Monday, September 22, 2008

Risk Management, Bankroll Management, Bonus Chasing and Goals

Effective risk management can be a life skill. The world is full of dangers (and opportunities). Navigating through (and capitalising on) these requires an assessment of both the likeliehood and the scale of each. The impact and chance of most are so insignificant, that they don't warrant anything more than following our instinctual actions. Others however deserve substantial consideration. Let's agree for now that Impact * Likeliehood = Residual Risk (opportunity).

Bankroll Management for me up to now has been based around minimising Risk of Ruin (RoR). That has dictated that I play micro stakes, starting literally at 1c/2c until I was a consistent winner, then moving up. I started with $25. I could have invested $1000 at that time. I'm glad I didn't. I would have lost. I struggle to beat $1/$2 NLHE after 3 years, I had no chance back then.

Any game with a -ve EV represents a 100% RoR over a sufficient sample size. That means, mathematically you're guaranteed to lose. The only way to win are to stop playing after your initial lucky run or become +EV, a true and consistent winner. Your results over 10,000 hands are just that, a result. Only an analysis of hands played could guarantee that your actions were indeed +EV over such a small sample size.

It would appear that I am a very marginal winner and it feels like I know more each week, which can't be bad. My results are certainly improving and I am more focused on making the right play as opposed to short term bankroll swings. That's probably a good thing ... so long as I keep a realistic eye on RoR.

There is a positive side to Bankroll Mgmt though in terms of funding stepping up. To date, I've chosen to prove to my family that the time investment in poker was paying off by withdrawing cheques periodically. Time away from family is a big investment to compensate for so I need to win bigger to justify this. I was at a run rate of $1000 per qtr. I then stepped up and wasn't able to do this anymore as I went back to being a very marginal winner/loser with no RoR.

Before starting the blog, I found that I was playing better poker, playing higher stakes and probably better players, knew more about the game but made less money and enjoyed the grind less. So much for winning, eh?

I was spending less time on table selection and I was playing Noble poker who had withdrawn the rake that they used to pay me because of an iPoker enforcement around rampant rakeback. I liked iPoker and had PokerOffice stats on all my opponents.

I used Party and other iPoker skins to claim on the 2+2 book bonus (contact me if you'd like more info) which was the best move ever. I got better at the game. BTW, if you haven't read all 5 Harrington Books, go check out the offer and do so as soon as possible.

Since the blog, a few guys have stopped by and encouraged me. They've also through their blogs reminded me of the opportunity to chase bonuses. Something I've held off from because I was more focused on winning than having my credit card out there and risk greater RoR through Identity Theft, or similar.

The personal guidance that I've been provided with is first rate and nothing has been asked for in return. My eyes have been opened to opportunities that I was quite frankly missing. Tips on how to structure my records. The best tip was the simple one of opening a Neteller Account (again feel free to contact me for guidance).

Goals ... my one starting the blog was simple (see previous entry). I'd like to be able to make a rewarding career out of playing poker professionally. I'm just working out how to achieve this. (Aside, rewarding is not just making a healthy profit, a subject for another day.)

So will Bonus Chasing improve or hinder my progress to a better player? Here are my thoughts, I'd appreciate your feedback:

- I can significantly reduce my RoR as my performance without rakeback can be marginal;
- If my bankroll grows I can play better opponents quicker within my bankroll criteria;
- I'm incented to put in volume and hence determine my true winrate at various levels;
- experiential learning at volume supports my study; and
- there's nothing really to lose by it.

One last thought to leave you with. It appears that the best bonus program at present is William Hill which I have jsut signed up for. It's not the most elegant site and I've experience low player volume when it suits me to play as I like Full Ring. Last night, I had a 2 hour session 4-tabling NL50, NL100, PLO, PLO/8 at once. This is something I would never have considered before.

It was mentally stimulating and I had two lucky hands which helped me finish the evening a winner on all 4 tables for a total addition of a few hundred bucks. One of the good beat stories will be summarised in as a comment as it isn't my reason for this post.

