Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Betway $5k Challenge Update

So I signed up with - and deposited at - Betway on Friday, July 18th with the idea of trying to clear their $5k bonus in three months. It's now been two and a half weeks, and with a decent chunk of hands played, I now have some idea of just how gruesome this bonus will be to clear. At $100NL, I'm averaging just about 1 point per hand, and the total bonus clears with 150,000 points. Or, differently put, I need to play about 150k hands in three months to get there.

So far: 20k points in two and a half weeks. I'm not precisely on track, but I'm not doing awfully, either. The redeeming factor here is that I get to cash in on whatever part of the bonus I do manage to clear, so if I reach 149k points in three months, it's not a waste. The upside to my undertaking is that it gives me a chance to challenge myself with playing a higher volume of hands. The downside is that it means I have to play a higher volume of hands. This is the closest thing to a poker professional I'm ever likely to become, and as I've said time and time again - I'm grateful that I'm not actually a poker professional.

After these 20k points - which translates roughly to 20k hands - I'm still down since I started, being stuck about $600. This is after an initial spewfest of 17 buy-ins (some of which were at $200NL) so I'm actually recovering quite nicely. The best part of it, and a feeling that is somewhat new to me, is that I'm entirely confident I can beat these games. I know why I lost all that money. I know how to beat my current opponents, and I have a pretty good idea of which players on the Microgaming network I'd rather not have at my tables - and remarkably enough, I also have the common sense to leave tables where they sit and where there's a lack of fish on which to feed.

There are a couple of players I go out of my way to avoid, and among them are Ribberfors and Sandurr.. Sanderr.. Something like that. I'm not necessarily scared of them, but I think they have an edge on me so why should I play with them? It's not like there aren't bad players available. Although an argument could be made for exploiting the notes the good players must surely have on me from my first few sessions at Betway ("total spewtard", is my guess), I suspect that they might be good enough to have realized since that I'm not actually as spewy as I might have appeared. So I'd rather not go down that road.

I'm looking at an average of 2k hands per day to win this challenge, but I'm pretty confident that that's not going to be possible. I'm now comfortable playing 8-9 tables of $100NL there, but even then I just don't have an extra two hours a day to spend playing without my head exploding. My only hope is that I can try to put in a little over a thousand hands on most days and try to get some big sessions going on some weekends and maybe clear 3-4k hands in a day then. But even then, I'm going to fall a far cry short of the 150k points needed.

Realistically, I think clearing a $3k bonus would be challenge enough. I'm on track for that, and maybe, just maybe, I can step it up a notch.

In between all of this, I'm trying to be a good student of poker and actually progress my learning and not just my hands played. If I can find an extra 1BB/100 edge by studying more, then that's worth more at the end of three months than the bonus. This is a lesson everyone should learn and I think a lot of people are so blinded by the profit they "miss" by not spending their time playing that they completely overlook the profit they miss by not playing better.

Even if you regularly read this blog, I can virtually guarantee you that you'll never find a more important lesson here than that one. The investment of sacrificing a little volume in order to increase quality of play is so ridiculously profitable that you're doing yourself a huge disservice by thinking that you're "good enough" to beat the games you're playing now. Winning is not digital. You're not either a "winner" or a "loser" or a "break-even player" - there are degrees. And if you're beating the small stakes games at 2BB/100 now, there are almost certainly ways for you to improve to a level of beating them for 4BB/100. And over the course of the next few months, the time spent being a better player will most certainly pay off.

You'll not only win more money, but you'll feel better about the losing streaks because of the increased confidence. It's huge. It's not close. And you're not good enough already.

No one is.


WVHillbilly said...

It's hard to play better when you're just trying to play hands (your current situation). If you can do both you're truly a great player.

I think your point about spending the time and energy to get better rather than just playing more hands is the main reason I read CC (and other forums). It's also why I joined Stox, read your blog (among others), and just spend time thinking about poker. My goal is actually to make decent fun money in as little time as possible. I don't want to have to grind 50K+ hands per month because I'm afraid I'll stop enjoying the game. An hour or so a day is about my limit for actual online playing time most days. Not because I don't have any more time, but because when I play much longer than that I start giving $$ away.

Great post today FP.

Fredrik Paulsson: said...

Thanks WVH.

Touching on this subject, I think there's a common flaw in how people think about win-rates that I'll probably address in full in a later post, but it comes down to this:

"I win at 2ptbb/100 now. I could work hard to be twice as good and win at 4ptbb/100 but I think it's hard to be twice as good as me, and it just makes sense to be happy with where I am."

The flaw comes in thinking that going from 2 to 4 requires twice the skill. Of course, I don't know anyone would actually state the above, but I do believe that there are quite a few people who think that way, or perhaps feel that way without really considering it.