Episode 69: Bluffing with Carlos Welch

Carlos Welch fills in for Nate this week and is remarkably open about his recent setbacks, including the challenges of playing underrolled, finding a good backing deal, and balancing live vs online play. In an extra-long strategy segment, he and Andrew discuss bluffing in small stakes games, taking examples from Carlos’ recent play as well as the Thinking Poker mailbag. For more bluffing strategy, check out Andrew’s most recent series on Tournament Poker Edge.


0:30 Hello and welcome; updates from Carlos
29:56 Strategy: bluffing in small stakes games

70 thoughts on “Episode 69: Bluffing with Carlos Welch

  1. I am not sure if I agree with Andrew’s analysis entirely on the river of the 98s hand. I think the bluff shove might be profitable. I think it is correct that he has a marginal showdown hand here almost always. But why is he leading out? Such a small bet suggests to me that he’s trying to control the price of the river. I don’t think he’s inducing very often with a strong hand, and if he was trying to get value, it seems like he would bet bigger or check/raise turn or something. And because he is getting such a good price, it looks like we just can’t be bluffing here.

    The danger of course is that he’s not thinking that deeply, and even when he runs into the shove, he just sigh/calls anyway, even though its logically inconsistent. But, given that we have such a good price on a bluff, I would argue that its a closer spot than Andrew suggests. I have seen folds in this spot many times before at these stakes.

  2. Here’s the strategy hand.


    I think the open and c-bet are fine.

    When he raises, I think he’s doing it because I c-bet so small, I’d been active, and I’d c-bet this flop regardless of my hand. I figured he’d just call with a K. He doesnt have KK or TT because he’d likely raise those preflop since I’d been active. He’s repping 55, two pair, or QJ. He has these or pure air. No marginal hand would check raise me on the flop. I’d expect his strong hands to bet on the turn and I’d happily fold or take it away from his air if he checks.

    When he checks the turn, I barrel to get him off of the air he raised flop with. I figured he has to give me credit for at least a K or A. When he just calls the turn on this wet board, I know he isn’t strong. I figured he either turned a heart draw with his air or he hit that A. Im leaning towards the A because a lot of people would shove turn with the heart draw.

    When he bets small on the river, I definitely dont think he has the hearts. I figured I could get him off of a weak ace with a shove since he put that scared little blocking bet out there.

    Apparently my soul is an open book.

  3. A comment about Carlos’s no-makeup backing deal: I’m not sure it’s ethical of Carlos to accept such a deal.

    Recap: the backing deal is that the backer provides the bankroll. If Carlos is up at the end of the session, they split the profits 50-50. If Carlos is down, the backer suffers the whole loss. There is no makeup: every session starts completely fresh.

    As I see it, the problem with this deal is that it creates perverse incentives: If at any point Carlos is down too much, it would be more profitable for him to go home than to keep playing, even if the loss occurred in the first hand of the session. This related to the general notion that there is little sense to talk about a “poker session” as a mathematical object. It’s a psychological object alright, but it has no mathematical meaning: from a mathematical perspective your whole life is one long session, and any other view tends to result in absurdities.

    Now, a deal with perverse incentives is not necessarily bad or unethical, right? Well, I think that when the incentive system is bad enough, then it creates problems for everyone: For the backer, because he is constantly in the risk of getting shafted, and for Carlos, because once the backer realizes the deal can be exploited, he will start wondering if and to what extent Carlos was exploiting it. So even if Carlos wasn’t exploiting it at all, the doubt will still be there. In fact, Carlos might be afraid to cut his losing sessions short exactly because it can look like he’s exploiting the deal, and thus will play too-long sessions, that will hurt both him and the backer.

    Here’s another way to look at it: In a good partnership, the interests of all sides to the deal align as much as possible. In standard staking deals (with makeup) this is indeed the case: the more the player wins, the more the backer wins, and there is no incentive for the player to lose on purpose or to manipulate anything, bar actual cheating. On the other hand, in the deal proposed to Carlos, the interests of Carlos and of the backer are clearly opposite, at least in some aspects. This kind of deal has a tendency to blow up and make everyone unhappy.

    So I’d say that taking such a deal is questionably ethical, and in any case a very bad idea. (All IMHO, of course.)

    • He gives me one bullet. If I lose it, my session is automatically cut short. It’s as if he’s put me in a tournament and gives me a cut in exchange for my skill and effort.

      Not that, I’m a great player or anything, but if I had the money to buy Phil Ivey into this game for a cut of the profits, I’d do it and not feel like I’m getting cheated.

      I do not disagree that he is taking all the risk. The same could be said for the guys at the TPE house, Andrew, Breyer, and Pie Farmer when they invited me into their homes and their lives. Like they, this backer is taking a financial risk primarily because he wants to help and not purely for a financial reward.

      I understand this, so I try to pay it back (or forward) in the small ways that I can, mostly by just being appreciative and grateful.

