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.