I play poker and trade options, seeking edges from study, reflection and analytics.

Quarterly Report

Quarterly Report

For the period ending June 30th, 2017

This was an unremarkable quarter (Okay, it was downright pathetic.) except for some potentially transformative writing.

As discussed in Poker Players' Lament and Poker Players' Resilience, I realized: 1) There's more luck in poker than I'd like to admit, and 2) Relative skill matters little if your "life inputs" (e.g. bankroll, location, expectations, relationships and perspective) aren't helping.

Those widely applicable realizations aren't groundbreaking, but they are particularly important in poker.

In the second post above, I wrote: "Imagine a pie chart of profit determinants in the intermediate term. Luck might be the biggest slice. Others include capital, resilience (i.e. the mental game), approach (i.e. game mix, selection and location) and volume (i.e. game count and hours played). Skill is in there too -- the fact that it can be a sliver is a frustrating, disappointing but freeing realization."

I know guys who make a living with capital and volume. I've seen others win with location and approach. The most successful poker players put a large gap between their winnings and lifestyle. They live in a place with favorable games and approach them tactfully, relentlessly. They understand the game's potential and have a good handle on their psychology. They embrace variance knowing profit is a derivative.

Where am I? A quick personal assessment:

Approach 9/10

Performance analytics. Reading. Podcasting. Discussing. Journaling. Iterative improvement. Mindfulness. When it comes to casino poker, I can find good games and continually assess them. I do my best to be light and welcoming at the table. I have thought a lot about scheduling and game mix but haven't been able to consistently apply the ideas.

Skill 8/10

I've worked hard on my game. I feel ridiculous playing in some 1/2 games. In the first post above, I wrote, "Most players are aware that outside forces affect their ability to play well and deal with losing at the table and session to session setbacks. Far fewer work on them for their game's benefit. (It's often easier to just get better at poker.)"

Volume 5/10

Limited by capital and location, I spend too much time in tough online cash games, on a site that many players question. The Federal Government shut down most online poker sites in 2011 leaving American players few options.

Resilience 4/10

Excellent approach. Relatively skilled. Willing to put in volume. Poor location. Little capital. Other challenges off the felt... As time passes, resilience wanes, and the mental game becomes a hurdle. As Aaron Brown wrote in The Poker Face of Wall Street, "Going slow guarantees both not learning and taking a fall."

Location 3/10

My "local" options include Horseshoe Southern Indiana (25 minute drive) and Jack Cincinnati (90 minutes). Hollywood Casino Columbus (3.5 hours) is my best regional option. I can play online at Ignition Poker, but KY state law prevents me from playing on other U.S. sites like Americas Cardroom. With HSI in mind I wrote, "Are there certain cardrooms that bring out your best, while others seem to foster negative energy?" 

Capital 2/10

The relationship between capital and emotion or psychology and risk taking is a deeply personal dynamic. However, if you're not completely self-sufficient while deploying capital to generate income, then you must do something to get more money or adjust your lifestyle.

The above inputs can be adjusted given time. Luck is a related quality that's difficult to measure and a function of time frame (i.e. short run vs long run).

Luck 4/10

Where 5 is average and anything below 4 or above 6 seems ridiculous... Luck, good or bad, can be a reality or a mindset. Be careful to differentiate. In the short run, it can impact undercapitalized players' ability to work.

From Poker Players' Lament:

The #1 challenge of the competent, undercapitalized poker player is hanging in there to find the good stretches or playing a full-time schedule to realize his edge.
Take a bad beat or two - financial stress. A few more - mental anguish. Apply more discipline - entitlement issues. Play less.
Play online. The stakes are lower; the long-run seems possible. The beats come faster - trust issues. Resilience ebbs.
Break. Reset.
Back in the poker room. Up against it -- still.
The #1 challenge of the competent, undercapitalized poker player is hanging in there…

End assessment.

It's pretty clear what levers to pull, but can I do it? The first thing to do, it seems, is sell an expensive asset and eliminate all debt...

Poker Results

In my last quarterly report, I talked about shifting to tournament poker. Over the last three months, I invested $1,593.90 in 176 online MTTs and earned $535.50 profit, a 33.6% return. The average field size was 226 players. An interesting subset was 27-man sit and go's -- I played 30, mostly $10+1's, and earned 41.8% on my money.

 I final tabled the $11 $8k guaranteed on April 24th, finishing 6/906 for $344. 1st paid $1,677.

I final tabled the $11 $8k guaranteed on April 24th, finishing 6/906 for $344. 1st paid $1,677.

I played 3 live tournaments and cashed one. The small sample produced a $60 loss on $405 invested. In Columbus, I finished 6/113 for $345 in their Thursday night $85 $5k guarantee. A tough bust-out hand prevented a 3-6x higher payout, but I ran good in a couple spots reach the final table.

 Quarterly profit chart -- MTTs.

Quarterly profit chart -- MTTs.

Single table sit and go's rounded out my tourney play. Mostly, I experimented with hyper turbos. I made a whopping ninety cents on $1,031.60 invested in 163 games. The "hypers'" rapid, losing nature isn't for me.

As the quarter wore on, and bills piled up, I added more cash games to the mix. Out of 44 sessions, just 14 were live; running poorly in the small sample, I made just $233 there. Online, while experimenting with a 1.5 hour session length, I broke even. I rattled off 10 winning sessions in a row to start, but I let life frustration breed impatience, and the winning streak turned into a losing one.

 Quarterly performance card and profit chart -- cash games.

Quarterly performance card and profit chart -- cash games.

Looking at my quarterly performance cards sequentially, the standard deviation (of session profit) is compressing. That metric is directly tied to variance. Since profit is derived from variance, this is no bueno! I know I've been managing it downward for reasons stated in the personal assessment's capital section.

There's not much to talk about in the "Leaks" category, but I did spend some time online playing and learning PLO at a breakeven pace.

Going forward, I'll be working on my "life inputs" and playing a more focused mix of live cash and tournaments and online MTTs.

Trading Results

Starting in May through June, I made 5 trades and lost roughly 10%. They were all effectively whole account trades. I'll forgo calculating the normal stats (e.g. trade frequency, average days to go and average holding period) this time around.

 Trade history on optionshouse.

Trade history on optionshouse.

 My account’s daily closing value with the change amount below.

My account’s daily closing value with the change amount below.

It's tough to keep learning that capital is such a big hurdle. With very little, it changes the way I structure and exit trades and prepare. I often lament the fact that I'm not consistently studying markets and developing and updating analytics and strategies. I just keep working on my knowledge base for the future.

Quick Notes

We welcomed my sister's third child in April, Josiah Dever Page.

Thursday, July 20th, we'll say goodbye to my Dad's mother, Wanda Beckner.

While life and poker has dragged down my resilience in 2017, I've worked hard to stabilize it through better health and fitness. 21 day Fix Extreme has been enlightening, tough and transformative! Despite being a lifelong athlete, I finally understand what it takes to be fit. I added 10 lbs. of muscle in the last couple months and stabilized my heart rate and blood pressure.

This win was before I started the program. Look out next year...

HP Support sucks. My case, opened on June 24th, remains open. No remote technical assistance offered, just "Send your brand new computer back to us to fix."

Player Without a Roll

Player Without a Roll

Poker Players' Resilience

Poker Players' Resilience