Sunday, April 19, 2009

Probably the next to last post (penultimate, if you will)

As you may have noticed, the activity level of playbald.com is slightly down these last couple of days. I think I am going to try to explain why I am not blogging.

The main issue here is that I don't play much poker anymore. When I played, I would eventually run into a winning streak, and I would have to brag about it somewhere. The blog usually came up. So not playing is basically the one reason the well has run so dry. The fact is, I don't much like the total sum of being a poker player. There are so many other things that I enjoy more. Spearfishing for example. Playing PS3. Working a day job, I shit you not. Making babies. One of those showing up any day now.

Obviously, there are some parts of being a pro poker player that are very attractive: Winning stunning amounts of money is as fun and exciting as any activity can be. Not because of the money itself, but because of the opportunities and freedom than come right along. Talking and thinking about how you will use all your money is also fun of course. And finally, talking and thinking about how great you are that you can win all this money in fierce competition with others who would also like to do so, are also enjoyable activities.

Other than that, it pretty much sucks big time.

Poker is a game of exploitation. I've always enjoyed strategy games, sometimes to the point of obsession. Once the game is in front of me, I have to know how it works, and how to win. I take it personally if I can't. But professional poker is not a strategy game. It is a game of finding the weakest points of the weakest opponents and exploiting it.

Poker is a game of uncertainty. I am a fan of logic. To every action, there is a consequence, to every question there is an answer. Everytime I see something surprising happen, I think about why it happened, and I try to find the reason. In poker, there is no reason. Some times the flush draw hits. Some times it doesn't. You win a yearly salary in November, lose it in December. Kings beat aces. Amateurs beat pros. Idiots are interviewed as experts. Luck. It's chaos.

Poker is lonely. I am a socially minded person. I like friendly competition. I like to hang out with friends. The best way to win money in poker is to sit by yourself in front of your computer. The best part of your day is when you break someone, and he calls you a retard and expresses his desire that you die painfully. For the last 4 years I've had to deal with frustrating loses alone on a regular basis.


So why is this just the next to last post, and not in fact, the last? I don't know exactly. Maybe it's a dream of going back to the happy days of big money flowing in. I really enjoyed all that milk and honey. The fact is I just can't pull the plug on this chapter of my life just yet.


After all, the next winning streak is always just around the corner...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Fade to grey.

I am amazed that people still drop by here so regularly despite a lack of updates. Things have been difficult lately, for a number of reasons. First of all, I have been down for a while with a back dislocation, preventing me from spending significant time doing anything really. Only this week have I been a allowed a normal level of activity again. Poker work hours especially have been sacrificed, and not just because of health issues.

After a dissapointing September, October proved to be more of the same unfortunately. While rakeback and bonuses is a nice addition, it is not enough to compensate for all the stress of playing break even poker. It's like I am having my own private financial crisis of poker to go along with the world wide one (which has also been nasty for me).

Since October I have played maybe 15 hours of cash games and a couple of tournaments, so these days poker hasn't been a lot on my mind. Basically, I am bored with it. I am uncomfortably aware that I probably wouldn't have been bored if I had maintained a good income rate. It somehow seems wrong to enjoy an activity only when the pay is good. But poker is the ultimate capitalistic game, and income is so directly related to success that it is hard to enjoy the game during such a long break even period.

Would I regain the excitement and joy of the game with just a nice upswing? Start believing in and enjoying the life of a poker pro again? Maybe. But the fact is that for a while now I just haven't had the energy and motivation to handle the downswings, the bad beats and the break even stretches. Whatever else may happen, you know that those are always just around the corner, and being a successful poker player largely depends on your ability to handle them.

