Digging My Way Out of the Red

Posted by Expired Potato On May 17, 2017 0 comments

Some Vlogs


This was at Planet Hollywood Saturday night. It got CRAZY after I got that free dinner. The free dinner by the way is a promo they have this month where if you play five or more hours from 2:30 to 10:30 pm you get a $30 voucher to Gordon Ramsay Burger. The burgers there are $15+ and fries are about $10 so that just about covers it. And it's QUALITY! I got a hog burger right after filming this and it was HUGE! I don't think the $1.99 burgers at Checkers on the walk from the gym are gonna do it for me now.

Was up pretty late that night cause there was a super loose aggressive donk at my table and I just could not leave until he left. Sometimes I just have to sacrifice sleep if there's someone donating $1000 an hour to the table. Regardless of the results, the opportunity is there and being tired is not an excuse to turn it down. Unfortunately I couldn't even make top pair against him. Oh well. Woke up at 9:15 to play in the 10 am tournament. It's a weekly $150 tournament with a $10000 guaranteed prize pool that you can get in for free by playing 20 or more hours in a week at Planet Hollywood. So basically on top of the $6/hr in value you get for the free dinner you're getting $7.50/hr in value for getting into the tournament for free. I got a good chip lead early and then went card dead in the middle of the tournament. Being a turbo, the blinds went up so fast that it got to a point where it was all in or fold. Blinds are 4k/8k (no antes). I'm in the big blind with 22k behind. Player under the gun (the player left of the big blind who is first to act) goes all in blind for 6k. Tight player goes all in for maybe 45k. Folds around to me and I look down at Q8 offsuit. Kinda sucks but it's 22k to call a pot of 44k so I only need 33% equity. Heads up against just her it's close but multi-way even against a random hand I don't have it. If I fold though then I'm in the small blind with 18k behind. I'm not a tournament player so I'm not sure if I need to be gambling it up here to try to get a workable stack. Blinds are going up soon. I call and run into AA. Of course. Flop doesn't help and I'm drawing dead on the turn. Almost made the money there were like 75 entrants with 15 paid I placed 23rd. A little disappointing but at least it was the casino's money I was playing with.

A fellow grinder showed me a place called Ocean One that has $4.99 lunches. And they were legit restaurant quality lunches. They even had steak for that price. Awesome. It was nice hanging out with someone who's kind of doing the same thing as me. When I talk to non-poker friends about poker, it probably sounds like Russian to them. It's nice to be able to relate to someone poker wise. This guy road tripped all the way down from Michigan to play poker here. Seemed like a pretty chill dude. Too bad he's leaving this week. Will definitely be going to Ocean One again. My grocery bill might slowly inch toward zero seeing how there's cheap lunch available on The Strip and I might never pay for dinner again (or hardly ever).

Anyways played at Caesar's Palace for like ten hours after that. It's the building on the right. Building on the left is the Bellagio. I'll catch those famous fountains putting on a real show some other time. Probably at night when it looks nice.

Got a nice free dinner at a food court beside Caesar's. ($2/hr comps for playing). I love having free food right at the table. Get to eat food I didn't pay for and not miss the action.

There was a maniac at the table who rekt me. As soon as the seat to his left emptied I jumped on it immediately to get position on him. I had a $700 stack at that point and he was deep as well. It's basically a grinder's dream scenario. Unfortunately couldn't really get too many hands to play against him before he left. And he probably played 30 hands in a row without folding preflop, no exaggeration. This guy had no fold button. It was nuts. It was 1/2 but played like 2/5 or even 5/10 with him at the table. Kind of frustrating to watch him play every hand, bluff off hundreds at a time, then hit random two pairs with hands like 73 and not be able to get involved with him. I can't complain too much though. It could have been much worse. He could've gotten lucky and taken my $700.

Woke up the next day and felt like SHIT! I was gonna go lift but decided to just spend the day playing poker instead. Hangover maybe? Wtf? It was ONE drink! Felt way too shitty to go grocery shopping and cook an actual healthy meal. So I took some frozen chow mein, tossed that onto a frying pan, chopped up a red pepper and that was lunch. Headed right back to Caesar's Palace. On a Monday I need to be very careful where I play. It's arguably the least profitable night (some think Tuesdays are since people are still in weekend mode sometimes). The poker room at Caesar's is big and has many tables running even on a Monday so it's more likely to be soft. Also the rake is $4 instead of $5 with no $1 taken for some stupid bad beat jackpot that I'm more likely to die in a car accident tomorrow than hit. The night went so well I built a VIP tower out of my chips and I've finally dug myself out of the red. I have a win rate of $1.29/hr now instead of -$13/hr! Yay!

