March 25, 2011

Colour coding in SNGs

I was having trouble with picking a topic to write about for a blog entry, but I have been fiddling around with my colour coding scheme on PokerStars recently and thought I would share it with you.

You get 8 colours to choose from, (I do try and add notes where I can as well) and they put a big ring around each villain, which is very handy for quickly identifying what kind of player you are up against when you are in a hand.

  1. Very good reg
    • This is reserved for the regs that have the trifecta of high ROI, profit and total games played figures. It's a safe bet that at any given time, in any given situation, they will be playing well.
    • Approx ROI: 8%+, Total Profit: $25k+, No. of games: 10k+
    • Most likely to: 3bet you when you expect them to fold.
  2. Decent reg 
    • This is for solid winners in the games over a decent sample. I expect them to be making solid decisions most of the time. Some might be very good regs that haven't quite proven themselves profit or volume wise just yet.
    • Approx ROI: 6%+, Total Profit: $10k+, No. of games: 5k+
    • Most likely to: Snap call you in the big blind with Q5 after you've shoved the small blind with 56s.
  3. Sub reg 
    • These are the guys that are beating the games, but not for a great amount. Although somewhat solid players, they are bound to have leaks here and there, and are liable to play too tight in certain spots, and often call too liberally in others. 
    • Approx ROI: 2%-5%, Total Profit: $8k+, No. of games: 4k+
    • Most likely to: Spite call you with A9 on the bubble in a bad ICM spot
  4. Break-even reg
    • For want of a better term. these are the 'rakeback whores' (perhaps FPP Pro is slightly less abusive!) that are usually putting in a lot of volume, but can't beat the games. To the naked eye, they might seem like they play okay, but are likely to have various leaks. Often, post-flop play isn't their favourite thing.
    • Approx ROI: 0%-1%, Total Profit: $0k+, No. of games: 4k+
    • Most likely to: Open shove preflop for 30 big blinds with AQ
  5. Losing reg
    • There aren't a whole lot of them around, but these are the players that are losing players, and are often barely breaking even after rakeback. I honestly don't know what compels them to grind, because even when you fall into categories 1 or 2, grinding isn't a huge amount of fun. Why don't you go play World of Warcraft or something!
    • Approx ROI: -1% to -5%, Total Profit: -$x, No. of games: 3k+
    • Most likely to: Cold call your open raise from an 8 big blind stack. 
    • Also most likely to: Have their Sharkscope stats blocked!
  6. Particularly bad fish
    • I work on the assumption that anyone I don't have colour coded is a fish, however I do reserve the green for those players that are beyond terrible and have proven this over a decent number of games.
    • Approx ROI: -15% or worse, Total Profit: -$4k or less, No. of games: 1k+
    • Most likely to: Limp/call K8 pre-flop and 4-bet shove the flop when it comes down 389.
  7. Might be good
    • These are usually the players I have accumulated a lot of hands on, and are in some kind of profit, but only a small amount, and are yet to put in enough volume for me to establish what kind of reg they are. In truth, they could fall into any one of categories 1-5, but they are very unlikely to be fish and are probably playing somewhat decent.
    • Approx ROI: 4%+, Total Profit: $3k+. No. of games: 1k+
    • Most likely to: confuse you because you don't know quite how good they are!
  8. Doesn't understand ICM
    • Unfortunately you can't mark regs with two colours, as there are a few I know who would get this one as well! I just tend to whack this on people who I know I have to be careful with on the bubble, as they simply do not understand the concept of ICM. You might shove on them in a spot where they need a top 5% hand and they snap call you with K9. They just presume that being ahead of your range is sufficient. Or sometimes just having a pretty hand they want to play suffices!
    • Approx ROI: Any, Total Profit: Any, No. of games: Any
    • Most likely to: Call off their chips with 68s on the bubble

Game Selection ftw!

NB: This seems quite good as a stand-alone post. I will post an update on my SNE stats and mention the suggestions for #hiphoppoker I had in my next blog post.

