Monday, September 26, 2011

I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have -Thomas Jefferson

Well it's been a few days, but I'm still kicking. Since the now infamous event known as Black Friday, online gaming as a vocation has been a tough proposition. Still, for those with the know how, there are still ways to get by. Other players may turn up their noses, but roulette, keno and slot machine games, especially if they come with a bonus. This is why I can recommend the site Free Online Slots with Bonus Rounds!, which caters for all your high-adrenaline focussed-returns gaming needs!

In other news, I've been doing some work for a Tier 1 bank to supplement my tidy gaming income, and have been gaining valuable experience working on their Commodities Trading desk. Just today I had a job interview for a role with another T1 bank, this time for their Power&Gas scheduling/trading team. Don't know that I have the best of chances given my limited banking experience, but if my poker skills truly turn out to be transferable - or better yet desirable - then maybe I can prove whether I have what it takes to perform in a seemingly highly compatible field.

Anyway, for all my old fans who are reading this and for those still in the hole after the DoJ got busy... chin up. I'm still down $32k, but you just have to write it off as a bad beat, then move on to the next hand. GL.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

"Never offend people with style when you can offend them with substance" -Sam Brown, Washington Post, 1977

A good friend of mine wrote to me the other day saying that he had read my previous blog entry. After I got over my initial surprise, I digested the very valid point that he raised: I was negative and somewhat critical of office work.

By nature, I don't believe I am a negative person. However, after enduring a fair degree of bullying and teasing during my formative years, I learnt how to be cutting and derogatory to great effect when provoked. This tone can sometimes make an unintentional appearance in my day-to-day life, and this seems to be the case here.

When I speak of my experiences and attitude towards the 9 to 5 office life, it is only meant to reflect my feelings as it relates to me, and in no way is it meant as my opinions of other people who live that lifestyle. Some people may feel the same as I do, and obviously I relate with them. For those that don't, hey, I can relate with those people as well.

For many years I found working in an office enjoyable, and there are many aspects that agreeable. I may even find myself returning to it one day, because as a person I'm still changing, and that includes my opinions and values. It's just that at the moment I'm glad I'm doing my own thing, and though it hasn't been going too well for me this year, I'm still fiercely proud of the alternative life I'm leading.

All of this said, I'm really glad my friend got in touch with. Firstly, he's an old friend, and you can never have enough of them in your life. Secondly, he let me know that I could inadvertently be causing offence to some people, and that is never on my agenda. Life is too short to stir things up, projecting negative views on other people or the way they choose to live. I'm a pacificist after all.

So for the record, please let me state my feelings plainly. If you work hard to provide for yourself or your loved ones, then you have my respect. Whether you care for the elderly, clean windows, or sell cars, as long as you try to do a good job and work with people rather than against them, then you provide a valuable service. I'm not sure the same can ever be said of what I do, but I will try and do my best with it....

Monday, March 29, 2010

"Before God we are all equally wise - and equally foolish." -Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

Well it's now the end of month 2 of my new year, and I'm comfortable admitting I still haven't made any money this year. When I say 'comfortable', it's not because I've lost my tenuous grip on reality or that I've recently discovered the delights of valium. Rather it's because my game has improved over the last month, and my results are improving accordingly. I predict that by the end of this week I will have made it back into profit after my disastrous performance in February, and this means that I can get back to being the HAPPY-go-lucky guy who plays poker successfully for a living.

Interestingly, I actually haven't been too worried about being in the red for an entire month. I think that is down to 2 reasons:
1) I have been playing well overall and my results have been improving
2) I have more than enough money easily available to get by in the short term
If I got really worried about it, it would probably have a negative impact on many things, including my game, girlfriend, family, friends, and lifestyle, and I like all of those things exactly as they are. So I resolved not to change any of them with unnecessary worry or stress.

I've never been one of those people who worries incessantly about things (life is far too short) and I don't intend to change that now. I believe in acting on problems, not worrying about them. When I started playing poker for a living, I made sure I had lots of money set aside and in my bankroll, so that if things didn't go to plan for a month or 2 I wouldn't need to do even think about money. Also, when I noticed things weren't going well (*see February), I took steps to identify and fix them, which seems to be working.

I also believe in being as lazy as possible, and am willing to work very hard (on occasion) so that can remain unchanged for years to come. I like being able to play poker for 5 or 6 hours a day, with plenty of time for breaks, exercise and errands or jobs around the flat. If it means that some days I end up feeling like I've played 10 hours straight, or that some weeks I've had to sweat blood and tears over a game just to break even, so be it. Far better I endure that than be stuck in an office; forced into exchanging daily banalities with a bunch of people you would never speak to outside of the office building....

