February 22, 2011

Guessing game...

In my last post I talked about how I was going to not look at my results, and I have definitely seen some benefits from this over the last week or so. I am getting much less stressed about how the games are going during play. If I'm going through a spell where I'm running like death, I'm not attaching a dollar amount to the loss, so I feel like I'm 'taking it on the chin' much better and just grinding through the pain.

I'm also less concerned about losing my winnings. I think this problem is attached to the gambling psychology where if you win $100 but then lose $50, you feel so much worse than you do if you win $50, even though you are in the same situation financially. So those sessions that start really well, but go downhill from there, aren't bothering me so much.

It's hard not to play the 'guessing game' about how things are going during or after a session, but without looking at your results it's actually more difficult than I thought it would be, perhaps because I am playing so many tables.

After four days of not looking at any results, I went back and looked at how things had gone, and was very surprised that my guess of how each day had gone was a fair way off. I was completely oblivious to the most swingy day I believe I've had playing 18-man SNGs, in which I won a massive 75 buy-ins in just 80 SNGs, immediately followed by a massive 55 buy-in downswing in the 80 SNGs immediately following this. This day would have been an emotional rollercoaster for me if I was aware of how it went, but all I could tell was that I was running good in the morning and badly in the afternoon.

epitomised, February 18th SNGs
Something I have talked about before is that one of the benefits of 'stacking' your tables as opposed to 'tiling' them is that you don't actually see your all-in showdowns. A consequence of this is that you lose emotional attachment you have to those hands. If you don't see your Aces cracked on the river by a two-outer in a huge pot, then it doesn't hurt as much. Being vaguely aware that a SNG you were doing well in has closed for some reason is about as close to a reaction as you are going to get.

I think not looking at your results until a few days after you played has a related benefit. It is hard to care too much that four days ago you won or lost however much, because you have played so much more poker since then.

I'm not sure not looking at my results has had a direct affect on my play, as I'd like to think that I play as well as I can at any given time despite my knowledge of how well the last hour/day/week has gone. I did fair much better at the tables over the four-days I have looked at where I wasn't checking my results than I had for the rest of February, but it's hard to draw any conclusion from this small sample. However, getting rid of the distraction of clicking the 'refresh' button in Hold 'em Manager throughout the day can only be a good thing, and the reduction of stress is of great value.

I've also managed to get rid of one of my obsessions, which was always checking HEM for how my EV adjusted winnings compared to how many chips I had actually won. This figure doesn't bare much significance for 18-man SNGs, and will get largely skewed by how you ran when Heads Up with that being the time the biggest pots are played. That didn't stop me looking at it more often than I would look through a portal to the future, should I own one. I've also stopped looking at this pretty much completely, which is another distraction out of the way.

The only thing I'm not sure of is how often I should look at my results. The only problem is you do get increasingly curious the more days you go without looking. Currently my plan is to look at them on a four-day delay, so I will only ever know how I was doing 4 days in the past. It seems I'm always watching 3-week old wrestling, and I'm still only on Season 7 of Smallville, even after naming my son Clark, so I should be used to being a bit behind!

SNE Quest 2011 Stats:
Days played/elapsed:
Hours Played:
SNGs Played:
Hands Played:
VPPs Earned:
SNE Pace (+/- Pace):
(11,819 behind)

February 17, 2011

No peeking!

After receiving a little deserved abuse from SNG whizzes Nick Rainey and PortlyPig for being too concerned with my short-term results, as I was in my last blog post, I have decided to take some affirmative action.

I have always been pretty bad for checking my results 'as I go'. I click that 'refresh' tab in Hold 'em Manger far too often during a session to check how I am doing. I've always known it was probably counter-productive, but justified it by the fact I still do well in the games despite doing it.

The problem with checking your results too often is that you care about them too much. If I know I've had a bad day, each passing bust-out becomes increasingly more frustrating. My results affect my mood too dramatically. I will be depressed if I've had a losing day, frustrated if I've had a break-even day, satisfied if I've had a decent winning day, and super happy if I've had a really good winning day. These emotional swings, which are derived from random-variance, aren't good for my stress-levels, and are probably quite difficult for my fiancée who has to live with me. After all, isn't it supposed to be women that have mood-swings?!

When you think about it, it seems quite ridiculous to get caught up in results spanning 100-200 games when to achieve Supernova Elite, I will have to play upwards of 50,000 SNGs over the course of the year.

A recent blog post from fellow 18-man SNG grinder jcar9271 has inspired me to stop checking my results on a short-term basis. jcar9271 has set himself a similar challenge to not look at his results for as long as possible, however I think I'm going to check on them weekly basis. I am a little concerned that not checking my results would hinder me staying on top of my game. If I went on some death-run over a long period of time without realising I was doing quite so badly (obviously you're going to be at least vaguely aware of how well things are going), which is likely to be related to playing badly, I would want to be aware of that so I could do my best to fix whatever leak(s) I had picked up.

