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Challenge Completed: PokerStars SNG Challenge

Over the course of the weekend, I played about eight and a half hours of poker. In that little time, I managed to bump up my bankroll by about $92. Sweet! And against all odds, I also managed to finish off my PokerStars SNG Challenge with authority.

It all started on Friday night. Following up on a suggestion from drewspop, I decided to check out the PokerStars reload bonus being offered: 20% up to $120. I had some extra money in Neteller so I thought I'd deposit $200.

The great thing about this bonus is that it covers the entry fee for every SNG played while clearing the bonus. Also, the bonus never expires which means I can clear it at my own pace. The bad news is that I can't withdraw from PokerStars until I've cleared the bonus (stupid fine print...).

To clear the bonus, you need to earn 5 FPPs per $1 of bonus. You earn FPPs at a rate of 5 FPPs per $1 paid in tournament fees. So basically, all my SNGs played for the next little while will be freebies. Seriously, if you're not playing at PokerStars, you should be! And since they don't offer rakeback in any way, shape or form, why not use my affiliate link to sign up? Not only will you get to play at a great site, but my link comes with some extra luck built right in, redeemable as necessary!

Ok, back to my weekend play...

I popped over to MrV's place at about 7 PM on Friday night and started playing the $25 NL tables at Interpoker. After about an hour and a half, I was stuck $10. Basically, I lost that money in the first 10 minutes of playing when I mislabelled a player as a maniac when he was really a calling station. Trust me, bluffing or semi-bluffing with AK is not a good idea against a calling station.

After that fiasco, I decided to fire up PokerStars and play the $10 SNG that I was "required" to play, in accordance with the rules of my PokerStars SNG Challenge.

Although things looked a little rough for a while, I managed to pick up 2nd place! I was pretty happy about my play. I started heads-up down 5 to 1 to the chip leader and managed to take the lead after 10 minutes of play. Unfortunately, I tried to win it all by calling my opponent's all in with my own AJ: he showed 99 and I failed to improve. I was out the next hand when my A6 lost to his KT.

I finished up $6 after my play on Friday night and I'd now come in 1st once and 2nd twice in three consecutive SNGs! If you know me and my luck, you realize how impressive this really was! [And it's true, I blame bad luck for all my losses...so?]

On Saturday, I started out at River Belle Poker to play the $20 NL tables. I found out that I was, in fact, eligible for the $125 deposit bonus so I had 875 raked hands to clear. I find that I clear about 25 raked hands per hour per table. This means that I can clear the bonus in about 17 hours if I multi-table and the bonus gives me a $7/hr overlay. Not too shabby...

Well, Saturday afternoon ended up being not so good. I was down $2.45 in just under two hours of play. No great hands, no awful hands - just a lot of mediocre play, a couple missed draws, and a cracked pair of aces.

After spending some time watching Die Hard and eating pizza with my wife, I fired up the tables at River Belle yet again in an effort to make back some of the money I lost. It took an hour to put myself up $12 on the day.

I felt that I was playing solid poker so I decided to play another $10 SNG at PokerStars. I was just hoping to place ITM again - it's amazing how much more you win by playing for higher stakes. Pretty obvious, I know, but it's still pretty damned exciting for a small time player like me.

After the first 40 minutes of play, I found myself in 5th out of 6 remaining players. I'd overplayed some hands in the beginning and found myself struggling to stay afloat (oh J8s...why did you tempt me so?). I was really embarrassed by my poor, poor play in level 1 of the SNG and vowed to really buckle down. Unfortunately, the cards were not in agreement and did all they could to force me to fold every hand.

I tried to use my tight table image to pick up some blinds, but the other players weren't falling for it. Still, I managed to claw myself into a near tie for 3rd place with 4 of us remaining. I had about T1800 in chips, another player had about T1750, chip leader had about T6000 and the last player had about T4000. The big stacks were sitting back and letting the small stacks duke it out.

And then the Poker Gods, in their infinite wisdom, decided that enough was enough. I'm dealt rockets on the button. The other short stack is UTG and pushes and I insta-call. He shows AK and is quickly knocked out.

At this point, my opponents only know me as a tight player waiting for the nuts. However, I was just happy to have made the money so I started pushing my weight around. I made short work of my two opponents and took 1st! My biggest ever SNG win - $45! Sweet!

Not only did this win put me a measly $2 away from completing the PokerStars SNG Challenge: this win also meant that I'd get to play a $20 SNG!

I decided to hold off on the $20 SNG and instead played a $6 + $1 at Absolute Poker. I managed to take 2nd when everyone else at the table got fed up with a maniac who pushed every hand. He busted everyone until we were heads up. I doubled up right away when he pushed with a K6 and I called with an A9. But then, I picked up 62o, 42o, 63o, and 74o all in a row and was really hurting. I finally pushed with J8 and maniac called with K2. No one improved and I took 2nd place.

I'd now placed in the money in each of my last 5 SNGs, taking two 1st place finishes and three 2nd place finishes.

Yesterday afternoon, I sat down to play my first-ever $20 SNG at PokerStars. My wife was out shopping and I was ready to play the role of scared money.

