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Will I Become an Online Poker Pro? on Apr 5, 2014
By Stevie
Posted in Poker
Comments (2)

In late 2013, I decided that in 2014 I would take a shot at my dream of becoming a professional poker player. I am currently in the process of doing that, and have decided to keep track of my progress with a blog post at the end of each month. Will I succeed, or fail miserably like the vast majority of people that try this? Find out by reading each month!

Edit: I forgot to mention, I'm not quitting game/cartoon development if poker works out, I'll just be doing it less. Probably at least 20 hours per month, which is enough to release a small project or two per year.


PLAN A

I have run the numbers many times, and it will indeed be possible for me to accomplish this goal, however it will be extremely difficult and currently my chances are not good. Basically, I make enough at poker to go pro only if I get a certain bonus that the site I play at offers, and getting that bonus is possible for me this year. I'll only be relying on poker as income next year, and this year the goal is only to survive until I get the bonus. More info below.

The format of poker that I've decided to specialize in is Texas Hold'em Full-Ring Cash Games. This is because after a lot of experimentation with all the different forms of Texas Hold'em, 9m cash is the format I enjoy the most, have the best results at, and have a chance at making Supernova Status at (keep reading for explanation of what that is). At my current win-rate/stakes, I am nowhere near making enough money to survive off of. But on PokerStars (the site I play exclusively at), they have an amazing bonus program. The more you play, the higher VIP Status you get. The second-highest VIP Status is called Supernova, and with the bonuses that come with that status, I would currently be making enough to live off of! Not only that, but if I played higher stakes or improved my win-rate, I could make way more than just enough to live off of.

Here's Douglas "WCGRider" Polk; probably the best online Texas Hold'em player in the world right now.
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You need to acquire 100,000 VIP Points (VPPs) in a calendar year to achieve Supernova Status. You can only get VPPs by paying rake, which means playing full-time for many hours a day, and while playing many games at once, in order to reach Supernova this year. This makes reaching Supernova Status impossible for most people, because if they quit their job and played full-time, they would run out of money and be forced to abandon ship before they got enough points. It also takes an extreme amount of dedication to make Supernova at the stakes I'm playing.

Having recently received a large sponsorship payment from Addicting Games for The World's Hardest Game 3, in combination with other sources of income I have (such as Google Adsense), I will have enough money to survive for all of 2014! That means that if I can play a crap-ton of poker this year and get 100k VPPs, although I'll run out of money by the end of the year, from that point on I'll be Supernova and making enough from poker to continue to survive off of. Also, if I make money at poker this year, I will end the year without running out of money and thus won't even be cutting it that close.

Of course, I would be screwed if I lost a significant amount at poker this year. I'm not at all worried about this however, because I'm what's known as a winning player at the game/stakes that I play. That means in the long-run, even with no bonuses, I will turn a profit of roughly 2.28bb/100 ($0.228 per 100 hands; my current win-rate at the lower stakes), so I can always recoup my losses if I'm losing too much at the higher stakes. One way that I can be confident that I'll keep winning at this rate is to input the amount of hands I've played and my win-rate into a variance simulator. Here is the variance to expect given the recent 142,436 hands I've played this year, and my win-rate so far of 2.28bb/100. As you can see, my "confidence" (between the green lines) is almost all positive, thus I can be very confident that I'll turn a profit on another sample size this big. :) I can also be extra confident since I'm the one playing the hands, I know more about the context of the results, and clearly most of my wins come from other people making mistakes, not me getting lucky. See my actual stats for the year further down.

A simulation of the variance I expect to encounter at 9max cash games. EV is my expected value (win-rate), and then there are 20 test-runs at that EV, the best/worst are bolded, and the bold green lines indicate ranges that I can be X% confident my profit will be within.
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The main problem with this plan is, it's extremely difficult to get 100k VPPs in a year, due to mass multi-tabling online poker being very mentally draining. So far I'm way behind pace; I should be 25% there but I'm only 4%. I'll need to pick up the pace and work my ass off for the whole rest of the year in order to make it, which is much easier said than done.


PLAN B

I dropped out of university (2nd year game development / entrepreneurship) in order to pursue PLAN A. If in a few months it looks like PLAN A isn't working out, I will simply go back to the university program that I was in before. I will still have money, and even if I somehow don't, I'll get student loans and my dad will cover the rest.

So if this doesn't work out, I'll pay back my student loans slower, and/or my dad has to pay more for my school. I'll also waste a few months of time. None of that is a big deal to me, so I'm taking this shot at my dream pretty much risk-free.


Stats so Far

Here's the graph for all hands I've played this year (mostly 9max cash). I focus more on the amount I make without paying rake, which are the bolded lines. That's because as a Supernova, I would be receiving 100% of my rake back as a bonus, so it would be the same thing as not paying rake at all. The 100% rakeback stuff is a bit complicated, but under my circumstances it will be the case (next year).

This graph consists of mostly 10NL ($10 max buy-in cash game, NL means No-Limit Hold'em). It's a damn shame that I haven't made it to 25NL yet, which is partly due to run-bad while taking shots, but mainly because I'm only comfortable playing while high at the smaller stakes, and haven't been successful in quitting weed yet. I'm hoping to make it to 25NL by the end of the month at the latest. I'm also hoping to quit weed until the end of the year, or until I think I'll have enough self-control to use it in moderation. Hopefully that's the last you'll hear about weed being a problem for me.

