Went to Borgata last weekend, and had a very successful 2.5 days of LHE (2.5 because one was a very short session; I tried my hand at the $215 turbo tournament, and went out despite some strong play and reads), winning ~4K at 20-40 and 40-80. It’s a reminder that 1) this is one of my greatest talents, and 2) I don’t play nearly enough. With my first child (a boy, Julian) on the way, that’s got to change: I have his financial future to think about, and I need to maximize my time spent. Sleep has to be sacrificed! This also means I really need to get to work on my online game, which has always drastically lagged behind my live performance. Before depositing money into PokerStars, though, I’m going to really gameplan, ranging from game selection to ambience, so I can be as ready to rock & roll as possible.
Archive for category Poker
Been really getting back into playing of late, with a successful trip to Commerce (covered expenses plus several grand in profits), and a re-energized approach to online play. We’ll see if it lasts or is mostly a fad, but I feel confident playing online tournaments & sit-and-go’s, and feel like I’m going to make a lot of money over the next year between live limit cash games, the occasional NL cash game live in NYC, and online tourneys. We shall see. I’ll check back in December to report on how it’s all going.
Now, this is a movie MADE for me! I’ve been saying for awhile that there’s a great film to be made about poker’s explosion of over the past 10 years, and finally, someone’s made it. The results are decent-to-solid, but much was left on the table—while director Douglas Tirola clearly loves the game and recognizes many of the key turning points, he fails to delve deeply into what drives so many to the game beyond and keeps them there. Nor does he tackle what might be the most exciting aspect of all to those who aren’t as familiar with the game—the massive amounts of money that the top players (both online and live, but particularly live) reel in per year, and what being a professional poker player is really like. Either would have been a much better choice for the fourth section of All In then an entire 30 minutes devoted to Chris Moneymaker. However, Tirola does do an excellent job with his section on Rounders (1998), and neatly touches on most of the key components in poker’s rapid-fire growth.
Tirola splits All In into four sections—the birth of poker, Rounders, online poker’s beginnings and impact, and the Moneymaker effect. Section #1 is very good, with enjoyable clips and short stories about many of the game’s legends (Amarillo Slim, Doyle Brunson, Stu Ungar, etc.). It also accurately portrays poker as a microcosm of the American Dream—anybody who works hard and puts in the requisite hours can become successful (albeit not all at the same level; obviously, you need a certain amount of natural talent to reach the heights of the true stars). For those unfamiliar with poker’s rich history (for instance, Richard Nixon funded his first campaign for congress almost entirely with poker winnings), the first 20-25 minutes should prove quite educational.
Section #2 contains the best moments in the film, as it measures Rounders‘ powerful impact on the boom. If you haven’t seen (or heard of) Rounders, it was released in 1998 to very little fanfare, and left theaters very quickly despite a big-name cast including lead Matt Damon, Edward Norton, and John Malkovich. I believe this is due to a complete lack of interest in the topic matter at the time; outside of home games and casino’s, few really knew much about poker if they weren’t REALLY into it. When it hit DVD, though, junkies began snatching it up…and showing it to their friends…who showed it to their friends. And just like that, a cult classic was born (count me in among those who 1. love Rounders, and 2. were drastically impacted by its depiction of poker as a game of skill that favored the sharp and patient, not just a form of gambling). Many of the top players were first inspired to give the game a twirl after seeing Rounders, and All In does an outstanding job of illustrating just how prescient Rounders looks these days, and what the poker underworld that inspired it did for the game as well. And for those like me who PLAYED at the clubs in question…well, it’s just too cool for words. Many of the greats cut their teeth in these joints (the shout out to the Mayfair was particularly awesome), and it’s terrific (and nostalgic…clubs are few and far between these days) to see them get their due onscreen.
Part three is probably the most important and applicable to today’s culture; the online explosion, government’s intervention, and what the future holds. With the current laws sketchy (idiotic former Senator Bill Frist tacked an amendment onto the end of a completely unrelated bill that bans online gambling, but sites such as Poker Stars and Full Tilt continue to allow U.S. players, as their headquarters are not in America and they don’t feel it’s enforceable), a few current congresspeople have sponsored a bill that would regulate and tax online poker, creating billions of dollars in much-needed revenue for the Government. Leaving aside the stupidity behind horse racing being completely fine but poker a “problem,” more and more people are recognizing that poker is an unarguable game of skill, and the support for this is rapidly growing—it also doesn’t hurt that President Obama is a big fan! Tirola effectively communicates all of this, as well as how the process works and just how much money is in it for the CEO’s of these sites, but there’s a missed opportunity here; too much emphasis is put on the advantages of playing in your underwear, and not enough about the lifestyle itself. Many of the top online players (as well as a large majority of the thousands upon thousands who make 200-500K per year playing on their computers) are in the 17-25 range, and have finally found a way to channel their intelligence into something productive. Plenty have been poor students without direction, and poker served as a vessel to channel their talents and avoid a deadbeat lifestyle. On the flip side, there are serious downsides to the career without discipline; it’s easy to eat terribly, avoid exercise, and have no balance to your routine. While Tirola can’t be expected to address this in depth, he certainly could have planted the seed.
