Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Workin the Wii

Congratulations to Chippy McStacks for taking down this week's Skills Series event. In what, 9 or 10 Skill Series tournaments this year, yours truly still has yet to pick up even one measly bounty. That's right. I haven't eliminated nary a soul from the entire Skill Series, with no exceptions. Between that and the BBT3 in general, I am absolutely donking the shit out of the world of blonkaments, one of my worst performances ever. And last night was no different, with me busting in the first quintile or so when my split Kings went up against someone else's split 7s -- both of which were very obvious, mind you -- when the 7s declared he was allin and going home right from 3rd street. We got all the money in by 5th, and BOooooooooom there was 7s over 3s at the river for my opponent to not only keep me out of the top 5 in chips but to eliminate me entirely from the tournament. Awesome.

I wanted to write today about something related to all the 5050 final tables I made in the past month. It's something that I spoke about on buddydank radio on at least one occasion, but from some of the emails and IMs I have gotten lately it reminds me that I never really mentioned it here at all even though far more people read here than have been listening on BDR on the one or two nights where this came up. So the question is, was there anything tangible that I did differently on the nights when I made the deep mtt runs, from how I otherwise handle myself on other nights I am playing online poker? And the answer is:

The Nintendo Wii.

Yep, the Wii. See, early in the evenings, most of you who have ever searched for me online will know that I am a notorious multi-tabler. I am basically always in 2 or 3 tournaments or at 2 or 3 tables at the same time when I play 95% of my online poker. While I did not start off that way, it quickly became apparent to me that, for my particular mindset and style of play, a few tables actually is easier for me to play my game and stay focused on my style at all three. With just one table open I tend to get bored and lose focus, start playing too many hands, get awfuckitty, whatever the vice. So I'm usually at between 2 and 4 tables at all times early in the evening, say before midnight ET or so, in most cases. Nowadays with me playing at a few different poker sites again I may not always been at multiple tables on full tilt, but trust me I've got it goin on back at the Hammer House with at least 2 or 3 other tables even if I'm sitting in a blonkament or something with you.

But later in the evening, this all changes. When I'm getting decently into the money in an mtt, #1 it is very late and I am always loathe to start a new mtt or other tournament that could involve a substantial time commitment even if I bust from the 5050 or whatever tournament I am ITM in one second later. But #2, as these games move into the late stages, as I have written about previously, my game morphs from a generally tight-aggressive style, waiting for good cards in good situations and then trying to get maximum value from them while losing as little as possible when I miss, to a more purely instinctual approach, where I am basically reading my opponents for strength or weakness, and trying to use maximal pressure to take down pots before the flop except where I happen to hold a monster starting hand. This kind of game requires much more work and much more focus, and generally speaking I try not to play any other tables for this highly read-dependent, highly instinctual brand of poker that I only really crack out during what I call Push Time once down to the last 5% or so of the field in the big mtt's. I end up being fairly tense and very painstakingly involved in all the action at the table, and as a result the feeling can be highly intense and frankly, very draining on the person who does it.

And this is where the Wii comes in. During the 5-minute hourly breaks from the big mtt's earlier in the evenings, I am always playing at a few other tables at the same time, and they never all have the exact same starting times or break times. So when the 5050 takes it first, second or third hourly breaks of the night at approximately 10:30pm, 11:35pm and 12:40am ET every night, I sit right at my computer and play through whatever other sng or mtt or cash table I have open at the time. But come those 4th, 5th and 6th breaks starting in the 1 and 2am timeframe New York time, I try not to have any other tables working, so when breaktime hits, I am left with a quandary. What to do?

Now, a wise man once told me that he recommends people always get up, stretch your legs and take a short time off during your breaks, especially as we get later into an mtt, and even though much of that wise man's advice has proven to be laughable, this one has always stuck for me. Again it's not something that I worry about early in the night for the first few breaks, but I have had much success over the past several weeks by getting myself away from the computer screen for 5 minutes every hour in these deep mtt runs. I would be interested in hearing if anyone takes a different approach, but for me I find that getting away from the laptop for a bit is a helpful diversion for me, and in some ways can actually be affirmatively beneficial to some of the skills I am relying on at these deep ITM mtt stages of play. And lately, during my 5-minute breaks in the wee hours of the morning, I've been playing the Nintendo Wii to a great deal of success. So far, I've played the Wii four times during the break of a 5050 type of tournament, and I have final tabled all four times.

And I'm not just playing any old Wii game either. It's been all Wii baseball for me late at night in the midst of big mtt runs, all the time. In fact, it's not even regular Wii baseball. It's been purely the home run hitting contest under the Wii Training tab on the main menu. The 5 minutes is perfect for this. It gives me just enough time to maybe make a quick trip to the head, especially good if it's a "drinking night" in the Hammer House as usual, and then still leaves me with enough time to get through one if not two rounds of 10 pitches and try to take my swings for the fences. And given my four-for-four final tables when hitting home runs on the Wii during my breaks, I have spent a good deal of time trying to figure out what it is about the Wii that might be helping me in my poker performance late into the night. I've come up with a few explanations.