      I do disagree that this backer and I have opposite interests. We both want me to win, as do all the other guys I mentioned who help me. I doubt any of them would have anything to do with me if I was a horrible person or an absolutely hopeless fish of a player.

      All that said, your point is well taken. It’s definitely not a fair deal (in the same sense that giving a college student some tuition money is not a fair deal), and it may even be unethical. I don’t know. I will leave it up to the experts to decide.

      Meanwhile, I’m going to keep using his roll to make us some money and I’m going to keep accepting these feel meals from Breyer and Pie Farmer.

      • Thats not really what he meant Carlos, and Im not having a go at you because you don’t seem like the kind of guy that would take advantage of this (probably a big reason why you ended up with the deal).

        but your incentives don’t align in a lot of spots.

        i.e. you break even on a week, but have a +200 and a -200 session, you make 100, he loses 100.

        you are even in a game and sitting 200 ef, guy puts money in and we are getting no pot odds and need close to 50% equity to call, we estimate we have about 25% equity. in a vacuum given your backing deal this is a +EV call for you (not your backer) as your upside is 1/8*400=$50.

        It also means that you have an incentive to quit when you are down money, why bother playing when you are stuck 100 when you can just quit and wipe that loss off the books, and come back tomorrow even?

        I don’t really feel the deal is super unethical or anything, its just similar to the charging mark up that people investing can’t possibly make money at.

        • Its only “perverse” when your horse is untrustworthy. Its gambling. You do your research. You understand the player, his history, his future, his passion for the game, his study habits, etc. And you take a chance of making 10 to 20 times your bet. When I go to the track or go to my broker there is no “make up”. Im willing to take a shot. So this is the deal. Go ‘head Carlos do your thing, I aint mad at ya.

        • I dont think anyone is taking shots at me here. I pretty much understood him the same way you did. It’s mathematically unfair and possibly unethical. Mobius and I agree on the first point and I will concede the possibility of the second one.

          In the week you described, our incentives dont align perfectly meaning that the payoff for each of us is not the same when I breakeven. This is exactly what I meant when I said the deal is mathematically unfair.

          Your second example, also illustrates Mobius’s unfairness point. And if I ever took that line, it would prove his unethical point. Your equation underestimates the hit I would take to my “not an asshole/ not willing to show down a donkey call” EV.

          As far as when I quit, I dont decide that. It’s a built in mechanism. He gives me one bullet. If I lose it, my session is automatically cut short. Again, he and I both know this favors me. If I lost the first 100 and then just tried to quit in order to start over next time, I would a. make no money that night b. be an asshole c. ruin the deal going forward. Avoiding these things removes any incentive to quit early.

          Basically, I think everyone understands that this deal is mathematically unfair to the backer. Because he knows this and does it anyway, I take it as him giving me a helping hand while also making some money off of the deal although not as much as he could be making.

          • yea sounds about right, seems especially fine since he is also a player. If a family member wanted to invest in you as a player tho id feel obliged to tell them that their expectations are unrealistic.

            on a non ethical side not it would be better if you could at least top up at times so you don’t need to win your first pot to maintain a 100bb stack, even like another $20 that you keep off the table would help heaps imo.

            • Agreed. Aww man, I remember once a civilian friend of mine wanted to back me. She was like “Oh, you’re going to Vegas? Here’s $100. Win me some money too!”

              I started explaining variance, but once her eyes glazed over I just simply said no.

          • I plan to write some more later, but for now I just want to say that I agree with Carlos, in that if the backer is aware of all the mathematical problems of such a deal, and chooses to make this deal anyway (e.g. for convenience sake), then obviously this is fine and completely ethical, just like it would be perfectly ethical to just accept a gift of 10,000$ from the backer.

            My comment had just one subtle point about the ethical implications of a no-makeup deal which I think is still relevant: That the horse’s desire to avoid exploiting the deal, or to avoid even the appearance of exploiting the deal, might actually make the horse play worse and hurt both himself and the backer. Two examples:

            1. If the horse is 200$ ahead for the night, and has a stack of 400$ in front of him, then he has a mathematical incentive to gamble towards the end of the night: If villain open-shoves pre-flop in the last hand of the night, the horse should be calling if he has more than 33% equity. For the backer, however, calling is only profitable if we have more than 60% equity in the pot! Now, suppose the horse finds himself having 65% equity. Then he should obviously call, right? Well, it’s not clear: getting all-in on the last hand of the night might give the appearance of exploiting the deal, so the horse might choose to avoid taking this gamble (that is profitable for both horse back backer!) in order to avoid the appearance of exploiting the deal.

            2. Suppose the horse is down 50$ for the night and playing his C-game, and that he has a negative EV. Then he should quit, right? But quitting might give the appearance of exploiting the deal. So he might choose to stay, thus being -EV for the backer.

            I’m not saying that Carlos will do any of these things. But I think that these incentives are so subtle that I wouldn’t trust myself not to be influenced by these incentives one way or the other.

