Saturday, January 31, 2009


January Wrap

Still not sure whether I'm going to give you actual $ numbers this year. Maybe I won't. But in the absence of any big scores, you can generally assume that I'm grinding at around 30-40% ROI, on average. That sounds crap, but remember it's without the big scores. The biggest 2 or 3 scores you pick up will generally constitute a big wedge of your profit in MTTs, over whatever period of time, if not all of it. I didn't win anything disproportionately big last year, but even so the two biggest results accounted for half my profit.

I was certainly in that ballpark this month ; the good thing was I smashed all existing personal bests for volume. 200+ tournaments, $50K+ buyins and 100+ hours (if barely in each case). Having said that my previous record hours/month was 96, last January. We'll see if I can maintain the level a bit better this year.

Anyway, if December was the month of Full Tilt, then January was the month of iPoker, where I ran red hot, mostly in their various 2045 (GMT) tournaments. I do recommend these, you can even pick up an overlay on occasion. I also did quite well on Party, but basically did my bollocks on Stars, as usual lately ... oh well, at least I don't live in the land of the free, so I have more than two sites to play on. Oh, and I picked up a $500 bonus on Party. But don't get too excited, that was for cashing in all the points I have earned since the year dot. At this rate I'll get another $500 in about 2017.

What we learned this month

A ton of stuff. Just a ton. That's what has really been most satisfying this month. I'm using Pokertracker again (while kicking myself for doing without it for so long), and using that to help me make a bunch of reads and take player-specific lines. As I said last month, I'm moving away from "standard 2+2" lines, and trying to exploit these lines in others / misrepresent my hand by playing in a non-standard way, when appropriate. I can't be more specific at the moment, sorry.

Into February

The kitchen isn't going to be done till March, so I should be able to crack on for this month at least. I am playing the next TV 6-max which is being filmed this month, I haven't had the full draw yet but once again there are a few more faces in it than I would have expected. As long as I can dodge Annette and Neil I like my chances though, and even then we'd be flipping in that format.

Monday, January 26, 2009



The WSOP schedule is out. Cliff notes :

- $40K NL event at the start
- No rebuy events. Off all people, Negreanu lobbied for this to stop players from "buying a bracelet". You have to laugh.
- Final table in November again
- Apart from that, pretty much same old.

Me, I'm not planning to go, at the moment. You have to try to avoid rationalizing this kind of decision with fake reasons. For example, Matusow recently claimed that he and Hellmuth weren't playing in the just-filmed series of High Stakes Poker because they felt it was "inappropriate in the current economic climate". Right. Not because you're busto and totally outclassed in the game respectively. Similarly, I could talk about being green by not flying, or taking a stand against the corporatization of poker, but the truth is I did my bollocks last year and didn't enjoy it. I'm still nicely up in WSOP events thanks to 2007 but the bottom line is I can make more money at home.

Thinking about it, the WSOP is not really for me anyway. I mean people like me. Professional online tournament players. The WSOP is for the TV pros and the kids with a dream. Better to just accept that and deal with it. It's still kind of annoying how many people regard bracelet count as an indicator of standing in the poker world, but that's their problem. I might still play the ME, especially if Stars can sort their act out with the double shootouts this year. If they don't, I'll probably just make a late decision, and not worry about it for now.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Backed Into A Corner

As soon as I say I'm going to spend less time on 2+2, a couple of really interesting threads pop up, LDO. First of all, Bond vs Bakes. This reminds me of a book I read recently, Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers" (recommended), and a chapter in there where he talks about plane crashes. Most plane crashes, it seems, arise because of a series of mistakes, maybe up to 8 or 10, that have a cumulative effect, rather than just one big mistake. And that's what happened here IMO. From Bakes sitting down to play a satellite without reading the T+Cs and then swapping 50% with Bond late on (a highly questionable move at the very least), all the way through to the screwy backing deal they end up in, payments being missed, the horse degenning off the money ... it's almost never-ending. It's an utter mess to try to sort out who owes what, but I find it disappointing how many people take the line "let me find a legalese technicality in favour of the person who I like and who I have already decided should be in the right". Anyway, there are many salutory lessons in there about what not to do if you're in a backing, swapping or staking arrangement.

