Sunday, November 25, 2007

Going pro or going nowhere?

I just got back from my Asian holiday. I had a great time in Thailand eating and drinking too much, and doing a ton of shopping. It also gave me some time to think about where I'm going with the whole poker thing.

My goal has always been to get my game to a standard where I can take a year off work and have a shot at going pro. I've carefully calculated what level and win rate I need to be at to enable this to happen. I've spent the last couple of years studying and playing poker in most of my spare time, working towards this goal. Unfortunately while my game has improved greatly over the last couple of year, so has everyone else's. Over the last 6 months despite a lot of effort on my part my win rate has actually dropped. Most people have realized that to be successful at No Limit Hold'em you need to play aggressively. While the fish haven't disappeared from the game the number of sharks lurking to drain them of their money has grown exponentially.

Doing the sums on going pro next year I've figured out that I would need to 9 table the NL200 games for 30 hours a week to make an acceptable return. While this is easily within my grasp, the prospect of sitting in front of a computer grinding away at 30 hours of poker a week in solitude has become very unappealing to me. A year ago I would have jumped at the chance, but at the moment I just can't find the enthusiasm for it.

Where does this leave me with poker? I can't continue working a full time job and keep grinding away at poker in the evenings if I don't have a set goal. At the same time I have invested a good chunk of my time into poker over the last couple of years and would hate to see that go to waste. My ultimate goal was to be able to make an average living from poker playing about 20 hours a week, and use the rest of the time to explore a few other opportunities and have more free time. To achieve this I would require a good win rate at the NL400 games, and unfortunately I can't see this occurring anytime soon.

On returning to Australia I got offered a work contract up in Fiji for a month, which I have decided to accept. My plan is to play no poker, work hard, and to enjoy the beaches of Fiji. I intend to take a ton of poker books with me and see if I can't figure out some way to take my game to the next level. If I have internet access I will also signup to and see what I can learn from their pros. If I don't feel confident that I can improve my game and progress up to NL400 before March 2008, then I intend to shift my focus towards playing tournaments in 2008. If for no other reason than to have a change.

This means that this will be my last blog posting for 2007. While I enjoy writing about the game, if I am not playing, then I see very little point in writing a poker blog. I hope that after a month's break I will be ready to take my game and this blog to the next level. I hope everyone has a great Christmas, and I look forward to catching up with all of the goings on in the Poker world from the beginning of January 2008. Thanks for all the support in 2007 and hopefully everyone will stick around for the start of my new improved blog at the beginning of 2008.

Good luck at the tables all.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Busy, busy, busy

Things have been flat out for me lately. A new Asian airline has started flying into the gold coast, and has done an opening special of $99 flights to Malaysia. I managed to get a couple of weeks off work to take a holiday up there, but I promised to get everything up to date before I leave this Thursday. That means 14 or 15 hour days at work to get everything sorted, but it will all be worth it once I get on the plane. I'm heading over to Malaysia for 4 days, then over to Bangkok for a week.

Poker wise I've been a bit short of time, and as tired as a dog, but I've still managed to play about 10,000 hands over the last week. I've been 12 tabling the NL50 because I've been too tired to play NL100. I tried 15 tables last Friday, but with only a 20" monitor ran out of places to fit 15 tables, so it was a bit of a disaster. Will save the 15 tabling until I get a 24" monitor.

Now that I've played over 200,000 at both NL50 and NL100 I thought that I would list some of the differences that I've noticed between the two levels:

  • Continuation betting: NL50 player seem to love to check raise on the flop. It doesn't matter if they have a hand or not, they like to give the check raise a shot. This means that if I have position I'll often check my missed flops at NL50, and bet my monster hands. In NL100 I find the continuation bet works a lot better, and unless I have a good reason not to, I will always continuation bet any raise I make before the flop.
  • Calling stations: NL50 has a lot more calling stations that are prepared to commit most of their stack on top pair with a good kicker. This mean playing fairly straight forward poker at NL50 bet with a hand, check-fold with no hand. In NL100 you need to mix it up a lot more and try to trick your opponents more often.
  • No of people seeing the flop: With NL50 you defiantly get a lot more caller before the flop, meaning you can play a lot more hands, and I don't raise as much in NL50 with medium hands as I am going to get plenty of callers, with someone likely to hit it more than me. In NL100 you get a lot more raising and 3 betting, so you get to see a lot less flops so need to try and extract maximum value from you big hands.

  • Maximizing value: Often when opponents hit the nuts at NL50 they will bet the minimum, scared everyone will fold. Quite often I will be amazed how a NL50 player will bet $4 into a $25 pot with the nuts. In NL100 players will nearly always try to extract maximum value from their huge hands.

In summary it is safe to say that NL100 players are a lot more aggressive. This isn't always a bad thing but you do need to play the two levels a lot differently. In NL50 you can fold a lot of average hands and wait until you get a monster, knowing there is a good chance you will get paid off. In NL100 you need to get value out of a bigger range of hands to end up ahead. I certainly enjoy playing the NL50 games a lot more, but can still make a higher overall profit at NL100.

I'm heading overseas on Thursday, but hope to get another post in before I go. I doubt that I will get much chance to post while on Holiday, so there might not be a lot happening here over the next week or so.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Multitable Madness

I 12 tabled the Pokerstars NL50 tables again last night, and I can't believe how much softer they are than the NL100 tables. I was thinking of moving back to the NL100 tables tomorrow, but the games are so good at NL50 that I am thinking of taking a shot at 15 tabling them for a couple of days. Don't know how it will work out, but i'll give it a shot tomorrow and let you all know how it goes. 15 tabling isn't that hard, but it does cost you money when you have tough decisions which need thinking about on multiple tables at the same time. I might just buy in for $30 on each table so that the hard decisions are kept to a minimum, and move more into shove or fold mode.

Found an interesting new site called I don't know how complete and accurate the figures are on the site, but it lists the top winners and losers at each level in cash games on Full Tilt. Below are some of the figures. I assume the week to date figures are for the last 3 days. To win or lose $1500 in 3 days of poker at NL100 is fairly high.

The next figures are the overall top winners at NL100 Pokertracker stats for the last week. As you can see the top winners all have one thing in common, they are highly aggressive. They play a lot of hands, raise nearly every pot that they enter, and keep on betting after the flop. It's certainly a lot more aggressive than I'm comfortable playing, but there might be something to it.

