Saturday, July 16, 2005

Barry Greenstein Part II

When I left off, I'd just gotten to know Barry a little more personally at Foxwoods. He'd given me the Stud tournament tip of a lifetime; give yourself a chance to win.

After Foxwoods, Barry and I talked a bit here and there, mostly via Two Plus Two (Blogger won't accept the plus key, for whatever reason).

In late January, I had a horrible run at Commerce. It was so bad that I knew I needed to revamp my entire game, both cash games and tourneys.

I came home from the LAPC as angry as I've ever been. Angry at myself, no one else.

I wrote to a few of the best players and/or teachers that I know. Barry was one of them. Barry said that he didn't have the time to mentor me, but he did give me his honest opinion on my play. I thanked him for his candor.

Not long afterwards, he wrote me back, saying he felt bad that he couldn't help me more, and wanted to send me a draft of his book, to see if that could get me out of my rut. He asked me not to tell anyone that he was sending it to me, not to talk about it at all, until he gave me the word. I kept that promise, and didn't discuss the book with anyone, although I really wanted to, because of the treasures hidden in the text.

I was expecting the book in about a week or so, but to my surprise he paid extra to have it delivered overnight. The ironic thing is that it couldn't have come at a better time. I'd just gotten his book and read the first 40 pages or so, when the doctor called to tell me I had cancer. What a shocker! In fact, Barry had just written to me asking about the book and my opinion. I sent it off, and within five minutes of sending it, telling him the doctor had just reassured me that I most certainly did NOT have cancer, he called back to say I DID!

Anyway, Barry wrote back and was completely supportive, although I was in shock, and alone, and he probably realized I needed someone to talk to.

Barry thought that the funniest thing to come out of the whole debacle was that when I was in shock, I wrote him saying, "So I suppose I'll be having surgery in a few days, but this will give me time to finish your book."

He wrote back with, "I can tell you'll be OK because of your attitude. Not many people could be diagnosed with cancer and point out that there is one good thing: "this will give me time to finish your book."

Since that time, Barry has told this story again and again. I wasn't even trying to be funny, or brave, or anything. I think I was just in shock and didn't know what to say!

I finished reading the book in just a day or so. I thought it was fantastic, myself, but immediately realized that there would be a segment of serious poker players who wouldn't get as much out of it as I did.

When I read about people bashing Dr. Al's book, it usually has to do with players who don't understand psychology in poker, or don't believe in it. There have been many posters at Two Plus Two over the years who have just flat-out stated "there is no psychology in poker." So for that group, they are obviously not going to be fully supportive of a poker psychology book.

Barry's book is highly psychological, IMO. I had a feeling it would be, because of things he has written and said in the past. It is like Dr. Al's book taken to a completely different level.

Barry's book also deals with hands that he feels he misplayed. He gives examples of a hand, the proper play based on many different interpretations of the situation and mathematical conclusions, and then how he played, or misplayed the hand in the end. Not many poker experts are willing to put themselves out like that. Many of them would have you believe they play perfectly all of the time. Many of them would also have you believe that perfect play has to do solely with numbers.

A "general strategy" poker player, who truly believes that poker is like 21, and there is a basic, general strategy that is correct in almost every situation, every time, I doubt will be singing the praises of Barry's book. Barry assumes that you know the correct mathematical play, but that you have to make advanced decisions when you don't have that crutch to lean on. His book isn't for beginners. He will also make you take a hard, long look at yourself. Why you play poker, what kind of personality you are. Like Dr. Al's book, if you don't like what you see reflected in those pages, you most likely will not like the book, nor will you get much from it, condemning it as a pop-psychology book which has no place in poker.

If you truly want to see poker from every angle; the good, the bad, the ugly, and are completely open and honest with yourself, this book will teach you things you have never considered before. I learned a lot of things about myself. Why there are certain aspects of my make-up which will prevent me from playing the highest limits. Why there are other aspects in my personality which will allow me to be a small winner at most levels in cash games.

While it was a disappointment to be shown my own image so clearly, it was also a relief. It was the perfect complement to Dr. Al's book. It will allow me to be the best poker player I could ever be, should I wish to advance that far, but it also stripped away any illusions I had to achieve being a future "Barry."

Fortunately, there are many players who truly believe I could beat games as high at 400/800. While 400/800 might not be 4/8k, it is high enough for me! So I got a really good look at myself, while reading Barry's book, and in my mind, that is what it takes to call a book a big hit!

In closing, Barry kept in touch with me even after I'd finished his book. He asked me to keep him informed of how things are going, what is happening with my treatment.

I am the type of person who respects this kind of request immensely. Most people pay lip service and simply act like they care, when they couldn't care less. To be singled out and specifically asked to keep someone up-to-date on my condition, is a huge honor. Not because Barry is a high limit poker player, but because Barry is a human being. Barry is a human being who CARES. He is not a fair-weather friend, he is true blue and there for all seasons.

Felicia :)

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Thank you, Sir...May I have Another?

Wow, the fog is finally beginning to clear. I thought I was on the downward spiral to hell.

The oncologist has been calling me up about my labs and asking how I'm doing. At least they are keeping on top of things. At this point, I'm praying that my labs won't register, and she'll cancel chemo. Yeah, the choice between death and chemo has been made, I choose death, lol.

Oops, they just called again. Labs are in the toilet, but still on the chart, and high enough for me to get more chemo, if I get another shot of Procrit, the immuno building drug.

She said I have one more chance to get out of it, if my labs fall even further next week. She said sometimes the 2nd week out of chemo, the labs fall farther down. I already feel a little better, so I doubt that is going to happen, but she said in some patients it does. Oy vey.

