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Views: 490
Date Posted: Jan. 6, 1:47pm, 1 Comment

The first step to enjoying poker, specifically PLO in my case, is to stop losing.  No one likes to lose.  Many recreational players feel like this when they start playing Pot Limit Omaha...



Yesterday, I was playing some micro stakes PLO, while doing work.  I sat with a player that seemed to typify all the major issues that losing players embrace. 

1. He got frustrated easily and whined a lot in chat
2. He felt PLO was mostly luck
3. He felt online poker was rigged
4. He felt everyone sucked out on him

Usually these types of players annoy me to no end, but I felt a certain sympathy for him as he rebought over and over.  A part of me also wanted to keep him at the table so I engaged him in conversation to learn more about him.  Another part of me wanted to tell him that in an hour I could tell him how to stop losing.

I'm not claiming I could teach him to be a winning player in an hour, but you have to start somewhere.  Once someone can reach break even, win some and lose some, they can begin to understand the dynamics of winning and start to take their playing and learning more seriously.

Every decision you make affects the outcome.

1. He played too loosely - playing 80% of his hands.  Obviously any decent player understands that playing starting hands that have better starting value or that can draw to the nuts with good ending potential are key.  He limped and called raises too much.

2. He raised too many hands from every position - raising 23% of hands.  He needs to understand position better to pick his spots better when raising.

3. He didn't understand how to size his post flop bets well, often stabbing or min betting on flops and turns that gave odds to players with marginal hands to draw on him if they were behind, or that needlessly inflated the pot when he was on a draw. 

4. His bluffs weren't ever believable.  He took strange lines that made no sense.  His track record lent him no credibility on the table so anyone with a decent hand always called him down.

5. He chased too many hands where he didn't have the odds to continue.

In talking to him further, he seemed like a pretty normal guy.  He's a software developer in California, coding and working on UI.  He plays at work sometimes, which he was doing yesterday.  He had played NLHE for a couple years but had tried PLO a couple months ago. He has lost several hundred dollars playing the last few months recreationally.  He makes a decent salary, so he can easily afford his losses, but it is the frustration with the game that might drive him away.

The formula for him to stop losing is straight forward. He needs to accept responsibility for his wins and losses.  He can't blame the RNG or luck.  He needs to show discipline and patience.  He needs to set a limit to his losses (he did quit down 5.5 buyins at that table, but I think it was his work that called him away).  The more he lost, the more hands he played and badly.

As a long term micro stakes player, I can't guarantee to teach someone to be a big winner, but I do feel confident that if people listen and follow basic advice, they can take the important first to stop losing.  He represents a big part of the poker economy.  His willingness to donate his recreational dollars to that economy is important, but so is the delicate balance between his enjoyment or possible disenchantment that might drive him away from the game.

Views: 514
Date Posted: Jan. 4, 4:16pm, 1 Comment

I felt like this today...

It's only been 5 days, but I strive to be a regular blogger, so even that time break seems long.  It's all about expectations.  What you set for yourself, or what expectations you feel are thrust upon you.  In my case, I'm not paid and no one expects me to produce.  It is simply my own internal expectations for keeping a professional and interesting blog.

And that is the issue.  Sometimes, it is hard to live up to expectations.  I have always been good about that in most areas of my life.  I live to satisfy the needs of my wife and kids.  I live to satisfy my own desire to find happiness and meaning in my life.  Besides that, I'm not heavily impacted by the world around me.  I don't live to impress others.  I don't feel I need to prove myself to anyone outside of that circle.  I am secure in the effort I put forward. They can judge me all they want, but I feel it reflects more on them than on me.

I was reading Jay 'Seabeast' Kinkade's Resignation blog today.  In it he talks about the pressures of constantly having to prove yourself.  He is a visible pro on a training site, who has had some good success in the MTT world. He wants to get rid of his public image.  He wants to live his life how and when he feels comfortable.  Poker was playing too big a role in his life. He didn't feel comfortable creating videos that weren't up to his high expectations.  He didn't want the pressure of constantly having to prove himself in his playing or be criticized if he didn't have a big score every month.  Living up to the external and internal poker expectations had gotten to be too much for him.

