Monday, January 30, 2012

Moved blog over to new site

To my new coaching site.  Feel free to check out my blog and the site if you wish. 

I explain why I've been away for a couple of months.   I'll be blogging on a regular basis again.  Hope you guys enjoy!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Transitioning online to live poker webinar

Just thought I'd let everybody know I'll be presenting a webinar this Sunday at 2pm pst over at dailyvariance. The topic will be transitioning from online to live poker. I have spent many hours in both and I'll go over what I think are vital stuff when it comes to making that transition. This webinar will be fairly different than the video series I made...I'll be going over a lot more conceptual stuff and a bunch of new stuff as well. Here's the link....

The presentation will be an hr long then I'll be doing a Q&A after. Hope to see some of you guys there!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Thoughts on Girah scandal (DIH also)

I've been following the Girah scandal like everybody else. I've read tidbits of threads in the forums and DIH's blog posts including his farewell from poker. I'm sure there is more than meets the eye (I, like everybody else would love to hear more from Jungleman, although his involvement seems far).

I think CR did the right thing in letting DIH go. This is a business and CR needs to maintain a certain image/brand going forward. I don't know DIH, never met him, never spoke with him, but I do know from his writings and videos he's an intelligent guy and understands poker at a high level. With that said I try to reserve judgement until all the facts are out but it's hard to ignore all the dirt out there and DIH's involvement w/ Girah. It looks even worse now that he's "retiring" from poker.

Read the rest....

Thoughts on Girah scandal

Friday, July 29, 2011

Maximizing ev, Maximizing Life

As I sit here and write this, I have tears flowing down the side of my face. I've encountered the toughest obstacle I've faced in my life up to this point. I guess I can be grateful that it took so long (38 years). The news was grim today as doctors told us my dad has 6 to 12 months left to live.

Shortly after the Wsop main event we found out my dad has stomach and liver cancer but did not know the severity of it until he had a biopsy done. The last couple of weeks were filled with fear and sadness due to uncertainty of my dad's official condition, yet clinging unto hope that the doctors would come back with news that somehow it's treatable and he would be able to beat it.

Well that hope is almost dashed out with today's news. I guess I'm trying to hope somehow someway my dad has a chance, any kind of chance, even though doctors are telling us there isn't. It's not just for me, heck I cry for my dad, I cry for my mom who has relied on my dad her entire adult life, I cry for my wife who is probably closer to my parents than me and sees my dad as her own, and I cry for my only daughter, 10 years old, who loves her grandfather like any child can. When I spoke to my dad after finding out he had cancer, he said he's at peace of living a long and fulfilling life of 69 years (maybe he was telling me this to ease my fear and sadness) but would like to have watched Nicole grow up and get married. I shed many tears thinking of that and will continue to do so.

I've been busy the last few weeks with the Wsop, a new start up poker venture, and dealing with my dad's health so I haven't had the chance to blog in awhile. Yet I feel like this is a good time to reflect on my emotions and express the thoughts I'm having. Yes I am forthcoming with my emotions but you can't blame me.

Knowing my dad's days are limited, I don't want to dwell on the negatives, I want to dwell on the positives. It's easy to curl up and go into a shell for awhile but what good will that do? I am a person of faith and I believe God has a purpose for everything. For those that follow me on twitter I said I believe in prayer and would welcome all those that wanted to do so for us. It is partially faith and partially self therapy that I write what I'm writing.

I comfort in the fact that my brother and I grew up to be good genuine honest people, and I give my parents all the credit for this. My dad knows this inside, even if he won't say it.

I got into poker full time 13 years ago and for a profession that had a certain type of stigma attached to it (over the years it's become a lot more acceptable and respectable) I managed to not only support myself well, but supported my wife and kid well. More importantly it didn't change me into a bad person, not one ounce. If anything it taught me how to manage money, how to work hard at something (and reap the rewards), and it gave a wonderful life to my family and me. My dad helped me in an indirect way by making me become the man I can be. And this I take comfort in.

Sure my parents were skeptical when I told them I was playing poker for a living in the beginning. After all, who's parents wouldn't, especially if they were religious, and especially if their son was already married with a newborn baby. It wasn't until a couple of years later they saw how well I was doing but more importantly how well I was taking care of my family, and not just from a financial perspective, and they started to come around. Eventually they became proud of their oldest son. They are proud of my brother also for other reasons. And this I take comfort in.

In poker we are ingrained with knowledge to seek and maximize ev. That's it. That will determine success. For a few that's all life is about. If that's you you are not living life. If that brings you utter and complete joy then perhaps you can argue you are living life, but you are not living a balanced life, which by all intents and purposes, is unhealthy. Also partying and drinking (or smoking pot) is not part of balancing life.

One thing I've prided myself in is living this balanced life, which almost to a degree seems like a myth for professional poker players. Even though I've lived this life I've made mistakes, I've been guilty of doing less desirable things, and I have regret of doing some things and not doing some things (nothing serious though).

