Archive Mar 2008: Bond18

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Sundays are pleasant and in no way suicide inducing

As I’ve said before, I have forever given up waking up early on a Sunday to force myself to play, even if that means missing the quarterly $1050 million on Pokerstars. I wanted to have a calm, well rested Sunday for once, so I smoked a joint around 11pm and was asleep by 12:15 with a 10am wake up time.

I registered for everything from the Sunday Mulligan through the late night Tilt $50 rebuys which goes off a half hour after the $109 6 max and $109 full ring on stars. I probably played close to 25 tournaments on the day, but because I got enough sleep felt good the whole way through. The first result of the day came in the 30k guarantee $200 buy in on Bodog where I finished 3rd for about $3,700, which was more than enough to pay for the whole days worth of entries.

However, the most interesting result of the day came in the Stars $22 rebuys. At the 2000-4000 level with 400 ante I lost a blind verse blind pot and was down to 900 chips. I thought it was one ante at the time, then realized I had paid one, so in actuality it was two. I of course went all in the next hand, which I won to put me up to a little over one big blind. I then waited for any hand with showdown value and got it in again, which I won again. Things continued like this until I found myself with a sizeable stack a few rounds later. I came into the final table as one of the short stacks, but ran good at the right moments and got heads up against a pretty bad player at a 3 to 1 deficit. It didn’t take long to reverse that standing, and after continuing to apply pressure and move in pre flop, I sucked out his AK on the river to take down the tournament, coming all the way back from 2 antes. That was pretty much one of the craziest things I’ve ever had happen to me in my poker career, and I’ve uploaded the hand history which can be watched here:
http://www.pokerxfactor.com/HA123585/One%20ante%20comeback/8550

You have to make a log in to watch the video, but you don’t have to sign up or pay for anything at PXF. The hand I go down to 2 antes is number 260.

In preparation for the upcoming trip I have to go sort a number of bureaucratic details out with my permanent residency and visa status. On Friday I went down to the city and went to the immigration office to ask them about what needs to get done before I can leave the country. The immigration office is full of people who look like their having the worst day of their lives, exhausted and unshaven, like they just got thrown out of the drunk tank after a weekend long bender. The lines are enormous and with the bell that constantly calls out “NOW SERVING ‘A’..ONE FIFTY FOUR” you wonder what the suicide rate of the employees listening to it 40 hours a week is. Luckily the issue I have with them is given its own specific office away from the insanity, and I was in and out within 15 minutes. My case has been assigned a case worker and apparently after getting him the necessary documents I won’t have to worry about leaving the country and being banned for 3 years.

Meanwhile Pokerstars finally came out to announce that APPT will not start up until August, a detail to which I was aware of already but didn’t want to publicize since a friend who works with Stars told me and I’m not sure how big a secret it was supposed to be. Thank God for his heads up, otherwise I’d be sitting here writing emails to everyone at the APPT full of threats for having blown my chance to go to Europe. All I need now is confirmation from Party Poker that I do indeed have my seat reserved and to transfer them the $12,500 I am moving into the Party account. If for some disastrous reason that falls through I’ll be doing a schedule that includes the New Zealand Champs, the Melbourne Champs, LAPT San Jose, and Las Vegas, though it makes for a pretty pathetic ‘around the world’ trip. Hopefully everything gets sorted with Party though and the intended trip is on in full swing. You never know though, so I haven’t bought any plane tickets yet.

Player Profile

I was doing the paper work necessary for the Party Poker Million cruise today and they have a player profile section you need to fill out for TV and marketing purposes. At first I filled the sheet out straight, but then I let a wise crack slip in. One thing led to another and, well, I'll let you read it for yourself. Here's what I'm sending back Party Poker:

Player Profile

(This information may be used for TV production and Marketing purposes)


Full name: _____George Anthony Dunst______________

Place of birth: __Milwaukee Wisconsin, United States_________________

Age: _23__________________

Current place of residence: ___Melbourne, Australia________________

Profession: _Poker player and degenerate extraordinaire. For legitimacy purposes I am also a writer.________________

Marital status: ___single but my girlfriend has dug her claws in pretty deep.________________

Children: ___none________________

Ages: ___________________

When and how did you get into Poker: __Age 18, playing with friends in high school. I was the school bookie, but eventually that dried up, so I had to find a new way to hustle my friend’s money.

