Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays (December Review)!

Hey everyone, happy holidays! I hope that everyone is relaxing and enjoying some time with the fam.

As I briefly stated in my last post, I wrapped up poker for 2011 on December 15th and have been on vaction ever since...or as my friends would say, doing the same thing that I was doing before. The reason that I stopped on the 15th was simply because I had cleared my last possible milestone bonus(500K) for the year and my Team Online salary as well right around that day. I could have continued to play and earn some more FPPs but without the added incentive of hitting a new milestone bonus combined with the memory of last year's hectic non-stop grind, I chose to chill out for once.

I'll jump right into the numbers for December (all 100nl):


$2,817 Table Winnings
$2,000 FPP Value
$3,200 Milestone Bonus

$7,817 USD

My volume was pretty pinner once again but I felt alright about at least earning some positive table winnings for a change lol. The games seemed pretty good considering that I was expecting the typical December-regfest but 100nl seemed just fine.

Away from the tables, this month has been pretty sweet. Since the 15th, I've been able to fall into a routine that looks something like this:

-Wake up around 10am-12pm
-Whip up a good breakfast
-Lay some micro sports bets on Bwin
-Crush roommate in Madden
-Hit gym
-Sweat sports games at home or nearby bar

It's been tough.

I also met a girl at a Christmas party 1 or 2 weeks ago that I've seen a few times since. I'm not sure if anything long-lasting will transpire...she's like 4 yrs older than me and I'm leaving for a few weeks tomorrow but she seems pretty cool. We first hooked up at the Xmas party in real highschool fashion...first in the coatroom and then after too many people were coming into get their coats we moved to the bathroom...real PG-13 kinda stuff though, nothing serious.

As I just mentioned, I will be out of the country and on the move beginning tomorrow until Jan. 14th. First, I'm leaving on Boxing Day with three friends on what promises to be an epic roadtrip from Vancouver->San Jose->Anaheim->L.A. The premis of the trip is to follow the Vancouver Canucks roadtrip down the coast...we each got three tickets for each game (Sharks,Ducks,Kings) for $150 per person. To put that into perspective, one ticket to a Vancouver home game could cost $150 so watching hockey in the US can be a pretty sweet deal. Of course it's going to cost us $700 in gas to get there but hey, there's going to be a lot more to the roadtrip than just watching hockey. I'll also be in LA for New Year's Eve, so that should be exciting.

After the roadtrip, I'll immediately be jumping on a plane and will be flying down to the Bahamas for the PCA. I'm not going to be playing the Main Event but there's some Team Online promo stuff going on so I'll be around. Should be awesome.

All right, I'm about to head out for a big family Christmas dinner. I'll still be doing a big year in review blog post + my plans and goals for next year. I haven't figured everything out 100% but I know that next year will be a much more focused effort, which means that I'll likely be attempting to repeat SNE or something worthwhile. I'll keep you posted, take it easy.

gl at the tables!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

10th Anniversary $10M Sunday Million

Hey guys, just a quick reminder about the special Sunday Million today that is awarding at least $2 million to first...should be pretty epic.

In other news, I've finished up with poker for the year (aside from a couple tournaments perhaps!) and am looking forward to relaxing for the holidays. I'll give an update on how December went (poker + life) and then get around to doing the full year in review shortly after.

gl to those playing tomorrow.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Book Review: "How I Made My First Million From Poker"-Tri Nguyen

Tri “Slowhabit” Nguyen’s latest book, “How I Made My First Million From Poker,” is centered around the topic of finding success in poker by emphasizing a balance between many different aspects of one’s life. The aim of the text is to show aspiring poker players that through living a balanced lifestyle and by working hard, one can gain the mental edge that is required for success and longevity in the poker world (as well as any future endeavours that one may have down the road). Whether one is just beginning their journey as a professional poker player or contemplating retirement, Tri offers valuable insight into how to approach poker throughout one’s career by drawing upon and referencing his own experiences.