This Year
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And here are my lifetime 9max cash stats, with and without rake. Without rake I do well at 25NL+, but with rake so far I've only done well at 10NL/16NL. When I first started playing online poker, I started at the higher stakes, moved down because the rake was killing me, have haven't back moved up since except for a few shots. As I said, I hope to be back to the higher stakes soon.

It's blatantly obvious from these graphs that if I was a Supernova, I could easily be a poker pro. But without Supernova, I barely make anything. The true amount that I've made so far (given the small bonus I receive) is somewhere between the green lines, closer to the thin one, but it changes so it's hard to add to the graph.

All-Time
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All-Time (with Rake)
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I could show more stats, like separated by stakes, but I'll do that in the future.


Conclusion

It definitely will not be easily, but it's very possible for me to become an online poker pro by the end of the year. My success relies on...

  • Eventually moving up in stakes; given that I'm winning at 10NL this should not be a problem.
  • Quitting weed (until I'm capable of smoking in moderation); this has been very difficult for me, but I think I've finally nipped it in the bud, and if not yet then soon.
  • Get the motivation to play more; so far I've seen myself steadily increase my stamina/motivation, so I should be on track in due time.


Wish me luck!

Break, Starcraft Video on Mar 25, 2014
By Stevie
Posted in Other
Comments (6)

I'm taking a break from game dev at the moment, having spent so much time on The World's Hardest Game #3. As of now it has almost a million hits on Addicting Games, the response has been mostly positive, and I'm really happy with how it turned out.

I've been playing a lot of online poker lately, so I'll probably blog more about that soon. I've been running this blog for quite a few years now and I'm starting to consider stopping the periodic updates, but it depends what direction I go in so I'm not sure yet.

Anyway, I thought I'd post this StarCraft: Brood War game that I played recently. I play SC every once in a while (having played a lot as a kid), but I'll probably stop now because I was just trying to get a recording of a clutch game from my first person view, which I finally got in this video. There's about 12 battles and I made quite a few mistakes, but overall I'm really happy with it. I used to play online but stopped several years ago because I barely ever play now so when I do it's vs comps.


World's Hardest Game #3 Released! on Jan 31, 2014
By Stevie
Posted in Releases
Comments (151)

The day has finally come! Play The World's Hardest Game #3 now on Addicting Games!

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Edit: There was a bug where doors are closed when they shouldn't be after saving/loading. I fixed it, and the updated version of the game should be live soon. You will see "v1.1" on the preloader if you have the fixed version. You may need to clear your browser's cache in order to get the fixed version.

Also, some people have been having issues with lag. If on the menu you disable motion trails and set the quality to low, and it's still lagging, the only thing left to do to reduce lag is make the game smaller in size. The easiest way to do this is to reduce the magnification on your browser (you should be able to hold crtl and use the scroll wheel to do this).
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World's Hardest Game 3 Release Date on Jan 17, 2014
By Stevie
Posted in Releases
Comments (45)

I finished The World's Hardest Game #3 near the start of January, and like the games I've gotten sponsored in the past, I assumed it would be released a few days later at most. As it turns out, they have scheduled the release date for January 31, 2014. So it'll be another 2 weeks. I feel bad about getting people excited too early, so sorry about that... I just had no reason to think the release date would be this late. I'll edit this post if there are any updates, but almost certainly it will be Jan 31st.

I have played TWHG3 a lot and it really is very fun. The level design is WAY better than the previous games (especially the later levels), the engine is better (such as hit detection), and the fact that it's more like an adventure game now is probably what most sets it apart from the previous games and makes it much better. I'm really proud of it and I'm sure it will be worth the wait.
TWHG3 Almost Done! on Dec 30, 2013
By Stevie
Posted in Projects
Comments (44)

Edit: The game has been done for a few days, but now there's just some stuff we have to do before it's released that I didn't foresee. So it should be just a few more days.

Edit: Well, I just finished the last level, so now I'm done 100% of the level design! I think the ending of the game is great. :D Apart from having a cutscene at the end, the ending is also a bit different from the previous games in another way. I'll go more into that once the game is released, and why I think it works well.

Great news! Now that I'm on a break from school, I have been working my ass off on The World's Hardest Game #3, and it's almost done! It's entirely possible that I will have it done and released in 2 weeks! Historically, my ability to estimate when my projects will be done has been lolbad, but I actually think 2 weeks is a good estimate this time. This is a really huge deal for me, because I have been working on this game on and off for around 8 months. I can't wait to finally get this weight lifted from my shoulders, but also I very much look forward to seeing how popular it is and how much people like it.

So far I have designed half of level 5, and I feel like it's the best game design work I have ever done by far! I'm just so incredibly happy with how level 5 is turning out; it's really fun, has unique designs, the areas fit well together, and it's ridiculously difficult (without being too cheap)... It makes all of TWHG and TWHG2 look like a complete walk in the park. When the game is released, I will also release a walkthrough video on my YouTube channel, so you can see for yourself how the levels look, even if you aren't skilled enough to get that far in the game. Most people will not be skilled enough to beat level 3, nevermind level 4 and 5, which make level 3 look like child's play.

I said I was going to release another work video of me designing a level, but I've decided not to, mainly because that would waste a bit of time, and I doubt many people liked the first level design video. So instead, I'm just going to work as hard as I can on getting this game released ASAP. That means this will be the last development blog entry for TWHG3.

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