Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Different types of successes in poker

I've been thinking about one of the answers I gave in my last post. I said that not everyone can succeed in poker. I believe this is true in general but I may have taken too much of a pessimistic tone. When I said some can not succeed in poker, I meant as in playing poker as the only source of income and living a middle class or better lifestyle. Everyone has different goals in whatever they are attempting. Some people can work their normal jobs and play poker on the side and supplement their income, and this would be considered success in their eyes. Even if one was just breaking even over the long run after being a losing player for years, that would be a success. There are lots of online guys that do break even but make enough from the rakeback or vpps to live comfortably and in their eyes probably think they are successful. So whatever your goals in poker may be, go for it, and know that success isn't primarily determined by how much you end up making, but by what you think determines whether you achieved your goals or not (and not what the public thinks...sounds like a metaphor about anything in life as well).

Speaking of success, I thought I'd post a hand I played recently and give my thoughts. Notice I "successfully" managed to lose the minimum whereas most lose their stacks....

No-Limit Hold'em, $10.00 BB (6 handed) - Hold'em Manager Converter Tool from

Hero (CO) ($1146)
Button ($786.95)
SB ($1156.50)
BB ($1000)
UTG ($1137)
MP ($1299)

Preflop: Hero is CO with K, A
2 folds, Hero bets $25, 1 fold, SB calls $20, 1 fold

Flop: ($60) A, 7, 8 (2 players)
SB checks, Hero bets $40, SB raises $111.50, Hero calls $71.50

Turn: ($283) 4 (2 players)
SB checks, Hero bets $145, SB calls $145

River: ($573) 8 (2 players)
SB checks, Hero checks

Total pot: $573

SB had 4, 4 (full house, fours over eights).
Hero had K, A (flush, Ace high).
Outcome: SB won $570

Preflop and flop are standard (for me anyways, not in love w/ villain's flop chkr but don't hate it). Turn is ok but I could've bet slightly more. Riv is where I pwned villain and played it better than most. This is where good hand reading skills differentiate players.

On the flop, villian's chkraising range inc. all flushes, 2prs and sets, and air (44 falls into air here, as I'm sure he was just bluff raising me w/ his hand). When he c/c's turn, I can reduce his range to flushes, 2prs and sets only. Also because I bet the turn here, if I follow through w/ another river bet, villain will probably fold most of the smaller flushes. I'm guessing he'll fold the 6 of clubs and worse, and possibly the T and J of clubs as well. He'll fold the 2 pair hands that did not improve to a full house. So that basically leaves the Q of clubs and full houses that that will not fold the river. There is a chance he folds the Q of clubs as well after seeing me fire 2 barrels on a 4 flush board. So whenever you bet, you should always ask yourself what your bet is trying to accomplish. Here I would be betting the river for value, but I'm not sure there are worse hands except the Q of clubs calling and even that as noted is not for sure. Since his line looks like a flush or a full house now, w/ only the 2nd nut flush that can call profitably (maybe), it's best for me to check it back at the river. Granted vs some villains, a bet is best at the riv but I thought this particular villain wouldn't call me w/ worse than my hand and that made it easier to check back the riv.

I will add that I had a feel or sense that he had 2 pair or a set going into the river that made me check back the riv quickly (I guess this is from experience). Regarding villain's play, I think it was ok because most would bet in my spot (and probably call the riv shove then post it on a poker forum on thoughts about the hand) but he is at the mercy of a great player like me :) .

Friday, March 26, 2010

Q & A

I've been getting some questions and so I decided to write a Q&A to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about me or poker in general.

Q: I'm starting out, what should I read, how do I go about it, I want to be you in a couple of years! (ok, the last part was sorta made up, but that's the impression I've been getting)

A: This is such a broad question that there are so many answers to it. As in any line of work, it takes hard work and diligence to be successful at poker. I'd recommend signing up for an instructional site, eg Bluefirepoker, Leggopoker, DeucesCracked, and Cardrunners 1st. I'd probably rank'em in that order in terms of quality, although each site has its pros and cons. There are other sites out there as well that cater to different needs. I would browse online poker forums and read as much as possible..there is no excuse not to, especially when it's free to the public. I'd find other people w/ similar ambitions, especially in poker and have discussions. I would read certain books, but you have to be careful because there are some books that have bad information. I'd recommend just about every book that's published by 2+2. Most books do not teach you the fundamentals of online poker though. They're more catered to poker in general, especially live full ring poker.

If you really have the cash, you can purchase ebooks written by high profile online players, eg CTS's "Let there be range", Balugawhale's "Eazy Game", and a few others out there. They are pretty expensive though..ranging from $600 to $1800. I've read most of them and would say they have good content but I'm not sure if they're worth the price...def. not for beginners though. Also there are coaches available that may expedite the learning curve. They range anywhere from $25/hr to $1800/hr (don't ask me why and how anyone can charge that much per hour). You gotta do your homework before considering getting a coach. Some of them can not beat today's games and are coaching based on their reputation and results from years ago.

