devwil's avatar

devwil

330 points

Villain's flop actions are very confusing. They should be heavy on high cards as UTG PFR, but the only draw on this board is to a low straight. We have one blocker to that straight draw, not that it's enormously consequential.

OTT, we turn a straight draw ourselves. A precarious straight draw, but a straight draw nonetheless.

Here and on the river, I just don't think we can give villain so much credit as to think about anything except the best way to navigate to showdown. Villain can have something like KK77, stubborn AA, an unlikely but possible queens up... and even if they did turn a straight, we may have some chop outs (which is not great, but it's something figuring into our equity).

I think your own image and your certainty about villain's tendencies mean a lot here, because their UTG PFR combined with their flop cold call without closing the action is hard to fit into an optimal play style.

As I work through this hand on PPT, you're really looking like a 4-to-1 favorite or better on the turn, imo. And using Graph HvR, you're not folding any rivers unless we strengthen their range with aggression (which is itself debatable given our various flavors of equity imo).

So I don't think the river is the problem area here.

I think that raising such a dry flop MW with top set as BB may have been overeager (though not horrible; you're just kind of only ever doing this with a QQ, no? maybe 77? doing this with 865 yourself could be okay but I'm not sure), and that check/calling the turn may have been too timid. Again, re: the turn, I think how much we strengthen villain's range is debatable give that we have a straight draw ourselves.

As played, I'd say check/calling river is likely most +EV. You most efficiently retain their value cutting range without value cutting yourself, I think?

It's just kind of hard to range UTG here, though, so I'm not overflowing with confidence on any of this.

May 26, 2019 | 6:22 p.m.

After taking some time to 1) be completely emotionally divorced from real-money poker for a bit and 2) re-assess my financial situation, I have to admit that I'm looking forward to playing for money again.

I should know better at this point that I can't actually stay mad at poker forever, and—moving forward—I'll be playing stakes that I can better shrug off losses at. These stakes won't be especially meaningful in themselves, but it will keep me in the game give me a chance to slowly (VERY slowly) grind up a bankroll.

Real-money poker is going to be a pretty small part of my life, though. I think I'll register tournaments on Sunday for like two hours tops (accumulating no more than ~4 tables at once) and play a few hundred hands of cash every month.

Because of this low volume, it's going to be a while before I'm back to stakes where a compelling hourly is possible. For example, I'm back down to PLO25, where I don't even buy in for a full 100bb. As I've mentioned elsewhere in the forums, I've been using a 40bb strategy to 1) best exploit my opponents' tendencies to make their biggest mistakes on early streets and 2) keep myself from being in frustrating/confusing spots on later streets versus extremely idiosyncratic ranges found in the populations I play against.

I've also canceled my Vegas plans for June. It's really sad and disappointing, but the truth is that I've already had the privilege of traveling the country to play the WSOPc, visiting Hammond, Cherokee, and Las Vegas stops.

These excursions went improbably terribly, but—as much as these aggressive risks literally ruined my poker career for the short term due to their extremely unfortunate impact on my bankroll—I really am grateful for the experience. Not everybody has the resources or confidence (I hesitate to say "skill") to simply pursue that kind of thing, so I do count myself lucky for that, regardless of how unlucky I was at the tables.

Hopefully in a year or two I'll be closer to where I want to be in my poker career (which I don't anticipate ever being a full-time pursuit now having attempted that during the life of this journal).

I'm sure I'll be updating sometimes in this journal along the way.

Like when, today, I won at a rate of 82 EV bb/100 in ~50 minutes of 4-tabling PLO cash. And, more importantly for my mindset lately: my EV bbs actually translated into a big, positive result.

That feels good.

Psychologically, I really don't need to win all the time. I play a lot of games and I'm not generally an especially sore loser, I don't think. (I do have my less flattering moments, to be sure. And sometimes I discover that a particular game makes me feel too bad when I lose and not good enough when I win: Scrabble and Street Fighter can be that way, for me. But poker losses really only get to me when they are sustained and oppressive-feeling, while winning at poker still feels good—especially if it's the result of +EV play.)

But when poker has been so stingy with the financial rewards for my objectively +EV plays... it's been very discouraging overall, as I've written repeatedly in this journal.

