Possibly too level-headed

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Writing well is hard

In between regular sessions playing videogames and figuring out what I'm going to do Vegas-wise (current status: definitely playing the razzament, up in the air on everything else), I've now managed to complete about 90% of the book. It's 23 pages (the final first draft will now be > 30), 13K words (final ~16-17K), and - not to brag - I believe it's already the best razz book ever written even in its unfinished proto-state.

Writing it has taught me a lot about the writing process. First off, it turns out that writing carpal tunnel-inducing amounts of text is only possible for me if I take three hour blocks to do it. Any less and I ADD myself into ignoring the whole thing; any more and I manage to actually induce said carpal tunnel. It's also taught me the value of editing; although I'm an impeccable speller and always considered my grammar to be good, it's hard to spot myself repeating the same phrase or turn of words four times in four pages when I have to go back to the text after a couple of days' absence. But most importantly, I like doing this work. Whether I'm ever publishing this or not, it's not the last you'll see of me as a book writer.

Frankly, as I wrote a while ago, *this* book will most likely never see print, because it'd take way too much money or exposure to make me do it. However, last month, I promised P5's I'd do an article for them and was having trouble thinking of a good topic that didn't involve razz. In the end, I decided to adapt a problem from my book into a wider piece, to serve as a preview in the event I do release it somehow. That article is now at http://www.pocketfives.com/poker-articles/poker-storytelling-razz-4337207 and is getting good reviews :)

I'll make a final decision on the book after the WSOP is over and I finish it (about another week to ten days.)

I'm no Tony Dunst

While I don't usually want to admit defeat on anything before even starting to take it seriously, I have to give mad props to Tony Dunst and hereby concede that he's always going to be a better blogger than I am. It's not because he's chronicling his freaky sex adventures on the Internet or anything, but the guy puts in decent volume poker-wise, then has freaky sex, *then* takes what has to be at least two and probably three hours a day to chronicle it on the Internet. Not that the Internet is short on people documenting their sex lives, even in a poker context - it's hard to imagine Jennicide being able to appear in a live tournament for over six hours without someone making an all in joke - but Tony Dunst makes it entertaining. Also, this entry is my tiny contribution to Tony Dunst never being able to get a respectable job outside of poker again/filling up the front page of Googling Tony Dunst's name with Tony Dunst having freaky sex. 'Sup Tony?

So, yeah, I'm pretty much a 1000% less entertaining blogger than he is. At the same time, I do occasionally want to, like, *write things*, and the last time I posted a huge blog entry, I alluded to writing an ebook on razz. Several weeks of partly half-assed, but occasionally serious effort later, I have about 50-60% of it done...that is, I've written 13 pages/7300 words of very dense 100% poker theory material in 11 point font. Because it's going to be continually revised with more equity sims and examples, the finished product is going to be something like 30-35 pages, more if I make it 12 point TNR like everybody else. And I'm not even sure I'll ever let a single other person read the damn thing.

Let this be a lesson: writing is hard. Winning poker tournaments is easy. Conclusion: win more tournaments.

Oh hello again/razz is fun

So, to make a long story short, the finance startup thing went nowhere. It was an interesting experience and I wish those guys well, but to be a little bit frank, I quickly realized it wasn't going to take off in the timeframe I was looking for and was going to be too involved for not enough return at the end of it.

Back to poker, right? Well...kinda. I'm still looking to go do something else, and I'm still in mission accomplished mode, but I did want to play at least a little more than I was before.

So I took up razz again, got myself a one time 50/50 stake for the 2K razz SCOOP, and finished second because Danny Alaei is a self-admitted cardrack. (Not a bad beat post; the guy adjusted well to HU. But he did actually admit it himself :)) Emboldened by success, I then took a month to play exactly one more tournament of any significant buyin, the 322 FTOPS razzament the other day...where I took third because Dutch Boyd is a cardrack. I'm actually happier with this one than the other one, because while I definitely made a few mistakes in the SCOOP, I can only think of two in this one (and I backdoored a chop on one of them. Booyah.)

At this point, I consider myself one of the top 10 razz MTT players in the world. (This'd be more than a brag if there were more than 25 of us, but eh, close enough.) If razz had 1/20 the volume NL does, I'd never have to play anything else. Too bad that'll never happen :)

For the next month, then, I'm doing three things:

-Getting ready for the Series. I'm not going to spend a lot of time there because oh god live poker, but I'll come out for the razzament and then play everything I can between razz and the ME.

