June 16, 2010

Bellatrix does WSOP Ladies' Event 2010 - DAY 1

So the long weekend came and went in a whirlwind. I'm sitting here on my computer at home and am very sad it was over so quickly. I was left with the itch to play and at the moment I'm even missing the shuffling of the chips for hours and hours on end. But it was tiring as well... besides football, oh sorry "soccer", I basically just played poker, ate and slept.

But let's start from the beginning. It all started on Thursday when I took off work early and we packed and left for Vegas at around 3:30pm. The family came with, but they were in the back distracted by Steve Jobs' wonderful inventions of the small and big variety (hubby with the iPad, daughter with the iPhone). So it was cool that we got there without stopping once. The hotel that hubby booked was a timeshare that was free that weekend, so it was basically like an apartment and I was thoroughly impressed with him.

Plus he "invited" me to Crepes at Paris, which is always great affair. mhmm, their sweet crepes are to die for and I like that it's not the fancy shmanzy affair that some Vegas restaurants are, the food is relatively cheap ~10$/amazing crepe that WILL fill you up. I sit there with glazed eyes after us three shared three crepes (my daughter is 4!).

So by now it's after 9pm and the DC homegameament is going on at the Aria. I kinda wobble to there (after seeing one display of the Bellagio fountains one more time). The walk does me some good, finally the food is getting down. Only thing is that the poker room is like the farthest thing from the Strip, so you have to walk aaaaaallll the way down. But I get there and the homegame is in full swing in the elevated high limit area; nice room and super friendly dealers by the way. I say my hellos to DeathDonkey (who's playing PLO, haha), Entity (nice to meet you), Tecmo (yay, Tecmo) and Danzasmack (who actually remembered me from 2 years ago, neato).

pic, from dealbase.com, sorry I forgot my camera...

User Uploaded Image 

I don't know, I started playing immediately and the time just flew by. At some point OnTheRail15, PygmyHero and BigBadBabar showed up, but honestly I can't tell you when, if it was late or not. BBB got the seat to my left and at least he was the sane one. Entity was the next seat and Scary Tiger (nice to finally put a face to a name) were double/triple straddling and coldcapping like every hand, so it was kinda lol playing with them after. At least I got a drink from BBB and he was nice enough to entertain me with his massages and "oh hai!"s while I kept folding the winners.

Oh yeah the game! After playing a rotation of basically PLOT (Crazy Pineapple, LHE, O8 and TD), Scary Tiger or Entity came up with the brilliant idea of showing one of his 4 cards on the flop during an O8 round. The next round, they upped themselves and showed one per street. And ladies and gentlement, that's how Romaha8 was born. Show 1 card pre deal on every street, so that by the river betting round you have 3 of your 4 cards showing. Everybody loved it, of course, so by the end it was like 5-6 to a flop, with like three 9s, one ten and two jacks showing as their upcard (haha). But Tommy Angelo is right, by that point it had become SLOWmaha and I was beginning to fall asleep. Plus loose some of my money, because I'm a damn nit and can't compete with donating money as fast as Scary Tiger and Vanessa Selbst were :P. I know that in the end BBB ended up over 5 and a half racks, so there haha.

I end up at the other table where they are playing baduci. I must admit, I had never played the game before, but hey, I can play TD and I can play badugi and I heard DeathDonkey's podcast on baduci... gambol. Of course, I make the mistake that playing badugi, I think the Ace is low for the badugi and lose a pot where I thought I was getting half. And Joe Tall says in his video voice, really slow, with a teacher's tone: "The Ace is high for both hands... you wanna draw to the best badugi hand... which is 2345..." Or something like that, it was hilarious. He was talking so normally before, but now he was giving tips and advice ;-) (sorry Joe). Anyway, I got my revenge when I scoop two huuuuuge pots, one with an 86 with an 85 badugi. But the last hand was amazing because I actually made Number 1 in TD and an 75 badugi 3handed! And I almost trifecta'ed Joe, but then opened my mouth and also it isn't nice, so I just valuebet the river.

Anyway, I leave the homegame at like 3:30-4:00am down 57$, which is probably about what I tipped, so I'm happy. I curse at myself, the tourney is tomorrow and I still have to get to the hotel. ugh, not good.

Stay tuned for DAY 2, DAY 3 and a short DAY 4 coming in the next days.