A New Home

I picked the wrong area of the city to live in. Although it's a beautiful townhouse complex in a relatively safe area, there isn't much to do around here other than a mall a mile to the south and a dive bar which was friendly and cheap but empty AF. The Strip is walkable from the gym at UNLV. I've been walking it cause taking an Uber or Lyft three or four times a day instead of two is just not long term sustainable. It's not SUPER far. This picture was taken just outside the gym and those buildings under the plane are basically it. Kind of sketchy though. A couple blocks off campus and it starts looking like this.

I also saw some dude kicking a beer bottle into the middle of an intersection. Friendly neighbourhood. So that's apparently what people on Reddit meant by "watch out for the shitty area just outside The Strip". I'm gonna plan my workouts so that I get to The Strip before it's dark. During that walk I found out that there's a TON of furnished and cheap apartments/extended stay places in that area. I can see why it's cheap. I just need a place to cook lunch and sleep so I'll take it in two weeks after my Airbnb stay is over. As long as I'm not walking home from The Strip with twenty Benjamins in my wallet at 3:30 am like a fucking idiot I'll be fine. I'd be able to walk to the gym and walk to The Strip during the day which will save a shit ton of money. Also, for a $100 deposit I think most casinos on The Strip have a safe you can use. With that in mind, there's no way in hell I'd keep more than a few hundred even in a locked room in a place like that.

It's hilarious how being used to the comfort and relative safety of modern society can make a man act like a little bitch. Back in the day merchants risked their lives repeatedly traveling from China to the Middle East on roads infested with bandits and I'm worried about a forty minute walk in a seedy part of the city. Better to be a safe though than risk losing several buy ins to a piece of shit mugger.

Salsa, Bachata and Maybe Some Swing?


Decided to give up some EV playing late Friday nights to become a regular at Firefly's Latin nights. Thing about being a poker player - the best nights to make money are usually nights where a lot of non-poker stuff is happening. I can either go out and have fun or play in some super +EV games where my win rate is double if not triple my win rate on a Monday afternoon. Can't have it both ways. I'll just show up to Firefly at midnight from now on so I can still get that evening action at the tables. It's a pretty dope place. Huge bar and a pretty decent sized patio where people dance. Those pixels in the bottom left above that car with the neon underglow <333 are people dancing. I met the team that teaches ballroom dancing at UNLV. Someone mentioned swing dancing. Maybe I'll check it out. There's also a salsa class on Wednesdays if I heard right. Checking that out for sure cause in terms of poker, Mondays through Wednesdays are definitely expendable.



The New Strategy

Poker has been been swingy as hell, but since getting here I've been experimenting with a new loose aggressive strategy so I'm not too surprised at the results. I still play relatively tight in early position, although I do add a few suited aces and suited connectors. In middle position I have all suited aces, many suited connectors and a bunch of offsuit broadway hands (hands ranging from JT to AK that can flop an ace high straight aka broadway) that play well heads up against a fish but can get me in trouble if it's a multi-way pot. In late position and especially on the button is where I really loosen up and go nuts! If there's several limpers to me in late position I need to be careful, but if there's just one or two and the big blind is bad, I'm raising a very wide range to try to get a heads up pot in position.

A heads up pot in position at 1/2 is great! I have positional and skill advantage as well as the betting lead by raising. Usually the flop is checked to the raiser so most of the time I'll be position and have the option of seeing the turn for free. Also I can control the pot size way better in position which is key. The downside to playing loose is that I will have to bluff more and also have to pot control more marginal hands like middle or bottom pair because a loose range flops top pair or better way less often than a tight range.

The upside to having a loose aggressive image is that I can get paid with hands that tighter players can't get paid by. I don't need a super strong hand on the river to get called by worse. Sometimes a hand as weak as top pair can be good for a bet bet bet line versus the right opponents. Of course, the weaker hands that I bet for value, aka thin value, will be called by better a significant percentage of the time. But that's fine because the EV (expected value) of betting is still better than the EV of checking. This also has the added benefit of allowing me to have more bluffs in my river betting range. The variance of course will be huge compared to a tight aggressive strategy of bluffing sparingly and just betting strong value, but this is how the best players push that extra edge to get a better win rate. Which leads me to...

Weekly Hand Analysis

Two limpers to me in the cutoff (the seat directly to the right of the button) with A9o. With two limpers some could argue for folding but the button is tight, the limpers are bad and the blinds are bad so I raise to $15 with the goal of taking down the pot right there or playing a heads up pot in position with one of these bad players. For the record, I wrote this a few days ago and realize now that this kind of "lolol he's bad he's bad he's especially bad I can outplay them all" type of thinking preflop can get me in trouble. A9o is a mediocre hand even in late position and I should be tightening my raising range against multiple limpers and limping behind more or just folding hands like these. This was a hand that was played poorly preflop but after further review I think was played decently postflop. The big blind (BB) calls and the limpers get out of the way. Flop is T95 with a heart. BB leads $20 into me. I've noticed him lead the flop into the raiser with top pair before so this isn't great news. But given my aggressive image I would expect him to check and let me hang himself if he had a hand. I'm getting a great price since with his bet I'm risking $20 to win $51 minus rake. I call and take a turn.

