Thursday, November 19, 2009

The AP Points Race

It's been two weeks since my last post and not much of significance has happened since then. I played a total of 5 FTOPS tournaments: $216 6-max NLH, $216 7-game mixed games, $109 NLH with rebuys, $535 HORSE, and $216 6 max limit hold'em. It was brick city in all of them (I came closest to the money in the HORSE).

I spent a fair amount of time playing on Absolute Poker (AP). Each month the website through which I get rakeback runs a promotion called a "rake race" where they give prizes to the customers who earn the most rake on various poker sites. Last month with a part time effort I finished 2nd which was worth $775.

After my streak of 11 straight winning days I had a significant run of losing days. I've been really conflicted lately because if I make it to 600,000 base FPPs on pokerstars by the end of they year I earn a $6,000 bonus. Right now I'm 67,000 points away which is not a ton (I averaged 83,000 points a month last year), but I have been getting killed on pokerstars! On the other hand I have been killing on absolute poker doing fine in limited action on cake poker.

I haven't really run the numbers to see what I should do, but I'm going to do it right now!

$6,000 is a lot of money to leave hanging out there and in making it to that point I'd pick up about $3,000 in FPPs so really I'm looking at $9,000 for breaking even over about 50,000 hands on 10/20. That's 18 cents an hand which amounts to about 65% rakeback!

Now I'm going to look at what those 50,000 hands will make me on AP. I think I get about 9 cents a hand in rake back so that's $4,500. I'd earn 187,500 absolute points (the AP version of FPPs) which are worth about $1,300. I'd get two prizes in the rakeback nation monthly rake race (One for November and one for December). Conservatively I could get 3rd place this month and 2nd next month which would be $1,400. So really I'm looking at $7,200 in bonus money on AP and $9,000 on pokerstars. That's closer than I thought. When I factor in that I'm going to be playing in cupcake games instead of ball busting ones, it seems like a clear decision.

But there's more! For the rest of this month AP is offering a daily points race. The top 10 players who earn the most points each day get a cash prize. Here is the list of prizes:

1st $500
2nd $400
3rd $300
4th-6th $150
7th-8th $100
9th-10th $75

I found out half way through the first day which was the 17th so I didn't make the top 10. But I put in a major effort yesterday and came in third. I took today off, but my effort from yesterday would have put me in a solid second.

The points they use to determine the race are "status points." I'm not sure what the rules are for other stakes, but at the levels I play I get two points every time I play hand that A) I put money into the pot by, raising, calling or posting a blind and B) they rake the pot. It turns out I make about .75 status points per had on average.

Yesterday I played about 3,300 hands and made 2,500 or so points. The second place finisher had around 3,000, 1st had 4,500 or so and the fellow in 4th had about 50 less than I did. In fact I played some at the 11th hour to move past him and since it was much later in other parts of the world I'm sure he was long done with his day.

Today 1st place was won by the same guy (who also plays 6 max limit hold 'em, but plays more games at a time and longer hours than I do) who again was over 4,000 points. But 2nd was 2,100 and 3rd was only 1,900.

I'm not sure what's going to happen to the numbers over the weekend and if they guy who has been winning keeps it up I'm not going to get 1st. But I should be able to pile up a few seconds and thirds and should have a fairly easy time getting into the top 6 without really busting my ass. I'm going to give it my best over these next three days and hopefulle pick up and extra grand.

So with that in mind I'm going to be totally AP focused for the rest of the month. And given that, I'm probably going to bail on pokerstars altogether. I'm not 100% on that, but it seems like it's headed that way. It makes me a little sad. :(

Thursday, November 05, 2009

FTOPS XIV Event #1

FTOPS XIV Event #1 was $216 6-max NL hold'em. This tournament started with 4,694 players which meant we had a few hundred fewer players than would be needed to meet the $1,000,000 guarantee paying full juice. Instead of $200 a player going to the prize pool and $16 going to the house, $213 from every player went to the pool and $3 to the house.

I registered about 20 minutes after the tournament started and was faced with a tough decision right away. We all started with 5,000 chips and during the hand in question the blinds were 15/30. The under the gun player made it 60 to go and got called by the button. I was in the big blind with TT and raised to 240. The under the gun player called and then the button made it 900 to go. What?

It's very unusual for a player to call a raise (especially a minimum raise) initially and then rereraise later on the same round. When it happens it's almost always AA, but sometimes it's a player acting on a total whim and pushing a hand like QJ. In this case I decided it was probably AA and just bailed out.

If I was playing a $1,000 tournament folding would have been an easy decision, but in a $200 tournament I really wanted to just drop the all in bomb and see what happened. Of course that's not a good mindset to have and it's important to always play your best regardless of stakes.

