Reflections On 100,000 Hands In 10 Days

Well that was brutal. From November 19th through November 28th, I played 100,000 hands in 10 days. I only played about 13 hours each day, but the last one turned into a 28-hour, 25000-hand marathon. That's just too much poker.

My total profit for the ten days was about $5400, which is a not-so-unpleasant disappointment. That's a little over $40/hour, which is what I was making two and a half years ago by playing three tables of $3/$6. I value my time more highly than that now.

(If I had gone on to reach Supernova Elite this year, then the VPPs I earned would have been worth at least another $3900, bringing my hourly wage for this grind to a little over $70.)

Was it worth it? That’s a good question and I’ll try to give a good answer. To be brief, yes and no.

Examined from a monetary standpoint, I might have made three times as much by playing fewer hands, focusing on my opponents, sitting at softer tables, and eliminating time outs and misclicks. So there was unquestionably a more profitable use of my time. But I don't measure life in dollars. I don't even always measure poker in dollars.

So what's the silver lining we always hear so much about? Call it a cheap education and a journey of self discovery.

For one thing, I now know that I am capable of absolutely insane grinding. I already suspected as much, or I wouldn’t have made the prop bet. But you don’t really know you can do something until you’ve actually done it. And now I know that if I ever absolutely have to, I can lock myself up for 10 days and grind out however many hours and hands I may need.

Secondly, I’ve now concluded that insane multi-tabling is not the best way for me to make money. This is useful knowledge. The whole reason I started increasing tables and volume at the beginning of this year was to make more money. After all, making money is the reason a professional poker player plays poker professionally, right? Well, sort of.

While money is a primary motivation (and unfortunately still necessary at this point in my life), I also value the intellectual and psychological challenges of the game. Until someone literally finds a complete game theory optimal solution to Limit Holdem and everyone else starts applying this solution, there will always be more work I can do to improve, and there will always be new and changing opponents to adapt to. There are guys who were awful 6 months ago who are pretty good now. There’s been a rash of turn check/raises with middle pair (someone must’ve made a video about this). There’s always something.

Don’t get me wrong – I notice these things while I’m playing 14 tables of $5/$10 and $10/$20. I’m not flying on autopilot through a fog. But in trying to grind out a half million hands this year (and write two books, make like a hundred videos, play the WSOP, etc.), I forgot to leave time to study the nuances. I just filled in all of those blank hours on my calendar with more grinding. Blank hours when I should have been improving and moving up.

Does that mean this crazy grinding is not right for anyone? I don’t know. It may be the most comfortable way for some people to make money. And that’s fine. It’s possible to grind out Supernova Elite in about 1000 hours by playing six to ten tables. That’s not a rough life. I have a bit more ambition than that, though, and feel the need to indulge my ambitions. I always have. I don’t think that makes me better than anyone who just grinds like this all year. It just makes me me. And knowing that is its own reward.

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