Posted By bellatrix at 06:15 AM


Tags: travel

June 09, 2010

Women in "men" fields

I can't take it anymore. My e-mail inbox is overflowing this last few days from angry women, facebook posts criticizing Larry Summers, skype jokes from fellow women physics PhDs. What set it off? This New York Times article published yesterday. It is based on an article based on SAT/ACT tests for the highest 0.01 percentile of the population, especially the 19(!) that scored perfect scores as 7th graders. It actually has the audacity to suggest that while in the broad mean girls/women have the same skills and aptitudes as boys/men in math and science, when it comes to the best (and the worst) men actually excel; a sort of fattening of the tails. Hey, women aren't getting better since like 15-20 years ago, the pace at which they have been accepted to faculty positions, have gotten prestigious grants, medals, prizes whatever has flattened. Not dropped, just that the gender gap hasn't become smaller.

I've heard a lot of that in poker, too. Annette Obrestadt was quoted (and she said almost misquoted on Pokerroad) on saying: "I've always said that girls suck at poker. I say that because they do. Maybe they just aren't as competitive and don't try to learn from their mistakes. But I don't want them to get better. I like the uneven playing field." There is a huge gender gap in poker, obviously and of course a skill gap. Nobody has ever said that overall men have better potential skill in poker than women, just that women aren't either interested or discouraged by society to play poker and that's why the gap exists.

But many people have suggested that even under the best circumstances the top 0.01 percent of men would still have better innate abilities than the top 0.01 percent of women. In the world series far less women cash and win events than their starting percentages would indicate, although it's often a small number statistics game and any 3-4 wins would skew the statistic back to its "normal" pace ("Year of the Woman" anybody? sheesh).

Something like a numbers gene that prevents us women, even while being really good of ever being THE BEST. Yes Jen Harman can play the big game, but she'll never be compared to Phil Ivey. Yeah, sure a few women can bink some tourney wins, but never will we see a woman win 10 bracelets, yadda yadda. Never will a woman win a Field's Medal.

And to that I say: ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!?!?!?! The only thing I might conclude from that article is that the distribution of that tail for males is definitely broader on the stupid side, grrr. Tierney is a moron and anybody claiming that women's innate ability to play poker is lower than men's, might want to find me at a low limit HULHE table sometime, please (low limit means that I don't think that anybody has >3BB/100 edge over me, the rake).

Fortunately there are plenty of other articles that prove the opposite, that gender gap is driven by social factors, not biological differences, link
see also from International Math Olympiad studies that the US is behind other countries in sending women to the Math Olympiad due to cultural reasons, link
I have been to the International Math Olympiad and can confirm that it is a sausagefest extremely similar to a gathering of the best online poker players (not gonna say more ;-) )

Now to the other part of the article... Should we encourage women to get better in the STEM fields and better at poker? Should we organize more girls science camps? More women events? Everything to narrow the gender gap and make women feel welcomed?

Here is where I will probably veer off the PC route and say NO. I mean, yeah, definitely get rid of the boulders society puts into our way to becoming good at "numbers". We don't need: "tools = boys, cooking set = girls" labels or only women models and not women players advertising for poker sites. But to artificially introduce something because we need to bring in more women to our field, nah. There was a funny comment on the NYT site "let's narrow the gender gap for everything, start with prisons" hehe. Dude, if you're into poker, you're into poker, whatever. If you're into knitting, you're into knitting.

So what do I think about Ladies' Events? Belittling, denigrating, demeaning. And don't let me get started on the attitude the organizers have to ladies' events ("let's make space for all these beautiful ladies"; see Jen Newell's post here a year ago, I was in that event and felt like that, too)

Why the hell am I playing the ladies' event then? Because I like my tables as soft as possible, of course and I'll leave it at that (also because that's what I can afford, lol). But I'd rather they'd be gone with it and not artificially create poker interest. Oh, and if a man (TT, @_tizzle) wants to play a ladies' event, let him, it'll expose the sham that these things are!

tl;dr: Women aren't stupid, sometimes it just doesn't interest them.

Posted By bellatrix at 12:47 AM


Tags: general introspection

June 02, 2010

Yo, I'm still here!

Didn't update this blog for a week now... I really should get back into it. There was a specific reason for not writing anything last week: the eternal downswing. Now that I've worked up my bankroll a bit again, I am able to play my main nitty gritty 3/6 HUHU game again. It felt comfortable... but at the same time it didn't.

