Monday, August 31, 2009

Poker as a career?

I'm much further from having a rewarding poker career than I thought I would be at this stage. It's not that I'm not further from the start, it's just that what represents the finish line is getting further away.

Not only are the games getting harder, but I can see that what starts as a hobby can become a grind if you're not careful. Another important factor is that if the stakes are too low, the time required to eek out a living encroaches on your ability to make any "meaningful contribution to society / family".

As always, Jesse has captured this from experience much more eloquently in a recent post.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Overdue Poker Progress Update

It seemed to me like a long time since my last post, but in actual fact it is only 4 weeks. To put that in perspective, it is a lot longer since I last contacted a few of my very good friends. The truth is that I just got out of the habit, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

A lot has happened in the interim, but as with life it has simply merged into an abstract blob in my memory. Poker has been as prominent and, if anything, appears to be settling into a very healthy space. It is still as time consuming but more purposeful. It is also more varied without appearing to have an overly adverse impact on my bankroll.

I am convinced that, if poker is your intended career, online profits will be derived from specialisation in a single form of poker as the games are evolving to be very unexploitable at the higher levels, which requires the high level thinking/discipline of an exploitive strategy. With a 'real job', I don't have the luxury, or need, to specialise to that degree to derive an income from poker so I'm pursuing variety without losses - which I seem to be achieving.

I am playing PLO almost exclusively these days. I am profitable at PLO25, break even at PLO50 and losing at PLO100. Unfortunately, you lose 4 times as much at PLO100 as you win at PLO25 (assuming it is the AI coinflips that make the biggest difference). Hence, my grinding is funding my shots. Probably the nature of the poker climb. I'd like to be a winning PLO200 player so I have a couple of years of learning ahead of me, I think.

I am playing the $11 PLO MTTs and doing quite well. OPR has me as 98.4% which I think flatters my ability. It has helped me concentrate on decisions trying to make it into the 99%, if only for a day, but I haven't quite got there yet.

BTW, I've always maintained that I agree with general wisdom that claims that only 5% of poker players are winners. Based solely on my ranking and performance, I think that online with its ability to multitable that this number could be as low as 1%.

Live Poker - Home Games
I am blessed with a relatively soft, well bankrolled regular home game (every couple of Fridays). These are a lot of fun, the alcohol flows and we usually wrap up between 3am and 4am. No-one loses on a regular basis but a few of us tend to eek out a regular profit. We have a variety of styles which makes it a lot of fun, including two AI fiends that are as likely to have a hand or not.

Live Poker - Casino
The home games and online Omaha have just too much appeal for me at the moment and the Casino struggles to compete. I'm up overall but that is totally dependent on table make-up. Short-term variance affects almost every session result, but overall the trend is indicative of the mix being grinders, regular LAGs and recreational players. In Australia, we're blessed with heavily populated pub leagues that provide a steady supply of average live MTT donkament types.

Live Poker - Amici
This is the only regular live PLO cash game that I know of. It's a private Club with a time charge. The guys getting the game going are seasoned card players ranging from greek and italian old school to obnoxious internet kids. No soft spots in this game. Even those that don't understand PLO, understand cards and pick their spots extremely well. After 2 weeks, I'm 0 for 2. I'm hoping that that is variance, but each week I've lost a Buy-in early (got money in good both times) and then proceeded to play non-optimally. First week nitty scared money; second week my efforts to avoid that resulted in a bit tilty LAG style. Readying myself for third attempt. Big negative with this game is that smoking is allowed at the table. Big positive is that it is definitely training at live play altitude for me.

Read a couple of books and magazines (I'm not a reader), kept up with my favourite Pokercast (esp 2+2 and PokerRoad) and watched a couple of Stox PLO Training videos. All of these have helped keep my perspective in balance.

I've never been able to come up with any meaningful goals that I was committed to sticking to. I try to keep things in balance, move forward incrementally, practice BR mgmt that suits my style and enjoy the game. Not really goals, but I think that they are all ticked for now.

Las Vegas
I'm off to Las Vegas for the first time since taking poker seriously. Can't wait! It's a work conference but I have a couple of days acclimatisation over the weekend of the 12th Sept - woo hoo! Feel free to drop me any tips that you might have.