Q: Do you coach?

A: I have before, and charged a very moderate price relative to the market but right now am not coaching. I'm focusing on getting better and making as much money in poker this year. I can not make as much money coaching as I can playing poker so I am holding off coaching...for now.

Q: I play primarily mtts but want to transition to cash games...can you give me some advice? (or vice versa)

A: Similar answer to 1st question at top. Just study as much as possible and have an open mind. Be humble and try to be aware of what areas you need to improve on. With that said, it is much tougher to get good at cash games than mtts. One can learn how to be a winner in mtts in 1 month, whereas cash games may take many months. Cash games provide more stability and the best players in the world excel at cash games as well at mtts, while the best mtt players only excel at mtts. We cash game players salivate when we see mtt players, including good ones, jump into our cash games.

Mtts usually require you to know how to play 10-30bb stacks whereas cash games require you to know how to play 50-1000bb stacks which require a lot more skill. Also mtts emphasize survival, while cash games emphasize making +ev plays and correct decisions consistently. Again, the latter takes more knowledge and skill to execute well. I would not suggest avoiding mtts altogether though and there are some that make a decent living just playing mtts only, but there are a lot more cash game players that make a decent to great living.

Q: How do you handle taking a bad beat, the losing sessions, and the long break even stretches?

This is a tough question to answer because I think it depends on each individual. I happen to have a very even-keeled temper that helps me with avoiding tilt. Everybody has a different breaking point when it comes to tilt or just losing control of emotions. It's up to each individual to realize when that is and how to improve it. I think it's nearly impossible to get rid of tilt altogether. Even I'm guilty of it from time to time, although not nearly as most.

As I mentioned before, I went through a tough 300k hands break even stretch in the latter part of '08. I used that experience to take a step back and see what I may have been doing wrong, and I did see and fix leaks that I had. This has been said before, but I'll say it again... when one is running good, poker is easy and he (for sake of saving time, I will just mention he/him/his when appropriate even though women play poker as well and they have my utmost respect in all things) thinks he is good at it, but it's when one is running bad that determines whether he can make it in poker over the long run. It tests the spirit and heart of anyone when one is constantly taking beats and running bad. When you run bad, don't bemoan the poker gods, instead use it as an opportunity to improve yourself in all aspects of poker and just your overall makeup as a person.

Also, it is always good to take some time off when you're getting so frustrated w/ poker that it affects your play. Use that time to clear your head, improve your game, and come back stronger. I actually felt somewhat of a burnout at the end of '08 and played my fewest hrs I have ever played in a year in '09. I also stepped down to smaller stakes than I normally played and worked on my game for pretty much the whole year. I admit I did have many bouts of laziness during the year as well, but that's a topic for another issue. As you can see, if you've been following my blog, I've been crushing every game I've been playing this year, starting at 2/4 and now at 5/10 (and hopefully bigger games down the line). I can discuss this issue, the topic of tilt and mental stability for hrs on end, but I'm just gonna finish by saying that it is such an essential element of success in poker that most of today's games regulars' results are separated by just strong they are look at me.

Q: Can anyone succeed in poker?

I'm going to be brutally honest here and answer it based on my experiences over the past 12 years. The answer is no. There are certain traits that one needs to succeed in poker and tbh, not everyone has the traits. These can include again emotional control, intelligence, discipline, self awareness, analytical ability, humbleness, and good memory. I'm sure there are a few other traits that I'm missing but I think I covered most of the key ones. I don't mention mathematical ability because it doesn't take complicated math to succeed in poker, just a basic understanding of it. Now I don't know if you need to be born w/ all these traits, or can learn and improve them over time. I'm thinking some are just inherently bestowed upon at birth, while some can be learned and improved upon.

I do however, do not discourage anyone from trying to succeed in poker. I get asked many times if he can succeed in poker and I always answer I don't know, because, well I don't know. I'd have to spend a lot of time and get to know the person well and maybe watch the person play and discuss poker w/ him often enough to get an opinion on whether I think he will succeed or not. I always say don't quit your day job until you have played enough hands and can base future results based on those # of hands. I don't have an exact # for the hands played, but it's a lot. For an avg. working person, I'd suggest 1-2 years of consistent success in poker on the side before even considering leaving the job for poker fulltime. Even that may be too small of a time frame.

Q: Do you have a set routine?