It will be interesting to see how the top players stats look after the site has been running for a few months. I keep you updated. Overall the message seems to be that if you want to win big then you need to bet big and often, and hope like hell that variance is on your side. Good luck all.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

It’s all in the mind

I've been in a bit of a rut with my poker lately. My results have been fairly average, and I am struggling to get excited about grinding out the hands each day. I have thought about moving up a level but decided it could be a dangerous move, so have decided instead to play more tables. I used to 12 table without too many problems, but wanted to concentrate on improving my poker play, so cut it back to 9. I think that I have now improved my game and am ready for 12 again. Pokerstars seems to have increased their max tables allowed to 15. I don't think I'm quite ready for 15 yet, but it could be fun to give it a go sometime. I get quite a bit of overlap 12 tabling on my 20" monitor so am thinking of upgrading to a 24". I started 12 tabling the NL50 tables today to get back into the swing of it, and went on a real rush. The good thing about playing more tables is that there is less time to get bored and I can complete my hands quicker each day. Fingers crossed that I can keep focused and playing well 12 tabling over extended periods.

Today's Topic: Why am I not winning at poker:

Here are the seven top psychological factors that damage your play and perceptions of poker according to Alan Schoonmaker in his excellent book "Your worst poker enemy".

  • Know less about the game than you think you know
  • Are less talented than you think you are
  • Let pride, anger, and other emotions adversely affect you
  • Don't seriously try to maximize your profits, despite anything you may say
  • Don't fully accept responsibility for your decisions and consequences
  • Expect greater profits than your talents, knowledge, and personality can produce
  • Don't analyze yourself thoroughly and objectively

If any of the above factors are affecting your game, then it is important to understand and correct them. If you are not certain how to fix them then get yourself a copy of "Your worst poker enemy" in which all of these factors and many more are covered in great detail. It has certainly helped fix a couple of psychological leaks that I had, the main one being " Not seriously trying to maximise my profits".

Monday, November 5, 2007

Cup Time

Hope everyone had a good weekend. I played a bit of poker and did a lot of relaxing myself. Was going to play in the Supernova freeroll on Sunday but being in Australia it's on at some ridiculous time like 4 am. Next week maybe. Tomorrow is Melbourne cup day. Melbourne cup is Australia's version of the Kentucky Derby, and each year the nation stops to watch the race and have a party. My hot pick for the race is "Master O'Reilly".

Talking of sports betting I've been having a go at betting the NFL this year. I've been using the tips from Fezziks Place, and also trying out a system from a book I just finished reading. I've been placing my bets on a sports book called They have a good signup bonus and their poker site is part of the "Cake Network" which I've wanted to try for a while. There isn't a ton of games going on their poker site, but the one that are running seem fairly soft. So far it's been going well and I am up over $200 from the NFL picks. Not a fortune, but it makes watching the games that much more exciting, and as I always say "A dollar won is always that much sweeter than a dollar earned".

Good luck to all you Aussies placing a bet on Melbourne Cup tomorrow. If anyone one has any hot tips make sure you let me know.

Friday, November 2, 2007

A Stars Star

It's been a long time coming but last night I finally reached SUPERNOVA status on Pokerstars. I was expecting a little bit more fanfare, but a small box appeared on screen advising me I had reached Supernova. I was planning on reaching it a month ago, but got a bit sidetracked in that quest. I'm pleased that I have made it, as it does now guarantee an equivalent of about 33% rakeback. This saves me the time and hassle of looking around different sites trying to find whatever bonuses or deals they have going. At the same time it does lock me into playing on Stars for the foreseeable future which may or may not be a good thing.

Today's Topic: Poker Tells

As I mentioned yesterday I have been playing a bit of live poker of late and have being trying to pick up on peoples tells. A "tell" is any physical reaction, kind of behavior, or habit that gives (or tells) the other players information about your hand. The 3 most reliable tells that I have observed are as follows:

  • Shaking Hands: During a hand, if you notice a player's hands are shaking as she places her bet, she probably has gotten a really, really good hand. Perhaps the nuts.
  • Staring Down Other Players: If an opponent is staring you down, he's trying to represent strength. Usually though, he has a weak hand – he might have something, but it's something that can be beaten or drawn out on.
  • Sighing and Shrugging: If a player makes a show of sighing or shrugging, and says things like "Oh, I guess I'll call," or even "Why am I calling?" he probably is overacting and is trying to hide a big hand.

Hope everyone has a fun weekend and remember when it comes to poker "Nobody is always a winner, and anybody who says he is, is either a liar or doesn't play poker".

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Poker laws in Australia

The last couple of days I can do no wrong at Pokerstars. I just keep hitting everything. I hoping I'm on the start of a rush (if this doesn't jinx me nothing will). October as a whole was a fairly poor month. I struggled in the cash games, and donked off a bit of money playing sit'n'go's. The one good thing about a tough month is that it does force you to think about your game and make an effort to improve it. When things are going well, it easy just to go with the flow. I have definitely learned a couple of new profitable strategies in October, so it's got to be a good thing in the long run. One thing I have been doing in the past is over-betting my bluffs, when in reality if your opponent doesn't have much you don't need to bet a lot to get them off their hand.

I've also been playing some live poker lately. Public poker tournaments with a cash entry fee are illegal in the state where I live (Queensland), but 20 min's drive away in New South Wales cash games Tournaments are allowed. A Pokerdome has opened at one of the sports clubs, and runs cash tournaments all day. The level of competition is very weak, and is a bit of fun when I don't feel like playing online. I've only entered two 50 – 60 player tourneys and come second in both, earning me the nickname of "bridesmaid". I've been reading up on poker tells and it is amazing how obvious some of them are in live poker. I'll list the most reliable ones I've found tomorrow.

Today's Topic: Poker Laws in Australia

Poker is becoming very popular in Australia. The laws on where poker can be played for money vary from state to state, and I'll summarize below.

  • Cash game poker in a casino: Is legal and available within all states in Australia
  • Poker tournaments with a cash entry fee and commission charged, outside of a casino: Are legal in both NSW & Victoria.
  • Poker tournaments with free entry but prizes awarded, outside of a casino: Are also legal in Queensland


  • Private or social poker for money: It is legal to play poker for money at a private house or residence, for entertainment purposes only in NSW, Queensland, Tasmania, and Western Australia provided that:


    • No entry fee or registration is charged to play the game
    • No person derives a percentage or share of the amounts wagered
    • All money bet goes to the player/s who won the hand

You are not liable to pay income tax on any money won playing poker in Australia as it is considered a form of gambling. Gambling winnings are not liable for personal tax provided that the gambling activity is not regarded as your primary source of income.

For any Americans reading this I think that you will agree that the Australian government has a lot more liberal approach to poker than your own government.



Tuesday, October 30, 2007

No news

Things were fairly steady with my poker over the weekend. I've found it really hard to get my big hands paid off lately. If I raise everyone folds, if I slow play their miracle card comes and I lose a huge pot. I guess these things happen sometimes.

I've been doing a bit of sports betting over the last few weeks for some entertainment, and have been doing really well. I'll keep at it and if things keep going well I'll give out my tips for the week.

Not much other poker news. I got offered a $150 Full Tilt bonus a couple of days ago, but I don't know if it is worth my while transferring money to Full Tilt to clear a bonus which will only take a couple of days. I'll just sit on it for now.