So to finally win some flips and such today was a small but important psychological win.

May 17, 2019 | 5:43 p.m.

I just finished a very short cash session on the site where I play the least frequently.

I busted my "bankroll" on that site (which was pretty minimal; I don't care about that a ton in isolation) and I think I'm done playing poker for real money for a very, very long time.

Two months ago, I made a similar post about quitting indefinitely. And I honestly took about a month away from the tables (which, in online poker time, is a pretty long time).

Financially, I can't really afford to lose money at poker anymore except at stakes where winning would feel insignificant.

Psychologically, real-money poker is just ruined for me. I can't take losing anymore. I can't lose another hand and feel fine about it. It feels like such a waste of time and money for me at this point, despite having a lot of intellectual reasons to believe I'm a winning player.

Viscerally, I just can't convince myself to play with my own money at risk anymore.

It's just been an extremely discouraging feedback loop for months and months, and I don't have the financial or psychological tolerance for it any longer.

And I'm furious about it, because I loved and—in ways—continue to love this game.

I worked really, really hard on my game, too. And I know I improved a ton, and I feel like my poker knowledge is actually pretty advanced. I still believe that.

But over and over I just feel like I've been a "jobber" to players of all skill levels, to borrow a pro wrestling term: I just feel like I've been predestined to lose no matter what. I get bailed out from mistakes/etc so rarely, and my +EV plays just aren't paying dividends often enough. I just feel foolish continuing to play, and I feel like I'm getting set up to fail at this point.

I'm not saying I "deserve" to have been able to make a living or even significant side income at this game. But I do know that I've "deserved" better than what I've gotten: if nothing else, objectively, the gulf between my bb/100 and EV bb/100 in MTTs is enough to make me feel sick when I look at the graph in my database.

It just feels so unfair (not that I was ever guaranteed anything).

It's also extremely confusing. I don't know how poker thrives if this drawn-out losing experience is normal. Who would sign up for such an unsatisfying game?!

And—if this experience is not anywhere near normal—I don't know how I ended up so dreadfully mired in the least rewarding stretch of poker imaginable. As I've ruminated previously in this journal (I'm quoting directly from four months ago): "I was either too permanently limited in my abilities or too unlucky [...] to have succeeded at poker".

That is a miserable conclusion to have arrived at, not just once (four months ago) but again (today).

Regardless of my precise poker skill, I have historically been an excellent learner. And I know I spent a lot of time studying poker. And to have been so gutted by my experience at the tables over the past year despite my efforts to learn an approach that should have afforded me far better results... it's frankly disappointing on an existential level.

(Just to clarify one point to assuage some potentially dramatic imaginations: I am thoroughly and extremely saddened by my failures at poker, but my financial losses from poker have not, like, mortally destroyed me financially. I'm not going to be starving or homeless due to failing at poker, but I will definitely say that I expected to have a lot more money today as a result of playing and studying poker.)

Anyway.

As I said, for the second time in 2019 I've reached a point that I'm just so fundamentally disgusted with my poker failures (whether they be luck-based or skill-based; it maybe doesn't even matter) that I loathe the idea of playing for real money.

I think I'm still going to stay engaged with the game in some other ways, but I just feel so mentally and financially exhausted by the gambling part (which is, unfortunately for me, the most profitable part given sufficient skill).

Again: the financial exhaustion is relative. I still have what is, by many measures, a workable bankroll. But I just almost feel nauseous at the thought of risking a single buy-in/big blind/ante more from it, regardless of EV. I've just been conditioned so horribly by poker that I can't do it anymore, and if I can't play at stakes that feel like they're worth my time (in an expected hourly wage sense), I just don't feel like the potential downside (say, a year of disappointing and unrewarding results) is worth the risk: I might as well just play on Stars.NET or versus AI.

I've simply been made too pessimistic by the "one step forward; two steps back" pattern I've experienced over the life of this journal, and—even if I intellectually believe I should have an edge in a lot of different games—poker now feels expensive to me. And I'm just not willing to have real-money poker in my life if it feels like an expense: I don't have enough of a gambling compulsion for that.