Who is your favorite Poker player and why: __Mike ‘Timex’ McDonald because he gives me money to gamble with and never yells at me when I lose it.

Career Highlight - Live tournaments titles: __I am a 100% failure at live poker. I’m talking Napoleon at Waterloo level failure here.

- Online tournament titles: _I’m not sure how many wins anymore. Biggest was on Full Tilt 100 rebuys for 36k.

Favorite past time, sports or hobbies: __Watching Brett Favre work his magic. Playing Call of Duty 4. Keeping Timex in the middle class.

Personals goals or ambition: _I want to make a lot of money playing poker. I want to save up enough money that I can buy an enormous mansion and place everything valuable in the world in it. Then after I’ve accumulated everything important I’ll one day keel over in old age, dropping a snow globe as I fade into death, mumbling “Rosebud” with my last breath.

Favorite Movie: _The Godfather

Favorite Music: _Elvis__________________

Favorite Place: _They’re all pretty good, except Shanghai. Shanghai sucks.

Describe yourself in 5 words: Baddest motherfucker of all time.

You got yourself a god damn deal

We finalized the deal with Full Tilt. I’m not sure what their wishes are as far as keeping the details private or public, but until I talk to them about it I won’t put it here. If they say that’s fine, then I certainly will.

I’ve also finalized my itinerary for the trip. I got tired of waiting for Stars to announce the APPT schedule and decided to fuck it. I’ll be going from Melbourne to Venice for the Party Poker cruise, then to Paris for the Grand Prix, then Wisconsin, then Costa Rica, and finally Vegas.

I emailed a friend who works for Party Poker wondering about the availability of cabins and luckily there were a few left. The only problem is moving the necessary $12,500 into my Party Poker account. For the majority of online companies calling them and saying “Hello, I’m an American who now moved to and lives in Australia, can I please be allowed to use your services?” is enough to give the poor sap on phone support a stroke that’ll have him bleeding out his ears.

The details of my deal that I can include are that I’m expected to have five submissions a week and am not allowed to print anything outright libelous or slanderous. Cursing and elaborately constructed insults will apparently be allowed, thank God. They’ve told me they’ll keep editing to a minimal though I do have the suspicion that were I to write up a story about one of their big name pros that’s both true yet insulting, it might find its way out of the article. A good example occurred last year where I squeezed with AJ in a spot that Phil Gordon had flat called pre and he ended up folding AQ which would have won. Phil spent the next 45 minutes complaining like a total baby until well known online player ‘Mr. TimCaum’ looked across the table and said “Christ Phil, are you still complaining about that!?” For a guy as young, rich, and successful as he is, he really is such a whiner about losing in random tournaments.

I can also say that I’ve given them exclusive rights to the content, which means nothing will get posted at 2+2, P5’s or here, though I may be able to start threads and simply provide a direct link to that days update. I’m not quite sure how it’ll all work yet though having talked to Dhuber over at P5’s he’s pretty sure with their knew pocketfives blog feature being started that probably won’t be allowed, though he was nice enough to offer that I come onto the podcast down the road to promote it. Huber has a lot more personality than his calm and professional nature on the podcast might suggest.