Interesting write up about Mike Matusow on Bill Rinnis blog from Mikes brother.

That's about it for me today. Hope to dig up something a bit more exciting tomorrow.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Where is it all at?

Hi everyone. Played a few MTT's last night but failed to cash in anything. I got my pocket aces cracked 3 times which never helps your chances. I'm getting back into the cash games first thing tomorrow morning, and am really looking forward to it. Not much else going on in my poker world, but I am planning on playing a lot over the weekend so should have some news Monday.

Today's Topic: The state of online poker

With everything going on in the online poker world over the last 12 months I thought it would be interesting to take a look at where online poker is currently at. I gathered the peak number of cash game players every day for each pokersite from Pokersitescout and have but it into a graph to see what the top five sites are doing (click on the image to enlarge it).

As you can see Pokerstars is just getting bigger and bigger with no-one coming close to challenging them. Party poker has made an amazing comeback to the #2 spot after pulling out of the US market seeing their numbers drop to as low as a 3500 daily peak at one stage. It is a real testament to the Party team that they have been able to develop a new market so quickly. The other big surprise is the steady decline of traffic on Full Tilt Poker over the last few months, struggling to keep their #3 spot. Ipoker network is growing but this is not surprising considering that they now have over 60 poker sites on their network.

Overall the figures are very healthy, just before the Americans introducing the Unlawful gaming act last year daily cash game player peaks for the top five sites were sitting around the 25,000 mark, at a similar stage this year the daily peaks of the top five poker sites have increased to about the 39,000 mark. This is a great sign and even with a lot of negative publicity for online poker this year, the future is still looking extremely bright.

Hope everyone has a great weekend, and
remember that "In The Game Of Life... Play The Cards You're Dealt".

Thursday, October 25, 2007

So much for that

Yesterday was the big 100 game SnG challenge. I ended up playing 119 of them and learnt a couple of important lessons in the process.

I got off to a late start with the challenge due to a couple of unforeseen commitments. I was still determined to achieve my goal of playing 100 SnG's so decided to 9 table the $17 turbos to catch back up. Playing 9 tables is ok to start off with, but once you start getting down to the last 4 or 5 players it's easy to start making costly mistakes by not having enough time to make the correct decisions. I persevered with the 9 tables for about 30 SnG's hoping I would get used to it before realizing that I couldn't keep up. Lesson # 1: Don't play more tables than you can comfortably manage.

I then moved back to 6 tables for about 30 more $17 turbos before I decided that 7 tables was the perfect number for me. In this time I suffered a series of bad beats that I won't bore you with. For the next 20 games I thought that I'd have a go at the $27 turbos to try and get back a few of my loses (never a good idea). I did ok at the $27 turbos and the level of competition is only slightly higher than the $17's. I was still determined to hit the 100 mark, but was starting to get tired and lost a lot of focus, so returned to the $17 turbos. By this stage I was way to unfocused and started shoving chips in bad spots costing me more money. Lesson #2: Don't play when you are tired and lost focus.

I must have counted wrong, because I finished up playing 119 SnG's for the day. I obviously lost money, but am glad that I did it. I said that was what I was going to do for the day, and I did it. For anyone wanting a laugh here is my days spreadsheet:

As you can see I ended up $180 poorer for my efforts. Not the end of the world but it was a bit of a waste of time. I'm not sure what to do now. I wanted to play SnG's to have a break from the cash games, but yesterday seems to have got the desire for SnG's out of my system. Might play some MTT's today and see if I feel ready to go back to cash games tomorrow. Good luck at the tables all

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I feel a big SnG day coming on

I've got the day off work, so my goal is to go hard at it and try and play 100 turbo SnG's for the day. I average 1 about every 6 minutes playing 7 tables so it will take me about 10 hours to complete. I'll have to break it into 3 three hour sessions. I don't normally like to play more than 5 hours in a day, but I'm really enjoying my SnG challenge and am in the mood. I'll give 9 tabling a go to see if I can speed up the process without impaction on my results to much.

I played a few last night, but ended up going out, so will make up for it today. I will post the results tomorrow. Wish my luck, Im sure I'll need it.

A guy on the 2 + 2 forums charted this graph of SBRugby's (one of the top online pros), full tilt poker results throughout this year. Check it out, this is one wild ride.

Today's Topic: So you want to go pro, part 2

For all you SnG players out there I thought I would do a spreadsheet of what you need to achieve to "go pro" playing SnG's. Again I am using Pokerstars for the figures, as I have played a lot of SnG's on there. Adding up the figures the bonus structure on Pokerstars is fairly average for SnG players, so you would probably be better off being a SnG pro on Full Tilt Poker. I am basing the figures on turbo SnG's as they are easier to multitable with mainly push or fold decisions involved a lot of the time. If playing 6 tables at once I seem to average one SnG every 7 minutes. I am basing the ROI figures on 14% for $16, 12% for $27, and 10% for $60, this seems to be the average for most pros. Obviously if you can play more than 6 tables at once then these figures can increase, but be aware that your ROI is likely to go down a bit at the same time.

I have included both the SnG and cash game spreadsheets to give a comparison.

As you can see it is quite feasible to become a online poker pro at relatively low levels and little risk if you dedicate yourself to learning the game. All you need is a very even temperament, the ability to concentrate for long periods of time, and a real love of poker, and there is always that hope that you might become the next world champion one day. If you are interested in obtaining the above goals my suggestion to start out at the low level SnG's, always keeping a bankroll of a minimum 100 buy-ins, and increase your multi-tabling up to 6 at a time. Keep detailed records and once you are beating that level for more than 14% ROI over 1000 SnG's, and have over 100 buy-ins for the next level, then move up. Good luck.

I've got to rush and start my SnG quest. Will give you the results tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

So you want to go pro

I started my SnG challenge last night. I started out just playing the $10 standards and $15 Turbos on Pokerstars, to get back into the SNG swing. It sure has been ages since I played a lot of SnGs so it might take a couple of days to get back into it. As promised I have listed my results below. I'll keep them updated each day while I play.

As you can see I played 35 SnG's last night for a profit of $41. Nothing startling but a good start and I sure had a lot of fun playing the things. I 9 tabled the $10 standards and 6 tabled the $15 turbos. I'm going to keep playing the $15 turbos tonight, hopefully getting up to 9 tables at once. If all goes well I will move up to the $27 turbos tomorrow. I have no desire to play SnG's long term but it should be a good change for a couple of weeks.

Today's Topic: So you want to go pro

A lot of people start out playing poker with the dream of one day going pro. While this is not an unrealistic goal, it is important to understand what level you need to be at to achieve it. Some people will play NL50 and have a great week winning $600 - $700, and think they are on their way to a new career. They don't understand that variance will claw back most of that $700 in the long run. Before considering going pro you need to have realistic goals and understand what commitment you will need to make to achieve it. The figures below offer a realistic look at what a good player can achieve playing online poker full time. While some people will be able to achieve higher win rates, the below figures are a realistic look at what the average grinders are doing.

