Saturday, October 25, 2008

Another Final Table.

Was a funny morning to be honest. I played another 210FPP satellite yesterday and won getting me $11 tournament dollars. This is becoming a bit of a habit for me. I bought into the 10am $11 MTT at Stars which normally has around 3000+ entrants.

Started out really well slowly building my stack then after 15 minutes went card dead for the next hour. Unfortunately I ended up dwindling away and was knocked out around 1100th.

Also play 1 SnG at pacific and had my opponent hit a 2 outer on the river which crippled me early on, ended up losing that too.

Saw that Pacific offered a $6.60 MTT game at 10:45 and thought I’d give that a shot. The structure of this game I’m not a huge fan of as it was a turbo game, blinds up every 5 minutes. I love and pretty much only play turbo SnG’s, but MTT’s I like slower games.

Entered with 90 other people and sat tight at the start. Really didn’t catch any good cards until 20 minutes in or so, by this time blinds were around 75/150 and my stack was around 1100. Following the rule of, if stack = 10bb or less, move all-in prelfop with the best hand I come across. Got a couple of double up’s and was ale to relax for a bit.

I remember the game got down to 30 players and I was a little over the chip average. My only goal at this point was to make a final table. Luckily with the size of the blinds and most other people panicking so much, I was able to sit back and watch people goo crazy trying to survive.

The pivotal moment was when there were 12 people left. I had both tables open as I wanted to view what was happening at the other table, see if someone gets knocked out. The blinds were around 1000/2000 and I had a little over 5000, in other words, I was pretty much in a death zone! Once again, to my amazement, people panicked and made some stupid plays against dominating chip leaders and were knocked out getting me to the final table.

Once final table started blinds were 1500/3000 and I had about 2200. Sat tight and waited for a decent holding then committed. Had a few double ups and managed to re-grow my stack. I was so fortunate just to make it to the final table I would have been happy with any result, good for me I lasted a little longer.

Result below.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Ace on the River - Barry Greenstein

I've now completed Ace on the River and following my last post wanted to share what I got from Barry's book. I'm sure that everyone who reads Barry's book will come away with different understandings and key areas of knowledge. Below are the main points that I took in from Ace on the River.

What I appreciated and respected most about this book was the style messages were delivered in. As previously mentioned, this book was not just about starting hand requirements and how much to bet on different streets, it really goes deep into both beginner and advanced theories of poker.

Playing poker for the right reasons.
If poker will be your chosen profession, make sure you are choosing it for the right reasons. Whilst I personally haven't been able to make it my profession due to financial restrictions, I have chosen for, what I believe are the right reasons. If you intend to play poker to hope to win a few big tournaments on pure luck, you are approaching this game for the wrong reasons. If you want to play to make as much money as you can and blow it all on an over-luxurious lifestyle, you are playing for the wrong reasons. Any profession needs to be taken and treated seriously. I've been playing for around 4 years now, yet I've only really taken it seriously for about the past 12 months, co-incedentialy I have not gone broke once in that period of time. When I first started I'd put all my money on the table in a single session, play, and generally lose. Now, after extensive research, I approach the game in a correct manner. I play poker as I've made the decision for this be my profession quite some time ago. I'm confident that I working on a winning system and more than confident that I am playing for the correct reasons.

Play where you are comfortable.
Barry talked a bit about playing in 'good games'. But what is a good game? The interpretation I got from this message was if you see a game that is an easy beat, get in it. Having a sound bankroll management system is an obvious fundamental to the game, but if you come across a game that you know you can be successful at, get in it. Also, lets say that your personal bankroll supports you to play poker at a cash level of 600NL ($3 & $6 blinds) yet you know that you are far more successful at 400NL ($2 & $4 blinds), stick to 400NL. Even if you can afford 600NL, if you are only making a 10% return per week from that game and making a 45% return from the lower game, stick to the lower game. Don't feel you have to play a certain level of poker because that is dictated by your bankroll, at the same time, never ever ever break your basic bankroll rules.

Don't throw your life away on the game.
Upto recent times, I've played an unbelievable amount of poker. Having the attitude, if I just play 1 more game or 1 more hour I'll make that little bit more. There are stories of people that play 12-18 hours per day, 5-7 days a week. Whilst some, very few, of these people do make very good money, what is the cost to them. If you are single and without responsibility, you may get away with it, but it will catch up to you. Don't play when your tired just for the sake of playing. Have a break, a table will still be there in a few hours or the next day. Don't play when you could be spending time with family and friends. Don't play when you are consistently losing, if your having a bad session STOP, the game won't disappear. In my opinion the time to stop is when you feel the game is getting bad or your not playing at your peak performance.

Make sure you give something back.
It is more than clear that Barry is viewed as a leader in the poker community for giving something back. "The Robin Hood of poker" he is known as. Making his personal money from cash games and donating tournaments winnings to charities. It is actions like these that have earned him so much respect in the poker community. This does not mean that anyone playing poker successfully needs to donate to charity. But at the very least, make some time of positive contribution back to society.