First and foremost, there is a lot of self-selection going on here, and the 4-for-4 is not really as impressive as it seems. In other words, I've only been playing the Wii in those 4th and 5th and 6th hourly breaks, which itself has only happened just a small handful of times. It's not like I've been playing the Wii after the first break in the 5050 every time I last for an hour, and then I'm going and final tabling every time I do that. Rather, I'm only hitting the Wii when I'm down to, say, the final 100 or fewer players in the big mtts, so me final tabling every time I've done it is not nearly the big feat that it may otherwise seem. And yet it still seems significant to me.

One other major point to make here is that it may just be getting my mind off of poker for 5 minutes at a time has a real impact on my ability to return to the laptop 5 minutes later and start deeply focusing once again. Like, maybe if I was exercising or something instead of hitting Wii home runs "Out of the Park!", I would be seeing the 100% identical results. That could easily be. I also am sure to stretch my legs, I sit back in my highly comfortable rocking chair while I play the Wii, and just generally I am doing something that makes me feel comfortable and might reasonably realistically work to prepare me to get back into the grind a few minutes later, almost like a 5-minute pitstop for these Nascar donks in their wifebeaters and with their mullets blazing.

But I have another theory. For those of you with the Wii and especially those of you who are familiar with the home run hitting contest, what that thing really comes down to in my mind is instinct. I mean, you see the pitch coming in, but you still need to time it and swing it just right if you want to hit that home run. A lot of it is about reaction time, and about early recognition of the location and type of pitch hurtling at you at 75 miles per hour. In the end, swinging for the fences like this is very much instinctual above all else, and my theory is that taking 5 minutes to hone my instincts like this during my break is really helping me to play a fine-tuned brand of instinctual poker in the very late stages of Push Time, and heading right up to the final table. In fact, this theory might also help explain why, after probably 500 separate attempts to take on the home run hitting contest, I today have officially one time and one time only when I actually hit home runs in all 10 at-bats I had. And that time was? The break immediately before I went on to win the 50-50 outright a couple of weeks back. That was it. Now isn't that awfully coincidental, if there is no relation at all between the quality of my Wii hitting and the quality of my poker play? I find it too coincidental to believe.

So I definitely think there is something to my Wii playing during the hourly breaks in my late mtt runs. Like I said, I spent a good deal of time talking about this during a couple of appearances I had on Buddydank radio since those few final tables, but I don't believe I have mentioned here at all yet and I wanted the rest of you to hear what one thing more than anything else I have done differently on those days than basically on all other days I am ever sitting in my place and playing online poker. Somehow, some way, trying to time and whack ten consecutive pitches out of the stadium in the Wii home run hitting contest really seems to help my poker game in real time. Working on my timing and my reactions and my recognition of situations for just 5 minutes out of every hour has seemingly shown a noticeable good effect on my late-stage mtt game generally. So take that for what you will, and if I can help any of you in your own mtt performances with what I've said here today, then that's all gravy as far as I'm concerned.

Don't forget the Mookie tonight at 10pm ET on full tilt. It's the latest BBT3 tournament and the latest chance to win a BBT3 Tournament of Champions seat to play for the four WSOP packages at the end of the 3-month BBT3 challenge, and the buyin is a mere $11, making it an affordable play for most of you out there. The Mookie password as always is "vegas1", and I will be there to donate since I couldn't win a Mookie tournament even if my life depended on it. The past few weeks I have played the Mookie fine but gotten sucked out on in redonkulous fashion, so I look for more of the same tonight, while Lucko will probably have a monstrous stack at some point along the way if things hold as they have been in the blonkaments lately in general. And I guess I should mention, my Mookie buyin is being paid for courtesy of another blogger who I helped make some money this week -- this is the second time now in a month where this has been the case, strangely -- in this case on some call options in a very juicy and very volatile stock market earlier this week. So will that $11 transfer I received yesterday prove to be my good luck charm for the Mookie?

Not. See you then though for the donation, 10pm ET on full tilt.

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Blogger Buddy Dank said...

I'm going to test something with this Wii Theory tonight and take it to the next level. I am going to play Wii Baseball throughout the entire time that I still have chips in the Mookie! So I'm guessing about 20 minutes worth.

2:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I play Guitar Hero during the breaks with the same results... well other than the final tables, big payouts or even winning hands.... I'm buying a Wii on my way home tonight.

8:03 PM  
Blogger joxum (Denmark) said...

I always make sure to get away from the screen for the entire full five minutes. I sometime do the dishes (that way the missus won't get too upset with me, for playing all night, when she comes and find the table's clean), or just walk around in the room.

I also find that taking a full break when you're down to short handed final table can sometimes make impatient players go on tilt, which in itself is of value :-)


8:20 PM  

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