March 26, 2012

Experiencing live poker again, Jan 2012

End of last year, we took a trip back to the US. There were several loose ends we had / wanted to tie. Our landlord didn't pay us back our deposit, we had to sue him in small claims court. My husband and I had to attend conferences for work - his was CES in Las Vegas, mine was in Austin, TX. And just seeing friends again... I love those "coming back" trips after not much has happened...

This vacation really ranks right there among the greatest trips of my life, but a lot of it was personal stuff that had little to do with poker, seeing friends again, experiencing amazing stuff. For example, we got to meet Richard Garriot (Lord British) - if you know how many hours of my life I've wasted to Ultima and Ultima Online, you'll understand how amazing it was for me to get to experience a tour of his mansion and him being excited about meeting us, the astronomres. Weird, how people find stuff you do often much more intersting than you do yourself, but when you take a step back you can go "yeah, that IS pretty cool" - same with poker, btw, the step back aspect.

I even got to play poker twice. Once at the Bike, for maybe 40 minutes, after that, we grabbed some beers with Dusty (LaPeste) and Matt (avoidthe9to5). We had some interesting conversations, some strategy, some gossip, some just catching up. I do remember coming out of that meeting a bit baffled, thinking I must be the worst poker player ever. And it is still true that I think that today. Why? Well, because the number one goal should be to make money, right? It reminded me of my card counting days, the count system wasn't really the important thing, it was the spread you could achieve. Same in poker, the last drop of EV isn't important, it's that you find the bad players. Problem is, that it's not really that, which attracts me to poker. I probably could make many many BBs in SoCal playing live games, basically there exist no bad tables up to 40/80 - not after what I see day after day at 3/6 at PS, the vulturing, button wars, etc. Yet I played this fun 1/2 HUHU session with this Finnish guy yesterday... He was good, we were losing money to the rake, but oh boy was it fun. He left up like 15$, but we played a few hundred hands and I had a smile on my face, it was a challenge. Probably the worst thing I could've done if I really wanted to make some money... ah well. Anyway, it just seemed the other two were much more focused on the real goal of the game (making money) than I was, so kudos to them!

The other time was in Vegas, where I grabbed the beer (singular) with Dave (randomrules). We got to play in a nitty, but fun Bellagio game, Cindy Violett was there and all I can say is that she was really nice, the whole table except one grumpy reg was nice, we were joking around. Dave and I even came up with a new meme:

I give a pretty aggro (TAG) asian a walk in the BB, I had 72o in the SB. Dave laughs. I say something like "I'm not lying, I had 72o" Him: "I thought that was in your range!" Me (out of habit from the online tables): "What's 'range'?" Him: "You're wearing a deucescracked hoodie!" 

He's been using that a bit, btw look out for his articles on Pokerati now, if you want to get some scoop on the rooms around Vegas, basically a more personalized and up to date

The Deucescracked hoodie was a hit, by the way. Even though nobody knew what it represented, the all liked it. A dealer even went "Deucescracked! I like it! What is it?" haha. And last but not least was this other dealer that split a massive pot (like 25BB with 4/8 format) in half in one swoop and was *exactly* right. That guy earned his tip, makes me smile.

And so does the whole trip. Even though I despise live poker most of the time, I am this introverted geek after all, it is fun. I miss live poker sometimes. Alas, next week will be covering more online poker topics...

Posted By bellatrix at 09:57 PM


Tags: trip report

March 19, 2012

Been doing a lot...

Hi guys!

So, I got this thing for work where I am revamping my homepage. I am finally getting to teach like for serious, not dumb TA stuff like in grad school. I am taking courses on how to be a good professor and one thing they stress is e-Teaching and all those methods on how to reach your students. Turns out my homepage sucked big time and I've been spending a bit improving it. I've done video talks on my papers (thanks DC for those skills), I've pimped my astro-Twitter... plus, I've started blogging about astronomy related stuff.

Then I remembered, hey I had a blog. It was fun! It helped me relax to put my thoughts on what had happened in the week down, be it on some poker news or what I had been doing personally. Then the whole "Math Attacks" series started and seriously, I was just happy if I got a few hands in.

Finally, beginning in November, I've suddenly just played. I wish I could give you some sort of insights or anything like that, but it was mainly just a grind grind grind. I did quite well until I had a bit of a downswing in February. Funny thing is that PTR never caught it. Ah, yes, coaches always complain that PTR misses their upswings and always just catches their downswings, well, I'm here to confess the opposite :). Still, I'm up the bonuses and we've been redecorating the house a bit with the winnings (don't worry guys, this is like 500$ haha). So it's quite funny, I stopped blogging, I stopped doing videos, yet I really ramped up my playing and it was good, it felt comfortable.

