November 23, 2008

New philosophy

Having ditched heads ups for the time being (a mix of boredom, hitting a bad run, and my consistant ability to jump levels and have bad runs ruining lots of the progress I had achieved grinding), I seem to have found some consistency in the form of limit poker.

After making my initial poker bankroll in heads ups a few years ago, I had my first hot streak playing ridiulously high level limit poker. I have gone down the stakes rather a lot now. But I'm finding 3 or 4 tabling the €2/4 - €5/10 (5-max) games very profitable at the moment.

I read an article in Flush magazine this month that one good way to set out as a professional poker player is to have a bankroll that you don't touch, and use rakeback as your income. As long as you play within your limits, this helps variance be less of an issue. Now I am playing poker to pay the bills rather than to avoid Uni work this seems like a good way to go! Limit Hold 'Em generates a fair amount of rake, and assuming I play a decent amount each month, I've realised "it will do" to break even in any given month. This is a nice spot to be in.

It's definitely looking promising for me being more than a break even player at limit poker. I've been brushing up on CardRunners, which has certainly aided my game. I've now played over 20,000 hands and have got a 2.3 big bets per 100 hands to show for it. Anything between 0-2 is considered to be a good winrate for limit poker, so even though this isn't the hugest sample, it's looking good.

Having donked off many a bankroll in my time, it's a nice feeling knowing you have a few hundred big bets to back you up. Any donking off of a bankroll can only really be done by jumping levels which I have promised myself I shall not be doing!

So my new philosophy is to make a living off of rakeback, all the while hopefully building my bankroll to go alongside it. Here's hoping I haven't jinxed myself like I did when I posted my favourable headsup winrate on Blonde Poker, only to go on a huge downswing pretty much straight after!

November 02, 2008

DTD £300 Deepstack monthly freezeout

My 2nd time playing one of these, courtesy of poker.co.uk, but again it was short and definitely not sweet. Had what looked like a reasonable table draw. 1st level I raise a limper to 200 (my first raise, blinds 25/50, 10k in chips) with AJ and heads up we saw a JT5 rainbow flop. He checks, I fire 250, he calls. Turn is a deuce. He checks. In retrospect this was the perfect place to check, and call a bet on the river or value bet if he checked. I decide to bet though, 450, and he raises to 1000. He's the kind of player I imagined would raise a set on the flop, and he doesn't have deuces, so I quickly call. He then fires on the 5 river. I thought his 500 chips were 1000 chips, so I say "wow". However it turns out his bet was approx 1500. I call pretty quickly and he flips JToff for top two on the flop. I don't think I'm supposed to pass here if I'm ruling out a set in my thinking, but I certainly lost the maximum. Checking the turn was the way forward.

Down to 7k in chips and I can't hit any flops, apart from winning a small pot flopping Th 8h 6s with 5h 7h. So over the next couple of levels I dwindle (about 5.5k now). I then raise a limper to 650 at 75/150 and get called by the button and then him. Flop comes down JJ4 and it checks round. Limper then checks the 6 turn, I fire 650, the button folds and the limper (Mr. JT from earlier) raises to 2000. It's all-in or fold, but based on the previous hand, and the fact it looks like I'm committed to the hand, this looks very strong and after a fair while of thought, I pass. He later tells me he had AJ, and I'm inclined to believe him, but of course can never be sure.

Down to about 4k, UTG limps in and he has raised most of his hands UTG. I make up the small with Ad 4d and the big blind checks. The flop comes down A35 rainbow. BB checks, UTG bets 600. I really doubt he has the Ace here based on his play, so I move all-in. The big-blind though has woken up with A5 and of course shoves, UTG quickly mucks and I'm dead to 4 outs which I miss.

Felt a little hard done by cos I didn't see that I did much wrong, bar missing a check on the turn with AJ, yet somehow I managed to lose 10k in chips in 3 levels. Oh well, I had fun talking to Blondeites Jen and NoFlopsHomer after I bust then drove home to watch a terrible decision on X-Factor. And Liverpool lost! Not the best day overall!!!

October 31, 2008

World Heads-Up Poker Championship 2008

Last week I certainly enjoyed myself in Barcelona with fellow pro Dan Carter and both of our girlfriends. With the side events getting very few runners (a consequence of the last-minute putting together of this tournament which also saw the main event only get 59 runners instead of the usual 128), I didn't really play all that much poker in this week...only the main event itself.

So I was totally focussed on the main event. My 1st round match went well. I was happy to draw a person I wasn't aware of called Raul Paez (although having looked him up since I see he has amassed $1 million in tournament winnings!)

I took a small lead in level 1 (100/200...22,000:18,000) just with small pots. But then an ugly phase in level 2 (150/300) where he was picking off c-bets, made a couple of 3 bets preflop when I had TJ and such. I also made a call with ace high thinking he was weak, but he tabled bottom pair. So we're now 12,000:28,000 and getting a bit concerned.Rallied back though.

Started to get paid off with hands on the "He mucked after calling when I bet with bottom pair" and "Every time he bets he seems to have nothing" image. I let him bet into me flop and turn on KQTx with K8 and value bet the river and got paid off. And called a bet on AKTx with J4s after turning the flush draw, and got paid off when I hit the river. So midway through level 3 (200/400) I'm back to a slim lead, about 23,000:17,000.