When it becomes difficult to live up to expectations, you have three choices; push hard to live up to them, adjust the expectations, or drop out.  With any goals or expectations, they are not fixed.  You need to constantly revisit and re-evaluate the merit of them.  You are the final arbiter.  Don't let the outside world dictate them to you.  They can be a positive or negative influence, but they don't know your true desires.  Life is a constant journey of self discovery.  You are the only one accountable for your decisions. 

In my case, I like blogging regularly every 2-3 days.  It is not an unreasonable goal or expectation and I intend to keep it up in 2010.

 

P.S.  I have to admit I was a little disappointed to not get a few more comments in the last Interviews blog. While I figured you may not have read many of the interviews, I figured a few more people would have taken a few seconds to indicate who they would like to see interviewed in 2010.

Views: 969
Date Posted: Dec. 31, 2:27am, 1 Comment

One of the favorite things I do at Poker Curious is interviewing online poker pros.  The interviews have been the most popular original content we create.  I have tried to have a variety of interviews representing both the MTT and cash game world.  I wish I had more time to devote to them, but I have to balance it with the many other things I do to run the site.  I conducted 20 interviews in our first 7 plus months.  As I head into 2010, I was interested in hearing feedback on what were your favorites from those first 20 and your suggestions for good candidates for the coming year. 


Happy New Year everyone!
Views: 935
Date Posted: Dec. 26, 2:48pm, 3 Comments

When I ask this question, I'm not talking about the right poker strategy, but the right legal, moral and ethical approach to the game.  First I want to share the issue that set me off this morning, then get into the more important issue it inspired.  As I was doing my daily round of checking on the latest in the online poker world, I came across this tweet from Poker News Now that perturbed me.

Poker News Now - How To Hack Any Online Poker Game: New software that can hack any online poker g m.. (*link not shared)

While it is not officially affiliated with PokerNews, the news source, it gives regular news-like tweets throughout the day, most of which seem credible from outside sources.  A number of questions came up when I read this tweet. Do they have a responsibility to differentiate between news items and product endorsements?  Do they have a responsibility to verify those items that they feed and distribute?  Are they vouching for the product by tweeting about it? Are they deriving financial benefit from it? Should any credible poker site be advertising someone claiming they can cheat the poker sites and other players?  Regardless of whether the product/program can do what it says or not, it's a very disturbing situation.

When you click on the link, you are taken to a standard formatted site titled "How to Hack or Cheat Games and Software."  That particular page's headline is how to Hack Any Online Poker Game and shows an out of focus YouTube video with narration of how to use the cheat software to your advantage when you can see your opponents hands. It then offers a link, that turns out to be an affiliate link to a questionable site I had come across before, that offers to show you multiple methods to make huge sums of money by seeing opponent's hole cards, how to program your own custom super automatic poker bot along with using poker calculators, poker profiling software, poker spy software and random number generators to your advantage.

The bigger consideration that this issue initiated in me was what is the right way to play poker? I have been deeply involved in the poker training world which encourages players to work hard and seek any legal edge they can to profit from their playing.  These include:

1. Subscribe to a training site where you can view educational videos of other players playing and describing their thought processes.
2. Visit poker forums to seek opinions and feedback on how to play certain hands, or read other people's hands.
3. Purchase software that will help you analyze your play and results (e.g. PT, HEM etc.)
4. Utilize Heads Up Displays (that utilize the stored and session information to provide statistics on your opponents
5. Seek coaching to accelerate or personalize your instruction. This can often involve screen sharing software as the coach observes or is observed.
6. Organize sweat sessions with players who play similar levels and face similar challenges.
7. Get rakeback to make sure you are getting some rake back on the sites that allow it.
8. Use the chat rooms for ask a pro type scenarios, or real time rail a player calling out their hands for educational purposes.