Games have been... oh well, they've been getting tougher, but I don't feel like the regs have improved or anything like that, it's just that the recreational players don't are out in big numbers. Sure, sometimes on the weekends you will have tables with 3 unknowns (always a good sign) and it will be a good table, but often there are regs instasitting and instasitting out when the fish sit down or leave. But they are still there. Sadly, the very high games rarely run, so everybody has dropped down 2 levels or something like that. I see a lot of former 10/20 and 5/T grinders in my 2/4 games. There are a lot of multileveling regs, there just aren't 20 tables running like there used to. But games are still good, I just worry about the health of LHE sometime, like we need new interest in the game. I actually don't care about more or less regs, just more players in general. It makes me think if that is what it was 40 years ago for the people organizing the WSOP, in reality they just wanted to run some cash games and were happy they were going. Sure, there were a lot of sharks being attracted to those games, too. But some game is better than no game.

I have now started a new series called STORM in which I review some hands from the micro-limit guys at 2p2. I always look fondly at that forum, since it helped me get started. I've always been an online gal, just can't cope with the Small Stakes advice, and I love SSHE, actually most of my opponents and regs should be in that forum, but I still like the micros, nostalgic feeling. Been loving the session reviews again and just talking about poker. And happy that I finally have a series about actual poker and not just math on DC.

Ok, I guess I'll stop here. Maybe next week I'll talk a bit about my trip to the US the first 2 weeks of the year. Those were the weeks where I actually didn't play much poker since November, yet I got to meet some nice poker players. And I've been actually doing a lot for work, too. Again, I was sort of taking tax with the homepage stuff and it was cool how at ease I am. Both with poker and with work. I guess I can say: life is pretty good!

Posted By bellatrix at 09:44 PM


Tags: introspection

October 25, 2011

Math Attacks

What a journey! For those that followed along my 30-episode video series it was probably, too. I never thought it could be so emotional, but it really was great. It was great - like a paper I was working on on the side, but with instant gratification of publication. Thank you deucescracked for the opportunity to present it. I really think the series is going to be important as a reference series for years to come!

A lot has happened over the last 6 months and the book and the series always went with me. The book has suffered, it is falling apart now, but it has been worked through cover to cover. I would always carry with me some sheets of empty paper on which I would write out some ideas or carry out the calculations. By the end of the course I was in the groove of it, but the number of sheets also had grown - there was so many interesting things to write out. I started the book series almost wanting to insert my own little theories in there, by the end I was in awe of how much information there actually was in there and all I could do is to add in some fun stories or quirky info.

But the things that will linger with me the most was the scenery that surrounded me with the series. This recollection is mostly for me, so that I don't forget the feeling, that sense of what was going through my mind at the time. Please bear with me as I go through the chapters.

Chapter 1 was done with the nervousness of a little kid - how would the audience take to it? There were some problems with the first video, I know that now. If I knew then what I know now... 

Chapter 2 was already on a journey to Germany. I was there to get a VISA to stay in the US for 3 more months. A mere three months. But I wanted to leave. Any excuse to play. Coaching was going well, poker was good. Only science was... ahem, the motivation was lacking. I remember the temporary apartment we had rented googling crazy Gaussian curves, how immersed I was.

Chapter 3 was now in Paris for a conference. How the theme to my mood was FOOD. I ate so much and at every restaurant I wasn't with the conference attendees, the book was with me. I couldn't play online poker in France, "Math Attacks" was the next best thing.

Chapter 4 was now in a totally different setting. The high from a winning 20/40 8 hour session in Las Vegas. Of spending a weekend with my mom in Vegas - my goodbye to the city of gamble. No more quick weekends, the next time I will visit LV it will be a big trip, a whole production. And again, among that was the book, online poker and my interview on "Hey Ball" about it.

Chapter 5 was nothing special in the sense that it didn't include any trips or anything like that, but I distinctly remember sitting in an IHOP for 4 hours writing out stuff for the series. The homeyness of the whole situation, the bad coffee, the waitresses shouting "honey", the 1500 calorie breakfast - ah, I love greasy american coffee shops.

It seems ironic now that a chapter on Internet Poker would coincide with Black Friday, but it did. That was Chapter 6 for me. I was thankful it was suck a short one. I was glued to the computer screen, refreshing Twitter, skyping people, listening to rumors, reading speculation. 