Turn is the 9 of hearts. He bets $40 into $69. Now I have a key decision. Against strong players I will need to call some % of the time to protect my calling range so that he can't bluff aggressively on most rivers. Against a weak player it just doesn't matter. They aren't gonna be observant enough to notice that I never have a strong hand in those spots when I call the turn if I always raise my strong hands. I can always raise here with my strong hands, call with my bluff catchers/medium-strength hands and it just doesn't matter. With that in mind, I decide to raise to $105. He thinks about it for about thirty seconds and calls.

River is horrible. Jack of hearts. All backdoor flushes got there. 87s got there. KQ got there assuming he calls it on the turn (which would be a pretty bad call but it's 1/2 so you never know). Not too worried about J9s or JJ but those are certainly possible (although why would anyone bet out with middle pair on the flop). And of course I'm already beat by 55 and T9s (I HIGHLY doubt he leads top set on the flop). I don't even have a heart blocker (as in having a heart in my hand which makes it less likely for him to have a flush). On the bright side, 55 and T9s will shove the turn some percentage of the time so he doesn't have every combo of 55/T9s. Also a lot of hands that beat my trip nines will bet out on the river to deny me an option of a free showdown. This is a prime example of why being in position matters. Not only do I gain valuable information, I can decide between shoving for thin value (he has almost $200 behind), betting tiny like $80 into $279 or a free showdown. A marginal winner will snap check it back for a free showdown without even thinking about it, likely out of fear of losing that $200. I don't think betting tiny is really a good decision here cause it looks like I have a hand that can beat AT but can't beat a straight which allows him to turn a hand like AT into a bluff and potentially make me fold. So betting tiny is out of the question. I'm no solid player as of now, but let's think like a solid player would and work out whether this is a shove or a check back using Equilab.

I am for sure ahead of the range that called my turn raise and checked the river, but the range that will call if I shove is much stronger since he will fold many marginal hands like a ten and sometimes QJ. The hands in blue are an approximation of the range of hands I can expect him to be able to call a river shove after calling my turn raise. Hands in gray are hands that are impossible due to card removal (for example 99 is impossible because there's only one nine left in the deck). I gave him one combo of overpairs (QQ - AA), a few combos of AT, QJ and JTs with heart blockers. The rest are straights, flushes and full houses which of course beat me.

This is how A9 with no heart blocker does against that range.

The verdict? I'm actually slightly behind the range that calls and checking it back would be more +EV than shoving, because when he calls my shove I will lose more than half the time. If he calls more combos of QJ or AT, then it becomes an appropriate thin value shove, especially if I have the ace of hearts which removes flush combos from his range. However this is an approximation based on my assumptions which may or may not be correct. The more I improve, the more accurate my assumptions will be and the faster I will be able to work this out in my head at the tables. By the way this hand was played at Planet Hollywood which is on the right here. That's a "ph" that got cut off in the top right which I realized after heading back. :(

I thought it about it for a while and ended up checking it back. I said "river saved you man" as I flipped over my A9. He looks annoyed and angrily flips over QQ. I get that I had the "crazy mid 20s Asian" image at the time and he was trying to trap me by just calling preflop. But if the two limpers came along he would've been in a four way pot with QQ and out of position against three players with an overcard (ace or king) flopping over 40% of the time. I think reraising it preflop would've been a much better play for him.

Thoughts And Realizations After First 100 Hours

Been here nearly two weeks and I've just logged over 100 hours at the tables. I'm on pace for 200 hour months. Proud of my volume, not the most proud of the results so far. I've estimated that my win rate would be $15/hr. That would mean my EV is $1500 but my actual net winnings are...enough to cover groceries. A 100 hour sample size is tiny, but I KNOW I haven't played my best. There were definitely many spots where I took a bluff too far and lost more than I should. I would say I've lost at least $500 more than I should have by taking bluffs too far. I can recall a spot last night where I raised the river instead of folding to try to rep a flush and got snap called by two pair. Took an unnecessary $100 L right there. I would also say that I've lost almost the same making too loose of calls. If I hadn't made those mistakes, I'd be much closer to my estimated EV and would be more likely to actually be a $15/hr winner.

Asides from surface level studying such as posting hand histories on this blog and on two plus two, I haven't done much DETAILED studying. By that I mean running through spots using Equilab or CREV. I need to be studying general spots and not just specific ones. I'll only encounter specific spots every so often, but I'll encounter general spots all the time. Like being out of position on a dry flop (few or no draws, like A95) versus a wet flop (many draws, like JT8 two spades). As the preflop raiser, I need to know what my value bet range looks like, what my bluffing range looks like, what my check/call range looks like, and what my check/fold range looks like (I've neglected check/raising for a slight simplification). Then I'll need to know the same thing except this time I'm in position instead of out of position. Currently I have a rough idea of what those ranges are but that's not good enough.