-Writing a razz ebook. I may or may not release it; I haven't decided. (TBH, it's probably not going to happen because I'd have to charge far too much - the games are just too good.) But it's something I need to do to get what I've learned about razz into reviewable form, and it'll be very useful to print out and reread when I'm done. My goal is for it to be the best book on razz ever written (yeah, that's right, the best of all three); Sklansky on Poker is too outdated and has never had the math to support a lot of its conclusions, and the Super System chapter isn't really that great to begin with. I've always wanted to be a writer, and even if this never sees the light of day for anyone but me, it'll be worth knowing I did it.

-Playing enough to get unrusty in NL. I've started doing that with an FTOPS here or there, but I need to get at least a few nights a week in before going to Vegas.

-Final tabling the razzament. Going 3 for 3 on big razz FT's this year would be a good promo for the ebook ;)

This entry is too self-congratulatory right now, so I'm gonna post some fun spots from the FTOPS. Here's a close river decision just before the FT:

FullTiltPoker Game #12228896546: FTOPS Event #19 (84234729), Table 7 - 10000/20000 Ante 1500 - Limit Razz - 3:22:36 ET - 2009/05/15
Seat 2: Adar (159,141)
Seat 3: theseed05 (332,148)
Seat 4: Crisp86 (244,872)
Seat 7: SoftCloud (224,161)
Adar antes 1,500
theseed05 antes 1,500
Crisp86 antes 1,500
SoftCloud antes 1,500
*** 3RD STREET ***
Dealt to Adar [6d 3h] [Qh]
Dealt to theseed05 [9c]
Dealt to Crisp86 [9s]
Dealt to SoftCloud [Jh]
Adar is high with [Qh]
Adar brings in for 3,000
theseed05 completes it to 10,000
Crisp86 has 15 seconds left to act
Crisp86 folds
SoftCloud folds
Adar calls 7,000
*** 4TH STREET ***
Dealt to Adar [6d 3h Qh] [4c]
Dealt to theseed05 [9c] [8c]
theseed05 bets 10,000
Adar calls 10,000
*** 5TH STREET ***
Dealt to Adar [6d 3h Qh 4c] [8d]
Dealt to theseed05 [9c 8c] [Qd]
Adar bets 20,000
theseed05 calls 20,000
*** 6TH STREET ***
Dealt to Adar [6d 3h Qh 4c 8d] [Qc]
Dealt to theseed05 [9c 8c Qd] [Qs]
Adar bets 20,000
theseed05 calls 20,000
*** 7TH STREET ***
Dealt to Adar [6d 3h Qh 4c 8d Qc] [9h]
Adar bets 20,000
theseed05 raises to 40,000
Adar calls 20,000
*** SHOW DOWN ***
theseed05 shows [Jd 3c 9c 8c Qd Qs 2c] J,9,8,3,2
Adar shows [9h 6d Qh 4c 8d Qc 3h] 9,8,6,4,3
Adar wins the pot (206,000) with 9,8,6,4,3
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 206,000 | Rake 0
Seat 2: Adar showed [9h 6d Qh 4c 8d Qc 3h] and won (206,000) with 9,8,6,4,3
Seat 3: theseed05 showed [Jd 3c 9c 8c Qd Qs 2c] and lost with J,9,8,3,2
Seat 4: Crisp86 folded on 3rd St.
Seat 7: SoftCloud folded on 3rd St.

The defense on third is mandatory because villain's 9 upcard is also bad and I have well over the odds to peel. On 4th, raising is bad for MTT stack preservation reasons and because I'm about a 3:2 dog if he does have the nine draw he's representing. Fifth and sixth are self explanatory (my gut says he should fold fifth but it's close and I might be wrong), so the interesting spot is on the river.

a)Should I have bet?
b)Should he ever bluff like this?

I made exactly a 98, which is the best hand he could have, but he called fifth so his first two hole cards are probably very good and this decision looks close (in fact, I had to think for a second and hesitated before betting which is probably why he raised.) However, this is literally the only close spot I could have here, because:

-I'm easily check/calling any brick (yes, even with an unimproved queen) - there's no value in betting Q8 as I actually beat his Q9 and he won't call unimproved;
-I'm also easily check/calling a J or T, because there's not really enough value in betting (he'd have to have exactly J9 or T9 respectively and then just call for it to be good);
-I'm obviously bet/3 betting an 8 since it's the nuts.

Once I hesitate and then bet, I'm either fake timing telling him with the nuts or I had to think about what to do, in which case he could raise if he still only had Q9. But he improved to J9, so he beats my pure bluffs, and I'm not going to bet J8 or T8. The only hand I could conceivably have that beats him, bets, and then thinks about folding to this raise is exactly a 98, and, well, I'm not folding one of those. Ergo, this bluff is bad.