Until now, All In has had many more positives than negatives, but by dedicating the final 25 minutes of the film to the story of Chris Moneymaker—the bumbling Nashville accountant who parlayed a $39 tournament on Poker Stars into a seat at the 2003 World Series, and won it for $2.3 million dollars—Tirola makes a serious error from a cinematic perspective. There’s no question that Moneymaker’s victory represents a key turning point in the boom, as it invigorated everyone who’s played & enjoyed poker with a “why not me?” attitude (and the ironic nature of his last name didn’t hurt matters either). But by this point in the movie, all but the biggest poker junkies were likely getting restless, and the concluding segment could easily have been edited into part three without losing any of its substance. I would have much preferred to see All In wrap up with some interviews with the young lights in the poker world (Tom Dwan, Phil Ivey, Patrik Antonius, et al), and let the audience into what it’s like to win or lose hundreds of thousands dollars in a given day. The emotional fortitude required is breathtaking, and could serve as a lesson for many in other fields. If Tirola felt differently, he should have just merged sections three and four, and produced a leaner documentary that doesn’t drag. As is, it’s well worth seeing, but could have been so much more.
I’ve only played about eight hours of cash games thusfar — and broken up into small sessions, at that, due to other obligations — with no luck so far, though the games are weak as ever. As for my first crack at the World Series of Poker Limit Event, I couldn’t have been more card dead if I’d begged the heavens for 73o repeatedly. Bah. I did make the second day, but busted out with about 115 people left out of 650 entrants. Definitely plan to give it another twirl next year…
For eight days of poker, parties, and Cinevegas! Poker reports to be posted here, and I’ll certainly get some reviews up as well. ETA at Bellagio: 2PM Vegas time.
I’ve made the conscious decision to incorporate a large dose of poker into my 2009 lifestyle. With the economy tanking and real estate frequently becoming frustrating, I’ve decided that it makes no sense to put such a gift (and a recession-proof one, at that) into the corner, allowing it to become dusty. But 2009 will be the year I take my game to a new level. That means using Poker Tracker for online play, keeping detailed records of every session I play, and frequent trips to the Borgata & Foxwoods which should help me:
1. Get a real sense for just how much I love playing, and if my adoration for the game lessens with consistent play
2. Get a real sense for just how good I am, and how good I can be.
Meanwhile, I won’t have to give up my writing (duh), or my company – I’ll simply be putting more responsibility in the hands of my VP at Aboveground Realty, and lowering the company’s scope. I’m sick of worrying about money, and I have the ability to make a lot of it. The time has come.
An interesting few weeks in my poker career. I took a trip to Atlantic City a few weeks ago for my first live LHE action in several months, and man, had I missed it. I ran well and played even better, and crushed the 40-80 for a 6K score. Obviously, that’s way above expectation even in a game as soft as the Borg 40…but jeez, the players are just not good at all. I’d say the 5-10 6-max games on Poker Stars are substantially tougher. Everytime I play live LHE, I get tempted to move out to California and play professionally. But for now, at least, I love my RE career, and prefer poker to be a supplement…
Online, I still can’t get into the same sort of rhythm as live…I don’t think my fast-twitch personality is as well suited to playing on the computer, where I can get easily distracted and am constantly multi-tabling. I really need to start using PokerTracker, because the players are certainly weak (at least at the levels I’d play), and get focused. By far, my tournament game is the best aspect of my online repertoire; I tend to focus much better in them and rarely tilt, for whatever reason (I also almost never tilt live, which is obviously a huge advantage). On that note, I just missed my first monster score last night for the third time in the past few months, finishing 21st out of 2,258 in the $215 WCOOP Limit Event. I played very well, but made a few mistakes I regret, and lost a tough hand late with JJ vs AT on a JKQ board. Couldn’t recover from that, unfortunately. Ah well…the big payday is coming…
I’ll be heading to Atlantic City next Monday and Tuesday for some 20-40 and 40-80 action. It’s been awhile since I’ve played live, and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ll probably take a stab at a tourney or two if there are some decent ones at the Borgata on Monday. We’re leaving Tuesday evening, so I’ll stick to cash on Tuesday afternoon.
Meanwhile, I’ve decided to take a break from online play until I get my ADD medication in order. I’ve had a few near monster hits (23rd out of 25,000 in the Sunday hundred grand last week; 200th out of 7000+ in the Sunday Million the week before), but I just have trouble focusing like I need to to successfully multi-table. That means far weaker results than I should have, given how poor the players are at 5-10 limit and below, or most of the tournaments (other than the really tough ones). I also need to begin using Poker Tracker, since there’s just no reason for me to be spotting opponents stats. So yeah, in a few months, once work picks up and I can give myself a real bankroll, I begin an online quest in earnest.
I’ll post my AC results when I return.