  4. Mobius has convinced me. Carlos, I want those meals back.

    I think the incentives do align, but Duggs does a good job highlighting the asymmetric nature of the risk and reward possible with such an arrangement. That asymmetry appears widest when the non-monetary aspect of the deal, which Carlos tried to highlight, are ignored.

    In my opinion, the ethical question is easy to solve. Do both parties have full information and enter into the agreement freely? The deal does not become unethical just because the benefits are not distributed equally. (And again, they might be equal, depending on how much the backer values having Carlos in the game or helping with his development).

  5. Carlos should not hang his head in shame when caught bluffing. It is a sign that you are truly thinking about poker and your bluffs will never work 100% of the time or you are not bluffing enough. They are so dependent on the other players mindset ( ability to recognize the situation, think through the hand and understand your story, and look beyond their cards and fold) and you can never know exactly what someone will do. I have been called by second bottom pair on a four flush board for 100 bb. This isn’t bad (except for losing the money) because I know I can bet for value with that person the next time. Bluffing isn’t always about winning the hand sometimes it is about setting an image. Once caught players at the table will now call your value bets more often. Carlos don’t think of it as getting caught doing something wrong you actually just got caught doing something right (to the thinking player) and now how do we use it to our advantage.

    Love the podcast and good luck Carlos!!!!

    • This is something I learned from Andrew. I need to develop the ability to make that bluff, show it, and move on in the same way I do after c-betting and folding to a raise. One day I will be in Phil Ivey robot mode, but I am not there yet.

      Getting caught bluffing is not the biggest piece actually. It is taking a line that looks bad to bad players and having then go on and on berating you for it while you stoically refrain from explaining or re-berating.

      If that line results in them sitting behind a stack of my chips, the temperature of my face increases. This is monkey tilt in the making so I just leave the game in an orbit or two.

      If that line results in me sitting behind a stack of their chips, the length of my smile increases. This is the Holy Grail of poker.

  6. On the strategy hand:

    From looking at my poker database I am not able to open middling suited connectors from early position and show a profit. Maybe better players can but I think lots of people trick themselves into thinking these are profitable opening hands when they are not.

    As played on the flop I don’t understand why Hero wouldn’t either 3-bet or fold. Villain is going to have KT, 55, QJ, or air when he raises the flop. We want to raise against QJ and air on the flop and these are by far the biggest portion of his range.

    What benefit do we get in waiting for the turn to bluff again?

    There are very few cards that will increase our fold equity. There are cards that will decrease our fold equity (A, 9, unknown cards that hit Villain).

    The stack sizes are such that we can make a 4-bet bluff very unattractive.

    If our equity improves because we pick up a draw or a pair I don’t see how that helps. Against Villain’s hands that would not have folded to a flop 3-bet we still won’t get folds on the turn. Against those we’d prefer to fold the flop. Against Villain’s hands that would have folded to a flop 3-bet we would have been better off just getting him to fold the flop.

    I can only see calling the flop and bluffing the turn if we’re somehow convinced somehow that Villain has QJ and won’t fold it to a large flop 3-bet.

    • I am probably wrong, but I thought I could get the same info cheaper by just calling and putting the betting impetus back on him. In air vs air spots, I tend to think the first one to check loses.

      I didn’t want him to flat my 4-bet and put it back on me. If so, I would have to check give up.

      My plan was to call and see if he could continue with his bluff on the turn. If he barreled, I’d give up. If he checked, I’d take it away.

      Obviously, that didn’t work out in this case. Maybe 4-bet bluffing from this stack is better albeit more expensive in a lot of cases.

      • I agree that calling the flop may help you differentiate between KT, 55, and air on the turn but that assumes that he doesn’t bet or check-raise the turn with QJ and/or air too often. If Villain (or the player pool in general) gives up after check-raise bluffing the flop too often then calling the flop might be better than raising.

        When you have a very weak hand 4-betting and giving up is fine. You aren’t giving up much equity at all. No harm. That’s why you use your weakest hands for bluffing.

        I also think that you represent a credible and strong range by 3-betting the flop. What hands do you call the flop raise with and then bet on the turn for value?

        From a game theory perspective you have better hands to float with – hands that will more often benefit from a turn card. Back door nut flush draws, QJ, JT, AJ, AQ. I’d rather use 98ss as a bluff 4-betting hand.

  7. About a year ago I added this podcast to my rotation to help tolerate my commute/work trips. Anyway, I, like everyone else got introduced to Carlos who is a seemingly nice person who writes well and cares about his family. My concern however is that Andrew is unintentionally setting Carlos up for failure. Not trying to be rude but also keeping it 100 I have to say that supporting yourself via poker is very, very, very, very, very, difficult. To be a break even player at any significant stakes 5-5 or higher is an accomplishment and imo puts you in the top 5-7% of the player pool. To be a winning player that can support himself (long term) puts you in the top 1-3% the difficulty of this cannot be understated.

    With that said and in the spirit of keeping it real, if after 10 years of poker experience and over year of subscribing to at least 1 training site (TPE) Carlos has to have it explained to him why playing the VFW charity tourneys are massively unbeatable even with a rake free last longer bet, then poker beyond the hobby level is not for him at least not without a massive overhaul to his poker game.