Then today, Gobbo posted about playing online MTTs for a living. You should definitely read the whole thread. Stealthmunk wins so far for his hilarious, and right on the money, denunciation of the live circuit. What surprises me here is how many people think being backed is the way to go. It's just beyond me. When you're backed, there are basically two states you can be in :

1) In profit. 50% of your profits go to someone else, or
2) In makeup. 100% of your profits go to someone else.

And this is desirable because ? People take the problem "I can't play live 10K tournaments without a backer" and come up with the wrong answer, "I need a backer". The right answer is, of course, don't play live 10K tournaments. The beauty of online tournaments is that there are so many of them on offer, at different buyins, that they are totally scalable. If your bankroll drops, you scale down your buyins. If your bankroll drops perilously (to less than $10K off the top of my head) then you might be better off switching to SNGs until you build it back up. But the options are all there. A lot of people seem to be trying these "challenges" where you build X into 100X. Given enough time, I don't think I would have a problem turning, say, $1K into $100K. I'm not going to do it though - do you really want me to cut my hourly to 1/10 its current amount just to prove a point ? Nonetheless it's doable. It's like I said in a recent video I made for Pokerswat. Being good at teh poker is only half the trick. Being disciplined, putting in the right volume and getting/staying out of the "big score" mentality is probably more important in online MTTs (providing you're basically a winning player).

So I'll be keeping an eye on that thread too. And finally of course 2+2 does still throw up the odd one-liner LOL. Greekfish made another post about how unfair it is that people criticise him boo hoo, under the title "some serious donks on this forum". The first response was "no u". /thread imo, as they say.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Some Changes

It's just coincidence that this post appears early in the New Year ; I've always believed that if you need to change something, then change it now. But I am taking a different attitude towards a few things, as follows :

Play 6-max Cash

I'm certainly not foregoing the donkaments to switch to cash ; all I'm doing is any day I'm not donkamenting I try to put in two or three half-hour cash sessions, for the sole purpose of improving my medium and deep stack game. I think this is helping a lot already, I feel a lot more comfortable with 40BB+ in the donkaments, especially out of position. I've read Ryan Fee's online book and have almost finished Danny Ashman's (by the way I recommend High Stakes Bookshop ahead of Amazon for quicker delivery of new releases). As it happens I've made a few hundred $ so far which is a bonus !

Make more and better opponent-specific plays

Turn off the auto-pilot and consider OPR, Pokertracker stats and any recent history when you get into a hand. Obviously this is a 6-max cash kind of angle, but anything that makes me engage brain before clicking mouse is good. If I have to cut down on the number of tables I'm playing to do this, that's fine, it's not much of a loss to cut out the 2 least profitable tournaments in a session.

Spend less time on 2+2

A lot less. I could go into this in depth, and might still at a later date, but just sticking to the strategy angle, there is very much a "2+2 style" in tournaments that I have fallen into when I should really be thinking about playing against this style exploitatively. The High Stakes MTT forum was a good idea in theory, but in practice threads tend to either be "shove ldo /thread" or endless "how many angels on the head of a pin" arguments about which of two perfectly serviceable options is slightly better. Don't get me wrong, there are some excellent posters on there, but many of them post less and less often, and what's left is the "stars" holding court, which kind of grates because a lot of those guys are massive life losers IMO (but again not all).

Forget live tournaments

They are a complete waste of time unless you can find some kind of deal that gives you a partial freeroll (at least 50%), and by that I do not mean a makeup deal. Those are complete smoke and mirrors and basically not much better than getting a loan off Jim Davidson on the TV. I can put $3K in play any night of the week I like, and $4K+ on Sundays, with a vastly superior hourly rate, lower variance, zero hassle and zero expenses. On the downside, I won't get my picture in Bluff Europe - oh noes. Live play is so subtly different from online that trying to mix both regularly can screw up your instincts and feel IMO. I can probably make an exception for TV 6-max games because they are quick, great value and basically little more than avoiding egregious stack mistakes, which seems to be beyond most people (even the superstars in the Premier Poker League [1]).

Increase volume while maintaining life balance

I can put in a bit more volume if I'm careful with my health, which is the whole combination of diet, exercise, sleep patterns and general awareness of the body. It's so hugely important not to burn out though. You need to shear the sheep of online poker tournaments, not kill it. By which I mean kill it for yourself by playing so much that you can't stand it any more, or so much that you need to take stimulants and/or relaxants to do it, which is going to screw your long-term health. Even something as apparently standard as coffee, if you can't play without it, you've got a problem. As I mentioned in another post, one reason the tournaments are still soft is that good players have burned out mentally and aren't playing any more. What's better, making $750K a year for 2 years or $300K a year for 10 years ? And this is seriously exacerbated by the fact that when they stop grinding online, they still can't walk away from poker entirely, so they play live, get involved with backing from either end, and that's a really slippery slope.