Finally, thanks so much to the Blindman and Bort in particular for all your guidance. It has made a massive difference to my outlook for the future. Cheers!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Moving on up - NL100

It was Sunday night and I settled down to play a couple of hours of poker. Not sure why, but with $2000+ now in my bankroll and on a good run, I decided to try 4-tabling NL100. I promised myself that I'd drop back pretty quick if I wasn't feeling OK with it.

It seemed fine. I could still steal quite a few blinds. I seemed to make reasonable decisions on the flop. I stab a lot and then get away from it on resistance. Doyle Brunson wrote in Super/System that people think he's lucky when he sucks out, but that in reality, he's freerolling because when they didn't have it, they'd folded. So between my CO and c-Bet stealing, I was involved a bit with a few chances to play for stacks.

After 3 hours of 4-tabling at a higher level, I was breakeven. Unfortunately no rakeback / bonuses etc which would ave left me up. I'm now officially a King at Party though, just when I wanted to leave.

Before bed, I thought that I'd have one shot at NL400 just to see. I lost almost $200 early but had my money in when ahead, so reloaded. 100 hands later, I'd won two biggish pots to finish up +$300.

I think I'll stop giving updates on my bankroll, because I know that a downswing is just around the corner. Until now though, it has been relevant, because I started with a goal of moving up the limits within my bankroll (I've strayed outside occassionally and got lucky).

The focus that the blog has provided has helped my play. I'll now move up to NL100 for a period and see how that feels.

Over the next few posts, expect Risk of Ruin and the Future of winning poker to be discussed.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

AQ Lucky or Unlucky?

Humans are phenomenal pattern matching machines and can spot coincidence in chaos. When 9s are about, people play them. Whilst irrational, when you see this phenomenon discussed in a live game, be a little wary of matching flops that night.

Anyeay, last night I had 3 AQ hands on less then 100 played. I was tired so played just 2 tables but went up to $1/$2 to make me think. I could've not played, but I'm keen to make sure that I can put in volume even when not feeling 100%.

My 3 AQ hands had 2 for me and 1 for my opponent. Results were 3 AIs, for $70, $130 and $200. All pots built steadily on all streets, abeit different pot %. After river there was TPTK with Q high board, a set with QQQ and A kicker, and heart flushes AhQh vs Kh6h.

I playes 2 hands well and 1 badly and finished the session up over $100. I got away with an amazing number of steals. I was also dealt KK and AA but no-one called my "steal". No matter how I look at it, I had a very lucky session.

Next time I have a bad session, I will realise that it is only the evening out of this one and hopefully I'm less likely to tilt.

If interested in my bad beat story, please click on 1st comment ...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Using life lessons learned ...

I'm finding this blog is giving me precision of thought. It seems like it is doing the same for Bonus Chasing Grinder with this post from 10 minutes ago on Bankroll Management. A subject that I would like to delve into over the next couple of weeks.

Before that though, my thinking has been a life experience from my teens. Chess was a game that I could beat my peers at thru primary school and up to 13. I'd never read a book, just seemed to get the game. From 13 on though, everyone I'd beaten passed me. They'd discovered books and I hadn't. They studied and I never. Admission, until poker I've virtually read no books.

From 13 to 18, I made a fair bit from poker. Just pennies but a lot at the time. Around 2005, I discovered Late Night Poker on SBS and then online poker. I'd never played Hold'Em, so I bought a book to teach me the basics. It taught me a lot more and I was instantly a winning player.

The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn and I started reading for the first time. I'm glad I did. Everyone is growing up. Almost month on month the games get tougher. The game is essentially "getting solved". The fish will diminish and the edges for winning players will reduce. The only way to stay ahead is to study. Keeping the study fun and staying amused whilst grinding will be key if I am to be successful.

I'm looking forward to Card Runners (or similar) rejuvenating me. But for now, I'm plodding my way through real study. I hope knowledge retention is like riding a bike. The Mathematics of Poker is a very hard read but incredible. That is what we're up against.

So if our life experiences can teach us a lot will our future be online poker? Considering the traits of successful people, I don't think so. More next time.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Good beat story ...

So much blogging time and poker conversation talks about bad beats. One of my life philosophies is that what you focus on usually grows, positive or negative. Hence, I prefer talking about the hands where I get lucky. I had one last night that bolstered my bankroll further.

