and all sorts of installation errors. My biggest issue is getting both HEM and postgres installed properly at the same time. 4 failed attempts so far. Thankfully I have all 45 massive HH files from Stars to start the days long re-import process. Everything else is kind of meh for how I expected this to be a massive upgrade over Vista.

Random: I fell asleep watching TV last night. The next thing I know my 3 year old daughter is talking to me at 2am "... [with her hand over her head] and there was a spider this tall!" In a daze, I look at the TV. omg Starship Troopers... desperately mash buttons on the remote wondering how long has she been here and how much did she see. She didn't seem scared so hopefully not much. I've been feeling terrible about it all day.

Poker: There will be the inevitable end of year where am I going to play based on new information post. It could be huge in a good/bad way depending who you are and depending on whether the current almost factual rumors based on the source turn out to be true and implemented. Will post a couple days after the announcement which is supposed to be ~Dec 17th iirc once I've run calcs and listened to all of the sky is falling vs this is an awesome change static forum. Anything until then is just wild speculation.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Strategy Distribution

I was recently reading a post in SSFR by vini about "strategy strategy" and it really got me thinking. His general thesis as I understand it is that you should look out for the well being of your own bottom line since this game is all about winning money -- and in the process the collective bottom line of current winning regs -- and because of this ultimate goal, we should all stop posting strategy.

For the past few years I've posted a significant amount of HH thread strat and have generally thought of it as an overall positive activity for all those involved:
  • I like helping people and have a tough time staying away from an unanswered question (emotional, personality).
  • I have literally no one to discuss the intricacies of my passion with in real life and find online strat discussion to be an outlet for that (emotional).
  • I subscribed to the notion of "owing" something back to the community (sense of gratitude).
  • I like to receive confirmation that my own thought process is correct (+$).
  • I saw it as a win/win in that players playing lower would improve and win more for themselves, while at the same time moving money up the ladder and being able to become regs that I could take money from in my games. (+$).
So there's definitely real monetary positives to posting strategy and I can acknowledge that the non-montary positives aren't really necessary if we're thinking rationally and logically about our ultimate goal. But the question is: Is there a better way to accomplish the +$ parts of strat discussion?

Out of 6k+ posts, I've posted at most 10 of my own hands as I'm pretty paranoid that the questions I want to ask give way too much insight into my thought process. I've also found that a lot of the creative lines I like to take get flamed because it's difficult to explain exactly what's going on with the dynamic in a thread vacuum and would give very specific reads to some regs reading it. I'm pretty careful about posting 95% of my strat in threads for stakes lower than where I'm playing to accomplish the win/win but I'm starting to think that maybe those players are going to end up in the same place anyways and I'm unecessarily posting.

And then there's the whole issue with posting in a public forum. Regs do the vast majority of the work coming up with new strategy based off of the work that other regs have done in the past. I think this is where the "giving back" feeling comes in. But the fact is it's still out there for the whole lurking world to take for free and use against you. I sometimes find myself posting some detailed explanation of a certain concept, clicking submit, and then thinking to myself, "Why are you just giving away this concept that took you 2 months to figure out?" I am easily the the user with the highest edited post ratio on the forum. I honestly believe that the generally well written and detailed concept of the week series has had a massive impact on the ridiculous change in game dynamic in micro stakes games.

I'm still on the fence with this. It's really hard to break a habit. On the one hand I still just plain enjoy being able to discuss strategy with a large group of people and a wide range of ideas. On the other hand maybe it's better to just post on subscription based sites that have private forums where the players are generally already going to be good anyways and the nominal costs keep some of the lurking world out.

I imagine I'll just go with the flow. It's kind of a reverse bandwagon effect where no one jumps off because no one else has yet. We'll have to see if enough people are influenced by posts like vini's to make not posting standard. I imagine that's what will eventually happen. Every other trend else has trickled down from mid to small to micro stakes. Remember all of those great thinkers posting tons of strat in the middle of the last decade? I was quick to attribute their mass disappearance to the forum split, but now I think they just came to all of these conclusions a long time ago.

My last few blog posts have probably seemed trending towards this somewhat pessimistic discussion. To put it in context from my perspective: I'm still relatively optimistic about my place in this game for the next while after emerging from running worse than I ever thought possible over 14 months with my thought process virtually intact. But the thought of games getting tougher, and contributing to that, when your long term confidence hasn't fully recovered for the mediocre to above average reg who has less and less time to keep up with the perpetually increasing learning curve is a real cause for concern.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Tougher Games: Why?

I was starting to respond to a comment from my last post and it kind of turned into a blog post of it's own. I thought I might as well create a new post instead of having this buried in an obscure comment section.

Sammy Blackstar said...
"After coming back to online poker after 1 year from Oct.2010 I'd have to totally agree with this. The traffic on the cash games is pretty much 24 tables at each limit with regs making up the average.

I thought oh well I'll grind SNGs, the traffic is down on those. I think the #1 problem isn't the FPP Pros, it is that there are FAR TOO MANY Poker sites and so it isolates the players to many different places so getting a good game going is hard.

I blame Deuces Cracked and The Poker Blueprint for making this all happen. They show exactly how to mass table 10-50nl and make more then a minimum wage job."

I don't know if I can really blame it on there being too many poker sites. I took a look at pokerscout and added up the peak time cash players that are not ring-fenced -- I discarded all of the .it and .fr and svenska spel etc -- and there seem to be about 40k international peak time cash game players compared to Stars' 46k international peak cash players.

If we took all of those players and stuck them on Stars, sure we'd double the player pool and increase the number of tables somewhat, but I don't know how big of a dent it would make  in the shark:fish ratio due to the 24 table limit.