Meanwhile I’ve continued my hot streak over the past week. I’m good friends with StevoL who is number one in the Australian rankings, and as I slide closer and closer to taking his spot my trash talk gets more and more furious. The other night when I was out at karaoke and rather drunk and high, I sent him the following text message letter for letter: “Im one of the badest mother fuckers of all time. You’re going down son its over bitch. This trash talk is so good I put in an apostrafi. Yes, i wrote that word all urban like. Bitch.” I imagine he cried himself to sleep after receiving it, though he’s way to macho to ever confess it. Either way, he’s going down. It’s all pretty pointless in the end, but I enjoy making a quasi-rivalry out of it. After all, Stevo is younger, taller, and has more money than me, so I need to put him in his place for something.

Things it took me a while to learn part 17, Staking deals

I’ve had this segment requested a number of times and there seems to be a lot of questions and misinformation within the community about staking arrangements. I’m not the most qualified to speak about being a person who is staking (which is fairly irrelevant since very few reading are interested in starting a staking empire) but I do feel quite qualified in talking about being staked. First, a little history in my experience being backed.

Outside a couple of one off deals I had in tournaments I’ve had two large backing experiences. The first was with a friend from Milwaukee named Rob who knew I had come close to busting my roll. I approached him about backing and he was pretty eager at the chance since he knew I worked quite hard at improving and was trustworthy. Our starting deal was a fairly strange one, he gave me a roll of $10,000. If I lost it I was expected to pay back half through whatever methods I ended up making money from (that is, one day getting a job) and if I won he got 1/3rd of the profits. Basically, I was half staked. I was under Rob from around December 2005 until September 2007. In that period I think I made Rob something like $60,000 for himself, though I’ll never be entirely sure. Our basic arrangement was that I played whatever I thought was appropriate, but always okayed what I intended through him ahead of time and kept things within the bankroll. Our deal ended very amicably with him having made a sizeable profit and my having built a considerable roll with minimal risk for myself. Rob had both my online and live action, though if I chose to take an event off and play it for myself that option was always available to me.

My second and better known arrangement as been my deal with Timex . I told Timex around April 2007 that I’d be going to the WSOP and if he wanted to do any backing for the events I was open minded. Timex put a team together and had us sign contracts that said we were obligated through the entirety of the World Series. When the series was over I had lost him $61,000 and he asked if I wanted to keep going in future live events. We kept the deal running and also included the highest stakes online tournaments (mostly 1k buy ins and occasional FTOPS and WCOOP events) which I am too nity to play. At one point with Timex I was in over $125,000 worth of make up, but at the current point the number sits around $90,000. Our deal is 60-40 in his favor and he is accountable for all loses.

Now on to less self absorbed content; the most frequent question I see asked about staking is what a standard deal is. It’s hard to say exactly what the standard deal is, based on the quality of player, the stakes he’s playing for, his volume of play, whether he’s doing both online and live, etc. It seems though that the majority of staking deals are either 60-40 in the backers favor with make up or 50-50 with make up. As far as deals with no make up are concerned (often done for a single event situation) the standard seems to be 80-20 in the backers favor, though considering the variance involved there those numbers can fluctuate to a good degree.

Next most frequently asked seems to be how to get staked. This is a pretty elaborate topic. I think a list of qualities and steps towards getting backed will be appropriate here:
1. Honesty: First and foremost a player who wants to be backed needs to be considered trustworthy. If you don’t have this you are pretty much useless to a backer. Backers don’t want to operate like babysitters and they don’t want to have to deal with players who might be lying, stealing, or omitting details to them. Having an honest reputation within the community goes a long way.

2. Communication: A player needs to let his backer know what he intends to do and how. He needs to let him know what he needs and what he’ll provide. One of the most common problems in backing arrangements is a player playing an event and the backer and player not being entirely sure if the other thinks he has his action. If there is any event you either intend or hope to play, you always must let your backer know in advance to get approval unless he has given you free reign ahead of time.