It means my glorious Excel Spreadsheet won't quite get the attention she deserves, but I can always fill her in on a weekly basis!

Jcar has another concern...
"I'm taking bets on who will be the idiot to skype me with my results and screw this whole thing up."
Fortunately I will just presume anyone who tries to do this is levelling me and won't believe them :)

If anyone is wondering what happened to my Sharkscope avatar, I moved it to the bottom of my blog to help me keep to this challenge :)

SNE Quest 2011 Stats:
Days played/elapsed:
Hours Played:
SNGs Played:
Hands Played:
VPPs Earned:
SNE Pace (+/- Pace):
(9,442 behind)

February 15, 2011

Getting destroyed right now...

Well February so far has pretty much sucked. My 5th losing day out of the last 6 days has put paid to any profit I made in SNGs at the beginning of them month.

Prolonged downswings like this are frustrating for obvious reasons, such as losing money, but more frustrating is not being sure what I'm doing wrong. Or even if I'm actually doing anything wrong. I could just be running bad, or I could have picked up a bunch of leaks and am playing bad. I have a feeling it's a mix of both. Being break-even over the course of 2000 games makes it pretty likely I'm doing stuff wrong.

So I'm obviously doing my best to fix this, and am doing some studying, but I feel like I'm just confusing myself and finding too many different ways to look at hands.

The problem with poker is the more you play, the more your habits gradually change. So whilst you might think I could just go back to how I was playing when I was crushing the games, last year or even as little as four weeks ago, I don't really remember exactly how I was playing. And it's possible that I've correctly fixed some things I was doing badly back then.

I've been over some old hand histories and I do some stuff that I now think is bad, and don't feel like I should re-adopt them. Sadly there aren't exactly always 'correct' answers in poker. Ok I definitely shouldn't limp in with 72 under-the-gun, but "should I be raising/shoving/folding" in this spot situations are much less finite. There's not much you can do other than discuss hands with other players and plug hands in on SNG Wiz, but even SNG Wiz doesn't know everything.

Epitomised, February 2011, SNGs
And here's the fun thing about going for Supernova Elite. I can't really have a break from the tables to regain focus. Today, I had a lie in, spent some of the morning studying and put in a half day in the afternoon playing less tables than usual...and I had my worst session of the year so far. I can't really afford to give up more time than I already have. So I guess I have to just keep grinding, and work hard at playing well, and marking any spots where I'm not sure WTF I should do and work on them in-between sessions.

SNE Quest 2011 Stats:
Days played/elapsed:
Hours Played:
SNGs Played:
Hands Played:
VPPs Earned:
SNE Pace (+/- Pace):
(10,362 behind)

February 09, 2011

Supernova 2012 & No more DoNs!

Today I surpassed the 100,000 VPP mark, and in doing so I locked up Supernova status until the end of February 2012. So even if this all goes tits up, at least I've got Supernova secure for the next year. It's kinda cool to have achieved something it took me until late December to achieve last year, and this is already the most VPPs I've earned in a calendar year.

Server restarts are starting to tilt me somewhat. There has been two in the last week, and they are conveniently placed smack bang in the middle of the time I like to play. On top of that the software screwed up for a bit yesterday afternoon, and tilted me into cutting my session short. So as if the obstacle of self-motivation isn't  enough, I'm having to contend with having my playing hours cut short! Unfortunately I don't think PokerStars are going to move their server resets to peak hours in the States just to serve me, so it's something I'm going to have to learn to put up with all year.

It's not looking great at the minute, with me falling 9,000 VPPs behind pace. Although this isn't too drastic, I'm breaking the golden rule of staying ahead of pace. I'm intending to play the UKIPT event at Dusk 'till Dawn this weekend, which is hardly going to help matters. I'm going to set myself some kind of challenge to at least be back on pace by the end of February.

I feel like I'm struggling a bit in the games at the moment. Although I think generally I'm playing well, I've had a fair few days where I'm just getting nowhere. I'm kinda hoping it's just variance rather than I've started doing stuff wrong, because I've put quite a decent amount of time into studying my game recently. Hopefully that isn't doing more harm than good!

There's been a fair few changes on PokerStars recently.

They announced today that "Double or Nothings" are going to be replaced by "Fifty50" SNGs from the 15th February. The difficulties in policing collusion in DoNs make this a sound decision imo. It shows PokerStars are taking action after the Chinese Ring scandal last year that Daleroxxu wrote a great report on here.