Each of these suggestions done carefully is a legal method to accelerate your learning, improve your game and gain an edge on your less motivated opponents.  But each can also run afoul of the poker sites and their Terms and Conditions that we all accept when we sign up to play.

1. Training sites vary in their their teaching techniques and respect for the rules that poker sites put out.
2. Forums are open exchanges that can lead to multiple offenses. Some poker forums share private tournament/freeroll passwords that are not theirs.  Some forums are look to exchange hand history databases.  Forums are often loosely moderated, allowing free exchanges between individuals that want to skirt the rules.
3. Certain software is banned on poker sites, while others are not.  Not every player makes a distinction if they feel it gives them the edge they seek.
4. While some debate their effectiveness on their own play, HUD's are credited with giving a great deal of information and advantage to most players, especially if they utilize hands not personally played.
5. Some coaches ghost their players, influencing decisions during live play.
6. Sweat sessions can also drift into 'group play' dynamics that are frowned on by the playing sites.
7. The uneven approaches taken by the sites regarding establishing rakeback accounts often motivate players to establish multiple accounts to skirt the unfair system.
8. Chat sessions also can drift into multiple players weighing in on live play decisions.

Players want to profit from their playing experience.  That greed creates a strong temptation that can blur the lines of acceptable and unacceptable forms of play.  The playing sites contribute by not being clear or fair in determining the rules for their sites.  The outrage seen on 2+2 recently is partially due to the perceived uneven approach taken in handling visible players from the low stakes players.

Unfortunately, these same outraged individuals casually lump in all types of cheating as being equal.  But they are not.  Our innate sense of degree and proportionality recognizes differences between offenses. Our criminal system is categorized by degrees, the two main categories being misdemeanor and felony. Even within those larger categories, crimes are designated by degree (i.e., first degree murder and second degree murder) to denote the range of culpability, mitigating circumstance (was it provoked, premeditated or a crime of passion, etc.,) and therefore the severity of punishment to be meted out by the state.  If I speed 5 miles over the speed limit, I am given a lesser penalty than if I speed 40 miles over the speed limit.  I feel Full Tilt exercised that discretion in meting out a lesser penalty to Brian Townsend on this most recent offense, than to his earlier transgression.

As I stated in previous blogs, I feel it is the responsibility of the playing sites to create a fair and even playing field for their players.  Any disparities are readily noticed by the players and creates an environment of distrust and hostility.  Most players want to play fairly.  Most players recognize that working harder on your game should be rewarded.  I sincerely hope that most players are able to see the folly in trying to cheat the system.  The potential risk of capture and illegally obtained rewards isn't worth the temptation of 'easy money'.  Programs like the one that Poker News Now tweeted about today are most likely scams preying on your greed.  Even in the rare circumstances that they are true cheats or hacks, is that the way you want to profit?  Are you really wanting to set the precedent that all others should cheat you at every turn if they have the opportunity?

For as long as I can remember I have lived by one simple rule...  "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you".  If you apply that to your poker playing, you gain respect for the mechanics of the game.  Have respect for your opponent, the game and especially yourself!

Views: 949
Date Posted: Dec. 23, 1:39pm, 4 Comments

In light of the recent ongoing discussions surrounding high stakes poker, I thought I would lay out my top 10 poker pipe dreams for 2010.  I fully expect none of them to be realized in the calendar year, but you can't blame a guy for dreaming.

I wish...

1. to level the playing field.  Either all players can have access to all hand histories they want directly from the sites they play on or alternatively all players would be restricted to only access their own HH's.  Datamining sites like PTR and HSDB would be shut down.
2. that all players are automatically given rakeback if a site offers it, regardless of when or how they signed up.
3. that the poker sites invest the same energy and resources into player rules explanation, security and fraud issues that they do on marketing and recruitment.
4. that poker players don't hate on those that have success.  Spend that energy on your own attempts to achieve that success.
5. that poker players that do achieve a high level of success express it humbly, appreciative for the good fortune they have had.
6. that all poker forum posters focus on the issues in the post rather than personal attacks on the people making the posts.
7. that the general public realize that poker is a game of skill, with a significant component of luck and not the other way around.  Poker is a competitive game that isn't inherently good or bad.
8. that poker players realize that there are many definitions of success or how to achieve it.
9. that the general public learn that most of the best poker players in the world play online.
10. that online poker becomes licensed, regulated and fully restored as a legitimate right of every citizen to play.