Yeah, that's right; razz can be a complicated game. Here's another fun river decision to back that up, this one at the final table:

FullTiltPoker Game #12229373805: FTOPS Event #19 (84234729), Table 7 - 15000/30000 Ante 2500 - Limit Razz - 4:22:00 ET - 2009/05/15
Seat 1: Dutchalicious (384,974)
Seat 2: Adar (491,809)
Seat 5: HateMeLongTime (451,115)
Seat 6: oiltrader (545,734)
Seat 8: TYGOP (54,368)
Dutchalicious antes 2,500
Adar antes 2,500
HateMeLongTime antes 2,500
oiltrader antes 2,500
TYGOP antes 2,500
*** 3RD STREET ***
Dealt to Dutchalicious [9h]
Dealt to Adar [5h 6c] [Ac]
Dealt to HateMeLongTime [Ad]
Dealt to oiltrader [8d]
Dealt to TYGOP [7c]
Dutchalicious is high with [9h]
Dutchalicious brings in for 5,000
Adar completes it to 15,000
HateMeLongTime raises to 30,000
oiltrader folds
TYGOP raises to 45,000
Dutchalicious folds
Adar calls 30,000
HateMeLongTime raises to 60,000
TYGOP calls 6,868, and is all in
Adar calls 15,000
*** 4TH STREET ***
Dealt to Adar [5h 6c Ac] [9c]
Dealt to HateMeLongTime [Ad] [Tc]
Dealt to TYGOP [7c] [Jh]
Adar bets 15,000
HateMeLongTime calls 15,000
*** 5TH STREET ***
Dealt to Adar [5h 6c Ac 9c] [3d]
Dealt to HateMeLongTime [Ad Tc] [4s]
Dealt to TYGOP [7c Jh] [Ks]
Adar bets 30,000
HateMeLongTime calls 30,000
*** 6TH STREET ***
Dealt to Adar [5h 6c Ac 9c 3d] [Kd]
Dealt to HateMeLongTime [Ad Tc 4s] [3h]
Dealt to TYGOP [7c Jh Ks] [7h]
HateMeLongTime checks

Because I'm never folding a 9 and probably not even a 9 draw in this giant pot, this check could mean he paired the three, or it could mean he's trying to spaz slowplay. Unfortunately, I have a three too, so the former is less likely. I'd hate to get CR'd here (again, for stack preservation), so I check it back.

Adar checks
*** 7TH STREET ***
Dealt to Adar [5h 6c Ac 9c 3d Kd] [2d]
HateMeLongTime bets 30,000

He snap bet in such a non-ordinary for him (thus far at the FT) way that I actually thought about just calling the river with the third nuts before I decided that was just too nitty.

Adar raises to 60,000
HateMeLongTime raises to 90,000
Adar has 15 seconds left to act

"Oh, okay, you spaz slowplayed your wheel. Well, time to fold the third nuts four handed at the final table of one of like four big razz events each year. God I run bad. At least the all in means I get to see the wheel, because if I didn't I'd have to ragetilt."

Adar folds
Uncalled bet of 30,000 returned to HateMeLongTime
HateMeLongTime wins the side pot (226,264)
*** SHOW DOWN ***
HateMeLongTime shows [5d 5c Ad Tc 4s 3h 2s] 5,4,3,2,A

"Yay!"

TYGOP mucks
HateMeLongTime wins the main pot (173,104) with 5,4,3,2,A
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 399,368 Main pot 173,104. Side pot 226,264. | Rake 0
Seat 1: Dutchalicious folded on 3rd St.
Seat 2: Adar folded on 7th St.
Seat 5: HateMeLongTime showed [5d 5c Ad Tc 4s 3h 2s] and won (399,368) with 5,4,3,2,A
Seat 6: oiltrader folded on 3rd St.
Seat 8: TYGOP mucked [Qh 4c 7c Jh Ks 7h 3c] - Q,J,7,4,3

Yeah that kinda sucked, but almost everybody pays him off here and I didn't so I guess I'm good at razz pokers? TBH I'm still conflicted on raising here (!) as every alarm bell ever went off with that quick river bet, but oh well can't really blame myself for falling for it with a rivered -2 outer.