Lets say the current pool is 75% fish and 25% regs on Stars with real fish averaging 1 table and regs averaging 15. That's a 5:1 reg:fish ratio (pretty accurate ime for a mid cross section of the lobby at 25NL-50NL where there's more fish lower and less higher).

Now lets double the pool with the incoming players being a 80/20 split from euro sites. Essentially 155 fish for every 45 regs total for new percentages of 78% fish and 22% regs. With a 1 vs 15 table split it improves to 4.2:1.

That's obviously better, but it's not really going to happen and the same can be accomplished by simply reducing the average tables played by regs to 12 or less (note I'm not saying the average is 15, just for calculation's sake but as a general rule this shows that reducing tables slightly will vastly improve ratios compared to making huge increases in the player pool not having much relative effect).

Compare that to the 80/20 or better split on Euro sites where the software is so terrible that regs can't play more than 6 tables and are not enticed to play there even though it has 60% rakeback. You end up with a super fishy ratio of 1.5:1 through nothing more than a bad software feature.

I do however agree with you that training sites and good poker books literally giving away information for fractions of a penny on the dollar returned is largely at fault as well for turning the pool from a 90/10 split into a 75/25 split.

I distinctly remember people laughing at high priced ebook prices saying "A book is not worth $1000." Sure, a book is only worth $10 in paper and preparation, but the knowledge contained in it is worth thousands if it's groundbreaking stuff that other people don't have access to. I greatly attribute my success and progress in 2009 to the thought process structures in Baluga's Easy Game and I can track the flattening of my graph according to how fast the curve caught up to me as that info trickled out into the public domain.

Training sites and poker book authors vastly undervalue their product. This is a niche market and new information in niche markets is worth a lot of money. College textbooks and classes get you from $25k/year to $75k/year for a one time $1k-$5k purchase on books and $10k-$100k on classes depending where you live -- an amazing return. (Yes you could argue that the information is worthless and the piece of paper you get at the end is where the money is which is true a lot of the time -- but think engineering, graphic design, accounting...).

Poker information does exactly the same thing but people just see it as a book for a game. Full Stop. So it's only worth $29.99 -- giving the smart people that can actually implement it an incredible deal and return on investment in the process -- and authors and sites have decided to go with the mass production approach.

Kind of like how the poker sites are in a "RAKE ALL THE POTS!" mode right now trying to scoop as much as they can while they can by redistributing rake -- think switching to "fun and fair" weighted contributed which was actually less fun and far from fair -- and desperately trying to increase volume.

I can't say I really blame them since it's starting to look like a boom and artificially induced bust fad. Don't get me wrong, poker is not going to ever die out. Slots have always been -EV but they've always survived.

It's going to be interesting to see how the online game evolves. I expect with the status quo there will be a slow, mass culling of regs who get sick of being FPP pros or start only breaking even after rakeback, at which point the game will become more profitable again, leading to another slow decline as some regs trickle in and out of the game.

I only see two ways to avoid this eventual inevitability: reduce tables or have regulation that lets the public know they are free to be perpetual massive whales and a permanent source of disposable income. It's kind of ironic that if this happens, US players are actually going to end up way better off than the rest of us if they don't let us in, assuming their government doesn't rake them to death.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Poker Decision 2012

So it's that time of year again. Doing the research, figuring out where to play, what to play, if to play for the next year.

I've basically been playing exclusively (99%) on Stars for the past 4 years.
A few of the 'positives':
  • Traffic - no one comes anywhere close.
  • VIP program - Pretty much the best VIP program out there when you consider the % you get if you are able to maintain Supernova+ combined with one of the lowest rakes* in the industry (this might be the result of a problem rather than a positive feature). Generally speaking if you can put in 60+ hours a month mass tabling, you're going to get 40%+ effective rakeback. And there's a few other ways to maximize your FPPs further through satellites as well if you're into that sort of thing.
  • Software - So far it's the only software I've been able to look at that doesn't make me want to smash my monitor. Constant player-specific positive improvements as well, although again this might might be leading to a problem. I didn't mind FTP since it was pretty easy to multi-table but it still seemed kind of clunky. Every other sites' software that I've tried is complete shit.
  • Full disclosure: I am part of the problem, sort of.
  • A ton of the cash game traffic is due to mass tabling grinders.
  • imo part of the reason the rake is so low is because there's so many nitty mass tabling grinders not seeing flops.
  • Kudos to Stars for being extremely effective and efficient at upgrading their software according to the wishes and requests of the mass tabling community. They've used a ton of my and others ideas in the official software thread recently and it's easier than ever to play tons of tables.
  • All of the above inevitably leads to the site being a magnet for mass tabling grinders like myself.'
  • The vast majority of these players are either Russian/Chinese 40bb 11/9's with 20% 3bet making a good living for where they live off of FPPs, or 12/10 fullstacked regs who you aren't really going to win a ton of money off of, relatively speaking. There's a few of the laggier 19/15 regs out there like myself that I really enjoy playing with from a learning perspective but there's really not that many.

Simple fish:shark ratio experiment:
  • 100 player pool 12 tables, 90% fish, 10% sharks
  • 90 fish seats, 120 shark seats = 1 : 1.33
  • 100 player pool 24 tables, 90% fish, 10% sharks
  • 90 fish seats, 240 shark seats = 1 : 2.66
  • 100 player pool 24 tables after successful marketing campaign where you bring in 33% more fish
  • 120 fish seats, 240 shark seats = 1 : 2.00

People always said FTP was softer and I'm a firm believer that it wasn't because they were actively doing anything to attract fish. It was simply that they had a 12 table limit with 16 table limit available by request. As you can see, the number of tables you allow regs to play has a way bigger affect on the fishiness of the games than how many fish you actually have. And doubly so, the higher percentage of regs to fish you have in the pool in the first place -- this becomes grossly magnified at a 75/25 split. That's why everyone says the Euro sites are super soft despite the lot of them combined not having 25% of the advertising dollars that Stars has.

