October 28, 2010

3,000,011 VPP record broken on PokerStars...

The record for the most VPPs raked in a calendar year has been broken by "needbeer", which is the 2+2 forum alias of 31-year old poker pro Kevin Thurman, who resides in Dallas, Texas. He plays on PokerStars under the screenname "WizardofAhhs", and yesterday he surpassed the previous record of 3,000,011 VPPs set by George "Jorj95" Lind III. He has now amassed 3,001,297 VPPs in 2010, and has a little over 2 months to even further surpass the previous record.

Kevin "needbeer" Thurman
He has done this playing NLHE 6-max cash games, with a majority of hands played at the $1/2, $2/4, $3/6 and $5/10 stakes. Having accumulated over 3,000,000 VPPs in these games means he has paid an incredible $545,000+ in rake in the year 2010. Thanks to the PokerStars VIP club this means he has earned nearly $400,000 for the year so far in rakeback alone:

  • $240,000 worth of FPPs
  • $123,800 in VPP milestone bonuses
  • Approx. $30,000 in tournament entries

Having attained Supernova Elite status in 2009, Kevin set the goal to earn an unprecedented 4 million VPPs in 2010 at the beginning of the year. Recently he rated his chances of reaching this target as the equivalent of "holding QQ vs AKs all-in preflop". Whether he reaches this target or not, what he has managed so far is still a remarkable achievement, and no-one can argue that he holds the title for the most amount of poker played in one year, having played approximately 4.5 million hands so far in 2010, with more to come.  Speaking of his achievement needbeer says that:
"through tons of hard work, planning, adversity, and sacrifice I was able to accomplish this feat. What brings me the greatest sense of pride is that I was able to stay dedicated through everything... be it poor health or running bad at the tables. I just kept pushing on no matter the cost with the mindset that I'd come out on top in the end."
What makes this achievement even more remarkable is that he has managed to do this whilst suffering from Lyme disease, and undergoing chemotherapy to treat it. Kevin has described his illness as "a long, painful, and at times very depressing road, but I think I can handle it by holding on to hope for better days". Perhaps his determination to fight his illness has replicated itself in his determination at the poker tables.

needbeer's VIP status on 27/10/2010
Upon posting a screenshot of his recent milestone, Kevin inadvertently (or not, who knows!) revealed that he has 9.3 million FPPs stored in his account. This is enough FPPs to redeem:
Porsche Cayman S

  • 3 Porsche Cayman S's
  • 10 PCA Packages
  • 36 $4000 bonuses (ie. $144,000)
  • 66 Plasma HDTVs (60 inch)
  • 160 iPads
  • 2447 Gourmet Cookie Baskets
  • 11,625 copies of Marcel Luske's album "More Than Just a Game"

Earlier in the year Kevin gave us an insight into what his typical day consists of. He uses the first hour of the day to shower, eat breakfast, check e-mails and browse the poker forums. He then has a "warm-up" poker session lasting between 1-2 hours where he tends to play his lowest stake. After some light exercise and another, larger meal (brunch?) he hits the tables for between 4-6 hours,
Kevin & his girlfriend
playing approximately 10k hands in this time period. An hour break, allowing him to have dinner with his girlfriend, is followed by a short stint reviewing his play from the previous session. Another 3-4 hour session at the tables proceeds, before allowing himself 8 to 10 hours break from the tables through the medium of sleep!

Each working day approximately consists of:
  • 10 hours played
  • 20,000 hands played
  • 14,000 VPPs earned

He tends to take a day off once a fortnight, but says his longest stretch of working this year was a massive 45-days straight without a day off. Perhaps at the turn of the year he will allow himself some much deserved time off, which will allow him time to consume all the aforementioned cookie baskets he will presumably be redeeming!

Congratulations to Kevin on reaching 3 million VPPs, and good luck at the tables for the rest of the year, as well as in your fight against Lyme disease. If you are interested in following Kevin's progress, check out his blog here.

October 27, 2010

Half a million hands...

I've now passed the 500,000 hand milestone in my Supernova Quest, so that's how many hands I've played on PokerStars in the last 5 months. Although this amount seems fairly impressive in some ways, I certainly could have played a lot more hands given that I've only played on about half the days available to me in that time. Still, apparently all this poker has taken it's toll me as my girlfriend informed me that I was sleep talking last night, and I kept saying "tilted". Oh well, that's still better than the dream where I've won the World Series of Poker Main Event and wake up to find that, oh wait, I haven't.