Thursday, March 11, 2010

“Having Money’s Not Everything / Not Having It Is” -Kanye West, The Good Life

Well, this month has so far been every bit as trying as February was for me poker wise. I haven't got myself in a -7k hole just yet, but it's been a tough ride. Poker is a mental game, but I don't mean just that you have to think about how best to play. I mean there's a lot of psychological and emotional strength and discipline required, and never more so than when things aren't going very well.

I'll level with you here: when things are going really badly, you've lost hundreds and hundreds of dollars in a short space of time and you seem to be getting coolered or sucked out on every time the money goes in, it suddenly becomes very tempting to 5-bet allin with pocket 7s against an aggressive regular, or call off your deep-stack with TT against an UTG donkey. You want to start 3-betting J9s oop against 2 good players. You convince yourself a call followed by a turn raise will make your opponent fold what he has advertised is a big hand. You, you, yours, and you. The focus that you have as a player has shrunk from the game, along with all the other players in it, to just yourself.

If I find myself thinking only about what has been happening to me(i.e. how unlucky I have been, how unfair it is that I was never dealt AA or KK against the big fish, etc.) then I have to admit I'm on tilt. A subtle form of tilt, but one that definitely impacts my play and can be a precursor to the more obvious red-mist-descending, allin-with-a-gutshot, how-the-hell-has-he-got-another-set kind of tilt. The kind of tilt that can destroy your bankroll in a day if you let it.

So, when I recognise I'm tilting, I need to stop playing. It's very simple, but very very hard. It is a brutal conundrum that for human beings the worse things seem to be going, the more stubborn some (maybe most?) of us become and we say it'll get better. It has to improve. Things will turn around soon. We do it in relationships. We do it at work. Being able to dig in in the face of opposition is an asset, but it must be used with discretion. I can't help thinking of the film Enemy at the Gates which showed how thousands of Russians at the Battle of Stalingrad who were ordered to run into the fire of German machine-gun nests, with one rifle between 2 soldiers. You have to pick your battles.

Bringing it back to poker though, I found myself having one of the worst days imaginable. It started with my AA losing to 7To after getting allin on a 3379 board. Then on a deep table AA lost again to AKo allin on a 4JK4 board. Then KK lost to QQ allin preflop for $1600. I was shrugging them all off mentally, but then came the straw that broke the camel's back. And by 'straw', I mean 'giant flaming log with spikes sticking out of it'.... 

I was playing a guy who was 40/12, and very aggressive on later streets. He would often pot bet the river if he was checked to with second pair, busted draws, Ace high, you get the idea. Sometimes he'd have a decent hand, but more often than not your top pair with top kicker was gold. So, I decided to call his UTG raise with a speculative hand and hope for a decent flop. It came perfect: 

Absolute/UB Cereus No-Limit Hold'em, $2/4 Deep  (6 handed) - Absolute/UB Cereus Converter Tool from
Button ($458.90)
SB ($904.50)
Hero (BB) ($894)
UTG ($1692.75)
MP ($328.45)
CO ($1385.20)
Preflop: Hero is BB with A, 7
UTG bets $14, 4 folds, Hero calls $10
Flop: ($30) 2, 7, 7 (2 players)
Hero checks, UTG bets $12, Hero calls $12
Turn: ($54) 6 (2 players)
Hero checks, UTG checks
River: ($54) A (2 players)
Hero bets $48, UTG raises to $1666.75 (All-In), Hero calls $820 (All-In)
Hero mucked A, 7 (full house, sevens over Aces).
UTG had A, A (full house, Aces over sevens).
Outcome: UTG won $3573

I couldn't believe it. There was literally only one hand he could have had that beat me, and it would require that all four Aces came into play. Shellshocked, I knew I couldn't play rationally after such a hand. So I shut down every table I had, and I took a long break.

When I came back, within 3 hands my 77 couldn't fade QQ allin on a 7J4 flop, and I had to really detach my emotions to keep playing well. I managed to win a big pot later on and I finished the day down only about $1100. Not bad, considering how I was running.

So I'm pleased. I showed discipline in the face of adversity. I recognised I was tilting and took action. Results will have to come in their own time. I'll just keep playing as best I can, and try to make good decisions. Sometimes not to play will be one of them. Best of luck to all. 

