August 31, 2009

To stack, or not to stack, that is the question...

Over the last few weeks I have been experimenting with a bunch of things to try and make playing poker as productive as possible. In my new PokerNews column I take a look at the different methods of displaying poker tables (tiling, cascading and stacking).

Click here if you are interested...


Had a bit of a family weekend so haven't played, and am probably going to find getting in any poker difficult over the next couple of weeks as my girlfriend is nearly ready to pop! It is actually here due date today. Does anyone know if last minute plane tickets to Venezuela are going cheap at the mo? Sod it, Mexico will do, surely they'll be cheap right now???!

August 27, 2009

"I have a straight....."

I just saw this posted on Blonde and I had to post it up. Now I don't profess to be a mountain of knowledge on Omaha, but you'd think if you'd made it down to the last 3 of a WSOP bracelet event (a $5000 rebuy, no less) you'd have some idea how to read the board!...


Perhaps what's more astounding is that this guy went on to win the tournment for half a million dollars!!!???!!!

In other news...I've had lots of positive feedback on the new blog, good to know my hard work hasn't gone unnoticed! Have written my 4th column for UK PokerNews on table layouts, which will go live on Monday and I'll link up here then.

Have played a little this week, not as much as I would have liked, but I have got my Sharkscope graph looking pretty again :)

August 23, 2009

New layout, and playing live seems so slloooowwwww...

I spent most of Friday slaving away changing the layout of my page. A little unnecessary I guess, it was fine before...but I've been getting a bit more traffic as of late (ie. not just me and hitting the refresh button repeatedly) and felt like improving things. I'm kind of hoping to turn my blog into a "poker portal", and making my blog a great bookmark to have for any poker enthusiast. Pretty much all the links on my page link to blogs or pages that I am fully aware of, or I have come across in my experience of playing. Hopefully anyone that does check out the blog from time to time prefers this layout.


It's funny, does anyone else do that thing of admiring their work? The last couple of days I'll have been browsing the internet and every so often clicked on my blog link, even though nothing had changed since checking it out 10 minutes previously, just to see how pretty it looks. I know it's not that great, but it was me that did it! It's like that shitty jigsaw puzzle you made in Year 9 in Woodwork, to everyone else it looks alright, but you're well pleased with it. I'm 100% sure I've listened to the songs I've recorded (click here if you're interested) 10 times more than anyone else (admittedly my only other fans really include my girfriend, her mum and a mate from Uni).

Poker wise, I've done barely anything the last 5 days. I seem to have been really busy in general. Having new windows and a front door put in took up one day, cos I didn't really want the guy doing the work to have to wait 45 minutes for all my tables to finish if he needed me. I spent a day+ upgrading the blog. It was my Dad and nephew's birthdays recently as well. I had this random urge to play some live poker last night though, and with my girlfriend doing something with her sisters, I thought I'd take the chance to go to Dusk 'til Dawn for the £50 freezeout.

Tbh I wish I hadn't bothered. It wasn't a good enough tournament to trek down to Nottingham for. The structure was rather turboey, with 20 minute levels, and felt comparable to the Turbo MTT SNGs I play on Stars every day (well, not this week, but generally). I still enjoy the
interaction side of things, but I've realised only a tournament with a good amount of play, and a bigger buy-in/prizepool is really worth playing. When you're used to playing up to 20 tables at a time, you probably play 50 times as many hands in an hour than you do live. When you lose your stack on a coinflip without being on another table simultaneously doubling up on a coinflip, the game seems somewhat futile. The fact that the last tournament I played had the WSOP Main Event structure (sadly not the main event itself!) didn't help either.

I bust like 3 hours in, having survived only on squeezing with any two cards when there were a couple of limpers. I thought I was out when I shoved 24 off from the small blind at 300/600 (50) with about 5.5k to have the also-short-stacked guy half heartedly say "I call" because he'd looked at one card and seen a King which, in fairness, was good enough. Of course when he flipped the other one over and it turned out to be another bloody King! With 1k left I shoved my 93s on the button, the small blind called and I caught a huge break when the big blind somehow folded. Obviously getting 8 to 1 on his money and the knowledge that I could have any two cards wasn't enough for him! I binked, and then the disheartening news that there was a break. Just put me out of my misery already!...

