Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Yup... Heads-up is pretty cool

I wish I could capture a few hand histories, but wow...  there are such polarizing players in heads-up play.  To my experience (limited to 4 days), I've taken note of three types of players: the solid, well-rounded hand reader, the gambler, and the tilter.
  • The solid, well-rounded hand reader
    Buys in full, 100BB.  Tops off his stack whenever he falls below the 80BB threshold.  Can fold and raise his button, and absolutely folds his blinds to raises.  His range is somewhat predictable meaning that it will take somewhat of a cooler to stack him.  He is capable of calling with Ace high if the situation warrants.  Raises his button about 66% of the time.
  • The gambler
    Buys in for 25-50BB.  Plays any two cards.  Primarily relies on getting lucky and calling down whenever he hits any piece of the board.  Once he gets stacked, he's done.  If he's on the doubling end, he's gone as well, happy to take his double-up.  Rarely raises, bets only when he has top pair.  Loves to min bet (WTF is with that!?!??!).
  • The tilter
    More rare but very lucrative.  This player is similar to the gambler in his buy-in habits and pre-flop ranges.  However, he'll continuously rebuy for his standard 25-50BB and look out if he gets stacked back-to-back!  For example, I had a guy who I was pretty sure went through his entire bankroll last night.  He bought in twice for 35BB and then rebought for the nice round number of $17.94 at a 25NL table.  Pretty sure I busted his roll.
I'm currently playing with ranges and gaming the game.  For example, since Bodog / Bovada has anonymous tables, does it make sense to try to steal blinds at the higher stakes?  In other words, if I sit & wait for a player and raise his blind (getting him to fold), if I drop the table afterwards, is it profitable?  Not saying that this is acting in good faith because it isn't, but how long before people start doing that on Bodog / Bovada?  Why shouldn't it be me?

As an aside, Bodog is offering $15-$30 per week as part of their Cash Per Suit promotion for the next month.  Play 25 points for 4 out of 7 days and make $25.  Play 25 points for 7 out of 7 days and make $30.  Seems to me that the 4 out of 7 days sequence makes the most sense.

Look for me on the tables!  I'm "Player 1."

Monday, January 30, 2012

Figuring it all out... A change in games within the Bodog structure

For the past 2 months, I've been dealing with the stupid changes that Bodog / Bovada made to their poker tables - primarily making the player names anonymous.  To me, as a grinder, that is the stupidest move they could have made; it makes the action at a full ring table simply impossible to follow.  How can I possibly keep track of whether player 4 got up and a new player 4 is sitting in his place?  I need to be placing my full focus on that particular window in order to have a chance of noticing - and probably not be involved in a hand at the time.  Expand that to the maximum 4 tables that Bodog allows, and keep tabs on players coming & going becomes very difficult at best.

From a business perspective, I can understand why Bodog has done what they have done.  Simply put, poker is less profitable to them than Blackjack or slots.  When you have an online casino which offers the full gamut of games, you don't want your gambler's money on the poker table where the casino becomes a partner with the winning poker players, taking a rake instead of outright taking the gambler's money.  You want that gambler sitting at a Blackjack table, or a Roulette table, losing their money directly to the house.  The question I ask myself, though, is why wouldn't Bodog / vada shut down their poker altogether?

Regardless, in dealing with the frustration of no longer being able to play full ring poker under anonymous circumstances, I've thrown in the towel on online poker.  I don't want to join Black Chip Poker, or some other third-rate site; I already have money on a third-rate site where I'm comfortable getting money off (they pay out immediately, and conveniently).  My understanding of the post-Black Friday poker world is the withdrawals have gotten far more difficult than even pre-Black Friday, with some players going to the extent of trading 80 to 90 cents on the dollar in order to get their money off those sites.  To grind online with an immediate 10 - 20% deficit like that, in addition to the cloud of DOJ looming at any minute, I'll take my chances with Bodog.

