Been listening to a lot of Joe Rogan recently, and I absolutely love how he brings up things that people just don't talk about all that often. I've been wanting to write this for a long time now, so hopefully it will be an interesting read. Sorry if it starts sounding like I'm rambling, because there will definitely be some parts that will be. The other day, Maz posted the 'How has poker changed in 4 years' thread and it really made me think about a lot of things. Clearly a lot has changed in the past 4 years. What will change in the next 10 years? If you're a poker pro, do you plan on still being a poker pro in 10 years?
When Daut won PCA (Pic w FrinkX, RainKhan, Daut, and me)
I consider 2007 the first year I became a full-time pro. I had finally made my way up to $2/$4 and $3/$6 6-max / heads-up dabbling in shots at $5/$10 from time to time. Even thou I was still in college at the time I basically brought my laptop to every single class / lecture room and played none stop. The games were still very soft, and anytime I found myself in a downswing the solution would be the same: Load up more tables and play for longer. There weren't regs that exploited auto-piloting multi-tablers. Just play more hands and eventually you'll stop running bad and win again. Cardrunners was already the leading poker training website, and anybody who was a serious pro was a member. You could see the regs fixing leaks very fast. I remember there was a 6-max reg who open-limped a ton. Every time he raised preflop it would be with JJ+ (not AK), and he just played very tight/solid post flop. I remember this guy because for a year straight I would shit all over him and he was the biggest loser on my PokerTracker by a large margin, even thou he was definitely still winning overall in these games... One day he stopped open-limping, and started raising all of those hands. That was a very sad day.
Grinding online in 2006
Eventually all the regs got a lot better, and the uber fish started to slowly die out. The games had become more aggressive, and with that came higher variance. Oct/Nov/Dec of 2009 there was a long stretch of time where I was down swinging online. My old strategy of just loading up more tables and playing for longer hours were only making things worse. I had lost the confidence to play. I would question if I was even winning anymore. I would always play stupidly over-rolled for any game, so it wasn't really losing money that was bugging me, it was seeing regs that I use to crush start crushing me. In an attempt to regain confidence I moved down to $1/$2 only to run into another break even stretch. One morning I woke up, and as I was loading up my tables, I get stacked in the very first hand I played. I instantly closed all the tables I was loading up and just sat there staring at the screen. I was listening to Lady Gaga's 'Bad Romance'. Your brain can connect certain moments, thoughts, memories, feelings with certain sights, sounds, or smells. It was at this moment where I first thought about quitting poker. It's weird now that every time I hear that song Ooooh Oh, Caught in a Bad Romance... it immediately reminds me of how I felt that day. I got really honest with myself on that day and made a decision for the better. December 20th 2009, 3 years ago to the day, I quit playing online poker as a full-time pro.
ElkY and me at Wynn Classic 2008
Lucky for me, live poker is basically what online poker was in 2007. I know some people find live poker retardedly slow and frustrating but in a weird way I find it relaxing. There are a few things that have come to my attention over the past 3 years thou. You never notice this online since the player pool is massive (atleast at the mid-stakes on Stars & FTP it was) but when it comes down to it, poker is a negative sum game once you factor in the rake. There are so many players online that you rarely see the true effects of this. San Diego is not a small city, but it's not like Vegas, Miami, or LA either in terms of it's poker community. When I first started playing live, there were probably 40 players that called themselves a "pro". And by "pro" I mean, the only thing they did was play poker, and they brought in no outside income into the game. Of these 40 players, there are only 5 or so that remain. It's crazy how true AndrewSong's post in that thread of "90% of the regs from 2008 went busto" actually is. It will happen thou, a game needs outside income in it to run. If you put 9 pros at a table and have they are forced to play together everyday, eventually 8 will be broke and the lone winner will be left without a game to play.