A5s in the cutoff first hand back and I obviously ship in after another shortie had shoved pre, and I now had a playable(ish) stack after beating her KQ (playable as in like 8 big blinds. No miracle comeback though as a few hands later, with an 1+UTG limper and the small blind making up I flop two pair with KT on KJT with 2 hearts.
The SB leads out, I ship in my 8k, the 1st limper passes and it turns out I'm against the mother of all draws, the Q4 of hearts. I lose the flip (it's pretty crazy to barely be ahead with 2 pair against Q high, it's almost like playing Omaha!) and I'm out. My intention if I bust was to go and play a cash game, but I couldn't really be bothered. I'd (kinda) got my live fix, and didn't think I could hack the slowness of it all. The good thing about playing so many tables is that it negates some of the variance you have to face.

Anyway I won't be able to play much live in the coming months with the baby very much on the way (Blonde bash aside, I've made it clear that I shall be attending that! For those who don't know what this is, it's not a kind of orgy, it's the Blonde Poker Forum Bash lol), so at least I've got it out of my system, but will wait for a decent tournament next time I play. Need to get grinding this week after a only playing a pitiful 3 sessions in the last week, and this week tweaking my blog layout won't take precedence over (hopefully) earning some money!!!

August 19, 2009

Sync Breaks + Podcasts = More pleasant grinding

I know I've gone on about them a bit too much now, but I just love the sync breaks that Stars have introduced in the last few days. I can cope with playing poker for a much longer period of time because of them, and I think I'm gonna start treating poker as more of a job...get cracking as early as I can drag myself out of bed (I've been starting sessions around 10.30am but I'd like to get that back to 9am or something), and just play as long a session as I can manage (100 SNGs over 5 hours I managed today, but I reckon 6 hours is a fine aim), then have the evening off.


Playing 1 session should allow to play slightly more games an hour, as I wouldn't have to go through the process of loading up as many tables as I eventually end up playing (I currently to set it to max out at 20), and then playing them out when I decide to finish my session up. Obviously I can change this up if things get in the way...I guess flexibility is one of the perks of this job and it would be a shame to lose that advantage. Also, with a baby imminent (apparently the mid-wife suggests within the next week...I'm bricking it!!!!!), it's very possible I won't I might not get the luxury of a single straight through session.

I've always been one to play poker in silence, in a bid to aid my concentration. I originally found listening to music distracting when I played Heads Up STTs. However grinding as I am, I have found listening to something makes each session much more enjoyable(or slightly less of a grind, enjoyable is such a strong word!). Now I spend about half a session listening to my music, and half a session listening to a 'Pokercasts' (you see what they did there?). The 2+2 Pokercast is well worth listening to if you're gonna be grinding for a couple of hours.

August 16, 2009

That's more like it!

Have just come out of a session where I finally got the $27 buy-in curse off my back, scoring a 1st and a 2nd at literally the same time as I was finishing up in $27 45mans. I needed a session like that just to reinstall my confidence.

I've decided to start playing the 45-mans again, because the synchronised breaks that have been slowly filtered in have now been introduced to them. I am so happy about this!!! (see here). 5 minutes with my eyes not staring at a screen, and not having to concentrate for 4 hours non-stop can only have a positive effect on my game as far as I'm concerned.

This isn't to say I'm done with the 18 mans as I might still play them to "mix things up". I've had positive results in the 1000 game challenge I set myself, 1/3 of the way through I'm running at an 8.5% ROI, which is close enough to my target of 10%.

But with a 1550 game sample to my credit in the 45-man tournaments, I have earnt $2 a game in them, which I'm very happy with. I just needed to work my way through that downswing. Upon reflection of my graph, I don't really have much to complain about. I need to understand that these SNG MTTs are bound to be swingy, and have to deal with the swings appropriately.

It's funny how differently you react after a losing or winning session. I realise that it makes sense, but I think you can become irrational one way or the other. Just because you have 1 great session doesn't mean you can start thinking about making mega-bucks, and just because you run bad for a while doesn't mean you should quit completely and move to a different game. Next time I hit a bad stretch, I'll try and console myself by looking at the gradient of my 45-man graph (assuming I can keep it going in that direction).