Back to the point of the article, though: changing my game.  I've thought long & hard about the solution to my inability to follow full ring games with anonymous players, and come to the decision that heads-up poker makes the most sense for me.  I'm not putting in hours like I used to - I have my graduate school to contend with now - but when I do, I can easily and quickly follow the action when I only have to deal with a handful of players.  I put in a few hours over the weekend and have had positive results at 25NL.  Either I'm incredibly lucky, or the players there have no idea about pre-flop hand ranges or when to play for stacks.  I've been coolered once, with a flush over flush, and sucked out on once to a chop, but other than that, I've been DOMINATING the play.  Playing against a single player, I'm able to focus on their play, and immediately notice a sit out or stand up.

The only problem I'm seeing now is the wait for a game to start and the high rake.  Basically, I have to sit down at an empty table and wait for a player.  Sometimes this can take 5 minutes.  The rake is quite costly as well - I think Bodog takes full rake from the heads-up tables.  However, in the appox. 2 hours of play that I've put in, I'm up about 3 buy-ins.  I expect it to continue.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Greetings from Marseille, France (continued)

Last I left off, I was playing in Cassis, France.  I closed out the night with a modest 150EU win, and never really had to face a decision.  The players here are ridiculously soft, having little to no clue about odds, hand strength or hand reading.  Quite often, I saw calls of shoves with top pair no kicker against obvious overpairs, top top versus top bottom, and otherwise hopeless play.  I would go on to play a second night, winning an additional 50EU, only to be sucked out on in my third night by an idiot who was overwhelmingly happy to get it in with a naked gut shot, naturally hitting his four-outter on the turn (straddled 8EU pot where I raised 3 overlimpers to 40EU with 200EU total - get one caller, idiot, in the SB.  Flop is dry 4 4 7 and he leads; I raise all in after careful assessment and he INSTA CALLS 3 5 for the gutter and is SO happy about it).

At any rate, the rules in Cassis are pretty different from the U.S., and since this is a trip report, I'll detail them out here:
  • Seat changes: You *CANNOT* change the order of the table, i.e. your seat position, under any circumstance, unless you are moving to the right and the seat is open and it doesn't change the order of the deal.  In other words, when you sit down, you are essentially stuck in your seat.  Otherwise, you must leave the table for 1 hour and then you can get a new seat.
  • Buying the button: nope.  No such thing.  In addition to me not speaking English, they looked at me as though I was an alien when I merely suggested posting from the would-be BB.
  • Straddles: nope.
  • Rake: Wow!  4% uncapped!  No bad beat jackpot, no nothing.  Just a naked 4% uncapped rake.  I would see drops of 10-18EU regularly.  It was crazy.  Rake happens whether players see a flop or not.  The casino provides a calculator whereby, at the end of each hand, the pot is totaled and the rake is calculated to the nearest .50EU.  Rake is not taken as the hand plays out.
  • New tables: You draw cards from 1 to 10 to determine seat positioning.
  • Getting up for a break: If you leave your stack there, they continue to take blinds from your stack, whether you play or not.  Interestingly, on that note, absent players are dealt each hand, though they are automatically folded.  Yes, this is a CASH game.
I'm still fuming from the gutshot douchebag - he called my shove so excitedly that I thought he had a 4.  I wish I had more money to play there - it would have been a field day.  I had a similar experience with Paris a few years back, where the players were generally donkeys, but this experience took the cake.  It was as if they were there to play slot machines on a poker table.  I couldn't believe how loose each player was with their money.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What percent are you?