The announcement (available here) also states that SNG rake is under review. I have heard rumours about SNG rake being reduced for quite a while, but it is yet to come to fruition. I am obviously all for it. I think it's a necessary move, as a lot of the higher-stakes SNGs just don't get running these days because it's barely possible to beat the rake. It's possible that PokerStars loss of margin through the  reductions they will make back in increased volume. It's important for the liquidity of the games that they are beatable. Although it might make it that little bit tougher for me to get to Supernova Elite, I'm all for it if it increases my winrate :)

Other changes include CAP cash game tables have been introduced, which is a measure which has been taken to try and solve the 'shortstacking' dispute. Read that announcement here.

It has also come to light that Greg Raymer is no longer a member of Team PokerStars. I was quite surprised by this, as I think Greg has real value as an ambassador of poker, and was surprised Stars would drop him. However apparently he chose to leave after they reduced his sponsorship deal. Please let Joe Hachem be the next WSOP Main Event champion to leave Stars. It tilts the crap out of me how he complains about coolers/standard spots/dealers. You won millions of dollars winning the Main Event you lucky bastard! If you never have any luck in poker ever again, you will still have had more luck than 99.9% of people who play poker ever will!!!!

Whilst I'm blabbing on about poker news, it also was confirmed today that the WSOPE will be moving to France this year. The Empire Casino in London did seem like a crap location, as everything looked so confined, but it's a bit of a shame it's moved away from the UK. Read more on that here.

SNE Quest Stats:
Days played/elapsed:
Hours Played:
SNGs Played:
Hands Played:
VPPs Earned:
SNE Pace (+/- Pace):
(9,063 behind)

February 03, 2011

Wrestling to stay on pace...

I fell off Supernova Elite pace last week for the first time since January 3rd, largely thanks to a trip to London to go and watch the TNA Wrestling event there. It's still early days but the burn is starting to set in a little bit. I'm turning my alarm off when it wakes me up in the morning a little too often, and my VPP per day average seems to be more around the 2800 mark than the 3500 mark, which is a better target to make SNE more viable.

The wrestling show was a little disappointing. I am generally a WWE fan and don't watch much TNA, but the wrestling there is usually high quality, and seeing as this was the company's biggest live crowd to date (around 10,000 fans), you'd think the wrestlers would go all out to put on a great show. To me though it felt like they were just 'phoning it in' for the most part. Having said that it might just be that watching wrestling live isn't as good as seeing it on TV, which is something I've found in the few times I've been to see wrestling. The camera angles definitely play a big part in making wrestling look real, and perhaps the lack of hype from a commentary team has a negative impact as well.

One bit of the show that made for uncomfortable viewing was the Ric Flair match. I was pretty disappointed to see Ric Flair return to wrestling after being given an awesome storyline in WWE for his retirement, which culminated in his last match being against Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 24 about 3 years ago. It was the perfect send-off and was a very good and emotional match.

Apparently though, he has been raped by his divorce settlements from his three failed marriages (he's currently on his fourth wife!) and he needs the money. Consequently I couldn't help but feel sorry for this guy, who is 62 years old and really shouldn't be wrestling. He still wrestles in trunks, and watching an old wrinkly guy wrestle an athletic Doug Williams, who at 39 is reasonably old in wrestling terms himself, just doesn't seem right. The match was very slow paced, and Flair was the only guy to 'blade' all evening. Watching a 62 year old bleed all over seemed a little unnecessary. I can't help but think Flair is tarnishing his legendary career by continuing to wrestle and hope he can find other ways to pay off his ex-wives soon.

Poker-wise, things are going fairly well. At the moment it feels like I'm taking 5 steps forward, 4 steps back all the time as every time I have an upswong I seem to get doomswitched back to almost where I was before. At least it's not 5+ steps back I guess.

January Review
January ended up being my most profitable month since I started playing SNGs, which justifies my plan to go for Supernova Elite. I also put in the most volume I ever have, playing over 4,800 SNGs. My previous record was 3,700 in November 2009 which was for a prop bet at the time. So it's been a really positive start, although tbh I'm actually a little disappointed with my ROI in 18-mans so far, as it's less than I was achieving last year. That's possibly attributable to the amount of volume I'm putting in, but I am doing my best to stay on top of my game and not pick up leaks, which is easily done when you're playing as much as I am.

It's still early in the year so I didn't want to draw too much from it, but I'm currently rocking my first Sharkscope Diamond Star for being top of the 2011 Total Profit Leader-board for "Any Game 2-3 Table, $16-35", which is kinda cool (although not quite up to spacegravy's standards!)

Check out Nick Rainey's "January Awards" if you're interested in seeing how other MTT SNG grinders faired in January.

SNE Quest Stats:
Days played/elapsed:
Hours Played:
SNGs Played:
Hands Played:
VPPs Earned:
SNE Pace (+/- Pace):
(4,293 behind)