Okay, so back to the subject: me, which is all I ever talk about ;)

I started kind of coming out of the fog yesterday, and even played some poker. Granted, it was just a fun little $1 O8 tourney on Stars, but still, I was able to do something. I was a little outside of the money, but no bad beat to report, that's just the way it goes.

I also played in the craproll Stud 8 on 24h, which is always fun.

I hope to continue my discussion on Pot-Limit Omaha 8, as I have always been more interested in the theory of poker, the psychology of poker, and studying poker than the actual play of poker itself.

I'm still going ahead with my tourney experiment into PLO8. I just haven't felt well enough to play any as of yet. I wanted to be in an aware frame of mind. I might start today.

I see that Cappelletti is into the same groove, so the trend I talked about is definitely continuing.

As far as those of you who are interested in my research, the response was so overwhelming, I've decided to make it into a post and publish it all here, instead of sending out individual e-mails. Stay tuned for more!

Felicia :)

Monday, July 11, 2005

The Little Game That Couldn't

Well, I'm always jumping the gun, aren't I? I come up with the latest and greatest thing for me, only to find out that I can't hang.

I should have named this blog "Felicia Can't Hang," long before Al came into the big scene. Then again, my reputation of always being a day late and a dollar short wouldn't hold water, if I had.

At any rate, I tend to watch poker trends carefully. I want to see what players are interested in, what is the latest thing that seems to be growing at a faster rate than anything else. Naturally NLHE is the king of poker, both tourneys and cash games, these days, but I look for other trends that are having an impact.

Many players who are extremely into poker seem to be playing a lot of Omaha these days. Pot-limit seems to be the limit of choice, and the big games are both Eight-or-better and High only. The most skilled players, or those who want to take advantage of the players who overrate their abilities, are playing lots of PLO.

It seems to be the cash game of choice, as well as the tourney of choice, for those who want to separate themselves from the all-in NLHE mentality.

I started investigating a couple of months ago. First I watched the live games at different venues. I watched the interest lists and cash games at Rio and Bellagio. I trolled around online watching the number of games and reading the forums. The sheer number of posts about PLO and PLO8 were increasing daily on 2+2. Hmmm.

Finally I took the plunge and decided to find a strategy to beat the online games, the softer games. I knew that the harder games were -EV (I just know this, by putting in a lot of time researching).

Anyway, I investigated both games, and found that my personal playing style was more suited to PLO8.

There are many reasons why this is so. First off, I'm a nut peddler. In O8, it's easy to sit around just peddling the nuts. Second, I know when to trash a hand post-flop. I don't have to keep pumping the pot just because I'm actually "in" a hand for once. Third, I get calls. I just do. Some people sit around playing as tight as a steel drum, yet still always get called. I'm one of them. And fourth, I am very patient. Stud has taught me to be more patient than almost any poker player I know. Stud taught me to be patient early in a hand, then set a trap and snare my prey later. Yes, this has both helped and hindered my poker progress.

So, I armed myself and jumped in. I played many hours for a few days.

Only to find out that cash PLO8 isn't for me.

No, I didn't lose. No big wins either, but I was able to double up many times at the lowest stakes.

Basically my problem is that I didn't like it enough to seek out good games. And that is the krux with PLO8. Good games are fleeting and sometimes tough to find. It is a situation of constantly hitting & running. Table selection is of utmost importance. Playing for hours got too frustrating for me, because I was constantly having to seek out good games, on different sites. A game would start out great, with over 75% seeing the flop, and large pots for the buy-in, then quickly become unplayable (like within 5-15 minutes).

I just didn't like the game enough to constantly table hop as well as site hop. I knew things would only get even more difficult as I moved up in stakes.

Oh, well. Another experiment down the drain.

Tourneys, however, might be a different story. Bad players cannot escape the table until they have lost their entire stack. They must play on until busted.

There are only a handful of PLO8 tourney online right now, but I intend to play in a few and see where that leads me.

For whatever reason, I can play thousands of hours of LO8 without going too crazy, but I can't just flit around the internet constantly looking for good PLO8 games. I'm a moron.

If anyone else is interested in this game, which is a true grind, but a good "sure thing" money maker, feel free to e-mail or IM me and I'll give you all of my research material. Maybe someone else can turn PLO8 into the next goldmine.

Felicia :)

Sunday, July 10, 2005


I had Glenn shave my head before my shower today. I was told to expect my hair to start falling out about 10 days to two weeks after chemo. I figured I'd just go ahead and do it now, while I feel pretty strong.

I didn't want to wait until it starts falling out, because it will get all over the bed and my pillow and make me itch like crazy.

Neither of us thinks it looks bad. I've had it this short once, I believe, but I don't have a pic of it. I'll try to find one, but this one looks as close as I can find. Of course, my skin is much more pale these days.

Our $17 digital camera from Walmart died, so I don't have a way to get instant pics. I'll have to buy another one and take a pic. Max has been begging me for a pic of myself with his flag on. Now I have no excuse :)

I'm still doing well at 4pm. This has been my best day thus far. I should update my cancer journal, too.

I've been playing some online poker, but I think many people will be surprised with the game I've gotten into. I don't want to post about it until I have some more substantial results. I am very intrigued by it, however, and think that in time it could become one of my best games, if not THE best. Yes, even surpassing Stud games. I didn't say FAVORITE, so don't have a coronary. I said BEST.

Felicia :)

Back Home

We are back home. We set out yesterday about noon. I slept half of the way. The Percocet helped cut the bone pain.

The oncologist is having me do labs weekly, since mine were so low to begin with. She says if my labs crash, we'll have to stop chemo altogether. I guess the risk of death is greater than the risk of the cancer recurring.

Today is the first day I feel approaching normal. Really, the whole thing wasn't too bad, the bone pain being the worst of it. I never puked, which is what I was dreading the most.

Felicia :)