EDIT - Added Tommy Angelo's blog to my list on the right, check it out for some good poker philosophy and interesting content!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

“Long is the way And hard, that out of Hell leads up to light” -John Milton, Paradise Lost

Well, the reason it's been a few weeks is simple. After my brief resurrection I had my worst week ever as a pro, and it was more than enough to give me my worst month's result ever too. I finished Feb down by about $7k, and I felt like I was playing terribly day after losing day. I've gotta say it's a pretty awful place to be mentally, and a tough reminder of how easy it is to lose rather than earn wages in this profession. If this was how I started my online career, I don't think I'd have lasted more than 2 months before looking for regular work. As it is though, I've got 2 years of ups and downs under my belt, and I'm determined not to be phased by such a bad start to my year.

So, I got back on the horse after a weekend off, and I lost $40 on Monday. And then $2240 on Tuesday. But today... today I managed a win. It wasn't big, and it certainly doesn't put me in profit for the month, never mind the year. But I played much better, and some of my confidence is returning. So with luck, this is the start of my comeback. It's not going to be easy. But no one said it would be. You have to take the rough with the smooth. It's what being a pro is all about.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Stolen from Goat, had to share:
Needs sound, a non-office environment and an ability not to explode with laughter.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration" -Paul Atreides (taken from Frank Herbert's Dune - Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear)

Here is a hand I had earlier where I hated getting my money in. I knew I was ahead on the flop of course, but the subsequent action had me fearing the worst. I don't mind admitting I was bricking it all the way to the river...

Absolute Poker, $2/4 No Limit Hold'em Cash Games, 6 Players

M12VMA (UTG): $1,414.20
THEFLOW (UTG+1): $766.20
HERO (CO): $1,213
MICKEYZEE (Button): $1,223.05
GAMBELLS777 (SB): $802
GEVS8888 (BB): $628.05
Dealt to: HERO
(1 folds), THEFLOW raises to $14, HERO calls $14, (2 folds), GEVS8888 calls $10,
Flop:($44) (3 Players)
GEVS8888 checks, THEFLOW bets $28, HERO raises to $68, GEVS8888 calls $68, THEFLOW calls $40,
After both the BB and MP called my raise, I knew one of them had a 7. I also knew that the most likely holding for anyone who raised or called a raise with a 7 most likely had a 6, 8, or Ace kicker. So imagine my horror on the turn when....

Turn: ($248) (3 Players)
GEVS8888 checks, THEFLOW checks, HERO bets $228, GEVS8888 calls $228, THEFLOW raises to $684.20 and is all-in, HERO raises to $1,131 and is all-in, (1 folds), HERO returns $446.80,
I have no idea what the BB folded, it likely wasn't a 7 but instead a terribly played overpair or flush draw. I was still horribly scared I'd already been sucked out on...

River: ($1,844.40) (2 Players)

HERO Showed

HERO wins $1,840.90

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Pics, Stats and... Videotape?

"The nice part about being a pessimist is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised" -George F. Will

Well frack me sideways, but this month has been tough. As you can see from the graph of this months hands so far, I've been running far from good. It can still be dispiriting to perform in the face of such adversity, but as we all know, if it was easy to be a pro then everyone would be one. Looking closer, you can see that there is a strong finish to bring me back to breakeven, and that 'finish' took place in just one day.

So what happened to affect such a good turnaround? You can see it wasn't a change in my allin luck (my EV stays well above my actual earnings), so it must be either running hot all of a sudden or some other change. In this particular case, I firmly believe it is the latter.

Stats from Feb 1st to Feb 15th: VPIP 22.8 PFR 14.9 3-bet 3.5
Stats from Feb 16th: VPIP 26.2 PFR 19.1 3-bet 8.3

Quite a pronounced shift between the two. While I only put in 2k hands on the final day, I think the results speak for themselves in terms of the impact of a much more aggressive style. So what happened to cause this increase in aggression? Well, I'd like to say it came naturally but in fact all I did was watch a training video on Monday detailing the best places to reraise and squeeze, then applied the advice to my game on Tuesday. I was 3-betting nearly 3 times as much as previously, and it made my life so much easier, and I daresay also helped pick up a lot of dead money. I also was focussing more on my opponents range, and trying to optimise my play into getting weak hands to bluff and extracting value from second best hands.