I was off to an ok start, made some bets here and there and lost them again, sometimes to people that turned out to be new regs, no problem. So basically break-even, carving ahead, getting a few precious VPPs, even though I really don't know if I can really make it to Supernova, I'll try, believe me.

Cue the week before last where it went down and down and down. And it wasn't just the normal downswing, it's that one that messes with your head. After getting hit'n'ran the fifth time, you get really paranoid when the 6th opponent sits down. Yeah, yeah, I know, when I'm in that place I shouldn't play... It was 20-50$ over and over again. Just teeny little needles every time, but it sure left me ruffled and in a bad place mentally. Every time I had a read and would crawl myself back, they would leave just up ~20$. The other way around too. If I got off to an ok start, it would turn and as soon as they got up to 20$, boom, bye bye bellatrix.

It is brutal, HUHU magnifies emotions so much. I can honestly say, I didn't tilt in the sense that I still played a pretty normal game, but for sure I wasn't 100%, screaming at the cards, praying that the opponent doesn't leave after this pot. Sigh, so sick. HUHU downswings, ugh. In the grand scheme of things it was only ~150BB, maybe 1000$, but still very jarring.

Thank god I didn't give up, because by last week the tide definitely turned. They didn't crawl back again, so they actually ended losing a lot. I suddenly got the groove back again, snapping off the 3b! bluffs and checking when I knew they had it. The insults (nothing bad, just "moron" or "idiot" or a sarcastic "nh") started rolling in again. Suddenly I had regained all my losses and then some. Ahhh finally I'm good mentally again.

I made my last withdrawal before the June 1st UIGEA deadline. Let's see how long the money is in limbo. I don't plan to deposit for a long time and heck, I don't want to withdraw either, rather build up the bankroll some more for the next jump to 5/T... that is still way off though.

I am finalizing my details for the Vegas trip. I guess it'll be a more subdued affair. My family is coming with me this time. They have said, they'll leave me be and I should enjoy playing poker without any pressure, they'll have fun in Vegas by themselves, but of course it never ends up happening that way. First, if they are already there, I want to do stuff with them, Vegas can be fun after all. Then there is the guilt factor of course, or maybe the healthy factor. One thing's for sure, no binge gambling until 8 in the morning hahaha, most likely a good thing.

Again, if you're in Vegas, PM me (either here on DC or on 2p2 or @pokerbellatrix on Twitter). I'll be there June 10th evening until June 13th sometime afternoon. Let's do dinner, lunch, breakfast, whatever, but no Rhino sessions :P And for the rest of the time, I'll be grinding my 300$ bonus at FTP (I must be NUTS thinking I can keep Platinum status at PS and still do the 300$ at FTP in one month).

Posted By bellatrix at 07:27 AM


Tags: introspection journey up

May 18, 2010

Shady online poker

Was talking to a friend over AIM today. He had been away from poker for about 6 months and it was kinda weird talking to him about stuff. He had missed a lot of stuff that had happened in the beginning of 2010 in the world of online poker. As I began to recount all the things (Jason Ho, Stox multiaccounting and cheating scandal, Leatherass, Cereus security leaks), I found myself more and more jaded. Wow, this gambling world is really fucked up. I sometimes really wonder how I still win at poker (and believe me, this last month has been a big fat whooping 0).

With the UIGEA being implemented on June 1st this is going to be it. The DoJ, especially the New York branch is not kidding and the arrests in the last few weeks of the payment processors exemplifies that they mean business and this is not just talk. I know this has probably nothing to do with my puny little roll on the 3 sites I play on, but I’m still scared.

And I’m kinda pissed. During the last week Cereus (AP and UB) were discovered to have serious leaks in their security system. They don’t use SSL encryption, but rather XOR. I have solved many cryptographic puzzles with XORs, really nothing a good crypto::xor library couldn’t handle. And I’m a total noob, for people working in security this is inexcusable. But that’s not what pissed me off, I was expecting to hear some “statement” from Paul Leggett (sp?), poor guy should just wear an “I’m sorry” T-shirt everywhere he goes. No what I was pissed about was that poker players still kept playing there saying “but that competition is soft”. It is that exact behavior that will get you into trouble, quick buck to be made as you are being lead to the slaughterhouse. “What do I care that I’m supporting crooks, as long as I get this great RB and I can have these fish to myself”. You should be ashamed of yourself.