Do I deserve to win? Can I be a crusher (top player) if just keep playing? The answer is NO! I realized that I've been going about it the wrong way. Just playing is not improving. With online poker I'm playing up to 1000 hands an hour which is over 120k hands a month if I'm doing it full time and not being lazy about volume! Can arguably learn by just playing and doing hand history reviews. But with live poker I'm only playing 30 hands an hour! THAT is specifically the reason why online players have a HUGE advantage over live players! I can play the same amount of poker as all the poker I've played here in two weeks in just three hours back home on PokerStars. If someone's at least middle aged I don't even consider them a threat because they've probably never been an online grinder. I've seriously haven't seen a single solid live player that's not in their 20s or 30s in 100 hours of playing here. The only older solid player I know of (and he's not even 40 so doesn't quite count) is the legendary x_ROSH125_x who grinded online for years and is a well known and well respected member of twoplustwo. Thankfully he isn't grinding in Vegas. ;) If a young player sits down and plays solid (which happens rarely), I'm watching them closely and seeing if I can learn from them. Where am I going with this? Playing live poker and just reviewing hands on a surface level doesn't cut it. That's the reason why many regulars who've been playing for years are still fish.

What have I done in terms of poker since getting here? I've put in the hours at the tables. But I haven't done detailed studying at home. I've been cocky and entitled which is not a recipe for success. I don't want to be another kid with a dream who thinks he's one of the best, goes home broke and blames it on bad luck instead of bad play. So instead of playing poker today, I'm gonna take a step back and think about how I can become a better poker player and what I've been doing that's not working. I've already identified two things - taking bluffs too far and not folding when I should be folding. Great! I know there's more. I'm far from being a solid poker player. But I know I have the potential. I will find out what my leaks are and what I can to plug them. I hope to see some improvements in my play the next 100 hours. If I can honestly tell myself that there are many improvements I'll be moving up stakes next month regardless of results (unless results are -$2000 but that shouldn't happen).


A Rough First Week

Posted by Expired Potato On May 09, 2017 1 comments

Getting Settled In

Wasn't the smoothest journey getting here. Flight to Dallas from Toronto got delayed and they were missing my gate info on the ticket for the connecting flight to Vegas. Me being a total amateur when it comes to traveling I didn't even know that your luggage is automatically moved to your connecting flight and you don't need to move it yourself. So I'm standing for like ten minutes at baggage claim with the clock ticking since there was only half an hour between landing and takeoff. Finally I do what I always do when I don't know what to do, which is ask stupid questions. I find out that my luggage is taken care of, then I sprint to the nearest ticket counter to ask which gate I'm supposed to be at. The lady has a very thick Southern accent and is very amused.

"You're telling me you ran through security just to ask me which gate?"
"It's C [whatever number]. You better run!"
"Thanks I'll sprint."

I sprinted so fast with my carry on. Usain Bolt would've been proud. The only thought going through my mind was I'M NOT GETTING STUCK IN DALLAS! Made it with a few minutes to spare. Looks like that tiny bit of cardio I've been doing lately is paying off. I even got blessed with a window seat. This is the view landing in Vegas apparently filmed with a calculator.


I was planning on playing poker til dawn then getting a few hours of sleep. But I listened to my body's exhaustion complaints, checked in to Harrah's and called it a night. Alarm went off at 10:15. The room was pitch black. I was thinking wow it's must be super overcast in the desert today. Walked over to open the curtains and was greeted by that! Those were some really good curtains. No wonder I got such solid sleep. Tried to shower. The knob was BROKEN! It was kinda funny, in an irritating type of way. I called the front desk and they said I could use the spa which is normally extra. That worked out well! They had a hot tub with coffee as well as lemon scented towels. It was nice. They even had a gym right beside the spa but I made sure to get one last lift in before flying out so I gotta have that rest day.

I noticed quickly that Spanish is very popular here. I called a Lyft to get from Harrah's to my Airbnb and my driver was Cuban. He spoke very little English. I speak very little Spanish. We had a nice broken conversation in Spanish with a bit of English slipped in here and there. Necesito practicar mas apparently. I get to the Airbnb expecting it to be kind of sketchy despite the pictures cause it's so cheap. It was not false advertised at all. It's a nice, gated townhouse complex. This is basically my backyard for the next three weeks.