The first thing I noticed was that the $20 SNG was listed as a middle stakes game and not a low stakes game. The second thing I noticed was that players were a little more aggressive - almost all pots were raised pre-flop.

I played my usual tight game but found myself in trouble as the blinds continued to climb. By the time the blinds hit 75/150, there were still 7 players remaining and I was sitting in 6th place.

With my M at about 4, I decided to defend my blind by pushing when the LAG to my immediate right tried to steal my big blind for the 5th consecutive time. He called showing K6o against my 98s. I hit a pair on the flop and filled out to a straight on the river.

I doubled up again when I pushed with 77 on the button with only 4 players remaining. The chip leader had raised UTG and I came over the top with my last T1400 (blinds at 100/200). He called and my pocket pair held up when the chip leader missed the flop, turn and river. I'd actually closed my eyes, afraid to look - I'd hit my set on the turn.

Still, the play continued to be really tight. I kept stealing the blinds to stay alive, pushing with a variety of cards. When I tried a steal/double up by pushing with KTs UTG, I got called by the button and by the chip leader in the SB.

Oh well, I'd made a good run - I thought I was definitely gone. The button held an A6o and the chip leader held a K7o. WTF? I know I'd been pushing and stealing a lot, but damn, it takes balls to put a chunk of your stack at stake with hands like those. Especially the button who only had me covered by about 600 hundred chips.

When a 6 hit the flop, I was ready to click the Leave Table button. I had 6 outs to stay in it...and luckily, a king hit on the river and I tripled up.

A few hands later, the player on the button was out and I was in the money! I was guaranteed a prize of $36 and if I played my cards right, I could make a lot more.

I continued to play aggressively and found myself heads up when the chip leader knocked out the short stack. After stealing some blinds, I found myself a 2:1 dog to the chip leader.

I limped with an 8d5d on the button and BB checks. Flop comes down 7d 6 3d. I bet out for about 3/4 of the pot and the chip leader raises. I channel Doyle and push all-in with my monster drawing hand. The chip leader called showing a 64o.

Even though I was a 3:2 favourite in the hand, I missed all my draws and took 2nd place. Still, 2nd place paid $54! Sweet!

And just like that, the PokerStars SNG Challenge was complete! I now find myself riding a streak of 2 wins and 4 second place finishes in my last six SNGs. Not too bad for a mediocre player such as myself.

I don't have any new challenges in mind right now. I will most likely continue playing SNGs at PokerStars. If I win a SNG, I'll move up to the next buy-in level. If I place out of the money, I'll move back down one buy-in level. Should be interesting. I can't imagine what it would be like to find myself playing a $200 SNG or something crazy like that.

Still, I don't pretend that the results I've had recently are sustainable. However, that doesn't mean that I won't enjoy this hot streak while it lasts.

I also try and finish up the deposit bonus at River Belle Poker. Once the bonus is cleared, I'll head home to Interpoker and continue clearing the never-ending bonuses there.

I may even try to play some 1/2 limit poker again even though the prospect still scares me given the constant beatings I've taken at the game. Kent's had some recent success at the 1/2 tables although I think he's probably a far better limit player than I. Still, it gives me hope whenever I find someone succeeding where I've failed.

That's it for this post. I'll admit the writing was crap and there was far too many affiliate links strewn all over the place. I blame the combination of excitement over my good weekend, the amount of craziness here at work, and my never-ending greed.

I hope everyone has a great day at the tables and otherwise. And don't forget to sign-up with PokerStars if you want some great tournament and SNG action. If I can win there, so can you!


drewspop said...

Congrats on a fine weekend!

Now that you have cash at Stars, and since you had a big weekend, why not play in the DADI tourney tonight? You are sure to get a laugh or 2 out of the constant banter. Check out tripjax or highonpoker for the details if you haven't seen them. I am even skipping my free bar poker night for it.

Why did this sound like a comment spam post all of a sudden?

Would be cool to cross paths on the felt again.

Good job and good luck.

Klopzi said...

We'll see - I'm not big on the short-handed play. I have absolutely zero feel when it comes to playing poker.

And playing against other bloggers is definitely a -EV move for me.

Anyway, The Apprentice is on at 9 PM tonight and friends are coming over. Maybe once The Apprentice is over I'll give it at try. Plus, an extra couple months of practice would really help my game.

drewspop said...

ok, well, I tried ;)

By the time you get on there, I will probably see my name with a finish number next to it unfortunately.

Klopzi said...

A for effort!

I'll make sure to pop on and check the number beside your name - here's hoping it's 1.

huma said...

Congrats on your results. Good to see you finally got to play a $20 sng and took second! I reckon you'd probably get better results consistently playing at the $20 and above level, in terms of ROI%. One day soon hopefully your bankroll there will be able to support it.

I've only got a couple of bucks at pokerstars right now after my losing streak, but I'm considering reloading there soon. Bonuses there don't come along too often.

Taking a bit of a break this week as I'm interstate again, and don't really feel like blowing off the last of my money at interpoker.

Klopzi said...


Funny thing - your commment came in just as I took first in my last $20 SNG.

All I can say is sit back, let your game come back to you, and your bankroll and your desire to play will come back. I've been through the same thing time and time again, so don't worry about it.

Poker will be there waiting - no rush, right?