3. Quality play: Smart backers know that skilled play is considerably more important than results. I can’t stress enough that just because you have some killer results doesn’t mean you deserve backing. There are plenty of random donks who run hot over a small sample and final table or take down a few tournaments and seem to think they are now entitled to a sweet backing deal. A backer wants to see a quality thought process and skilled play much more than he wants to see a few big tournament scores. If you want to establish a reputation for quality play you really ought to be contributing to strategy discussion in poker forums. It’s not only a great way to improve and learn from some of the better minds in the game, but it’s a way to prove that you think deeply about the game as well. When approaching a backer who is less than familiar with your play be willing to submit a number of animated hand histories for him to evaluate. More can be learned from this than giving them a link to your OPR stats and saying “look how much I crush dude! Ship the stakage!” As Timex puts it: “one thing to keep in mind is that even though you may be a profitable player when covering 100% of losses and getting 100% of profits, that isn't equivalent to being profitable covering 100% OF losses and getting only 60% of profits (which is the situation that the backer is accepting). So if you are a reasonable winner at your games, and think you would like a backing deal to play slightly bigger games, put yourself in the backers shoes and realize that if you aren't killing the smaller games, its difficult for you to be profitable enough at the bigger games to make it a profitable investment for the backer. And also, don't PM me, I'm more or less done looking for new horses at the moment.” Thanks boss.

4. Be easy going and accommodating: A backer doesn’t want to deal with someone who is demanding and inflexible. If a backer asks you to do something that’s reasonable, such as not play a certain tournament, don’t get your fucking panties in a knot and your ego offended. It’s okay to tell a backer you’d really like to play a certain tournament, but going on and on about how massively +EV you are is annoying and depending on who you are and which tournament you’re talking about, possibly delusional.

5. Keep good records: Both the backer and the player should be keeping records. This will prevent possible mix ups in the future. Nothing quite dissolves a backing arrangement like an argument over money, so make sure you keep close enough track of what’s going in and out that this shouldn’t happen, and if it does, it’s easily rectified.

6. Approaching a backer: It’s pretty well known who the main backers are in the online poker community. The most normal way most are approached is either through PM or email. If you’re some nobody messaging out of the blue I don’t like your chances. However, if you have well respected friends in the poker community who are willing to vouch for your ability and trustworthiness this will help. Be mindful though, that establishing yourself in the community ahead of time is pretty relevant. If you’re a new player who has zero reputation, a few good results, and few connections your chances of getting backed are slim to none. Most of the major backers get numerous requests for backing a day, so your reputation needs to proceed you to have a realistic shot.

Next, people often ask ‘is backing right for me?’ First of all that depends on what you’re trying to achieve. Most people seeking backing are looking to get backed for what they can’t afford, and among internet players that mostly means being backed for live play since the buy ins are so high. Most players would obviously prefer to be staked only for live play and keep online for themselves, though these deals are not terribly common. The majority of backing deals, especially for less established players or new to the backing scene, are for a combination of online and live poker. You need to consider though, that in this kind of deal you run the risk of accumulating a high amount of live make up and then having to work it off with all your online volume, meaning you have no actual income for perhaps months at a time. These kind of backing deals give you the opportunity to make a large live score, but conversely put you in a position you’ll see zero online winnings if you run bad live.

We should also discuss make up. For those who aren’t aware make up is similar to debt but not the same thing. Make up is what you are down on your backing arrangement, but not necessarily money owed to your backer. That is to say, if you are in make up for $50,000, and have a net worth of $100,000 and for some reason are no longer able to play poker, you do not owe the backer $50,000 out of your own money. As far as leaving a backing arrangement in make up for no reason goes, unless you are under contract there isn’t necessarily repercussions in the traditional form of something like a lawsuit (or broken legs) but there are factors to consider. First of all if you leave a backer while in make up for no good reason it is very unlikely you’ll ever find another backer since word of your actions will get around. Also, some would consider this unethical, and it is a considerable grey area of morality. While you indeed have the right to opt out of your staking arrangement while in make up for no legitimate reason, the damage it will do to your reputation in the poker community is something you need to weigh it heavily against. A backer and a player need to set the conditions of what happens when a player is in make up but wants to change or leave an arrangement ahead of time.