Chapter 7 marked my departure from work. I worked through the Chapter in a quick fashion, hoping that nobody would notice (it wasn't my proudest work), because my thoughts were at work a lot. For a few weeks I really didn't know if I was ever going to do science again, if I was going to work in an University setting. And at the same time, the coming and going in academia is normal, so there were no tearful goodbyes, just a lot of "see you later"s.

And by contrast Chapter 8 was the first one out of work. Supposedly concentrating on the work at hand (the videos) now completely, since I was not working anymore, the move was still a few weeks away and there was no internet poker. But somehow I managed to procrastinate always, enjoying my first week off work for a long time.

Chapter 9 is accompanied with cool feelings. I really dug that chapter. But what I liked too were the goodbye parties and those things you do "one last time". The one that sticks to my mind was going to a baseball game. I miss it already. Yes MLB.TV, whatever, the games come so late here. I miss the game!

Chapter 10 was the time my best friend visited me from Colorado. Now here's a time where I wished I didn't have to the videos. I spent 4 days basically chatting, yet I feel we didn't spend enough time together. It was me doing the video, packing boxes and doing other administrative work for the move.

Chapter 11 was the last one in the US. We had no furniture anymore, not many places to sit in my home. My siblings were on the couch sleeping, helping with the move. I ended up recording it in the garage, since I usually recorded at night. Weird place, cold, but good memories.

Chapter 12 was written out somewhere over the Atlantic, my whole life in tow. It was recorded within a day of arriving in between registration and going to pick up our car the next day. Thank God we had fast internet. I really hope you guys could take something from it, since it is one of the most valuable chapters of the whole book. The tables alone form the basis of some SnG training sites. And here I was trying to condense it into an hour. This might have been one of the most intense chapters I produced.

For Chapter 13 I then suffered the consequences. We settled in extremely fast, but I got sick very quick, too. You'd think that we were busy buying stuff and doing administrative stuff. Yeah, a bit. But most of the time was actually spent visiting friends and me being in bed with a cold. My voice was not the best in the video, but the subject matter was easy and quick.

Chapter 14 was spent at the inlaws. Lots of time, very relaxing, I really like them. Only one little problem: they live in rural Germany. Yes, there exist places where there is no cell phone reception and no DSL connection (the cable doesn't reach). I had no way to upload the video, the modem connection broke down constantly. So I drove to the nearest hotel like 10 miles away and uploaded from there. Only by then it was 1am and the hotel was closed. Fun times were spent on the benches in front of the hotel watching the upload for 3 hours, listening to podcasts and watching a porcupine family come and go in front of me (they didn't seem fazed of somebody sitting there).

Chapter 15 I cursed to the heavens. This is where I budged. Why did the longest, most difficult chapter have to come on the week where the job fair was? I had to give up. The video for that week came out on Sunday. I never made it with the appendix and good thing because that alone was almost another hour. If I knew then what I know now sort of thing... The job fair was a waste of time, I know that now. But it felt good to be wanted, to have the interviews. It was on programs for returning german scientists. It fortified the idea in my mind that suddenly Germany was really preoccupied with getting the best minds here and I was proud. The exact opposite was happening in America - cuts, cuts, cuts.

Chapter 16 was a fun one. My friend from California visited with her husband. She studied physics, too. So the days were spent at the science museum, but also doing the normal Berlin tourism.

For Chapter 17 I talk about this one important job interview I had. It was for a global science management position. A little bit our of my league as I found out during the interview. It was cool that I was even competing, but yeah, a bit to high. Reach for the stars and all, but I didn't get it. But it gave me confidence - heh, they invited me for the interview, they think I can actually do this!

Chapter 18 was another friend visiting, this time my childhood friend from Guatemala. And the memories are from sightseeing and good food. And value regions! :)

And finally this is where I started settling in. It was funny, once my daughter actually went to school on Aug 15th, I quickly went to work on finding a job and got one within a few days (lol). The rest of the chapters was a blur, well, not exactly a blur, but they had a routine in them. I'd come home from work and work on the chapters. Sure there were some close calls when I was working on a telescope deadline when I would work through the last possible night on Math Attacks. Another day I had to record it at work, because it was basically impossible to do it at home. That was the one where I am outside and it turned out to be beautiful, even though it was the end of September, the weather was great outside and it was a great backdrop to record. But in the end, after Chapter 18 it had a nice rhythm to it and no special situations that much. In between I was also on "Deuce Plays". While I don't think I garnered that many more subscriptions to the video series, I do think I got people to think a bit differently about math in poker.