Views: 506
Date Posted: Dec. 21, 7:50pm, 2 Comments

Each year at this time you start seeing the yearly top 10 lists.  I was looking over Time's top 10 lists the other day and quickly realized I'm not versed enough on pop culture to really contribute much in doing one of my own.  Then I checked out the ESPN Poker Top 10, but their list included a number of live players, which is a realm I don't follow that closely.  So I thought I could contribute a top 10 list of the ten online poker players that made the biggest impacts in 2009.  This is a subjective list based off my sense of the buzz and following of these players and their results in the online world. You will notice that the successful predominately multi-table tournament players are at the bottom of the list as I feel they don't generate the buzz or following of the top cash game players.  This list also doesn't base its ranking purely on results, as some players lost money in 2009, but generated considerable buzz and following.

Zimba's Top 10 online poker impact players of 2009 (financial figures are estimates based off of HSDB, PTR, P5, and PKB reports)

1. Phil Ivey - Phil Ivey continues his run as the highest regarded online pro.  Combine his over $6 million dollar winnings online with his amazing showing at the WSOP winning two events and final tabling the Main Event and he has cemented his legendary status.  He plays on his terms; resisting playing more tables than he's comfortable playing, or playing long sessions if stuck. The best poker player in the world overall.

2. Patrik Antonius - Antonius has been one of the most successful and consistent online players for years, and 2009 was no different.  He rebounded from early losses to Isildur1 to push his total profit to over $7 million on Full Tilt.

3. CardRunners Crew (Brian Hastings, Brian Townsend, Cole South) - It could easily be argued that each should be viewed independently, but this simplifies my goal to only have 10 entries, and emphasizes the impact of training site lead pros on the online poker world, so I'll combine them for convenience.  Brian Hastings had the biggest single day in online poker history winning $4.2 million against Isildur1 in early December and well over $5 million for the year.  His volume of play was less this year as he balanced college and poker while nearing completion of his Ivy league college education.  Brian Townsend had a successful year remaking his game, expanding successfully into 7 game territory, and returning to the biggest games on the net.  His impressive results were marred recently by a controversy over the acquisition of hands he didn't play against Isildur1. Cole South's volume was down as he traveled and returned to school as well, but he continued to do well in high stakes PLO, while struggling with results in NLHE.

4. Ilari "Ziigmund" Sahamies - Known for huge swings, fearless behavior at the table and his occasional drunken degenerate behavior, in 2009, Ilari demonstrated that he is a long term force in the high stakes world.  Before a $2 million session loss against Isildur1 in early December, he had had a more consistent, visible and self promotional year.

5. Victor "Isildur1" Blom (*reportedly) - This 20 year old from Sweden burst onto the ultra high stakes scene from his Euro-poker room prior environment.  He stormed to a $6 million profit against a variety of players, especially Tom "durrrr" Dwan, with his super aggressive high volume style.  He took on all comers in multiple marathon matches before giving it all back and more.  If not for his $2.5 million loss on Full Tilt, I would rate him the most influential player of 2009 for temporarily reinvigorating the stodgy and predictably slow ultra high stakes world.

6. Ashton "theASHMAN103" Griffin.  A streaky player who goes on huge rushes in either direction.  He won the May Full Tilt $25K Heads Up Championship for $550k.  He had a monster August, winning over $2.4 million to reach nearly $4 million on the year before taking an extended break from the game while at school.

7. Tom “durrrr” Dwan - The Full Tilt red pro curse hit Tom harder than any player before, as he gave back over $6 million of his lifetime profits to Isildur1.  He remains one of the most creative poker players in the world who is unafraid of any opponent.  He is currently rebuilding his online roll at lower stakes, but winning consistently again and determined to continue his influential live and online presence.

