Five Day Poker Session...
January 25, 2006 7:29 AM   Subscribe

5 Day poker session planned... practical & poker advice needed.

A group of four of us are reenacting the movie Rounders where 2 guys have $900 and need to make $15,000 in 5 days. (we're taking 1,800 and trying to make 30K) We're planning to camp out at foxwoods this summer and do all of our playing there.

We've all been playing for 5+ years and have had long sessions (14-16 hours) but never consecutively over 5 days. Health advice regarding dealing with the atmosphere, food & sleep are requested. So is any long session strategy for poker / managing a bank roll.
posted by meta x zen to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How true to the movie are you being? $900 total loss limit, or $900 and then your game is over and you go back to playing normal poker?
posted by I Love Tacos at 8:00 AM on January 25, 2006

What limit do you plan to start playing at? $900 is a small bankroll for all the but the smallest games. General advice is 200 big bets for a limit game (so for a 10/20 limit game, we're talking $4000). I'm sure you already know that but I'm just curious. I guess you're probably going to play no limit and try to triple or quadruple up right away through somewhat risky play and then try to play a bit more solid?

I know that in my game, lack of sleep is a real problem. I can play a good mechanical game when I'm tired but I lose all ability to read people, and my memory goes to shit. Complete shit. I once was playing in a home game where a guy got a K dealt up (holdem). House rules, we asked him if he wanted to keep it or burn it. He looked at his other card and said "oh, I want to keep it". Long story short he obviously had a pair of kings. I was dead tired (baby + late late night) and managed to *forget* he had a pair of kings before the hand started. Yeah. I remembered when he showed down with them.

Try to eat well. 5 days of smoke, little sleep and casino food is going to make you feel pretty bad I would think.

Don't drink.

Sounds like an interesting, but tough, goal. In rounders they were playing a variety of home games, which were most likely full of rather weak players. I've never been to foxwoods but I imagine the toughness of the competition is going to depend on the time of day. Try to figure out when all the suckers are playing, and play then. Sleep when the tables are full of tight old regulars.
posted by RustyBrooks at 8:11 AM on January 25, 2006

water water water water water water water water and did i mention water?

some physical exercise every day should help; eating healthy (and small portions) should help avoid food comas that can turn into tiredness which can turn into loose calls.

understand that what you're doing is like playing a multi-table tournament; you're going to have to win a couple of coin flips to get there. also, you should start on a tuesday or wednesday. you're going to need other people with big stacks (weekends) to get to 30K. you can't nickel and dime it the whole time.
posted by sachinag at 8:15 AM on January 25, 2006

I'm assuming you plan on playing limit hold 'em.

Let's say you play 14 hours a day, which is about as much as you should play due to fatigue, etc...

You've got to make $15k in 14x5 (70) hours - or win at a rate of $214/hour. This will not happen unless you're playing $100-$200 limit and can win over 1 big bet per hour. If you're AMAZINGLY good at poker and you can make 3 big bets per hour, you could get away with $30/$60... $900 will not buy you into this game.

With $900 each, you have the bankroll to play at maybe $5/$10 for 5 days straight. You should sit with about $200 to $300 at a $5/$10 table. $900 gives you just enough to ride out a losing session or two and not go broke.

Basically, what they did in rounders is impossible.

Even at 18 hours per day - that's just 90 hours (and this assumes that you have 5 full days, and ignores travel!). To make $15k in 90 hours still requires a winrate of $166.67 per hour. You just aren't going to do this, period.

Over a longer term, proper bankroll management dictates you should have at least 300 big bets at whatever limit you're playing at. Now, since you're only playing for 5 days you obviously don't need a full 300. However, 100 big bets is adviseable, which would be $1,000 at $5/$10 limit.

If you're planning on playing no limit - don't expect to make much more than you'd make at a limit table. If your cards are running very well you have the opportunity to make a lot more, but you also have the opportunity to lose a lot more, and all it takes is for you to flop middle set when someone has flopped top set for you to go broke.

Now, if you want to set a realistic goal, consider a few things:

1) The number of hours you have that you can play. You MUST sleep. If you do not, you will play crappy poker, period. Nobody is superhuman.

2) A realistic winrate of 1 to 2 big bets per hour. If you're an amazingly skilled player (and I mean on the terms of "I could play poker for a living") you could set yourself at 3 - but I can tell from your post that you are not a pro. You may very well be good at the game, but I'm a damn seasoned player and I cannot make 3bb/hour.

3) 90 hours is really no time at all when you consider the mathematical / statistical swings. You could be a great player and have a month long span of losing sessions because sometimes things just don't go your way, and sometimes it lasts. Do not be disappointed if your goal is not achieved.

Basically, if you can play 90 hours at $5/$10 (which is about as high as you should play considering how much money you're bringing) - then doubling your money is a realistic goal if you are a great player, and if statistics are nice to you and the cards are relatively "even" as far as bad vs. good.

