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Decisions, decisions....

I didn't play much poker over the weekend. I actually get less time for poker on Saturdays and Sundays than I do on weekdays. Well, to be fair, I could play more on Sundays but that's my day to get up with the kids. And playing with kids - especially boys - for hours on end tires me out pretty quickly.

Thankfully, the couple hours of poker that I played over the weekend were pretty good. I managed to win back a some of my losses which is always nice. I got my money in really well in one hand and lost (AA vs. KK). I also got my money in on the flop drawing pretty slim but managed to pull off an eleven-outer on the river (Q♠9♣ vs. A♥ Q♣). Once again, I got trapped by a short-stacked player hitting TPTK in a big pot (FLOP: Q♠ T♠ 3♦ TURN: J♥). Not my finest hour but I was rewarded nonetheless.

I was going to move on to PokerStars after having finished my bonus-whoring at Full Tilt. But it looks like Full Tilt may be having another "Take 2" promo. Decisions, decisions. In the end, I'm guessing I'll spread myself very thin, lose a bunch of money, and go on crazy tilt.

But tonight, I think I might play a little micro-stakes PLO at Titan Poker and Party Poker. Both of these sites have given me some cash to use at their tables. Free money is always a nice little present and it couldn't have come at a better time. I need a stress-free night of poker where the only money I can lose wasn't mine to begin with!

Have a good one!

PS: You'll notice a bit of a Batman theme around here as I continue to work my way through Batman: Arkham Asylum (a.k.a. the greatest superhero game ever made, according to Guinness). I can't help myself - the game is amazing!

Keep reading "Decisions, decisions...."

A Few Knights Off

I didn't play any poker last night. In fact, I'm only planning on playing one more session this month. I think I'll concentrate my efforts on stringing together 300-500 well-played hands tomorrow night.

Friday nights at Full Tilt seem to be one of the best nights in terms of encountering 70%+ VP$IP players. If I can somehow manage to play some simple ABC poker, I might be able to finish the month on a winning note. If not, my bankroll can handle another couple years of this before I need to call it quits on poker. (If you'd like to help out and make that three years, please sign-up for some rakeback deals at RakeTheRake.)

Would you like to know what I've been doing away from the tables? Just follow this link. Seriously - Batman is pretty awesome! I'm not sure how well Batman can un-tilt me after a bad session. I may find out tomorrow night.

Have a good one!

Keep reading "A Few Knights Off"

Balance, Bagels, and Poker


Based on the comments I received after my last post, I thought I should clarify that I'm not quitting poker. Nor am I going on hiatus. I'm just going to continue finding a healthy balance between marriage, family, poker, and video games. Balance is important. I've said it many, many times in the past and I'll keep saying it. Poker can be the greatest game in the world or worse than doing your taxes: it all depends on your current perspective.

When I sit at a table right now, I expect to lose. That's a terrible attitude to have in poker. I play too tight, get frustrated after folding way too many hands, and then make a terrible play for my whole stack. We've all been there.

The best thing for me to do right now is to continue reading, continue watching poker video, and limit my actual time at the tables until my attitude turns around. All it takes is a couple good sessions to turn things around. I'm not talking about downswings or heaters here. Winning brings about a winning attitude which seems to increase the number of winning sessions I have. I'm looking forward to it.

The reality is that I'm only about five buy-ins from where I'd like be to start up with $100 NLHE again. I'd make the jump up now but I don't move up in stakes to help me recover losses in my bankroll. It's a little rule that I have and one that I refuse to break. Another rule I have is that I don't eat prepared food that's touched the kitchen counter. Weird, huh? I'll eat a cracker that my son throws on the floor but won't eat a bagel that was placed on the kitchen counter after toasting.

Do you think a change in my bagel-eating habits could bring about a change in my online poker fortunes? I'd rather drink a shot of gin than put that theory to the test.

Have a good one!

Keep reading "Balance, Bagels, and Poker"

Losing...

I haven't written for a little while because, well, I've been losing. And no one wants to hear about a mediocre player losing money. Since I started clearing my Full Tilt bonus, I've won 7 sessions and lost 8 sessions. Doesn't sound too bad, right? Unfortunately, the winning sessions have been small and the losing sessions...well, let's just say that they're much more substantial.

I've likely been tilting a little too much while trying to regain my dwindling bankroll. I've been setting my target SPRs way too high and misreading my opponents' hand strengths. Even the most maniacal players seem unwilling to stack off in a big pot with less than TPTK. So it should come as no surprise that my hands like KQ and KJ are going down in flames in some of the 3-bet pots that I've been playing.

I'm pretty results-oriented. I know that. That's also why I can tilt so quickly and really begin to doubt my poker playing ability. Mind you, I've been break-even/losing for quite a while now so I'm starting to wonder how much of my perceived poor play is, in fact, actual poor play.