23 nights for only around $40 CAD a night. Hopefully I'll be this lucky playing poker tonight. There's even a very nice grocery store in a plaza not even a five minute walk away. Groceries here are cheap as expected even with the conversion rate taken into account. Fish filet for as little as $2.99/lb, marinated skinless chicken thighs for $2.49/lb. It almost seems unfair how much we pay in Canada. Cooked my first meal here. It's nothing special, just some beans, chicken and veggies but it feels good finally eating something healthy after eating unhealthy for almost a week.

Right Down to Business 

After getting settled in, it was time to take care of business. I didn't know that business would take care of me but I'll get to that later. Hopped in a Lyft and headed to Bally's. I later realized there are way better rooms to play in and after I get my 45 hours in and qualify for the freeroll with a $24000 prize pool I'm probably not playing there again. But Bally's will always have a special place in my heart for taking my Vegas poker virginity.

And Bally was not gentle. I shoulda lubed up cause I sat in the game dropped $500 so fast I couldn't believe it. Nothing was working for me. My bluffs weren't getting through and I couldn't make a draw or even a pair to save my life. I finally flopped a set with 77 on a J87 flop hoping to get paid. Fuck yeah! Or fuck no? Turn was a 4 I got check raised and called it in position. River was a K that completed the backdoor flush. He shoved I folded. He's never bluffing or playing two pair that way it's a higher set, straight or flush always. It was late and I was almost gonna leave but the guy that made me fold the set of sevens was just so loose and bad and I had position on him (as in I'm sitting on his left so I will be in position versus him after the flop most of the time) so I stayed. Took a long time but when he finally left and I could go home and sleep I had managed to grind my way back to even.

Here's the place Matt Damon was talking about 20 years ago in Rounders. "Vegas and the fucking Mirage". The outside was absolutely gorgeous, but from what I've heard from the locals the poker room inside had been going downhill for years and they were of course right. For a Friday evening it was dead. Uneventful session not too much action up $250 down $200. I'll probably play there again though cause the rake (how much the house takes from the pot) is capped at $4/hand, the comps are $2/hr (meaning I get $2/hr just for playing poker). And the guy I was waiting for a table with was some rich tourist from "Philly" who played just about every hand and gave me a "don't care" wave when I yelled "you forgot your beer" as he got up and left after donating several hundred to the table. A good sign.

The Venetian though...what a beautiful gem! It's basically a palace with centuries-old architecture fused with the 21st century. The poker room was the fanciest and BIGGEST poker room I've ever seen. This picture isn't even the whole room I'm missing quite a bit! 

And look at this view from the outside at night. I can see why it attracts tourists like myself. I got plenty of action there. I had a nice conversation with a software guy from Cali about the job market. It sounded good. Then I sent him back to his hotel. I reraised AQ. He calls. Flop is Q62 with two spades. I bet and he shoves for $250. Interesting play by him but I doubt he has a set cause I made it $50 preflop no way he calls 22, maybe not even 66, two queens left in the deck so QQ is very unlikely and also people love slowplaying sets especially on flops with very few draws like Q62. I have an ace so he is 50% less likely to have AA, and the vast majority of players are straightforward and play AA/KK aggressively preflop. Easy call. He has QJss. I gotta dodge a jack and spades! Turn is safe. River is a picture card which scared me a little but it was a queen. Whew! Another hand I reraised AKdd, flopped three diamonds my opponent was silly enough to check blind to me on the flop turn AND river (check before the community cards are revealed so the player in position acts first; a stupid thing to do usually). OK then. Bet, bet, I'm all in. He snap calls the river. No full house I'm good! I didn't play super amazing or anything but I played OK, got lucky in those spots and got paid. For sure playing there again.

Played Sunday and Monday again. Got fucked. 

Salsa and Lifting

Was looking for places to work on that salsa. Asides from this place called Firefly which has a no cover Latin night on their patio Friday night, every other place that's not a million miles from The Strip seems to charge an absurd amount for cover. I want to dance salsa, but not for THAT much cmon now. Went to Firefly and had a good time practicing the moves. There's this weird kind of Cuban salsa that's popular around here. Interesting. I might just have to pay cover on a less profitable night for poker cause having to stop playing poker Fridays at 11 pm just to dance salsa seems like a lost opportunity to make a lot of money.

I got a gym membership finally! It's at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas (UNLV). The gym there is amazing. It's a four level facility with a weight room, cardio room, swimming pool, track and sports facilities. All that for just $20 initiation and $25 a month. Score! They also have group classes which is a good way to meet more locals and I'd like to take boxing or some kind of martial art.

Weekly Hand Analysis

There was an interesting hand involving a grinder who openly talks about playing for a living. As a quick aside, that is something a grinder should NEVER be doing. If I'm a recreational player there to chase flush draws and have a good time and you're telling me that people like me pay your bills, I'm getting a table change. I hate lying but whenever​ someone asks me why I'm in Vegas the answer is always "I'm here to escape" or "I'm here to be irresponsible".