And I’m angry, but in a sad kind of way because I’ve been limit-grimstarred so often in the last few days, and then laughed at because I’m so dumb to sit with somebody waiting at a 6max table. Would it kill you to post “no thanks” or leave without playing a hand? Do you have to really rub it in my face that you play your button and then sit out (they don’t leave when they lose their button though ;-) )? Not only that but berate me for sitting with you? This is not something that happened once, but over and over again.

And just now, as I was typing this blog, this guy sat down. He’s good. Why is he sitting with me? Do I have “tilt” written across my forehead. Probably, because I don’t quit him. And I win, I mean Pokerstars wins the most, but I still win 50$ and what happens? I’m angry! Why would you sit with me? And I ponder. And I realize waiting for HUHU opponents is very unhealthy for one’s sanity ;-)

Oh, in case you didn’t notice the last paragraph was written in jest. hehe. But I will still make fun of you if I notice you playing at UB or AP, there!

Posted By bellatrix at 08:38 AM


Tags: introspection

May 11, 2010

Education learning

Little less poker content this time around, but it’ll be there at the end, I promise…

I was attending a kid birthday party yesterday. My daughter is 4 years old and attends a daycare that is in one of the best school districts of the county. The University I am affiliated with gets priority and discounts, so it was a no brainer for me to enroll her there, but there are also a lot of local people from the district attending. This is one of the most affluent districts in the county. I mean, the median income per is over 150k$ (I checked Wikipedia). So money for the kids is usually not an issue.

Us scientists tend to be nomads. I know my job at the University I’m at is not permanent and I fully expect to move in about a years time. Choosing a kindergarten is not a priority for me right now. But I still heard their debates with interest, mostly because I wasn’t emotionally invested.

It turned out the moms had very clear ideas what they wanted for their children. Even though this is one of the best districts for public school education, they still want to send private schools. I was baffled by how much they were willing to spend for stuff like “inquiry learning”, a term I had only peripherally heard about. It is THE new thing. Rather than learn something by a strict and tried method, the student tries to come up with the principle behind the problem by himself.

I know that in my field of physics there was a ot of that going around being tested on poor freshmen attending my alma matter. Rather than teach the students about Bernoulli and show how the pressure formula creates the forces that lift an airplane up, the student is supposed to come up with the mechanism by himself. That is fine and dandy for a bright student, but the poor student will actually feel even worse, since he won’t understand it. From testing on freshmen, the bright students in the traditional setting didn’t necessarily do much worse, but the weak students didn’t do much better either. In fact, it seemed that the method bread mediocrity.

I told the moms this, but they were adamant about experimental methods. They feel their precious children are getting held back by the normal way of teaching something, while I thought that the private school was gonna snatch up the best teachers and with those the children were gonna thrive regardless of the methodology behind their teaching.

Imagine my surprise when later in the evening I was reading a Newsweek issue on exactly the same theme (link). It makes me so sad that when it comes to math, children just get thrown into the water and get yelled at to swim.

From cartoonstock.com

What does this have to do with poker? Well, as you know, I am a very math based person. And I do believe the same things happening with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education can be applied to poker.

i) The teacher is the most important piece of the puzzle. If you have a great teacher, you’ll thrive, you’ll survive, you’ll rise above the rest. In poker you have to build a network, have somebody to run some hands by, perhaps even make that step to a coach. Somebody who is proven to be a good teacher (not just a PTR graph and some bragging). Do you have that somebody that you feel could be your poker mentor? Talk to them, having a teacher on your side is the key to success!

ii) Intuition is good, math is better. Yes, there will be those few that will just ‘get it’ and can’t explain why. Just like in intuitive physics, many people just know that the plane will take off when the wing is shaped like that and there is warm air underneath. But for the others, they might want to know why warm air rises, they wanna check the reasoning behind it and prove it.
The same thing applies to poker. There are those few that just can pull off amazing feats and don’t really know why, but the vast majority (and many that wouldn’t even want to admit it) of successful players work the math. Even just a simple stove calculation or a ProPokerTools query, but they do. Reads don’t just come to you, you write and write common lines until you notice common lines converging. If you’ve already got intuition, why not enhance it even more with statistics and math?