8. Bertrand “Elky” Grospellier - He won Two World Championship of Online Poker titles in September. He has won over 2 million in tournaments this year live and online and is currently ranked #2 on PokerStars.

9. Yevgeniy “Jovial Gent” Timoshenko - He has been on a tear in 2009, winning both live and online tournaments, WPT Championship tournament, WCOOP main event and $1K Monday win among them.

10. Daniel "djk123" Kelly - The top ranked online MTT poker player on PocketFives puts in a tremendous volume.  In September, he took 4th place in the WCOOP Main Event for $643k and won the $10k buy in WCOOP HORSE event for $252k.

(Other players that made an impact but not the top 10 list  - OMGClayAiken, aejones, POKERBLUFFS, Martonas, Richard Ashby, Urindanger, trex313, Gus Hansen, and howisitfeellike)

Views: 494
Date Posted: Dec. 18, 4:09pm, 2 Comments

I can honestly say that I've visited 2+2 less than 30-40 times since I got into poker.  From the moment I first visited the site, to this day, the same elements bothered me.

1. I didn't like its organization, layout and look.
2. I despised the hating, inane comments, and challenge of determining credible from non credible replies.
3. It was too big. The typical threads are much too long to make sense of with the time I had available

They seem to have a 98% rule in effect at 2p2, that you can discount 98% of what is said as fluff, idiocy, inaccurate, and unhelpful.  Most post devolve into arguments for the sake of arguments, sophistry and various tangents. The remaining 2% are strategic gems or very entertaining.  But honestly, I don't want to work that hard, or waste that much time finding those gems.  I will give credit to the fact that when you have that much energy going into a forum, some positive elements come forth (e.g. advancing the superuser cheating scandals or very entertaining photo shops).

Today, I visited 2+2 for the first time in a couple months.  The times I do visit it's always because someone has linked a particularly epic or controversial thread on the CR forums.  Today's thread was concerning the Townsend/South/Hastings vs. Isildur1 matches.  I don't want to rehash the whole episode, but in essence some people were claiming the CR guys violated FTP's TOS (terms of service).  As is typical, the thread was 65 pages long, and most people don't have the time or interest to get that involved in the various arguments.  I spent one hour perusing the various perspectives and here's my take.

1. Online poker is still a new landscape.  The dynamics are constantly shifting and evolving.
2. Terms of Service by all the poker sites are not fixed and have shifted many times over the years.
3. FTP is largely responsible for this mess, by not more clearly defining what it considers is acceptable or not acceptable.
4. I have sympathy for each of the perspectives shared.

Any business that deals in the online realm has to be responsive to the constant shifts in technology, software etc.  Poker players have access to poker tracking software (e.g HEM, PT, HUD's), hand history database sites ( e.g. chatting by AIM, ventrilo, phone, screen sharing software), training sites, hand history replayers, extensive strategy forums.  Every poker player is looking for an edge.  The ethical ones are looking for every legitimate edge.  So they need a clear understanding of what is acceptable.  If there is a gray area, or one that isn't clearly explained they will likely interpret it to their favor. 

I want to be clear that I am not hear to defend or accuse any of the parties of any wrongdoing.  That is not for me to decide.  What I am emphasizing is that it is from the perspective of a poker player, it is a murky environment that needs more clarity.

For example, here is an email from Full Tilt.

xxxxxx: Hello,

Thank you for contacting Full Tilt Poker Support.

Full Tilt has a strict policy of one player per hand.  It is not permitted for you to receive advice from any other person during the course of the hand, however, if the coach discusses that hand with you after the conclusion of the hand that is acceptable. 

For Poker Tracker and other 3rd party programs also, you can only import your own hands.

If you have any other questions, please let us know.