As I try to un-tilt myself, I've been playing some more video games - namely Prototype and Wheelman. I also picked up a copy of Batman: Arkham Asylum. I'm pretty sure the Dark Knight should snap me out of my poker funk. Oh, and I picked up a few graphic novels as well: Batman: Year One, Batman: The Killing Joke, and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. I've always been interested in superheroes and graphic novels. It's a wonder that these three Batman graphic novels are the first I've ever bought in my life.

Anyway, I've got $25 of my bonus left to clear. Probably won't do it but I'll try to clear another $5 at the very least. From there, I'm moving over to Stars where I'm hoping for a change in my luck that might, in turn, help boost my confidence at the tables. I seem to play a much better game of poker when things are going my way - go figure.

If things don't go as planned, well, there's always a ton of graphic novels still left for me to read. I've always been interested in the Marvel Zombies series...

Keep reading "Losing..."

Dizzy...?

I've been pretty dizzy all day today. I'm not sure if it's lack of sleep or the fact that I hit my twenty-outer to win a big pot last night. All I do know is that when I turn my head, I get dizzy.

I'm two-thirds of the way through my Full Tilt bonus. I've still got eleven days to clear the rest of the bonus. So I'm taking the night off from poker. I've been warned about playing poker drunk; playing "dizzy" is probably a no-no too.

Instead, I'm going to rampage across an infected Manhattan ripping apart anyone who gets in my way. And if I have time, I'll play some video games later as well.

Have a good one!

Keep reading "Dizzy...?"

Photo Finish

I decided to look over my stats for the month after my session last night. I've played 3,600 hands at Full Tilt over the past few weeks. It feels like I've played many more hands than that but the numbers don't lie. I only play about 250-300 hands per session so I guess 12 sessions over 21 days seems spot on. And if 12 sessions in 21 days doesn't seem like much to you, go get married, have a couple kids, and get back to me...

I've cleared $60 of my bonus at Full Tilt. I've also picked up an additional $30 or so in rakeback. And I've lost just over three buy-ins. That may not sound all that great but I'm actually pretty happy with my play. If I account for all-in luck, I'm actually running pretty close to break even. So I'm getting there, slowly but surely.

I figure that I've got another 3,000 hands to play at Full Tilt before my bonus is cleared. If I can get a little lucky, maybe I'll be able to climb my way back into the black for the month. But I'm trying my best to overlook all of that and just focus on making good decisions. I'm still making mistakes but I'm starting to get a little more comfortable at the tables again. My bankroll's about $300 short of where I'd like it to be before I start introducing some $100 tables back into the mix.

Besides playing a little more poker this month, I've been reading a ton of Hwang's Advanced PLO and Miller/Flynn/Mehta's Small Stakes No-Limit Hold'em, I've been trying to work on my mental game by reading The Poker Mindset. I tilt easily and definitely lacking in terms of mental preparedness when it comes to playing poker but there are still a number of things that I do quite well at the table.

For example, I'm always happy to lose a big pot to a bad beat. Why? Because I'm just so damned happy that I got my money in good for once. You want to crack my AK with your AQ? I can take it. I'm sure there's something wrong with me in this regard. I shouldn't take so much joy in losing but I do. I'm much happier when I win big pots but bad beats don't seem to bug me. But when it comes to putting my money in bad? Insta-tilt!

The other thing that really saves my bacon time and again is my disciplined approach to bankroll management. I don't take chances and I don't take shots. This allows me to win or lose without caring about the money or the overall health of my bankroll. That's not to say that I don't hate losing: I really, really hate losing. But once my laptop's away, an hour spent watching TV with my wife or playing video games is enough to pull me back from the brink. I sometimes wonder if I'd put more time into poker if the money mattered more than it does. Who knows?

What I do know is that I've got 12 days left to clear 3000 hands at Full Tilt. We may be in for a photo finish...

Keep reading "Photo Finish"

A Lucky Loser

I don't use PokerTableRatings while playing poker anymore. Full Tilt seems to be ban-happy when it comes to that sort of thing. PokerStars isn't a big fan of data mining or player profiling. But I still use PTR to check up on my own stats from time to time. Although I didn't play very much over the weekend, my rating dropped to a 13 (out of a possible durrrr-tastic 100). That seems pretty low for someone who thinks about poker as much as I do, doesn't it?

Of course, PTR only cares about results and that is definitely one of my weak spots when it comes to poker. I'm currently a small winning player at PokerStars and a big loser at Full Tilt. I'd be surprised if there aren't a few players using PTR when deciding to sit down at a table where I happen to be playing. I'd like to think that they're in for a surprise but my results don't back me up on that claim.