A: No. I play when I feel like it and more importantly, when I have the time. Having a family requires time and I emphasize being a good husband and father so I do spend some time doing so. One of the reasons why so many people want to play poker is that he can be his own boss and just play and go as he wants. At this point in my life, I don't think I can handle being on some kind of schedule...actually, at any point in my life, I couldn't handle it! With that said, I am trying to get some kind of routine going this year. I want to maximize (productivity wise) my days and not have any hrs where I feel like I'm just wasting time. For the most part, I think I've maximized my hrs this year, whereas last year I wasted half the year doing nothing productive.

Q: Where do see yourself and poker in 1 yr, 5yrs, 10yrs?

A: For me, I'll probably be playing poker. Essentially I feel like I'm retired now and can do whatever I want at anytime. Again that's one of the perks of being a pro. So if I'm retired now, I'll be retired the rest of the way. I just play poker because it's the easiest way for me to make money, and I make lots of it. It could be interpreted as a job, and technically it is, but being able to play whenever I want makes it feel like it isn't. I will look into getting a business or 2 as well. I almost bought one a couple of years ago, but elected to go with the bigger house (I'm obviously not that business savvy).

As for poker, who knows really. There is the impending UIGEA. They're supposed to implement the crappy rules starting sometime in July I think. There's talk about legalizing online poker. I'm not too involved in the political aspects of online poker so I'm not that aware of what can and will happen, but I don't think anyone really has a definite answer as well. I live in Vegas, so if need be I can always start playing at the casinos full time.

I'm going to show a thread that is very useful and informative to aspiring poker players as well. It was a well (Q&A) done by Phil Galfond, who is a highly successful high stakes player that primarily plays online. It's arguably the best thread on 2+2, and one of the more useful ones for poker players wanting to succeed.

I'd recommend going through the entire thread if you're serious about poker. He's more articulate than me and talks about what it takes to succeed in poker.

Also since he gave my blog props in his blog, I want to mention DoubleFly's blog. He is a winning full ring online player and his blog is very informative on some of the nuances of what it takes to succeed in poker. His blog is more entertaining than mine as well.

Also if anyone has any other questions they're interested in me answering, feel free to ask in the comments box or email me. I'm the type that tries to help anyone out as much as possible (but no monetary requests obviously, and that includes my friends!) as long as it doesn't take too much of my time. Finally, here is a picture I saw recently in a poker explanation needed...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

2nd Best Day Online (cash game wise)

I've been running good but playing good as well. When those two moons align, it's a confidence booster...although I'm pretty confident regardless of my results. The graph includes hands at rush poker nl200 from late last night, since it was technically today. I don't know why I even bother with rush. Maybe the adrenaline factor of seeing so many hands in aptly named Rush Poker. I had won $18,000 in a single day before in cash games online so today ranks 2nd. I've had numerous mtt scores that were bigger, but I consider those more anomalies since they take so much short term luck. Nearly all hands were at nl1k ($5/10) and you can obviously guess at about what hand I started playing nl1k (#3000).

I'm happy with where I stand today in relative to my goals this year. I've been steadily increasing my bankroll, and hence I can play bigger games. I've basically been crushing nl600 and nl1k (would be doing well even at actual ev) so I'm happy with where my game is today. I don't see any reason why I wouldn't do well at bigger games. Phil Ivey may have to save me a seat soon! (I'm obviously will be a long while if and when I ever reach those stakes). I do have my eyes set on the WSOP this year and hope to make some noise in it, both mtts and live cash games. It starts in 2 months so I'm trying to get a big enough cash roll to allow me to play most of the tournaments I want and to sit in any of the cash games I think I'm a favorite in (probably most).

Outside of poker, I have been hitting the neighborhood gym (pics in a previous post) 2-3 times a week and have shed about 10lbs so far this year. I've been trying to eat healthier as well, but that's a lot tougher. I've cut out soda and drink mostly water now. It's difficult living in Vegas and trying to maintain good health. There are numerous tasty restaurants and buffets around town. Every buffet has peel and eat shrimp which I love, but alas, is really bad for my cholesterol. It's a struggle at times, but hey, I wanna see my kid grow up, get married, etc. Now I'm not anywhere near the end, but I'd like to prolong my life as much as possible because I do have a charmed life by all accounts. Again, this all starts with how you approach life and everything else associated with it, like poker. A positive and strong mentality will do wonders for you, along with putting in a good effort. Having a hot wife and a great kid isn't bad either (and no I will not post pics of wife).

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Soul read and $100k graph

So I played this hand tonight...