Regards,

xxxxxxx
Poker Specialist
Full Tilt Poker Support

To be fair to Full Tilt, I don't know the specific questions asked of their support in the original email, but that explanation isn't clear enough for me.  Next, let's look at the TOS clause the objectors were referencing:

Not Permitted Under Any Circumstances:

2. Shared hand history databases and "data mining" software, including subscription services and the exchange of personal databases:

The use of shared hand histories provides detailed information on opponents a player has little or no personal experience playing against, and is deemed to be an unfair advantage. Violating this policy is subject to the maximum penalties for prohibited software use.

Players are not permitted to use the hand histories for hands that they have not personally participated in. Software designed to collect hand history information from games that the player did not participate in is prohibited. Some specific examples include:

•community shared hand histories
•exchanging hand histories with a friend

I understand Full Tilt's efforts to reduce the influence of data mining and shared hand history databases, because they have given unfair advantage to players utilizing them.  I understand that they want to emphasize that you analyze hands that you have played in only.  But what good is a rule if you can't evenly and fairly enforce it.  Are they really saying that you can't exchange or share hand histories with a friend?  Isn't that what every poker strategy forum does?  Would that make us all guilty?  Some high profile high stakes matches have most of the major hands documented and discussed for the public on various forums.  Is that illegal?  What number of hands constitutes a database? Does watching a training video where instructors walk you through hundreds of hands, showing the play and results also fall into this same gray area?  What if you were to analyze your own personal hand histories, but then shared your findings, not the hands, with others?

I haven't bothered to mention the live poker parallels, but the ethics shouldn't change.  If you can freely watch TV poker, or discuss hands ad nauseum after they are played, what is fair for the online world?  If the 'FTP corporation' as represented by Phil Ivey, Howard Lederer and the others can essentially take down Andy Beal for $16 million in a live setting by working together in similar fashion, why is it not reasonable online?

I sympathize with those that want a fair and even playing field.  I sympathize with those that want offenders of the rules properly punished, because we don't need more disrepute brought to online poker.  I also understand player's desires to gain any legal edge they can gain to profit from poker.  I even understand is isn't easy for Full Tilt to anticipate and explain every possible situation.  But for a billion dollar online business that is constantly evolving, it is necessary to more clearly define what is acceptable and what is not.   The intent of the law and the letter of the law can be two very different things. That is why I feel it is ultimately Full Tilt's responsibility to better define their TOS for all players.

As for the 2p2 thread, I found this comment summed it up best:

"People on 2+2 getting upset about a group of people getting together to analyze poker and go over hand histories seems strange to me." - manwithbrisk

For the other 98% percent of stuff there, my lifetime isn't long enough to bother with your negativity.

 

*link to the original thread

---------------

Saturday addition -

I thought I would add the official FTP response from FTP Sean (Brian Townsend also added his own remarks in his blog today)
"
Sorry for the delay in posting, I just wanted to make sure I had all the facts together prior to doing so.

First, to clear up some of the current confusion about the current state of the rules at FTP:

There is absolutely nothing wrong with discussing hands, discussing opponents, or discussing strategy with other players while away from the table. I think most people are aware of this, but I just wanted to ensure that was clear from the beginning.

We have rules (quoted many times in this thread) about collusion, datamining and sharing hand history databases. I only make mention of collusion here to emphasize that nobody involved is suspected of collusion. If we were talking about collusion, we’d be seeing a much different outcome for this case (since in the poker world, there are very few rules as important).

Importantly, our rules apply to our Red Pros just as much as any of our players. In fact, we often have to be tougher on our Red Pros than our players because not only do they represent our site, they are looked up to by players as role models.

After doing an investigation and speaking with Brian Hastings, Brian Townsend, and Cole South, the Fraud and Security team have come to the conclusion that the statement taken from the ESPN article describing the three combining their hands into a shared database was inaccurate. Further, Brian Hastings and Cole South were found to not have breached our rules in any way. They did discuss hands, an opponent, and a strategy for that opponent, but it was all done away from the game. While they were playing it was always one player to a hand.

