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Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Therapy

I’m in the middle of moving to a house in the country. The Hooter Ville phone company still hasn’t been able to connect the DSL. They’ve only missed one appointment so far. So, I’m still hopeful.

Not much time to blog lately, but I still want to get into it. No one in my personal life cares about poker. Even If I were to win the WSOP, none of my friends or family would be impressed, although I guess the money might attract some unwanted attention from who knows whom.

With a blog no one is forced to listen. But I can pretend that someone is.

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Monday, March 22, 2004

Weekly Tourney

Wow, it’s been almost a week since I blogged. I guess I was focused on playing . . . good. I’m getting ready to try and get some money over to Planet Poker so I can play in the “Journalizer’s” weekly tourney. Check out Felicia’s Poker Talk for details.
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Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Concentration

It’s the biggest challenge of grinding. Your looking for a certain type of game, making the same plays over and over. It can get boring.

Someone gave me a tape of the first WPT show of the new season. Tonight I’m watching the show for the first time and playing online at the same time. I'm winning pretty big. Then near the end of the show there is some bizarre heads up action and I’m trying to figure it out as it is happening on my tape. Next thing I know, half my winnings are gone and I can’t tell you a thing about how it happened. Focus, Focus, FOCUS!

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Sunday, March 14, 2004

IQ

Certainly, there are a number of intelligent forms of life on this planet. But consider this, without goals, can any species be said to have intelligence? As humans, we have great latitude in actually choosing many of our goals. But choosing bad goals or failing to develop a rational plan to achieve them cannot be considered smart.

The quality of goals selected tends to divide the family of poker players into different species, that and the soundness of the plan they decide to implement. In the competition within the species (fish VS fish or shark VS shark), it comes down to persistence and adaptability.

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Friday, March 12, 2004

Capital Tools

No time to blog when your favorite site makes major upgrades. I had to go into programmer mode while still having to play 8 hours a day. I had to get those hand histories compatible with the PokerTracker. My long workouts eat up a chunk of the day too. Swim 3 miles one day, run 12 miles another, always hitting those tennis balls—at least it allows me to glue myself to the chair as needed. Technology and endurance are worthy investments in this game.


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Sunday, March 07, 2004

Paranoia

What scares me about online poker?

The card room might fold and I will lose my money? No, there are plenty of solid sites. Even though I try to focus on playing one at a time I don’t keep my entire bankroll in one place.

Running into people with more skill? No, I’ll just find another game when that happens.

Running into a bot? No, although that game could get too loose with everyone going after the easy money.

Running into people using PokerTracker? No, these people are going to give me respect.

Running into collusion? Yes, you bet cha! Teams using instant messaging, or Winbot to share cards and jam pots for each other would scare me to tilt.

But this can be a problem in a casino or home game as well. Yet, cheating, like so many other things can be more efficient on the Internet. Well, scared money can’t win so I’d better get over it. I know the game well enough to know when something isn’t right. It hasn’t happened yet, but if it does, the plan is to get out!

And what if I have run into cheaters already and not noticed? I am winning. What difference has it made?

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Saturday, March 06, 2004

Mission Creep

The original blog plan was: Just write some thoughts about poker every once in a while. So, why am I spending any time worrying about links and what people might like to read?

I can't do that! It's a trap-- like spreading your resources between too many poker sites, playing too many multi-table tourneys, or jumping between classes of games.

The edge is all about efficiency, which requires focus. (Edge) (Time)= Profit. It's that simple. So, keep it simple. By trying to hold the environment constant, more focus is possible on the complexity of each individual hand as it is played.

Stick to the blog-plan.

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Friday, March 05, 2004

The Ideal Opponent / The Ideal Game

When you first start to take notice of playing styles or psychological profiles, the easiest type of player to spot is the maniac. This guy is loose and aggressive. He plays more hands relative to your self. He bets aggressively, and often overplays his hand. Once you learn how to play the maniac you might start looking exclusively for games with maniacs. It’s a winning strategy and easy to execute. But the maniac is not your ideal opponent and these are not the ideal games. What you’ll get is lot more variance in your results, which is to flirt with tilt. Better to stick to “normal” games than to do that.

The ideal opponents are just as loose as the maniac, but passive. They play more hands relative to you and call more than they raise. Commonly tagged as "calling stations," they usually are not aggressive enough when they have an edge. They are harder to find than a maniac, but you can start by looking for loose passive games. Look for games that have a lot of players seeing the flop and small to medium sized pots.

Once you’ve found the loose/passive game you can start watching individual players. The stats I look at are:
1) how many times they see the flop
2) their ratio of pre-flop raises to pre-flop calls
3) their ratio of post flop raises to post-flop calls
4) their ratio of wins per flop they had to contribute to see.

These numbers should help you determine your opponent’s likely holdings when you are in a pot with them.

The plan is the same for all games-- play tight (fewer hands) and aggressive (raise!) when you feel you have an edge. In this type of game, against this type of player, you will have an edge more often. And if a maniac happens to move to your loose/passive table, he'll be a lot easier to pick off.


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Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Choosing Where to Play

Sun Tzu, speaking on The Art of War, stressed knowing the battlefield, knowing the enemy and knowing your self. Just as war theorists use poker to develop game theories for battle, the war analogy can help create a strategic plan for Internet poker.

The battlefield in my analogy is a poker site. And like Tzu, I want to choose the battlefield that will give me the best chance of success. And Poker gurus Brunson, Sklansky and Cloutier seem to agree on the second principle of warfare. They stress factoring your opponent's tendencies into each poker decision too. "Know your enemy." I like to combine the first two principles and choose to fight my battles on the sites where my intelligence efforts can be relatively thorough and efficient.

On the old Southern road circuit, or in Brick and Mortar casinos, the men with the best memories (and notes) had the edge. It can be argued that on the Internet, the ones with the best programs and the biggest databases are the favorites. That is why many fellow bloggers are touting tracking software and mostly playing the sites that the software supports. These sites all average about 9,000+ players during prime time. I like that software too. Very Efficient! But how much use is it on sites with that many people online? And at the level I am playing, everyone is popping in and out all the time. No one seems to be sitting at one table very long.

I know more about my opponents at the sites with fewer players. Specially, since I have written templates to convert my hand history files so that they work with the software. At these sites, not many opponents are using such software. With fewer players, the quality of my information approaches completeness compared to the mega sites. Well, maybe I bought a reader or two by divulging that. I think its valuable information.

I should be able to blog a few more entries on site selection. Maybe next time, I'll talk about knowing your opponents and your self in a psychological sense. Turning those statistics into psychological profiles, not only helps me in site selection, but also in game selection, hand selection and specific betting scenarios.

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