To share a personal story, prior to reading this book I made this decision back in 2005. My eldest daughter developed a hemangioma (strawberry birthmark) just after birth. We took her to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, and after a few consultations she was booked in for surgery. Surgery on, at the time, my only child you was under 2 was unequivocally the scariest moment I've experienced in my life. She's 'my little girl' and a bunch of doctors were performing surgery on her. Their professionalism put my mind at ease. They looked after her so well and the surgery was a success. Once she had woken from surgery I made a vow to myself that when I come into some money, I'll be donating it to the plastic surgery department at the Royal Children’s Hospital. I felt I was able to already give a little back at the time. The surgeons asked if they can keep samples and blood from the operation for research and without hesitation I told them yes. But if I am able to give some money to further assist and improve the service offered there to help other children I'll feel so much better.

This road is not and will not be easy.
“Playing poker is the hardest way to make an easy living.”

I’ve heard that so many times now and after Ace on the River it is so more apparent. There are factors to poker that, regardless or experience, education or success just can not be controlled. I believe the hardest thing to control for poker players is the mental game and emotional rollercoaster’s. There are reasons that the best players in the world don’t win 100% of their sessions and don’t win every tournament they enter. If we could control both the cards and the actions of other players then the game would be dominated by the best all of the time. But poker deals with 2 key components.

Cards, which are completely randomised and unknown.
Humans, who while a lot of the times have patterns, shows and tells, can still, be highly unpredictable.

To be able to control your attitude in poker, in my opinion, can be the biggest hurdle to encounter. It is so easy to get upset when you’ve played a situation perfectly and the outcome is the complete opposite you were expecting. But, if you are strong enough to move on from negative outcomes immediately and keep your focus on the big picture, the hardest part of the battle is won.

If you are weak mentally or emotionally, then either learn to toughen up or choose to do something else, because this game can really break a person and I’m speaking from previous experience there. Fortunately I decided to educate myself better and toughen up.

Once again, a big personal thank you to Barry for taking the time to write this book the way he has. I for one can say my game is moving up and this is due to what I have learned from Ace on the River.

If anyone has not read it and is currently playing poker, be it recreational or professional, I, with the strongest conviction, urge you to get a copy immediately then be ready for the next level.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Thank you Barry Greenstein.

From a self-development perspective, I had one of my greatest days today! I covered the first half of one of my most favorite poker players books, Ace on the river by Barry Greenstein.

Unlike so much literature I've read before, this book doesn't just talk about what hands to play and what position to play them from, it covers every element imaginable associated with playing poker professionally. I'm only half way through and I have to take my hat of to Barry. This book has hit home for me in so many ways. Not only does he talk about poker, but covering so many other aspects easily forgotten in day to day life. It's the collaboration of information that makes you want to finish the book cover to cover.

To give Barry the full respect and credit he deserves for such a marvelous book, I'll be posting a small personal review upon completion. If I can encourage at least one more person to get his book, I'll be happy as it really is eye-opening and practical on so many levels.

Once I'd got home from work, all I wanted to do was jump on the tables and practice what I'd just learned.

Once things had settled at home I fired up 2 games. 1 was a 6 man $5 SnG. The other a small MTT. 2 pivotal experiences happened in each game within the first 5 minutes and the outcomes were determined by what I has just learned.

Experience #1.
SnG Game
6 players all start with 1200 chips and blinds at 10/20. Dealt QQ in early position I made a standard raise to 80 and was called by the player under the gun. This particular player was having a shocking run and was already down to around 550 chips. The flop came out 4 4 2. Instantly he went all in and I called. Both hands flipped up, my QQ and he showed A 9. To his fortune an A came on the turn the the river was a 7. I was so frustrated. In my opinion not only should he not have called a pre-flop raise when playing a short stack in such an early part of the game, he shoved A high after the flop came knowing I was still to act and I made the original raise. Just as I went to type something, I remembered Barry saying, don't let these people bother you, just pay attention to what they do and use it to your advantage throughout the game. Sufficed to say, I was the one to eliminate him 15 minutes later and ended up winning the SnG.

To be honest, when something like happens, and most poker players will agree with this, all you want to do is scream. Berate the other player, "How the hell can you make that move?" Instead I breathed in deeply, re-gained my composure and focused on the bigger picture. I suppose it goes back to the old classic saying, "he may have won the battle, but I won the war!"

Experience #2.
MTT Game
This game was a turbo MTT which I'm not a huge fan on. I don't really like fast games with big fields as it tends to force the action a little to fast. The point of an MTT is a marathon, not a sprint. I only played it as it was the only one available tonight that meet my BR requirements.

Once again, it was early in the game, I remember the blinds were still 10/20 so it must have been within the first 5 minutes. I was second away from the big blind. Under the gun min-raised to 40 and I called with pocket 10's. In early position and so early in the game, knowing that these games are crazy at the start I wasn't prepared to raise with my hand. Immediately to my left the player re-raised to 400. The table folded around including the original raiser and it was upto me. All I could think was "why are you raising me 10 times the amount so early. A lot of the time I'll see people doing this early on with marginal hands like pocket 7's or A8 suited. Calling was out of the question as calling means I'm committing 40% of my entire stack before a flop and within the first 5 minutes. My only choice was to re-raise all in, or fold. I chose the later. It was tempting as pocket 10's are a very strong hand but his range was wide, and it was too early to take any chances. At this stage I had only committed 40 of my starting 1000 chips so I got away from the hand, which can be a very hard thing to do.