One more for the road:

FullTiltPoker Game #12229437626: FTOPS Event #19 (84234729), Table 7 - 20000/40000 Ante 3000 - Limit Razz - 4:30:25 ET - 2009/05/15
Seat 1: Dutchalicious (370,974)
Seat 2: Adar (394,809)
Seat 5: HateMeLongTime (477,483)
Seat 6: oiltrader (684,734)
Dutchalicious antes 3,000
Adar antes 3,000
HateMeLongTime antes 3,000
oiltrader antes 3,000
*** 3RD STREET ***
Dealt to Dutchalicious [Qc]
Dealt to Adar [Ah 7c] [7d]
Dealt to HateMeLongTime [2d]
Dealt to oiltrader [Qh]
oiltrader is high with [Qh]
oiltrader brings in for 6,000
Dutchalicious folds
Adar completes it to 20,000
HateMeLongTime raises to 40,000
oiltrader folds
Adar calls 20,000
*** 4TH STREET ***
Dealt to Adar [Ah 7c 7d] [8h]
Dealt to HateMeLongTime [2d] [Qs]
Adar bets 20,000
HateMeLongTime calls 20,000
*** 5TH STREET ***
Dealt to Adar [Ah 7c 7d 8h] [5c]
Dealt to HateMeLongTime [2d Qs] [6d]
Adar bets 40,000
HateMeLongTime calls 40,000
*** 6TH STREET ***
Dealt to Adar [Ah 7c 7d 8h 5c] [As]
Dealt to HateMeLongTime [2d Qs 6d] [4s]
Adar checks
HateMeLongTime checks
*** 7TH STREET ***
Dealt to Adar [Ah 7c 7d 8h 5c As] [Ks]
Adar bets 40,000
HateMeLongTime folds
Uncalled bet of 40,000 returned to Adar
Adar mucks
Adar wins the pot (218,000)
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 218,000 | Rake 0
Seat 1: Dutchalicious folded on 3rd St.
Seat 2: Adar collected (218,000), mucked
Seat 5: HateMeLongTime folded on 7th St.
Seat 6: oiltrader folded on 3rd St.

Third is standard both times (you can fold to the 3 bet if the guy is tight but I knew he'd be reraising me light here and in that kind of situation you can use your board to your advantage too often to just fold.) Fourth and fifth are also normal. The first decision is sixth - check or bet? I know our board looks strong, but we have two problems here:

-if we bet, we have to fold to a raise because
-it's obvious he does have a strong draw on fifth, and if he made it on sixth we would be in trouble even with a made 87.

So I chose to do the same thing I'd do with a made 87, which is to check (and probably fold here although I'd call down an actual 87.) It's also paradoxically easier to bluff the river this way, because if I *bet*, he will always at least call sixth; I then have to bet seventh unimproved, which doesn't really make sense given the flow of the hand because he can easily make a very clean hand himself. This way, though, I'm checking my 'showdown value hand', and when he checks it back because he paired sixth or had a nine down or whatever, I can now profitably bet 100% of my range on the river because the 'made 87 thin value bet' is now believable.

Yeah, razz is complicated and really fun. I hope I still think that two months from now when I'm struggling with that ebook ;)

So long? (and thanks for all the fish)

This entry marks the first time I've gone more than a week in between updates since I've started blogging on Tworags two years ago. Throughout this time, I've been diligent in updating, even when I haven't had much to say, because I thought it was worth trying to document my life as a pro for myself and to keep my hand active in doing something intellectually stimulating.

The reason I haven't been doing it lately is that I've been mulling over whether it's time to end it. Over the last year, I've stopped enjoying the game as much as I used to. Part of it was a bad run I went on, but mostly, I think I stopped caring about getting better because, in a way, I've basically accomplished all I wanted to do years ago. I'd already won all of the biggest tourneys online I used to play regularly at least once, so the competitiveness I used to have just hasn't been there, and because the long run is a lot longer when the games are tougher, it'd take years to get back on top unless I wanted to put in more volume than I could reasonably sustain. Crunching the math for tax season recently, it also turned out that I don't actually need to play another hand of poker if I don't want to. So what was the point of doing what I was doing if it didn't make me feel any happier? I wasn't really sure and stepped away to reevaluate my life just before and during Cancun.

At the same time, a guy I'd known several years ago called me with an interesting proposal. As of last week, I have a new job at an Internet-based finance startup. The pay's not great and the hours actually make this thing a real job, but I have equity, the work promises to be interesting and there's plenty of things to learn, plus I'll actually be using this law degree I've got. If it fails, I'll be no worse off than before since I can afford the hiatus, and the EV of it succeeding is...pretty high. Worst comes to worst = I'll be right back here in three months.

I'm not done playing - in fact I'm two tabling LO8 for fun right now/will probably never quit ORSE as that's all way more fun than H ever was - and I'm probably not going to stop making videos or occasionally coaching people/posting on 2+2, as I still feel like I'm a solid teacher; if and when I get too rusty to do it well, I'll know it. I am, however, at least temporarily done doing this as a career.

It's been a lot of fun and I'm happy to have done it, but at least for the time being, it's time to move on.

Good luck, everyone.

Officially on vacation

I spent the last few weeks dealing with some non-poker related life stuff and having a good time. For the next 10 days, I'll be in Mexico with my wife on a total holiday before getting back to cards.

Good luck while I'm gone, everybody :)
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