Essentially, Stars' games are getting tough. Really tough. And from the looks of the small and midstakes lobby, full ring is dying too. Yeah yeah, people have been saying that for years. But it's become increasingly and obviously so when you have midstakes players dropping to smallstakes and smallstakes dropping to microstakes and it makes me a little bit sick having to deal with and think about proper 3bet polarized vs wide value ranges and appropriate 4bet range responses at 25NL and 50NL. We need a poker boom infusion. Soon.

My best alternative is Party Poker, but based on my current rake/month assuming I could come anywhere close with their software and traffic, I'd only be making 20% rakeback there. So as of now I remain a slave to the Stars VIP machine. I really really want to become one of those 6 tabling phenoms that doesn't care about rakeback and learns quick and moves up and logically it makes a ton of sense but there's just something in me that can not stand sitting there waiting for people taking 3 seconds to decide call or fold preflop and I inevitably go back to mass tabling.

So it's a choice between whether poker should be a passion or a means to an end...

[to be continued]

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Poker Epiphanies

Aha moments.
Eureaka moments.

If you came here based on the post title hoping to find a quick fix to spice up your game, you're going to be sorely disapointed. That's ok. I am too.

Until fairly recently, I scoured the internet, picked coaches' brains, dove into wells and scrutinzed videos waiting for that elusive ephiphany to smack me upside the head and turn me into a good player. Unfortunately it didn't happen, and I think I know why: Magic bullets do not exist.

We all want the quick fix. Do X = profit more. A cookie cutter response that we can implement now with immediate results. It's no wonder late night infomercials continue to thrive when even above average thinkers are looking for get rich quick formulas.

Poker, like most things in life, doesn't work that way. It's a puzzle you have to put together. You have to see the big picture. And some pieces don't fit - yet.

How many times have you opened a well thread and skimmed to the part where the OP states what concept turned them into a poker monster only to be left thinking "How is that an epiphany?" leaving the thread once again disappointed.

Their statement is still true - for them. For you it's not because what you're trying to glean from it is akin to pulling a single puzzle piece from the box, turning it over and over and wondering how is this supposed to be a horse standing in a pasture?

You're not looking at the big picture. When you start a puzzle, it's tough to figure where pieces go. You pick one up, try a few places, and usually put it back down planning to pick up later. But then as you progress it gets easier and easier to figure out where the next one goes and your success rate increases. And all of a sudden you fit the one key piece - eureka! - that watershed moment when you know where everything else goes and rapid fire them into place.

Your poker game growth is exactly the same. You need a base to build on and the more you understand, the easier it is to understand new concepts and how to implement them. Trying to track down poker epiphanies is a lost cause because you won't have the same moment as anyone else - you're putting the puzzle together differently than they did and your key piece will be different as well. You work on the 3bet part in the bottom left corner a bit, you work on postflop lines against TAGs over here a little bit, you work on hand reading in the top right corner, back to 3betting, join the postflop plan with the preflop plan, join the hand reading with the postflop lines and the range manipulation and all of a sudden you fit those few key concepts into your big picture. You step back wondering how you didn't see all of this before. It all makes sense now.

The path to poker enlightenment is not through finding the right piece to make everything clear. It is about working on your understanding piece by piece so that those eureka moments have the opportunity to occur.

Stop trying to have an aha! moment and have an aha moment!

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Thoughts on becoming a dinosaur

As far as the average age of online poker players goes, I'm getting pretty old nearing 30. I'm sure there must be a bunch of guys my age that still play poker online but they generally don't seem to participate in the community as much and probably just go back to lurking. It kind of seems like once you've been around for a while, you lose a bit of interest in active participation and have some forum burnout so I'm holding out hope that it's not just the decrease in age related brain function that leads to the community being swamped by people born shortly before Justin Bieber and after I learned my multiplication table.

Several things got me thinking about this this week:
  • I have a Facebook account. I don't Facebook. Ever. People will call me and say "Where are you staying I left you a message." To which I respond, "No you didn't, I just checked my answering machine." To which they respond "facepalm.jpg." I find the entire concept frivolous. I'm a minority
  • I have a Twitter account. I've never tweeted anything. It's a bit of a paradox in that it doesn't have all the frivolty of FB, yet people's tweets are even more trivial than status updates. One day I will start using this once I figure out what I want to randomly say to the world.
  • I finally became curious about all those cartoon faces plastered around the forum and discovered Rage Comics. I've been reading them non-stop for 2 days. Funny stuff, but apparently there's this thing called reddit and I am the only person alive that has no idea what that's about yet.

So here are some things you have to look forward to as you pass a quarter century on the planet:
  • The music you listen to starts to stay the same. And your playlist slowly trickles into the classics sub-category.
  • If you're a video game addict and find anything at all to do instead for even 6 months, there's a very good chance you'll never go back.
  • You start to realize that your parents were a lot more right than you thought they were when you were younger. Don't worry, you still think they're wrong now.
  • You can keep up with the lingo since you're surrounded by people 33% younger than you but it just sounds lame when you try to use it.
  • You realize that you've become boring and logical and think back to how much fun it was to be an irrational idiot. But you can't go back to this either because you'll just look like you're trying too hard.
  • You mellow out. A lot. If you've got massive tilt problems, don't worry they will go from 3-10 outbursts per day to twice per week in a matter of 5 years.