iii) People get infatuated with the state of everything. The state of education is bad. Games are tough, everybody’s solid. But in the end, children have been learning through far worse crises, poker has had some much rougher patches in its history. An EV calculation is an EV calculation. Your decision might change if your opponents’ perceived range changes (the loose passive 2004 player will have a different range as the 2010 SNE chaser), but in the end it’s a calculation with yourself if you can make money. Just don’t get too overanxious. So what if you fail a test at school (have a breakeven month)? Give the best that you can give every hand. Try the best with the stuff that interests you at school and try to go beyond your real hobbies at home. Suddenly learning for “the test” won’t feel so horrible, believe me.

iv) Don’t spend too much money on too marginal improvements. Sure, maybe the kid will learn the multiplication tables without any stress and will be very happy. But is that worth 10k$ a year? Really? Spending 500+$/hour on the best coach you can get, but you’re still playing 25NL? Sure, you’ll be the best 25NL player in the world, but was that really worth it? I think not

Ok, I guess you now know what my stance on a lot of these experimental new private schools are. Perhaps I’m just sweeping under the rug that in reality, we don’t have that much money to spend in any case, hehe, but I believe I did a good job taking the traditionalist side :P

Posted By bellatrix at 09:02 AM


Tags: general introspection

May 04, 2010

Poker Blogs

A few weeks ago, I posted what poker podcasts I keep up with and got a great response. Weird that there was so much demand for it, but it does take a while to really know differentiate the gold from just plain tomfoolery or advertising.

Today I thought I would present you with some poker blogs I follow. Now this list is going to be a little less complete for many reasons.

First, I follow a lot of blogs, mostly of friends, that have nothing to do with poker at all. But also of professional things, where I do like to keep up with what is happening one step closer to the public beyond the papers on the arXiv.

Second, a lot of what is on my Google Reader is not really a blog at all, but rather a newsfeed, such as the Pokernews Feed:. While with those you truly keep up with what is happening around poker, you don’t get the personal blog experience that you probably are looking for.

Third, poker players are procrastinators and not the best when it comes to updating their blogs. A lot of times they don’t want to talk about poker. I totally understand that, if you already are working on the field, talk to your friends about poker, have students, go to casinos, etc. you get sick of poker and it’s surroundings and everything that comes with it and don’t really wanna talk about it anymore. You really wanna share the other stuff in your life with people like this cool book you’ve been reading and so on.

But there are still really blogs just about poker that I follow and that I would definitely recommend to anyone. These are people passionate about the game and they still post about it, either as introspection or to write about it. Here they are in no particular order.

I’ll start with the ones that can “break the news”, but with a personal touch.

Tao of Poker: Ah Dr. Pauly. The degen that can talk up a good drunkern excess story. Hookers and blow? You got it! Staring into the soul of the pure gutter in Vegas? You got it! Another addict leaving his lievlihood at the tables or pits? You got it! Pauly has been there since the early days of tournament reporting and has seen it all.

Hard Boiled Poker: Another day, another plug for my friend Shamus! :) No really, this guy can write! If there’s one blog I look forward to reading every weekday, it’s this one.

Daniel Negreanu’s Blog: Daniel keeps us entertained with what everybody’s talking about in the poker world. This guy is a PR machine!

AimlesslyChasingAmy: She doesn’t write that much about poker anymore, kind of moved on to the world of finance. But she has that knack knowing how poker players and gamblers think. And she’s a great writer!

Riding the F Train: Another tournament reporter on the scene. Very smart and well researched, but at the same time personal. A bit formal at times.

Pokerati: Similar to the newsfeed above, except that it gets updated in a more “personal” manner. Dan Michalski, Kevin Mathers (kevmath on 2p2) + others REALLY know their stuff and break stories.

Some that sometimes have poker content or are very specific in content and I would always recommend based on the person writing them, their personal experience over the newsworthyness they bring :

Tommy Angelo’s Blog: The ZenMaster of poker. Nuff’ said.

RealLife: MicroLimit Grinder: Yay, Pygmyhero!

GiantBuddha’s blog: Loved his Grindathon a month back

Hood’s blog: HUHU LHE anyone?

The Poker Grump: Somebody living off playing 1/2 live NL, wow!

And last, but not least, blogs that are more personal in nature:

OnTheRail15: Rugby!

Lysistrata: From a girl’s perspective. Somebody that plays poker for fun. Nice!

Joe Tall: Gotta keep up with Boston area sports, right?

DeathDonkey: This one actually sometimes has some poker content, but he updates it way too seldomly, hehe.

LiquidQuik: What it do DC?

Boomer: Quirky fun facts.