Can't say my winning hand involved much skill though. He had raised me the last 2 times I'd limped on the button, and had probs done it 1/3 of the time overall. So I decide to limp with QQ. Of course he checks this time(!). Flop comes QJ7, all diamonds. He checks, I bet 500...he raises me to 1500. I repop it to 4000. He calls. Turn is the jackpot card, the 7 spades. He checks, I whack in 4500 and he shoves. I insta call and he shows down a rather sick A2 of diamonds for the flopped nut flush. But I'm certainly not complaining about the cold deck in my favour.

My 2nd round match was over much more quickly. I was up against Jon Wong, not someone I know that well, but someone who I have a lot of time for on the circuit, and who I know is a very adept player. I was hoping the first hand wouldn't be a bad omen on how the game would go, after inevitably losing chips with 66 on a T3348 board against his 77.

I was a little worried he had a read on how I played after he layed down what I know was a reasonably strong hand on a J43J8 board when I made it a little too obvious I was strong (I infact held JT).

His aggressive style would certainly have been tricky to contend against if I didn't get a little fortunate in a pot in the first level. I made my first button raise to 550 (100/200 blinds, stacks about 23,000:17,000 in my favour at this point) with 66, having limped the previous time I had it. He repopped to 2200. I almost layed down here, thinking I could wait for a better spot. But I figured the implied odds here made this a call. The flop came 834 with two clubs. I'm very wary of this flop because of the possibility of an overpair. However his check surprised me, and led me to believe he had more of an AK type hand. I checked behind and, bingo, the 6 hit (not a club). He led out for about 4500, and I decided a shove disguised my hand best here. He made the call and flipped 63 off for 2 pair. I have to say I was surprised at his hand. He certainly wasn't as strong preflop as I was imagining! The case 6 was the only hand where I win all the chips here, so I was very fortunatew with that. He said he was going to check raise-shove the flop which would have been very strong, and just got unlucky that I was canny enough to check and hit THAT turn, as it is so hard to put me on a set there. Another cold deck in my favour.

Sadly it all ended one round before the money in the 3rd round. I actually lost to the eventual champion Mauro Stivoli. (It would have been difficult to have found a tougher 3 opponents to have played in succession in this draw!).

Early doors, he won a few small pots to take a lead. I fought back, winning my fair share of pots to put me up about 23,000:17,000 in chips. Then this hand came up. He limped on the button and I made perhaps only my 2nd raise out of the big blind. Perhaps I should have raised more than the 700 I did (blinds 100/200), but with QQ you tend to want action. The flop came an ugly A57 with 2 spades. He check raised my 900 bet to 2300. I almost mucked...but when I analysed the hand I didn't have him for an ace (based on his previous play) so I called.

The turn brought the deuce of spades. He checks, and with the Q of spades I am happy to check behind. The river brings a red King. He leads out for almost the size of the pot. I tanked here. This might seem like an easy fold but I went through what hands he might have here. Putting it all together I ruled out him holding an Ace. I also ruled out a flush. Based on previous hands I was sure he'd bet less and might even lead out the turn. My gut feeling was he had a 7, and that the only hand he had that beat me was something like K7 suited. So after a fair few minutes, I made the call. He flipped over 57 offsuit. This was a big call to make with QQ, and obviously it was the wrong one. However I feel I analysed the hand correctly, I just didn't think about the possibility of him calling with this hand preflop.

The rest of the match I had to scrap for every pot I could. I was relying a lot on making bets and raises with nothing...because that's exactly what I had 95% of the time. One such hand I bet a black 67 offsuit on a QJ3 board, all hearts. He called. I checked behind on the brick turn. The river brought the 8h and I fired at it, and he folded his Queen face up.

However inevitably he took a lead with me hitting nothing, and was up about 26,000:14,000 when this came up at 300/600. I limped with A8 off as he had been raising a lot out of the BB and I was potentially intending to raise if this happened. He checked behind. It came an A37 rainbow. He checked, and I decided to check behind, as he had been firing the turn almost every time I checked in this spot. This time he checked though, so I fired 1,000 into the pot. The river brought a very blank looking 3. He checked again. 9 times out of 10 I'm value-town betting here, but my gut instinct told me to flip my cards over to signify a check. This is exactly what I did, and he flipped over a very ugly 23 offsuit. I can't help thinking that although small, this pot was quite significant.

We swap stealings of big-blinds for a little while and then my elimination hand comes up right at the beginning of the 400/800 level. I have about 11,500 chips at this point. He limps in. I check behind with 49 offsuit. The flop comes a 479 rainbow. I check raise him, he moves all-in. I almost flipped my cards over before calling I was so happy to get the money in there! I managed to say call before doing so, but when he fist pumped and shouted "yes" before even seeing my hand I assumed I was dead. And I certainly was as he held the old 79 offsuit, and I missed my 2-outer. This time it was a cold-deck against me...

I was told later on that "at least I lost to the champion". That's little consolation when he's nursing his €65,000 prize while I missed out on the €5,600 which would at least my cut of would have paid for the week (I was giving away 45% to backers, which I appreciate guys, thanks) and a shot at the big time.