If I look at my my all-in luck, I appear to be the luckiest mo-fo on the planet. Although I've never cracked AA with Big Slick, I've destroyed nearly every other possible hand when all-in pre-flop with AK on my side. However, I still think that I do get quite unlucky. For example, when you find yourself with top pair on the flop in a heads-up pot against a 70/50 maniac and an SPR (stack-to-pot ratio) of 4, you're getting all your money in and laughing all the way to the bank, right? If my past 20K hands are to believed, the answer would be no.

When I play poker, I run into the nuts. A lot. I get my money in bad. A lot. Does this affect my all-in luck in any way? Not really. If I stack off with 2% equity, you can't say that I was unlucky to lose the pot.

I'm not sure how to fix this problem. I don't know if I can. When I assign a range to my opponents, there are typically hands that have me crushed (primarily flopped sets, straights, and quads) and those hands that I crush (top pair with weak kickers or other random, donkey nonsense). How do I prevent my opponents from flopping the nuts? I can't. But that doesn't mean that it doesn't give my ego a little shot to the nuts every time I stack-off drawing to a runner-runner miracle.

For now, I'll keep playing. But I'm keeping track of all those times that my opponents get extremely lucky against me. I plan on getting my money back...with interest.

Keep reading "A Lucky Loser"

Rising Eggspectations

Busy week. It's amazing how crazy things can get. But I've still managed to put in some time at the tables. I've cleared about 50% of my Full Tilt bonus and I've still got over two weeks to clear the rest. Nice!

Things have been going pretty well at the tables. I don't think my results necessarily reflect how I feel I've played over the past couple weeks. Famous last words?

I'm noticing a definite shift in my game. I think it's a shift upwards but still too early to tell. My main focus has been on exploiting weakness and a tendency to fold in others' games. It's amazing how often opponents will fold to big bets on the turn and river. It's also amazing how often I misjudge the strength of my opponents' hands and get snap-called by the nuts.

But you know what they say? If you're gonna make an omelette, you gotta break a few eggs.

Have a great weekend!

Keep reading "Rising Eggspectations"

Afternoon Cinema

I had no chance to play poker last night. Actually, I had the choice but decided to spend time with my wife instead. I guess I'll never be considered a degenerate gambler any time soon. But speaking of degenerate gamblers, have all of you had a chance to watch the (mostly) online poker documentary embedded after the jump?

The following documentary is called From Busto to Robusto: Captain Zeebo. The documentary presents a close look at the rise (and fall?) of a hugely successful Internet poker player. I have to admit that watching this video really makes me want to focus on online poker and try to make a name for myself. Perhaps I've missed the point of the documentary...?

I will admit that the thought of staying in my house for weeks on end sounds absolutely delightful! I'd just get rich playing poker and get fatter eating nothing but brownies, Crunchie Munchie Mix, and the left-overs from my kids dinner plates. I wonder how cool my wife would be with that...

Enjoy the show!



Yep - I'm definitely playing poker tonight. I'll aim for 500 hands, give or take a couple hundred depending on how well or poorly things go.

Have a good one!

Keep reading "Afternoon Cinema"

The Weekend Grind

I put in about one thousand hands over the weekend. For those keeping track, that's quite a lot for me. I'm very close to having completed 10K hands at the $50 NLHE tables. Unfortunately, my bankroll isn't quite up to snuff for the $100 NLHE tables. If I can manage to put together another 4-6 buyins, I'll be ready to start adding $100 tables to the mix. But for now, all I can do is keep playing.

I'm roughly 40% of the way through the Full Tilt "Biggest Bonus Ever". I figure I'll have the bonus cleared within two weeks time. My only hope now is that I'll clear the bonus and actually post a winning record. I was having a great weekend at the tables until yesterday afternoon. Why is it that my winning sessions are so small and my losing sessions so big?

I got slightly cold-decked yesterday. I got stacked for a full 100 BB stack twice over the course of my 45 minute session. My first stacking occurred when I raised my unknown opponent on the river: we both held trips and his were better. I also lost a stack when I flopped top two and shoved the turn only to have my opponent snap-call with his turned broadway straight. Yesterday's session was pretty brutal overall. Lots of check-raising and floating on the part of my opponents. I just wasn't getting the cards or the reads necessary to hold my own. Thankfully, I only dropped two buy-ins when all was said and done.

My overall game is feeling much better. I still make ridiculous mistakes but that's to be expected by a hobbyist such as myself. The point of playing the $50 games was to give myself a way to re-tool my game without busting my bankroll in the process. It's coming along nicely, I'd say, despite my piss poor showing at the tables over the past few months.

I'm going to try and play a little more this week than the last. If I can clear 400-500 hands a day, I'll have my bonus wrapped up and I'll be ready to move on to PokerStars. And if I can manage to string together some winning sessions, maybe I'll finally get back to those $100 buy-in games that I've missed over the past little while.