Lastly there are two quick questions that often come up. First, in the case of FPP’s, who is entitled to them, the backer or player. The vast majority of the time it is the player who is considered entitled to the FPP’s. The other issue deals with expenses, travel and accommodation can be quite expensive in regards to live poker. While there are some deals that include these, the majority of the time the player is expected to pay these out of pocket.

I hope this settles some of the confusion.

Things it took me a while to learn part 16, The flaw in level 2 thinking

Special Guest: Shaundeeb.

I’ve been thinking about this concept quite a lot lately. At first I thought I was being results oriented, paranoid, or simply way too nity. I ended up having the same discussion with a number of players I respect, and after some debate we pretty much all came to the same conclusion; we as winning mid-high stakes tournaments players end up leveling ourselves too often.

If you’re reading this you’re likely the kind of person who seeks out information on improving your game. That means you probably read forums, books, articles, and converse about poker with other thinking players in an effort to get better. These are the best ways of getting better of course, but they due tend to cause one problem; we thinking players spend so much time around other thinking players considering thinking situations that we sometimes forget that the majority of tournaments players aren’t thinking, or more precisely, don’t think anything like we do. I’ll let Shaundeeb elaborate with the following:

“Now I would hope most of you are familiar with the levels of thinking in poker and as a
poker player, but most of you myself included make this crucial mistake over and over
again. The problem with most level 2 thinking done by mid stakes tourney regulars is
they too often when figuring out that persons range use one too close to their own and
make an error by giving the guy too much credit or too little credit. Now it's almost
always going to be a big guessing game on ranges with a random player but still try to give them less credit before giving them more.

I have made my living beating bad players, you could call me the Phil Hellmuth of
lower stakes MTT’s. I learned quickly what to do verse those types of players and made a

good profit from it. I notice a lot of times in the lower buyins I make the
mistake of thinking this is a great spot to bluff when considering the other persons
position and then assume he’s bluffing. However, he's not as good as me and therefore

probably doesn't realize what a good spot it is and most likely has what he is representing. We are
trained to be the highest level thinking players out there by discussing hands within our own
little cliques every day trying to dissect every possible outcome when if we just
studied the prior decisions you will find the spot to pounce on your opponents
mistake while conventional wisdom tends to push you towards a different
outcome/solution.

We spend most of our most important early decisions vs randoms and it's so hard to
predict the way these players will react and what they actually have but as soon as
you stop thinking what you would have in that spot you will start playing much
better. Thankfully those we play against don't have the same ranges we would have or
our edge would diminish due to that. They make huge mistakes for us.

Now most of this advice is not for your biggest buyins online but instead for those
oh so soft satellite filled Sunday lotteries as well as those 10-100 freeze outs and rebuys under $100. You will run
into so many different players and styles in one day that you can never know whose who
and what's what half the time but for the half you do know be sure you make an educated
decision based on them, not on you. I mean as a basic learning for level 2 it was a great start
to be like what would I have in this spot and to do some hand reading from the outside
looking in but now we should be getting past that stage to a more efficient way of
thinking.”

Thanks for your input Shaun, it only took me 78 hours and two seizures to turn it into understandable English. It’s a good summary of the issue at hand, so now let’s talk about application. First of all, one assumption to make is people’s ranges are tighter than you expect until proven otherwise. This is another point where being observant or using Pokertracker with PAHUD become important. I would say in most mid stakes tournaments (which I’d define at $20-$100 freeze outs and $10-$50 rebuys, and sometimes the $150’s) the break down in players is something like: 75% too tight/passive, 20% too loose/aggressive/spewy, 5% thinking professionals. This is course a very large generalization which there are many variables to consider, but not a bad break down.