So... I don't know; I guess I'm probably canceling the June WSOP trip I booked. I still have a few weeks to decide. And I'd hate to regret not going.

But I'd really, really hate to regret going and coming home having lost a lot on expenses and entries. So I may need to cut it out of my summer plans.

May 8, 2019 | 3:51 a.m.

Just checking in briefly.

Poker is still feeling like a struggle. I final-tabled a PLO8 tournament last Sunday for a winning day, but my MTT bb/100 continues to ride far, far below my EV bb/100 and I'm just so tired of losing after going 0-for in MTTs today.

I have so many reasons to believe I can succeed at poker, but it sustained success continues to feel so evasive. And then that feeling makes it hard to put in volume (just due to negative reinforcement), which just puts me at greater exposure to the short term results of the deck.

I think I've reflected before in this journal about how I cannot afford for poker to be an expensive hobby. But it really has felt like one for the most part, despite my best efforts.

And as a hobby, it's not fulfilling enough if I can't succeed more often. There are activities that I enjoy more regardless of result that are less expensive. Poker needs to make me money (or at least lose less than it has) for me to keep it in my life.

It's nice to do well and I still do care about poker strategy, but the short-term swings just have me feeling exhausted and losing makes me feel stupid (and wasteful of money) even when—for one example from today's MTT session—I get all in with 93% equity and lose.

I know I did everything right. I know I expect to profit in that and similar situations.

But I just haven't been profiting and poker is feeling expensive. And I don't really know what to do about it.

There are really only three options: keep at it, quit playing (for real money), or stay engaged with poker in a much less financially risky way (like, creating strategy/analysis content or whatever).

I don't know which one makes the most sense, and it's not like the third can't coexist with the first or second, but there's only so much time in the day and I don't want poker to consume my entire life.

So I just feel tired and confused.

May 6, 2019 | 3:44 a.m.

I think you just want to take the free river OTT, no? You don't block much, you're not trying to charge anything (minimal showdown value)... I'm just trying to realize my equity at that point, in position.

April 16, 2019 | 7:08 a.m.

There's a lot of merit to these preflop arguments. I think this 3bet is slightly better than GoW describes here, but I do want to agree insofar as I've been learning recently that I'd been underrating SB flats in both NLHE and PLO.

I wonder what a solver would say.

April 16, 2019 | 7:04 a.m.

Grunching.

I think you should check/call flop. You unblock a ton of continues and you have AQ high. I don't like your chances for denying equity and I don't think you want to make the pot bigger just yet.

Shoving turn is almost definitely missing EV.

April 16, 2019 | 7:02 a.m.

I don't think check-raising flop makes sense hardly at all. Any betting range is almost certain to only bet/call better.

The trouble with this flop is that our hand isn't as good as it seems. We unblock a ton of high-equity combos and we're facing two opponents. We're rarely pushing much equity advantage if we get action, and we could actually be drawing very thin.

Like, there are vanishingly few good runouts for us. (This was one of them.)

That all makes me inclined to say "check" and maybe even "check/fold" due to not liking a bloated pot in this situation.

April 16, 2019 | 6:56 a.m.

Grunching.

Actually going to work backwards here.

OTT, the SPR is so low and you're so high in your range that you want folks to catch up and have a reason to call another bet (or bet themselves). Also, if you bet, you strengthen villains' calls to include 99. So, ultimately, I don't think this street is debatable.

The flop I'm not super sure about, honestly. To the point that I kind of don't want to say anything, haha. (I'm finding an argument for just about every option in my head, and finding a solver-based answer would be complicated... so I'm just stuck.)

April 16, 2019 | 6:51 a.m.

Kind of a weird boast, but I'm weirdly proud of it:

I just got to 10 iterations/node for a preflop sim I decided to run to help me play better in the extremely loose-passive, high-rake microstakes PLO games on Ignition.

In a 4max 40bb game, I forced CO's preflop frequencies to match the "Whale" population profile that DriveHUD has produced from my database.

Preflop, I feel like I'm often acting after a player who open limps most hands, and I just haven't felt confident about what to do.

Looking forward to combing through these ranges with Monker and hopefully applying them for some fat EV bbs online. (Obviously, this could help a bit with loose-passive live games, too.)