If you play this game long enough:
  • Every decision in life becomes based on + or - EV. And then that progresses along with your game exploring flop and conversation lines thinking about what's going to happen on future streets to manipulate range and maximize expectation. And you learn how to avoid shitty spots. Learn to fold. Some things are better left unsaid.
  • If you manage to move up at all, the highs and lows aren't as extreme even though the variance is larger. You start to separate yourself from the money even though for the longest time it seems like its an impossible task. But one day you wake up and realize it hasn't bothered you in months even though you're breakeven. You're ecstatic about a $30 day at 2nl. After a while a +/- $300 day at 100nl is just meh. It happens shortly after you start to disregard the cost of buying something irl because it's only a big blind.

Thinking back to how I got into poker is quite interesting. I didn't really know anything about the game outside of hand rankings when I started playing freerolls but it's amazing how my personality, skill sets and interests all collide in this game. It has a mind of it's own and seeks out people that fit the criteria. I'm sure most winning players have some combinations of these and it's what keeps them interested. I'll list a few of them:

Creativity: I've always loved being creative whether it's coming up with new ideas like the ones I've submitted in the Stars software thread (one click popup color coding, sit out next bb and close this table, efficient no-rake or time added run it twice), my music as a classicaly trained pianist, or art (even though my skill here has dropped off dramatically).

Individual Competitiveness: I played sports in high school, but I really enjoyed relying on myself. I played on the varsity soccer team but had no use for playing anything but goal keeper where I was most separated from the team concept. I felt like it was just me vs the ball coming at me. I also hated group projects in school and didn't want to have to rely on other people's incompetence. I would do 5 times the work on my own project if it meant I could blow everyone else out of the water. Poker's like that, it's you against the world.

Analytical Problem Solving: The one subject I really enjoyed in school was math. Nerd, I know. And in particular if I could pick my classes, it would have always been statistics and probability with a small dose of algebra. Those word problems where "train A (40 mph) is travelling towards train B (25 mph) starting 40 miles apart, how long till they crash?" and 10 green, 5 blue, 7 purple marbles in a bag probability questions were the nuts. If only they knew they were preparing me for a life of profitable gambling.

Poker is quite a bit of all three: You're on your own in a highly competitive game. You have to be able to analyze situations quickly, putting the ever shifting concept puzzle together to create a window of opportunity as best and as fast as you can before Baluga Whale and AE &#%*$ Jones come along and blow the whole thing up again. And then the pieces don't fit in the correct places anymore and you come up with creative ways to make them fit somewhere else, or better yet, create your own custom pieces.

My one biggest downfall is that procrastination outweighs competitiveness. If you don't have the natural skill and rather need to learn in order to be competitive, this is what is going to stop you from becoming good at life and good at poker. I couldn't be bothered with soccer practice, give me games every day. I couldn't be bothered to review hands or watch videos, give me 24 tables every day. This has to change but I'm just not sure how.

This is a bit of a rambling post and I don't know if it's of interest to anyone out there, but I wanted to get this written down while I had a moment of clarity and felt like going on an analogy spree.

(That's probably the wrong face. I'm still learning.)

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

PokerStars 10th Anniversary

Long time no blog.


I haven't had a lot to blog about over the past month or so. Poker is finally starting to work itself out again and I am finding my thought process changing a lot, seeing a ton more value and bluff opportunities in spots I had never really considered before. So while I'm trying to figure this all out, my graph has been a little swingy but the upswings have been relatively large and I'm happy with that.


There weren't many cash games running last night -- I assume due to the WSOP Main Event Final 3 and it being a Tuesday -- and I think I watched about half of the final table. I was pretty impressed with the overall production: live on a 15 minute delay with every hand shown only after the hand was over and some really great commentary that wasn't dumbed down at all. I think they did go a little overboard with the whole "Does his story make sense?" line being used nearly every other hand and somewhat wrong in the sense that they stated over and over again that betting means you're saying your story is that you have a pair and if it doesn't make sense you probably have a stone cold bluff and they seemed to ignore the whole equity side of things. That said, they did manage to do a good job of explaining ranges.

I have to admit I found the first bit quite exciting, especially the sick hand where Heinz turned bottom 2 pair into a river c/r bluff to try to get everything worse than a flush to fold on a 3 flush QT98x board. After that the match seemed to slow dramatically, probably due to the way the cards were dealt and I decided to maybe watch it later.

POKER -- Part 2

So I ended up firing up a bunch of MTTs and actually played really well in all of them. I think I finished something like top 10% in all 6 and made one deep run in a $1 rebuy (I only play $10 or less MTTs since I'm basically lighting money on fire) where I finished 8th out of 1700 for a decent cash. I just kept telling myself do not get bored and have a melt down mistake like you always do and my chip stack kept climbing. I think if I can maintain that kind of mentality it will really help both my cash and MTT games.

I did end up making a mistake at the end when everyone had about 12 blinds left. I had TT on the button and MP1 shoved. He was running 15/12 but pretty much all of his opens were steals and I thought to myself it's better to open shove with 75s next hand than to call here since his range is like AJ+/TT+ at worst and its stupid to call for a gamble with so much play and fold equity left as I contradictively thought TT 12bb can't fold and clicked call knowing it was wrong.


Pokerstars is having their 10th anniversary celebration and by the sounds of it it's going to be pretty huge. They also have fast moving ring games "coming soon" which could be interesting. I've offered up Pokerstars Tachyon Tables as a name to go with the space theme although I'm sure it wouldn't make sense to a lot of people and they'd have to google it first.

Really interested to find out what #4 is since it's obviously important enough for it's own row in the chart.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Looking at Mesas

Last night I was pondering how I managed to go from a nanonoko style graph up until 2009 to a sudden, Saskatchewan style watch your dog run away for 3 days flat plateau breakeven graph in 2010.