No-Limit Hold'em, $6.00 BB (9 handed) - Hold'em Manager Converter Tool from

UTG+1 ($314.90)
MP1 ($363.40)
MP2 ($1040)
MP3 ($302.15)
CO ($806.65)
Button ($600)
SB ($377.40)
BB ($614.25)
Hero (UTG) ($600)

Preflop: Hero is UTG with 10, A
Hero bets $20, 1 fold, MP1 calls $20, MP2 calls $20, 1 fold, CO calls $20, 1 fold, SB calls $17, 1 fold

Flop: ($106) 5, 5, 6 (5 players)
SB checks, Hero checks, MP1 bets $106, 3 folds, Hero raises $212, MP1 calls $106

Turn: ($530) 4 (2 players)
Hero bets $145, MP1 calls $131.40 (All-In)

River: ($792.80) J (2 players, 1 all-in)

Total pot: $792.80

Hero had 10, A (one pair, fives).
MP1 had 3, A (one pair, fives).
Outcome: Hero won $803.40

I would like to say it was a sick soul read, but I'd be lying. I was 12 tabling and next thing I know, I'm looking at a $530 pot at turn w AT hi and just elected to put other guy all in for his last $130. I must've clicked raise on the flop w/o knowing. This is obviously a c/f on the flop. Sometimes it's really nice to run this good.

Also, I surpassed the $100k mark for online hold'em games for the year. This doesn't include rakeback, non hold'em games, mtts, nor live winnings...

I won't have much time to grind this weekend which sucks because I'm still under 50hrs for the month. Heading to Cali for my mom's birthday then grinding mtts all day sunday w/ buddies. Hopefully I can make up for lost time the next couple of weeks before I ship Uncle Sam a good chunk of my roll on April 15th.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Polarization in effect y'all

Haven't posted a hand in awhile so thought I'd show an interesting one I played earlier in the week. If you can understand my river call here, you're on your way...if not, don't worry, you can win w/o thinking at this level.

No-Limit Hold'em, $6.00 BB (6 handed) - Hold'em Manager Converter Tool from

Button ($957.55)
SB ($414)
BB ($868.90)
UTG ($633)
MP ($1165.50)
Hero (CO) ($1054.45)

Preflop: Hero is CO with 7, K
2 folds, Hero bets $16, Button calls $16, 2 folds

Flop: ($41) 2, 6, 9 (2 players)
Hero bets $32, Button raises $112, Hero calls $80

Turn: ($265) 9 (2 players)
Hero checks, Button checks

River: ($265) 6 (2 players)
Hero checks, Button bets $346, Hero calls $346

Total pot: $957

Button had 9, 9 (four of a kind, nines).
Hero had 7, K (two pair, nines and sixes).
Outcome: Button won $954

Villain was running at 23/19/7 w/ agg 5.8 (over 1500 hands). Mind you, even if his agg level was around 3 I'd still call the river, but being 5.8 made it an easier call. Granted it turned out to be wrong from a results oriented standpoint, but let's look at why I thought and still think it's probably the correct call.

Every street except the river is pretty standard. I may 3bet/stack off on the flop vs certain villains for 100bbs deep, but we were 150bbs deep here. One of the ways to succeed in poker is to narrow down opponents' range of hands so you can make better decisions. Let's look at this hand more in depth and try to find a range of hands per street...

Preflop he can have just about any 2, but we can nearly rule out big pairs and big aces as most regs would 3bet on the button vs co. Once he raises the flop, his range is still wide, including sets, flush draws, straight draws, 9x hands, and random air hands. When he checks back the turn, we can eliminate 22, 66, and 9x hands as he would bet those for value and protection (protection more applicable to 9x than boats). We can rule out big pairs in case he just flatted those preflop as well (esp. w/ his agg level). On the river, w/ his overbet, we can w/ a strong degree rule out all pps, and prob. all Ax high type hands. The reason being that he probably doesn't want to value town himself w/ such an overbet in case I was holding 6x of diamonds, or a big pp that I was going to hero call w/. There is a possibility that he can show up w/ 6x here, but I think he continues to bet the turn w/ those hands, esp. 6x of diamonds hands. Also, most tend to not overbet w/ an underfull on these type of boards. They don't want to value town themselves in case opponent has the big fullhouse, and they reason what worse hands will call when there are 2 pairs on the board.

So that basically leaves us w/ 1 possible combination of hands that he's value overbetting here w/. That is 99. If his agg level is 5.8, he can possibly show up here w/ busted straight draws, busted flush draws, and random air type hands trying to get me to fold due to my perceived weakness (from c/c flop and checking back 2 streets). So there are numerous combos of those, ranging from worse flush draws, bunch of straight draws (54, 87, T8, etc.), not to mention some random hands like QJ (we'll leave the discussion of why one can raise w/ air on some flops to another time, but the quick answer is for balancing purposes). So again, I'm not a big #s guy, so I won't run the #s by to show why this call is probably profitable, but he will have enough combos that are bluffs vs exactly 1 combo of 99 that makes my call ok. Obviously we can give more weight to the fact that he'll show up w/ 99 here more often than usual because of the overbet, but that is also slightly offset by the turn check on his part (most would bet turn w/ 99 here for value w/ all the draws possible and the fact that we're relatively deep). But w/ the pot odds, and his possible combinations of bluffing range vs 1 combo of the nuts, I think my call is ok. This is what is known as polarization, meaning that in this instance, his range is polarized to exactly 99 or air. Another way is saying his range is nut type hands or weakish type hands, and not medium strength hands.