April 12, 2019 | 7:39 p.m.

April 8, 2019 | 6:45 p.m.

Villain can still call with worse and you're pretty underrepped here. Go ahead and put in a small raise.

April 8, 2019 | 6:42 p.m.

Hero blocks J9 dude don't be a nit

(Kidding.)

April 8, 2019 | 6:33 p.m.

Grunching.

This is too loose every step of the way.

You may be able to get away with raising this combo preflop if folded to, but facing an UTG limp I think you want to tighten up somewhat. I'm not 100% sure on this and someone can feel free to actually consult some computed resource on this, but this is my intuition.

When BB 3bets, I'm really not sure you're supposed to continue here. Calling here is probably the most defensible action in your line, though. Again, someone can consult some sort of chart if they really want to be sure.

Fold the flop. You missed and you don't block anything. Your equity is almost certainly minimal, and I can't come up with any argument for bluff raising. If the flop were, like, 754r or something, maybe you could argue that your range has more straights than villain's? But villain just has no reason to bet/fold here, to my mind.

So if they're not folding, you're not denying equity. And if you're not denying equity, the only other reason to bet or raise is to make the pot bigger, which you have no reason to do with, like... I don't know... 15% equity versus villain's range? Just guessing, but it's pretty miserable almost all of the time.

April 8, 2019 | 6:32 p.m.

Hand History | devwil posted in PLO: Flopped 2nd nut FH: best exploitative line?
Blinds: $0.10/$0.25 (3 Players) SB: $14.32 (Hero)
BB: $9.67
BN: $55.68
BB has been extremely loose-passive in a small sample.
Preflop ($0.35) Hero is SB with 7 T A Q
BN folds, Hero raises to $0.75, BB calls $0.50
At the time, I wondered if this was just slightly too loose for a SB steal, but it can't be too far off.
Flop ($1.50) Q T T
Hero checks, BB checks
I decided that—having the Ac blocker and blocking Q and T—villain just can't call often enough for betting to make sense. And I really don't need to protect my hand: there are very few bad runouts for my equity.
Turn ($1.50) Q T T 9
Hero checks, BB bets $1.43
I decided to check again (Ac blocker reasons, mostly), but then villain essentially pots it. I was really unsure about how to proceed, so I'm wondering what you fine folks think about maximizing EV from here.

April 8, 2019 | 6:24 p.m.

For me, the mental game of poker is a constant grappling contest between results and expectations.

I'm sure every poker player feels this tension in some form or another, but I feel like—even after my pretty significant experience playing the game—I still hit pretty significant highs and lows of optimism and pessimism.

The optimism wouldn't be so bad if it hadn't resulted in unsuccessful and expensive live MTT shots. The pessimism wouldn't be so bad if it didn't cloud my judgement and sap my enthusiasm, making me forget my poker successes and keeping me from real-money tables for weeks at a time.

This is all to say (circuitously) that I got back on the proverbial horse today, after a weeks-long struggle with my poker goals.

I put in a proper Sunday MTT session this evening. Definitely some unwelcoming frustrations in terms of luck and I almost had a dreaded 0-for session, but my one cash was a final table in my highest buy-in tournament of the day: 8th place (though I was 4th in chips starting my final hand; made a +cEV play versus my opponent's actual hand and lost, oh well... haven't run the math on $EV or cEV vs range, but it was PLO8 and I had AA on a pretty dry SPR < 1 flop... not much to do but GII... everyone at the FT was quite short, even for a reasonably-paced tournament).

I had some emotional valleys during the session, but for the most part it was kind of nice to get back into playing a bunch of tables and listening to music/podcasts.

And my god do low stakes MTT players play horribly, even given all of the barriers to entry that exist for online poker these days (plus increased access to strategy material). I legitimately forgot about just how soft these games are, due to being away from this routine for a while and mostly only playing versus PokerSnowie (who is quite tough!).

But I digress somewhat.

The real point I'm thinking a lot about tonight is that I think that one key to poker sustainability for me is playing in games that feel meaningful to win but are not frustrating to lose.

