Jan. 31st, 2008

peterbirks: (Default)
Well, I've kind of been running bad for 11 days now, which is just long enough for me to become convinced that every other player is conspiring to outdraw or outplay me, that the sites are all rigged, and that I am the worst player in Christendom. I've been here before and I'll be here again. So it goes.

And I have a cold too. Life isn't fair.

At Party the worrying factor is that I've now had three losing months and I'm on a 14 buy-in downswing (from 7 buy-ins up to 7 buy-ins down over a three month-period of 12K hands). At times I feel sure that this really is down to running bad, while at others I wonder if I'm being outplayed. I've made a lot of TPTK laydowns where the opponent's stats really make it unlikely that I'm in front, (I've made a few calls with them as well ... usually losing) and my general feeling is that it's just a bad run.

But I think I might need to change my style a bit as well. Trouble is, it isn't drastically obvious precisely where I need to do the tweaking. What do I do when AKs is losing a net $300 and is only winning 28% of showdowns, while AKo is winning $180 and winning 56% of showdowns? That really does look a bit like running bad to me.

But the Party guys are less likely to pay you off at the end, and less likely to fold to your flop CBs. That seems to me to mean I have to focus more on flop and turn betting (I'm no longer so sure about the automatic CB against one opponent -- a point I may return to) and, possibly, on the big river bluff bet at the right time.

Ah yes, the automatic continuation bet. Why? If you check behind with a proportion of hands where you hit (but want to keep the pot smallish, or tempt a bluffer), and check behind on a proportion of hands where you miss (but have six outs or more), there seem to me to be certain hands (where your opponent is not very deep stacked) where a check-behind is okay - even preferable. I've been losing a lot of hands on Party to check-raises that I feel certain are from marginal hands (say, middle pair) at best. These guys have obviously read 2+2; they know what type of boards to do this on.

My main feeling is, if people know that I am going to CB 100% of the time, I make it easier for them. Rather than making it more likely that they will make a mistake, I am making it less likely, because in effect they are acting last on the flop. It's like having a "virtual button" pre-flop if there is a manic raiser on your left.

I'm still pondering bits of this, but I may make that one of my changes on Party. On IP the Continuation bet is still working fine because a check-raise is hardly ever air.


The second worrying factor this month is that I am down in open play on the 100 buy-in (3.5 buy-ins, to be precise). It's deeply concerning to be down at my bread-and-butter game, although I am up five buy-ins on IP.

And, on the plus side, I'm up three buy-ins at $200, and rakeback/bonuses have kept me on target for the year. That's almost a Catch-22 Major Major egg situation -- down at your bread-and-butter game, but still winning over a grand on the month. Frustrating, because it makes me wonder what I could win on the month if I beat the $100 buy-in to the level that I feel that I am capable.

I just ran my numbers for this month on Party to see if there was any "running bad" evidence. I guess that minuses for ALL of AA, AKs, AKo, AQs and AQo either indicates that I am very bad indeed or that I have been unlucky. Filtering the pairs, I'm a net $100 down for those as well. And I'm losing $180 on the button!

Button numbers are odd indeed. Only 25% won when saw flop and only 22% won at showdown (compared with 74%/43% from the Cut-off and 43%/60% from Hi-Jack) .

Yep, definitely a bad run.

The bad thing about these (and I remember this well from my days at limit) is that after you have played for an hour at four tables and nothing much is happening (you've made a few laydowns, things aren't going right, no-one calls when you hit or when you get aces) you start to lighten up your calling standards, simply because you say to yourself "he can't have a hand AGAIN". At limit this is mildly costly. At no limit it's a fucking disaster. In that sense, I've probably been right to make these laydowns. If I'd called, I wouldn't have lost half my profit for the month; I would have lost all of it, and would be printing completed hands and signs of bad beats galore. As it is, I have to ponder "am I being bluffed?". But I've been playing the game a long time now. It actually IS possible for people to make good hands at you again and again over a long period. I chopped it off well in November and December and the first 20 days of January. A 10 buy-in downswing shouldn't be a matter of too great a concern.


Virgin Value

An interesting snippet on Virgin slipped out yesterday. As you may know, Mr Pickle is bidding to take over Northern Rock and to rebrand it as Virgin. Quite a plus for Virgin, you might think - extending its brand awareness like that. How much should Virgin pay for the privilege?

Well, it doesn't work like that. In fact, the Branston private empire would charge Northern Rock £10m a year for the right to use the Virgin name. Apparently "Virgin" is such a byword for quality that it's worth £10m a year.

And is this payment dependent on profits, turnaround? Is it a kind of sharing the gain scheme, with the money going to taxpayers, debtors, and the like, and Virgin takes its share?

No. Virgin takes that £10m a year out of Northern Rock up front. That's the fee. After that, there might be some profits, which we could share with, er, Virgin.

And the question has to be asked. Why would the Virgin brand be worth £10m a year when Virgin Money has done fuck-all?

At best, I would say that Virgin and Northern Rock would gain equally from a rebranding as Virgin. Northern Rock gains a "respected" brand. Virgin gains brand awareness for its other products. At worst, Northern Rock could lose as Virgin Media founders, Virgin Atlantic turns into a pile of shite, and other Virgin operations stop being paragons of custimer service.

But Virgin (the Mr Pickle interest bit) does this with many of its brands that it does not own all of. It's like a dividend before a dividend. The only possible justification is if it can be positively proved that the addition of the Virgin brand makes it more likely that people will use or buy a product. I think that this is very dodgy ground and I hope that, if Noerthern Rock goes to Virgin, that the £10m upfront payment for brand use is stomped on.

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