Anyways let's get to it. I raised $6 on the button with JT, the grinder calls in the small blind, and the big blind folds. I have about a $400 stack and the grinder has me covered (as in he has more, so we are effectively $400 deep). The flop is Q83 with the 3 being a diamond. He checks to me, I bet $8 and he raises to $25. It's $17 to call a pot of $47. My immediate odds of hitting the 9 to make a straight don't justify a call, but the fact that I'm in position, an ace or king improves my draw and I have the potential to win $400 if I do make a straight justifies a call. I call, the dealer rakes $6 and the turn is the king of diamonds.

He checks to me. Now I picked up four more outs. An ace or a 9 will give me a straight. He could have assumed I bet the flop too much and check raised me with a wide range consisting of mostly bluffs, some of which now have to fold. Also I didn't call with jack high to play it passively in position and hope to get lucky. So I bet $30 into the $58 pot and to my surprise he raises to $65. Not only is the double check raise super non-standard the sizing is weird too. Gives my draws a great price to see the river for cheap. So I call. 

River is the ace of diamonds. Bink! He checks again to me. There is a possible flush out there with that third diamond but it is highly unlikely that he has it since he didn't bet which allows me to check back the river for a free showdown. This is a clear value bet. The question is how much? The pot is almost $200. I can bet small and give him a good price to call, or I can bet big and make it look like I'm either bluffing or super strong. I went with somewhere in the middle. I slide forward a stack of 24 reds ($120). He snap folded KQ face up. Interesting flop check raise and tiny turn check raise with that.

He then says I can't be bluffing in that spot at all given how the board ran out. And I realized...holy shit he's right. If I'm betting the river I have AK for top two pair, sets, JT for a straight and also diamond flushes. What possible hand can I be bluffing with? The only way I can be bluffing is if I called his turn check raise with J9 or T9 which would've been bad calls since those hands only have four outs to hit a straight instead of eight. Had I bet $50 instead of $120 I might have gotten a "fuck it" call out of him. But more importantly, I realized that if I'm in a spot where my opponent thinks I'm never bluffing based on the board, I can just value bet small to get a "fuck it" call and bet big as a bluff. And I would be able to always get away with it! My perceived range and my actual range are two different things and I just learned a new way to exploit that difference.

Also this is why you shouldn't talk strategy at the table. I just became a better poker player from that one conversation. It's in his best interest to talk about something else or just to shut up.

Girl Shits On Professional Poker Player

This hand was awesome! I didn't win, but it was hilarious to watch and tilted the shit out of that grinder from the hand above. I raised $12 with AK. The grinder reraises to $40 in the small blind. A girl (omg a girl at the table :O) calls the extra $38 in the big blind with only $2 invested. Interesting. I call and take a flop in position. Flop is T95. Grinder bets out, girl calls and I obviously have to fold. Turn is an ace. Oh well. A good fold is a good fold. The grinder checks and the girl checks it back. River is a jack. The grinder checks again. The girl bets and the grinder is in a world of PAIN. He groans and moans, counts out his chips, groans and moans some more and folds.

What happened next was crazy! The girl proudly flips over 77! The entire table starts ROARING! OOOHHHHHHH! OOOHHHHHHHHH! The grinder is PISSED! He did not expect her to have a hand as weak as 77 and clearly he folded KK or QQ which would have been the winner. To be fair, being in the hand with 77 in the first place was bad. Calling the flop multi-way is also bad, although I get her logic, however flawed - he could have AK and my 77 could be ahead. Let's just not care what the Asian guy who I'm out of position against could have. When the ace fell on the turn and the grinder gave up the betting lead, it's either cause he's setting a trap or cause he's scared of the ace. When the grinder checked again on the river giving the girl the option of a free showdown, it's obvious that the grinder is scared of the ace and has a hand that an ace can beat, so almost always KK or QQ. The girl figured that out and redeemed her poor play by reading him like a book and outplaying the fuck out of him on the river. And he would not shut up about it for the longest time. It was so funny. He even said to the dealer "hey man if you double me up through her you're getting a $50 tip". He was dead serious. Never underestimate a girl at the table boys. Their milkshake will bring you to the yard and it'll be an expensive yard.

In terms of poker strategy though, it's good to review other people's plays even if you're not in the hand, so you can learn from their mistakes instead of learning from your own which can be expensive. The lesson I learned here is to continue the aggression on the turn despite the ace which is a scare card. Although she could have had AK, it's unlikely and she's way more likely to have a pair he's beating or a draw. Betting would have protected him from getting bluffed out as he did and also allows him to get value from hands he's beating. By giving up the betting lead and checking both the turn and river, his hand is basically face up and she can play perfectly against him. Analyzing this spot also made me realize that giving up the betting lead out of position on the turn in general might be a bad idea in a wide range of boards. This actually makes me feel more confident now about my own game despite my shitty results this first week, just because of the fact that I'm learning.