This is largely related to stakes, but not only. Playing against Snowie is no-stakes, but it's edifying, interesting, and enjoyable. Playing PokerStars.NET 8-game is fun, too. Neither of these games are especially frustrating to lose at, but there's some modicum of reward for me on the upside. That's meaningful.

Conversely, I'm not sure I'll ever be able to stomach swings of a certain size, in absolute dollar amounts, and—similarly—I'm honestly just not super motivated by money. I had some financial goals that I thought poker could help me with, but I've rethought those and I really should not depend on poker for those goals even if I hadn't rethought them. That's just fundamentally results-oriented, and—as I think I've discussed previously—when my results are disappointing, I get pretty discouraged. So I need to be pretty modest about what I'm expecting from poker overall.

Anyway, point is: I don't know if I ever want to put myself in a position to be able to lose four figures online on any given Sunday again. Extreme inflation aside, the real-world value of that money is always going to get to me, I think.

So, as I said, it's just a matter of finding games that don't stress me out to lose, but feel worth my time.

I think that the sweet spot for me in that regard is something like NL100, PLO50, and MTTs in the low-to-mid double digits. Maybe slightly lower, even.

But beyond bankroll management and game selection, I need to keep reminding myself to focus on the process rather than the outcome. I know that I like poker enough to play it without real money at stake, at least in some circumstances. So I know that I intrinsically enjoy playing.

To put it another way: I'm currently trying to focus on keeping real-money poker fun while also putting myself in a position to potentially profit from it. Thankfully, these two things should be one and the same for me: what's fun for me is making +EV decisions. I like to play poker because I enjoy the process of trying to play well.

But, as I mentioned, I can most certainly get caught up in setting unhealthy expectations for myself.

So yeah: I'm just going to try to do a better job of managing any expectations that arise, keeping myself at the real-money tables for at least like ~10 hours a week or so, and hoping (but not quite expecting) that I end 2019 four figures in the black from poker. I don't think it's an unrealistic hope, even with a modest winrate in the already modest games I mentioned.

I just need to keep thinking of it as a serious and potentially profitable hobby (whereas most hobbies are expenses). My hourly rate at the tables is therefore not meant to compete with the federal minimum wage or anything like that, but instead my rate (plus my enjoyment) should be compared to other "non-career" activities I care about like making music and playing non-poker games.

Framing everything like that is going to be pretty effective for me moving forward, I think. Not only will it frame my play healthily, but it will also frame my non-play healthily!

Let's say I can make like $5/hour at the tables. I'm not making any claims to winrate, but rather picking a number that's neither peanuts nor higher than the federal minimum wage.

For that amount, poker probably doesn't deserve 40 hours per week of my time. And it also isn't so lucrative that I need to force myself to play when I just don't feel like it.

That isn't to say I'm not going to expect myself to play during certain times in the week, but that's a healthy expectation that I have control over (compared to dollar results). And it's an expectation that can be flexible if I'm just looking at the equation and saying to myself, "you know, whatever money I may have made today from poker, it's just not feeling worth it... it's worth $5.01+ per hour to me to do something else".

Sorry for the ramble... haha. Just having a somewhat fatigued stream of consciousness coming off of my first serious MTT session in quite some time... and I'm feeling/hoping that I've made progress on my mental game.

April 8, 2019 | 7:29 a.m.

I just played my first real-money poker session in weeks. (Mostly been playing vs Snowie for my stream, which has been kind of frustrating in its own way, though edifying and no-risk.)

The result was really not encouraging at all, after weeks of just feeling down on the potential downside of any given session (given my extremely disappointing results over the past months).

Today I played just under 1000 hands of PLO and NLHE (total), I ran more than two buy-ins under EV, and I lost way more buy-ins than is easily shrugged off for 1000 hands.

Variance has straight-up bullied me into having an extremely pessimistic view of poker overall, and it's virtually kept me away from real money play for the past six weeks.

In this amount of time (before today), I played about 3 hours of real money poker total.

My mental game is just a mess, quite frankly.

I feel like I have a strong understanding of strategy (an understanding which has only increased over the past year though experience, study, and coaching), but in any given game I have such counterproductive negative feelings about the future result. I don't mean "oh, I'm not +EV in this lineup". I mean that regardless of abstract mathematical expectation, I just emotionally expect the worst at this point.