Nevermind, I had a really good week in Barcelona, and since I've been back I've been running pretty good on some juicy limit FL hold 'em games in the €2/4 - €5/10 range (I needed a break from heads up). I'm still trying to discover what I should spend my time playing, but it's possibly I might give MTTs a whirl for a little while, something I've never done seriously. I've signed up for pocketfives.com to this end, although I have yet to get playing.

I still have a bit of sponsorship in the pocket thanks to poker.co.uk, so I will be looking at playing at least one live event in November, and might even venture out there with my own roll!

October 04, 2008

APAT Am-Pro £300 Freezeout, Luton

Having heard good things about the APAT in magazines and seeing that numerous members of Blonde would be attending, I thought I'd take a crack at this one with it allowing professionals and having a serious buy-in. I used this as the 2nd of my 3-part installment sponsorship by poker.co.uk (thanks Matt).

I have to say it was an enjoyable tournament, with a good atmosphere and v.well organised.

Early doors I had an interesting hand where I called a raise preflop in the big blind with 9Ts. The flop came 9TJ and I check called bets on the flop and the blank turn intending to make it look like I was chasing a straight. Unfortunately (or as it turned out, fortunately) the Q hit the river, and I check folded to a fairly hefty river bet. Later on he said he flopped the nuts with KQ, and he's the kind of guy I believe in this situation. So it could have been worse, but I had still dipped to 6k now from a 10k starting stack.

From there I gradually built my stack winning quite a few reasonably-small pots. I was only ever all-in twice in this tournament. The first time was an all-in 4 bet from the small blind after the button raised then 3 bet my re-raise to which he passed.

Having gone into the break with 17k, I was still hovering around this mark an hour after play resumed. I tried a raise with 9T of hearts having been quiet for 3 rounds or so. I was re-popped preflop by an aggressive player, and getting almost 4 to 1 on a call I thought I'd take a risk here. The 2s 4c 4c flop wasn't exactly what I was looking for. Check fold.

A few hands later, now on 12k and blinds at 300/600 I made a raise to 1700 under the gun with red nines. BB calls, he has about 1k less than me in chips. Flop comes K74 all diamonds. He leads out and my decision was that this bet wasn't strong and I moved all-in.

He insta-called me, in such a way which led me to enquire "Aces?!", but which was mistaken for me declaring that I had Aces, which he sounded not pleased about. I now meekly turned over my not-so-impressive nines. He tabled a little surprising KT of spades. Surprising because this was for his tournament life and there's a LOT of hands I could have raising UTG that beat him. However I can't fault him as in essence it was the correct call, and no diamonds or nines hit.

I got a walk in the big blind with my remaining 1k stack. Sadly no fun spin up as I went with K6 in the small blind up against a raiser who held 55. A five on the turn sealed my fate and sent me on the 2 hour drive home.

I felt I played well all day and I'm not unhappy with how I played my exit-hand. I enjoyed the tournament, met a couple of nice people, played some good poker....but left with that inevitable disappointment that you always feel when exiting a multi table tourney...

September 22, 2008

1 week turbo STT marathon...

I have just completed what can only be described as an epic one week marathon to cash as many times in single table NLHE tournaments as possible. This came about due to a promotion on Boss Media that was offering cash prizes to the people that earnt the most points.

Tournament specification:
*10 entrants
*€20+2 buy-in
*1500 starting chips
*3 minute blind levels

In each individual tournament...
1st = €100 and 5 points
2nd = €60 and 3 points
3rd = €40 and 2 points


After an incredibly grueling week, playing a good 10+ hours a day and often 6-7 tables at a time, I managed to earn 1139 points in 1075 games. This was good enough for 2nd place in the leaderboard, and a €2000 prize. Leaderboard is below:

1 €5,000 Matias K 1371
2 €2,000 James A 1139
3 €1,500 Joao C 1082
4 €1,000 Juha-Rauno L 831
5 €650 Ingo M 680
6 €450 Jon H 657
7 €300 Patrik S 649
8 €250 Janne A 471
9 €200 Soren L 461
10 €150 Tero S 409

I've never played so much poker in one week, and I'm thankful it's over, but I am pleased with my accomplishment. Although I didn't make much more than the €2k prize, as only rakeback and a deposit bonus ensured that I made a profit in the actual games themselves, it has helped me get into a good frame of mind after being "all over the place" as I was saying in my last post. Perhaps it's not the easiest money I've ever earned, but perhaps winning this money feels particularly good because it was hard-earned.

I had a real rough start to the week when I took a big dip of up to 60 buy-ins as I apparently struggled to get to grips with the format of the tournaments. After the first day though I started to play them optimally and over the course of the next 5 days I gradually grinded my way back to the break even point. Sadly the last day I had 15 buy-in downswing thanks to a rough day of cards where I kept running into aces yet never being dealt them.

Still, I was able to pip my nearest rival to 2nd place on this last day so nevermind. I was never really in contention for 1st place, that guy was a sicko to have been able to play any more than I did, I'd played a good days worth of games than me.

I catalougued the week long crusade on blonde poker, and that thread is here should anyone be interested: Click here

Will keep you posted on what I intend to do now, but a couple of days off is definitely needed after staring at a screen all week!