A breach of the rules did occur by Brian Townsend, and was related to datamining. Normally we wouldn’t share that information (for privacy reasons), but due to the fact it was a Red Pro who represents the site, we feel it’s important to clarify the situation.

As for the punishment:

On the spectrum of rule breaking, datamining, while serious, isn’t at the top of the list. Contrary to popular belief, we almost never close an account for a first datamining offense. We understand that not all sites have the same rules, and there is definite confusion surrounding datamining specifically. For this reason, we try to give our players the benefit of the doubt in many cases and allow them a warning to make sure they’re now aware of the rules and agree to follow them moving forward.

However, like I said above, we have to hold our Red Pros to a higher standard. So in addition to the warning, we’ve stripped Brian of his Red Pro status for a month. I understand this won’t feel like enough of a punishment for many of you. Many options were considered, but at the end of the day we felt this punishment best fit the offense.

It’s certainly embarrassing to all of us that this has happened and upsetting that the facts of the incident were not reported correctly. We will ensure that all our Pro’s understand that they are under the utmost scrutiny and are held to the highest standards of all of our players when it comes to the integrity and promotion of our brand.

We apologize for the delay in responding, and for the confusion that resulted from that delay
"

Views: 239
Date Posted: Dec. 14, 12:23pm, 0 Comments

Saturday, I went for a few hours to a live Portland poker tournament to do some live networking and promotion for Poker Curious and to support a friend PCMark, who was playing.  Phil Hellmuth was also there, so it made for a little more interest to start.

 

It turned out that it was a fairly conventional promotional tour for Phil Hellmuth on Saturday.  He sat with Brandon Cantu, signing copies of "Deal Me In" and posing for pictures.  He had a support crew that drove him, sold T-shirts, books and cards. The types of players at this tournament appreciated his celebrity and were respectful of his accomplishments.  He didn't attempt to be controversial or outrageous in any way. Phil and his entourage then headed off to another signing.   After they cleaned up, the tournament started about an hour late due to some logistical issues. All the final tablists were to receive complimentary access to a Phil Hellmuth instructional session the next morning before the WSOP satellite event he was participating in Portland on Sunday.

The tournament was a $110 buyin that was capped at 63 players due to the space, a local bar.  The starting blind structure was pretty ridiculous as players had 50,000 chips and 100/100 blinds that went up every 30 minutes.  The next level was 100/200.  The first 3 hours and 6 blind levels went up quite slowly.  Then after the dinner break, they shifted to every 20 minutes, with antes and a steeper climb.  My friend said there were still 40 players left 4 hours in with blinds 3000-6000 with a 600 ante, which then made it a luckfest as everyone got shallow.

I'm not a tournament player, so I've never really focused on tournament structures, but I've always noticed Daniel Negreanu talks about them regularly in his blog.  It seems to be one of the biggest influences and challenges for tournament directors.  They want to appear to give lots of play and value to the players, but also create structures that don't run on too long either.  Subtle changes to the blind increases or antes can have dramatic changes to the play.  The blind structure seems to have more influence than any factor to a tournament's dynamics, making no two tournaments the same (assuming they don't have the same blind structure).  Little changes can greatly affect optimal play and betting strategy.

The last few years, the rage in tournaments has been to market them as deep stack tournaments.  You are given much larger chips stacks, but after a deeper beginning ratio, they accelerate either through shorter blind levels or steeper climbs in blind amounts later making it much less a skill game.  I suppose it will always be a difficult balancing act, but the best and most regular players will typically gravitate to those events that are most fair (or with the biggest prize pools).

Views: 522
Date Posted: Dec. 9, 12:33am, 2 Comments

The end of one of the most exciting times in online high stakes poker history may have come to an end tonight.  Brian 'Stinger' Hasting played a nearly 3000 hand session against Isildur1, slaughtering him for over $4 million dollars.  Isildur1 had been considered nearly defeated within the last couple weeks, only to rise again and take more money from durrrr, Ziigmund, Brian Townsend and others, but it all flowed to Stinger tonight.

