Saturday, 27 February 2016

[Poker] Goals for March 2016


I plan on doing two posts at the start of each month, one to discuss how I did in the previous month, and one to discuss my goals for the next. Considering I haven't properly kept track of how I did this month enough to discuss it, and I didn't have any set goals defined, I thought it was best to start with March and work from there. 

I currently have a $60 roll, which I worked over the past month from about $20. I doubt I'll have very much time to play over the next few days, so March will start with the $60 figure.

Goal Number One

I want to take the $60 roll to a minimum of $80 come the end of March, through direct poker winnings. I am not counting rakeback in this, as I will probably reach 1000 starcoins a few days into March - so the goal is +$20 in PokerTracker for the month. It isn't a lot, but it's a start, and it is going to be made much more difficult in completion of the other goals, which by far take priority. If I had to fail at one goal this month, I'd choose this one.

Goal Number Two

I am a firm believer in building a base to work from before going upwards. I do not see the point in rising up stakes as fast as I can without building myself a key set of skills to use as I climb. One of these skills I want to build is multi-tabling. Currently, I have only played PLO2 Zoom. I would ideally like to play normal tables but I have a laptop with a small screen and low res and it gets awkward once I go past 4. I want to practice playing a high volume, I want to be able to make important decisions quickly. I want to be able to maximise my rakeback and do everything I can to combat the variance by pumping up the volume of hands. I will use my time at the micro stakes to develop these skills. Goal number two is to play a profitable month in March, consistently playing two tables of PLO2 Zoom, playing at least 30 hours.

Goal Number Three

I am going to add a lot more independent study to poker. With my recent purchase of PokerJuice, the lovely people over there gave me a free copy of PLOQuickPro, despite the promotion having already ended. I'm going to take advantage of this fantastic customer service by making sure I read PLOQuickPro cover to cover over the month of March. I've already started and I've already learned a fair bit. I have also ordered both versions of The Mental Game of Poker by Jared Tendler. I feel that tilt is not a major problem for me, I am generally quite level headed, but it definitely happens sometimes and my profits suffer when it does. I want to deal with this as soon as possible because in a game as swingy as PLO if I cannot have complete control of my emotions, I have no chance at all.

Goal Number Four

I want to start to utilise software more. I've had PT for a month or so now and absolutely love it but I feel like I'm only scratching the surface of what it can do for my game. This has been added to with me buying PokerJuice, I know its fantastic software but quite frankly I have no real idea how to use it to its full potential. I will spend time devoted to learning the ins and outs of these softwares and schedule more regular sessions of review using them (I usually just review whenever I feel like, I think more structure is needed than that). I am thinking I should do a review of the previous session I played directly before I play the next, so it sort of works as a warm up as well as a review.

Goal Number Five

Start eating healthier. Actually go the gym I am paying for which is literally a 5 second walk from my flat. The usual shit. 

Goal Number Six

Don't go broke. 


Yes, I know the numbers are small. I will never make a living playing PLO2 and aiming for $20 a month is so tiny it almost seems pointless, but I really want to stress groundwork here. The main goals for this month are improving my volume capability, improving my theoretical side of poker, improving my use of software and improving my mental game. I do not want to rush my way up the stakes and burn out. At this point, profits are not the major priority. 
In terms of BRM, for now I'm just going to stick with PLO2, until I'm playing 4 tables of Zoom and feel comfortable with it. From then on, I'll adopt the 50+10 scheme described in PLO from Scratch. For those who haven't read it, it says to move up stakes, I need 50BI for the stake I'm currently playing and 10BI for the one above, so to move from PLO2 to PLO5 I will need 50($2)+10($5)=$150. I then get to play PLO5 until I go back to 50BI for PLO2 then I switch back, or until I reach the requirement for PLO10, which is 50($5)+10($10)=$350. Until I become more comfortable with judging it myself, I'll stick to this.
I won't just be focused on using BRM to control my up and down in stakes. Every time I make a major adjustment into my game (adding another table, moving up stakes, going from Zoom to regular cash if  I end up buying a proper PC) I want to make sure I am profitable for at least a month with it so I can adapt. I feel it would be easy to go on a major upswing in PLO5 and end up playing PLO10 in a PLO2 mindset. I'll take my time.
So, that's about it. In terms of what else I'll write this month it'll most likely be my takes on the full capabilities of the softwares, the books I plan on reading, anything interesting I discover about PLO in the process, and then at the end of the month I'll outline if I succeeded at these goals, if I didn't why not, and outline my goals for April 2016. I'll try and include some more interesting stuff too, I can't imagine it being super exciting me talking about my poker statistics playing micro stakes. 
There's also one more really important thing. I imagine a lot of the people reading this will be into PLO, so you'll probably be better than me. Please, scrutinise everything I'm doing. If you find a flaw, let me know in a comment, or tweet me @SeacombePLO. The primary reason I am writing this is so I can improve.  