Pot Commited: I like the American Idol references and the blogs about the places she’s travelling to for tournament reporting.

With that said, I don’t read every post to the last letter. A lot I just browse, look at the headlines, but I do keep you on my mind. Keep writing, you’ve got an audience, thanks for sharing!

Posted By bellatrix at 07:57 AM


Tags: general introspection

April 27, 2010

Whoops, late.

I had a meeting at work today that lasted all day. Draining, but extremely satisfying and I caught up with a lot of people I hadn’t talked to in a while. I came home and had a very relaxing evening and even played like 1000 hands of poker in the evening. All while forgetting that it was Monday and I was supposed to update the blog. So there you go, a day late…

Much better mood in today, especially pokerwise. As I said, I just needed to play a little and get my head straight again. I’m thinking on some strategy too, so here are some questions to you:

a) limped pot, 4 players (HJ, CO and SB and me in BB). Flop is KJ2r and I have J4o.

b) When you have somebody that will call 100% of your cbets on the flop, even if he has the nut low on an all high card board, do you still cbet 100% of the time?

c) What is your raising range when somebody donks a JsTsx board? This guy donks a quite high percentage of the time, about half, maybe even 60% of all hands.

d) What is you raising range on the button to a bad CO openlimp and fairly taggish blinds?

Well, as you see from the questions, I’ve been playing in very good 1/2 6max games lately and the coldcalling, openlimping and donking is such eyecandy. I think games are good at this level. I played some 2/4 yesterday, too (still in transition phase, need about 200BB still at 1/2 to move up completely). Had a bit more trouble there, mainly because it took so long for me to get off my ass and leave the table when the game became bad. Lots more random turn aggression at 2/4, too. And I’m often lost if I should value check the turn or not. Ah well, when you’re losing it always seems they charge you when you’re drawing and they fold when you’re valuebetting :)

So tally, winnar winnar 4-5BB/100 at 1/2 and lost about 40BB yesterday at 2/4, but nothing out of the ordinary, where I would go: “gasp, a leak!”. Will make GoldStar this month and it’s not too bad, considering I’m playing 1/2 and I just sat out a whole week and didn’t play. Supernova? Fading further and further into the horizon :(

Another week, another woman winning a tourney, huh? Gooo Liv Boree. But why didn’t you stay in astrophysics, girl and went off card-counting and pokering? Oh wait, that sounds familiar… :P

Anyway, I’ve been thinking a lot about this and I still don’t know how to have that “woman” distinction. I mean, on one hand, I really like it and it sets me apart as my own sort of brand: female geek → isn’t that an oxymoron, some might say? But on the other hand, I’m perpetuating a myth that I should have some special advantages / disadvantages just because I’m a woman. I don’t! I’m not suddenly much more involved with my feelings, because I have a vagina. You don’t suddenly get to use math more creatively just because you have a penis!

Grrr, I keep going back and forth, back and forth. No, I think I’ll save my ire and irony for when the Ladies’ Event rolls around, those are always worth a chuckle or two from the things that go on at the table, but mostly surrounding the whole event.

It’s my last post of the month, so I leave you with my April BB graph. Enjoy!

Posted By bellatrix at 08:07 PM


Tags: journey up

April 20, 2010


Haven’t played this week. Not one hand. I’ve analyzed a few on the forums, but I probably wasn’t in the best of moods, because I became quite snarky on some responses. Except that haven’t even posted much on forums, and have even stopped reading the Small Stakes Shorthanded Forum on 2p2. I don’t know, perhaps going through my cynical phase where I think, I could answer, but that would take so much time. So I answer mentally somewhat and move on. I’ve also have had some disagreements over AIM on some hands and suddenly I’m too lazy to discuss the hand, I’ll just go: “whatever, you play it your way, I’ll play it mine!” Yeah, so perhaps I’m not in the greatest mood to play in. :/

I was very happy to hear Vanessa Selbst won the NAPT event over at Mohegan Sun and her interview on the podcast. I found it funny when she was saying that she tightened up, so that she doesn’t open 60% anymore, but she’s toned it down to 35% (in a FR NL game! :P). Really nice to hear about her legal passion on the issues of police officers, too. I guess here is where the typical female playing poker and winning post should come, but I’m really snarky at the moment on that subject, too. At work (mathematical, scientific field) we have these debates all the time, too and at a certain point, you just get tired. It’s as if quotas is the thing people are aspiring to rather than let people perform to their potential. Just too tired to debate it…

Doesn’t mean I won’t play in the Ladies’ Event at WSOP, though. ;-) Just generally, the low buy-in and the “fun” factor of it attracts so many bad players, that I would be dumb to play the 6max LHE tourney that is starting on the same day, even though 6max LHE is my bread and butter game.