Making this early lay down, once again proved to work to my advantage. Rather than telling you the result, you can have a look for yourself.

You wanted to see a first didn't you? So did I, but still, an effort not to be frowned upon.

Once again, same as the SnG game, it was remembering Barry talk about patience and focusing on the bigger picture that got me this result.

Now, I look forward to playing after finishing the 2nd half of what I feel is the greatest asset to any poker player in the world.

Thank you Barry Greenstein.

Friday, October 10, 2008

1st place baby!

I have to admit, I played this tournament to perfection (in my opinion). That is not a brag, well it is a little, but result aside, I am exceptionally happy with how I played every situation I was in. Had a good start place about 3rd when there was about 35 players left and took a horrible beat almost threw my entire game.

Had AK before the flop with blinds at 25/50. Raised to 200 with 1 caller. Flop rag rag rag, can't remember exactly but I remember it was a 7 high flop. At this time I had a little over 3K in chips and opponent had around 650. I c-bet 450 and he flat called. Turned an 8, I bet 250 he called which put him all in. River was another rag and he flipped up K8 off. I lost it! Not only did he call 4xbb pre-flop but flat called 75% off his stack with K high, not even a flush draw. Started to type abuse in chat box but before I hit enter I deleted all text reminding myself that venting of abusing will not change the situation and certainly wont win me the tournament. I think the discipline not to abuse the player, as much as I wanted to, helped to take the game down. I re-gained my composure, played a tight aggressive short stack and came back to win.

The win could not have come at a better time for me aswell as I'm coming off a couple of bad losing days. The only problem is I've been losing money on SnGs and this boosts my MTT BR. At least it's put my morale back up, next to keep grinding at SnGs and all will be well.

One for little snapshot for the road.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

$7 Sex.

A couple, both well into their 80s, go to a sex therapist's office.
The doctor asks, "What can I do for you?"

The man says, "Will you watch us have sexual intercourse?"

The doctor raises both eyebrows, but he is so amazed that such an elderly couple is asking for sexual advice that he agrees.
When the couple finishes, the doctor says, "There's absolutely nothing wrong with
the way you have intercourse."
He thanks them for coming, he
wishes them good luck, he charges them $50 and he says good bye.

The next week, the same couple returns and asks the sex therapist to watch again. The sex therapist is a bit puzzled, but agrees.
This happens several weeks in a row.
The couple makes an appointment, has intercourse with no problems, pays the doctor, then leave.

Finally, after 3 months of this routine, the doctor says, "I'm sorry, but I have to ask. Just what are you trying to find out?"

The man says, "We're not trying to find out anything.
She's married so we can't go to her house.
I'm married and we can't go to my house.
The Holiday Inn charges $98.
The Hilton charges $139.
We do it here for $50, and
I get $43 back from Medicare.

(I just had to post something not about poker for once :))

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Goals for October 2008.

Ring Games.
Since the start of the year I’ve had nothing but problems with ring games and I think I’ve figured out why. I’ve been playing them for too long and trying to make too much money of a single session. Turning $2 into $3.93 then saying “I’ll try and hit an even $4 then leave” and of course I end up going broke.

I’m going to go back to 1 table at a time and keep my sessions small. I’m on an absolute mission to get off 2NL and the only way to do that is to grind patiently as 2NL is one of the craziest games online.

As this is my first month with a new approach, my primary goal is simple, don’t lose money like I have almost every month to date.

No Reconciliations.
Something I did in July & September but not in August. Funnily enough I had the biggest months in both July & September and I lost money in August. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, having a primary monetary focus is a big mistake. When I focus on playing every day, session, hand to the best of my ability, then the end result reflects that. When I worry about needing to make $xxx by the end of the day, diaster strikes.

Sticking to $5 tournaments.
Last month I saw at 2 occasions I could afford to move to an $11 game. I moved up twice and lost twice and moved back down twice. If I had a good run at the start of the month I could easily afford to move up again early/mid October, but this is a long term process for me and with recent successes at $5 games, I figure it’s in my best interests to play them for 1 more month. Hopefully if I keep a high ITM and positive ROI I’ll have an additional 20-30 buy-ins for the next level starting November.

That’s all, nothing extravagant, still just sticking to basics and keep moving up.

Results to start the month couldn’t have been scripted better in my opinion. Played the $5 MTT, didn’t cash but made some stupid mistakes so all my fault.

Played 4 $5 SnG’s and didn’t just cash but won them all, very nice ROI there.

Also played my first 210FPP game at Poker Stars and cashed. If you don’t know what this is the buy-in costs 210 FPP (Frequent Player Points) it is a 20 person tournament with the top 6 finishes getting a ticked into a $11 MTT hosted on Monday mornings. As I won’t be able to play it I have the option to sell my ticket for a cash value of 99.5% or use that $11 in any other tournament. Still deciding what I’ll do.

Lastly, a nice picture to end a great starting month.