Specifically speaking, what the hell happened in early 2nd quarter 2010? And it's not just me. Those that were crushing are still crushing, but a ton of the mediocre / above average regs like me somehow ended up with these weird mesa graphs and we've subsequently seen a lot of people that played small stakes consistently for years having to move down.

And, like the mesa over there --> it wasn't a gradual flattening out of winrates either. It was a sharp, sudden change, and most of us have never recovered.

The obvious event to point to was the advent of the 20-50 games on Stars which happened around that time. But that doesn't explain why most seem to still have not recovered now that 20-50 is gone.

I'm at a loss as to why this is:
  • With the dissolution of 20-50, you'd expect winrates to start to resemble 1st quarter 2010 even if they were somewhat lower due to tougher games. The end of the plateau.
  • Are cap games still having that large of an effect on the player pool?
  • Black Friday hasn't really affected winrates at all afaik.
  • It can't be that the money's drying up because that doesn't explain the sudden leveling off and the continued breakevenness. Plus the player pool has been fairly constant.
  • Concepts have trickled down and it's ridiculous that 25NL is now running at 15%+ table 3bet vs PFR, but again, that should show gradual progression.
  • There's so many graphs out there like mine and the time frame comparison is just eerie.

So what exactly happened between A (pre 2010) and B (post 2nd quarter 2010)? I would love to hear some theories. Note: In before someone blames it on sucking at poker, I acknowledge that fact. But there has to be some sort of catalyst for the sudden change between March-May in most of these graphs.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Point Form Ramblings. Check.


  • Started upswinging again after my last rant.
  • Trying to stay calm.
  • Remember to valuebet.
  • 2.5x multiplier sucks. I can see why recreational players that are smart irl but are just bad at poker think this is a bad deal when they're capable of shopping around.
  • 4 days ahead of pace to get Supernova back by end of the year.


  • Jets get blown out in home opener. 5-1. Ewww.
  • First goal against them within 3 minutes.
  • Byfuglien needs to step it up. Or fight someone.
  • Fantasy hockey league HUD-matrix = Great Success!
  • 102 points out of a max possible 120 so far. 2nd place has 77 points. Easy Game.
  • 2% of the season is complete so my sample size is obviously large enough.


  • Updated the straw poll results chart again.
  • Herman Cain is scooping polls left and right and is now 1st Tier right behind or tied with Ron Paul imo.
  • Front-runner Rick Perry has a total of 6 Top 3 finishes to tie Gingrich's 6 and has yet to win a straw poll.
  • Front-runner Perry has been relegated to 2nd Tier with Bachman and Huckabee.
  • Front-runner Perry is somehow still regarded as Front-runner Perry.
  • Ron Paul remains 1st Tier with little change to his numbers other than winning yet another poll for a leading 8.

Standard GOP Skype Group Session:
Paul: Well, the Federal Reserve...
Gingrich: You're alllll nuts...
Palin: Wait for it... WAIT FOR IT...
Bachman: : menacing stare :
Perry: Hey guys watch this: [quote] CNN: Front-runner Perry | click | FOX: Front-runner Perry | click | CBS: Front-runner Perry [/quote] Neat trick huh?
Romney: attentionwhore.jpg
Paul: and the IRS... nation building... bail outs and moral hazard...
Gingrich: I'm surrounded by morons...
Romney: : rolleyes :
Perry: Ok Ok I'll tell you how it's done, see if I change my first name to "Front-runner... "
Palin: Just kidding!
Paul: : tap : : tap: Is this thing on?


I've also been reading Mark Steyn's After America. Amazingly good book and to paraphrase one of the Amazon reviews: Mark Steyn is incapable of writing a dull sentence. Concise, witty breakdown of the breakdown in society, economics and politics.

Some gems:

As Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado fumed to a room of voters in 2010, "We have managed to acquire $13 trillion of debt on our balance sheet. In my view, we have nothing to show for it."

If something cannot go on forever, it will stop. - Herbert Stein.

If you're careening along a road toward a collapsed bridge, you'll certainly stop, one way or the other. But it makes a difference, at least to you, whether you skid to a halt four yards before the cliff edge or whether you come to rest at the bottom of the ravine.

According to CBO projections, by 2055 interest payments on the debt will exceed federal revenues. But I don't think we'll need to worry about a "Government of the United States" at that stage. By 1788, Louis XVI's government in France was spending a mere 60 percent of revenues on debt service, and we know how that worked out for the House of Bourbon shortly thereafter... So take your eye off the far prospect, and instead look about fourteen inches in front of your toecap. Within a decade, the United States will be spending more of the federal budget on its interest payments than on it's military... by 2020 the government will be paying between 15 and 20 percent of it's revenues in debt interest. Whereas defense spending will be down to between 14 and 16 percent. Just to clarify: we're not talking about paying down the federal debt, just keeping up with the annual interest charges on it... The superpower will have evolved from a nation of aircraft carriers to a nation of debt carriers... If that trajectory holds, we'll be spending more than the planet's entire military budget on debt interest [by 2050].

We've spent too much of tomorrow today - to the point where we've run out of tomorrow.

There's nothing virtuous about "caring" "compassionate" "progressives" demonstrating how caring and compassionate and progressive they are by spending money yet to be earned by generations yet to be born... It's not just about balancing the books, but balancing the most basic impulses of society. These are structural and, ultimately, moral questions. Credit depends on trust, and trust pre-supposes responsibility. So, if you have a credit boom in an age that has all but abolished personal responsibility, it's not hard to figure how it's going to end.
China is dangerous not because of its strength but because of its weakness... the People's Republic has a crude structural flaw: thanks to its disastrous one-child policy, it will get old before it gets rich... That's actually worse news than if China was cruising to uncontested global hegemony - because it means that Beijing's calculations on how the Sino-American relationship evolves are even less likely to align with ours. China has to maximize its power before demographic decay sets in. In other words, it has strong incentives to be bold and to push, hard and fast.