With the news that my dad will no longer be with us within a year, I seek to change my life for the better. What I mean is that I want to live a life with meaning, with knowing that I went all out, with no regrets and that I gave myself the best possible life I could while doing everything I could to provide the best lives for those around me.

It'll be little things, medium things, and big things. Things like working out regularly, eating healthy (because God knows I haven't living in Vegas), attending church more often, spending more time with my kid, showing more affection for my wife, working harder in everything, cutting down my play time (eg video games and lurking 2+2), showing appreciation for those that deserve it, showing appreciation for the little things in life, and on and on.

I aspire big, not for others to see, but for myself to see. Sure it took a moving and sad moment in my life to drive me in this new direction, but again, I want to see the positives with today's news.

For those that read this, I challenge you to do likewise. I don't mean the things I mentioned for myself although they can certainly include them. Everybody has their own goals and things they'd like to achieve. Go achieve them. Start today. If you fall down, get right back up and keep going. Don't abuse anything (especially people) while doing so. Don't wait for a life changing moment to give you this epiphany (like me). Learn from me now.

Sure it's easy to say I'm realizing this in the face of mortality given my dad's condition. So what. I am right. The world would be a better place if we all aspired and sought action to maximize our lives and for others around us. In other words, live life to the fullest...don't think it, do it, just like I am doing from this point on.

All this I will tell my dad, and I'm sure it will bring a smile to his face. And this he will take comfort in.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

New coaching site up!

So this was a big week for me for a couple of reasons. I played the main event and busted midway through day 1. I am ok w/ my bustout because I played well but could not overcome being 2nd best every hand. The WSOP was slightly disappointing for me because I cashed 3 times for about $27k in 25 events or so but ended up losing about $38k overall. That's the nature of tournaments though.

I will be back to my regular cash game grind, live version, going forward and will continue blogging. I will be doing so at my new site

where I coach, make audio sessions for subscribers to listen to, and participate in the forums actively.

I'm looking to help others improve their games and I think at the cost we're selling our coaching, it's affordable for just about everybody. We have some great coaches including myself, Joe Tehan (who I've talked about before), Matt Affleck, and Jared Tendler (who's an awesome mental game coach and who's coached numerous poker players, including a bunch of successful guys). We'll also be adding new coaches, guys that we handpick so rest assured they'll know their stuff!

Again, I hope everybody checks it out, whether you decide to subscribe or not, and I'll continue blogging like usual but it will be over there. Here is the 1st blog I put up over there the other day...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Best Father's Day Gift

So I've since gone 0-7 in Wsop events since my last update. I feel like I'm playing well, just running like crap. I'm 0-11 in all ins in the past week over 7 events. I ran into aces twice for my tournament life (once with queens, another with JTs where I 3bet shoved w/ a lot of dead money in the pot), lost 7 flips (yes I lost'em all), lost as a 3-2 fav, also got crippled in the $2500 10 game mix w/ JT95 ds (during plo round) when almost all the chips went in on a KQ96 ssxx board and my opponent w/ JJT7 (w/ 3 spades) rivers the flush, and I finally busted in a hand when I was behind today.

Well actually the hand played out where I opr ep w/ QQ to 350 at blinds 75-150, get a mp caller, flop comes 732r, I bet 450, mp raises to 1250, I call w/ about 2500 behind because I was pretty sure he was putting me all in on any turn card and if I shove flop he folds a lot of hands he was going to shove turn with, turn 6, I check, he shoves, I call, he rolls over 66, gg me. Maybe I could've shoved flop and won the pot there but I felt like there was more value in trying to let him bluff off or valuetown himself by just calling his raise.

Anyway I am still showing a profit due to having pieces of 2 friends that made final tables at the Wsop. I'm not too concerned about my own results because I'm very critical of my own plays and I feel like I'm playing very well but things aren't panning out results wise. That's poker for ya. Also we are only at the halfway point of the Wsop and all it takes is one deep run.

Also I can't feel bad because I have the best family in the world. Since I was going to be busy all weekend with the Wsop and a new venture I'm working on (announcement coming soon) my wife, kid, and their friends went to San Diego, California to explore LegoLand and whatever else is fun out there. Sure it's Father's Day today but I wanted my wife and kid to have fun out in San Diego. Plus my 10 year old kid left this for me, and I must admit this is about the coolest thing I've ever received in my life (birthdays and Christmas's included)... a montage of sorts, of my life (I scanned each page of the booklet she left me next to my bed)...

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3 (sure she should've used "Accomplishments" but can't be too nitpicky)

Page 4

Page 5

Page 6

Wsop bracelet or not, I win in life!

Friday, June 10, 2011

1 for 7 (so far)

That's just how it goes sometimes. I don't think I'm off to a terrible start but it is disappointing to only have 1 cash through 7 events. Last year I started off 0-9 before I reeled off 5 cashes in my last 8 tournaments to show a profit. Let's talk about the good news, the cash. Well actually it ended in a tilting way...

