Raise or Fold:  A Year of Risky Business

Writing and playing poker as if they were activities worth doing well.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Month 5 Gets Put To Bed

The books are closed on Month 5 of my poker adventure.

I'm back from six days of virtually non-stop poker playing in AC. The trip was basically a break-even proposition for me: all my rooms and food were comped, but I barely made a profit at the poker tables and I had to pay for tolls and gas to get there. (I would have shown a much more substantial profit but for two hands: one where I was all in with AA over QQ and lost, and the other where I was foolish enough to go all in against someone who I should have known was incapable of folding top pair. These two hands were both, of course, at a 1/2 table. The players suck, but I experience higher variance there because I don't dumb down enough.)

Fortunately, the trip was useful in a few non-monetary ways. I now am completely convinced about the correlation between physical exercise and success at the table. It's pretty straightforward. The days I worked out before I played, I made money. When I didn't, I didn't. That ought to be enough, right there, to get me motivated to go the gym.

I gathered some new and challenging material for my book, especially concerning my ongoing thinking on the meaning of money. I spent some time on Wednesday with a guy whose attitude toward money (and gambling in general) is worlds away from my own, and it was food for thought. Look for future posts on the topic soon.

After a night playing at The Table From Hell*, I also realized that I need to be more proactive in changing my circumstances if, for whatever reason, I'm not happy with the table I'm at. When I'm not in a casino, table selection is much harder. In AC, I'm generally playing at Harrah's, but I have good relations with the floor staff, and they are very helpful and accommodating to requests. If there's only one table at the given stakes, that's one thing, and you kind of have to just suck it up. But if you have a choice, why not exercise it? One of the edges I think I have over many players is that I genuinely find playing poker to be FUN. I need to continually find ways to keep it that way, otherwise I'll be just another grim-faced grinder without any alternatives.

*The Table From Hell comprised Chatty Asian Girl Who Knew She Was Hot But Wouldn't Shut Up EVAR And Ended Up With Everyone Hating Her, Two Sloppy Beligerent Drunks, Lagtard Luckbox, Cranky Pro, Stinky Man, Lovely Sunshiny Dealer Who Finally Lost It and assorted other characters. It was the slowest, noisiest, and most annoying table I've ever sat at. Finally, in desperation, I went to the floor and moved back to 2/5. Blessed relief.

I am going to focus intently on my writing this month. I've accumulated a lot of very valuable direct experience, and I need to spend some time digesting it and reshaping it for the book. I'm starting to feel that time is growing short for me to get this thing written, especially as I expect that I won't have much time to work on it during the WSOP. Time to crank it out!

Without further ado, my stats for Month 5. Numbers in parentheses are Month 4 for comparison purposes.

ROI on live tournaments: 261% (0%)
Obviously the wins in AC were the big factors this month.

ROI on live cash games: 7% (63%)
It seems that I alternate between having strong cash months and strong tournament months. It would be nice to be able to fire on BOTH cylinders at once.

Combined live ROI for the month: 34% (56%)

Total live tournaments ROI to-date: 92%
Total cash game ROI to-date: 257%

Current live bankroll ROI: 37%
I am now five months into my experiment and I have, cumulatively, put every dollar of my original bankroll at risk at least once. This suggests to me that 37% may start to approximate an expected rate of return on my money. If I absolutely, positively had to live on my poker income, I could. But it would be very, very difficult.

Here's another item worth noting: I have put four times as much money at risk playing cash games as I have at tournaments. Despite the swings, cash games are indisputably more profitable for me than tournaments. They are clearly the bread and butter of the professional life. On the other hand, a big score in a tournament could vastly overshadow the profits possible at the cash stakes I play. The big tournament win is obviously still worth pursuing, but on some level it is much more of a 'lottery ticket' than the regular returns of a cash game livelihood.

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