According to Free Money Free Finance,  "Money Magazine's December issue listed shares of income in the US by quintile. Here's how they broke up:
  • Bottom Earners: Income up to $16,358; 4% of all U.S. income

  • Second Quintile: Income $16,359 to $32,188; 8% of all U.S. income

  • Third Quintile: Income $32,189 to $57,212; 13% of all U.S. income

  • Fourth Quintile: Income $57,213 to $97,298; 20% of all U.S. income

  • Top Earners: Income above $97,298; 55% of all U.S. income
And here are the income figures for the top 10% in increments of 1%:
  • 90th percentile: $154,131
  • 91st percentile: $160,864
  • 92nd percentile: $168,227
  • 93rd percentile: $177,123
  • 94th percentile: $187,412
  • 95th percentile: $200,026
  • 96th percentile: $235,687
  • 97th percentile: $290,860
  • 98th percentile: $360,435
  • 99th percentile: $506,553
  • 99.5th percentile: $815,868
  • 99.9th percentile: $2,070,574"
To figure out where your income fits, go to Wall Street Journal's What Percent Are You? calculator.  I doubt that I'll ever hit that 99th percentile, but I'm pleasantly surprised by my income in comparison to my fellow citizens.  Why do I still feel poor, though?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Greetings from Marseille, France

If you've been reading this blog long enough, you'll know that whenever I travel for business, I try to hit the local casino to check out the poker scene.  For today's post, I greet you from Saint Cyr sur Mer, France, near Marseille, on the French Riviera.  As you can see from the pictures below, the region's sights are absolutely stunning.
Greetings from the hotel Dolce Fregate
There's a picturesque golf course on the grounds, as well as sundry amenities such as massage, spas, pools, etc.  Of course, me being me, I don't waste time with that "girly" stuff - I'd rather get around, see the sites, and check out the locals.
View from the balcony of my hotel room
Before talking about the area and giving my trip report, I want to mention that the French roads here are ridiculously terrible.  Getting to the hotel was a feat in and of itself, in that the road signs are absolutely horrendous.  Only now, 2 days later, am I acclimating myself to the way roads seemingly trail off into one another.  I realize that one must pay keen attention to road signs in order to stay on the intended path.

Regardless, after a 2.5 hour journey from the airport (what should have taken 1 hour), I immediately headed to Bandol, which is the closest town.  Bandol is a town laid along the harbor, with expensive yachts lining one side, and shops and restaurants opposing them.  Walking along, checking out the different stores, I realize that I'm in a FAR different country - one which I clearly don't know or understand the language.  The throngs of people walking along the shops speak French, and don't stick to a pattern of walking on the right side; it seems to be mass chaos - no particular order seems apparent.  I purchased a large water and tried to complete the goal of my trip to town: getting souvenirs for my 3 kids.  No luck :-(.  However, I did find the local casino, located immediately on entrance to the town.  During the day, on a Sunday, though, it's pretty empty - I vowed to return later.

After catching up with a few colleagues for dinner, I decided to return to the casino to check out the local poker scene.  The casino in Bandol was still empty; the poker room was essentially a ghost town.  However, as it turns out, there happens to be 2 casinos within 20 minutes; the other one in Cassis.  The Bandol poker room manager was kind enough to call ahead to ensure a game was active at the other casino, and I ventured off to Cassis. 

I arrived at Casino Barrière de Cassis, after driving the crazy winding back roads of the region carved essentially into a mountainside.  I felt like I was in a bad '60's movie where I could drive off the cliff side at any moment.  Though I rented a Ford whatever-its-called-European-car, it was fun to drive, though I would prefer to take the roads a bit faster when I learn them a bit better.  Regardless, I arrived at the Casino in one piece, with all four wheels intact.

The casino primarily spreads 2/4, 5/5 and 5/10 (all in Euros) - and there were 2 tables running when I got there; both 2/4.  Unfortunately, though, I had taken 260EU out at the ATM when I got into France, figuring it would be enough for at least 1 buy in and expenses - and 400EU would provide a full buy in.  Oh well; I settled for a 200EU buy, figuring that if I go broker, that'd be it.  Upon sitting down, I found that I had most players covered, as I'd imagined that they bought in for the minimum 100EU initially.  As it would turn out, my stack size would never be an issue for the 2 hours I'd play that night...

(To be continued...)

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