  • How many hours do you need to play: Until you can beat the higher stake games, to make money from online poker you need to grind out a lot of hands day after day. If you are looking at the long term it is unrealistic for most people to play focused poker for more than about 35 hours per week. This can consist of either 5 hours a day 7 days a week, 6 hours a day 6 days per week, or 7 hours a day 5 days per week.
  • Amount of tables at a time: To make money at the lower stake games it is crucial to multi-table well. You need to be able to play a minimum of 6 tables at once and most good players will play 9. This will reduce variance and substantially increase your rakeback and bonus payments.
  • How much money will you need to start with: I'll list the starting bankroll requirements with each level below.

The low limit cash game pro:

I'll base the figures on a 35 hour working week. I'll base the bonus structure on being Platinum level at pokerstars, I think that this will work out similar to receiving 27% rakeback at Full Tilt. The win rate I am basing it on is 2 PT(pokertracker) BB / 100. Looking over my Pokertracker database there is extremely few people achieving a win rate of over 2pt BB/ 100 who have played more than 10,000 hands. It is hard to achieve higher winning rates if you are grinding out 9 tables day after day, but with dedication and focus 2 pt BB / 100 is not hard to achieve for most average players. The amount of hands I am basing it on is 65 hands per table per hour, this seems to be close to what I average. Bankroll requirements are 20 buyins which is the absolute minimum. Annual $ earned is based on 50 weeks to allow for 2 weeks holiday per year.

As you can see, if you are able to multi-table then a fairly respectable living is able to be achieved at fairly low limit poker, with the hope of big earnings if you are able to move up to higher stakes successfully. You need to be aware that you will need to possess an extremely even temperament to deal with the variance and suck-outs of poker. You also have to love poker. Playing 9 tables of poker for 35 hours per week can become mind numbingly boring if you don't truly love the game.

If the above is something that you want to archive, then I suggest trying to multi-table 6 tables as soon as possible. Start at low limits and once you are beating that level for more than 2pt BB / 100 over 20,000 hands, keep moving up to the next level.

Tomorrow I'll look at what you need to do to achieve similar results playing Sit n Go's for a living.

Today's Link:

This is a great new site that rates a lot of poker blogs out there. If you own a blog get it listed, or if you enjoy reading blogs go take a look. My blog is listed in the most popular blogs, so if you enjoy reading this blog, please sign up and give my blog a good rating. Thank you.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Back to my roots

Hope everyone had a good weekend. I spent a lot of time down at the Indy track watching the car racing going on this weekend at the Gold Coast. I didn't play to much poker. The weather is starting to really heat up where I live in surfers paradise, and the lure of the beach and bars is a lot stronger than the lure of the poker tables for me at the moment.

Over the last few months I have been grinding out a ton of hands at the NL100 cash games. I haven't felt confident and ready to move up to the NL200 games yet, so things have started to get a bit boring continuing to grind away at NL100. The main reason I haven't moved to the NL200 games is that I don't feel mentally prepared to go through a large downswing. If I hit a bad patch initially at the NL200 games I could easily go down $2000 or $3000. While I realize that over the long term things would work out ok, I am not prepared to risk that sum of money currently. Once I start playing NL200, I have no interest in moving back down to NL100 if things run bad. That is why I want to be 100% ready and confident before making the move.

Because of this I feel like taking a couple of weeks break from the grind of NL100. I was thinking of playing tournaments for a couple of weeks, and still might, but even though I have won a few in the past, tourneys frustrate me. This is the last thing I need, so I am considering playing Sit'n'Gos for a couple of weeks for a nice change. It has been ages since I last played a SnG, but I did use to play a lot of them and looking up Sharkscope my last stint at them was fairly successful.

My goal would be to initially play 6 to 9 SnGs at a time playing maybe 30 to 40 a day for the next two weeks. My goal would be to have a ROI over 15% at the end of two weeks. As I said, it has been a long time since I last played SnG's so I might be a bit rusty, and I don't know how much the level of competition has improved over the last year. I'm not sure if Standard or Turbo SnG's are the best option (any comments would be appreciated), but will probably start with Standards. I am also deciding whether to play on Stars or Full Tilt (again comments appreciated), since I am having a break, Full Tilt might be a nice change as I play nearly all of my poker on Stars currently. I'll keep a daily update going on this blog to show how my challenge is coming along.

If you ever start to get a bit bored playing poker it is essential to change things up a bit to keep it interesting. Either play a different game for a while, or play on a different site for a change. I think you will be surprised what a difference it will make to your normal game and results when you move back to it. If you not excited about your poker and playing at 100% each and every time, your results will suffer. Good luck at the tables all.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Fun & games in the online poker world

I've been a bit busy caught up in the fun of the Indy festival here on the Gold Coast to be following all the goings on in the poker world this week, but having a quick look around the forums there are a couple of huge stories going on which are very interesting.

The first one is the Absolute Poker hole card scandal. There has been talk that someone has been using a supposed Super Account on AP to see everyone's hole-cards while playing. Accusations of this and other similar conspiracies are so frequent that not much credit is given to these claims. Absolute Poker denied the whole incident and carried on business as normal. Since then information has leaked out that there could well be a lot of truth to the Super user account and cheating claims. For a detailed recap of the incident and facts this is the best link that I have read . Even after all this evidence coming to light Absolute Poker is still in complete denial mode, and the damage being done to both themselves and the online poker industry as a whole is multiplying on a daily basis. Absolute Poker at this stage really needs to come clean, be completely honest about the situation, and fix any problems or loopholes found.

The second story is that the winner of the World Championship of Online Poker's main event entered multiple accounts into the tournament. After reviewing the case Pokerstars agreed and stripped "THE VOID" of his WCOOP win and his $1.2 million prize money. For anyone who hasn't been following the story read more details at

What with these stories and everything else that has gone on with Online Poker over the last year or so, it really is bad news for online poker players. While regular online players are able to look at the above stories and realize that they do not compromise the integrity of online poker as a whole, new players and prospective players have yet another reason (as if they needed any more) to avoid online poker. New players are the lifeblood of online poker and fuel the whole online poker economy. Let's hope that the online poker sites can start getting together and generate some positive publicity in the near future.

Today's Topic: The Comitment Threshold:

One of the concepts that has helped my results the most of late is from the excellent book "Professional No-Limit Hold'em". I would recommend this book to any intermediate players wanting to take their game to next level.