Things are going pretty well in the 18-man SNGs at the moment, I don't want to talk about it too much as I will obviously doomswitch myself if I do, but I finally had an upswong in $60 games to at least give me a positive ROI in them now. Think advice from BigBluffzInc is meshing well with my own game now, and I'm getting more knowledgeable on what to do in the more difficult spots you can find yourself in.

Supernova Quest
Days played/elapsed: 79/156 (50.6%)
VPPs earned (Day 77)1304
VPPs earned (Day 78)1683
VPPs earned (Day 79)1216
VPPs earned (2010): 70,150
VPPs remaining: 29,850
Total Hands played: 514,710

Some Live Poker
On Friday I'm going to play the Grand Prix event at Dusk 'Til Dawn, which will break the record for the biggest live poker tournament held in the UK as has already sold out at 900 runners. In some ways it seems rather silly to bother playing a £50 tournament, I'll have to have a pretty solid finish for the money to represent more than just a super standard 'swing', and I'll be losing at least one day or maybe two where I could be grinding for a higher expected winrate. But meh, I figure it will be kind of fun, and the fact they are televising the final table is a little extra incentive.

To date, my only appearance on television (not including crowd shots of me celebrating Lincoln City FC goals on 'Goals on Sunday' when I was about 12) is telling my exit hand for a skit they did whilst filming the first season of the GUKPT. Obviously I didn't realise they were going to do this when they filmed it, but they played clown music in the background, and mixed numerous exit hands together in a "bad beat montage", so I'd have to say I looked rather a prat. Consequently it would be nice to get on TV for actually making a final table of something. Okay, so it's not quite ESPN coverage of the Main Event, or PokerStars.tv coverage of an EPT, but hey, we've all got to start somewhere!

October 24, 2010

Terrible game, other blogs & SNQ Day 76...

After a solid day at the tables on Friday I ended up taking Saturday off as tickets for my local football team, the not-so-mighty Lincoln City FC, were only a fiver and I ended up going with a couple of mates (yes, sorry for the blatant 'I have friends' brag). This 0-0 encounter was the second worst football match I've ever watched in my life, falling second only to a game featuring, you guessed it, Lincoln City FC in a play-off final I went to watch in 2005.

Here are just a few things I would have preferred to have done than endure this game:

  • Watch back the Liverpool defeats to Everton, Blackpool, Man Utd, or any other games we've managed to lose already this season
  • Listen to an entire 'Slip Knot' album
  • Attend a Political Conference
  • Read Wayne Rooney's autobiography
  • Watch either of the Sex in the City films (my girlfriend will tell you how much I abhor Sex in the City, yes, sorry for the blatant 'I have a gf' brag).

It kinda sucks that weekends tend to be the time when the softest games are available, because I'm often doing stuff at weekends, because that's when friends and family are off work. If I didn't, I'd have no social life whatsoever, but I'm sure it's -EV for my hourly rate. But meh, Life EV is important too so I guess it isn't worth worrying about too much, it just rather came into focus as Saturday felt kinda wasted (even X-Factor wasn't all that good this week, sigh).

Supernova Quest
I've almost hit the half a million hands played milestone...

Days played/elapsed: 76/151 (50.3%)
VPPs earned (Day 76)1458
VPPs earned (Total): 59,200
VPPs remaining: 34,050
Total Hands played: 499,902

A few things going on in the blogging world currently...

Daleroxxu is planning to play poker in 52 countries in 52 weeks next year. Sounds like a rather cool plan. In 6 years I've only played poker in 4 different countries so it should be good fun for him.

Both AceSupper and Nick Rainey have ridiculous grinds in motion...

AceSupper was planning to play 10,000 18-man SNGs in October. I thought this would be pretty impossible when he set out to do it, but with 7500 games remaining and 1 week left in October, it has to be 'gg'.

Nick Rainey is trying to achieve SuperNova Elite status by the end of the year, which will require him to earn over 500,000 VPPs in the next couple of months. I probably shouldn't mention this as it makes my 'Supernova Quest' look a little pathetic, but nevermind!

October 22, 2010

Supernova Quest (days 74 & 75)

Things would be going well for me right now if I wasn't running really gross in $60 18-mans. I'm well overdue some run good in them, but I'm still waiting. Because it is such a bigger buy-in than the $16, $27 and $38 games I am playing at the same time it is more painful when I notice I bust in them, especially deep, which emotionally makes an argument for not playing them. However, I just can't bring myself to stop loading them because the level of play doesn't seem any higher to me than the other buy-ins. So for the 27.5 VPPs per game they command, I will play them until I believe my bad run in them to be more than variance.