I do know that I will be playing the World Heads-up Championship in Barcelona in a months time, more details on that at a later date....

Cheers for now!...

September 12, 2008

All over the place...

Since my last post things seem to have gone all way-ward.

I took a couple of weeks off at the end of August to go on holiday in Lanzarote. I was intending to play a little while I was over there, but there was no internet connection as promised so that didn't happen.

I seem to have jinxed myself with a post on Blonde Poker about how Heads-Ups were going well and how my hourly rate was looking good. Since I made that post I haven't been able to get going with heads ups. I had a couple of fairly big downswings, but managed to get things even...the first two times. A few days ago I suffered a big downswing and haven't played heads up since, I think I need to get my head straight before I go back there.

Also I've been messing around with other forms of poker which I don't know where it's going. This was initially for the rake race on Boss...until I saw even 6-tabling mid-stakes limit for mental hours per day wouldn't see me make the top 5 so I quit after one day. However it was profitable so I have looked into it on iPoker. However in 10,000 hands I have only made $500, 5 tabling $2-4 to $5-10, plus about $300 rake for the second half of hands. It's such a tedious form of poker I'm not sure I want to pursue it, but I might for the short term.

I might also migrate to playing Full Table SNGs for a week due to another promotion, but perhaps the same thing will happen with that as happened to the rake race.

In the midst of all this I played the £300 main event at Dusk Til Dawn's Monthly 1-2-3 Festival. Mr Matt Dale was kind enough to put me in as the first installment of a "thank you" for reaching an astronomical milestone in rake. Sadly I couldn't return the favour as I bust out in the second level. I was enjoying the table which featured Lucy Rokache. I made 75 whole chips picking up KKs in the very first hand; flopping a set.

Built up to 11k in the first level, then had 3 hands where it all went wrong.

#1 - Dude limped UTG, I followed suit with KJ, a couple of limpers then a small BB raise which everyone called. J82 rainbow flop. UTG led out, I called everyone else folded. 4 turn. He bet big. I couldn't put this guy on a hand that beat me. I ruled out a set, couldn't believe he had 2 pair after limping UTG. So I called. He value bet the 2 river so I also ruled out a bluff. I figured QJ was definite possibility and called. He tabled AJ. Perhaps I could've got away from this but not under my own evaluation. AJ was the only thing that beat me but didn't think he'd limp UTG with it. So I'm now down to 7k.

#2 - Couple of limpers, I limp with Ah 5h on the button. Q94 with 2 hearts. Mid-Posn limper bets, I call, SB 3 bets to 1200, we both call. Blank turn. Mid-posn leads out and I pass. Was happy to see no heart on the river, but that's 1300 more chips down.

#3 - Couple of limpers again, I have 66s and limp. Button raises 4x. Limpers both call, so do I. 578 rainbow. I check raise all-in. 10 outs against basically any hand except a set; I think this is the right move. He has QQs and I miss my outs and exit early.


...I'm just looking to get back on track now and figure out what the best way for me to do that is.

I'm retiring my Heads Up stats, I managed to do this at 1000 games. I'll probably start up again but not sure when just yet...

Here they are:

Played: 1000
Won: 559
Lost: 441
Win %: 56%
Profit per Game: €11

Looking at the maths there I think I will return to playing heads up, I just need to get my discipline back before I do...

August 15, 2008

Heads Up going nice and steady...

It's been a little while since I reported on my Heads-Up progress. Things are still going well, dating back to when I started keeping a more decent schedule and playing throughout the daytime. I've been a little bit lax in the amount I've played somedays, I've been playing between 20-25 a day the last couple of weeks. I'd prefer to play at least 30 a day but with some rake-races coming up I'm sure I'll be playing much more during that time.


The bigger my sample gets, the more likely it seems that I can keep on this vein. I've now played over 750 Heads-Ups in this period, and these are my stats:

Played: 766
Won: 446
Lost: 319
Win %: 58%

Avg. Stake: €106
Avg. Profit per HU: €15.65
ROI: 13.3%



My poker.co.uk sharkscope graph since this run started:

Also, I've started playing on Poker Heaven for a while due to their recent promotions, my sharkscope graph there looks like this:


Long may this run continue!

August 12, 2008

Largest Online Tournament win to date - but still cursed on the river!

Sunday was a very good day for me. I played two tournaments, a €100+10 invitational tournament STT with added money, and the €100,000 guaranteed weekly tournament on Boss Media and got good cashes in both.

The poker.co.uk invitational, open to the top 10 rakers and top 10 most profitable players attracted 10 players. All ten were still in I believe after 2 hours which was pretty crazy. I won a pot early to give me 3000 chips to the 2500 starting stack and never went below that. I thought I generally played very well but to be fair my accumulation of chips came down to 3 preflop coinflips. I bust a short stack with KQs vs 22, I think there was a JJ v AK in there and I can't remember the other one, but again the hands were about equal in value.

3 handed I picked up a lot of decent hands which led me to be rather aggressive. I was quite fortunate in a pot where Matt Dale limped from the sb and I checked with 9T. He checked the flop, as did I as I had none of it. He bet half the pot on the turn and I had picked up a double belly buster draw, which I like to play cos they're so disguised. I hit it on the turn and picked up a nice pot when he bet into me on the river and called my raise. He later told me he flopped two pair.