Yeah, so I’ll be out in Vegas, at least for that weekend. Are you gonna be there? PM me if you wanna meet up, It’ll be on the weekend of June 11th-13th. No strip clubs, though. That was a huge fail last year, when the people I wanted to meet suddenly decided to go to the Rhino. Hrmmphf. :)

I think I’ll just get some wine and sleep today and play some this week. That way I don’t have to be snarky the next blog post and will actually have the patience on talking some strategy or newsworthy! Sorry…

Posted By bellatrix at 04:19 AM


Tags: introspection

April 13, 2010

Update on my journey up

I haven’t been posting much on my journey up these last few weeks, been more philosophical and talking about poker peripherally than actual play at the tables. Plus, I’m tired this week, I had aother homegame yesterday, I drank too much (yet ended up felting more people the more beer I drank) and today was work day, so I have sleep deficit. So it’ll be a pretty short post.

Well, I’ve been putting in the time, believe me. If you scroll down the graph, you’ll laugh at me only playing 10k hands in almost one and a half months. But I’ve been reviewing my sessions (screaming at my lack of value betting), watching vids like crazy. On top of that I still have a job and kid and everything, I’d say 10k hands is kinda nice :)

The graph is pretty self-explanatory, it’s mostly .5/1 – 1/2 (95% of hands). The downswing around hand 4000, was when I posted my blog about tilting. See how angry I was that the next day I won 120BB and the graph started going up again? Yeah, that was that week. The last dip is almost a complacency dip. I had been running at like 4BB/100 I think for long, so I thought “meh, yeah, now the beats come”. I blame BBB, was playing right as the biggest down came (flush over flush in massive pot) he started chatting with me :P

Still, pretty happy always to crawl out of a hole and plug away. Besides the tilt session, I believe I played pretty well, yes that includes the dips before it.

I started fiddling with numbers a bit. They are very skewed, because I start so many tables, but when I filter for exclusive 5-6 handed situations, I am running at a very TAGish 29/21. Very theoretical numbers and I think I’m fine with that. I never know if people that brag they are LAGs filter enough, though, hehe. Part of it is that I don’t wanna level that much. I mean, do I really need to open 87s in the HJ at 1/2? Nah, probably not. Do I need to re-raise ATo every time? Nah, probably not.

And another thing I noticed on the transition around the midpoint when I went back to Stars. Stars is easier at the low levels. It’s simple, really. The rakeback you get at FullTilt is better in terms of percentages is much better if you don’t get Supernova. Well, .5/1 and 1/2 players mostly don’t get Supernova unless they’re really playing a lot, so if they are really about maximizing their theoretical profit, they should play at Full Tilt. So 1/2 Stars is about on par with .5/1 FTP. I mean, there are some differences, FTP is filled with crazy Russian guys and others that will make hopeless bluffs and a lot of fancy plays. Stars is a bit more passive, but not as easy to extract bets from. And last, but not least is the level of chattiness is much higher on Stars. From nice inane comments (though those are rare) to the full out raging chattilters. You get some “moron” or “idiot” at FTP, but the novels they chat out there at stars just are amazing. I think some 1/2 regulars just need to chill, seriously… CALM DOWN!

Posted By bellatrix at 07:24 AM


Tags: journey up

April 06, 2010

Playing poker on a high level can be good for you and the world

Every few weeks or so, the forums (any poker forum) get to a point where they start to question poker’s “value”. Does the successful pro contribute anything to society? Isn’t he/she leeching off the vices of the addicts? Isn’t that (young), brilliant mind, that can beat poker an opportunity lost? Shouldn’t the pro spend his time bettering the world than wasting the hours away at the tables?

A lot of players also don’t feel fulfillment. Is this really what I was set out to do? Am I ok withering away at home, in my underwear, with no social interaction and horrible eating and sleeping habits?

Last week Mike “Timex” McDonald decided to retire (link to blog , read it, it’s quite good). He referred to poker as “a way to let time pass”. Now before you go saying, “wft, a 20-year old having deep insights into life and poker, hahaha”, read the blog and the follow up interview: link ; they are really quite interesting, but a bit depressing at the time. He’s saying that because of the special circumstances that surround you with poker, you end up having basically 0 non-poker friends, you end up in a spiral of ever recurring activities and prop bets. Is that really fulfilling?!?!?!