    I cringe when I hear talk of balancing ranges, floating, bluffing. IT’S live 1-2 your priorities should be betting for VALUE, playing POSITION, TILT CONTROL, IMAGE, and betting for VALUE. I’d skip the stake, get a job, stabilize your life roll, save up a solid bank roll like 5-6k for 1-2. I don’t see how playing with one bi of either your’s or someone else’s money can possible be good for anyone’s game. It’s borderline degen.

    Anyway just my opinion hope nobody takes it the wrong way.

    • Point well taken. I’m working on the massive overhaul every day and the borderline degen-ness of it all is sorta exciting in a way. I’m sure it’s good for the games of the guys that beat me. In that way, I’m a bit like other recreational players except my income is much less than theirs and a much larger percentage of it is disposable due to me being a life nit. I’d much rather spend it playing poker than on a decent car. I certainly would be doing something less adventurous/degeny if I had a kid or a wife.

      I also agree about the job. I’ve been looking for a while now. The main problem is that I now live so far away from my former tutoring clients and I dont have the reputation on this side of town that I have back home. I’ve got to rebuild from scratch or work with tutoring company. Working on that as we speak. Also, I have a few solid writing gigs and I am working on some other options that I find more fulfilling than the 9 to 5 I had for 5 years prior.

      Once I land something, I’ll be back on track, playing/learning when I’m not working, and continuing to enjoy this adventure even if I never make it to the top 5%.

      I will say that I would have done this even if I’d never met Andrew. In fact, if I’d never met a certain girl, I would have done this 10 years ago back when the games were much easier. Most of that experience is in online STTs which are dead at this point. I would be in good shape now if I had been studying and playing cash back then instead.

      Like you, I believe that 1-2 and 2-5 is primarily about value betting, but if I’m gonna overhaul my game I cant just ignore the few opportunities for the other aspects of poker. For example, in Doug Hull’s book geared towards this level, he has 27 bluffing lessons vs 11 value betting lessons. This opened my eyes to the fact that I’d been ignoring an entire side of the game.

      • I’m just saying be careful. It’s been 10 years since you started playing and you are at the smallest live games with one staked buyin. The next 10 years are going to go by in the blink of an eye and the decisions you make in the mean time are going to determine where you end up. Don’t sell your future short chasing a dream that is nearly impossible, cause in ten years eating lentils, living with crazy Brazilian women, and sleeping in your car won’t be nearly as tolerable. I understand the sickness that comes with poker, it’s a beautiful game that i am also infatuated with it but seriously establish a solid life roll and then bank roll because grinding 1-2nl with 1 buyin is now way to go through life.

    • I disagree about bluffing. I think bluffing is very important to do correctly, even in the lowest stakes (i.e. 1$/2$). “Correctly” does mean not bluffing calling stations unless in the most lucrative situations, but it also means bluffing correctly vs thinking players and against scared money. If you know that a certain player ill never stack off without two pairs or better, that’s at least as large a leak as that of a player who will stack off with top pair no kicker, and you want to know how to exploit both of these. I feel that poker, at any level (above hamburger stakes) is a game of both value betting and bluffing.

      One possible point of unasked-for advice to Carlos: I understand you are playing both live and online, and that the stakes you play online are significantly smaller than live, so your winnings are dominated by your live winnings. That being the case, I think you should make sure that you are learning as much as possible from your online hands. In other words, I think that in your online play you want to prioritize learning and getting better over hourly winrate, because getting better translates to better winrates live. That being the case, you should consider restricting the number of tables you play online, and concentrating more on thinking about spots on the table. I find that by playing a small number of tables (say 4-6, maybe even less) one can get better much more quickly than playing, say, 10-12 tables.

      • Typically the smallest games are 100bb, full ring, where the open is 4 or 5x. In these games where stacks are shallow and there is little fold equity alot of players over rate bluffing. Sure some situations come up where it can be profitable in small games but employing it as part even a small part of an overall strategy in 1/2 or 1/3 games is pretty big leak. I think a lot of small stakes grinder’s games would greatly benefit from simplifying their strategy, not over thinking situations, avoiding spots that lead to tough decisions, and nailing good fundamental poker. This psuedo 3rd and 4th level metagame at these stakes is unnecessary.
        I recall a hand where Carlos (and I’m sorry I don’t mean to put you out there) leads weak with tptk on the button saying he wanted it to look like he was stabbing at the pot. Well it folds to the dude that like 2x pots it and you fold, why? You have top pair pairs are hard to make you bet weak on the button and induced a check raise from dude you should call it’s not any more complicated than that at 1/2. There was another thread where someone’s read on a villain’s range was both capped and polarized, which is it capped or polarized?
        Sorry but it just seems that people ingest so much strategy and learn just enough to be dangerous to themselves. One of the best things we as players can do is slow things down learn things correctly and apply it to the appropriate stakes.

