Happy New Year

I just got home after playing my final session of 2013 at the Bellagio. I used to really dislike playing there. It was always cramped, and the floor guys were unwelcoming. These days, the poker room is slightly less cramped after they removed a few of the tables. Still kinda cramped though. And the floor guys are, I guess, a little more welcoming. Most of them. But I’ve found a sense of comfort and confidence playing in the 2/5 games at the B. See here, from tonight:

I straddle, and utg raises to $25. It folds around to me and I call with 10 10. The flop is Js9c3s, and I check. My opponent tries to bet $50, but blatantly string bets and the dealer pushes half of his bet back to him. I call. The turn brings the Ad. Not my favorite card as more of utg’s range is now in front of my tens, and he continues with an actual bet of $50 this time. I still call. The river is a brick: the 2c. I check one last time, and my opponent grabs a stack of reds and places his $100 bet in the middle. He kind of has to have an A, a set, or some sort of bluff… I don’t think he’s good enough to bet KJ or KK here. Sets are hard to make, but an A makes a lot of sense. Doesn’t feel right though. Feels weird. So yeah, I call. He flips 88, we scoop.

When you make a call in that kind of river spot, it isn’t all that different from getting it in with QQ vs AK preflop. You’re a small favorite (in this case, I think physical tells combined with betsizing and player type analysis gives me an edge), but you’re gonna lose a decent percentage of the time. But for the past 3 months or so, my hero calls have felt more like getting it in with AA vs AK. Some people think confidence is overrated, and that you should be able to play optimally without that kind of intangible force. I think being in the zone is huge. Of course, running good helps too.

I certainly haven’t ran bad over the last few months. This, combined with what I hope is good play, has allowed me to put up a solid hourly rate of $56/hr over the past 500 hours of live 2/5 no limit holdem. It’s good enough to firmly plant myself as a 2/5 reg with hopes of taking shots at 5/10 in the somewhat near future. I’ve been in this position, at least monetarily, before. It’s easy to forget that poker will always be a grind when things are going good. But this time I’m going to tell myself to stay in the moment and to keep working hard. I also have statistics on my side this time. Nobody knows what exactly the long term is in live poker, but the number of hours I’ve put in feel like tools I can use when I need them; tools I didn’t have before which always resulted in not doing the job correctly.

The most recent ~500 hours of play at the 2/5, 3/5, and 5/5 levels.
The most recent ~500 hours of play at the 2/5, 3/5, and 5/5 levels.

On the life side of things, 2013 was a year I’ll never forget. I got engaged! My beautiful fiancĂ©e put up with me for 4 years (and counting) of fumbling about the low stakes poker world. How she stuck around through all the downswings and uncertainty of a poker lifestyle is beyond me, but I am thankful, and excited. When I was younger and I would picture my future wife, I’d see someone nice, attractive, funny, intelligent… Pretty standard list. She’s all of those things, but she’s something else that I never considered: she makes me want to make myself better. That is, in my opinion, the best trait you can find in a partner.

I’m not really one for new year’s resolutions, so I don’t have any of those. I also used to think goals were the way to go, but I recently read an article by the creator of “Dilbert” in which he claims that “goals are for losers.” So I won’t rattle off a big list of goals for 2014. I suppose I do have a handful of things I’d like to accomplish:

1) Win an MTT tournament. Although, I don’t think anybody has actually ever won one of these things because I don’t see how it’s remotely possible. Pretty sure it’s a scam.
2) Become a 5/10 reg.
3) Get in better shape.
4) Blog more, and create more content in general.

But what’s more important than the goals is the path, and the process. If you want to move up in stakes, this is what you need to do:

1) Play a bare minimum of 150 hours a month. Focus on hours in good games, not on daily monetary results.
2) Share every semi-questionable hand that you play (or observe being played) with a group of poker-playing colleagues/friends who are also trying to advance their poker lives, and keep an open mind regarding feedback. They also need to share hands that they play and be open to feedback from you. Always question lines, ranges, sizings, etc.
3) Take shots as soon as you’re financially able.
4) Don’t worry too much about balancing your lifestyle. Balance will be easier when you’re making more money per hour, which will allow you to work less hours. Get mentally tough by practicing, not by balancing.
5) Try to have a routine. This will probably be affected as game quality ebbs and flows, but try.

Happy new year.


The B

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