It was the $1500 6max nl event. Before people say "yeah of course Nicolak is expected to cash in that, that's what he plays online all the time", I do think I have almost an equal chance in just about any form of poker except nl deuce and plo. It just turned out my only cash happened in this event. Day 1 was fun w/ a starting table of Frank Kassela and Cardrunner's Taylor Caby. Kassela isn't that good at nl (yeah I said it, and yes I know he ft'ed the $25k 6max nl event last year) but Taylor is obviously good.

Anyway I had a tough table throughout day 1 and day 2 and ended up busting in 43rd place (out of 2k entrants) for $7400 or so. I opr utg w/ AK and kid 3bets in mp and I jam and get called by ATo and the board runs off A24AT. I had the kid covered by 5k at 1500/3k blinds and ended up having 2 blinds after that hand and went bust next hand. Obviously it's disheartening to lose that way but that's variance for ya.

I will talk about an interesting hand I played on day 2. I have about 140k w/ blinds at 1k/2k/300. Some Pokerstars pro named Jose Nacho Barbero opr to 4500 on button, I elect to call w/ K8s in the bb (I considered 3betting but Jose was very aggressive and capable of 4betting light) and the flop comes...


It goes check check, turn...


I bet 6k or so, he calls, river...


I check ready to give up thinking I just got rivered but Nacho bets 14k and I begin thinking (even in obvious spots like this where a fold seems automatic)....we know he never has flushes because he would've cbet the flop (especially since he's so aggro) so his range is capped to Ax while we can credibly rep flushes. I decide to c/r to 54k (initally I was going to make it 64k but thought 54k would be big enough to get him to fold Ax hands) and he tank calls w/ 99!

Sure it's risky trying to get him off a straight but I assumed he would be good enough to know I would take this line w/ flushes (he is a Pokerstars Pro, but I guess that's not always saying much). I don't know if he's good enough to realize I would take this same line w/ Ax hands as well (because again, we know his range is capped to Ax so I can profitably c/r in this spot w/ Ax to try to get him off of a chop) Also I was playing pretty straightforward up to this point. I guess I might've assumed he was a good enough hand reader and could figure this out, or maybe he just thought to himself "zomg I have a straight how can I ever fold it?!" Whatever the reason, he made the call and it dropped me down below avg. I talked to a few guys and they all liked my line and are amazed at the call he made (some even calling it a -ev call, I agree). I do think I should've went w/ my initial raise of 64k because he was counting down his stack before calling and I think the extra 10k would've made him fold. Oh well.

I bust and I hang out at the Rio trying to relay my sob stories to anybody that will listen...after all, that's what we all do...jk. I have a guy I have 10% of in the 6max and I rail him for awhile. They're down to 24 or so and he gets in over 300k w/ QQ vs the kid that won it last year (and who Pokernews is calling the king of 6max cuz he got a 2nd in the $5k 6max and a 1st in the $1500 6max last year...pfftttt) who's holding 99 and he rivers a 9 to bust my horse (he barely had him covered) and have a sizeable chiplead at that point (he ends up getting 3rd for over $200k). Talk about a double whammy that night!

I also played in the $1k nl which attracted over 4k entrants. I busted that one in level 2 when I called every street w/ AsJs on a 9s8c6s, Qh, 8s, and called all in at the river w/ the nut flush only to see him turn over 86. Standard.

Yesterday I played in the $1500 nl shootout and I love shootouts because the better nl players are at a bigger advantage. The last 2 years I finished 2nd and 1st on my 1st tables. This time I got hu vs. Paul "Gees" Volpes, some internet mtt pro who's ranked really high. I started out w/ 4k vs his 41k but managed to get it to 12k vs 32k when my AQ > his T8o aipf. At blinds 200/400 I opr to 850 w/ 44 and he shoved and I elected to gamble and called only to lose to J9s. I do think a better line would've been to limp so I can reraise all in had he raised from the bb there. I think that's one area of the game I need to work on, is the shallow stacks opening/raising/reraising range, but that's probably just memorizing a chart.

Today I played the $1500 Pot Limit Hold'em event and this had the shortest turnout at 760 entrants. I guess people are intimidated by not being able to bet more than pot (forcing people to play more flops), or the fact that antes never come into play. Anyway I pretty much lost a flip when I raised and called off w/ KQ on a JT3r flop and couldn't beat AJ at level 5.

The most important thing to realize is how well I'm playing. I think I misplayed a couple of big hands (including the last hand I blogged about, the 54s hand where it should've been a fold or 3bet preflop) but overall I am happy w/ my play. I would give myself an A- up to this point. Sure people can win a tournament playing like a F player and people can go a long time w/o ever winning playing their A game but hey, that's the risk we take when we play tournaments, especially at the WSOP where the fields are bigger.

Tomorrow is the $1500 Horse and I'm relieved to be playing a mix games event after all the hold'em events. I actually enjoy mix games more than hold'em. Heck, I'm almost to the point where I'd like the WSOP to be over so I can go back to my normal (post Black Friday) cash game grind (so I can actually start making money!).