The text itself is 253 pages long and is broken into 24 short chapters, each covering a different topic that helps contribute to the main theme of the book (the processes that allowed Tri to find success in poker). The book is very well written and easy to read if you’re accustomed to simple poker lingo. If words like “ranges,” “3-bet,” and “EV” are not part of your vocabulary, you may want to read some of the chapters with Google open on your laptop. Each chapter is very concise and it doesn’t feel like there is very much filler at all. Even when Tri is sharing a story about his personal experiences he always makes sure to make his point efficiently and without rushing. At the end of each chapter, Tri offers a couple of exercises for the reader to do in order to put the theories that were just talked about into practice. Even if you don’t bother doing the exercises, the presence of the workbook acts as reminder that Tri’s book is all about putting in your own work and that poker is not a game that can simply been spoon fed to someone.

I think that Tri does a great job of covering a vast array of topics that are all important to being successful in poker (from technical poker strategy to how to increase your overall happiness away from the tables). One thing to note though is that poker players that are already able to find some success in the profession may find some parts of the book to be a little redundant. That said, what I really found interesting about the book was that through sharing his poker career from the very start to where he is today, Tri makes it possible for almost everyone to learn something new-regardless of how seasoned a player may already be. For example, while I may already practice a balanced lifestyle and know how to avoid tilting, I may not know the best way to brand myself or how to approach coaching. Along the same lines, it’s nice to have the importance of things that I might already be aware of reinstated…such as setting up passive income to get my money working for me.

Overall, “How I Made My First Million From Poker” offers an interesting read and valuable insight into what it takes to succeed through poker. I really agreed with what Tri had to say in his book and it’s clearly no coincidence that he’s managed to find success in poker and life. I would recommend this book to anyone that is struggling with how to think about the game and how they should approach poker, or to those who simply have an interest in how the mind of a poker player often functions.

If you'd like to pick up a copy or read a couple of other reviews first, here's the link:

fwiw, I'm not friends with Tri nor do I know the guy so this is a completely unbiased review. I simply got an email a few weeks ago asking me if I'd review the book and it looked interesting to me so I agreed.

gl at the tables.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Ego In Poker-Winrate vs. Rakeback

There is way too much ego in poker. People are always quick to boast about their Superior poker IQ at the tables, either by pointing out where you went wrong in a hand and berating your play or by posting their opinion as fact on the forums. I'm certainly guilty of all of the above and while I'm not proud about it, I also can't think of a single poker player that doesn't have an ego problem to some extent. The fact is that in order to be a successful poker player, you need to be confident in yourself and the line between confidence and arrogance is so thin that it's easily crossed.

I want to preface my argument with the most important part to take away from this post. I have learned that flaunting one's ego is mostly just a reflection of insecurity. I know this because when I first began playing poker (and even now, but to a lesser extent though), I would berate a play or factually tell someone that they're wrong to reassure myself that I knew what I was doing, even if I didn't. In poker, it makes sense for people to be delusional about their skill level or they probably wouldn't be playing the game in the first place. When there are no definitive right and wrong answers, no clear-cut yeses and noes, it can be tough to know if you're winning (or losing) because of your play or simply because of variance. As a result, I think that a lot of people are insecure about their game and as an attempt to reassure themselves in what they are doing, they pretend or imagine that they are brilliant at poker by talking down to others.

With that said, the point of this post is not to plea to you to leave your ego aside while playing poker. Instead, the point of the post is to recognize that ego certainly exists among almost all poker players and to make a case for us mass-multitablers out there that the "winrate" statistic is very trivial so long as you're focused on the bigger picture of making money. Why am I trying to prove that people should be less focused on winrate and not other statistics? Well, if there's one thing that drives ego-centered arguments-it's people's winrates!

This post is inspired from an incident that occurred during my session today where I butchered a hand pretty badly against a winning regular and out of frustration wrote "why do I always pay off the nits?" to no one in particular, after the hand. This started a brief banter back and forth about who was the better poker player (aka the standard toolbox E-Argument) and after a quick glance at his results I found out, as I suspected, that he had only won less than 1/3rd of what I had earned in the same time frame yet his winrate was more than double mine!