The other player bust Matt later on and it was heads-up, my speciality. We were about even in chips and I took control of the match. I worked my way to a 2:1 chip lead. I had been raising a lot on the button and took the opportunity to limp with 66. He shoved all-in, for about the 4th time as the first raise. I called knowing he could easily have 22-55 or even A5s or something, but he had A9 off. It was looking good, and I was all ready to win the tournament with his 6 outs going to the river, but sadly he hit the 9.

Instantly the blinds went up and I had a dry spell of cards. He was nearly 3:1 chips after raising a few hands in a row, and I 3 bet shoved A5s to yet another raise. He had AQ I think and took the tournament down. Damned 9. Nevertheless a good ROI, winning €900.



Before this had started I started playing the €100k guraanteed with a €120+10 buy-in. This one had 734 runners.

Early doors I made a hero call on a 2QJ52 board with 33 in a three-way pot to give me some chips (dude pot bet the turn and shoved the river with A7, I was sure I was good). I doubled up when I hit the magical top set with 99 and handily for me my opponent had slow played Aces preflop, only calling my original raise. It went all-in on the flop.

I just played good poker from there on in, with the help of railer Dafydd Elias cheering me on. I did get a lucky spot somewhere in the middle when UTG open shoved with KJ for about 10bbs and I had Aces in mid-position. But if people want to give gifts, who am I to stop them!

I was taking enough pots to stay in a nice position all the way down to two tables. Made a beautiful squeeze shove with 88 that had my heart pounding and landed me a good wodge of chips. I had a hand with 12 players left which would have made me the clear chip leader, when I 3 bet shoved JJ. I was called by AK off, but he hit runner runner clubs to four flush me on the river, and I was back to just below average.

Final Table and I managed to pick my spots to stay around average, while players were gradually knocked out. Sadly I lost yet another coin-flip, again against AK but this time holding QQ. Now I was the short-stack.

Finally though it was my turn to win a coinflip though as I shoved 55 from the sb, doubling through AJ calling in the bb.

I built up my chips without elimiating anyone, but the other stacks were getting bigger from eliminations. 5 left and I was the shortest stack, but still had 150k which was 10bbs. Then a guy who had been playing tricky min raised and I picked up QQ in the small-blind. I shoved it in, and he made a quick call. He flipped over pocket tens. Beautiful.

The blankiest flop ever, a blank on the turn, only 2 tens to duck and it's a ....... 10

Sick.

I had tried to keep my eye off the payouts to this point, only keeping an eye on the bubbles and things to see when players would tighten up. But I was pleasantly surprised to see I had reached the €5,500 mark. This marked my biggest online tournament victory to date. Perhaps you'd have expected me to have a bigger win by now in my poker career, but I really haven't played that many big online multis. Obviously I can't help but wonder how much I would have won if that 10 hadn't hit, but for a days work I had to be happy with my 2 tournament cashes.


August 01, 2008

July Summary

It seems I've finally found a schedule I can work to. So far the playing throughout the daytime plan is working. I'm running good on the heads-ups and as my sample becomes larger, the more it becomes reflective of my play...giving me belief I can keep this going.


Having started into July, and taking a week off due to my brother's wedding and a friend's birthday day out to Alton Towers among other things, I guess I still only have about 2 weeks worth of data. However these are my stats for that time:
Heads Ups Played: 419
Won: 246
Lost: 173
Win %: 59%
ROI: 15%
Avg. Profit per HU: €16

And my Sharkscope graph for that period of games:
On a side note I did go to Dusk 'til Dawn a couple of weeks ago cos I was itching to play live. I played the satellite to the £750 main event of their recent mini-festival. I really really should have won a seat but I made a couple of small errors as I tend to do in satellites. However I did make the cash bubble of £570. Perhaps this was a good thing in terms of sensibility as it led me to keep the money and not play the event. £750 is too much of an outlay yet. I want to keep building my roll and perhaps rejoin the tournament scene after a few more months of grinding.

July 12, 2008

General Update

It's been a while since I updated so I thought I should do so...

Since my last post I've suffered a couple of big downswings. I've still been achieving around a 57% win ratio...but I took a couple of shots playing a series of higher stakes heads ups, €200-€500, and had sick sessions both times. Although I was ridiculously unlucky (I lost 7 in a row at one point, which is unprecedented for me I think), I shouldn't have been playing them so it's my own fault. If it wasn't for my dodgy game selection/bankroll management I'd make so much more from poker.

However, I started a new gameplan a few days ago. It essentially involves treating this heads-up regime a bit more like a 'normal job'. I'm waking up at 9.30am and playing throughout the daytime 'til about 5.30pm; rather than waking up whenever I feel like (often 11.30am-1pm) and playing sporadically throughout the day, night and early morning. I was worried that there would be more professionals in the day, as the fish probably have jobs and are at work, but so far the players seem mostly soft. It means I can relax more in the evenings, and I think my girlfriend appreciates me not spending my evenings shouting at the computer when some donkey hits a 3-outer!

I am strictly playing €50 and €100 heads ups, and the only time I am allowed to play €200 is if I see an uberfish sitting at the table. So far it's going well.