It's just so hard to feel good about playing for real money when I keep making +EV plays that don't get rewarded. (Not that I never make mistakes.)

Conversely, for months and months I feel like I've seen poor play get rewarded, especially in PLO.

The games are just not tough at all but I've had the worst time turning EV into money.

Between that and my miserable, improbable (but entirely possible) bad run in live MTTs, poker has just been feeling expensive rather than profitable.

The long run is extremely long, but when it's just so hard to viscerally expect a +EV play to result in positive value, I'm just extremely unmotivated to play for real money.

I really like poker, honestly. I'm just getting really tired of the gambling part of it and its negative effect on my finances.

There's plenty of time to spend on poker outside of real-money play and I'm still enthusiastic about that, but it just feels weird to engage with real-money play so little.

But I haven't been enjoying it lately, and it has absolutely not been paying dividends in the past few months.

The next two months will be interesting. There's a ton of live poker happening in Cherokee this month, but I'm leaning towards sitting out of all of it. In June, I have a Vegas trip booked for the World Series and adjacent festivals, and I keep going back and forth on whether I want to go.

Because I like to think about and play poker, but I'm just very, very tired of losing money on it. I'm not excited by the risk of it, and the potential rewards just feel so unlikely to me at this point.

Thankfully, the newly-released schedule at The Orleans for June aligns with my travel plans in a potentially enjoyable way, and the buy-ins there are pretty modest.

So I'm now leaning towards indeed hitting Vegas in June; I just need to be clear with myself on being okay with being disappointed yet again with an MTT trip.

April 5, 2019 | 9 p.m.

Hey so I hope that folks won't find this in poor taste, but I legitimately think that anybody reading this could be interested:

I'm now streaming videogames and poker over on Twitch. (Pretty much just for fun; I have virtually zero expectations for it.)

On the poker side, this afternoon was my first foray into it and I just played PokerStars.net 8-game, but I think it produced some interesting hands! This is one of my favorite clips from the session.

Here's a link to the collection of poker highlights. My channel is https://www.twitch.tv/devwil

I'm planning on streaming Snowie and probably real money eventually, as well as doing some surprising things that I think will be fun.

Oh, and I play a lot of Hitman 2016 during the week. 11:30p-1a EST Sunday through Thursday, I'm going through and playing the "escalation" missions on every map. I just finished Sapienza the other day, though I hadn't done Paris yet so that's what I'm up to now.

And just for some quick, additional links if folks want to follow along outside of Twitch: I put select highlights on YouTube... I also put clips on Facebook and Twitter, where I give heads-up announcements like ~10 minutes before I go live. I also have an Instagram for all of this, but I don't expect to be QUITE as active over there.

March 8, 2019 | 9:13 p.m.

I feel myself slowly recovering from my snakebit feelings, though I'm not feeling enormously motivated to play.

I think I'll keep a NL50/PLO25 bankroll on Ignition but cash out everything else.

March 6, 2019 | 7:30 p.m.

Popping back in with some additional reflections.

A lot of my disappointment and disenchantment at the moment has to do with my poker goals.

My poker goals were very vulnerable to unsustainability, and I don't know that I ever spent enough time thinking critically about that.

One dimension of this is ego.

The relationship between my ego and my poker is funny, because in some ways I'm egomaniacal about poker and in some ways I'm completely not.

For example, my ego is not excited by the prospect of playing nosebleed cash online or live high roller tournaments. If my bankroll allowed (or rather, dictated) it and I felt I had an edge, I would play these games just as a matter of course. Moving up in stakes and playing tougher games really only ever felt like a means to an end to me, and I'd frankly rather play the most profitable games I can beat than play the toughest games I can beat. I don't feel a need to beat good players; I'm totally content beating worse players.

This means that I'm really not as competitive about poker as I could be. I think that it's a potentially healthy direction to err in as one will be less prone to certain forms of tilt, but it also removes a motivating fire that a more competitive player would have.

Where my ego does get in the way, however, is a more vague sense of self and achievement. Going back to my introduction to it as a teenager, I've always kind of romanticized poker as this strange, somewhat "nostalgic" hybrid of semi-sophisticated intellectual sport and vulgar gambling. Being good at it—and consequently being able to make money at it—has just always been appealing to me as a validation of some kind of intellect.

