WARNING! Boredom alert! I talk herein about my poker results, which nobody cares about.
I have now played 125 single-table online HORSE tournaments. About 2/3 of those have been $10 entry, most of the rest $5, with a few others ($20, $15, etc.) scattered in. Most have been on PokerStars, a handful on Full Tilt. I have tried signing up for them on Bugsy's Club (see here for why), but never got one going. A few have been turbo, most not. All have been eight-seat deals with three places paid.
If the outcomes were totally random, I should expect to cash 38% of the time, or 47/125 events; I have actually cashed 44% of the time, or 55/125 events. Similarly, if all players were of equal skill and luck as each other, one would expect to claim first place 13% of the time, or 16/125; I have actually taken first 16% of the time, or 20/125.
In other words, I have proven to be just slightly better than the average of my competitors--something like a 15-20% edge, depending on how you figure it.
Are these results just due to a little bit of luck, or is there something real that I can take some actual credit for? Well, using the binomial probability calculator here, it appears that if all players were of equal skill, this degree (or more) of deviation from the predicted number of cashes will occur by chance only about 8% of the time.
That may be tricky to understand, so let me rephrase it. Suppose you had a game in which eight people drew the numbers 1 through 8 out of a hat, all luck, no skill. You and your seven friends play this game 125 times. (You have very boring friends.) The probability that you would draw either 1, 2, or 3 55 or more times, by the operation of chance alone, is only 8%. So if you actually achieved this, your friends would have some justification for raising an eyebrow and suspecting that you are rigging the system in some way. Similarly, if only luck were at work, there is only about a 15% chance that you would draw the slip of paper with the number 1 on it 20 or more times over the course 125 games.
All of which means that this is now a large enough number of tournaments that I can be reasonably confident that the results I'm seeing are a real reflection of a difference in how I'm playing, relative to the other players, rather than just random variance. I can have something like 85-90% confidence in that conclusion.
In short, I am Lord of the $10 HORSE.
I have spent $1186.40 on entrance fees, and taken $1312.00 in prizes, for a net profit of $125.60, which represents a return on investment of $1.11 for every dollar put in. However, my guess is that my average time investment is roughly 45 minutes each, so that's coming out to not much more than $1/hour. What's that they say about a hard way to make an easy living?
But, as I've said here many times before, this stuff is all a learning process, not primarily a serious income-generating endeavor.
I feel ready to move up to the $20 level more consistently, and see if I can stay in the black. The problem is finding games. Even at the $10 level, I often sit as the lone registrant for 30 or 60 minutes before giving up. At the times I usually want to play (late at night, before going to bed), there is practically zero interest in playing higher. I'm not sure how to fix that problem, other than changing my playing times, which I am not enthusiastic about.
You may have noticed the appearance of Cardgrrl's avatar in screenshots from some recent games. That is not a coincidence. We have been playing together in a few of these a week for the last couple of weeks. We keep open a separate IM chat, so that we can exchange snarky comments about the other players as well as engage in a little friendly ribbing about who has the most mobneys, who just bluffed whom, etc.* I had largely stopped playing these events for a while because I got bored with them, and this new twist has renewed the fun. It's definitely best when some dunce acts like the Professor of HORSE and tries to lecture everybody on how badly they're playing, and we get to talk and laugh at him behind his back and see if we can put him on Super Monkey Tilt by either deliberately bad play or play that is good enough that he doesn't get it (they have the same effect). One guy earned himself a chat ban from Stars by having been tilted so bad that he stuck around hurling invectives at the remaining players long after he got knocked out on the bubble.
Playing with an affable and like-minded friend is highly recommended.
*In this age of heightened suspicion of online poker malfeasance, I suppose it is necessary to add the public assurance that we do not cheat in any manner. We do not soft-play each other; each of us has been taken out on the money bubble by the other, and if anybody bothered to look at our hand histories they would find plenty of bluffing and check-raising and maximal value-betting going on. Furthermore, we do not coach each other. We will sometimes reveal to the other what cards we're playing, for sweating purposes, but only after the other is out of a hand, and even then the sweater doesn't offer comment until after the hand is done. There is no attempt to collude, either by exchanging information about what we have during a hand and trapping a third player, or by chip dumping.
It would be nice if one could just assume that everybody automatically knows and abides by those simple scruples, but, sadly, there is ample evidence to the contrary--hence this explanatory note. Prior to a couple of weeks ago, I hadn't ever used IM software with another player during a game, so the need to make clear personal/interpersonal rules of conduct hadn't come up. There is obvious potential to use IM (or the telephone, for that matter) for various nefarious purposes, but neither Cardgrrl nor I want to touch that with a 10-foot pole. There is neither fun nor a sense of accomplishment in winning via ethical compromise. So never fear, dear readers. Should the sites want to review the hand histories to check for any signs of foul play, because they notice that we're often enrolled in the same games and wonder if there's cause for concern, they have my blessing to check it out thoroughly. Absolutely nothing amiss is there to be found.
*sigh* I started this footnote to forestall people wondering if we might be guilty of shadiness for having an IM chat open. Now I've written so much that I worry that I protest too much. Oh well. Let people think what they will think, I guess.