My Sharkscope graph (All games, July 7th-present) helps to depict why I felt l was struggling (and, to be fair, was struggling!)...

My 45-man graph (July 1st-present) is a little prettier...

Am planning to put some volume in this week, but the missus is nearly ready to pop so that could be thwarted. I need to earn some money for nappy's before it arrives!!! This not-doing-so-well patch has left me a bit behind schedule. Give me another week or two please!!!!!!!!

August 14, 2009

Struggling...

I really feel like I'm struggling at the moment. I think I have ironed some leaks out of my game, but things just aren't going as well as they were. I guess I can attribute this to playing a lot more tables at a time, and maybe the ROI I'm sacrificing isn't made up for in the extra amount of games I'm able to play per day.


Then again, I am running really bad in the higher stakes games. I don't think they are that much tougher. Perhaps there are more regs, but there's no way I'm not a break even player in these games as the very worst case scenario...but my results have been pretty gross over a small sample.

Since July 1st, in 1933 games this is how I've run at different buy-ins...
  • $3.25, 61 games, -40.7% ROI
  • $6.50, 928 games, 24.8% ROI
  • $12, 602 games, 14.3% ROI
  • $16, 241 games, 16.2% ROI
  • $27, 73 games, -51.5% ROI
But my hourly rate is down to a lousy $10 an hour in that time-frame, which makes me feel like I'm wasting my time.

In my "$1000 roll, 1000 18mans" challenge this is how I'm doing so far:
Played: 286
ROI: 8.7%
In the Money: 25.5%
Profit: $351.80

I might start playing a mix of 45mans and 18mans together...the only problem with that is that the strategies required at different points in the game do vary between the two, and differentiating between the 2 types of tournament can be difficult when playing lots of tables (I've found 18 at a time a bit more managable and that's my current setup).

This grinding business is starting to, well, grind on me. Surely there's some easier money out there than this? Maybe I should return to playing heads-up STTs. But that would be like admitting defeat, and the last two months of perfecting my strategy and ability to mass multi-table won't count for much.

August 12, 2009

Pissing in a bucket...

In my new column on UK PokerNews I take a comical look at into the introduction of synchronised breaks on PokerStars and Full Tilt.

Well worth a quick look this one: Click here!


My $1000, 1000 18-man challenge got off to a slow start yesterday. I played 100 games for a rather lame $60 profit. I'm not sure the 'batches' idea of my last blog post is the way to go. I'm going to tinker with my system and see what works best.

August 10, 2009

So, umm, yeah. Scrap that!

Ok, so I spent approximately 3-4 hours last night and this morning setting up Full Tilt how I want it. Having bought a new computer recently (Quad Core seems to be the nuts btw), everything I had sorted on my old computer needed re-doing, plus some improvements I had in mind. I purchased the EPT II chipmod from Tiltbuster.com that I use and like on PokerStars. I went through my own thread picking out the best modifications you can apply (see here, I do keep updating it). I spent $30 on Sharkscope HUD for a month as I found that really useful on my last run on there. I perfected my Hold em Manager HUD, even playing play tables and stuff to make sure everything worked properly. I set-up the gradually improving Poker Shortcuts software as best I could.


After all this, I started playing...and soon realised that Full Tilt now tilts the hell out of me. It's just so inferior to playing on PokerStars using TableNinja. It's so much more difficult to multi-table, and stacking the tables seems to lead only to disaster! I'm not ruling out as a possibility I will move over again at some point in the future, because I do think the average player is worse, the MTT SNGs there get a bit more traffic and are probably softer, and TableNinja are working on a FT version of their software. But for now, it looks like I'm back on Stars.

But all the things I said in my last post still apply. I feel like I need some freshness in my game. My new plan is to play 18-man turbo SNGs on PokerStars. I will do them in batches, starting 25 back-to-back (which on a trial run only takes about 10-15 minutes believe it or not), but not opening any more until they are all finished. This will utilise my newly found multi-tabling skills, but by the time I'm at the important stage of the tournament, I will in all likelihood be down to only a few tables, so I will be able to concentrate more and perhaps play more optimally.