Before I leave you, I want to again reiterate my thanks to deucescracked for giving me the opportunity to give the course. You'd think that it was a lot more work for me, why in the hell am I thanking them, but it's not work if it's fun, right? So now it is Tuesday night, I don't need to write anything out, no video to record, no powerpoint to prepare... what am I ever going to do? Ah, I know. Actually play poker! See you next week, guys. But now again on the blog!

Posted By bellatrix at 09:02 PM


Tags: introspection

October 24, 2011

Not quite yet

Math Attacks is over.  I had promised something for Monday, but I still have some things to write, so I'll try to post about my experience with "Math Attacks" tomorrow.

Posted By bellatrix at 09:32 PM


September 05, 2011

Every beginning has an end

I thought I would write about my podcast on "Deuce Plays", but I'm not feeling it math-wise. Even though, I'm on my favorite Chapter on "Mathematics of Poker" right now (Kelly Criterion), I'm not into writing long dissertations about it. I hope, I can do it next week.

There is so much going on in my life right now. I started the new job last Thursday. And I'm super happy and motivated. Of course, I'm arriving at work early and thinking about stuff at home, too. But for every minute I spend at work, a minute from poker is taken (since I'm not about to sacrifice family minutes). So it is the end of long mornings dealing with poker, the end of slowly enjoying deucescracked videos. On the other hand it is the beginning of a new postdoc, a new outlook in my career. The people are generally impressed at work and I hope I can build upon that. Now the day only has to have 75 hours for me and 24 for the rest of the world. Oh and no sleep, please, or maybe yeah, just like 1 hour should be enough. Why 7-8 hours anyway? :)

Oh, and I had my first Ambien experience in poker. For people that might not know what I am talking about, here is the relevant clip (thanks to Short-Stacked Shamus and PokerGrump):

Tonight I log in to Pokerstars and suddenly, there are like 50$ more in my account than expected (48$ to be exact). And I go to the Hand Histories and I don't remember playing those hands, but yep, they are right there on Sunday evening when I played. Oh wow, I must have out of my mind. And as always, playing better out of my mind, than when paying attention :P

I was saddened this morning to hear on Twitter that Thuy Doan had passed away. I started my Twitter account on poker over 2 years ago, a little bit before the WSOP 09, for backers to follow my progress. I only had like 10 followers, even my backers would only load up the direct webpage link. I think one of the lower teen numbers of followers was her. At first, when every Twitter follower is to be cherished and adored, I went on a mission to find out who this Thuy person was. I mean, I didn't even know if it's a guy or not, if it was somebody selling something. It was then, when I found out, she was a female poker player and everybody talked well about her. By the time she hit the "big time" with the guys lining up to donate hair and all those things, she had unfollowed me again. :( . So today I read, she lost her fight with cancer. I didn't know her, but it brought tears to my eyes. Life is so unfair sometimes! How can such a nice person be infested with that nasty disease. 

Posted By bellatrix at 09:05 PM


Tags: introspection

August 29, 2011

The Road to Germany - Part 3

Here is where I get to talk a bit about the actual move - well, in relation to poker that is. It's weird, because while poker does occupy a big part of my life, but besides "Math Attacks" the last few weeks in the US and the first few in Germany had very little to do with it.

However, the US had a big influence in shaping my gambling mind, my view of things and people in the risk sense. When I travelled for Guatemala to Germany in for college, I learned to combine an often rigid, but thought-through process decision with the passion and magic realism that I brought from home. I was happy in that position. But the american viewpoint infused the willingness to expose yourself to luck and the (sometimes unwarranted) optimism to the equation.

For all intents and purposes I was returning to Germany jobless, with no real prospects of a job opening soon, yet I was confident I would find something soon. I can't see myself as a housewife finding neat recipes to cook for the evening; I enjoy eating a lot, cooking not so much, even though I'm quite good at it. And not to belittle online poker, but I think I wouldn't be a good online pro, I would play way too little, be satisfied with a 100$ day win, even those good days are the ones, where you should actually plow through, because of the potential bad ones.

Anyway, don't wanna brag, but am gonna, hah! I got a job again in research. Wasn't even that difficult. The guy offering it to me was even hesitant if it was under my market value (hah!). Not going to talk much about it here, but the balance between poker and science will continue and I will only marginally get better, because I can only work on my game during the evening when I'm already tired.