One last note. On the outside, people will see the hand and say wtf pretty much. It'll look like a bad call, but if you have good and sound logic to back up your decisions, that is more important than how you look to others.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Chinese Poker, Stox Poker, and HSP (on GSN)

So I went to the Wynn the other night to meet up w/ some friends and maybe play some poker. I ended up playing $20/pt chinese poker w/ Joe Tehan (a good friend of mine that has a ton of success in live mtts inc. the Mandalay Bay WPT me for $1mil), Steve Yea, a red name pro on FTP from S. Korea, and 2 local poker pros. If you don't know what chinese poker is, it is basically a 4handed game where each player gets dealt 13 cards and each player sets 3 poker hands (3,5,5 w/ the 3 card poker hand being worse than the next 5 card hand and that hand being worse than the next 5 card, AQJJ9TTT87442 would be set AQ9, JJ872, TTT44...flushes and straights count as well) and the object of the game is to beat each of the other 3 players 2 out of 3 or 3 out of 3. You win 2pts if you beat an opponent 2 out of 3 and 4 pts if you scoop (win 3 out of 3). There are added ways of scoring, such as having royalties count, where you get bonus pts for having quads, straight flushes, trips at top, etc. So at $20/pt, if I beat everybody 2 out of 3, I win $120 total ($40 from each opponent). If I have a straight flush at the bottom and beat everybody 3 out of 3, I win $480 (the multiplyer for having a straight flush is 4x,6x,8x...4x if you lose 2 out if 3 spots, although you win $ regardless for having the royalty, 6x for winning 2 out of 3, and 8x for scooping an opponent). That's pretty much the gist of it. Mid to high stakes poker players love to play chinese, maybe for the simplicity and speed of the game. There is a small added skill element to it, that being how you set your hands. I know that the best players can pick up tells on others as well, eg. how they're holding their cards in their hands, eg. if a guy is holding 10 cards in the middle of his hand, then has 3 cards on top of those, it is probable that he has separated trips in the 3 cards to see what the rest of his hand looks like.

So anyway, I started the game down $1500 right off the bat but after a few hrs later, ended up losing only $125 (a run of numerous quad hands helped). I've played chinese as high as $100/pt and have won and lost $5-$8k at it. I know some of my friends have played as high as $200/pt. There is the story of Phil Ivey taking Phil Hellmuth for $500k (or some ridiculous #) one night in an european hotel room, playing $1k- $5k/pt (again another reason why Ivey is the man, and Hellmuth is, well, Hellmuth). Also, my friend Steve Yea (who is an oft mentioned "villian" in the ftp regs thread) has been crushing the $10-20 to $25-50 nl games around town to the tune of about $100k the last couple of weeks. Made me think that I need to cash out some of my online roll and start playing live more. I'm a more polished and experienced player than he is, but he is probably the more aggressive player. Seeing him win $100k in a couple of weeks makes me think how much I can win in these games (sorry Steve, but I'm probably better than you). W/ that said, I will probably start to play live a little more down the road.

I've haven't been playing much online poker the past few days. Just been busy w/ family life and having friends in town (happens frequently living in Vegas). I did, however, read most of this thread...

If you're much into the online poker scene it may interest you. Basically allegations came out that accused Nick Grudzien aka Stoxtrader of multiaccounting and colluding w/ known associates in the bigger games online. Nick is the primary owner of Stoxpoker, a well known instructional poker site. Inside sources within the company leaked the info then members of the 2+2 HSNL community did some detective work and managed to find some incriminating evidence against Nick. After dodging the allegations the last couple of days, he came out and said he was resigning from Stoxpoker and severing all ties w/ the co. He admitted to multiaccounting but denied colluding. This is still being speculated on, but there seems to be some damning evidence against him on this as well, and this process is still ongoing. This story is pretty big in the world of online poker. Stoxpoker has a healthy # of members paying $ monthly for their services (not me though) and this casts a big dark cloud in the world of poker training sites and online poker. They are affliated closely w/ Cardrunners, the original and maybe the leading poker training site. In turn, CR and Stox are affliated w/ Full Tilt Poker. Also, CR and Stox are affliated w/ 2+2, although Mason Malmuth came out and said they were severing ties w/ them for now until a clearer picture is cast and it's safe to resume business w/ CR and Stox.