Let’s look at specific instances where I think good/thinking players are giving too much to non thinking players or random players.

1. Paying off small river value bets: You get this all the time, you find yourself at the river with a medium strength hand that you’re fairly sure isn’t good. However, your opponent fires out a bet in the area of 30-50% pot. You look at his bet, figure your medium strength hand only needs to be good around 1 in 4 times or something, and call down. I know it’s gross but trust me, stop paying off these bets until you see someone bluff with them. Nobody bets this stupid little size as a bluff. Sure you only need to be good 1 in 4 for this to be profitable. In my experience though it’s considerably higher, something like 1 in 8 or maybe 10, that the player doesn’t turn up with what you think you’re getting taken to value town with. Now if you get the kind of board where a number of draws miss or you think the villain is very bad at making thin value bets you can maybe call these down, but one of the biggest leaks I see in good players is using pot odds to justify this call. I think something to consider in the future is to look for players who make these thin value bets with good but not great hands and then find spots where you can catch them doing it and blow them off it with a large raise (that’s right, turning your showdown value into a bluff, spots do exist where it can and should be done) as long as you know your opponent has a fold button.

2. Four bet jamming a wide range pre over a small 3 bet: I know sometimes players turn up with truly insane hands when they tiny or minreraise you pre. Yes I know it happens. However, if you look at the breakdown of times you get minreraised by something random/awful and the times it’s a huge hand I think you’ll find trying to come over the top of these light is a really bad idea. Bad players tiny reraise you because they aren’t aware that you’re thinking about their raise size. All they’re hoping for is that you see a tiny amount and either take a flop and fall in love or get annoyed with such a stupid sized 3 bet and come over the top. Until proven otherwise, accept random or weak players pre flop tiny and min reraises as the massive hands they often are.

3. Calling short stack open shoves too wide: Very many unknown players still aren’t aware of how wide they can profitably shove on a short stack. Lots of guys will keep folding well past a 10 BB stack waiting for something semi decent. This is a leak I used to have on an enormous scale, I guess I figured it was one of those things everyone was on to or it was simply obvious. That’s just not the case. Even though shoving ranges have gotten wider an absolute ton of the past two years there are still so many players out there who have no idea about +cEV shoves, pokerstove, SNG power tools or anything like that. As I said in a previous entry one of the most key things I note people on is their shoving ranges. Those kind of notes can come in massively handy late in a tournament.

4. Assuming nobody in their right might would make a massive overshove with a big hand: This one is not as prominent as the others since there are plenty of players who go for small bets with big hands and huge shoves with drawing hands. However, there are a ton of players who when they risk a very large amount of chips are never doing so without what they perceive as a huge hand. One good way to tell if a player is the type to do this is watch how they play a draw. If you see a player play a draw passively then you get in a spot where he pulls a huge overshove on you, odds are he’s got what he’s representing. Especially deep in tournaments where players are anxious about blowing a large stack or a chance at a big score you have to accept that many players will tighten up and take less chances with their whole stack.

Next I want to address an issue that comes up whenever I discuss this kind of thing with smart players. Doesn’t giving people credit for a hand all the time make you an equally exploitable nit? I don’t think so. The only players good enough to exploit your tendencies are thinking players. If you’re a regular tournament player you need to make it your business to know who the thinking players are. That means glancing through 2+2 and P5’s and OPR’ing your opponents on the table when possible. Bad, non thinking players aren’t capable of adjusting to the point that they can exploit my tendencies, or certainly not to a degree that I can’t see it coming. When I play a hand against someone I know to be thinking and who knows I know they’re thinking, I throw all of these assumptions out the window and attempt to play my hand in a manner that aims for deception instead of manipulation.

Who knows though, perhaps after having this article put up I’m going to have to make large adjustments when people start abusing me with 1/3rd pot bluffs and tiny 3 betting me all day. I doubt it though. There are just too many bad players, and we all need to accept that.
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