Ah yes, but playing poker I can finally do now, too. The relocating process with Pokerstars took a bit longer than expected. Mainly, because I don't have and don't plan on getting a landline here, yet they absolutely needed a landline to call. So after a few back and forth e-mails, they finally called me at a relatives house and after 3-4 verification days, everything was in order. I do have to warn you guys, that it takes a bit longer time than usual. I already had a german bank account, health insurance, a car, tenant lease and official documents with my residence in hand 3 days after we arrived, yet phoning for minutia (regarding the utility bill, e.g.) does take its time. Moneybookers and similar things take time, too, so be careful about that. 

About 2 weeks later, but with all the required documents ready this time, I sent in the relocation e-mail to FTP. They said something was missing (I think instead of a bank statement, they wanted a bank address confirmation) - that was Jun 28th. A well, I don't think I would've made it either way, I heard withdrawing took about 3 weeks. So my 1600$ remain on there. Thankfully I had withdrawn some about 10 days before Black Friday. And so now I wait, just as you guys do for FTP to get its act together. I don't know what the money there is worth nowadays, but I'm happy I didn't act on my impulse in early May wanting to buy up FTP funds on 80 cents on the dollar. Of course, not many people would've jumped upon that opportunity back then, the trade value was around 90 cents; now it's about 20.

Play on Pokerstars has been weird. With all the americans falling out, the site is infested with russians and germans that are usually good (belarus, ukraine make the list, too). Then there are the maniacal dutch and swedes. The still meh canadians and english, though not in big numbers. Yet all is balanced out by all the random countries that are left, especially the spanish have some of the most profitable fish there are. So all in all, the field has gotten polarized (either pretty good or pretty bad, not much in the middle) and about 30-40% less. I'm still sticking on the "low" tab of Pokerstars, but if I ever make it up, I will dread having only like six 5/10 games and maybe two 10/20. We'll see what happens.

Anyway, that's it from me from the old world now. That'll do it for my "moving to Germany" posts. I hope I can write some other stuff next week, for example, I was on "Deuce Plays" 2 weeks ago and would really like to talk about that some more, especially the fine line there exists between GTO and balanced play and why talking about the first one is futile, just because it hasn't been found yet in most cases.

PS: I'm going to play the 215$ LHE and the 320$ Badugi WCOOP events and am looking to sell some action (up to 40%). If you're interested and know me or can transfer money to Pokerstars, hit me up (no markup, I'm tourney fish, but those are my two good games).

Posted By bellatrix at 11:03 AM


Tags: trip report introspection

July 05, 2011

The Road to Germany - Part 2

Happy 4th of July to you Americans. The day here came and went, rainy and nothing special at all to report. 

Except that I have been playing on Pokerstars now *grin*. And I have developed a full disdain for the russian hitnrunners. Other than that, games are ok. I mean, I ran at like 10BB/100 at .5/1 while installing and configuring my HUD. At like 7BB/100 at 1/2 trying to get back into the normal LHE groove, readjusting myself on ranges and stuff like that. I had the bankroll for higher. Of course, as soon as I hit the good 'ol 2/4, which has been my achilles heel forever, I get greeted by a downswing. But I think I'm getting my mojo back. Chat has been very polite, except a bit sad that I sometimes get no action because of the DC affiliation: "not playing a DC coach HU", "what are you doing at these levels, go away DC"... but mostly very nice conversations. Maybe it was the americans that berated the most ;-)

Anyway... americans-poker. I left off on the road to Germany just as Black Friday hit. I never did make a post about Black Friday, even though I had a million thoughts going through my head. But mostly I felt like I was watching a movie unfold and I was just a bystander. Yes, I had money online, this did affect me, but I was helpless, nothing I could do, except watch the Twitter feed. The speculation was rampant, yet it never turned out to be a nasty rumor, bad joke. It was true.

However, as always, my husband put things in perspective. Or better said, in perspective as only I could nod and agree. See, in that respect I am usually different from other women. If you put forth a good logic argument, you will shut me up and I will nod and say "you're right" and stop the fight immediately. So he put the things in mathematical terms for me: "You deposited 200$ in September 2007 and kept withdrawing money from in, playing in 4 WSOP events and other tourneys with it that didn't amount to much. You kept withdrawing at a constant rate over the years. Yet you knew after UIGEA that everyone of these deposit bonuses or other had a certain risk associated with it. You saw the bank statements where you were receiving money from, etc, yet you knew they were poker payments. And with all those risks, you chose to keep playing and now the risk manifested itself. All in all, you might probably even get your 20-time money back (4000$), even though you cashed it out already close to 80-fold. So you can't really complain. When you risk into such a high risk situation you gotta live with the consequences." He didn't say it exactly like that (and not in english, lol). But that was the sentiment. And he was right.