    • Thanks for the comments, Shark. I can tell you’re well-intentioned here and not just being a hater, and you’re not the first person to point to the charity tournament thing as a red flag.

      That said, I’ve had a lot of conversations with Carlos that we didn’t broadcast, and I think (as his comments here indicate) he’s approaching things in a more responsible way than it may seem. The things he’s looking for in life and the amount of money he needs to get them are extremely different from your average poker pro (or average American, for that matter). This flexibility of mind, by the way, is a great trait to have as a poker player.

      He’s told me that he’d be beyond content making $20 to $25 an hour in a 2/5 game. I haven’t kicked all the tires on that claim – does he have health insurance in that scenario? is he saving for retirement? – but Carlos knows more than I do about personal finance, so I’ve assumed he’s not without a plan.

      So the 5-7% of the player pool beating 5-5 is already higher than he’s aiming. Additionally, a lot of the reasons why people fail at being professionals aren’t related to not being good enough to beat the games, they relate to poor money management. Carlos’ only leak in this regard seems to be his generosity towards people in his life who need money more than he does, and again here I trust his judgment about how much he values helping these people as opposed to securing his own financial future.

      Of course none of this makes it a guarantee that he’ll “make it”, but I don’t think he expects an easy road, and at least off the air we’ve talked and I’ve helped him in concrete ways with other sources of income outside of poker. He’s definitely not flying without a parachute here. Even at the height of his focus on poker it wasn’t his only source of income, and as his bankroll shrunk he’s continued to diversify.

      Basically my take is that he’s chasing a dream, that dream is not at all unattainable, he’s not without a backup plan, and he’s enjoying the ride even if he never “arrives”.

      • So maybe only 5-7% of the player pool can beat 5/5. What percent of the player pool subscribes to podcasts, video websites, and buys books? Based on what I’ve seen, I would guess about 2%.

  8. Good discussion in the podcast and in the blog. I’d love to be a fly on the wall during your tutoring sessions, Carlos. Those kids and their parents are lucky. Good luck in all your ventures, and enjoy!

    • We have a lot of fun. I use that competitive bone that all of us have to bring the best out of them. One of my favorites is a 10 question quiz where they have to do 10 push ups for every question they get wrong and I have to do 10 for every one that they get correct. They love to watch me suffer. I find for most of these teens you have to be an entertainer as well as an educator if you want to keep them engaged.

    • Since you were so nice to me and gave me cookies, I may be able to make that wish come true in some small form.

      When I was starting my tutoring business, I filmed myself teaching a math trick and uploaded it to YouTube. If you really want to see it tell Andrew to email me about it. I will dig up that old link, paste it in the email, and click reply. If I do not get an email about this, then that video will remain on the dusty library shelves of history filed under E for Embarrassing.

  9. Andrew and Nate, Thinking Poker got some love last Pokernews podcast, they were talking about your interview with Timex. Hopefully bring a few more listeners your way

  10. Carlos, I think you might have the right idea when you talk about becoming a poker dealer. You love the game and are very sociable and likable. It seems like a natural fit.
    Shower Shark has some bare-knuckled logic there that you (and I!) should keep in mind. If you were to put the effort in to become a dealer it should be seen IMO as a CAREER and not just a way to scrape a few bucks together. I don’t think you should be satisfied with just getting some local Atlanta gigs….get training, get certified, find a good place of employment that pays the bills and also, of course, gives you disposable income to pursue the poker dreams.

    • Agreed. I’ll sift through the advice and take what works for me. I can see how my decisions look bad from the outside due to lack of all the details, but I promise it’s not as bad as it seems. The key thing to remember is that I don’t need much to be happy besides control over my life. I’m a free bird man.

      I’m not that interested in a career right now if by that we mean being stuck in a school or casino for 8+ hours a day. Been there. Done that. Made a lot of money. Didn’t like it. Decided I had nothing to lose and the worse that could happen wasn’t that bad. Best decision of my life. I’ve reached all my goals of becoming homeless, jobless, and alone.

      I’m half joking but I do understand where you guys are coming from. I’m just much happier being a rolling stone. If that’s still the case in 10 years, cool. If not, I’ll recreate myself again. At least I will have enjoyed the journey of my life for a while. The only thing I refuse to do is wonder what if.

      • I guess I was bound to say this at some point or the other, but: if you want a job that you can learn in your free time, for free, until you are professionally qualified; that will eventually let you take odd jobs flexibly; that rewards a math background; and that will leave you with good options if poker really doesn’t work out, you might think about learning to code.

        • I worked for UGA for 5 years doing web design with Cold Fusion and MS Access (somehow I think that sounds like child’s play to you, lol). I thought myself how to do this by reading books on the job, so I was never really that great at it. It was sorta fun, but I never got into the real languages. Maybe I could do something like that again.

          I remember working at Walmart with a guy that did some coding on the side from home. If I can develop the same passion for that as I have for poker, tutoring, or hip hop, I can see it happening. I dont want to do anything that feels like work. You’ve found something that you love so much that you’d do it for free. That’s my goal too.