I've decided that grinding out NL50 is good when I'm enjoying it, but I'm not learning too much unless I study specific hands or read books that I try to put into practice. That said, I hold my own a lot better than I did a month ago.

Anyway, last night I was struggling with concentration so decided to take a shot at NL200 and promise myself to play really Tight. I got a few raising hands in good position and picked up the blinds and on one occassion c-bet successfully 1 caller who folded the flop.

With $230 in front I was dealt AA on the button. Early position made it $8 and mid position raised it to $24. Ithought about it and looked at the stacks. The re-raiser was on $200 have auto-clicked rebuy to max, the original raiser had only $71.

My 3 choices seemed like call, raise or shove. I selected the call thinking that the early position may shove and if the re-raiser shoved, called or folded would be more data for me. If he folded, so be it, I'd check out the texture of the board and the size of the c-bet.

Dream come true, raise AI with the remainder of his $71 and re-raiser pushed AI with his $200. Mine was an easy call but an anxious wait as the cards landed, small price to pay for +EV.

7 ... 9 ... K ... Q ... 6.

The worst thing about these hands at a cash table is that you don't get to see the hole cards before the board is played out. I was sure that I must be facing KK and or QQ. Luckily, very luckily it was JJ ($71) and AK($200).

I played a few more orbits without getting involved, then cashed out happy that I'd experienced my A game, albeit with a relatively simple decision.

Note to self : If I had been multitabling, I am not sure that I would have been as in tune (even with teh HUD) to the likeliehood of using the others' aggression against them. This became very akin to the concentration I have playing live.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Medium Pair Stats from Poker Office

Blindman was right when he said that he needed more info. Consistent with the attached stats, I nearly always raise with my pps and c-bet them too. This gets me committed and I can see with the replayer that I force out worse hands and encourage big pots when facing better hands.

I need to focus on Big Hand, Big Pot, Small Hand, Small Pot in these situations even more. I was also folding to Turn check/raises on blank and scary boards which may or may not have been a mistake. I might have lost more, but it is possible that I was being moved on.

The long and short of it is that I am a modest net winner with 66 thru 22 and medium pairs are more like these than the premium pairs and should be played accordingly.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Cashed again ...

Looking forward to Sharkscope again. I think NLHE cash games have helped my tourney results. Basically, I am way more aware of the fact that your entire stack is regularly under threat. I find myself calling down for pot control, a skill I never had before Harrington on Cash and Bart on PokerRoad Cash Plays.

So why am I so cocky this evening, another cash for $485 in a tourney has brought my bankroll over the $2000 target. I still think that it is not NL50 related though, so I will continue grind it out a bit more befoire taking a serious shot at moving up permanently. Certainly not until my medium pairs gaping hole is plugged; all advice there most welcome!

While playing the tourney, I had two NL50 games going. Got my money in ahead twice on one table to lose 1 cumulative buy-in before standing up from that table. The variance evened out on the other table where solid play and a few timely steals saw me stand up with $111. Across both tables, after 150 hands I was up 15 BB/100, I think. Still on track over a very small multitabling sample size if it is.

Finally, thanks to everyone who has commented. I honestly didn't think that anyone would find this little blog and it sure is nice to have company. Woo Hoo!!!

Medium Pairs are killing me! -238 BB/100

Well, I took a little time out to check my PokerOffice stats and to my amazement there was a massive leak staring at me within minutes. I've looked before but never found such a leak. But the difference this time was the filtering and the volume.

By 4-tabling FR NL50 for a couple of weeks, my inner game seems to have settled down. Previously, I'd bounce about when losing at one to another Limit, NL and Omaha. That kept me fresh and reduced tilt but constantly changing my style, I think and affected my stats and what I could reliably read into them.

This time, I filtered 8 or more players NL50 and sorted my hands by BB/100 won. Not surprisingly, most profitable are the premium pairs AA thru QQ in that order, which I'm very pleased about. They say that anyone can play AA, but for the record, incredibly I used to be a losing AA player at one time. As I found out and you all know, never slow play AA!