The concept is that once you have or are going to but a certain amount of your stack into the middle, then you are committed to not folding at this stage. This strategy makes it a lot easier to know when to fold or go all-in with any given hand. The book states that if you have committed more than 10% of your stack (or your opponents stack if it is lower than yours) then the next bet or call that you are going to make in the hand is likely to take you over the commitment threshold. The commitment threshold is: Between you and each opponent, avoid putting in more than one-third of the smaller stack and then folding.

In practice, if for example you are playing in a NL100 game and both you and your opponent started the hand with $100. Before the flop you raise to $4 with AQ and get called by two people (4% of stack, $13 in pot). On a flop of A,J,7 you bet $10 and get called by one person (14% of stack, $33 in pot) you now have more than 10% of your stack in the pot so the next bet or call that you make will take you past the commitment threshold. Next card out is a 10. If you make another bet of $20 you will then have 34% of your stack in the middle and be committed to the hand. So your options would be to bet and be prepared to call an all in (Not ideal on the above board), check and hope your opponent doesn't bet, or bet only $15 into the pot keeping you below the commitment threshold (29%).

Using the commitment threshold concept really highlights the importance of playing in position and being able to act last. When you act last you can control the size of the pot and make decisions a lot easier. The secret to making this strategy work is to make your commitment plan before putting in one third of your money. Don't just call a large bet on the flop, look at your stack and decide that you now have a third of your money in the pot so you are going to call an all-in, even though you suspect you are beaten. Use the concept to not get into these positions.

There are a few exceptions to the one-third commitment rule which you can learn by buying the book, but in general if you make it your rule to not commit more than one third of your stack and then fold, then like me I suspect that you're No Limit Hold-em results will improve.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Cruisin along

Things are just cruising along on the poker front. Pokerstars has been looking out for me this week, not dealing out their usual barrage of bad beats. I'm hoping to move up to NL200 on the 1st November. It's been a long time coming, and things are starting to get a bit boring hanging around at NL100 for so long. I could easily move up to the NL200 games tomorrow if I wanted, but I want to be at the top of my game and feeling 100% confident.

I've been doing a lot of poker reading lately. I realize that if I want to play above the NL200 level then my game will need to evolve. I find the playing fairly straight forward ABC poker is the easiest way to make money up to NL200. Beyond that I have a feeling that I'll have to start mixing it up a lot more. The book I have just started reading is "Master the mental game" by Alan Schoonmaker. I've only just started reading it, but so far very interesting, I'll give a full report of it when finished.

I'm also looking to sign up to training site before the end of the month. The thing I am learning about poker is that unless you are constantly improving and moving up levels, it can start to become a very boring pastime, and motivation becomes a real problem. As long as my game is evolving and I am getting better and learning, then I really enjoy the challenge.

Today' Topic: Simplifying pot odds:

Most people reading this blog are probably already aware of the concept and use of accurately calculating pot odds. But it is such a vital part of being a profitable poker player that I thought I would just refresh the basics.

By definition, calculating pot odds are something that you do when deciding whether or not to call a bet. You compare the chances of the next card completing your hand to the # of bets in the pot. If the chances of hitting your hand are more than (or equal to) the number of bets in the pot, then you can call. If not, then you should fold. You SHOULD NOT use pot odds to talk yourself into marginal calls; rather you should use them to AVOID marginal calls.

The simplest way to calculate pot odds is by using the 4 times and 2 times rules. They state that on the flop your percentage chance of winning by the river is approx the number of outs times four. So if you have nine outs (flush draw), you have approx a 36 percent chance of winning. The four times rule can be off by a couple of percent, but the difference will rarely be enough to affect your decision. For instance the exact chance of catching one of your nine outs by the river is 35%. This is close enough and easy to calculate. The four times rule states your chance on the flop of winning by the river.

The two times rule gives you the chance of winning on the next card. Multiply your outs by two, and that's about your probability of being in the lead after one card only. If you have nine outs, that's about 18%.

One mistake that a lot of people make is that they use the 4 times rule when they should use the 2 times rule. If you are in late position and there is a raise and two callers before you and you call with QhJh, then if two low harts and an Ace come on the flop, and there is betting and a call before you then you need to use the two time rule rather than the four times rule. With action before you the odds that someone has at least a pair of aces is high, so it stands to reason that there will be further betting on the turn card and you will need to recalculate your pot odds again. Because of this you need to calculate your pot odds and implied odds of hitting your flush based on the turn card if you feel that further betting will occur at that stage.

Using the 4 times and two time rule when calculating pot odds simplifies calculating pot odds and makes it a lot easier to ensure that you are always making the correct call, fold, or raise.



Monday, October 15, 2007

So much for those plans

I planned on getting involved in some blogger tourney's over the weekend, but it was not to be. I started off with the final league game Saturday morning. Things were going well, but about 30 mins into the tourney strange noises and smoke started coming out of my computer. I quickly turned off the computer and upon opening the case found that the fan on the video card had stopped working. I hadn't used the computer in ages so a lot of dust had gathered inside and was causing the smoke. I had a spare video card so swapped it over, but by the time I found the video driver on the net the RTR tourney was over. I ended up in fifth which was a good effort for my half hours work.

Sunday was the Pokerstars bloggers tourney. Because I am in Australia the event was on at 5am Monday morning. This week is Indy car racing week in surfers paradise, where I live, so it's a fun week with heaps happening. Sunday night the "boogie pimps" were playing at a local nightclub. I got to the club about 10pm, but the "boogie pimps" didn't get on stage to about 1am. It was a great concert but I didn't get home until about 3am. I still planned on playing in the Pokerstars tourney as I have this week off. I set the alarm for 4.50am, but I didn't wake up until the alarm had been ringing for about 8 minutes. I raced to my computer fired up Pokerstars but by the time I found the tourney I was too late. So that was a waste of time and effort.

Apart from that the rest of my poker went fairly well over the weekend. I have started a new strategy that I will write about tomorrow which is working really well. It forces me to concentrate and focus more on my play. I find that lately poker has started to be about going through the motions for me. I am playing too much ABC poker and it is affecting my results. Now I am starting to push the action more and mix it up a bit. As well as improving my results it also makes playing a lot more enjoyable, so it's good all round.

I'm off to an Indy party tonight, so need to get an afternoon sleep in. I've got a few good topics this week so will get into it tomorrow.



Friday, October 12, 2007

Bloggers weekend

I'm hoping to play a couple of blogger tourneys this weekend. has their final premier league game on Friday at 8.30pm BST. I've only played in a couple of these because of traveling and losing my notebook, so it would be nice to play in the final one. Pokerstars $40,000 bloggers freeroll is on Sunday so that should be a lot of fun.

Got my insurance payout for my notebook, so have used it to buy a new Dell 1720 notebook. Should be delivered in about 2 weeks. I've looked around at some other brands, but since I already owned a dell and had no issues with it, I decided to stick with them. Still want to get a large monitor, but the prices seem to be in free-fall at the moment, so might wait a month or two and see if I can't pick up a bargain.