And something else resonated in my mind for a long time that he said, that also Mason Malmuth said on the Pokercast. The pokersites shouldn't have sold the balla lifestyle, the bling, the millions. That might have attracted not only the wrong people, but may have also garnered unwanted attention. Instead, promote the actual numbers, the majority of people are playing for pennies, a fun way to spend a few evenings after work, they lose maybe 200-500$ per year, yet have lots of excitement for that amount. They get involved in communities and it keeps the mind sharp, just like chess.

So until 3 days ago, I played 84 hands of poker since April 15. That was after I cashed out some Gold Cards on Cake and donked around a bit on the 2c/4c tables with it. Made 30 cents ;-). And even though I missed the play a bit, it was fine, I knew I was gonna play soon in Europe. No withdrawals, no urgency to make an account on merge and get rakeback before Jun 1st. No poker play. Besides, "Math Attacks" and moving was enough.

A few more things on Black Friday. 

Thanks to kevmath and Carol (aka Black Widow of Poker). Their insights, retweets or concise knowledge made it easy to digest the phletora of reports coming out from all the sites, be it players complaining or news organizations getting it wrong.

I don't blame the DOJ or "the South" or anything like that. When you grew up in a dictatorship, like I did when I was very small, you learn to roll with the punches and "play out the hand you were dealt" without complaining or cursing. Everybody was just doing their job and acting out the laws that were on paper. In reality the whole thing was decided in October 2006, it was just enacted weirdly in April 2011.

I'm really curious what will happen after the WSOP. Many people are using it as their last "hurra", yet when I ask them, they don't have any plans or they amount to "play more live". There is still a lot of waiting, this is by far not over.

So there it is, finally, my thoughts on Black Friday. In the end, I couldn't say much. I couldn't give a big recap. It was just jaw-dropping and sad, but nothing that was out of this world. I am really sad for people that had their net worth online, or had living expenses amounting to a month or two. But if you could win at online poker, you can do other things as well.

So I leave you until next week - the actual move.

Posted By bellatrix at 12:36 AM


Tags: trip report introspection

June 27, 2011

The road to Germany - Part 1

It seems that I changed my undertitle on twoplustwo to "bloggin'" about the week that I stopped updating this blog. The reason for that has been quite clear: "Math Attacks". When I usually had some extra time for poker, I either just played a session or I blogged a bit. However, this video project has had me in a sort of stronghold grip. I'm sure when it is over I will make a post thinking back on a lot of stuff, only at the halfway point right now, though. It should be said, that while manageable, each episode is requiring ~8 hours of work with preparation, recording and homework. But I'm getting so much more our of it. The old adage that if you really want to learn a subject, you should teach it, still holds and I feel like I'm such a better poker player after summarizing, simplifying and explaining the concepts in the book.

But something else happened in the last few months, too. Yep that's right, I have moved to Germany. It was planned. It was a mix of reasons to do it, none of it right on their own, but the sum of it just seemed right. I lived in the US for 9 years, great years, but I think it's enough. I love the country, the people, but I somehow feel like I can "give back" to Germany, too, you know.

Anyway, now that I have settled in, I'll try to relate in a few blog posts what has happened in the last few months of my life. I believe I left you off just before I was embarking on my trip to Europe before coming back to the US the last time (yeah, extending a VISA for 3 months, ugh).

Some things that happened in that Europe trip relating to poker:

- I lost over 1400$, once playing 5/T LO8 and once chasing a fish all the way up to 10/20 at FTP. It was strange, because the LHE loss I shrugged it off as nothing, I knew I was playing well, everything was fine, I felt extremely confident. But the LO8 loss, there was that lingering thought, that maybe I was doing something wrong. Overvaluing concepts, maybe. My only consolation was that I played for quite a long time with Bart Hanson and he was losing a lot, too. Maybe it was really just runbad. Still, maybe I am too loose opening with A46K one nut suit from the hijack ;-).

- I met fnupple. What a cool dude. We talked about a lot of different stuff, math, social conscience, poker players, etc.

- I discovered I couldn't play online poker during my stay in France (kind of a premonition feeling haha). Pokerstars encouraged me to sign up for, but I felt I wasn't that desperate. Besides, the rake is horrendous there and I just watched lots of TV and actually enjoyed Paris with good food and some sightseeing (I had been there before and done all the big things).