          Speaking of which, here is a newletter from that school I have been raving about.

          If I ever did another full time job, it would likely be something like this. Every time I look at their website, I feel a strong gravitational pull saying I need to be a part of this. Probably similar to Andrew and the debate league. They were looking for an after school tutor but they never gave me a call back. I would have made math monsters out of those kids.

        • Nate, could you give some advice on a starting point for a complete novice interesting in learning coding and the working opportunities it can yield, like a basic website or a cheap book? I googled abit and found codecademy.com, can you recommended it as a decent starting point?

          I realise you have probably done this before at some point in the podcast, or in the comments, but can’t recall the episode right now.


  11. While I agree with Shower Shark’s advice for most people, it seems to me that Carlos is unusually in touch with reality and self-aware enough to make good decisions. I wouldn’t want to do what he is doing but that doesn’t mean it is a bad decision for him.

    Everyone should be true to themselves and do what makes them happy.

  12. Of course I can’t resist also giving some advice to Carlos:

    Are you focusing on one or two specific and measurable areas of poker improvement? I’ve heard a broad set of strategic discussions and I wonder if you aren’t drinking from a fire hose. In my experience it is much better to focus on one or two of your biggest leaks at a time and work on those until they are plugged before moving on.

    I wish your Carlos Cashtasrophes thread was available outside of TPE so I could follow along!

    • I appreciate the vote of confidence. I’ve only been playing cash for 6 months and I’m a winning player so far. Eventually I’ll leap out of the fish tank if I keep learning from the best.

      This is something I have been thinking about. With so much time on my hands, I am over doing it with the studying. Not only am I studying tons of topics, but I am studying from tons of sources. And I’m not even focusing on type of NL. I’m studying live full ring, online 6-max, and MTTs all at once. That cant be good. I gotta work on the inchworm concept that Tendler preaches.

      I am hoping to make Cash Catastrophes (easier to say) a series for PokerNews. It’s up to the boss. I hope he likes the idea.

      • Listen man, when I came into LA at 17 years of age I had $400 in my pocket 2 pairs of pants 2 shirts with collars, a pair of shoes with a couple of socks and 2 pairs of underwear topped off with a thick coat. That was it. Every one told me not to do it That it was impossible. My dad sought out advice from local people and they told him not to let me go. I sought out the professionals in my field and they told me to go back. That the most I could ever thinking of making was $300 a week.
        Long story short, I met a man who became my mentor. A brilliant actor who was nominated for best supporting actor Oscar in the movie Sand Pebbles. He told me do it only if you cannot not do it. But you have to study. Study all the sciences that relate to performing art. Not just standing on the stage and emoting but the sciences. I packed up and went to NY. Studied ballet, gymnastics, modern an jazz dance, fencing, martial arts, opera, ethnic dance, languages, Stanislavski, Grotowski, Lee Strasberg, all the great teachers. I read books. It was something I could not not do. He told me always no matter what love your work and have integrity and dignity.
        I was laughed at. I would get lousy service in restaurants. Always insufficient funds and decent abodes. I would get on a bus and go to the studios for an audition and get rejected 20 out of 20 times. Those in the same racket as me fell on the way side to drugs or prostitution or crime. Or going back to where they came from to their little towns safe in their family surroundings.
        Its different now days. There is more access. Less shame. But no less easy. So when Tupac and Danny Boy sung those words “Do your thing boy, I aint mad at ya” it really hit me. I think of my dad and mom saying that to me. And I think of all those who told me not to that I would sing that to. I aint mad at ya. I just had to do my thing.

        • Thank you brother. I can hear it from my mama too. You led me to re-listen to the song. The last part where he says “even as an adolescent I refused to be a convalescent” just makes me realize how much he inspired me almost 20 years ago. That stuff is still guiding me. Man I miss that dude.

  13. Top stuff ITT guys, cheers! Carlos, if you are following your dreams and are happy, that’s the main thing.

    But you should also be realistic with your goals. You said you understand variance and I don’t doubt that, but have you really looked into it? For starters go check out some of the graphs in the Omaha BBV thread on 2+2 (I know omaha is a higher variance game but I think it’s anyway relevant to the discussion). Some of those guys are tens of thousands of BB’s under EV (breakeven or worse before rakeback) after millions of hands, including a former WSOP bracelet winner (make of that what you want :P).

    You’re playing live where you see a fraction of the hands/hour compared to online. Given the amount of hands you’ll play live it’s extremely likely that you’ll never realise your true expectation over your live poker career. Of course this doesn’t mean you can’t be profitable, but you have to understand that you might run under EV for the rest of life, without rakeback, which sucks balls.

    Another point to consider is while you are working on your game away from the table, you are disassembling it again as soon as you peak at your first hand at the table with your overly nitty style. You have to be able to practice what you are learning in theory (perhaps you are doing this with your online play, apologies if so).