But medium pairs are obviously vastly different. After being dealt a relatively small volume of medium pairs, 73 in total, my losing rate is a wopping 238 bb/100. The funny thing is that I lose more with JJ, then TT, 99, 88 in order.

The good news is that whjen I fix this massive leak, I should help lift myself above break even ( the purpose of this intraverted blog). With self awareness can come self improvement, so I'm halfway there. Please feel free to leave any study pointers as a Comment for me and others. I'll update later when I've worked the answer out, for now plugging this has got to be my priority.

I've just received a CardRunners subscription for Fathers Day, so maybe the answers will be in there.

As an aside, I have continued to be break even over the weekend. Found the grind a bit boring at times and took a quick stab at one NL100 table. Spewed off $50 on a bad call but recovered to be up $15 after approx 150 hands. Played well in general, I think. Folded all medium pairs preflop :-).

Another relaxation was my first Omaha HiLo tourney for $22. Came 15th out of 52 which I was content with given that I've never read about it or played before, just what I pick up on podcasts. Basically, don't leave home without A2. Bad news is that A2 doesn't appear too much (or I was card dead) and when it does, there may be no qualifying low :-(. Nitty never wins, eh?

Omaha is my favourite game (more thinking), so I'm looking forward to moving over to this style when I've improved my NLHE more. The availability of beatable of NLHE games in Oz is my focus for now. I've never played split games of any type, but have the books waiting for when I do. The beauty of poker ... the journey is only just beginning.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The good and the bad ...

The hot run has come to an end and I'm back on track for incremental volume gains (after wooshing way ahead). As hot as I ran last weekend, to be expected, I reversed it donking 4 BIs on 2nd best hands. Encountered slight tilt but nothing dramatic and stepped away. Weekend is around the corner, maybe I can run good again.

Returned to take a shot at a Tourney given that I had a couple of uninterrupted hours to spare. Pleased to report coming 3rd in the rebuy for approx $850. Bankroll and Sharkscope are healthier, but I'm not going to count this toward beating the NL50 consistently. Actually, I got an insight into how tough it would be to grind this level for a living.

The downswing has prompted me to review the actual play of my big hands against HOCP recommendations. Not sure how that analysis will go, I'll let you know.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Study, Study, Study ...

Two players with the same aptitude, talent and knowledge will have approximately the same results over the long run when luck evens out. IMO, aptitude and talent are relatively fixed (psychologists probably disagree) but knowledge can be increased with relative ease.

The more enjoyable it is, the less work involved. At the minute, my knowledge increase comes from three sources iTunes, Books and Experiential (Play).

iTunes, I subsribe to 4 or 5 podcasts. (now 2+2 Pokercast) is my favourite as Mike and Adam are funny Canadians that like my kinda music and have great guests. I've also grown up with them over the years. PokerRoad Radio is a close second and gets better all the time. Bart's Cash Plays have taught me a lot about how the pros think about the game. PokerRoad gives a lot of insight into life on the road as a Pro. Not what I am striving for, but very interesting.

Books, I've used the 2+2 signup to score quite a library, although Harrington is all you need to become a winning player (all 5), I think. I've jumped about of late working my way thru different books. The Mathematics of Poker is a heavy read, but is full of interesting concepts that I hope will apply rigour to my thinking. Phil Gordon's Little Books are entertaining and educational. Kill Everyone is next. I've learned a lot from books and it is this that has put me ahead of the average player I think.

Experiential learning. Whilst important, I kid myself that I am doing it for learning purposes as I don't review key hands at the end of sessions, as I know I should. It does help me relate to and absorb what I read in the books though. If I am serious about my goals though, I will need to track the % time spent on each.

For Bankroll and time reasons I have not yet subscribed to a Training site. It is only a matter of time though as this has to be the most painless way to learn.

Television has got to be the worst for education with its AI shovefests. Although it is educating the public to play loose which can't be bad. I haven't seen HSP yet, I hear that is different and worth watching.

Finally, best of all is talking about poker. Bad news, I only know two people who take it seriously (one lives in Perth, the other is focused on his business right now), good news is that there are thousands on 2+2 and other Forums willing to help . I started this blog at the same time as I discovered forums - so I'll let you know :-).