Days played/elapsed: 75/150 (50%)
VPPs earned (Day 74)1887
VPPs earned (Day 75): 2024
VPPs earned (Total): 57,750
VPPs remaining: 35,500
Total Hands played: 492,948

I thought I'd post up another funny X-Factor video I came across. It's pretty embarrassing how incomprehensible  Diana Vickers is in this "performance". I reallllllllly disliked her when she was on the show originally, and this didn't really do much to change my mind! Also features a blatant rip off of  the Red Hot Chilli Peppers !

Sadly no embedding allowed for this one, but here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnOsAI_XuLs

October 18, 2010

Supernova Quest revived & Wagner...

I last mentioned my 'Supernova Quest' at the beginning of July. Initially, it was a challenge to motivate me to put in a decent amount of volume on PokerStars for the rest of the year, but I ended it because I didn't want earning VPPs to detract from the more important goal of making a profit. However, now I am playing 18-mans, I am earning VPPs much more quickly, and with only 39,500 VPPs to earn before the end of the year, achieving Supernova status is kind of important now, so I may as well revive the challenge.

A little delve into my Hold 'em Manager stats shows me this is where I'm at since I started this at the end of May:

Days played/elapsed: 73/145 (50.3%)
VPPs earned (Day 73): 1656
VPPs earned (Total): 53,850
VPPs remaining: 39,400
Total Hands played: 481,446

Sigh...It's disappointing to see that I've only managed to play on half the days available to me so far. Okay, so there were a few weeks where I was out of action, either on holiday or nursing eye infections, but I still feel I should be putting in more days work.

I'm not too far away from reaching 250,000 FPPs, which will allow me to redeem the the $4k bonus as soon as I hit Supernova. I'm glad I've saved up all my FPPs since I started playing on PokerStars, as recently PokerStars announced you can now simply redeem their VIP Rewards for the pure $, rather than having to clear them as bonuses as was the case previously.

I shall be grinding hard for the next few weeks to try and get to Supernova as soon as possible. I've added a little progress thing on the left sidebar to show how things are going for me this year on Stars.

Random thoughts for the day:
Being a Liverpool fan isn't exactly getting less depressing. I'm pleased we've sorted out our ownership issues but our performance at Everton yesterday was nothing short of lacklustre and we thoroughly deserved to lose. I'm not used to seeing 2nd bottom of the table.

At least there's something to brighten my spirits at the weekend at the moment seeing as football certainly can't, and that's Wagner! What a legend. Obviously he won't ever win the X-Factor, but here's hoping he stays in as long as possible. It seems I'm not the only one who thinks he is awesome. Stephen Fry is also a fan:

October 15, 2010


When I first started doing well at poker a few years ago, I thought I was 'the shit' and much to my detriment, I didn't take the time out to learn or improve, because hell, I was already good. The thing with poker is, you can never stop learning, and if I had sought to improve my play or fix my leaks earlier in my 'career' then who knows where I'd be at today.

Gradually my attitude has changed, which I think may have been triggered by the games getting tougher in the post-UIGEA world. I signed up to CardRunners before it had any real competition. I started posting more on the Blonde Poker forum. I even read some poker books rather than having them just decorate my bookshelf.
My dramatic change in attitude eventually led me to embrace coaching over the last year or so. In November last year I signed up to CollinMoshman.com, even though I was doing very well in the games I was playing at the time. Nevertheless I wanted to make sure I was as 'leak free' as possible/my ROI was as high as possible, and also because it would give me an avenue into coaching people myself.

I soon took on a few students and was coaching for the first half of this year. Over that course of time I made good friends with my students and most of us ended up making some money out of it. I liked everyone that I worked with, and I enjoyed actually talking to real people for a change. However, I ended up finding that it sapped a bit too much of my time, scheduling coaching sessions all over the place. The hourly rate I earned was similar to what I was earning playing, and playing was simply easier. Consequently I decided to finish up with Moshman when my two main student's contracts expired. Also, I was starting to feel a bit guilty at sharking up the fish pool so to speak. I still curse CardRunners to this day for making everyone good!

My coach 'bwammo' definitely had a positive effect on my all round game. If you're looking for coaching you can't go far wrong with Team Moshman. Simon who does the administrative side of things is excellent, and Collinn gave me a very productive session or two.