I've gotta rush, I've got friends coming over for dinner and drinks, before hitting the town. Have a good weekend everyone, and hope to see a few of you at the bloggers tourneys over the weekend. Good luck!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thinking big

Today was fairly uneventful at the Pokerstars jungle. Finished up a little, and got that much closer to Supernova. Less than 10,000 vpp's to go, so should be Supernova by the end of next week. It's a little bit scary in some ways because once I reach Supernova, and invested so much time at Pokerstars, I don't have a lot of incentive to play elsewhere. The overall bonus works out to be good enough at Pokerstars to not waste time transferring money and looking for bonuses at other sites. The problem is that I hate to be tied to one site and not get a bit of variety. Pokerstars has a lot going for them. They are reliable, good customer service, good traffic flow, good cashout times, fast software, and very secure. On the negative side my win rate at Pokerstars is lower than Full Tilt, Ipoker, or Ongame. When you take the vpp bonuses into account I think that I am still better off at Pokerstars for the time being. I've just got to keep working on pushing that win rate up.

Today's Topic: The quest for Supernova Elite.

Now that I am approaching Supernova, my mind has been wondering to next year and weather I could feasible achieve Supernova Elite and what it would be worth to me. Supernova Elite is Pokerstars top vpp status and the rewards for achieving it are substantial. Supernova only really took me a couple of months to achieve, as I have been spending most of my time on other sites this year. If I could achieve Supernova Elite it could be worth considering poker full time next year. Here are the sums:

What is Supernova Elite worth:

  • 400% FPP bonus. This is a great bonus but in reality it would take me all year to achieve Supernova Elite so the FPP bonus would not kick in until 2009. Until then I would receive the Supernova FPP bonus of 250%
  • Buyin's to 2 x $10,000 live events plus flight and accommodation. Worth $26,000 in total.
  • WCOOP buyin. I'm not sure of the buyin amount but think it might be $1,000
  • Milestone bonuses of $21,500 along the way, costing 250,000 fpp's
  • To achieve Elite you need 1,000,000 vpp's which equates to 3,500,000 fpp's. less the 250,000 used for milestone bonuses. Using your fpp's to buy the cash bonus at a rate of $1500 per 100,000 would give you another $48,750 in bonuses.

This give you an amazing total of $97,250 in bonuses only, before you make a cent from playing poker for the year. This equate to $1870 in bonus money each week.

I would be playing either NL200 or NL400 to achieve the goal so if I only made 1BB/100 (pokertracker) then I would earn the following:

  • Playing NL200 I average .52 vpp's per hand meaning I would need to play 1,923,077 hands for the year, earning me $76,923 in poker earnings.
  • Playing NL400 I average .63 vpp's per hand meaning I would need to play 1,587,301 hands for the year, earning me $126,984 in poker earnings.

In summary total earning at NL200 would be $174,173, and at NL400 $224,234. That seems like a fairly acceptable figure to me, but is it achievable?

Here goes:

At Pokerstars the NL table's deal about 64 hands per hour. I play 9 tables at a time which equals about 575 per hour.

At NL200 I get about .52 vpp's for each hand I play so would need to play 1,923,077 hands for the year. Divided by 575 equals 3344 hours for the year. 64 hours per week. 10 hours per day (If playing 6 days per week). Playing 10 hours a day is not impossible but would be a huge ask, and would have to wear you down fairly quickly. The earn rate would be $52 per hour.

At NL400 I get about .63 vpp's for each hand I play so would need to play 1,587,301 hands for the year. Divided by 575 equals 2760 hours for the year. 53 hours per week. 9 hours per day (If playing 6 days per week). Again achievable, but a massive challenge. The earn rate would be $81 per hour.

If I devoted my entire year to this goal then it could be achieved. Unfortunately for me, I have played enough poker to realize that I couldn't sustain that amount of play without going stir-crazy. Also I am still playing NL100, and while I am confident playing NL200 at 9 tables, I don't know what success I would have 9 tabling NL400. So, while the dream is nice, I think my Supernova Elite aspirations might have to go on hold until 2009. I think I might look at what the 500,000 vpp pay rate would work out to; this might be a more achievable goal.

Today's link:

Today's link is yet another AHK script. If you ever wanted to play poker with just your keyboard this is the script for you. Pokerpad requires a full size keyboard, but keeps all your actions around the numeric keypad area. Check it out here.



Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Ship It

Just booked my biggest win in a cash game sessions this year. I just kept flopping the nuts, and the bluffers just kept pushing all-in. In one hand I had 66, call a raise along with 3 other players and flopped 2 more 6's for quads. I'm in middle position First raiser checks I check, 3 person bets, first person goes all in, I call and third person also calls. Easy triple up. Ship it.

Variance can sure take the fun out of poker when you are running bad, but when it is on your side it makes you feel like a poker god.

My strategy of buying in for only 60BB seems to be working. People are happier to push and call all-in when they are not putting their whole stack at risk. The only downside is that I have a rule of cashing out and rebuying at a new table for 60BB each time I double up. This can make for a lot of table hopping, and leaving some potentially profitable tables. I'll stick with it and let you know how I finish up at the end of the week.

I'm heading back to the tables to see if I can donk off all my days' winnings. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Blogger tourney time

I took another thrashing on Pokerstars last night. It is starting to get a bit depressing. My new strategy of only buying in for 60BB worked well in theory. With a good hand and opponents on a suspected draw I was happy to push all my chips into the middle. The problem was they kept calling with their draws and kept hitting. I guess I'll just keep plugging away and let variance takes its course.

Signed up for the Pokerstars bloggers tournament which is being held on the 14th October. If you have your own blog, click on the link below to sign up for free. It is basically a $40,000 bloggers freeroll so should be lots of fun. Hope to see you there.

Don't know how many of you follow rugby, but I was gutted to watch both the Wallabies and All Blacks get bundled out of the rugby world cup. How I wish I had some money on those matches, would have made a killing.

Today's Topic: 3 betting

3 betting is the name given to re-raising an original raise in poker. A couple of years ago 3 betting was relatively rare in low limit NL Holdem. People would usually only 3 bet if they had AA, KK or sometimes QQ, or it was a small stack re-raising all-in. This made it easy to get away from inferior hands, with the confidence of knowing that in general the 3 better was holding a very strong hand.

These days 3 betting is becoming a lot more common and is often used as a bluff, especially from late position. It makes NL Holdem a lot more difficult and with a standard 100BB buyin can easily put your entire chipstack in jeopardy. If you are playing a 100NL game and raise it up to $4 from middle position with AQ and a late position player 3 bets up to $12, if you call then there is a minimum of $25 in the pot. If a queen comes on the flop you are in a tricky spot and out of position. If you bet ¾ of the pot ($19) and get called and nothing dangerous comes on the turn then with $63 in the pot and only $70 left in your stack it can be a hard hand to get away from. At the same time top pair top kicker isn't the hand you always want to be committing your entire stack with, out of position, with an opponent who has shown strength. This is why the 3 bet from late position is such a powerful weapon.