- My first video came out during my stay in Paris. Was exciting to check on the thread during the talks of the conference I was at, hehe. It got good feedback, but I knew already then that it would die down soon. Not because the people didn't care, but for me it takes such a long time to finish series, so for this one that actually is difficult, it would be much harder for people to go through with it. I don't mind, there are always people starting and I feel like people will get a lot of this series for a long time, doesn't matter when they start it.

After I got back from Europe, not much happened. I mean, my mom came by and we had a wonderful mother-daughter weekend in Las Vegas. It was filled with Red Canyon, Hoover Dam, clothes-shopping, buffet. To top it off, we saw Celine Dion, which was absolutely great. Oh, and I won 230$ at 20/40 after being down over 2 racks :D . Again, there was no bonafide fish in the game, but all players had some sort of leak (with one exception from the local pro, who I knew from other times).

I also went on "Hey Ball", under very good feedback. Funny enough, not much on the DC pages or DC PMs, but most of it on twoplustwo. It made my heart all warm to hear such good comments, remember this is 2p2 after all ;-). Ah, that site will always hold a dear place in my heart.

But otherwise, I was actually getting some work done. All was fine and chugging along, I was even building up some students, until... Black Friday. I'll talk about that and my last weeks in the US next post.

Posted By bellatrix at 11:25 PM


Tags: trip report introspection

March 04, 2011

We're all a little emo!

On travel at the moment, which is why the blog updating has been a little slow. Update on my game - going quite good, but I couldn't play as much in February as in January, make like 7-8k hands. Still, I had a lot of fun rekindling with on of my loves HUHU LHE - I think I still got it! :)

The good, but not like "screaming out loud"-great results is another reason why I haven't been blogging. Was just talking to BigBadBabar the other day: "What can I say? I'm playing, I'm having fun, no epiphanies, no big ideas, just grinding". But it was only when I read hardboiled's poker blog on "David Hayano's Poker Faces" that I recognized a theme here. The book sounds like and interesting read, for example, the author - an anthropolgist - studied native tribes in Papua New Guinea before jumping int the study of poker players, heh. One paragraph struck me as so important, that I made a multitweet out of it - fail by me. Here are the three paragraphs that struck me the most:

"A couple [of points] come from his conclusion, titled "The Existential Game," in which Hayano recognizes that “because of the relentless instability and uncertainty of day-to-day gambling," players are constantly forced to reevaluate what they are doing and its significance and meaning. "If the life of the professional poker player were comfortable and predictable," writes Hayano, "I do not think that such extensive and persistent self-reflection would be required."

It is interesting to consider how "professional" poker players -- a group which for Hayano includes just about anybody who plays a lot and for whom the game is an important part of their lives -- are as a group an especially self-reflective bunch. Hayano pursues the point further, noting that one of the things that poker pros find themselves thinking about a lot is whether or not their lives have any special meaning at all.

"Many people, including poker players themselves, do not see card-playing as particularly productive," notes Hayano, adding how this attitude adds to the difficulty (and to the "existential" worrying) of the life of the poker pro. Also, for many full-time players, "there is no finality of gain and no peak existence, except perhaps winning a major tournament." The game just goes on and on and on, a situation that "manifests itself in an existential, if not socio-psychological, kind of imbalance."

I just realized both sorts of introspection come up over and over on the forums and with me, too. Just look at this blog, ffs.

One is the yearning for "a-ha" moments, as people coin them. Just look at the advice people give when making a "well" on 2p2. Something to cling on, to give you a sense of security that what you are doing is correct, or some sort of realization that fixes a leak. Definitely important that one, as long as we don't use it solely as a crutch, as long as we're not looking for formulas or easy cookbook recipes. Also, notice how this desire for "explanation" comes when we are on an unlucky losing streak, I blog less when I'm winning or losing by my own fault.

The other is the yearning to find meaning in what we do - either as poker professionals or obsessed semi-pros. Somehow I don't find that self-questioning in other professions with dubious benefits to society. I think that a good measure of self-scrutiny is always good, in any point of life or in any job, but we gotta be careful we don't do it too much. At some point the money we make isn't the be-all end-all, happiness counts for a lot. Do what makes you happy!

Anyway, long winded post to say that you should embrace your inner emo kid, but be careful and sometimes just enjoy poker, since it gives you so much joy! Seriously, do you think Charlie Sheen self-reflects on why he's so full of win, while he was the highest paid TV actor in the world? ;-) (had to throw that in there, sign of the times if I ever get to read these posts in a few years). But I do hope you like my self-reflections sometimes.