Anyway that was a bit of a digression, but for me, I should be able to fit in Sundays + 3 weekdays, and work it around the rest of my life, and make good money. That's the plan going forward for sure.

[1] I didn't want that to sound bitchy but what the hell, that's basically how it is.

Saturday, January 03, 2009


2008 Wrap (Brag post obv)

So 2008 pretty much rocked. As I mentioned below, my return per tournament was remarkably close to that in 2007 (around $180). So twice as many tournaments = twice as much mobney. My average buy in was significantly higher ($205 compared to $152), and the total profit was $272K, at about $380/hour. Sweet IMO. Finally, while this is an estimate going by the average number of hands/tournament recorded in Pokertracker, I made about $120/100 hands.

I don't think many people realise how much money you can make playing online tournaments if you're actually any good and you practise good game selection. Oh alright, and you run super hot. To make that kind of money per 100 hands I'd have to be either killing $10-20 NL or very good at $25-50, and I'm almost certain that either of those would involve far bigger swings [1] (cue Dave D to tell me I just haven't run bad yet). Which would be true, but even so, you won't see me moving on from the tournaments for a while yet. This is one reason why I think tournaments are softening up ; a substantial proportion of the really good players have burned out and moved on to cash, heads up, the live circuit (lol) or whatever. The other, in response to Rob's comment below, is just through observation ; I'm sure I see more and more brain dead spazzy spewy retarted mouthbreathing plays from villains as every week goes by.

Moving into 2009, if I can just keep that at the same level I'm going to automatically make about 30% more in £ just because of currency rates. I should be able to increase my $ volume somewhat by cutting out the sites with crappy software (mostly the Euro sports betting sites) and stepping it up on Stars and Full Tilt instead. I won't be playing live much, maybe only a TV 6-max donkfest or two, and maybe WSOP ME, we'll see. I definitely won't be wasting 6 weeks chasing bracelets this year. Apart from that we'll just keep cracking on and see where that takes us.

[1] Technically far bigger downswings. Of course tournaments will always (hopefully) have massive upswings, but when people talk about swings, it's downswings that they mean. I haven't tracked what my biggest downswing is, but my worst month in two years has been a $12K loss, I haven't had 2 losing months in a row and I usually keep about $30-40K online and have never been in danger of having to redeposit. Bok ...

Update : Interesting New Year post from Ansky on Pokersavvy here. Now, Ansky is a guy I respect tremendously, his videos are really good, he plays $25-50 NL and Heads Up, and maybe higher for all I know. I'm pretty sure there's no way I could ever play cash NL as well as he does. And his target per 100 hands for this year ? $150.

Thursday, January 01, 2009


December Wrap

2008 wrap-up to follow [1], but first the month of December ; thanks to a storming run on Full Tilt (of all sites), I ended up $38.9K in, $55.5K out for a $16.6K profit. It's been insane on FT for the last 10 days or so, as you can see here. It's even better if you check out the monthly summaries, which show a profit close enough to zero for 23 months, and then $28K in December.

What We Learned This Month

Quite a lot. While of course the FT run was mostly due to massive rungood, it was also slightly down to perseverance on the site, after reminding myself that there was really no reason I shouldn't be winning on it, and a general tightening up/slowing down that I have been implementing in the last couple of weeks. Basically trying not to re-steal every single time it looks on, and convincing myself that not everyone is always re-stealing on me either, especially in the smaller tournaments. I think the games are getting softer and softer (more on this later), and the softer they get, the better it is just to play ABC and wait for them to spew horrifically.

I have also formulated some better ideas for dealing with limpers pre-flop, and am finding more and more spots where I auto-call (or auto-shove) and suddenly think "oh no, he must have X", which he does. There's that AK play below, and there was another on Party a few days ago where I should really have found a fold with QQ even though I was only 16BB deep. The more of these spots I can turn into actual folds, the better I should do, at least until I actually fold something wrongly, which generally aligns the subconscious properly anyway once it happens enough, if you see what I mean.

[1] Cliff notes : I played twice as many tournaments as in 2007, and made twice as much money. Who'd have thunk it.

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