So far, I've got a 59% win average, a 15% R.O.I., am making €17 per Heads Up and am playing about 25-30 Heads ups per day.

However this is only a 5 day, 130 Heads ups played sample, so we'll have to see how it goes!

June 12, 2008

I won another poker tournament!

Yes another monster to add to my fairly recent €10 rebuy sucess......a €20 freezeout!

Still, I was very happy with the cash I picked up for 1st, certainly feels better than a day of grinding out the heads ups (although I did that as well today in fairness).


208 runners in this one...

I certainly rode my luck at times, and for the first time I saw value in the "chip and a chair" cliché. With about 50 players left I lost a 3 way pot holding 77s against AJ and another AJ where the A hit, and I was down to 1000 chips when the average was 8000 and the blinds at 200/400. I shoved a K7 into QQ and rivered some kind of dodgy straight with the 7! I definitely remember shoving T4s from the sb and the bb had KQs and I sucked out there too.

I worked my way up to average and from there started playing a really good game. I came into my own with 2 tables left and picked my spots well. There was a harsh hand for someone else on the bubble when the ubershortie shoved under the gun, and a semi-stacked player shoved too. I had AK and more chips than him and shoved also. UTG had A5s and the other guy had pocket QQs. I flopped a King to take out the QQs, but he missed out on the money cos the A5s hit a runner runner flush.

I was playing quite aggressive and raising a fair amount of hands cos of the large blinds and antes, and certainly made some nice bets when I got called and flopped nothing.

At one point I made a big laydown with AJs when the big blind shoved for 50k into my 9k raise (most of my stack). I felt he could easily have A rag here cos I'd won a pot off him the previous round when he was in the bb then, but then again he could have had AQ or AK. Also made a reasonably good fold with 77s also when I raised and there was a shortie shoved and an average player shoved too. They held AJ and 99.

I had one ridiculously lucky hand when it got down to the final table. Blinds were at 2,000/4,000 and I had shrivelled to a 25k stack after being forced to fold to a shove after raising and the blinds going through me. I pick up Ad Qd otb. Utg raises and this guy has been playing quite solid, but there's no folding my hand so I shove. Big Blind then shoves and I know I'm in big trouble. Utg flips pocket tens, big blind has the weapons of mass destruction AA. No diamonds and an AK3 flop and I'm assuming it's all over. The J on the turn and I notice the gutshot, but remember that can't really happen cos the utg guy has two of the required tens. But unbelievabley the T hit the river. Sooooo sick! Aces guy still won money from Mr. UTG but still, that's the luckiest hand I remember having, like, ever! (My mate Dafydd who railed me on the final table tells me I was 9% preflop, 0.9% on the flop, and 4.7% on the turn to win the hand)

From there I played like a don mostly, although the guy that got hold of the chip lead did cause me some trouble on my direct right with his weird array of limping and min raising. I managed to build well just from stealing blinds and antes. Won a 99 v AK coinflip against a short stack at some point. Then the coup de grás or whatever that expression is. I picked up QQ utg and made it 20k at 4,000/8,000 with my 110k stack. The button shoves for a bout 45k then the big stack (180k or so) flat calls. I shove for my remaining chips. Chip leader calls surprisingly quickly for his hand. He has 77, the button has AcTc. I flopped top set on QJx but was still sweating it out as the button flopped the nut flush draw along with a gutshot...a blank turn but no boat which would have been nice...but a blank river also meant I took the whole (rather large) pot.

Now I was chip leader with 3 of us left. The donkey with the 77s knocked the other person out quickly with a call with Q8 lucky to be against Q7. I had about 260k to his 150k. On the first hand heads up he min raises to 16k. I call with Q9 off. Flop Q66 with 2 spades. I check, he bets 40k or so. I considered 'walking the dog' but figure a shove is fine here. He calls and I'm not thrilled to see he has As Js. But BOOOM the Q on the turn sealed it all and I took the tourney down.

Some incredible luckboxing mixed with some great play. A great morale boost for my tournament play, and a nice way to break up the grind of heads up!

June 05, 2008

May Summary

May was an interesting month. I decided not to pursue the Geoff sponsorship just because I felt more comfortable playing with my own bankroll. I didn't have the best start and there was a lot of pressure on me, and seeing as I can fund the kind of games I was playing myself I made that decision.

I actually took a couple of weeks off after that cos I was feeling frustrated with things. Had a mini-great run on Pacific Poker playing $1/2 based on some advice from Dan Carter, but I don't think it's the game for me just now. I might pursue that at a later date. Since May 22nd I've been playing a lot of heads up and the occasional multi. Had a weirdly bad run in the 50 euro games but have been doing better in the others. It's been pretty slim margins but I came out with a reasonable profit at the end of it.

€50 Heads Up.....Played: 86, Won: 35, Lost: 51, Win %: 41%
€100 Heads Up.....Played 219:, Won: 119, Lost: 100, Win %: 54%
€200 Heads Up.....Played: 55, Won: 33, Lost: 22, Win %: 60%
€Misc Heads Up*.....Played: 23, Won: 16, Lost: 7, Win %: 70%
*Mostly the new €75 and €150 games and a few €300s in there too

Overall:
Played: 376
Won: 197
Lost: 179
Win Percentage: 52.5%

So slim margin, but the losses came in the lowest game I was playing so a steady month all in all...