The hand that really derailed me came about an hour later. Again the under the gun player came in for a raise when I was in the big blind. But this time I had AA. He raised, I reraised, he called and the flop came down king high. I bet about half the pot and my opponent raised me. "Ah ha!" I thought. "He has a king and now I will get his entire stack!" I was right about the first part.

I just called his flop raise and after a blank came on the turn I check raised him all in. At this point there was something like 6,000 in the pot and he only had 900 or so left, but probably knowing he was beat he still took a long time calling with KQ. 39 of the 44 cards left in the deck would make me a winner, but the river was a queen and I was down to 2,000 chips.

A little while later I'd climbed back close to 3,000 chips. I was in the small blind with K6 suited and raised the big blind who just called. The flop was 8 high with two hearts, I bet three quarters of the pot and my opponent called. I had a strong sense that I was against a draw or maybe just overcards taking one off. Feeling bold I moved all in for about 2,000 into the 1,500 chip pot. My opponent thought for a moment and then called with A2 of hearts which was nothing but a flush draw...and the best hand since I was on a total bluff. The river was a blank and the ace high held up. This was a situation where if I knew exactly what my opponent had I would have played it the same way on the turn.

Today I have Event #2 which is 7-game mixed. It's all the HORSE games, plus NL hold'em and PLO (the same as the pokerstars 8-game mixed format except there's no triple draw lowball). An hour in I'm up to 7,000 chips from a starting stack of 4,000.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Highs, The Lows and FTOPS XIV

My streak of winning days came to an end on Sunday, but not before I'd won 11 days that I'd played in a row - my best run ever in terms of winning days in a row! I lost $700, which after being down $2,500 at one point, was an adequate result.

Amazingly I was still a little (just a little) upset about losing. A few days before I'd won $1,500 during the day in a few hours and then later on my laptop I scooped up another $800 during one episode of survivor. In the midst of the streak that $800 felt like an extra sprinkle on a very large cupcake. I was feeling very "whatever" about it at the time. Which leads me to a question: why in the world would I be upset about losing $700 when I barely cared about winning that extra $800?

I'm constantly battling my emotions, trying to stay as cold and logical about everything as possible. Sometimes it's easy. After all I know that losing sessions, days, weeks and even months are part of the deal. Even the best players lose some of the time. I've had hundreds of losing days and scores of losing weeks and everything is still fine.

During the stretches where my emotional control is at it's highest I brush off losses and bad beats like they are nothing. I almost feel amused when my aces go down, and my straights get flushed time after time. I some how manage to think "Oh, well. I'm sure this will turn around. Just stick with the plan and the cards will even out soon enough." That is how I'd like to be all the time and it is how I am the vast majority of the time.

In other instances I get upset about nothing. I curse out loud. I slap my hand against my forehead or bang my mouse on the arm of my chair. I feel tension throughout my entire body, just because I've lost a few hands or I'm down a few hundred dollars. This is not how a professional should act! I look back on my reactions and wonder why I was being such a buffoon. Swearing out loud? Really? What good is that doing?

Of course the problem is, simply that losing sucks! If you watch Tiger Woods play golf, you'll see him get pissed all the time. He'll get upset that he missed a 20 foot put on the second day of some random tournament. What sort of significance could that put have in the scheme of his life? ZERO! He's got hundred of millions of dollars, an amazimg wife and family, and a world of people who think he's awesome. He could never swing a club again and he'd still be a legend. But he wants and expects to win every tournament and make every shot. And that's how I feel too. I want those aces to hold up every time. I want every bluff to work. And damn it, I want to win every f-ing day that I get dealt a hand! And I get upset (just a little) when I don't.

I also find it more than a little annoying that I get upset. I know, by the next day or the next week I'm not going to care at all unless it was a major back breaking loss. I couldn't tell you anything about any of the losses I had in September. They are all far in the past, but I'm sure some if not all of them bothered me at the time.

Another thing I find annoying is I wish I could get more excited about winning. When I first started playing even though the money wasn't very significant in the big picture, the highs were much higher. I would have to win at least $100,000 to feel the way I did the first time I won $1,000 in a day (my biggest win leading up to that point was $350).

When I have a good win I try to think about it as much as possible and squeeze every ounce of joy I can out of it. But these days is really feels more like satisfaction that the elation that I felt when I was 21.

Anyway, I'm going to take a shot at some elation in the Full Tilt Online Poker Series XIV (FTOPS) starting tomorrow. Here is the full schedule if anyone would like to see it, but it's pretty much the same old same old FTOPS schedule.

I think I'm going to take $3,000 and play as many tournaments as I can with it (I probably won't take on any backers this time around with one or two exceptions), making sure I hit the $535 HORSE event and the $216 6-max limit event, but otherwise taking it one day at a time.

I'm not really as pumped about these FTOPS tournaments as I used to be since they have an FTOPS every 3 months, but it could still be big if I knock one out of the park.