I much prefer to be the one making the 3 bet from late position, rather than the one calling it. If I am in late position with AA – JJ or AK - AJ and there is action behind me I will nearly always 3 bet in this situation. This way I am representing a huge hand and will have position for the rest of the hand. The one thing to remember when 3 betting is that you have to price low pairs out of the pot. I f you are playing NL100 and get a $4 raise in front of you there is little point just raising it to $8, this will give most hands the right price to call you cheaply and bust you when they hit a set on the flop. If 3 betting in this situation you need to raise the pot to at least $14, with one caller behind you, to price them out of the pot. Often raising this much with AA will mean that you don't get any action, but it will pay off in the long run.

With NL Holdem becoming increasingly aggressive, you need to adjust for this with your play. By 3 betting more often from late position, you are making the decisions a lot tougher for your opponents.

Today's Link:

If you have your own blog sign up for the Pokerstars bloggers freeroll here. Look forward to playing you all on October 14th.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Tough weekend

Hope everyone's luck was better than mine over the weekend. I'm back playing on Pokerstars, and I'm finding that players are just getting more and more aggressive. It puts you in the position of making some really tough decision on a regular basis and when 9 tabling it becomes hard work. What really gets me is when you make the right decision on numerous occasions and still get sucked out on. That's poker I guess. After such a bad start to the month I've got a lot of clawing back to do.

What I've decided to do for the rest of the week is to buy in for only 60BB rather than the maximum 100. I've found myself in a lot of situation lately facing a big bet on the turn, knowing that a larger bet is coming on the river. I've been unwilling to commit my whole stack to just top pair top kicker. I feel a lot more comfortable re-raising all-in in these situations when I'm only committing 60BB. I also want to start being more aggressive myself (fight fire with fire) and 3 betting more often with a wider range of hands. The problem with this strategy is that you can easily be forced to commit your whole stack before the end of a hand because of the large size of the pot. Again until I am more comfortable with a more aggressive style I am happier just committing 60BB at a time. I'll give it go for the week and let you all know how it works out for me.

Today's topic: Bet sizing by position

Another strategy I've implemented lately with a degree of success is sizing my opening bets based on my position. It's important in NL Holdem that the amount of your raise should not give away the strength of your hand. It is fine to vary your raises, but, before the flop, it is a good idea to vary them based on your position, not on your hand. In general raise in early position twice the blind. In middle position, three times the big blind. In late position, raise three and a half times the big blind.

The reasoning is:

Early position 2x the big blind: There are still plenty of people to act and if someone puts in a large re-raise I've committed very few chips to the pot and can get away from the hand easily. If I'm holding a monster then the 2 x raise can indicate weakness encouraging a re-raise, making it easy for me to 3 bet the pot. Being out of position for the rest of the hand also means that I don't always want to be building a large pot from early position, betting only 2 x the pot can help with this.

Middle position 3x the big blind: 3x is a fairly standard raise, so it makes it difficult for a player to put me on any hand if I make this standard raise from middle position.

Late position 3.5x the raise: In late position I am raising with a much larger range of hands, so I want to discourage the blinds from calling. If I do get a call I'm not worried as I will have position on the blinds, so will still have a good opportunity to win the hand.

If the table is playing particularly loose and I can't steal the blinds with a normal raise, then I'll tighten up my starting- hand requirements and make larger raises.

Today's link:

This link is not poker related, and a lot of people might already be using it, but I have only recently discovered igoogle. It is a customizable Google homepage which has some cool options.

Friday, October 5, 2007

It’s all good

Loaded up my backups onto the desktop last night and all my data seem to be fairly intact, which is good news. Played a bit of poker and lost a couple of hundred dollars to a collection of different draws. I hate it when you haven't played in a while and you start back with a negative day, but I guess that is all part and parcel. I'm hoping to play a lot of poker over the weekend so will report back with all my ups and downs on Monday. Got a few new topics that I want to get back into from Monday.

So have a good and profitable weekend all, and I look forward to getting back into it next week.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Home sweet home

Arrived back in Aussie last night. I live right on the beach and there is nothing better than getting up and going for an early morning dip, I really missed that. Good news on the laptop front, it looks like my travel insurance is going to pay out on it. So shopping time. I think I'll probably buy another dell, unless anyone has a better idea. My last dell had a 1920 X 1080 resolution 17" screen which I found acceptable for playing 9 tables when not at home with my big monitor.

I haven't really played any poker for almost 2 weeks (hard to play without a computer). I was planning on moving up to NL200 at the start of this month. I'll have to put this off for a couple of week until I get into the swing of it again. I find even after a few days off it can take a while to get the mind back into the whole poker thing.

I'm just setting up my old desktop computer, I'll load up all my old backups today and hopefully haven't lost to much data. So I'll be back playing poker from tomorrow, can't wait. It was actually nice to have a break from it, but I have missed playing.

No other news. I should be back with regular posts from here on.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Can’t wait to get home

Sorry for no posts this week. I am still stuck in New Zealand just finishing up on my contract. I can't wait to get back home to Australia. The reason for no posts is that my notebook computer got stolen last week. I left it sitting on a desk while I went to the restroom and when I returned it was gone. It had everything on it. All my poker stuff, work stuff, and blog stuff. I was gutted. I've been battling with the insurance company to get paid for it, but have to convince them that I made every effort to secure it before it was stolen.

No poker either for about a week now. It's a little bit hard to play without a computer. I was hoping to reach Supernova before the end of this month, but that gone down the drain for another month. I think I've got most of my important data backed up at home, but won't be able to check until next Tuesday. Fingers crossed.

So I'm now in the market for a new notebook, will do a bit of research over the weekend. I think this could be the time to get myself a nice big monitor to go with it. Maybe the 27" dell.

Hope everyone has a good weekend. Will be back up and blogging next Wednesday when I get back to Australia.


Monday, September 17, 2007

Head for the stars

Hope a good weekend was had by all. A couple of work issues have come up for me, so it means I'm in New Zealand for a couple more weeks. I don't mind being here but it does get in the way of my poker routine.

Pokerstars offered a rare reload offer over the weekend. You have 6 months to clear it, so you may as well stack it up even if you don't play on there at the moment. It sure has brought a lot of loose aggressive players to the site. I don't mind the loose aggressive games but they sure get expensive when you are running bad. I had a rough weekend at the cash games, with people hitting everything they were chasing. I don't really go on tilt much, but I do start to call more often than I normally would when people keep jamming the pot constantly. The problem was they had hit their miracle card each and every time. The games are fairly juicy on Pokerstars at the moment with a huge amount of players, often over 100,000, so I'll just keep plugging away.

