Monday, June 20, 2011
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
However, at this point, the DoJ is saying "hey, we don't want your money, we'll make sure FT gives it back" while FT says "Hey, we want to give you your money, but the DoJ has it and won't give it up.
It's probably a waiting game at this point.
Friday April 15 is certain to become a legendary date in online poker history, as the United States Department of Justice issued a scathing indictment against three major poker sites: Pokerstars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute/Ultimate Bet.
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Feel free to leave some comments here, but only after you have watched it. :)
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Of course, when we are referring to loyalty programs, this generally only applies to players of the high volume nature. While liquidity from recreational players is ranked the highest in terms of value, we still can't overlook the role played by high volume regulars whose play is necessary to run the engine that grinds recreational money down into rake for the site.
I received my Full Tilt Black Card in November. I was fully expecting it to be just another piece of laminated card board, but was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was a credit card shaped piece of painted steel with my name inscribed on it. I know it's kind of cheesy, but I couldn't help but feel a little bit of pride while feeling it's weight in my hand. Kind of like a trophy, I always thought.
On the surface, this can also be said of many of the items with Full Tilt's logo that can be found littered throughout their store, but herein lies the problem: once you have items that can be exchanged for points in lieu of cash based rewards that can be purchased with the same points, you have forever tainted the symbolic value of those items. Let me explain:
Rakeback Nation has a great rewards system that offers items that can be exchanged for points built up by generating rake. Unlike items bought at an online poker store for points, getting these items does not deduct from your rakeback in any way. Similarly, there are no optional bonuses or gift cards that you have to pass up. What does this mean? This means that I can thoroughly enjoy the Kindle that I "achieved" without having to feel like I paid for it.
While Full Tilt can counter that they offer a special avatar or watch for those who finish first in their FTOPS or Mini-FTOPS events respectively, since everyone understands that only one winner gets to enjoy these symbolic items and that there is a certain amount of luck needed to achieve them, they are not an appropriate way to incentivize play. In the same vein, having your handle being listed on any kind of anonymous monthly leaderboard only to have it swept away the following month doesn't feel like your accomplishments are exactly being appreciated, either. And just how are they recognizing such achievements? By offering cash and buy in tokens, of course! Once again, Bill Rini is right: all the sites are doing this and again reducing their product into a commodity business. While this might be good for future advertisements of one's coaching services, it doesn't exactly appeal to someone's emotions and sense of loyalty.
Here is my proposition: the sites should begin mailing out actual trophies and plaques that recognize personal, stakewide, and sitewide milestones that are achievable to anyone who grinds hard enough. Furthermore, they should offer a permanent place on the site for a "Hall of Fame" for various achievements where a player can choose to be awarded with a photo and their real name. Here are some suggestions:
Stakewide and Sitewide (based on minimum number of hands played):
- Most hands played
- Most money earned
- Highest winrate
- Most first place finishes
- Most knockouts
- Most cashes
- Most final tables
- $10k in career winnings
- $100k in career winnings, etc.
- $10M in total wagers, etc. (doesn't mean much, but makes you look a total baller)
- 100k hands played in a month, etc.
- Best poker blog ;)
It is no secret in business that people have bigger needs than just wanting more money- they want full appreciation for the work that they do. Most of the work done by poker players is never recognized in any formal way- even for those at the top of their craft. What player do you know that wouldn't want a special trophy room dedicated to honoring his achievements in a way that his friends and family can understand? And how do you think they would feel towards the site that finally acknowledged such performances in a tangible way?
Let me know what you think!
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Check your gut response (of course I’m not!) at the door and ponder it. How much do you make? How much time does it take you to get it? How do you feel when you’re done?
Keep in mind that in poker, the only reason anyone makes any money at all (and they do) is because there are hordes of people who don’t realize they are losing. If they did, they’d quit.
Poker players are notorious for not being able to assess their own skill level. Well, finally in December 2010, after pushing myself to the absolute limit for three months, I was ready to really look at my poker game in the mirror, and I did not like what I saw. I was, without a doubt, a losing player. I had plenty of justifications for it (some legitimate, some... less so), but there it was. At the end of the day, it was costing me money to play poker.
A poker friend of mine told me about someone he knew, a guy named Lorin. He claimed that Lorin’s shortstack class was not only useful, it was a hell of a bargain. My first thought? Fuck that.
I’d already spent hundreds of dollars on poker related stuff. Hold’em Manager, Table Ninja, Leak Buster, coaching time, the list goes on. (Sometime, I’ll do a product review of all the crap I bought.) Any winnings I may have made were long gone to these “investments.” I was thoroughly convinced there were more people making money selling stuff to poker players, than their were poker players making money.
No matter which way I sliced it, I needed help. My “win”rate sucked, and I wasn’t really improving, despite all my study. So I made a deal with myself. I’d take a chunk of my quickly dwindling bankroll and spend it on Lorin’s training. Then, I’d dedicate the rest of my roll into learning his system. If I start winning, great. If I go broke, fine. I quit.
My first impression of Lorin was that he was a professional. A good thing, too. If I’m paying for a service, I'm looking for someone who takes the job seriously. A good poker player isn't necessarily a good coach.
With Lorin, it was clear he knew what he was doing. He had a clear system, a simple presentation method, and a no-nonsense attitude.
His repeated request was simple: If you want to make money from my system, just do everything I tell you to do. Fair enough. I figured, I paid him the money, no sense only going half way.
So off I went. I stopped playing at Pokerstars. I stopped mass-tabling. I started shoving more and calling less. I stopped playing at fishless tables. As each new video came out, I watched it like a religion and committed it to memory.