Comparing Results

Results are how we keep score in poker. It's not a perfect system but it's the best we got. It would make sense then when trying to determine who is the better poker player to simply compare everyone's results and we would have a clear-cut answer to end all arguments. However, basic complications quickly arise because players have each played a different number of hands in their lifetime so it would not be fair to compare two players unless they had the exact same number of hands under their belt. This is where the winrate statistic comes into play and why people put so much emphasis on looking at someone's winrate, we can learn how much money per hand someone is earning and thereby have a consistent measurement to use among all players. Sounds like the perfect way to compare people's skill level then right? A lot of people think yes but some smarter people would say NO!

Not surprisingly, those with a good winrate will be quick to defend the stat, while others with breakeven or marginal winrates will downplay it's importance. In my mind, there are two main reasons why I don't care more than I have to about my winrate.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to playing poker professionally, it all comes down to winning the most money that I can. Obviously I want my winrate to be as high as it can be so I can maximize my profits but unless you're playing high-stakes cash games it's almost always going to be the case that you can make more money from rakeback + small winnings rather than large table winnings +small rakeback(of course there are exceptions). Using myself as an example, in 2 years I've won about 130K in table winnings but because I've played over 4 million hands in this time span my winrate is nothing amazing (bit less than 1). One of the most amazing winrates that I've seen is around 6.6 from a player at 100nl but guess what, he's only earned 80K in the same time frame. The arguments starts now because you could easily say "well if the player with the high winrate played as many hands as you then he'd have won WAYY more money!" Yeah, well guess what, he CAN'T play as many hands as I can or he WOULD HAVE DONE IT TOO. There's a skill within itself that's required to mass multi-table and I think that it's very undervalued. People that have great winrates have them for a reason-they pick good tables and can pay attention to every detail. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying they're not fantastic poker players...just that take away their table selection and throw them on 24 tables and we'll see what their winrate drops to.

The players that I consider truely elite are those that can mass multi-table and have solid winrates to boot. I don't put myself in that category but I don't feel as though I'm leagues off either. To name a few names, guys like Ronfar3, TimStone, gutter23, Vinivici9586 and a few others have been able to maintain great winrates while maximizing rakeback and have it all figured out in my opinion.

Sacrificing Attention

The main reason why I think that the winrate statistic should not be boasted in the face of any mass multi-tabler is because they are aware that they are not playing 100% optimally and ACCEPT that in order for more overall profits, as mentioned above. When you're flying through 24 tables, you accept that you are going to miss little things, misclick more, and probably most importantly, practice worse table selection because you're going to earn more money from rakeback than you would from winnings alone. I don't care if you have a winrate of 2.x when I feel that I could have a winrate of 4.x if I also bumhunted 8 juicy tables all of the time. Of course, I'll be reluctant to prove this because I know the value of my time and will be instead busy grinding out them VPPs :)

Sample Size/How One Is Running

One last point to use against those bragging about their awesome winrate is to say that their sample size is usually meaningless. For reasons that were mentioned above, usually players with good winrates will be playing few tables and as a result, have a relatively small number of hands under their lifetime belt. People that think they have it all figured out after playing only 1 million hands (especially 100K-500K, lol) have another thing coming. I can play 250K hands in 1 month and in that month I could win $10K at the tables only to lose a few grand the very next month. When your sample size is small, variance will play a much greater role in your results and you could easily be on a heater the whole time and not even realize it.

Should We Care About Winrates At All?

Sure, we should care about winrates. I'm not saying someone's winrate doesn't matter...just that it's importance should be downplayed when getting into ego wars. Apart from the obvious reason of maximizing profit as much as possible, winrates are also important for things such as coaching. Whether I like it or not, having a good winrate and respect often go hand in hand in the poker community and therefore is not something to ignore completely.

And that's that. I'd like to hear other people's thoughts about this...especially someone that wants to defend their 2.56 winrate lol!