It was hard to keep up with all the goings on because they were changing and splitting tables constantly.  But in one defining exchange, Isildur1 exposed his exasperation with the match.

Isildur1: ??????????
Brian Hastings: getting very tired...
Brian Hastings: i feel bad quitting tho
Brian Hastings: would be be cool w/ playing someone else?
Isildur1: just f off
Isildur1: wåfä'qqqqqqqnhjwe4nm
Isildur1: dW
Isildur1: GFE4¨ÅN,K N,KN,KN,KN,KN,KN,KN,KN,KN,KN,KN,KN,KN,K3
Isildur1: Q
Isildur1: u know how lucky u are ?
Brian Hastings: yes i know
Isildur1: i can promise this is the worst
Brian Hastings: ill give you 30 more min if you want
Isildur1: luck anyone had
Brian Hastings: but im rly tired
Isildur1: k 30 mins more
Isildur1: take my last $$
Isildur1: i dont want it
Isildur1: ::S:S

Brian played him for a couple more hours pushing his profit to almost $4.2 million.  At the end, it appeared Isildur1 had less than $500k in his online roll, from the way he was spreading it on the tables and constantly splitting tables anytime he doubled up.   After 10k hands played over the last 24 hours, Isildur1 simply said "gg" and disappeared.

Regardless if we ever see Isildur1 again or not, I would nominate him for the online player of the year.  Not because of his superior play or bankroll management faults but because he shook up the high stakes world.  He re-invigorated all the sleeping giants of the online cash game world.  He inspired the best to get back in the game and battle against a mighty foe who made them feel uncomfortable with his aggressive and unconventional style.  The buzz around the online poker forums the past 6 weeks has been amazing.  Poker needs its heroes and villains playing and battling regularly.  It both inspires and entertains the many countless thousands below them.

Unfortunately, I fear Isildur1 suffered from what I like to call the Matusow paradigm.

1. I think i'm a great player
2. I can make money any time I want
3. It doesn't matter if I'm irresponsible with my bankroll or if I go bust
4. 'cause I'm a great player
5. I can always be backed by someone and build it all again
6. regardless if i happen to have lost everything I've ever made, I'm a great player!

He may resurface again, like the phoenix rising, but unless Isildur1 learns to manage his playing better the boom and bust cycle will continue to rear its ugly head.  Even if you are the best player in the world, losing 40 buyins in a 24 hour period isn't good bankroll management.  When things aren't going right, you need to know when to say when.

Views: 537
Date Posted: Dec. 6, 7:37pm, 6 Comments

We had our largest member-only turnout (410) today in our Sunday weekly Full Tilt freeroll.  That is over 10% of all our members in one event.  It has been really enjoyable to see our freerolls grow in size and also increase the friendly interaction and familiarity amongst members.  But along with growth comes growing pains that I want to address.

 

1. I put up the money from my personal small stakes bankroll for every freeroll on Full Tilt.  

2. Just because you are a member doesn't make you entitled to play in every event we have.  There are certain procedures or requirements we establish for our various events.

3. I established Poker Curious to have an adult and respectful environment to play and learn poker. Berating or making fun of other players will not be tolerated.

4. Every player needs luck to win a tournament of any size or buyin level.  Every player sucks out.  Every player understands that stack sizes and circumstances, not your cards, can often dictate your moves at the table.

5. Full Tilt is not rigged, nor is there any favoritism shown to certain players.

 

As it relates to me personally....

 

1. After 5 hours and 22 minutes, I won the freeroll today.

2. I was short for the entire tournament, except when 3 handed.

3. It didn't allow me to play creatively or aggressively, so I just had to be patient.

4. I got lucky in several pots for my tourney life.

5. I didn't appreciate a couple players making comments to other players and myself.  A couple were being particularly disrespectful.

 

I invest in weely freerolls because I want PC members to enjoy their experience playing.  So please be warned I will be taking action to any members who don't comport themselves to act reasonably and respectfully when they play in our freerolls.

 

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