In retrospect I can't believe how weak-tight I have been playing over the last fortnight. I guess that was me shifting into defensive mode as a result of getting bent over nearly every time I played. The lesson I'm taking is frack them. They can suck out and run hot all they want, but I'm still going to push and fight back as often as possible, and claw back my money from their cold fishy hands. Balls to lying there and just taking it, enough is enough. Will keep you posted of course, but hopefully by judicious use of aggression and very occasional reversion to a weak tight style I can confuse and thereby crush my opponents. Who knows, I might even get good enough to move back up to 5/10!

Right, as promised here are some snowboaring pics taken from our holiday in Alpe D'Huez. I have to say first though that I'm not very good, and we didn't get many action shots. The views however were amazing, and you should get a small taste of what snowboarding while staying in a catered chalet was like....

The gang all ready to go

The view from the summit midweek

Booting up

Slowing down....

Smiles all round with blue skies and snowy slopes ahead....
Me and my lady:
Enjoying a well-earned jacuzzi before a well-earned 4 course meal

Enjoying a well-earned high-altitude drink(ing session)....
Yours truly demonstrates the ultimate slope safety position.

That's all folks!  ;-)
Publish Post

Friday, February 12, 2010

“The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend” -Abraham Lincoln

Just think about that for a second. Think how beautifully relevant to poker it is. I admit I enjoyed a long slow smile when first I read it. After all, for those of us who play poker seriously observe how many people who suck out on us in awful way (read Enemies) will then become people we strive to become better acquainted with (read Friends) via the 'Buddy' system. For those of us who are good enough, we will of course destroy them if they stick around long enough.

I admit that I have a new enemy I have strong intentions of befriending, and then breaking. Here are 2 hands I've suffered against him in the last 2 days which have caused him to be on my personal Buddy list. Rest assured I will be going out of my way in future to attempt some retributive destruction...

Full Tilt No-Limit Hold'em, $2.00 BB (5 handed) - Full-Tilt Converter Tool from
Villain (Button) ($783)
SB ($106.75)
BB ($206.10)
Hero (
UTG) ($460.90)
MP ($178.50)

Preflop: Hero is UTG with K, K
Hero bets $7, MP calls $7, Villain raises to $31, 2 folds, Hero raises to $98, 1 fold, Villain calls $67

Flop: ($206) J, 4, 4 (2 players)
Hero bets $159, Villain raises to $685 (All-In), Hero calls $203.90 (All-In)

Turn: ($931.80) Q (2 players, 2 all-in)

River: ($931.80) 6 (2 players, 2 all-in)

Total pot: $931.80 | Rake: $3


Villain had Q, Q (full house, Queens over fours).
Hero had K, K (two pair, Kings and fours).

The very next day:

Full Tilt No-Limit Hold'em, $2.00 BB (5 handed) - Full-Tilt Converter Tool from
MP ($217.95)
Button ($200)
Hero (SB) ($229)
BB ($228.70)
Villain (
UTG) ($948.85)

Preflop: Hero is SB with 2, 2
Villain bets $7, 1 fold, Button calls $7, Hero calls $6, 1 fold

Flop: ($23) 5, 5, 2 (3 players)
Hero checks, Villain bets $13.50, Button calls $13.50, Hero raises to $48, Villain calls $34.50, 1 fold

Turn: ($132.50) K (2 players)
Hero bets $174 (All-In), Villain calls $174

River: ($480.50) 7 (2 players, 1 all-in)

Total pot: $480.50 | Rake: $3

Hero had 2, 2 (full house, twos over fives).
Villain had K, K (full house, Kings over fives).

OK, so the second hand isn't that bad considering he had KK, but the first hand was abysmal. He 3bet and got 4bet by an UTG raiser. I'm not a crazy player, and I'm certainly not a crazy player when deep.

So when he sees me put in 50BB preflop, he's got to give me some credit. AK is certainly possible, but JJ-AA is much more likely. Given that there is only 1 other QQ possible, lets say I have 25% of having either JJ, KK, AA, and AK. He must be thinking at least something resembling this, even in his semi-developed cerebellum.

So the flop comes out J, 4, 4. I lead for 80BB. He raises allin. What is he beating from my range? just the old AK unimproved, and if it's suited in Spades I'm not folding that am I? So I of course call and then get bent over for the inevitable turn shafting. Some days I hate the grind.

Anyway, rant over. I'm down 1k for the month, but there are still 2 full weeks left to make some decent dollars. This is obviously going to be one of those months where you really have to dig deep to come up with the goods. Luckily, I've been doing this over 2 years and I can take comfort from the fact that I know for sure I am a winning player, and that all I need to prove it is time. Feel free to wish me luck though, anything that might make my life a little easier is always appreciated.....