March 16, 2011


I was having a bit of fun on Twitter the other day (clearly I don't get out much at the moment!) after Team PokerStars: Online Pro Shane 'Shaniac' Schleger came up with a 'hashtag' whereby you had to infuse poker related things into hip-hop artists and songs. Seeing as hip-hop and poker are two of my favourite things, I had to have a whirl.

Here's my top twelve of what myself and everyone else who got involved came up with. Obviously I'm heavily biased towards my own ideas :)

  1. De La Soul Read  (by @epitomised)
  2. Vanilla ICM (by @Barry_Carter)
  3. Nitty by Nature (by @ShortyDawg)
  4. Big Slick Rick (by @ReyzorxXx)
  5. Lisa "In Your Eye" Lopes (by @epitomised)
  6. Lloyd Time-Banks (by @epitomised)
  7. Busto Rhymes (by @Daleroxxu)
  8. Def Jam the pot (by @DianaPricePhoto)
  9. Scarface-cards (by @ShaneSchleger)
  10. Rakewon (by @Daleroxxu)
  11. "Jesus Walks"  (by @FabolousHK)
  12. Three Bet Mafia (by @epitomised)

If you have any good ones, tweet them with the hashtag #HipHopPoker, or if you don't have twitter leave a comment and I'll tweet any decent ones :)

"Vanilla ICM"

SNE Quest 2011 Stats:
Days played/elapsed:
Hours Played:
SNGs Played:
Hands Played:
VPPs Earned:
SNE Pace (+/- Pace):
(21,105 behind)

March 13, 2011


My apologies for leaving it longer than usual between blog entries, sometimes it's hard to find the time to write one up when you're playing so much damned poker!

I've been meaning to write about the session that I had with Jared Tendler last week, as I talked about when I did post last. Jared is recording our sessions to potentially use with his website (although he has probably changed his mind about that when he realised my voice was so high pitched, whiny and that I tend to babble when I talk!).

Although a few things came up that we could base the session on, Jared suggested it was best to look at something that would be immediately useful to me, so our session surrounded motivation. Motivation can be a difficult thing for a poker player who has no boss to answer to, no set time he has to 'clock in'. This is perhaps why the stereotypical poker player is a lazy slob who doesn't wake up until half one in the afternoon! I have been this lazy slob in the past, but I have really worked hard at being the opposite of this and treating my poker like a business, something I cottoned onto even before I read Dusty Schmidt's (very good) book on that subject!

One of the reasons I decided to go for Supernova Elite was because I hoped it would help to motivate me to play, as it would essentially force me to put the hours in at the table. Whilst this has been somewhat effective, motivation is still something I struggle a little with, and Jared proposed that this was because I was fixing a problem by putting a plaster on it. A plaster can only help so much, and my struggle with motivation still remains an underlying problem. This is evidenced by me falling a good 20k VPPs behind pace, and finding it more difficult to sit and grind as I was managing at the start of the year.

Something I noticed in our session is that Jared seems to talk a lot of sense, and he figuratively had me nodding along to everything he was saying. He manages to really simplify and concise what he says very well (pretty helpful for donk like me), and is very articulate (unlike me, as regular readers of my blog will attest to!) with his advice.

One of the things Jared made me do was come up with a list of reasons why I want to achieve Supernova Elite. I managed to come up with...
  • Money
    • Yes cash, wonga, moolah, dosh, the root of all evil....whatever you call it, it is what pays the bills, allows me to buy random gadgets I don't really need and is what my son seems to gradually need more of the older he gets (and he's still only 18 months old! Wait until I'm shelling out for PlayStation 4 games or sending him away to a poker academy University!)
  • Prestige
    • I guess that sounds pretty lame, but PokerStars' marketing ploy has certainly worked on me. I want those black stars and the status that comes with them!
  • House
    • I would like to be able to buy a house somewhere down the line, and hopefully getting to Supernova Elite will bring me closer to being able to do this.
  • Team PokerStars Online
    • As some of you have probably figured out, I would love to be considered for Team PokerStars: Online. Although this is essentially out of my hands, I'd like to put myself in a position to put in the best application I can, and getting to Supernova Elite and raking PokerStars lots of money can only help my cause.
  • Success
    • After failing my degree because of poker a few years ago, I feel like reaching Supernova Elite will finally mean I am something of a success. I realise that I have had really good results over the last couple of years, but to have something tangible beyond a Sharkscope graph to tell people about would be nice, especially my parents who were understandably gutted that I didn't complete my University course.