Hopefully see you next time! Seacombe

Friday, 26 February 2016

[Intro] The Beginning

The Reason

Why couldn't I sleep? I lay in my university halls bed, next to my girlfriend, thinking about how on paper, my life is perfect. I'm at a top class university studying mathematics, I found a good woman, I have a loving family and was financially comfortable. All I had to do on a day to day basis was study for my degree and follow in the footsteps of academic success in my family. Why was I so bloody miserable? Surely, I'm beyond fortunate to be in the position I'm in. Am I the most ungrateful little shit the world has ever seen?

Depression is something I've battled with for as long as I can remember. It's always felt like a part of me, a sadist companion who shows up to get the final punch in to knock me down when I'm struggling to stay up. It has always had its peaks and troughs, and to be truthful I've experienced it so much over the past 5 years or so at times I forget it’s not normality. However I've learned to deal with it, but more importantly I think, I've learned to understand why it is happening and how to combat it. For me at least, it isn't random, something triggers it. All I had to do now was work out what exactly in this perfect life was so negative it was triggering mental illness.

It wasn't that night I figured it out, it was the next morning, about a week ago from when I'm writing this. I'd gotten maybe 3 hours of sleep as I dragged myself out of bed to a Multivariable Calculus lecture, walking through the campus full of wondrous buildings that made me feel nothing and the hundreds of faces who all had the same dull expression of unmotivated, unrested academic pain. I sat in the dim, packed hall, and listened to the droaning sound of someone explaining something to me I couldn't give less of a shit about. It hit me at that moment - is this what I want to do with the rest of my life? I looked around at the sea of students, some diligently taking notes, some (most) browsing Twitter or Facebook on their phones, a healthy portion taking a nap. The answer to my question was a resounding no. It hit me hard - I am wasting my life learning about things I don't care about in order to get a job I inevitably won't care about. I was sentencing myself to a life of boredom and self-loathing. Bingo. Reason found.

But then again, maybe I'm just depressed. Maybe I do love maths and I just don't know how to appreciate it anymore. Maybe I'm a spoiled little shit who just needs to learn to be grateful. I had absolutely no idea. Was there any solution to this? Do I commit another two years of my life to this? Would I be able to motivate myself enough to not fail? Would dropping out be the one thing I talk about when I'm asked about my life's biggest regrets? I decided to follow a piece of advice I've always lived by - "If you don't know what to do in a situation, don't do anything until you absolutely know what the best course of action is". Outside of his comical ramblings and bizarre tales, occasionally my father did come out with something of use. 

About a month ago, over the Christmas break, I had discovered Pot Limit Omaha (or PLO). I'd always played poker, starting from sitting in the common room in school, using calculators to keep track of pots, to playing online with fake money, slowly transitioning to playing online with real money. I enjoyed it as a hobby, playing the classic No Limit Texas Hold'Em (the poker you are probably familiar with if you don't properly know poker), but there is so much information available, the game is so easy to learn and there are just so many options to play it that even at the micro stakes, the majority of players are very good and the games were too difficult for me to consistently turn a profit without devoting more time than I could to it. Then one night, over Christmas, I was very bored and unstimulated by the nitty full ring NLHE games on Pokerstars, that I decided to devote $2 of my precious bankroll to sit at a PLO table. I turned it into $16 in the space of about 2 hours. I absolutely loved it. It was so much more complicated, so much more fun. I thought I was the best player in the world. I thought I'd found something which was going to start to take all of my free time. One of these thoughts turned out to be true.
I blew off my studies for it and devoted hours and hours to trying to learn the game, and one thing hit me very quickly - PLO is a very different beast from NLHE. My initial profits were nothing more than just luck. I realised I had to take this a lot more seriously if I wanted to beat the variance infested, unsolved, unreliable grumpy teenager of poker that is PLO. I downloaded the free trial of PokerTracker and played and played and played. And lost and lost and lost. My losses for January 2016 were -$46.12 over 3731 hands, which may not seem like a lot, but I was playing PLO2, at a loss rate of 51.63BB/100. I redefined shite - and I have never been more determined before. I was going to master this. I changed my approach, I added in a lot more studying and hand review sessions to my poker time, I read PLO From Scratch. I watched a huge amount of PLO videos, I sat there for hours looking over the equities of my decisions and reviewing my reasoning. I forced my girlfriend to sit and listen as I talked through hands with her, which she probably didn’t give a shit about but sat through it anyway. During February 2016 I have turned my first profitable PLO month. And I still know almost nothing.