In short, I've always felt like it would feel good to be good at poker.

And while money is obviously a primary measure of being good at poker, I have to admit that I'm a sucker for other markers of poker success.

I really wanted some kind of poker trophy. A bracelet, a ring, a little statue of the Wynn, whatever.

Building my bankroll online honestly was only ever a means to being able to play live MTTs and collect trophies. I mean, sure: making a compelling hourly online to justify spending so much time on poker is its own reward as well, and being able to sincerely identify as a professional poker player would have been its own ego stroke and it would have paid the bills.

But what I really wanted was to build a WSOP-ready bankroll.

And, sadly, I'm very far from that goal now. It's stupidly results-oriented and it's bound up in an irrational lust for recognition, but the fact is that I'm really not closer to this goal today than I was this time last year. I'm actually further from it.

And this is a big part of why I'm so demotivated and disappointed. I think I sincerely worked very hard towards my various poker goals, but whatever insufficient mix of skill and luck I brought to the tables has led me to where I am today. And my ego is frankly pretty bruised over it. I thought I could do better than this, and I didn't.

And I'm not currently finding the patience or passion to keep at it, due to having already spent so many months dedicated to it without finding anything resembling the rewards I sought.

March 4, 2019 | 8:31 p.m.

As much as I feel like this blog's narrative has already been the slow strangling of optimism and ambition under the weight of disappointing results, I need to admit a modicum of defeat beyond what I've already accepted in previous posts.

Since becoming involved with poker once again last June, it's been an emotional roller coaster. I started way up by final-tabling two small-stakes tournaments in Vegas during the WSOP; I dipped as I lost buy-in after buy-in trying to learn the ropes of PLO cash; I went back up as I binked my biggest online MTT ever; I was really put through the wringer in the following weeks as I seemed utterly unable to win (including expensive trips to the WSOP Circuit), and my early optimism for 2019 was crushed by winning-yet-under-EV cash results and yet another expensive 0-for trip to the WSOP Circuit.

The truth is, both before and especially after expenses, I've lost money over this period of time. A ton of it is attributable to the PLO cash learning curve and then excruciatingly unsuccessful shots at live MTTs, but even with my healthy online ROI I've also run very far below expectation in online MTT big blinds during this time, which—as you can imagine—has limited my potential success quite a bit.

It all has me feeling extremely snake-bitten, and I honestly don't have the stomach for any more of it right now.

Consequently, I'm going to take an indefinite break from playing poker. I have some things keeping me tied to the game in productive ways, but I honestly couldn't stomach losing another coinflip right now (except maybe against Snowie, but even then...).

It's too painful and I'm not so proud to act like my mental game is strong enough to push through it all, when it isn't.

I'm also getting very close to the point that I arguably can't afford to lose any more money on poker, and if I can't afford to lose then I can't afford to play responsibly.

My limited 2019 volume suggests that I'm a winning cash player at this point and my online MTT record shows a healthy ROI, but I don't feel like a winner in my gut and I have about nine months' worth of overall (if modest) losses that have me feeling pretty discouraged.

Right now I just have too many viscerally negative associations with playing the game, so I'm stepping away with no real plans to return to playing.

I'd already booked my summer WSOP trip and I'm not canceling it just yet... if nothing else, I'd hate to change my mind and then lose the primo hotel rate I got.

But right now poker is just bound up in too much frustration for me.

Some resentment too, if I'm honest. There just seemed to be a lack of correlation between the effort I put into the game and the results I got out of it, and whatever my shortcomings as a player are, I really feel like I deserved somewhat better than I got.

But it just goes to show that nothing is guaranteed in poker. Failing (or just "not succeeding", however you want to spin it) is always distinctly possible, even if you're a careful student of the game.

Obviously, I wish more than anybody that things had gone even slightly better for me (and I certainly had my sparks of rungood from time to time), but I just can't bring myself to take on another 60/40 without being a nervous wreck... and I'm just so emotionally exhausted by losing at this point that I need a break from the swings, and I've already taken what I think is my longest break from playing since last June. I'm just not bouncing back mentally like I often have.