Posted By bellatrix at 11:17 PM


Tags: introspection

February 16, 2011

The poker "community"?

Warning - incoherent train of thought following...

As everybody, I was fascinated reading about the Ashman prop bet, of course mainly because of the blog reaction by internetpoker, Haseeb Qureshi (Part 1 and Part 2). It actually involved the element of somebody from the outside (the parents) actually making at least Haseeb realize how screwed up the bet was. So the blog was what set this thing apart from all the other crazy prop bets that have been made in the past. I mean just take a look at this list: 10 craziest prop bets every made.

But meh, I was pretty indifferent to the whole thing until I heard the reaction from the other camp - Ashton Griffin's camp. He appeared on the Poker News podcast, where at least he contained his cockiness a bit by only saying he was a lock on the bet. But on the Leggo Podcast it was almost as if they were making fun of Haseeb for being such a prop bet fish. They wanted to come off as these cool famous kids on the podcast and it just seemed, almost like trying too hard to invalidate the statement that Ashton had made about being depressed as reported in the blog.

It was then when I downloaded the Leggo Podcast and started listening to them yesterday - you know, while folding clothes, driving, doing some work. I listened to like 6 of them, but the story is always the same - look at us, we're so cool. We're buying Aston Martin's because girls are too dumb to recognize the value of an Audi. We're losing thousands of dollars in the pit. We're randomly staking good2cu in a 40k tourney because we're hungover and had a great time partying with him last night. We bang chicks in random trucks and are high all the time. The Rhino tax. The other Ashman prop bet, where he ran 15 miles in less than 3 hours having eaten a gallon of ice-cream. Mix in lots of swear words and you have the LeggoCast.

I felt so old when listening to the podcasts. I feel old when listening to rootbone radio (Poker Static), I feel old when listening to 3 Gentlemen (the Cardrunner's version). I don't mean to give sweeping generalizations and discussing random sports events and prop betting smallish amounts on them is fine. I just feel old, when my first urge is to yell at the guys that they are going down a bad path, either healthwise or mentally.

It is not my place, of course. I did extremely dumb stuff when I was young. I remember it like it was yesterday, I'm in Sweden at some random beach, hanging, grabbing on to a side of a cliff, 20 meters above me - wall, 20 meters below wall and the crashing waves. Me thinking - how the hell did I get into this mess? All to prove I was brave, that I could climb this stupid cliff wall? Well, I made it out alive, but I tell you that was some shaking my legs did, some yelling I did for help and some learning my little mind did. It makes me sad that the guys in the poker community will have to do that learning at much higher stakes, with lots of predators circling because of the large swaths of money they throw around. But also because it is so public. When I was 19 I could just screw up by myself and nobody would notice (hell, still nobody notices), they are in the poker "limelight" trying to keep up some weird appearance of coolness.

I think it was last year that Dr Pauly wrote a something about Kathy Liebert, maybe it was 2009. It was just a few lines, actually, but they still reverberate in my mind the whole time until today. She had just scored big, 4th in the 10k PLHE event. Yet, she carried a homemade meal a few days later or maybe even the next day to the next poker tourney - it was something boring like meat and potatoes, which she warmed up during the break. Dr Pauly gave her some props in those lines and she received my respect ever since then. Super small detail, but something so grounded as to bring your own cooked meal to "work" instead of having the menu of Naked Fish memorized. Not the Dom or Crystal parties (ew, I don't even like champagne). No, sweat the small stuff, the big will follow! Yes, you can be a normal person without being a life nit!

And why do you have to act like you are happy or high all the time? Why do you insist on throwing around the dollars like there's no tomorrow? I do understand the parties and hanging out with your friends. I was always happier hanging out with guys playing videogames and munching on pizza when I was younger than going out shopping. But I find that during WSOP time, some people try to force fun, as if it HAS to happen, so high expectations riding during those months about how everything is going to work out and they are going to have this magical summer. And yes, lots of great experiences are had, but it seems fake when it's forced (paid).

Anyway, ramblings from an old lady to a young poker community, oh boy! :P Maybe next week I should just stick to "Embracing the variance" again. Oh, speaking of that, tomorrow is the next Rush LHE FTOPs tourney. Will try to see if I can put some of my observations to work there. Or just luckbox. Ideally both! Wish me luck!

Posted By bellatrix at 12:21 AM


Tags: introspection

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