So these are going to be some of the last words from this full time poker pro. I am not leaving or anything, I just won't be playing full time poker for a while. I honestly don't know how much I will play going forward, but I intend to remain playing as a hobby, the income is just too good put it aside completely. Hopefully that will be enough to regain the motivation that is missing right now. Where this blog is going, I can't really tell, but I promise to deliver an entry whenever I have something on my mind.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It's been a while

It is high time for a report from this blogger, who has seen some tough times at the tables lately. This is a graph of September:


September turned out to be a break even month for me. Combined with questionable results stretching back all the way through the summer, that was enough to make me thoroughly sick of multitabling 6-max poker for a while. In the beginning of the year up until the middle of May, I had a very healthy win rate playing 6-10 tables of NL1000-NL2000 over more than 150k hands. That history taken into consideration, I am simply not willing to concede defeat just yet. But the fact that I have only won very modestly since then is no longer something I can ignore, and I clearly need to focus more on quality, not least in terms of game selection. I could also consider playing fewer than 8 tables of course, like a wuss.

To add to my frustrations, I am unable to find a functioning keyboard tool with attention queue to work with Partypoker. Their new software includes keyboard functionality, but it just sucks to use in its current form in my opinion.

So in a purely defensive measure, I am currently doing something completely different. Heads up cash games is my new 'job', until I find the motivation to get the old money machine back in gear. It has been going fairly well so far, and it is a nice change of pace from the 6-max grind. Other than that I am just doing a little bit of coaching here and there, and enjoying a lot of free time. I still find it fun to coach, and if you need some new input from a proven 6-max warrior, read this.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

September gaining steam.

Entertaining online screen name of the week: IfukedAnurse


September has been a rough ride so far. I started the month Monday with a bad taste of August in my mouth, having lost 19k in the last week. So I sat down Monday, happy to be starting on a fresh month, and BAM BAM BAM BAM lost four times in a row with AK vs QQ or QQ vs AK. Another couple of buy-ins went, and one hour into the month I am down $6k. Nice.

Luck is a funny thing. After such a session I often think about how many hours it will take to earn that back. At an expected $400/hr, thats 15 hours of work I just lost in one hour, and of course I was pissed. But somehow, yesterday evening I had a great day and made it all back plus $800 in just four hours. How am I supposed to make sense of that?

Today was just another trip down into the gutter of bad results. I was down 5 buy-ins not having a single spot of luck, but just this last hour everything turned around, and I come out of the day about $500 ahead. Not a flashy result, but sometimes a small win feels like a world championship. A small world championship, granted.

I was amazed today when one of the regulars played this hand against me. You know you have a rotten table image when someone does that with a pair of sevens. Or he was just on monkey tilt, I dunno:

Party Poker
No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $5/$10
6 players
Converter

Stack sizes:
UTG: $1107
UTG+1: $2808
CO: $1334
Hero: $1409
SB: $1248
BB: $1559

Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is Button with :qc :ac
UTG raises to $30, UTG+1 folds, CO calls, Hero raises to $130, 2 folds, UTG raises to $285, CO folds, Hero calls.

Flop: :jd :qs :6c ($615, 2 players)
UTG bets $275, Hero raises all-in $1124, UTG calls all-in $547.
Uncalled bets: $302 returned to Hero.

Turn: :as ($2259, 0 player + 2 all-in - Main pot: $2259)

River: :th ($2259, 0 player + 2 all-in - Main pot: $2259)

Results:
Final pot: $2259
UTG shows 7s 7c (one pair)
Hero shows Qc Ac (two pair)


Would you have folded that AQ preflop? You probably should most of the time. I kind of had a feeling he was going a little insane. That's what happens sometimes in the 3-betting war, don't let it happen to you.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

August is broken...


...and it happened on the 24th or thereabouts. Apparently advertising your own competence in the game of poker through coaching adds is enough to piss off Lady Luck. I know that I am probably not generating a lot of sympathy with a $20k month, so to compensate I will have to feel extra sorry for myself. No seriously I am happy with the end result, I just had my expectations set a lot higher after a terrific first half.