Industrial power [which Steyn compares to today's government power] should be decentralized. It should be scattered into many hands so that the fortunes of the people will not be dependent on the whim or caprice, the political prejudices, the emotional stability of a few self-appointed men. The fact that they are not vicious men but respectable and social minded is irrelevant. - Justice Marshall, 1948.

In Europe, there are no kids or grandkids to screw over. In the end the entitlement state disincentives everything from wealth creation to self-reliance to the survival instinct, as represented by the fertility rate. If the problem with socialism, as Mrs. Thatcher famously said, "is that eventually you run out of other people's money," the problem with Greece and much of Europe is that they've advanced to the next stage: they've run out of other people, period.

Steyn goes on to detail a lot of issues in society and how they affect the economy. One that really struck me as profound was the technology issue. If you took someone from 1890 and transported him to 1950, he would be blown away by the advances of the past 60 years. Leaps and bounds in the fields of transportation, medicine and communication. Transport him another 60 years in the future to 2011 and he's rather underwhelmed by how little has changed. Everything is slightly faster and the toys are a little more shiny but, aside from the advent of the Internet, that's it. We haven't cured anything despite the plethora of cure  _____ support bracelets. We haven't solved any energy dependencies. We're still using the same basic TV, radio and phone technologies. Where's my jet pack I was promised in the 80s?

He's a little on the liberal-bashing bias side of things but to be fair he gives it to the conservatives too since they haven't done anything to fix it when they've had the chance and he states quite frankly that government grows and grows regardless of who's in charge. If you're looking for a good read regarding today's economic and social issues this is definitely one you want to pick up.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

NHL Season

Besides being overly excited at not having any chance of actually going to a Jets games in the next 3 years unless I win what I expect to be 1 of 1000 tickets with ~800,000 people trying to win the right to buy them and having to watch games on TSN, I picked a rather exciting (eccentric?) team for my fantasy hockey league.

It's a rotisserie league, which means that you get points towards your overall score based on how you do in different stat categories. We use the standard Goals, Assists, +/-, Penalty Minutes, Shots and Time On Ice, Goalie Wins, Goals Against and Save % along with a few role player categories like Hits and Blocked Shots to keep it interesting.

I got crushed in last years league. So I re-thought the strategy behind trying to win multiple stat categories and came up with the conclusion that it's fairly useless to aquire all the "best" players and crush the Goals and Assists categories and fail miserably at the other 8 or so categories. Case in point: Stamkos. Nets a lot of points, doesn't do a damn thing besides that. He's about number 4-5 on most peoples' lists. He's 30th on mine.

So being the HUD-bot that I am, I grabbed the top 400 ranked players and their projected 2012 stats, threw the whole mess into Excel, figured out the average for each stat and then gave each player a relative ranking for each stat and summed them up for an overall relative rank. The result: I have a bunch of guys that are either extremely good in one category (Downie's PIM) and will nearly crush that category by themselves or are above average and very well rounded. I am going to look like a genius if my theory pans out or an idiot if it doesn't since the majority of my players were listed by ESPN rankings as 100+ on the draft list. According to my calculations I have a 20% edge over the field of 9 other teams at this point.

Besides the few top scorers who are the most valueable for being able to win the scoring categories outright (Ovechkin, Sedin's), there is a very fast drop off in relative value for forwards while defenceman become important quickly, especially the ones that can contribute a ton offesively due to their high value in Blocked Shots, ATOI, Hits, and PIM. I consider goalies to be on the lower value end since they're only participating in 3 categories so the fact that the rest of my league picked goalies in the first 3 rounds helped a lot in getting me Sedin along with stat monsters Lucic, Hossa and Chara.

When it was all finished I was pleasantly surprised to find the majority of my team coming from Boston, Vancouver, Chicago and Detriot. I thought I might as well continue with this HUD-bot strategy and I'm going to be tracking Power Rankings trends to decide which players I want to play against which teams. For example, if I have 2 starting goalies and the teams they're facing Ottawa, Edmonton and Tampa Bay, clearly it doesn't matter so much which of my 3 goalies is best compared to which team they're playing against. Vice versa for which goalies / team defence my skaters are going to be playing against.

Should be fun.

Friday, 30 September 2011

At a loss for words...

In true blogger fashion, I'm going to write a post in stark contrast to my last. A flip-flop as they would say.

I was feeling the best about my game that I ever have as of last week. I still am, theoretically speaking, although numb would be more appropriate right now. In the time since then I have gone through yet another cruel stretch of attempting to navigate the random 2 pair / backdoor gutshot mine field and failed miserably.

  • Preflop: find a target.
  • Flop: aim.
  • Turn go (all)-in for the kill.
  • River: KABOOM!

The resulting carnage:

I'm really starting to question exactly how much of this game is luck and how much is skill and if anyone actually has any idea what their "longterm winrate" is or has even glimpsed the long term itself. I thought I had after my first 1.5 million hands. How wrong I was.

I am fairly confident that you can at least breakeven at a fairly high level if you're not a retard simply because there are so many complete retards playing still, and yeah games are getting stupidly difficult due to the dirt cheap dissemination of training videos and ebooks that should be running at $200+/month and $1k+ per book based on the value of the info (nevermind them being disseminated at no cost in some way or another over the internet), but  you should be able to theoretically make some money if you use half your brain. Thankfully this proves I'm at least not a retard.

But when you pit all of the theory that you have learned from forums, training videos, studying, coaching and high priced e-books against the amount of variance which is apparently possible over a million hands, it is starting to look to me like skill doesn't stand a chance.

You are at the mercy of the RNG.

Now I don't mean to say that online poker is rigged. My analytical 2+2 brainwashing has taught me that is a blasphemous statement unless we're being Cereus. But I think most people that have not been in a position to experience the extremes of the variance bell curve do not have a clue as to what is actually possible. Perhaps I'm just a ridiculously unlucky outlier in the grand scheme of things, but how do any of the top winners playing midstakes or higher after 500k lifetime hands know that they're actually winners and not just on a relatively short term massive heater -- ridiculously lucky outliers?

I know there's a ton of other variance not accounted for in AIEV such as hand stetups and coolers and the amount of the time you hit or dodge draws before getting all-in and how many sets you don't bink on the turn. But I still think AIEV is a fairly significant measure over very large sample sizes and it's certainly better than nothing.

I've used several different coping mechanisms over the past year+ to deal with this, the three most prominent being:
  • My entire poker 'carreer' has been one massive freeroll off other peoples' money.
  • I'm playing "correctly" enough to theoretically win Sklansky$.
  • They say I'm going to wake up one day and this bad run will all be over (tick... day 428).

Those reasons are beginning to sound like some fairly weak sauce compared to the shitload of work I've put into improving. I don't really know where I'm going to go from here. I'm still putting in the volume and am going to try to grind out Supernova one more time by the end of December (barring ending up busto). Out of the three years that I will have made it, this has been by far the most difficult, including my first time which ended with me 24 tabling 100NL right through December to the 31st.

But if my stupid luck doesn't start to improve to somewhere near average over the next 250k hands, I think I'm going to say gg next year. I don't need the headaches and energy strain of putting in hours of study and analysis only to be led down the high stress path of demoralizing 80/20 loss one after another.

The Great Divergence
I've read a few other blogs from some well known players who have gone through 400k+ hand breakeven / downswings and have gone on to do very well once they snap out of it. That is my motivation right now. If it doesn't work out, I'm not going to sweat it.

This was a fairly long post so I guess I wasn't really out of words... more like almost out of rope.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Poker Update | Straw Polls Update


I've continued updating and tabulating the data provided for the 2012 Republican presidential primaries straw polls. One interesting note in the Wikipedia entry for the CNN Tea Party Debate:

"A straw poll was held at the September 12 Republican debate, to find out who the debate audience thought were the front runners, both before and after the debate. Before the debate, Ron Paul came first, Rick Perry came second, and Michele Bachmann came third. After the debate, Ron Paul was still first, Michele Bachmann came second, and Herman Cain came third. CNN have not released the full results of this poll, instead holding an online poll which omitted Ron Paul from the choices."
 Without counting that win, Ron Paul has won 4 consecutive straw polls (one of them being a first place tie) dating back to mid August, crushing the field in 2 of those and  only having Perry for competition in the latest California poll yesterday.

Now that there have been 17 polls, I added a Win statistic to the list alongside Top 3 Finishes. I split wins as 0.5 each for polls that were basically tied such as Georgia 04/16 and Georgia 08/27. The breakdown for top three frontrunners as of today:

Average vote %
Paul 20.7%
Perry 14.4%
Romney 14.4%

Top 3 Finishes
Paul 10
Romney 8
Cain 6

Paul 7
Cain 3
Romney 2

This chart has grown substantially since I last posted and it will update as I make changes, but I thought I'd post it again for convenience. 1st, 2nd and 3rd Tiers are based on my opinions of the overall results of the three statistics I posted above and can be found at the far right side. Scroll down for graphical representations of the data.


I think I posted a while ago that I was rebuilding my BR from basically nothing ($100 playing 5NL). It's been pretty rough at some points and I have really felt like just giving up some weeks. But my game seems to have restabilized after some extensive changes I made to my overall game strategy so I'm really hoping this lasts. I think I've pulled back ahead of the curve with a lot of study and out of the box thinking. Specifically thinking about what certain tendencies and actions really mean vs what seems standard.

I haven't really talked to any poker people or frequented the strategy forums of 2p2 lately. I just needed to get away from the way that those HH threads go down with all the "standard" vacuum answers. I'm kind of feeling like if you're trying to move beyond figuring out what standard is (and after a few million hands, you have seen everything standard), threads that disregard history and detailed table dynamics are rather counterproductive.

I've built back up to my usual 50NL bankroll and have been playing a mix of 25NL and 50NL full ring. I lost my Supernova status last month but I'm fairly confident I'll get it back by the end of the year now that I'm moving up again and have a lot of motivation to put in volume. Granted I have a relatively small sample of 30k hands where my thought process is firing on all cylinders and villain lines and actions are really making sense to me so this could still all go down in flames, but I'm more optimistic about my game right now than I have been in probably a year or more.

Stars: Run It Twice

No Stars does not have run it twice despite that sub-title. From what I understand they have been avoiding it because they don't want to have to charge extra rake for the extra time it takes to deal out the hand. I think the following would be a good option. I posted the following in the Official Software Improvement Thread in the zoo earlier this week:

This is how you add Run It Twice without requiring any extra time to deal the hand out and therefore not needing to add any extra rake.

  • It doesn't affect Stars' profits based on rake/hand per hour/table
  • It doesn't affect the hands/hour of players not involved.
  • It evens out variance for people that agree they want to even out variance.

  • Add the following: "Options > Run it Twice > All | Preflop | Flop | Turn"
  • If all-in players preset settings match, the rest of the hand is dealt twice.
  • Player A = Flop+Turn, Player B = Turn only, if all-in on flop, run once, if all-in on turn, run twice.
  • When the hand is going to be run twice, split the pot and move it as indicated during the time between the closing action on that street and the next card being dealt.
  • Ideally what you want is moving chips and dealing cards respectively in unison so that it's exactly the same amount of time as running it once.