All of these goals are a source of motivation that I need to draw upon when it's getting hard to put in the hours or when things aren't going as well as I would like. When my hand is reaching for the snooze button on my alarm clock, I think these are the thoughts that will get me out of bed. Unless I'm dreaming Cheryl Cole of course!

In other news...

I've had a bit of a pants month so far, although my results have improved a bit more recently. I've failed a bit with my not looking at results. It turns out it's a lot harder to do when you're losing as opposed to winning! I need to get back on track with that though as the difference is so noticeable. I've been experimenting playing the occasional 9-man SNG to help me earn enough VPPs each day, which has gone well enough so far but I probably need to study them more than I have done as I'm not certain I'm playing them 100% correctly.

I had a bit of a family day yesterday, with my brother, his wife and their two children visiting at our parents house. I haven't posted a picture of him for a long time, so here's a snap of my son Clark taken yesterday...

SNE Quest 2011 Stats:
Days played/elapsed:
Hours Played:
SNGs Played:
Hands Played:
VPPs Earned:
SNE Pace (+/- Pace):
(19,293 behind)

March 03, 2011

Jared Tendler & February Review...

Recently I was approached by my friend, and the editor of my old column at UK PokerNews, Barry Carter about the chance to work with mental game coach Jared Tendler. They recently co-authored the book "The Mental Game of Poker" together, and I had offered to plug it a bit on my blog. I was offered a free copy (wiiiiiii) to do a review but with this whole SNE chase I have going on, I wasn't sure I'd have time.

Anyhoo a couple of weeks later Barry said he might be able to set something up between me and Jared, and I obviously insta-snap called him on this one. All I really know about Jared is that he has worked with other Supernova Elites, and remember seeing/hearing Dusty "Leatherass" Schmidt talk highly of him. Having listened to Dusty commentate on the PartyPoker "Poker Den" thing on TV and his interview on Bart Hanson's podcast "Deuce Plays", I really like how Dusty comes across, and if working with Jared can help me become the kind of sick-grinder he is, then that sounds pretty cool. I know that Barry has enjoyed working on the book with him, and I remember reading some advice Jared had written about going for Supernova Elite whilst I was still only looking into it last year.

Jared Tendler
I'm about to have my first Skype session with him, and I'm not really sure what to expect. I had to fill in a detailed questionnaire to help him understand where I'm at with things in poker and life in general. In the e-mails we've pinged back and forth we seem to share a similar sense of humour, so I'm looking forward to our session and I will reporting on how things go with Jared over the coming weeks.

I'm always trying to improve my game by going over hands and such, but if I can improve it by tweaking non-strategy stuff as well, then I'm all for anything like that!

February Review
I really didn't work as hard in February as I would have liked. One of my main problems was not waking up early enough. Whereas I was "up and at 'em" by 6am most days in January, I had too many days where I wasn't playing until 8.30am or just skipped my morning session because I thought it was too late to bother with it. That's a lot of missed-grinding and not the kind of attitude that will get me to Supernova Elite.

I slipped to being over 17,000 VPPs behind pace as a result of this, and also thanks to 2 days off that I had off which started as me moving some of my office furniture around, and ended in me creating an epic mess and dismantling half of my office furniture (after getting my Dad to help bail me out of the tizz I'd got myself in. What an awesome word to slip in there. I can't say I've ever typed the word tizz before. There it is again. Tizz tizz tizz!). Hopefully the adjustments I ended up making will give me some long term feng shui +EV.

So my results were bad for the first two weeks of February, I had picked up some leaks and wasn't playing that well, but fortunately I managed to turn it around and had a good month in the end.