Plan for June....
Keep rinsing the heads up games on Boss. Will be looking for some live action soon seeing as I'm missing out on the World Series this summer

May 01, 2008

April Summary

April began the road towards a steady poker wage and proved to myself that I am always going to be able to make profit out of Heads-Up STTs and am still an adept tournament player.

What I have also learnt is that I must not bother playing ring-game limit poker anymore. The swings are too big, the suck-outs hurt more than in other forms of poker and I've come to the conclusion that I'm not as good at it as I used to be. So this is me and limit poker cash games parting ways for good.

I will be fully focusing on Heads Up STTs for my own bankroll, and the one I am using for my sponsorship under Geoff.

Here is April's Heads Up Performance:

€50 Heads Up.....Played: 194, Won: 114, Lost: 80, Win %: 59%
€100 Heads Up.....Played 110:, Won: 65, Lost: 46, Win %: 59%
€200 Heads Up.....Played: 22, Won: 16, Lost: 6, Win %: 73%
€Misc Heads Up*.....Played: 23, Won: 14, Lost: 9, Win %: 61%
*Mostly the new €75 and €150 games and a few €300s in there too

Overall
Played: 349
Won: 209
Lost: 141
Win Percentage: 60%

So here's to making a lot of money in Heads Ups in May, staying away from all other games except MTTs to break up the monotony, and hopefully I can take another one of those down too...

April 21, 2008

I won a poker tournament!

It's been quite a long time since I won a poker tournament, or at least one with a lot of runners, but today I achieved it! I'm not saying I've played all that many, but it does seem like in my poker career I've had so many 2nds, 3rds, 4ths and 5ths, but not that many 1sts. This is something which has bugged me cos essentially I'm a heads up specialist.

254 runners, €10 rebuy.

I actually got sicked for my 1st buyin. Got it all-in on a T-7-2 board with AT against JT and he spiked the jack on the river. I re-bought then rebought again instantly to give me double chips (3k). Can't remember exactly how but worked my way up to 10k chips before I added on.

From there I just grinded my way through the tourney. Picked my spots without picking up any huge hands. I can honestly say I didn't suck out once in the whole tournament. Admittedly, no-one really sucked out on me either, but if my chips were all in the middle I was ahead.

On the final table I was probably 7th/10, but gained a nice stack when two people limped in and I had T6s in the small blind and limped. The flop came down AT6 which was beautiful. The first limper bet the minimum, the next guy raised 4x that bet, and I moved in for a bit of an underaise. I figured I'd be battling a strong ace but he flipped over pocket eights for a conspicuous call and missed his 2 outs.

Managed to hold my own until the shovefest began. Picked my spots correctly until 4 handed I shoved A6s UTG and got called by AKs. I missed and was left with about 100k with approx 900 in play. A round later though I picked up my first pair of Kings and UTG raised so I shoved for a major underraise. He had A9 of diamonds and the flop came 9 high with 2 diamonds!!! Somehow I faded the turn and the river. I then picked up Aces for the first time UTG. I shoved and the guy I'd put down to 80k called with KTs. He flopped a gut shot straight and a flush draw!!! I faded it again!!!!!

It was now about my 300k vs 400k and 200k. I picked my spots to shove and fortunately didn't get called. The 400k stack knocked out the 200k stack and I was heads-up about a 2-1 dog.

It didn't last many hands. I made a huge move, raising the turn on a 66KK board after he bet the flop and turn holding T7 off. I shoved the river and thank god he folded. Now I was 2-1 leader. I shoved A7s the next hand. He called with KJ, flopped a King but I turned the nut flush and TOOK IT DOWN!!!

Not the hugest win anyone's ever had but a big confidence booster. And over a €1800 return from a €40 outlay is certainly not to be sniffed at!!

Ironic that I posted last night that MTTs weren't proving to be profitable, hopefully this is a turn around of that statement!!


A steady two weeks...

I've actually been playing for the last couple of weeks. I took a good 5-6 weeks off to try and do my essay and do my exams, but my heart just was never in it. Despite all the ups and downs I've had over the last 3 years, playing poker is what I want to do right now.

I've finally got myself to dip limits and play a steady amount of heads-ups in the lower range. I've been very consistent thus far, and though I'm not sure 250 heads-ups is a big enough sample, I've been achieving approximately a 60% win rate.

I have also been playing a lot of MTTs and a bit of low level limit poker. I never realised how bankroll sucking MTTs can be. I'm about €1000 down in them over two weeks, and have only cashed in two events. Came something like 5/60 in a €50 Freezeout for €300 and a slightly more encouraging 3rd out of 402 runners in a €10 Freezeout for €500. I'm enjoying playing them, so I think I'll keep playing them alongside Heads Ups, but will keep an eye on profitability cos they haven't proved to be that yet. Obviously though variance is to be expected. I've just about covered my MTT losses with my limit ring game wins, though I don't think I will be playing much of these.

Managed to get caught up in the Poker Trillion controversy as I had started playing there for the first week due to the special deal they do on live tourney discounts. Will see what network they move to to see if I'll still play there. Started playing on poker.co.uk after this happened and have run steady on both sites.