If you have one or two nights where you keep getting second best hands - set over set, a king high flush running into an ace high flush, etc ... all the work you did the previous 3 days could be undone in a few hours.

I wish you the best of luck and I hope you guys have a lot of fun out at foxwoods. Set your goals more realistically, though. That Rounders thing is just not mathematically possible :-)
posted by twiggy at 8:21 AM on January 25, 2006 [1 favorite]

What would you prefer?

1) Busting on a good effort
2) Doubling your money because you played too conservatively
posted by charmston at 8:32 AM on January 25, 2006

Smoke won't be an issue at Foxwoods. The poker room is far seperate from the rest of the casino.

As for the food, I suggest taking dinner breaks away from the table (just make sure to get on the dinner reseating list before you leave). Not so much for better food (though there is better food available), but for the break and the bit of a walk.
posted by I Love Tacos at 8:37 AM on January 25, 2006

What would you prefer?

1) Busting on a good effort
2) Doubling your money because you played too conservatively

No serious poker player would ever ask this question.

You are talking about "taking a stab".. about "gambling".

Playing conservatively is half the reason you make money at the table. Other people gambling and not playing conservatively is the other half of the reason.

meta x zen: Do not listen to such questions as the above. It runs 100% contrary to the whole concept of playing good poker.
posted by twiggy at 8:37 AM on January 25, 2006

I don't think the $/hour thing applies here. His goal isn't to hit the long-run, it's to run really good for relatively short period of time.

You can't do what he's talking about via skill. To have a chance at success he needs to play short-rolled.

If he only has $900 for the whole trip, he's fucked. If he has $900 for this novelty exercise and then more for actual poker, he has a chance.
posted by I Love Tacos at 8:43 AM on January 25, 2006

It runs 100% contrary to the whole concept of playing good poker.

I think the poster you quoted meant "too conservatively to succeed at hitting $15k", such as playing 4/8 lhe or 1/2 nlhe the whole time.

To have a shot at $15k, you really need to take the $900 and sit 20/40 limit, or 5/5 no/pot-limit, and then switch to 75/150 limit or 10/25 no/pot-limit as soon as you have a single buy-in. Then you need to run good.

Of course this involves a huge risk of ruin, but $900->$15k in 5 days is a huge long shot, no matter how good you are.

I'm assuming the poster has additional cash available for rebuys, or real poker. If not, then it's not going to happen.
posted by I Love Tacos at 8:49 AM on January 25, 2006

twiggy: ILT hit the nail on the head. By asking the question, I was attempting to find out if the money was important enough for him to justify taking a big risk to actually accomplish the novelty goal.

Had he chosen option 1, I would have suggested that he play outside of his bankroll with a path similar to what ILT suggested: sitting at 20/40 right away, hoping to win a big pot early and jumping up to 50/100 or 75/150 once a buy-in is affordable. Then praying for an insane run of cards.

Had he chosen option 2, I would have told them that his goal is unrealistic, and that he should just play 5/10 and later 10/20 if he has several good sessions, have a good time, and concentrate on playing good poker.

Also, I must point out the difference between playing conservatively and playing tight. By "playing conservative", I was referring to logistical aspects of poker: limit and game selection, etc. Playing tight refers to style of play: hand selection, choosing your spots wisely, etc.They are two completely different concepts.

Bottom line: it's virtually impossible to accomplish his goal and "play good poker", as you put it. He's got to choose one or the other.

*Entire post assumes that mxz prefers limit games: if he prefers NL, I would recommend playing games where you can afford a 25x big blind buy-in for option 1, and a 40-50x big blind buy-in for option 2
posted by charmston at 9:15 AM on January 25, 2006

Sorry, charmston. As far as the goal being a novelty rather than something a skilled player can truly earn in that short of time - well, it just wouldn't cross my mind as a poker nut myself that the concept of doing something "for novelty" (i.e. for the sheer sake of gambling) was even an option.

Legitimate question, legitimate followup answers/recommendations.
posted by twiggy at 10:40 AM on January 25, 2006

If the goal is for four players to turn $1800 into $30K in a short time frame, why not find a $500 buy-in tournament and enter all four of you? (okay, so this costs $2000) Making the final table will get you at least $30K...and much more if one of you wins.
posted by rocket88 at 10:43 AM on January 25, 2006

it just wouldn't cross my mind as a poker nut myself that the concept of doing something "for novelty" (i.e. for the sheer sake of gambling) was even an option.

If he's a legitimate favorite in the games, it's still positive expectation, even with the high risk of ruin and the absurd variance.

If he's not a legitimate favorite in the higher limit games, it's a fun way to gain some experience.

What he's proposing is almost a tournament where he can control M and Q. Personally, I think that's a more interesting poker proposition than simply plopping down in a game where he's the obvious favorite, and not moving for 5 days.
posted by I Love Tacos at 11:09 AM on January 25, 2006

Since we're all betting that you're going to miss your mark (break even?) - could you photo/blog this. I wish I was nearby, it'd make an interesting documentary.
posted by filmgeek at 1:11 PM on January 25, 2006

1800 is 12 fairly short-stack buy-ins to a $1-2 no limit game. I would seek out one of these games, and try to double/triple up. Then leave and hit another game. I don't think you can do this so easily at Foxwoods, but you could do it in NYC. Once you get to a certain amount, you need to look for larger games, and then maybe the casinos would have more selection.