Unfortunately my bad start to the month means I didn't make it into Nick Rainey's February Awards, but I am still rocking my Diamond Star on Sharkscope :)

March Goals
Quite simple really. I aim to earn 100,000 VPPs, which will get me back on pace. Also to wake up before 6am every day, which will help me to do this. Hopefully I will be able to maintain my steady progress profit wise as well...

SNE Quest 2011 Stats:
Days played/elapsed:
Hours Played:
SNGs Played:
Hands Played:
VPPs Earned:
SNE Pace (+/- Pace):
(16,294 behind)

March 01, 2011

'azntracker' becomes quickest to achieve Supernova Elite

Andrew 'azntracker' Li has become the fastest person to attain Supernova Elite status on PokerStars, after taking just 59 days to accumulate 1 million VPPs. By reaching this target on February 28th 2011, he broke the previous record of the 18th March by 19 days, set by Jorj95 in 2008 (a leap year). Andrew described himself as being in "subdued elation" after achieving this feat.

This is very reminiscent of the feeling I used to get shortly after finishing a huge exam or project back in college - I would characterize it as "subdued elation." I'm not going crazy in jubilation or anything like that, but I am tremendously happy that I was able to accomplish this...I believe this is my most impressive poker achievement so far and I am most proud of this
Andrew 'azntracker' Li
Reaching Supernova Elite requires raking $181,181. As a long-time SNG pro, this is unsurprisingly where a majority of azntracker's rake came from. He played a little over over 14,000 SNGs in the first two months of the year in a variety of stakes ranging from $33 to $2000:

azntracker SNGs (100+_ played Jan/Feb 2011
In order to try and break the record, azntracker was constantly playing upwards of 25 SNGs in his sessions (up to as many as 45 tables), which for 9-man and 6-man SNGs is remarkable, especially with most of the games being at high-stakes. As a consequence Andrew said he experienced swings like never before. Upon reaching 1 million VPPs he said:
I will relish not having 10-15k upswings and downswings literally EVERY session. It's enough to make most people and sometimes even me go a bit berserk. 
Certainly from his graph (below) you can see the brutal swings that putting in such crazy volume in such a short space of time have led to.
Prior to this mega grind, I always thought -10k days were immeasurably brutal, but with these new sessions I was putting in, I was losing more than that every day (and going on a few upswings of course). I had to learn to suck it up and just keep focused on playing well
azntracker SNGs Jan/Feb 2011
Although azntracker made a loss at the tables in terms of profit, thanks to a brutal downswing as he neared the finish line, he is more than $100,000 richer thanks to earning almost $130,000 from the PokerStars' VIP program. Having started the year as a Supernova Elite, he has consequently earned:

  • $80,000 of FPPs (having earned 5,000,000 FPPs)
  • $43,200 in Milestone bonuses
  • $5,200 WCOOP Main Event ticket
  • $1,200 in Stellar Milestone bonuses
azntracker SNGs + Rakeback, Jan/Feb 2011
Attaining Supernova Elite status in 2011 means azntracker is now a four-time-SNE (earned in consecutive years) a feat that he shares with only a handful of people.

Now 26-years-old, Andrew first made money from poker after selling all the 10 million chips worth of play money he earned whilst at high-school for $300. He's one of those sickos that built up his bankroll from just a $50 deposit, and has never looked back. He has been a fixture on the high-stakes SNG tables at PokerStars for many years, playing his first SNG there in April 2005. He has the most impressive Sharkscope resumé that I can recall seeing (see  below). With over $225,000 in earnings, and having raked more than 1 million dollars, azntracker is truly one of the sickest grinders, which has only been further proven by his record breaking feat.

Andrew has vowed to at least take a whole day off to relax after his epic grind, and has already expressed his intention to take a crack at breaking Team PokerStars Online Pro Kevin 'WizardofAhhs' Thurman's yearly VPP record of 3,055,385, as I reported here back in November 2010. 

Congratulations to Andrew for his epic achievement in reaching Supernova Elite already. Make sure you check out his blog here which features his insights, as well as some interesting stats, from the last 2 months.

azntracker grinding