For my next reference: The Hyperbolic Time Chamber from DBZ
Perhaps the funniest (soon to be sad and scary) thing I've noticed is the evolution of Hold'em in live poker and how it's starting to mirror the evolution of Hold'em in online games. In Dragon Ball Z (one of the best anime's ever made btw) there was this room called the Hyperbolic Time Chamber. When you're in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber, 1 day in real world = 1 year in the time chamber. The room extends to infinity and the gravity is x100 earth's gravity and there is 1000 degree flames of fire and all kinds of fucking brutal ass-kicking shit. Goku and Gohan go in the Hyberbolic Time Chamber, evolve into higher level Super Saiyans, come out and rape everyone's face in the real world. Online poker is the Hyperbolic Time Chamber. You are able to learn the game so much faster online than you are able to live. In some ways, it's actually extremely hard to correctly learn Hold'em when playing live since it's so slow, it's very hard to see the long run.
Live @ The Bike: Nits make me laugh
Ronin Talken on 2p2 wrote a good article on 3betting meta game in Hold'em a while back and I'll just take a quote from it:
History of 3betting cliffnotes for lazy people:
- Everyone 3bets a merged value range.
- Everyone realizes that 4bets are really big in No Limit, and folding JJ preflop sucks.
- Everyone stops 3betting, unless they have KK+, AK.
- Everyone stops calling 3bets, because no one 3bets anything but QQ+, AK.
- Smart people started 3betting ATC because nits are hilarious.
- Nits got less nitty and started 4betting.
- Even smarter people invented polarization.
When I started live poker everyone was somewhere between the first two steps. Now most people have gotten to the: Everyone stops 3betting, unless they have KK+, AK. And some have moved on to: Everyone stops calling 3bets, because no one 3bets anything but QQ+, AK. This is where most live games are today, especially at the $5/$10 and $10/$20 level. That was like 2008 online poker! Sure enough thou, the improvements in player's game in live poker is mirroring how players improved online.
Live @ The Bike: Running into sets
So now I channel my inner Joe Rogan, and get real and honest. Online poker is most likely never going to return to USA. If it does, the games will be terrible. So where does this leave us as poker pros? What's the future like 10 years from now if you decide to continue playing this game? I know it might be depressing to think about, but it's definitely something that should be on everyone's mind. The longer you play this game the tougher it becomes to transition into other real world rolls. Is this something you commit to all the way? Will it still be viable to play without another source of income in the future? I'd like to hear your guys thoughts on the subject.
I like starting out everyone of my recent blog posts with the same line: It's been a while since my last blog post. But this time I can't really attribute that to laziness. Been hard on the live poker grind ever since Black Friday! Games are good! Still trying to figure out ways to play online thou. Most of my online poker grind time at home has been replaced by Starcraft 2 / Heroes of Newerth. Like many other poker players I know, I've also been looking elsewhere for new sources of income. I guess they call it "diversifying your portfolio". Started staking some good friends in some of the live games, which is nice because when I come home from a soft game it still feels like I'm grinding the game. Also, putting a lot of time and effort into a website that will be launching later this year. More on that at a later time
In the meantime, check out how good I'm getting at golf...
Golfing at Night!
Golfing during the Day!
Here is 4th of July from our deck in San Diego:
On a side note, I sold out and signed-up for Twitter so follow me @pokercosmo
I'm going to write up something a little longer and more in-depth about this at a later time, but for now I just want to quote something from a book that has helped me a lot over the past year.
The Poker Mindset by Ian Taylor and Matthew Hilger
Seven attitudes that every poker player should try to master regardless of their game, limits, or technical skills. They are realities you need to be aware of and attitudes you need to adopt in order to succeed in poker over the long run:
1. Understand and Accept the Realities of Poker
2. Play for the Long Term
3. Emphasize Correct Decisions over Making Money
4. Desensitize Yourself to Money (although I personally think a lot of people do this all too well) 5. Leave Your Ego at the Door
6. Remove All Emotion from Decisions
7. Dedicate Yourself to a Continuous Cycle of Analysis and Improvement
With that said, I would like to link you all to NoahSD's blog so you can become familiar with poker by the numbers: http://www.nsdpoker.com/