Hopefully it's just a refreshing and temporary break, because deep down I think I love the game and I know how much I've invested in it. I still want poker success for myself, and I still believe it's possible for me in the abstract (that is, bankroll and mental game permitting).

But, in a variety of ways, I just can't currently accept the risks that are necessary for that success. I'm too beaten down by disappointment for right now.

So... talk to you later?

March 2, 2019 | 10:21 p.m.

Overdue update. Going to be brief.

Went to Vegas. Got sick. Ran like garbage and still haven't cashed a single WSOPc ring event, which has been extremely expensive for me in both buy-ins and expenses (despite trying to be quite frugal).

Exhaustingly disappointing results combined with illness have me feeling very down lately, honestly.

March 1, 2019 | 8:22 p.m.

Comment | devwil commented on AAJ9 on T75tt OOP

OTF I think this might be a better check/call OOP, but I'm not sure. I don't think bet/folding is absurd, though.

As played, I think your turn and river actions are reasonable.

Feb. 15, 2019 | 6:26 p.m.

T-high flush draw? This is a 9-high flush draw, friend!

T-high is insta shove obv ;p

Feb. 15, 2019 | 6:41 a.m.

Did you just do a new coat of paint on this hand? :P

My main reaction is similar: I don't think you can call this turn and then fold this river. Not only can villain have bluffs on this river but they can have worse value bets. You only lose to AJ, which—while possible—is not an overwhelming portion of villain's range imo.

(This is just the turn and river though; I think flop should probably be a fold? Not sure. SPR is pretty high and the reverse implied odds are pretty real.)

Feb. 15, 2019 | 1:34 a.m.

Comment | devwil commented on Wrap and a pair PLO 25

If you have both BDFDs, I'd assume you can be pretty aggressive on this flop.

Feb. 14, 2019 | 5:55 p.m.

I should have been more explicit: how are you playing on a "blanker" turn? Say, 7d? Facing a check, facing a bet?

Feb. 14, 2019 | 5:54 p.m.

What's the Kc turn looking like if it checks around?

Feb. 14, 2019 | 5:51 p.m.

I think this can be a 3bet preflop? This flop is a lot easier with an uncapped range and a lower SPR. Plus you have good blockers to 4bets and reasonable playability.

I basically agree about the flop, depending on your plan for the turn. 9h isn't one of the better cards for our holding; what ideas do you have about other cards?

Feb. 14, 2019 | 7:33 a.m.

Ungh. I just hate PLO runs like this. Multiple BIs below EV but it doesn't even matter because I'm running into extremely goofy combos from extremely high VPIP players, and my worst beats are happening when I'm a huge favorite on the flop/turn and then folding river isn't a reasonable option but I've lost.

My absolute least favorite thing is being an 85%+ favorite on the turn without being all in and then losing at showdown. And it just seems to happen to me in such streaky fashion; it's miserable.

And I lost to a set of 5s like 3-4 times in just over two hours of four-tabling! Absurd! And I got two-outered twice and just ugh ugh ugh.

My W$SD this week is 38.8% and it's just no fun at all. I'm losing most of my all-ins, and I'm getting AI ahead a vast majority of the time. It doesn't take that many whiffed 60/40s to make for a sustained downswing, and that's where I'm at.

All the cushion I had from two Sundays ago is wiped out now, and it's just so frustrating. I really wanted to go into my Circuit trip feeling like I had profit to burn if it all went poorly.

I'm actually far less emotional about it than all of this sounds, but it's definitely frustrating!

I'm glad to have a place to vent about it, honestly. And I'd be more frustrated if I didn't feel like I was constantly improving, or if my ego was more bound up in my results.

It's just that now that I'm not pursuing full-time professional play, I'd like the game to be a little more fun for me... and PLO runs like this are such the opposite. It's, like, exclusively painful!

And these past two sessions were ones where I almost didn't play, so there's that stupid part of me going "agh, if I'd just not played...!" Or, at least, tonight I almost played some NLH instead, which tends to be a less excruciating experience when losing.

Feb. 14, 2019 | 7:29 a.m.

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