I spoke to Nick briefly through pms about a year ago when I was looking around to see which training site to join as a pro (I decided to not join any). Seemed like a nice guy, and a good poker player. I read his book "Winning in Tough Limit Hold'em games" which I consider pretty good. I guess some people will look for any and every edge, even if it violates rules, and I think that is scummy (the fact that one does it violating rules and tos). I'm sure he will be an outcast from the poker world now, after having such a great and clean reputation for a number of years. Just goes to show that you shouldn't try to take illegal short cuts to succeed in poker, or any business for that matter...because you may get caught. I feel for the guys that have lost money to him and his associates if they are guilty of colluding (again, its speculation right now, but there does seem to be some empirical data suggesting its a very strong possibility). I'm almost happy that I never ventured into those higher stake games the past 1-2 years when this was allegedly happening. I do believe that for the most part the online games are clean, even the higher stakes games. There are definitely instances of mulitaccounting going on, even today, but for the most part, I don't think it will spell the end of high stakes online poker. I, myself, am personally looking to ascend to $25-50+ games this year and will not be turned away by the possibility of collusion, although I will be on the lookout for it. I think this is a big reason, one of many, that online poker should be regulated in the US.

I've been watching High Stakes Poker regularly this year and I must say, outside of Ivey and Tom Dwan (Durrrr), the play has been pretty bad. How many times will guys stack off for 200+bbs w/ top pr or overpr type hands on the flop? Gus Hansen stacks off for 200bbs on a 752 2flush flop w/ QQ vs Daniel Negreanu. Dario Minieri does likewise w/ K3 on a T32r flop vs Dwan. There seems to be a consensus among the good online players that even Negreanu (who is one of the poster boys for today's great poker pros) is playing horribly. I will take the consensus of the good online players vs Negreanu's judgement everytime. Granted I'm not a successful high stakes player (yet), but watching the show makes me think how good I really am and someone should back me and put me on that show!

I should have some free time in the coming days and hopefully I will be able to put in some hrs grinding online. So far I've logged in 42 hrs of online cash games this month, which is pretty bad for me. I am up about $26k so my hrly is very good and I'm still crushing. Obv. I'm hoping this ends up as my best month of the year, although it's only the 3rd month. I have started putting my monthly totals on the side bar for those interested. Also I will be writing a Q and A post soon regarding the many questions that were sent to me here or via email, so I won't have to keep repeating myself.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Spirituality, Rush Poker, and Winrates

Just got home from church. If you're not much into religion, just skip the next couple of paragraphs. I, for one, am somewhat of a devoted christian and make an effort to attend church on a weekly basis. W/ that said, I missed church the last couple of weeks and whenever I do so, it seems to leave an emptiness within me for the rest of the week. Now I'm not one to impose religious beliefs on others, even though being a christian, it is part of the duties that come w/ being one. I think having some sort of spiritual guidance is beneficial to living a happy and productive life..although one can live one w/o it I guess. It's the idea of believing in a higher presence that controls all things, inc. our lives and for me, that brings me a sense of inner peace. In turn, the inner peace allows me to control my emotions better and make more rational decisions. Obviously you can see how it can help my poker game...just keeping me in a peaceful state of it never hurts to have God on your side. It allows me to sleep better at nights as well, knowing that God is watching over my family and myself.

If you are ever in Las Vegas and thinking about attending a church for any reason, I highly recommend the one I attend. It's called the Crossing...

They are not a specific denomination of Christianity. They just tout themselves as a Christian church. It is a very big church..w/ several hundreds attending each of the 4 sunday services. It is a very modern church, w/ a rock and roll'ish style band w/ a drummer and several guitarists. The music is current (christian music). Even the pastors dress casually, usually a collared shirt and jeans and they preach biblical stories intertwined w/ modern times. I tend to get bored during your typical sermon, but have never been bored since attending this church. It's about as hip and cool a church can get, which in turn makes it more appealing to attend.

So I played some rush poker on ftp last night. I ended up having my worst session of the year so far in terms of buyins lost. I lost $3400 playing $1-2, which is 17 buyins, over 3400 hands. For the most part, I played well. I just ran incredibly bad. Ran KK into AA 4 times. Lost money w/ every pp excluding AA, 55, and 22 (go figure). Lost money w/ AK, AQ, and AJ. Most of the hands just played themselves basically, so it wasn't like I was spewing or anything. I can list every hand that I got stacked w/, but nearly all of them are standard. I guess I should be happy that I ran this bad at stakes smaller than I usually play. Had another friend over sweating me, so I decided to play some rush poker so I can play less tables and have time to explain some things. I basically kept repeating "Wow, how bad am I running tonight?!" Jon. I can't complain too much because I am running above ev this month. I was winning at a rate of 10ptbb/100 before last night and now stand at 6ptbb/100 this month, which isn't shabby. Also I'm up about $23k, so I can't bitch and moan too much.