If you've kept up with my blog in the past you'll know I like my little challenges, so I'm making this one a $1000 roll, 1000 games challenge and lets see how it goes. There's no reason I shouldn't be able to put in 6 batches a day, so this shouldn't take too much longer than a week. I'll start by playing $6.50 and $16 games, with a view to playing the $27 games if all goes well...

I swear I've got ADHD or some shit, I can't seem to settle into one game ever!

August 09, 2009

Change of scenery needed (again)...

I've played 1500 SNGs on PokerStars since July 7th, when I reset my stats on there. I had a fantastic start and felt like I found my niche. Recent results though have been far from awe inspiring. I have been experimenting playing lots more tables recently, and have been playing
18-24 stacked recently, rather than 10-12 tiled. Looking at the break even patch I've had in the last 800 games, this doesn't seem to have worked out. The thing is, I thought I was coping with this mass of volume, and think it could be a positive thing that I can reel off 100 SNGs in a 4 hour session.
I think I've become too robotic in the Stars turbos. Especially playing so many tables. TTo try and freshen up my game I am going to return to Full Tilt. They have a maximum limit of 16 tables so I can't go too crazy. I will miss Table Ninja though :(, and similar software isn't yet up to scratch since the big FT update a few weeks ago. I just think I need a change of scenery after grinding so hard, and I kind of always intended to head back to Full Tilt after I'd built my bankroll up, because of their higher traffic in the $20+ range.

Some game analysis is needed, have been SNG wizing a little, but not enough...so will vow to do some of this after each session. I've started watching some CardRunners videos I downloaded a few weeks ago, and I'm looking forward to the imminent launch of SNGNick.com, as I often follow Nick Rainey's Blog (see blogroll to the left), and he's effectively the role model (and roll model tbh) for what I'm trying to achieve in poker right now.

I seem to have gotten into a good habit of at least 1 solid session a day, so I'm pleased with my recent work ethic, if not my results. It seems I'm back and forth between Full Tilt and PokerStars whenever I hit a rough patch, but perhaps this isn't terrible if it helps freshen me up and keep me motivated.

August 06, 2009

Sick Grinders

I have never really got into delving into the 2+2 poker forums, finding it a bit vast, and have made my home at Blonde Poker. However, I've recently been getting a bit more active on there, and you can come across some interesting things.

Two majorly sick grinder challenges are out there at the moment.

The first is Boku87, who in his first challenge turned $100 into $10,000 in 2 weeks (see here) earlier this year. Now he is on a mission to turn $5 into $100,000 in 1 year playing SNGs and MTTs on PokerStars. At times he's been playing around 50 tables at a time, and in 3 weeks he has already made more than $12k, and has played over 5000 tournaments. How anyone can keep up with that many tables, and still be a profitble player, is beyond me! You can follow his progress here if you are interested. There is speculation as to what Boku87's reward will be for completing the challenge sucessfully. He might be lucky enough to be offered Team PokerStars Pro Status, so his grind could be well worth it in the end!

The second is a guy called Brad Stalcup, who has a propbet that he will be able to make SuperNova Elite (ie. earn 1,000,000 VPPs on PokerStars) in
only 5 and a half months, having begun in mid-July. He will be playing 18-24 cash tables at a time of mostly $1/2NL; playing in the region of 16,000 hands per day. He estimates he will have to play around 2.5 million hands by the end of 2009 to sucessfully complete his challenge and win his propbet, which he is giving 3/1 odds on completing. He has set-up a webcam, so you can watch him trying to keep track of all his tables. So far, he's keeping the pace required to make SuperNova Elite by the end of the year. He is actually down $6000 so far, but would be around break-even if you take into account his all-in EV. I've added him to my Blogroll on the left if you are interested in following his progress, the 2+2 thread is here.

Having not played much over the last couple of weeks, setting up my new computer and seemingly just being busy in general, these guys have given me some motivation to get grinding. Yesterday I tried stacking my tables for the first time, instead of playing with them tiled. I was able to play a lot more tables, and I will be experimenting with that format more as in many ways I did prefer it. More on that, and my recent progress, when I next update...