At first, it wasn’t easy. I immediately hit a severe downswing where my EV line made modest gains, but my actual profit line dropped like a stone. But something was happening. My EV line was heading somewhere I’m quite sure it was very confused and disoriented to be: up.
Thanks man. I owe you one.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
When it comes down to it though, there's an underpinning of consistency, logic, and hard, hard work that - for all the highs and lows - lets me make a living doing something I love: playing poker.
(Trust me, if you want to win, you better really love poker, because there are plenty of days when poker does not love you back.)
Monday, March 21, 2011
In the ever elusive quest for original material, I have been away for awhile plotting my next move. While shooting a video for my Short Stack Revolution strategy video series, I discovered some very interesting lines that can be used to combat aggressive heads up min-raisers. The short stack tourist reader might find the idea of creative short stack play to be shocking, but the advanced player should immediately recognize the need for taking tricky lines against such opponents because they know that even frequent 3-betting or playing fit-or-fold after the flop is the perfect recipe for getting robbed blind with minimal villain effort.
The first hand isn't truly interesting when viewed outside the realm of traditional short stack strategy. When dealt A9s heads up and facing a min-raise, the knee jerk reaction is to shove, but that will just allow him to get away unscathed far too often for my taste. The caveat here is that this particular villain is open-raising 90%. However, once I make this call, I am probably never folding but I will have to let the flop texture and his betting line determine my overall strategy. In this case, the flop makes it very easy to see how to proceed.
To the naked eye, it should appear obvious that this flop is hitting few players' ranges, but just to be clear, let's see what Flopzilla, another great program by the maker of Cardrunners EV, has to say:
After accounting for card removal, we can see that villain's range has only connected 16.3% of the time. Even more telling is precisely how villain's range has hit. The fact that he has bet on all streets on this board texture means that his range has become more polarized with every single bet. Essentially, there are only 6 real categories of hands that can conceivably bet both the flop and turn:
2. PP below TP
4. 3 of a kind
5. Full houses
Given the tendencies to check full houses and quads, we can discount those from the range, leaving probable villain hits now at 14.24%. Of course, since we can estimate that he will be checking a Q as well some lower PP's and overpairs on either the flop or the turn, we know that this actual range of hits is considerably less in reality. Given the overall board texture and the bet sizing, a call down is clearly in order. Taking this line has more benefits than just winning the pot. It also lets your opponents know that you are patient and fearless. Though by habit he will most likely continue to open 90%, he will be forced to give up much more frequently after the flop, which in turn will allow us to call even lighter pre-flop and swipe away more hands with pure bluffs.
You don't need to be the Rain Man to figure this out in real time, but it certainly helps if you take a little time out of your day when you aren't playing to learn exactly how to handle some various situations.
If the first hand was largely unconvincing, this next hand is sure to raise some eyebrows. Once again, villain is opening approximately 90%.
Though this hand is more difficult to solve with Flopzilla, I can say this with some certainty: his line looks stronger than the previous villain's. By checking the flop and betting both the turn and the river, he is representing a hand that was either very strong on the flop or one that somehow improved on the turn but yet was willing to check call the flop, and to a far lesser degree, 2nd pair or QQ that was going for pot committing thin value on the river. So which categories of hands were most appropriate for this play and how often are they hitting the flop?
1. Top pair: 11.9%
2. Overpair: 0.63%
3. Two Pair: 2.83%
4. Set: 0.94%
Just as important as his tendencies to miss the flop entirely are the relevancy of the turn and river cards. Even when opening 90%, there is still no guarantee that 82, 83, and 32 are in his range. So this leaves us with a much higher probability of bluffs than strong hands.
The fate of this hand was decided ahead of time. As soon as I flopped a straight draw, I decided that I was never folding, simply because I was aware that this flop is rarely hitting my opponent strongly and I can combine that fact with my overall equity. The question then becomes how to maximize my overall expectation given possible outcomes.
Notice that in no point of this hand do I want to risk getting check raised. If I had no equity or a vulnerable hand I would surely bet, but by checking along I now have increased my overall winning percentage in addition to the ability to snap off bluffs. I would like to also note that if at any point I catch a T or Q I am calling down.
I showed this hand to one of my students who was amazed that I would try to bluff any opponent who puts in half of the effective stack on the river. In actuality, this is precisely the point. He is only committed to the hand if he has what he is representing, which is basically Kx+. He also probably assumes that I know he isn't willing to fold after putting in this much money and believes that this lends credibility to his bluff. Being that I wasn't particularly familiar with this opponent, I don't necessarily know how willing he would be to bet a weak king on the river, but it is quite likely that he is looking to check call any pairs J or worse. In this light it now is beginning to look suspiciously like a polarized range. Given his incredibly high opening raise percentage, I am just not willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
- HUD setup with explanation of both weak and strong stats
- Game selection with effective player tagging
- Seat selection
- The 4 major goals of post-flop play: maximum value, pot control, protecting your hand, and unexploitability
- Interpreting different raise sizes by position
- Recognizing an iso-raise
- Facing cold 3 and 4-bets
- Counteracting unusual 3-bet sizes such as the min 3-bet and the single re-raise
- Evaluating flop texture
- Criteria for C-betting
- Playing all marginal hands, including overcards, 2nd & 3rd pair, and TPWK
- Playing draws
- Bluffing the turn
- Check raising marginal value on the turn
- Interpreting and countering the 3 different donk bets: the min-bet, the half pot bet, and the full pot bet
- Ace high flops
- Multi-way Pots
- Same concepts as above, with a strategy for playing draws on the turn on river
- Playing vs. a single limper by position
- Range balancing
- Going for thin value
- Evaluating limper strength by position
- How to proceed on your free play
- Heads up strategy for the small blind
- Playing the BB when the SB limps
- Countering aggressive heads up min-raisers