Speaking of win rates, that seems to be how people measure how good a poker player is nowadays. I know I've been doing well this year, in terms of wr, w/ the help of running above ev (I'll take it). I recently checked table ratings to see where I stand on ftp's list of top winners for the year. Here is the link...

I stand around 18th w/ about $94k won and a win rate at about 5ptbb/100 over 200k hands. Granted, this list is only for nl and excludes plo and cap nl, which require different sets of strategies. Nonetheless it looks like I have the highest win rate among players w/ a min. of 100k hands, let alone 200k hands. Also, everyone above me in terms of money won play higher, mostly $10/20+ and inc. nosebleed stakes, so I do feel a sense of accomplishment so far. I play on Stars and am up a few thousand on there as well, albeit w/ a slightly smaller win rate. I am planning on playing bigger games as the year progresses (assuming I keep winning steadily) and expect my win rate to go down as the games get tougher, but hopefully win more money due to the higher stakes. All the studying and improving my game the past few months is paying off. This time I won't get complacent and will keep on improving my game! If all of this sounds like a brag, then maybe it's my blog and haters can gtfo (wow I've been reading too much 2+2).

I'm not forgetting my ultimate try my hardest to achieve 7 figs in profit this year, and I'll start posting my monthly totals on the side bar soon.

Irl, saw "Alice in Wonderland" the other day w/ the family and I was disappointed. Heard a lot of good things about it, but it bored me somewhat. My kid liked it so I guess that matters more. Speaking of my kid, she put on a grandiose performance at the Junior Festival yesterday. Basically she played her pieces on the piano very well and got a superior (equivalent to an A) on her grade, so she'll be expecting her trophy soon. If I sound like a proud dad, that's because I am. I am, however, not a very proud UCLA alum w/ the basketball season they had. Only mentioning this because the NCAA bracket came out today. Oh well, maybe next year.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The U

No, not the university of Miami. More like my session last night. It was a rough beginning to say the least. My friend was over sweating me and we were both shaking our heads in the beat down I was taking. He asks me if I'm going to start forcing hands to try to win some hands. I say no, I'm just gonna keep playing my normal game. Eventually it turned around. What's the lesson? No matter how bad you seem to be running, live in the moment and make the right decisions consistently, and the results will take care of themselves in the end (assuming you're a winning player).

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Longevity in poker(w/ pics of a balla house..mine)

Been thinking of writing about this subject for awhile. I may not be one of the foremost experts in certain aspects of poker, like plo, hu nl, mtts, and even 6max nl, which is my bread and butter. I am however, qualified to talk about what it takes to succeed in poker over the years, in macro terms. As mentioned before, I've been playing poker professionally since '98 and have provided a good life for my family and myself over the years, w/ each passing year usually better than the previous one (pics of house below to show our standard of living, from our successes in poker).

Prev. link here for my story from '98 to '08 to those who haven't read it...

I'm touching on this subject because I've read a couple of instances of successful poker players calling it quits or thinking about it because they are either burned out, or just not winning like they used to. Here are two excerpts I've read about recently..

I've read about more instances on diff. poker forums and have seen the turnover of poker players over the years. This is a period of over 12 years. Obv. someone like Doyle Brunson can attest to how many pros and wanna be pros just never make it over the years more so than I can.

Nowadays I see a lot of aspiring poker players, thanks in large part to the poker boom during the mid years of this decade. The question will be how many will be around in 1, 2, 5, or 10 years? I can not estimate but there will be very successful poker players today that will call it quits eventually because the game will break them, as it has other successful players before. Or they may find other reasons to quit, eg boredom, lack of motivation, etc. It def. takes a certain type of mindset to make it in poker over numerous years, and this mindset is different than the actual mindset to beat poker on any given day or month, although there are similarities tied in between the mindsets, eg. emotional control and thinking about the long run.

I will discuss the mindset I am talking about to sustain a prolonged poker career (the mindset to beat the games in a short span is available everywhere, in the forms of videos, forums, coaching, etc.). I will point out times in my career to better illustrate this mindset. As mentioned in the post about my career, one must constantly strive to stay ahead of the curve in poker to be successful. To do so, one must always be aware of oneself and his/her abilities relative to the rest of the poker world. That's why you see a lot of break even and losing players question why they can't win. They are either not aware of their actual abilities, or overrate them....based on some of the 2+2 posts, sometimes overrate themselves immensely. This is why the very successful players state that awareness is one of the most important elements in being a successful poker Phil Galfond.

