Guten Nacht, Freund

October 9, 2009

Sometime near the end of 2004, I did something that seriously altered my life: I made a deposit on PartyPoker and started playing poker online.

I’m not sure if there was really anything I could have done about that. Poker and I were really destined to meet. I have played games and cards my entire life. Whether it was ’99’ with my grandparents, any of about 50 games that my family played, and still play, Magic cards in Junior High, chess in High School, Necromunda and a litany of other embarrassing fantasy model games, I have been playing.

So when the poker boom hit sometime in 2003, I was right in the crosshairs. Poker is a game where the prize is money. When I beat a friend in Magic or Star Wars, the prize was pride. That is an incredible reward actually. There is nothing like winning for the sake of winning.

Besides money. Winning for the sake of money is also pretty cool.

Poker afforded me that opportunity exactly. Not only could I beat someone, I would also be rewarded with money. For some reason, other people, ridiculously bad at poker, were willing to go along with this. They were willing (and still are) to put their money against mine, in a pretty hopeless situation.

And I’m not even one of the best.

Then came the summer of 2005, when something pretty insane happened. I quit my job in June 2005. I had been playing a decent amount of poker leading up to that, and without a job, I was now able to play more. I started playing $3/6 Omaha Hi/Lo. I barely had enough money in my account to cover 2 buy-ins, so obviously I decided to play two tables with full buy-ins, putting all of my money in play.

In the summer of 2005, poker was a shell of what it is now. There weren’t a lot of books out on poker. There weren’t ridiculous stories about 18 year old kids who were pulling down 50K a month playing poker. Mostly people just thought it was something fun you could do. They didn’t focus on improving, because they didn’t realize you could improve. They brought money to the table, and sometimes they came back with more, and sometimes they came back with less. Being armed with even a little bit of knowledge of the games I was playing gave me an enormous advantage. It was like everyone just got a brand new game, and I was the only person who bothered to read the instructions.

My two buy-ins quickly turned into 4 buy-ins. Instead of playing 4 tables, I moved up and played two tables of $5/10. Then that money doubled. I moved up to $10/20. At a $10/20 game, you should probably have $500 in front of you at all times at the absolute minimum. I was now playing two tables of that game, meaning I had more than $1000 in front of me nearly all the time. Soon that $1000 got worked up to $2500, and I was playing $20/40.

When you get up that high, no matter how good you are, you are prone to some serious financial swings. Until that point, I had been blazingly hot. I basically didn’t lose for 3 weeks. When you’re playing for $100 a hand, that means you made a lot of money.

Then some math caught up to me. In a totally insane 3 day period, I lost $1000, won $1200, and lost $1400. I’ll never forget that $1200 win, because of how insane it was. I took my customary afternoon nap on Friday, and woke up around 8 or 9 to play cards. That’s what you do on Friday night, because people are drunk and play exceptionally poorly. I absolutely could not do anything that night, and lost $1000. It was by far the most I had ever lost, and I was sick. I wanted nothing more than to win that money back, but I knew that I should probably be done for the evening. I watched The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou starting around midnight, and I hated it. I hated it because it wasn’t poker, and it wasn’t winning my money back.

I put the movie back on and listened to the commentary track. I don’t remember anything about it. I do know that around 4AM, it ended, and I decided that that was the time to start playing cards again. There is absolutely no way I was in a good state of mind to play, but I did anyway. To make sure I won my money back faster, I decided to play $400 Pot Limit Omaha Hi/Lo. I was sitting with $400 in front of me on two tables. The big difference with this game is that you’re allowed to bet as much money as is in the pot. So while you don’t have as much in front of you, you can end up betting a whole lot more.

After a couple hours of play, I had doubled up to $800 on one table, and won a couple hundred on another. I was feeling somewhat redeemed. Then I got involved in a hand with someone else who had $800. We ended up both getting all of our money in, for a pot of $1600. $1600. I won $1200 of that pot, for a $400 win. It took maybe 1 minute. $400 in 1 minute.

I love telling that story. The problem is, that’s still my best poker story, and it happened 4 years ago.

Since then, I’ve been a very successful player. I’ve probably won something like $6000 playing poker. Most players would be thrilled to break even playing cards, and I’ve won $6K. I am very proud of that.

But it’s also been holding me back. Since that first deposit, I’ve always had money in a poker site. I’ve always had a thought in my mind that I could do it professionally, but I never gave it the time. Instead, I’ve let it eat away at the time I could have spent doing other things.

What finally put me over the top was a seemingly innocuous comment from KDawg and my other friend TJ earlier this week. Both of them were mentioning how I hadn’t made an Our Hero Skiz movie in a long time. I passed it off, saying that I didn’t have enough time.

But I should. Two people REQUESTED that I do something. They liked these movies enough to remember them from 4 years ago. That was the last time I made a new one. No one has ever requested that I play 15 tables of poker. Ever. But here were two requests (along with countless of other requests from KDawg over the years) for me to do something that these two guys thought I was pretty good at.

And fuck me, they’re right. So I decided it was time to be done. I cashed everything out, and I’m moving on.

I’ve got a huge year coming up. It may be the biggest year of my entire life. I am going to get married, and I’m hopefully going to get a PhD. And I’d really like it if Catherine and I did the thing that gets us going for the rest of our lives this year. We’ve got a lot of plans, and poker is just in the way. There was once a time when I thought poker would be the tool that financed all these things, but now I know it’s just holding me back. So I’m done.

So here goes. I’m going to focus on the things that I enjoy now, and not the thing I feel like I have to do. I will never regret any second of playing poker. Not one. But I know that it’s time to move on.

Good bye poker. It’s been real.


18 Tabling

September 17, 2009

As we all know, the internet is much more magical than the real world. But what does this mean for online poker?

Well, it means that you can play at 18 tables at one time, if you so choose. And I so chose.

Click the full screen button for a better view.

As the video demonstrates (I have almost 18 tables running), I play about 60-70 hands in 3 minutes. In a human casino with humans, it would probably take you 1-1.5 hours to play that many hands. If you think you have an edge over the average opponent in your game, then you’re wasting a lot of time by only playing one table.

Which is why I play 18.

Click Read More to Read More. I’m sure you will be really thrilled.
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Poker Hibernation

September 14, 2009

Sometimes I go into poker hibernation. Tonight, I played nearly 4000 hands, averaging about 14 concurrent tables.

That’s fine. As Dave Letterman and my brother and I might ask, is it something or nothing?