Sustainability and Mindset

I've been living like a king. And it feels great. The place I'm staying at feels and looks like paradise. This whole city feels and looks like paradise. I pull out my phone, press a few buttons and people rush to drive me places. I spend money on food/drinks when out and don't really worry. The customer service here is great compared to Canada. Every casino I walk into I'm treated like royalty by super friendly staff. It's like they actually care about you having a good experience, or they're excellent at acting. Money talks and everything else walks here. I've been poor most of my life so this new kind of lifestyle is so different it actually feels a little weird. The big question is can I actually sustain this? Yes I can. But I'm gonna have to work for it. Actually, I'm gonna have to FIGHT for it.

Let's break down how much money I'm spending a month. I lucked out on rent for this month and it's gonna average around $800. I'm gonna be conservative and say that for June and July with rising Airbnb prices it'll be way more expensive, say $1500/month. Groceries here are cheap and I generally don't eat dinner at home so I'll call it $250. Phone is $35. Uber/Lyft will be $20/day and I don't see myself ever NOT going out and sitting at home all day here cause it would feel like such a waste. So a conservative cost estimate here is $600. Gym is $20 initiation plus $25 a month. With comps a lot of dinners will be either free or very cheap. Entertainment will probably be about $600. Holding my breath while I add up these scary numbers in my head, I see that the total is over $3000 USD for a conservative estimate and I'm guessing anywhere up to a grand cheaper if I'm more careful with my money and look harder for a cheaper Airbnb. So let's meet in the middle and call it $2500.

A solid live poker player can expect to win 10 bb/hr (big blinds an hour) long term, and arguably more at small stakes with good table and seat selection. At 1/2 that's $20/hr. That would require 125 hours/month which is less than a 9-5 and not really work cause it's fun. But I don't consider myself a solid poker player. I have probably only 500 hours live lifetime and I have leaks such as tilting, not exploiting every player's weaknesses to the max, and probably bluffing the wrong type of player too often. I do consider myself a decent poker player though so $15/hr seems perfectly achievable at 1/2. That's 167 hours which is a bit more than a 9-5 but definitely still nothing if I'm on The Strip 6 or 7 days a week. If I don't play my A game 90% of the time my win rate will probably be a measly $10/hr. That's 250 hours which would require 10 hour sessions 25 days a month, which although is not impossible is definitely a LOT of grinding and although I cannot control the results, I don't plan on playing that shitty.

Once I get a good rhythm going and if I don't run bad I'll sit in some 1/3 games. But I won't sit at 2/5 until the WSOP (World Series of Poker) starts in June and the games get softer. My first five days playing 1/2 I was down $500, up $1400 and then down another $1400 and now I'm actually down $500 overall. The swings at 2/5 will be way too violent for me to stomach at this point in time. In fact I met some random former professional poker player at a bar. He told me to "just make it to the WSOP cause your win rate will triple". By that he meant don't do stupid shit like take a shot at 5/10 and go broke. I doubt my win rate would actually triple. Double probably. But I'll take his advice. Wouldn't want to end up like this guy.

Here's the problem. Win rates are long term expected results. Short term variance is absolutely brutal. Poker is definitely mostly luck in the short term. From what I've heard you need 500 hours at the tables for your results to even BEGIN to be statistically significant. A single big pot can be the difference between a winning night and a break even night or a mediocre night and a losing night. I don't believe in destiny, but you can play perfect poker and some nights you are actually destined to get robbed. You're in all preflop with AA against KK and the river is a K. Nothing you can do. You flop middle set and get it in against top set. Nothing you can do. You flop an open ended straight flush draw and get it in as a 55% favourite against queens. Queens hold. Nothing you can do. If you can't smile and genuinely say "nice hand" when a $600 pot you're in slides the other way, you will likely fail. If you play with the mentality that every session has to be a winning session and being "stuck" is a horrible humiliating thing because the fish are winning and you aren't, you will fail. If you can't shrug off dropping $1500 in a week (or sometimes a night at 2/5), you will fail. If you can't walk away when you're down and tilting cause you need to be even, you will DEFINITELY fail.

Poker is a beautiful thing and I have a ton of fun playing poker - whether it's the rush of being in a big pot, playing mind games with certain opponents or just random conversations with strangers in between hands. However, I approach poker with a business mentality. It's not just a game. It's just a game for the fish (mostly tourists in this case), and I want my summer to be paid for by them instead of myself.

In order to do that I must have a winning mindset. I must be willing to accept the fact that I will be brutally knocked down repeatedly and forced to get back up. I must be willing to constantly study my game, think about ways I could have played a hand better or specific things like what kind of flops and turns I can bluff profitably with certain hands. I must be willing to be disciplined and put in the hours, as well as being disciplined and knowing when to walk away. I must be willing to accept that I might fail. But while I'm breathing, I'm gonna try. The wise words from the dude at the bar resonate in my head.