When I started out, I was humble enough to know that I needed to study the game in and out if I wanted to do well. I had success from the get go and just kept improving my game. Well, during the party poker years, my wife and I did very well and we both became a little complacent. When party poker closed shop to the US, we moved on to Stars and FTP. I continued to win at a good rate for a couple of years (I'm gonna leave my wife's story out for privacy reasons). I believe I was one of if not the biggest winner at $3-6 and $5-10 from Jan '08 to Aug '08 (somewhat thinly veiled brag) having cleared $400k during this timespan. During the latter part of this timespan, my winrate began dropping and I hit a 300k hand breakeven stretch over the next 4 months(next time you think you're in a bad stretch of hands over 20k, 50k, or whatever # of hands, try imagine being in one over 300k hands).

This was due to a couple of reasons. One was that I was actually running slightly bad, and probably the more impactful reason was that due to my complacency, I fell back to, or even behind the learning curve of winning poker players. I was not a member of any instructional site, nor did I participate in the poker forums. As you know, poker kept booming and young players were swallowing up all the info. on how to beat the games via videos, forums, books, and actual coaching. For the first time, I reached a point where the game was nearly passing me by. This sound familiar to the 2 examples I showed above?

For some players, this would be the reason why they would quit poker. They lose their drive and heart. They let their egos get the best of them and refuse to think they need to improve and revamp their games. They refuse to drop down in stakes. Eventually they are just another example of a poker player letting the game beat them down (granted, there are some successful pros that just leave to pursue different careers...Jason Strasser comes to mind).

For others, like myself, using the power of self awareness and observation, I rededicated to improve my game and come back stronger. I was somewhat burned out after the 300k hand stretch and played the fewest hrs I ever have in '09 (avg 13.5 hrs/wk) and even went through 3 months w/o having anything poker-related in my life. I guess in some ways this was good, as in that I came back fresh and motivated. It took a few more months to gradually get back in it full time. Along the way, I actually started to think about poker deeply, and began to watch videos, and read hhs and ensuing discussions in forums, and even hired a coach (albeit for 1 1hr session). I dropped down in stakes and stayed there for a few months while trying to improve my game immensely. By Dec. '09 I felt like my game was solidified to compete w/ the best of them and I set out goals for myself this year, armed w/ confidence and the knowledge that I was lacking in years past. Blogging was one of the ways that would keep me motivated and stay on this path to try to achieve my goals.

So far through nearly 2.5 months this year, I have played about 220k hands and have a winrate of close to 8bb/100 (4ptbb/100) while multitabling 8-14 tables at stakes ranging from $2-4 to $5-10. Granted I am running good this year (I did run below ev last year) and my actual winrate would prob. fall closer to about 7bb/100 if I ran at actual ev, but even so, most would agree this is a really good winrate at the stakes I play, esp. w/ the # of tables I play simultaneously (so far, a poor man's Nanonoko..but nothing poor about it really). As I mentioned before as well, I am planning on moving up as I continue to win and the year progresses.

So what do I attribute to my success over the years? Well, having the correct mindset as mentioned, which I believe I have is the vital factor of it all. This includes seeing everything for the long run, being emotionally stable, having the mental strength to withstand the long break even and losing stretches, the desire and motivation to get better always, the self awareness and honesty to know where you stand in the poker heirarchy, humbleness, discipline and tbh, some degree of intelligence (I may be missing an element or two, as I'm writing this in the wee hrs and am tired). Also management of your bankroll is essential to success, which is somewhat tied to one's mindset. If you are lacking in some of the aforementioned traits, you will prob. have a harder time being successful over the true long run and may become another instance of a poker player getting beat by the game of poker.

Ok, now that I got the serious part out of the are pics of my house, thanks in all parts to my wife's and my successes in poker over the years....

In a golf course community, upgraded to the max, 4400sq feet, 3 car garage...

Only showing my front door because of the security camera at upper left corner..there are security cameras at every entrance to my home, plus you'll need to go through a man guarded gate, then a security coded gate to get to my home, also there are security patrol cars driving around around the clock...also because I'm mainly an internet player, I don't have much cash lying around the cash roll is spread around in security boxes in the casinos (in case there are some unscrupulous people out there w/ some dumb ideas)

After you walk through front door...ding, spiral staircase...


Living room...

Office, but temporarily a makeshift band hero room for my kid and her friends...

Dining room...

Piano room...

Loft, also my workstation, also video game room...

Wife's workplace on 3rd floor...

Master bedroom...

Master bathroom...

My kid's bedroom...

Guest bedroom 1 of 2...52" plasma tv courtesy of FTP...

Back of my house, overlooking hole #10...

Rec center inc. full gym, indoor basketball and racquetball courts...5 min walk from my house...

Community pool next to rec center...

If this isn't balla, I don't know what is...our own community water park next to the community to all residents...

Oh, and we own a 2400 sq ft 1 story house in Vegas that we rent out.

Have a nice day :)