So is there a point to this blog post? Am I here to depress you? Quite the opposite! As with everything, done with moderation it is my belief that poker can be quite good for you!

About a week or two ago, I was having my vegging out day, playing poker, WoW and watching TED videos, when I ran across this:

Jane McGonigal: Gaming can make a better world (link to TED talk)

Watch it, it’s nice, go on. I’ll wait…

I don’t agree or are very “meh” with a lot of the conclusions at the end, they seem a bit hippy, “oh look at all the good we’re doing”, but there are some salient points that stood out to me in the video:

a) The game hooks us by giving us little chunks, little pockets of satisfaction, quests that are doable. Poker is the quintessential game that does that. Play every hand (chunk) to the best of your abilities and you’ll make money in the long run. Plus the game keeps you hooked, because no matter how awful you run in the session, you’re still gonna win a few hands. The look of that geeky kid playing the game that the lady showed in the beginning, could have been just mine, running a huge bluff on somebody and getting the pot shipped my way, being at a final table on some tourney – an epic win! I’m engaged, the world around me is gone! Gaming doesn’t mean alternative reality, poker is very much gaming, imo.

b) People are playing a lot, we’re talking about human evolution timescales! In poker, too. It’s not just: read a book, play a few hours and you’ve got the game figured out. No, it takes months and months to learn, refine and become a very good player. 10,000 hours to become a master a la Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers (link – http://www.amazon.com/Outliers-Story-Success-Malcolm-Gladwell/dp/0316017922)? Yeah, I believe there are many poker masters out there among you!

c) What exactly are poker players getting so good at (174 million people in the world spend at least an hour a day on average playing online games)? In my mind, every skill you pick up in poker has an application to the outside world. If you do want to make a difference it is up to you to get involved with it, be it to go learn about investing and risk management, for example or to give back to society in a way that you see fit as a another.

Let me elaborate on the last point a little bit. McGonigal says: “we feel that we are not as good in games as we are in real life! In game world, we are the most likely to stick with it, to stand up after failure, much more than in real world.”

But as poker players, successful ones, that is, we do have the drives that she mentions. Optimism, we are doers, we wanna bet this thing! We are great at finding groups of like minded people and put all our energy together to tackle the problem together. What else is DC, but a great community that tackles the poker as a group, might as well be a raid! :) As of now, twoplustwo is the 6th largest gaming forum on the internet, yes that includes all of the role playing forums!

We are productive, we put a lot of work into beating it. I know that I watch at least 20 hours of poker videos every month, play thousands of hands, discuss, do session reviews, do research. One thing’s for sure, we are not the lazy bums a lot of people depict us at. We are happy working hard at poker!

I guess that’s where the similarities end and the video then goes on to talk about some games like “World without Oil”, which I find to be a bit condescending to gamers out there.

BUT, you do have the skills! You do have all the tools you need to get out there and make a difference. You don’t need to have a “real job” to help the world! You can use your analytical skills, your intelligence, your drive to beat the game of poker to do good in the world. We need motivated thinkers that can break down each big situation (PLO) into little packets (hands) without losing the big picture (reads).

I don’t wanna turn this into a “poker is like life” post. There are enough of those on the internet. My main point is that learning to beat poker can make you into a mean solving machine in real life. And that you can apply that to all sorts of things in life. And that there will always be people be willing to listen to good advice and that you are not a lost opportunity, but actually an opportunity in the making.

Some of the most intelligent conversations go on at meetings I’ve had with poker players. We have the skills to analyze some problem often without sense of attachment (to the pot :P ) or emotion, be able to calculate the risks. We can create value, it is up to you to do it. If you feel you are not bettering yourself or your surroundings with your playing, scale back, invest in new interests, but never forget TO PLAY!!!

Oh, and if you’re thinking of “giving back” to society. If you feel like a leech, may I suggest ONE FOR CHARITY (link) organized by DC’s very own BigBadBabar and OnTheRail15. It encourages you to donate 1% of your winnings to charity. You don’t have to participate, just keep it in mind, that it is up to YOU to better society, not some job or social convention that will magically come flying to you.

Posted By bellatrix at 07:08 AM


Tags: general introspection

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