Today's Topic: High stakes poker

Just to give everyone a little bit of inspiration I've listed what some of the top players are winning and losing in the high stake no limit cash games on Full Tilt Poker so far this year. For anyone who though it was impossible to make money playing online poker this might help change your mind. The figures are taken from


































































David Benya















Gus Hansen










Ram Vaswani










Ozzy 87










For anyone uncertain about the figures, yes the top winner is ahead over 2 milion dollars, and the top loser is stuck about 3.5 million. Fairly decent chunks of cash. Sbrugby (brian townsend) started playing 50 cent Nl holdem a couple of years ago, and is now over 1 million up for the year, not bad going. So keep struggling on and keep that dream alive

Today's Link:

For further information on the internet's top poker winners and losers and a list of games in progress, go to

Friday, September 14, 2007

Stacking them up

Played another frustrating Full Tilt $24 tourney last night. Made it into the money with a fairly decent stack. I had the second biggest chipstack at the table when I woke up with AA in the big blind. The chipleader made and early position raise and got one caller. I re-raised and after a couple of seconds of contemplation the chipleader pushed all-in. I called and he turned over QQ. You guessed it, out on the flop came the queen, and that was me gone. If I had won the hand I would have been a huge chipleader and a good chance at some decent money. It really hasn't helped my enthusiasm for MTT's. Up until now I have enjoyed playing the satellites on Full Tilt in which you can win $26 tokens to use in MTT's. Of a nighttime while watching TV or surfing the net I always have a couple of satellites running on my second monitor. I have collected over 40 $26 tokens, and up to now haven't had much interest in playing any MTT's with them. I even started using the $26 tokens to play single table satellites for $75 tokens. I've managed to earn 6 of these so far. I usually only play tourney's and satellites while doing other things, and most of the time if there isn't a tourney about to start I end up playing more satellites instead.

The problem is I have a stack of tokens without a big desire to play MTT's. I really enjoy the satellites, they are fast, soft, and fun. MTT's on the other hand usually just end up frustrating me. I spend 3 hours of my time to be sucked out on by a 2 outer on the river just before getting in the money most of the time. I know I must be due for a big win in a MTT soon and just need to keep persevering, but getting the enthusiasm to play them is hard. My plan is to use my tokens to play the satellites for the Sunday $215. That way when I do finally have a bit of luck in a MTT, it should hopefully be a big win. Last weekend in New Zealand so I'm hoping to get out for a few drinks for the next couple of nights. Have a good weekend on and off the tables everyone.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Slowly moving up

I finally had a free day to concentrate on poker. Played 3 tables of NL200 and 6 of NL100 on Pokerstars this morning and did fairly well with both. I think I will be mentally prepared to play 9 tables of NL200 by the beginning of next month. I haven't noticed a big difference in the skill level between NL100 & NL200, maybe just a little more aggressive. The main issue for me is getting my mind used to dealing with the bigger swings at each higher level. AT NL100 I'm used to being up or down $200 in an average session with a maximum $400 swing. Nine tabling NL200 with the tables being more aggressive, I can see that I am going to have days where I could lose up to $1000. I'm still getting my mind mentally prepared for this.

I easily have a bankroll to play as high as NL400 but I don't like to play at a higher level until I am extremely comfortable at the previous level. As a rule this cycle seems to take me about 3 months per level. I played exclusively Sit n goes for about a year getting all the way up to 6 tabling $100 SnG's before getting bored of them at the beginning of this year and moving to cash games. I enjoyed sit n goes but at the time the biggest games going were $200 SnG's and the level of competition at these was very high, giving a small ROI.

I decided that to progress in poker my best option was to move to cash games. I started playing NL25 at the beginning of the year for about 3 months. It was a great level to learn at, and after losing money for about 2 months, thing finally started to click in March. I moved up to NL50 and was a steady winner until I moved up to NL100 in June. My first month of NL100 was a shocker and I actually lost money playing poker and had to rely on bonuses to survive. I found that adjusting from NL50 to NL100 took a bit of time as players put a lot more pressure on you at NL100. I reduced the number of tables I played to six and quickly got used to it, before moving up to 12 tables at one stage. I plan on playing NL200 from the start of October and stay at that level until the end of the year. People tell me that NL400 is a lot tougher than NL200. I hope to start playing NL400 at the beginning of next year and I guess this will be the true test of whether I can make it as a serious poker player or not. I imagine if I struggle playing NL400 I'll switch over to multi table tourney's and try my luck at those next year.

Things could well change before then, but I think it is important for all aspiring poker players to have a detailed plan for their poker future. It gives you something to aim for, and can help keep you going during the difficult times. Work out what you want to achieve from the game, and then plan how you can realistically achieve it.

I've just reached the cash in a $24 Full Tilt tourney with a fairly decent stack, so I'd better go and concentrate on that. Good luck at the tables everyone.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Fooled by randomness

Hope everyone had a fun weekend. This is my last week in New Zealand. I've got most of my work done, so should have more time to concentrate on poker this week.

After taking a few days off, it sure is hard work getting back into the poker grind. If I'm playing regularly I get used to playing each day and mentally prepare for it. When I take time off I realize how much I enjoy doing other thing and struggle to get back into my usual poker routine. Hopefully it will just take a few days to get back into it.

I've been trying to catch up on some reading while over here. I've reread the "Full tilt strategy guide" which is a great book, and I've just finished reading a book called "Fooled by randomness" by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. It's an excellent book and gives some great insight into both the mental aspect of Poker and life itself. The book examines what randomness means in business and in life and why human beings are so prone to mistake dumb luck for consummate skill. This failure to recognize randomness leads us to make various cognitive errors. First, we ride our luck and eventually encounter what he calls a black swan - an event that should have been incredibly unlikely. Second, we worship those who have enjoyed even more luck than us and attribute to them guru-like status. Reading the book it is easy to see how some of the top poker pros have achieved a degree of their success by pure luck, and why a lot of players fail to live up to their potential because they are fooled by short term randomness.

In one section of the book the author talks about how people react to positive and negative events in their lives. The general idea of the section is that negative events are felt more strongly by people than positive ones. He estimates that negative events are thought to be as high as 2.5 times stronger than positive ones. An example of this in poker is if you get dealt AA and get all-in preflop and get called by KK, then a king come on the river you feel gutted. Conversely if you have KK get all your money in preflop and your opponent turns over AA and then a king comes on the river, I don't know about you but I usually feel it is owed to me to make up for all the suckouts I have taken. I certainly don't get the same emotional return as I get from the negative situation.

I think the moral of the story is that in both poker and life a person need to try and place more emphasis on the positive things happening and try to place less emphasis on the negative ones. Easier said than done, but worthwhile working towards. Pick up a copy of the book if you get a chance.