Monday, November 12, 2012

Part-Time Poker Comeback

After a long hiatus from poker and a brief foray into academia, I've decided to return to playing poker part-time. (Most of the rest of my time will be spent watching my two year old and three month old sons, and I'm also doing some politics/skeptic blogging, not to mention my return to this blog.) For the next two months, I'll be playing one to two tournaments a week in Charles Town West Virginia and putting another three to five hours a week into poker research and blogging. That's not a whole lot of time, but my no-limit holdem game was very strong as of 2011, so I'm hoping it won't be too hard for me to translate that into tournament poker once I get the rust off.

One tentative goal I have is to be ready to play in the WSOP in 2013. I will probably only do this if I think I have positive winning expectation. I'm not sure how to determine that.

Live poker was legalized in Maryland casinos on Tuesday via a referendum. So, poker will be spread here quite soon, pending the result of a comically silly lawsuit in which the law's opponents are claiming that it required a majority of "qualified voters"as opposed to a majority of those who actually voted. (I guess if this gets overturned, then so will the gay marriage, gerrymander, and DREAM acts that also passed by referendum on Tuesday here in Maryland. Not to mention the electoral votes given to Obama!) The new law didn't figure much into my decision, though. Indeed, none of the Maryland casinos seem to be much closer to me than Charles Town WV anyway, and, besides, I made the decision to return to poker before the law was even passed.

The two tournaments I will be trying to play each week are at noon on Fridays and Saturdays. The Friday tournament is $100 plus a $25 bounty. I have begun doing some analysis of Bounty tournament strategy, and I hope to have a post up about that next week. The Saturday tournament is a $250 tournament. So far I have played four times and won $225 in bounties (in a single tournament). No cashes.

On my poker reading list:
Poker Strategy by Nesmith C. Ankeny. This is a book written by a mathematician in the early 1980's focusing on draw poker. I had not heard of this book before I found it in my local library system last month, and I'm very interested to see what the state of the art in poker game theory was thirty years ago. I've started it, and so far the author is on target with his poker philosophy, but he hasn't gotten into any real analysis. He has an unusual writing style that can interferes with getting to the point, but it can be amusing. For example (p 5):
A poker player considering luck in planning his moves at the poker table is like the Pope contemplating marriage. The thought is heresy and can only lead to trouble.
Poker Face: Mastering Body Language to Bluff, Read Tells, and Win. Also from the library, I thought this might be a more analytical version of Mike Caro's classic Book of Poker Tells, but after flipping through it, this one looks very fluffy and has no pictures. I'll take another brief look to see if there's anything worthwhile.

Kill Everyone. This book's peculiar name stems from its predecessor, Kill Phil, referring to Phil Hellmuth. One of the three authors is a professor at UMD College Park, and it looks reasonably analytical, so I think it will be worthwhile.

The Full Tilt Poker Strategy Guide: Tournament Edition. This is a book I bought a while back because I was interested in a few sections in particular. I really liked the analysis so far, and since it focuses on tournaments, I think it will be very worthwhile for me to read. (Full Tilt's legal issues notwithstanding.)

4 comments:

Derek Pasquarella said...

If you want to figure out your expectation in the WSOP main, I would start by trying to play as many deeper stack tournaments as possible. The problem is the structure in those still goes pretty fast.

The WSOP main's structure is so deep and so long, it almost makes it play like the first few hours of a bigger buy-in tournament in a series, except for the course of the tournament. Good luck with the new part-time poker thing, hope you get to play the WSOP next year!

Keith said...

Thanks, Derek! Certainly, getting a baseline impression of my EV in tournaments (especially deep-stack tournaments) will help, but the competition level is still difficult for me to judge. Supposedly there are lots of bad players, but, obviously, plenty of great ones, as well.

My other issue will be stamina, since I will not have time to train for 12-hour poker sessions.

Derek Pasquarella said...

By the way have you ever picked up "Mathematics of Poker"? Its not a super easy read from what I have heard, but it is supposed to be great for developing a game theory approach to poker.

Keith said...

Have I ever picked up Mathematics of poker?? You're clearly new here! I love Mathematics of Poker and reference it often. I even gave a talk to my college math department based largely on material from that book.

Since you seem to have me pegged, do you have any other book recommendations? I could make use of more practical books, too. (Mathematics of Poker is great but almost entirely theoretical.)