I was talking to a close friend about the way I was feeling that following evening, after the epiphany-fuelled lecture. He asked me a couple of questions which shaped the decision I made which ultimately led to me writing this. The first being "Is there anything you still love to do?" Poker. Teaching. "Is there any way you can combine both - poker and teaching?" Yes. I could be a poker coach. I felt my sadist companion edge out of the room. "Can you do this viably forever if you drop out of university right now?" No. He swaggered right back in. 

I had a meeting arranged with my personal tutor because I'd failed a few exams. So far in the 3 months of uni I'd sat 13 exams - something I personally thought was excessive - and had failed 2. While there, I gave him a rundown of how I was feeling, and he suggested I take a gap year, get a normal job for a year, sort my head out a bit, work out exactly what I want to do with my life. I've never felt so fantastic hearing him say that - A GAP YEAR! I didn't know you could do that halfway through a degree. So many more questions were raised at the prospect of this but ultimately, I knew what I wanted to do. By my father's advice, I could now do something about it.

A plan began to formulate. Ideas, excitement, hope. Get a job, gain some perspective, play poker. My sadist companion ran so far and so fast it was immediately like he’d never been there. I breathed a sigh of relief as I felt normal once again.

So, I'm a 19 year old privileged mathematics student who has decided he doesn't like his course and is dropping out of university to play poker full time after winning a bit at the micro stakes. Wise move, kid. But no, that's not what I'm doing. I am not taking a year out to play poker - I am taking a year out to work out what the fuck I want to do with my life, which at the moment seems like it’s probably poker. I'll work a job with enough hours to get me by, and devote my free time a lot more diligently to PLO. If it works out, great. I’m living my dream. If not, my place will be reserved to go back and do my second year at uni. The exact current situation I find myself in, is my backup plan. I have absolutely nothing to lose.

My Goals

Okay, so, I have my plan. Now what do I want to achieve here? I have short term goals and long term goals. 

Long Term - Become a professional PLO coach. Before this, I will obviously have to become a successful PLO player.
Short Term - Use the gap year and the remainder of this year to put myself in a position with PLO where not returning to uni is a viable option for my future. Provide enough income to allow my girlfriend to get her degree without the added stress of having to work herself part time. Work out where my life is going.

This is the short version. There are millions of other short term goals I've set myself, and these will be discussed in future entries. I’d also like to add that just because giving myself the option to not return to uni is a goal, it doesn’t mean that I’ll be taking it. I think there is a very real chance I’ll miss the degree and want to go back even if I am successful.

Why do you give a shit?

The majority of the future of this blog will be about poker. I will discuss my goals, winnings, losses, methods, conclusions, what I'm doing to study, if it's working or not, where it's going. My main reasons for writing this blog are that I can read it back myself and see how far I've come, and that hopefully people can learn from both my successes and mistakes on the way. Every now and then I’ll do entries like this, because I firmly believe that there is a message to what I’m writing – there are always alternatives and they aren’t always ultimatums. Hopefully I’ll succeed, if I don’t, whatever. I took a year out to explore what having a normal job is like, gained a bit of perspective and got the added experience of a more independent life than I’ve experienced thus far. I’m massively optimistic about this. Hopefully it ends up vaguely interesting.

What’s next?

So, here I am. For the next few months I’ll be making sure I do well enough in my exams that they let me back in, but poker will leave “hobby time” and go to “work time”. Armed with PokerTracker, PokerJuice, PLOQuickPro, a $60 bankroll, a crappy laptop and an absolute shit tonne of determination, I’ll do my damn hardest to make poker work – and I’ll document my experience. I’ll also write other stuff. I’ll pretty much do whatever I feel like doing.

Hopefully see you next time! The next one will be a bit more focused on the poker.  Seacombe