    Basically it seems to me like you are counting on cold decks and extremely poor stack-offs from your opponents to make your profit. While I agree that most of our money in poker will come from villain mistakes, rather than our own majestic play, they don’t tend to make as many mistakes if you don’t put them under pressure. You can’t do this by only waiting for monsters and hoping for someone to pick up a good enough second best hand to go to the felt with (which could still draw out on you, as you know!).

    This was suppose to be constructive criticism, hopefully it was taken so!

    Good luck Carlos, looking forward to the next update.

    • > But you should also be realistic with your goals. You said you understand variance and I don’t doubt that, but have you really looked into it?

      But have *you* really looked at it, weekend warrior?

      I think Carlos will be playing around 20,000 live hands per year. Assuming a standard deviation of 50bb/100 (might even be a bit lower than this for live full-ring NLH), his standard deviation for the whole year will be 3.53bb/100. Which, at 5$/5$ at 20 hands per hour, translates to 3.5$ per hour. So, if Carlos is skilled enough to be making 30$ per hour, then with probability 97.5%, he’ll in fact be making at least 23$ per hour in the next year.

      As you can see, variance is not that bad for a pro that plays a lot. PLO variance is about twice as bad, which means it needs four times as many hands to converge by the same amount.

      • doesn’t that hourly require winning at 30bb/100? i have no idea what realistic win rates are live tho. the higher the win rate the ‘safer’ you become.

        whats a reasonable win rate live, i really have no idea.

      • Fair enough, seems to make sense. Thanks for the reply.

        Looking back over my original comment it seems abit overly negative! I haven’t done alot of writing recently so need to try and make my brain and hands work as one again when typing. I think my last memory of the episode was of Carlos talking about a beat or two he took at the tables and this must have started my variance rant and then the news of playing on one buy-in per session leading to my conclusion of nitty play. Maybe I’ll listen twice before commenting next time!

        Anyways, on to the next one 🙂

  14. I’d like to thank everyone again (especially Gareth) and make a few points that could shed a bit of light.

    1. Live, I play similar to a TAG/Reg style that Ed Miller describes in his PTP book. This means I am nitty compared to the guys I play whose favorite hands are K4o and 64s, but I am not simply waiting for aces. I steal a ton of pots from late position with probably 30% of hands and just last week I put in 100bbs preflop with 88 in a spot where I saw a lot of dead money in the pot. (I was wrong. It wasn’t dead. I got called by a small to medium Ax and 33. 3 on flop. nh). Generally, I am only mildly tight preflop. I nit up (exploitably) when I get too much resistant postflop mainly because people dont bluff enough and also because I have the one buyin PER NIGHT that this backer gives. My other backer gave me 10. And if I had too, I could go home for a month, work up another 5, and start this whole journey over.

    2. $23 an hour is about what I made for 5 years as a teacher and I felt like a millionaire compared to the $9-12 an hour I was used to before that. If I can make $10 an hour doing something I love and go up from there, I would be in heaven with about $500 a month over my expenses for savings/bankroll building.

    3. I have the best poker friends and educational materials on the planet. And I am not an idiot (at least not a complete one). Unless every professional alive is a savant, then I think these two things add up to me having a chance. Damn, can a brotha at least scrape up $10 an hour one day?

    4. If I cant, then I’ll move back home, resume my tutoring/teaching careers, and live out the rest of my days knowing that I went down fighting. At least I’ll get to watch yall on TV every summer during the WSOP and brag to my friends like “Hey, I know that guy!”

    5. I believe that the vast majority of people in the Thinking Poker community are rooting for me and are taking this opportunity to provide me with some constructive advice. Thank you guys. I’d just like to ask that we focus on the fight and not prematurely abandon ship. I mean, It’s only been about 6 months since I started taking cash seriously.


    6. If anyone still doubt me, HU for rolls?

    (Just kidding, I cant resist bad jokes. You guys are awesome and I am glad so many of you actually care. One day, I’ll be the people’s champ and win something for you guys. It’s gonna take more than a few bad months for poker to kick my ass. Quit aint in me.)

  15. . If I cant, then I’ll move back home, resume my tutoring/teaching careers, and live out the rest of my days knowing that I went down fighting. At least I’ll get to watch yall on TV every summer during the WSOP and brag to my friends like “Hey, I know that guy!”

    Dude you can watch me next week March the 4th on NCIS LA and say the same thing. Im the Asian guy with the fish.

    • Ahahahahah You know what? I’m not much of a TV or movie guy, but I’m gonna put that on my calendar.

      Good news people! I finally got a response from the Kindezi School asking me if I am still interested. I decided to take a trip there and back to test how bad the commute will be. I’ll have to make an hour drive home through Atlanta rush hour traffic and since it’s only for 2 hours of work, I’ll have to ride my gas friendly motorcycle there to make it feasible.

      OMG! That neighborhood is one of the worst I have ever seen. Looks like a war zone. It’s actually the same area where T.I. sold drugs as a kid. On my ride, I saw a bunch of T.I.’s but unfortunately they probably suck at rapping and will be there to make my motorcycle trips cringe worthy and make the lives of those kids hell. Hopefully, they’ll hire me so that these kids can see a dude who may also suck at rapping, but not at life like these liquor store mascots.