I hope everyone had a great weekend. See ya.

Keep reading "The Weekend Grind"

The Long Haul

Another session at Full Tilt put little dent in my bankroll. Nothing I can't handle but still a little annoying. I find myself making frequent costly mistakes and that's why I'm still playing the $50 games. If I can shore up three major leaks that I've identified and if I can get my bankroll back to an acceptable level, I'll start to introduce some $100 tables into the mix.

I took advantage of the most recent WCOOP PokerStars reload bonus. I'd first deposited $600 for the full $300 bonus. But on hindsight, my eyes may have been bigger than my stomach, so to speak. I contacted Stars support and they were able to help me out by reducing my bonus to a $100 bonus requiring 2500 VPP to clear. I guess my first reload bonus works out to a 16.7% reload bonus up to $100! I still prefer that to the alternative of playing poker for six months only to realize that the 7500 VPP clear rate for the full $300 bonus is well out of reach. You've really got to hand it to PokerStars customer support for helping out their customers whenever possible. I guess when you're the most successful online poker room, you can afford to treat your customers nicely.

If I can clear my $100 bonus within 90 days, I'll figure out how much more I can clear during the last 90 days of the WCOOP bonus period. I can make up to two more deposits to have an extra $200 credited ($400 in deposits) to my bonus account.

If I can clear SilverStar status each month for the next six months, I'll likely be able to go for the full $300 bonus. That being said, I figure it takes me about 20-25 hours of poker every month to get my SilverStar VIP status and I haven't played anywhere near that amount this year. Even if I can clear 5000 VPPs over a six month period, I'll earn myself a $200 bonus and enough FPPs to buy myself some more PokerStars clothing. I guess I could also put the points towards more gift certificates but I'd really like to buy some unnecessary Stars memorabilia.

Right now, I plan on finishing up my Full Tilt bonus. I've got another $75 to clear which should take me another 2-3 weeks given the amount of poker that I've started playing recently. In that time, I hope to improve my NLHE game to the point that I'm ready for the $100 games at Stars. I also anticipate giving PLO a serious shot in September. I may drop down to the $25 games for 7K-8K hands just to get used to the 6-max games and put my Advanced PLO knowledge to the test.

If there's one thing that I'm coming to realize about poker it's that I'm in this for the long haul. Sure, the games are getting tougher. And maybe Internet poker will disappear entirely once U.S. politicians figure out a way to screw over the global poker-playing community. And maybe playing Scrabble for money will become the next big thing.

One thing I know for certain? I'm not going anywhere until my bankroll hits $0 or the desire to see my next hand goes away forever.

Keep reading "The Long Haul"

Poker is Tough

I didn't play quite as much poker over the long weekend as I intended. I spent much of my time relaxing with my wife and kids and just having fun. I played a little poker on Friday night and ended up about $2 to the good. And then I spent the rest of my weekend playing Eat Lead and Wheelman on my PS3.

I'm not sure why I find it so hard to get motivated to play poker nowadays. Maybe it's that the games are harder. Or maybe it's because everyone seems so eager to tell me how much harder it is to beat online poker these days. It's hard to sit down and grind out hands when you know that you'll have to play your A-game just to give yourself a chance to come out significantly ahead on the session. What a sick game.

Despite all the doom and gloom, I have a lot to learn from poker and that keeps me semi-motivated. I'm still waiting for that moment when my game "clicks". Right now, I still feel a little lost at times when I'm playing any form of poker; hard to believe given the amount of studying I've done to get better at poker. I'm pretty sure that I've read upwards of fifteen poker books this year. And I've probably watched more than three hundred hours of poker videos. Unfortunately, I've barely played fifty hours of poker over the past seven months.

Speaking of books, I finally received Jeff Hwang's newest book, Advanced Pot-Limit Omaha, in the mail yesterday. So far, so good. I'm anxious to try my hand at PLO again. But I'm going to finish Jeff's book before I start again in earnest. It should be fun misapplying Jeff's strategies at my micro-stakes games. I look forward to the inevitable tilt and hiatus that are likely coming someday soon.

Before I go, I should also mention that I'm planning on hitting up PokerStars as soon as I'm done my Full Tilt bonus. Stars has a 50% up to $300 reload bonus (bonus code: WCOOP) running right now (and a 100% up to $600 bonus for those of you not already playing at Stars). I'm not sure if I'll be able to play enough poker to clear this bonus before next February but I'll give it my best shot. Did you know that I've only managed to clear one bonus in the past four years at PokerStars? I thought I had more drive and staying power but I guess I was wrong.

Poker's tough - what else can I say?

Keep reading "Poker is Tough"