"Just make it to the WSOP".



Posted by Expired Potato On May 03, 2017 0 comments

Alright let's do this! I'll be in Vegas for three months this summer (less if I lose my shirt) and will be blogging about my thoughts and experiences, my poker adventures and traveling after Vegas.

That's me. I'm a 26 year old student doing a second degree in computer science. As you can probably guess, I love wings and I love beer. More importantly though, my biggest passion is poker. Something about being able to creatively outplay your opponents (or get lucky), click buttons in your PJs and get paid is amazing!

I was hungover as shit one day and didn't feel like leaving my room. Was definitely not in the mood for school and video games all day just seemed like a waste so I started playing Zoom on Pokerstars. I was having a lot of fun and decided to challenge myself to play 5k hands. The hours went by and I surpassed that but still wanted to keep playing. Eventually I elevated the goal to 10k hands and STILL didn't want to stop! I remember my housemates being shocked and probably thinking I was some kind of lunatic for playing poker the entire day and night, only stopping for food breaks. It was pretty funny.

Ended up playing almost 17 hours total and this was the end result. Didn't exactly make a fortune and my EV wasn't even positive, but I had so much fun even with that 10 buy in downswing near the end!

Some of my other hobbies include music,  the gym, and rock climbing. I also like to cook. It makes me feel like I've accomplished something on those days I don't feel like caring about school. For my little experiment here, I thought adding peanut butter, coconut oil and whiskey to Krispy Kreme donuts would be a good idea. It was not. The peanut butter was definitely too much.

I can't not talk about video games! Growing up I played a lot of Super Nintendo, N64 and Gameboy games then moved on to being a huge Warcraft III and Maple Story nerd. More I recently played a decent amount of Call of Duty, Battlefield, Fallout 3, War Thunder, CS, H1Z1 and I'm sure I'm missing a bunch. Last month I got re-addicted to video games. Been playing Fallout Shelter which is one of those really stupid mobile games that isn't even that fun when you break it down, but you just feel obliged to check on your vault multiple times a day.

I'm a filthy Silver in CSGO who uses tilting weapons like autos and my "call of duty" gun over here. Used to be Master Guardian II somehow, until they adjusted the ranks and put potatoes like me in their place. Deranked all the way to Silver IV but managed to fight my way back to Silver Elite Master. Just a few more wins stand between me and that elusive gold star.

But my favourite game by far is H1Z1 King of the Kill! It's a battle royale style game where you parachute with 175 people into a huge 8 km by 8 km map and you have to be the last one alive! You find or fight over weapons and equipment and as the game progresses toxic gas creeps into the map from the corners, forcing remaining players into smaller and smaller areas to ensure action. I'm horrible at it but It's absolutely THRILLING! Check out the legendary summit1g in action here.


Imagine yourself running through a building looking for ammo and armor. A game announcement says "Six players remain". You're almost there. You hear a door open and footsteps frighteningly close. Oh shit! Where is he?! Is he on your floor or the floor below you? As you stop running and try to stay quiet you hear his quick footsteps slow to a crawl. He knows. You pull out your shotty and carefully check corners, never knowing if he could be patiently waiting for you to expose yourself. Gunfire erupts in the streets outside and a truck drives by. Five players remain. Your heart races as you start to panic. You've outlasted 170/175 players. YOU'RE ALMOST THERE! BUT WHERE IS HE?! You go down the stairs and there him is down the hall! He's walking cautiously looking for you and isn't even aware. You switch to your AK and start going for that two tap to the head. You start shooting just as he notices and he manages to get behind a corner, but not before getting his armor shot off and taking two more hits. A subtle smirk emerges on your face as you reload and decide to push him. You hear him pull out his shotty as you approach the corner but he's half health so you tell yourself you got this. BOOM! One pump and you're dead! To make matters worse, it's a ten year old squeaker talking shit in proximity chat as you watch him loot your body on the death screen. While you're about to smash your keyboard from being overly salty about getting rekt by a shit talking ten year old, you hear that truck pull up and the loud crack of a sniper rifle. A window shatters and the shit talking ten year old goes down! Keyboard saved!

Anyways back to reality! After Vegas I'm going to Mexico and Colombia and have been learning to dance salsa and bachata as well as attempting to speak Spanish. My Spanish is definitely no bueno and needs work. I want to be able to have conversations with locals without slipping in English every other word. I'm glad I have time to improve and if it's still bad I'm sure I'll be fine. I'm sad to say goodbye to my man cave and beautiful house that's a two minute walk from campus but I'm super excited about the coming months and can't wait to have what could be the time of my life!