I don't think there's any way to pull this off playing limit, or by playing any length of time in one place. By moving around you'll get the slight advantage of being an unknown, and you won't give anyone time to build a good profile of you.
posted by bashos_frog at 2:03 PM on January 25, 2006

I've seen similar feats done before. Let's assume that this is a project that you are undertaking for the challenge and fun of it and that you recognize that the risk of losing your $1,800 is high, but you don't feel that the loss of that money would impact your life. In that case, what we want to do is contruct a scenario where you find the best way to give yourself a shot at it.

I know of two similar quests that have been undertaken and documented on on-line poker forums. On ITH, I (and several others) bought in at the lowest limit on a particular site for 20 big bets. We resolved to play that level until we either went broke or built up enough for 20 big bets at the next level. I managed to turn my $20 into $1,200 over a short time frame. Others who tried went broke. We did some pretty rigorous math and determined that my particular earn rate and standard deviation, the risk of ruin was almost 96% trying this trick. I think its a pretty interesting read.

I also know that some on 2+2 have tried a live poker version where you start with the minimum buy-in for a limit and move up as soon as you get the minimum buy-in for the next limit. I seem to remember Felicia Lee doing it at the Bellagio.

I think the safest way to do this quest is to play limit poker and start with about 50 BBs and move up whenever you have 50 BBs at the next level. You can play with the numbers to figure out how much risk you can handle. You may have to move up faster if you can't sustain the earn rate. If you play No-Limit, I think your risk of going broke will be higher, but your chance of actually making the target might go up. It seems to me that the number of players whose main knowledge of the game comes from a few TV shows keeps going up and up.

I'd love to hear more about what you eventually try and how it works. You might get some good advice if you join one of the big poker discussion forums and talk to them. ITH (linked above) and are two good options.
posted by Lame_username at 2:06 PM on January 25, 2006

What I meant by 'do this easily' is find a different game, not double up. Doubling up at Foxwoods is pretty easy.
posted by bashos_frog at 2:06 PM on January 25, 2006

Pot Limit Omaha
posted by poodlemouthe at 5:49 PM on January 25, 2006

Response by poster: These were very helpful - I especilly appreciate Twiggy & Charmstons answers - but thank you all.

We understand that this is an unrealistic goal (probably should have clarified that.) We're just 4 dorks that want to play poker for 5 straight days & thought it would be fun to have some kind of "challange." We're not playing with money we don't have & we could bust the first day and still rebuy...

If anyone still is checking this question I am still curious about dealing with the annoying lights, fatigue etc... (PL omaha 8!!)
posted by meta x zen at 10:05 AM on January 26, 2006

Best answer: meta: the lighting isn't too terrible at foxwoods. I never had problems playing long sessions there, and I get eyestrain pretty quickly.

As for fatigue:
- the second you do something atrociously dumb, either accept that you're gamblin now, or switch down a few limits. If you're noticing yourself making mistakes, then you've probably been playing shitty poker for a solid hour.

- don't eat every meal at the table. dinner breaks are your friend. (as is the dinner reseating list)

- play the AM tournaments. they're a nice change from the regular cash games, and give you something different to think about

- switch games. if you're able to handle yourself in LHE, NLHE, 7CS and HOE games, they'll probably have something for you (or at least a list). I've only played PLO there once (the one and only time I saw it running) and it was a tough, deep game (5-10-15 blinds. yes, three blinds. two americans, total.)

- don't be afraid to ask for table changes. if your table sucks, change!

- don't be afraid to ask for a seat change button. Some seats suck for watching the action (the 4-6 seats always look like they're watching tennis, if they're paying attention). Sometimes you notice there's a glare on the board from where you're sitting. (plus all the straight up strategic reasons to change)

- don't be afraid to get drunk off your ass with your friends one night, and LAG all over a low-limit table.
posted by I Love Tacos at 12:55 PM on January 26, 2006

Response by poster: This was exactly the advice I was looking for Tacos - Thanks!

Unfortunate to hear about the Omaha though - two of us are pretty adept with O...
posted by meta x zen at 6:20 PM on January 26, 2006

Unfortunate to hear about the Omaha though - two of us are pretty adept with O...

When will you be there, and what sort of limits were you hoping for?

It doesn't hurt to make a list. If you'd be down for like 5/10 PLO, and it's a date I can show, I'd try hard to be there. (and likely could round up two or three other PLO lovers, who never get to play).
posted by I Love Tacos at 1:16 PM on January 27, 2006

Response by poster: Thats awesome - We're going June 28th through July 5th - we'll be the tired guys bloggin at
posted by meta x zen at 4:42 PM on January 28, 2006

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