Ignore stack sizes here ldo, illustration purposes:

From a grinder's perspective I would hope they implement this. On the other hand fish that get their money in consistently bad before the river and choose to run it twice would lose money significantly faster since they are shortening the long run.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

HEM1 Multi-Table Ratio

There was a request on the forums this week to figure out winrates and hourly based on multi-table ratio in HEM. This has been sorely missed in HEM1 but is being included in HEM2. If you're like me and think that despite HEM2 still being in Beta mode and wanting to cut them some slack, you're going to wait it out until PT4 arives because so far HEM2 is a massive resource hog and "looks like a 15 year old girls MySpace page," here's a MTR Extraction excel sheet I made to tie you over.

Just go to your sessions tab, filter for HU, 6max, FR by number of players. I think it's important to filter just by one stake because your winrate is going to drop at higher stakes obviously and you just want to find your optimal number of tables. Once you have your results, right click them and save as Sessions.csv. Open that up in Excel and copy everything. Paste it into the MTR Extraction sheet in the cell indicated. Adjust the 3 variables to your filtered game and you should have your results. The % of hands required is there to push out the outliers such as the few 1-3 tabling sessions I had that totaled 43 hands and +/- 170 bb/100 etc. Top graph is winrate by tables, bottom is hourly by tables. As is, the MTR sheet will support ~500 sessions so you'll have to adjust some formulas if you need more than that. It's not formated to look nice at all, but it does the job.

I got in a little early for the HEM2 beta testing just before the public beta release came out and tried it out for a few days before giving up in frustration with the constant crashing and huge amount of lag I was experiencing. I thought it was just my dinosaur of a PC giving me issues, but apparently people with more up to date systems are experiencing the same thing. That and it kind of seems like they've loaded it full of gimmicks that are more fun to look at than actually being helpful.

I do remember pre-ordering PT3 and being very disappointed and managed to whine enough about the HUD fail to get my money back after 5 months of "commercial" release before switching to HEM, and PT3 eventually turned into a decent product. I really don't want to go through that again with HEM2 so I'm going to wait to see if PT4 is decent. If it's not, I'm just going to be happy with HEM1 for the next year until one of them gets their stuff together.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Ron Paul

I obviously wasn't the only one that noticed the overt concerted effort by the media to stifle Ron Paul after the Ames Straw Poll (Last Post). When did we switch from terms like "journalism" and "free press" to "mainstream media" anyways? However much the latter like to portray themselves as the former, they appear to have become quite divergent professions. I can only hope that a lot of Paul's stances on fiscal issues are starting to make a lot of sense to voters, if not only because a lot of his predictions are quickly coming to pass.

Quite similar to the 2006 UIGEA to 2011 Black Friday time period, it seems as though even some of the smartest people around are quite happy to stick their heads in the sand even though from a logical, rational, captain hindsight saw this coming a long ways a way type of world view where you remove your invincibility goggles, it is abundantly clear that the status quo is unsustainable. I don't know if it's ideological apathy or just plain laziness (the term blissful ignorance comes to mind), but too many people are happy to carry on business as usual in a dysfunctional system that will inevitably crush them by design as long as the system isn't in active free fall around them. Those that can see it plain as day and try to warn us only to be frustrated beyond belief as if trying to explain the concept of gravity to people who think the world is flat are ridiculed as Chicken Little's.

If I had to pigeon hole myself into one socio-economic mindset, I'd have to go with consequentialist libertarian -- the notion that having liberty leads to results like prosperity, efficiency and peace. This is why I identify so much with his platform. If you're an American reading this blog (or an international reader looking for solid, ie. "radical" sustainable policies), definitely check out Paul's campaign website and his stance on a number of important issues.

A small sampling of his platform, most of which I agree with:

  • Repeal ObamaCare and end its unconstitutional mandate that all Americans must carry only government-approved health insurance or answer to the IRS.
  • Stop the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) from interfering with Americans’ knowledge of and access to dietary supplements and alternative treatments.
  • Vetoing any unbalanced budget Congress sends to his desk.
  • Avoid long and expensive land wars that bankrupt our country by using constitutional means to capture or kill terrorist leaders who helped attack the U.S. and continue to plot further attacks.
  • Guarantee our intelligence community’s efforts are directed toward legitimate threats and not spying on innocent Americans through unconstitutional power grabs like the Patriot Act.
  • Follow the Constitution by asking Congress to declare war before one is waged.
  • Stop taking money from the middle class and the poor to give to rich dictators through foreign aid.
  • Ron Paul believes no nation can remain free when the state has greater influence over the knowledge and values transmitted to children than the family does. Returning control of education to parents and teachers on the local level is the centerpiece of Ron Paul’s education agenda.
  • Fighting to fully audit (and then end) the Federal Reserve System, which has enabled the over 95% reduction of what our dollar can buy and continues to create money out of thin air to finance future debt.
  • Opposing all unfunded mandates and unnecessary regulations on small businesses and entrepreneurs.
There are a number of other issues that he addresses at length and can be found all over Youtube such as ending the ineffective war on drug and the cause and effect of moral hazard. The media has coined Paul's lectures and statements as rambling in the little coverage they have had of him. I read that as this guy thinks about concepts in well thought out logical and correlating terms rather than what fits well into a 3 second soundbite. You're bound to become a bit wordy when you're explaining the concept of gravity for the 17th time to people who refuse to accept that the entire theory they've developed to explain why they don't go flying off into space is flawed.