Monday, June 10, 2013

our bet is made

It's hard to really articulate what I'm feeling as I head off to Las Vegas to premiere BET RAISE FOLD: The Story of Online Poker in front of almost 200 friends, peers, and poker world colleagues who have, like me, such a close and personal connection to the online poker story. Overwhelming excitement trumps everything. Movies and poker have been the two defining throughlines of my life, so to have them coming together like this is such a huge event for me that I won't know how to piece together the significance until I can look back from down the road. I'm trying to just enjoy the moment and capture it in my memory as best I can. Mentally I am in the zone. Like the great Bruce Lee says, "I am water."

Despite the amazing success of our Kickstarter campaign so far, it's surprised us how cynical some people have been about our motives. I wanted to repost a reply I wrote on TwoPlusTwo to a fellow poker player/pro who wrote "I think it's kinda sad that some of the BRF fundraising is done under the guise of "this is +EV for poker as a whole" and not "You can financially support a project you will like"

My reply:
I think it's sad that so many of my peers are so damn cynical!  
Firstly, the BRF = +EV for poker = a small portion of our Kickstarter. We list 4 reasons for making the film and "to do good for poker" is the fourth reason.
Secondly, this is generally what we mean when we say the film is good for poker (as listed in our FAQ):
This is not a promotional movie. We have no ulterior motive beyond the desire to tell the story of online poker. When we say we're trying to "do good for poker", what we mean is:
How many online pros, casual players, and poker fans have been met with a blank stare when they tried to explain their passion/profession to family and friends? The online poker boom created a multi-billion dollar industry and a massive sub-culture that changed countless lives, but it's still so difficult for people outside this bubble to really "get it". You can't ask "outsiders" to spend weeks sifting through thousands of classic TwoPlusTwo posts or hundreds of YouTube videos in an attempt to better understand online poker. You can ask them to sit down in a comfortable chair with a bag of popcorn for 100 minutes and watch an entertaining story that explains what all the fuss is/was about. BET RAISE FOLD is foremost a piece of entertainment, but beyond that, it's meant to act as a communication tool -- a film that will finally bridge that gap of confusion between you and your family/friends. After Black Friday, it's more important than ever for people to understand that online poker is (was?) a legitimate profession that should be legalized and regulated in the USA -- because these days, it often feels like that blank stare is accompanied by misguided suspicions of criminal activity.  
Beyond that, 10 years from now, some of you might still be playing poker, some of you may have moved on to other interests, but wouldn't it be great if there was a movie you could watch any time you want that perfectly captured that unique, once-in-a-lifetime period of your life when online poker was new and fresh and everything seemed possible? 
Nothing like this has ever existed before, and we feel like that's "good for poker". 
Thirdly, I personally do believe the documentary is going to have a positive impact on the perception of online poker in the public consciousness. I know I said earlier that I'm not trying to be a "white knight", but if this film wants us to be the "white knights" of online poker, if it needs us to be that for it to succeed, then that's what we will have to be. We are all-in on it. Black Friday hit all of us in the stomachs and we survived to tell the story. We were the only people to capture the drama on camera as it unfolded from the POV of the players. Now we have a vehicle to give players impacted by it a voice in the wider world. If you think believing this (or trying to get others to believe in this) is sad, we don't see eye to eye on a lot more than just this movie and Kickstarter campaign.
June 12 is the theatrical premiere. June 30 we release online, worldwide, from I'm all-in on this movie. So are many of the top thinkers and players of my generation, ~500 Kickstarter backers, and all the people who helped in front of or behind the camera to make this happen.

Take that for what it's worth, but our bet is made.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

thoughts on learning GTO after 4 sessions of 'blah blah GTO'

blah blah GTO = video series running now on DeucesCracked in which blah234 trains me in the art of learning how to completely rethink poker from an EV-based, mathematical perspective.

it's really hard, especially given how much time I'm spending on BET RAISE FOLD. it would still be really hard even if I had all the time in the world to devote to it. DC shipped me a copy of Matt Janda's new book but I haven't even had a chance to read more than a few pages.

DCer Zinger posted a comment in the latest video thread that I've been mulling over. I definitely feel the truth in this, and though I know we are a long way away from a GTO solution to poker, I find myself wondering exactly where poker is headed. What do you guys think?
There's a lot of focus on what GTO could be from all the latest poker training materials. Analysis tools and poker bots are also getting better. 
With the flood of information creating an army of near-GTO bots, poker's future looks bleak. Games were always getting tougher but the idea that you could be playing someone with no weaknesses to exploit is utterly depressing.  
It sounds so cold and boring. To me, poker's a creative endeavor and while I don't think someone's nose-picking is an indicator of hand strength, I'm still a bit of a romantic. *plays Rounders clips* A great hero call or well-timed bluff give me satisfaction. I feel like an explorer in a jungle of unknown variables. Was that sexy play actually right? It gives me a little puzzle to ponder over and catalyze further improvements. 
However, it seems the future flair or creativity will be what CREV spits out in yet another of thousands of simulations. Poker feels less like a game and too much not just like work but like drudgery. Instead of seeing myself as a child when trying to integrate this new conception of poker, I reflexively see a tired accountant with endless spreadsheets to sort through. I certainly don't see Chris Moneymaker winning the WSOP. There are lots of ways to make good money but unlike most of them, poker was supposed to be more fun.
I could live with the fact that tomorrow will always be harder than today, but I laid my hope and motivation on the notion that I could always beat anyone if I improved sufficiently. With guys like Sauce123 actively trying to play GTO, this idea no longer holds merit. Poker's looking increasingly like an absolutely terrible career choice. I thought Black Friday was bad but this new approach to poker makes me feel even worse. 
Poker 2015: We worked so hard so we can now trade rake! In a theater near you!