Here's my sharkscope graphs:

PTrillion:


poker.co.uk (have edited graph to only include games played over the last 2 weeks):


And stats thus far:

€50 HU:
Played: 152, Won: 86, Lost: 66, Win %: 57%

€100 HU:
Played: 78, Won: 50, Lost: 29, Win %: 64%


€200 HU:
Played: 15, Won: 10, Lost: 5, Win %: 67%



Hopefully I will keep on winning at this rate and perhaps find a little more success in MTTs...

Will keep you updated....



March 30, 2008

Checking out Dusk 'til Dawn

I have been good and haven't played poker for several weeks in my quest to finish my studies. My last exam is on April 24th, so I anticipate returning to the tables soon after.

However I have been itching to play poker so allowed myself to go and play a very small live tournament. I hadn't yet made it down to Dusk 'til Dawn, and with rave reviews and it only being an hours drive I thought I'd check it out.

There sure have got the place spot on. It's the nicest cardroom I've ever been in. Layout is great. Tables and chips are nice. Staff are friendly. I shall certainly be returning...

The tournament was a £50 freezeout affair with 129 runners.

In about level 4 I had to make a pot-commited call with KTs against AQ which put me to below half starting stack and about 1/4 of the average stack. Somehow though I rallied. I picked my spots, and was only in a showdown once with Q9 vs Q6 and I worked my way up to 20k in chips when the average was about 18.

From there I won showdowns against shorter stacks with AK vs A7 and ATs vs 67s. Made a huge error with Aces though. After raising early I got re-raised. I thought he was all in and called and flip my cards over. But he actually had like 20k back. So amateurish, I've only ever done that once before like 2 years ago. He checked it down and I won the pot, but could've had all his chips cos he had queens.

Had an interesting hand where my friend on the circuit Alan Vinnecombe shoved with 55and I moved in on the button with 99 that could have put him on the bubble. It came down A23.......5.........4 for a split.

Blinds were huge on the final table. The only hand I picked up for 3 rounds was 66 on the button to steal. Shoved with A7 on the button a couple of rounds later and the big blind made a dodgy call with K8h. He flopped a flush draw then turned a king and I was crippled. Got lucky to double up shoving with K7s into A6o. Then lost another 60:40 calling the small blind's all-in with A8s, he had JQ and turned a Jack.

I bust shoving K7 from the small blind into the big blind. He was getting about 2 to 1, but I still think he could've folded his 23 off. He flopped a 3 which was good enough to send me packing in 5th place for £420.

Losing 3 pots where I was at least a 60% favourite sucked, would certainly have gained the better money had I won them. Still, I was reasonably happy with the win, and it leaves me with some confidence for when I start back playing.

I really need to start playing more live tournaments. My record of final tables is crazy. I wish I'd kept an accurate record. I think the plan is to build a roll playing heads-up STTs, play MTTs on Sundays, and plow a resonable proportion of my profits into live tournaments.

Anyway, def go check out DTD if you live closeby. I'll be returning to full blogging in a few weeks time...

February 12, 2008

Secuirty Code Blues...

Argh, was all motivated to start on my quest to build a bankroll and go get that star rating on sharkscope when I discovered I am unable to currently deposit on poker.co.uk ... I changed my address last week cos I had previously entered it slightly wrong and it was showing my postcode as my location, which I thought was a bit too specific information to throw out there. Sadly this encouraged webdollar to send me a brand new security code. So now I have to wait 'til that arrives from god knows where in Europe before I can begin playing. I'll let you know when that occurs!

Side-note, I'm gonna be missing out on the tournaments in Walsall. Partly to do with staying with my girlfriend as she started a new job yesterday, and partly cos I feel like I'm starting from scratch right now, and I'd prefer for it to be like that as opposed to being down the amounts that I put into any tournaments there if I weren't to cash. I'll wait til I've built up some money online before I play live next I think...

February 10, 2008

"Atkinator"...

I have gone through the rigmeroll (I can't believe I guessed the spelling of that right, I just looked it up!) of registering a new name on poker.co.uk ('Atkinator') so that my sharkscope statistics will start from scratch and I can post up graphs and stuff on this blog as my play progresses.

I am feeling really positive about this fresh start. I am about half way through this poker book recommended by Dan Carter called "The Poker Mindset," and all I can say it is very perceptive and has some great advice. It is all about the psychology of poker, nothing to do with strategy. I am convinced it is going to help me in the long-term and I advise any poker-pros reading to go buy it!


(click here for its Amazon page)

Still planning to start my heads-up onslaught on Thursday or so, although Stuart Rutter has perhaps talked me into checking out one or two tournaments in Walsall this week...

February 07, 2008

Inspiration...

Something I was doing whilst blogging regularly last time was also using sharkscope.com to research my opponents. I stopped doing this because I found it to be unreliable in recording my own results, but I have decided to resubscribe and start looking everyone up again. I looked up the latest on a few of the regular players. "gherkin" is a player I avoid playing as I consider him on my skill level. But I need to find consistency like him and he is my inspiration for the new plan:






Over $100,000 profit from pretty much solely 200-300 euro heads-ups would suit me fine! 4,500 games does sound quite daunting though...