In terms of BB/100 I have also had a satisfactory month (2.7BB/100), but it just so happened that I ran very bad at 2000NL and very well at 600NL, not a recipe for success. My hourly rate is about $200/hr which of course is a disgrace to myself and poker players everywhere.

I managed my 100 hour goal for the month, and I am quite happy with that. For September I will try and exceed that by playing 120 hours. That would be a monthly record for me.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Coaching.

As I've previously mentioned, I've had the opportunity to get my feet wet in the business of poker coaching. The results have been so good, that I am confident I can offer a valuable product to any aspiring poker player up to and including mid stakes 6 max NL Hold'em cash games. Since I also seem to enjoy teaching, I have decided to make myself available as a coach.

Coaching process.
I preferably offer live and in person coaching in the Copenhagen area only, and the price is $200/hr. Once the coaching process is well underway, I am going to be more flexible on these terms.

It is a challenge for many poker players to evaluate and develop their game by themselves, due to the solitary nature of the game. There is naturally no qualified debate or discussion of strategy when playing poker, and while participation in online forums can be a big help, it is always a time consuming process and often a frustrating one as well ("I cant blieve u fold that u fkn retard, LOL!!1").

The strength of coaching in person is the amount of two-way communication possible. It gives me the opportunity to watch you play while you explain your thought process. Afterwards we will discuss strategic issues that I notice during play, and obviously also situations that you currently find to be frustrating or difficult. While poker strategy is the primary area of focus, I will also be able to evaluate your whole approach to the game, including mind set, bank roll management, multi-tabling and technical aids, and alert you if I spot potential conflicts with the life of a professional player or areas with room for improvement (wife control problems is an area of expertise :)). As the coaching process continues we can mix in theoretical discussions and improve on already working strategies. This would be my suggestion for a valuable coaching process, but your ideas and needs are obviously the deciding factors.

References.
As this blog documents I am a winning player on 6-max cash games up until 2000NL. My main source of income this year has been 1000NL typically played at 7-10 tables. My hourly rate this year over more than 200k hands has been about $500/hr, so this coaching offer is of course dirt cheap. I play at the poker office in Copenhagen, and this gives me the opportunity to discuss strategy with 11 other professional players on a daily basis, giving me an excellent overview of the online poker scene.

If you are interested, drop me a line at poker@hasloev.dk. I expect us to exchange a couple of emails and/or have a conversation before we decide if there is reason to continue.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Back in the game.

Online screen name of the week: OMGCAPSLOCK


Its been two weeks since my return to the tables, and things have mostly been going very well. The first week I played only $600NL tables, in order to ease back into the grind without getting too rattled by the beats, and also simply as a reaction to my bankroll being slightly smaller than I like. After winning the first 10 buy-ins, I started mixing in $1000NL tables, and now I am mostly playing those, although frequently I think the games are much better at $600. When the difference in opponent skills is too noticable, I don't feel too proud to ditch the $1000 games. Mostly it is my opinion that you should try not to get too hung up on playing at a specific level if the games are better elsewhere.

I am up a little over $20k since my return, even though I dropped $7k of all-in results through bad luck yesterday in a break even session. When you can run that much below expected results and still break even, things are pretty good. I am also about half way through my 100 hour goal, which could have been better I suppose. I will get there though, no question about it.

I have had some interesting battles with other regulars around the 3-betting game pre-flop. I punish players who steal too often, and some won't back off. If they steal too often, and fold to 3-bets too seldom, the result is lots of big pots with mediocre holdings on both our parts. If you don't know what is going on, it can seem like a stupid game of chicken between two bullies. In fact, it is just a logical consequence of players trying to exploit a particular leak, namely playing too loose preflop. If you often 3-bet someone who often steals and then often calls your 3-bets, you would be losing a lot of money if you didn't adjust your post flop play accordingly. And suddenly I have a situation where I can't fold a pair of eights out of position on a jack high board with 250 in the pot and 875 behind. A logical consequence of the 3-betting arms race, or a macho pissing contest? Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference.