Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Chopping the Blinds

If everyone folds around to the blinds in holdem, it's common for the two players in the blinds to "chop," meaning they take their blind bets back and move on to the next hand. In Los Angeles, $1 is taken for the house from the person in the small-blind. In Las Vegas, the house takes nothing. On the other hand, if there is a flop, usually there is a lot more taken (eg $5 more is taken in 20-40 limit holdem at the Bike if there are at least 7 players). There is an unwritten rule (it is rather strongly enforced socially at the poker tables) that you should either always or never agree to chop when given the opportunity. This means that you shouldn't be looking at your cards, seeing AA, and deciding not to chop if you have established yourself as someone who does not chop. I'd say that at least 90% of players agree to chop, but if either player refuses, then the two players play the hand out heads-up. 

I recently stopped agreeing to chop. Although I don't like having to pay the extra $5 to the house for what is often a small pot, I think it's worth it because I have a big edge against most players, and lots of players play even more poorly heads-up. One issue for me is that there is social pressure to chop. Some people take offense if I refuse to chop, and in fact, this was the main reason I ever agreed to chopp in the first place. It didn't seem worth making enemies. Since I had been chopping with people for the past several months, I was in particular danger of angering people by not chopping with them all of a sudden. On the advice of another prop player (Johnny), I made myself a little sign on a sticky-note saying "no chop." After a day or so it was defaced with "Please Raise Me!" Now I use a slightly larger sign that a player made for me. It's pink and says "please Raise me! NO CHOP" It's ridiculous enough that it seems to defuse any animosity towards me.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Re: The Pinky Nail

In a previous post I brought up the odd trend of men keeping a long pinky nail. Reader comments informed me that the purpose was to snort coke. Since then, I've actually seen a lot of women with the extra long pinky nail, as well.

This past week, for the first time, the topic was brought up at a poker table. A middle-aged middle-eastern man at my 20-40 limit table sported the long pinky nail, and a 40-something Asian woman asked him, "what's with the long finger-nail? Is that supposed to be a sex symbol or something?"

Rather bashfully, the man answered, "no, it's just a habit of mine. No reason."

I still find it remarkable that so many people have made cocaine such an integral part of their lives that they are willing to make a public statement about it by keeping their pinky nails long. My view of the average cocaine user has certainly been altered; while the pinky nail is still most common in middle-aged asian and middle-eastern men, these men have a fully diverse range of occupations and personalities.

Monday, October 13, 2008

YTD Results: High-Low Stud 8

When I get home from work each day, one of the first things I do is go to the computer and record my results in as much detail as possible. This can include specific start and end times for each game I played, as well as notes and of course win or loss amounts. I try to keep track in my head each time I move from one game to another, but sometimes I move so many times that I can't remember, and instead of particular games, my record for that day will just be under "various" (I've done this 8 times for a total of 58 hours). I do have accurate records of my total win or loss each day, which is important for tax reasons; this is easier to keep track of because I can just subtract how much I started with from how much I have at the end of the day.

Fifty-eight hours of play in "various" games notwithstanding (and also a few hours in mixed games), here are my results this year in Stud High-Low Eight or Better:

month profit hours rate
Jan:  472 15 31.47
Feb:  -48 35 -1.37
Mar: 2145 25 85.80
Apr:  172 23 7.40
May: 3793 34 112.39
June: 2041 24 85.94
July: -1392 23 -61.87
Aug: -562 9 -66.12
Sept: -566 13 -44.39
Oct: 1966 19 102.13

2008: 8021 219 36.67

If these results look erratic, I think it's only because that's the nature of poker and the fact that I didn't play very many hours of stud8 in some of these months. I think this chart may give you a better idea of how difficult it is for a lot of poker players to stay emotionally detached from their winnings and losses. Three straight losing months can instill a lot of doubt. Overall, I've made over $35 an hour, but I've had four losing months out of nine and a half. My hourly standard deviation is $300, about 8 times my win rate.

I think this is the first time I've listed any summary statistics here in my blog. I haven't felt comfortable giving detailed information about my income, but I think this cross-section is a good compromise between my own privacy and giving my readers an idea of what results can look like. Personally, I'm very happy with my result in this game this year- I had almost never played stud High-Low before.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

$40 NL at the Bike

Sorry for another long delay - I went on vacation for about ten days, during which I served as Best Man at my brother's wedding on Long Island. Congratulations, Max and Marie!

On Friday after work, my friend Alex and his friend Brian came to the Bike. They sat down in a $40 NL game, with $1 and $2 blinds. I moved from my $20-40 limit game to their game once I was off the clock. I had heard this game described as "the biggest little game in town" because there was supposedly so much action that it's possible to really make a lot of money despite the low stakes, but I had never ventured to sit in the game before. Although I had a lot of fun playing, I didn't really see the potential for big winnings. There was one guy who consistently pushed all-in with nothing, but he only lasted about an hour before finally giving up. A few of the other players were pretty bad, too, but they were losing their chips rather slowly. I think the rake was $4 - it may have even been $5 after the jackpot fee, I don't remember exactly. In any case, when pots generally range from $6 to $50 or $100, it's pretty significant to have $4 taken out of each pot. Unless there are usually two or three maniacs per table rather than just the one that was in our game in Friday, I think it would be very tough to average more than $5-$10 per hour at this game, and that's assuming it's possible to keep focused. Me, I was chatting with my friends and watching baseball on TV.