One of the most positive things that I got out of coaching was that my star student Ray, who plays as 'Mondonewc' on PokerStars, pretty much turned professional under my wing, He has been keeping a blog detailing his progress this year in this thread on Blonde which makes for interesting reading, and his graph below shows his results in the time I was his mentor.

Since leaving Moshman I had a look at Rainman Poker, run by Nick Rainey, although recently he closed the website for similar reasons to why I stopped coaching (afaik). Although the content he made was of a very high standard, it was pitched more at an entry-level than a player of my calibre (if I do say so myself).

As I mentioned in my last post I have been making the transition from 180-mans to 18-mans, and I have to say I have enjoyed going back to playing during the daytime rather than grinding in the evenings. I have enlisted the coaching services of BigBluffzInc who is one of the few players who have an impressive ROI in these games. My initial impressions are he certainly knows his shit, and without question thinks on a deeper level than most SNG players. His playing style is certainly unique, and I'm hoping I can learn enough from him to go alongside my own game so that I can become one of the best players in the games. I have to say though, I'm getting rather sick of seeing the same regs at all my tables (not playing with the same regs all the time is one of the benefits of the 180s that I miss). However, there is a decent amount of softness to them, and I am enjoying the challenge of learning a new format. One thing is for sure, I'm better at making final tables in the 18s than I ever was in the 180s ;)

October 04, 2010

Back on the grind + a bit of live poker...

Things were a bit doom and gloom in my last post, but fortunately my trip to the eye clinic led to me being prescribed some eye drops that actually worked and my eye is much better. They had steroids in to give them a bit of an extra kick. Sadly the steroids have had no effect on my muscle mass, I'm still a skinny git!

So I have been able to get back to grinding at the tables, and I have been putting in decent volume to make up for the two weeks that I had to take off because of my eye. I've changed my schedule once more from playing 180-mans in the evening to playing a mix of 18-mans and 45-mans in the daytime. I'm still in the experimental phase, but I feel it's suited me well so far and although I don't have a huge sample to back it up, my results have been promising enough so far.

I decided to play the £300 Deepstack at DTD this weekend, as I hadn't played any live poker since May. This will be the first year since I started playing poker that I haven't got a Hendon Mob Database worthy cash the way things are going, although I've only played 5 tournaments so it's not all that surprising. It was nice to actually play some "real poker" where you can get a bit creative, as opposed to the shove-bot SNGs I usually play. I felt like I played very well, and managed to triple my starting stack without a showdown. I actually flopped quads at one point to win the inevitably small pot where no-one else has much. 

Sadly that kind of luck didn't last, and I lost a big AIPF pot with tens vs fives where the five hit on the river, and shortly after I got it in with 18 bigs with AQs vs 99 AIPF in a very standard spot which resulted in my exit. These are hands that wouldn't cause me to bat an eyelid on my daily grind, but that river five did hurt that little bit more in a live tournament environment, and every time I play live I'm reminded of the ridiculous variance compared to being able to play 50 times more hands in the same time frame multi-tabling online. Still, I always feel it helps to freshen me up a little, and motivates me to grind as much as I can online.

My current goals are just to keep playing and studying 18-mans and 45-mans and try and make some money there, and keep plugging away trying to make Supernova before the end of the year. I need about 56k more VPPs over the next 3 months to make it. I'm managing 1k VPPs+ a day with my current schedule, so I'm optimistic about my chances. I realise Full Tilt has brought out this 'Black Card' majobby but it isn't all that great from what I've heard, and I've decided to commit myself to PokerStars anyway so it wouldn't make much sense for me not to try and get Supernova status. Some good news is that PokerStars have made it so you can swap certain quantities of FPPs for cash, and I'm not too far away from the $4k bonus having saved up pretty much all my FPPs since I started playing seriously on PokerStars.

Random thoughts for the day:
Why in Gods name did Cheryl choose the blonde-Madonna girl in her last three of X-Factor? How did that Aiden dude get in ahead of the cool black guy who worked in a cinema or whatever? And what the hell is going on with Liverpool this season. I mean seriously, we get outplayed by Blackpool at home? I don't think getting rid of Roy Hodgson is the way forward, I like him, but our players need to get their act together sharpish as it looks like this season is a lost cause already and it's only October. I really hope this ownership issue gets sorted out soon, we really need to get rid of Hicks and Gillet ASAP.