      If so, the tutoring will cover my bills, the live rake will cover my food expenses, and the writing gigs will grow my bankroll. Who knows? Maybe I’ll even win a few coins at poker.

      If not, it’s all good. The expenses are covered, I still have my freedom, and as a 2 hour tutor in a charter school, I’ll probably get to do way more teaching than I did as an 8 hour teacher in a regular school.

      Who says the dream is impossible?

      • Congrats on those moves, mister!

        I have a friend who used to grind SNGs pre-black Friday, had a beautiful graph over thousands of games, and played well. But ya know what? He ended up hating it because he wasn’t doing almost anything variance free on the side. Ok ok, there may have been some other reasons, too.

        Anyway, I’m just excited for what you’ve got going on, because it sounds like a very stable mix of poker and then a small amount of hours doing some other work to help take the edge off of how much the swings FEEL like they matter.

        Best of luck with everything.

  16. It’s not just the ladies, some of us guys miss Nate too <3 (not to detract from the job you're doing solo Andrew!)

    • Hahaha – this comment needs some love. Very good…

      Oh and Roy, thanks to your episode, I now occasionally fire up some micro PLO tables when my games aren’t going, and I’m enjoying it. I hope to eventually put a little more effort into learning the game, but for now this’ll do.

      • Awesome – glad you’re enjoying it! When you do end up wanting to put in some more effort feel free to drop me a line and I’ll try to steer you in the right direction as best I can.

    • I would just like to balance Roy’s feedback range given Sean’s post. Since Roy’s episode I have lost almost 700$ at Zoom PLO. You get crazy VPPs/rakeback on that, but sadly, after factoring that, I still have lost 350$.

      • If you hadn’t just binked a bazillion shekels in that TCOOP I *might* have felt a pang for you. Instead, I now urge you to move up to the 2/5 zoom pool. You know. Where people will respect your raises and all. Also think of the VPPs. Cheers 🙂

  17. doesn’t that hourly require winning at 30bb/100? i have no idea what realistic win rates are live tho,

    • I can’t tell which comment you’re responding to, but I don’t think anyone has assumed a 30bb/100 winrate. $25/hour at 2/5 and 33 hands per hour would be 15 bb/100. I think that’s realistic.

      • sorry i didn’t tack it onto a reply properly so i reposted it above, but i don’t know how to delete this one.

        I grossly underestimate the effect of hand speed on hourly win rates live it seems.

        • My bad. I assumed 20 hands per hour in the comment that duggs replied to. 33 hands per hour seems high to me, but I guess 5$/5$ or 5$/10$ play faster than 1$/2$.

  18. This has to be up there with most commented on blog post, right Mr. Brokos? (this needed its own comment)

    • It’s getting up there, though I can’t help but feel you’re jimmying things a bit with three consecutive comments, one of which called for a comment from me in response!

      I don’t think I have an easy way of checking, but off the top of my head the reparations debate and a few of the WYPs are probably still in the lead.

      • I can provide some audio links to some more baritonage if it might help things along.

        Looking forward to the next episode so we can end the madness but I certainly had a ton of fun with this one.

  19. i think it is too much fun offering up life advice to someone (while ignoring my own private mess). Carlos….in the mood for a few suggestions? how about astronaut? i was always wondering if a skilled rounder could do chip tricks in a gravity deprived environment. cattle rancher? meter maid? stunt driver? olympic curling champion? ahhhh, the possibilities are endless…

  20. I’m glad to hear that the Kindezi School asked you if you are still interested, Carlos. I’d like to see that You Tube link, and I’ll be following your adventures as you share them!

    • I went in to meet the kid today and got the job on the spot. He actually asked for a tutor and wanted to get started right away so we did. Most of my students have me forced on them by their parents so this was pretty cool.

      The bad thing is that the kid is great in math and I find out today that he needs help in all the subjects I’ve never taught. Yall should have seen me trying to explain the difference between an oligarchy and an unitary state. I feel like the parents that struggle with helping their kids do homework because they “haven’t seen this stuff in 20 years.” God help the boy when we start on grammar.

      The fact that he speaks a mile a minute and covers 3 topics per paragraph is a whole nother issue. I ask him to define the duties of the president and he goes from do you have Call of Duty to betcha cant name the “four-fathers” to betcha cant guess which of these other kids is my brother.

      I’m in for a wild ride.

      • Sounds like a misdiagnosis of ADHD waiting to happen. FWIW, there’s a lot of talk about ADHD symptoms being a product of bad nutrition (too much processed food, too much milk).

      • Awesome, congratulations! Should be fun. I’ll take scatterbrained over bad-tempered any day of the week.

  21. On the last hand of the broadcast, y’all state that the hero bets $75 on the river but never said whether he was called, raised, etc

    Do we know?

    REALLY enjoy your podcasts, thx for your work!

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