Friday, December 9, 2011

Return to Live Poker

Since my last blog update a few weeks ago I have been encouraged to return to the live poker scene as a change up from the usual online grind and also for some much needed live tournament practice before the Aussie Millions which is coming up in January.

As a result I have returned to playing at The Star Casino in Sydney to take part in the Summer Series currently being held there. The summer series runs for two weeks including no limit holdem and pot limit omaha tournaments ranging from a modest $330 buy in up to a main event $5500 nlhe event.

Because of work committments I could only play in two events: Event 1 - $330 nlhe starting on a Tuesday evening at 6.30pm, and Event 3 - $1100 nlhe starting on the following Sunday. Unfortunately I am not able to play in the main event this week due to it running during usual work hours.

I visited the casino a couple of weeks ago to play in the weekly $330 tournament as a warm up but discovered that the usual weekly tournament was not running - in its place there were only main event satellites. I decided instead to sit down and play at a $200nl cash table. I stayed a few hours and managed to make $350 against some pretty ordinary players making me wonder why I don't spend more time there. If nothing else this small winning would fund the entry fee to Event 1.

For Event 1 I decided to open up my tournament game a lot more than usual as the blinds were only 40 minute levels and 10K in chips starting stack. Event 1 had three day 1 flights leading into a day 2 and then a day 3 for the final table. I played on the first day 1 flight after work starting at 6.30pm with 250 runners playing down to either 40 players left or 14 levels. At 3.15am the tournament directors decided to bring to play to an end for the night 12 levels played and 51 players left.

I ended day 1 with 32.6K in chips which was equivalent to 16 big blinds for the start of day 2. When I returned for the start of Day 2 later in the week I had learned that there were 99 players left out of 583 starters and the top 57 places were being payed. From the start of day 2 I played the usual push-fold game everytime I had 15-20 big blinds and lasted until there were only 32 players left and pushed my AJo with only 12 big blinds under the gun into the small blind's AQs and as usual did not get lucky. As small compensation I managed to make enough prize money to free roll Event 3 the $1100 nlhe a couple of days later.

Event 3 again had 40 minute blind levels but with a bigger starting stack of $15K and this time there were only 108 starters with only 12 places paid. I opened up my play more than usual again and found good spots to balance my play with bluffs, value raises and 20BB re-shoving but unfortunately found no value as everyone continually folded just when I had built a decent stack.

Eight hours into the event I finally managed to find a double up to 32K in chips with the big blind at 1200 chips and found myself with pocket queens under the gun. I raised to 3K only to be raised to 8K by the massive stack at the table in late position. It didn't take much to realise he was very strong but this is the best tournament spot I've had for the entire year - I was not going to fold my QQ here and even though I knew the villain showed great strength here I pushed all in only to have him snap call me and turn over pocket Aces. Needless to say I did not get lucky this time and ended the tournament in 35th place. A good run and a good spot to try and double up to around 70 big blinds late in the event but it ended up being a cooler.

All in all its been a good return to live poker free rolling both Summer Series tournaments from a short cash game session a few weeks ago. Tomorrow I will try my hand at a $550 turbo satellite for an Aussie Millions main event ticket and hope that I have a little luck on my side!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Final Checkpoint - 180 player SnGs

It has now been some three and a half months since I first started this blog and I have played some five hundred odd $2.50/180turbo/SnGs in that time on PokerStars. It has been another difficult fortnight to get a lot of tournaments in due to work and family commitments so I thought that it would be a good time to just take a final checkpoint on what's happened and try to derive any useful conclusions for those players who are new to the 180/SnGs and trying to grind a bankroll playing them.

I have decided to organize this post in the following sections:

1. Game selection and strategy
2. Bankroll management
3. Volume & ROI
4. Cashout system
5. Where to from here?

In each section I will relate back to many earlier posts and see if I still agree with earlier points of view. Before I get started in each section here is the overall profit/loss trend so far for this bankroll challenge:

1. Game selection and strategy
There is not much art to game selection since these formats have one event filling up at a time. The one thing to realise in these events that most of the opposition are not great with a few regulars thrown in so on the strategy side I have stuck to the basics and have made the following adjustments:
  • try to see a few more cheap flops early and hit a monster flop early
  • play push/fold once I am around 10-12 big blinds
  • stopped blindly taking every coin flip to try and 'win the tournament' (there are better spots taking into account the general level of the opposition)
  • stopped re-stealing light with a 20BB stack (most opponents at this level don't really think so you will get called by big stacks here more than you would expect)
  • Be patient enough to go down to 5BB in the very late bubble stages
  • My opinion is that there is no point in throwing away a 6-8BB stack at the bubble stage when close to the money and the action in front of you clearly indicates you are behind - at the $2.50 level others will do this work for you
  • Of course if there is no action in front of you learn your push/fold theory and take advantage of this tool in the middle to late stages of the event
I have found much better results playing solidly and navigating a small stack through the mire to get to the bubble stage as often as possible and then combine this with strong push-fold decisions to get me to the final table more often. Trying to blast away the field with the big stack and run over the top of everyone every time has got me to the final table far less often and even when I do get to the money stage with a big stack it can easily disappear quickly due to the fast endgame action and my loose aggressive table image.

2. Bankroll management
The results have reinforced my original research and consultation with Doke (i.e. Dara O'Kearney). For tournament fields with 180+ participants its clear to me that 200 buy-ins are needed to keep the chance of total ruin at a minimum. There was a point in the past where I was led to believe that 100 buy-ins was sufficient for this type of format. However in this particular challenge having suffered an initial 80 buy-in downswing and then after returning back into the black suffering another subsequent downswing of 120 buy-ins its clear that having 200 buy-ins has helped keep my sanity and composure. My current bankroll stands at $834 which some would say is enough to move up to the $8 - 180/SnGs but after my experience here I feel that this amount is a little light and risky.

3. Volume and ROI
Back in one of my earliest posts I talked about trying to play 60 tournaments a week and aiming for a modest ROI of 20%. Hypothetically this would have worked out over 14 weeks to 840 tournaments with a profit of $420. I fell quite short on my volume target with only 532 tournaments played at an ROI of ~23% for a profit of $300. Not a great return but considering a long period of time sustaining two major downswings things are not that bad when you can still achieve more than a 20% ROI and be in the black. In terms of figuring out a more accurate figure for my long term ROI most agree that I need at least 2000 SnGs in total to figure that out so I am still only one quarter of the way there on this challenge. It's important to note that since making a couple of crucial adjustments I have managed ROI returns of 154% and 90% for the last two months respectively running over 100 SnGs and this is the trend I would hope to continue.

4. Cashout system
Quite a while ago I when researching bankroll requirements I stumbled on to Jennifear's blog on PocketFives which is no longer active and covers the concept of a cashout out system (assuming that you are a winning player). The idea behind this cashout system is to reward yourself based on volume of games played and not by milestone profits. The idea is that with an initial deposit one can earn a steady and frequent cash flow (withdrawn for life spending) whilst being forced to adhere to moving up and down levels based on bankroll requirements. The other advantage is to try and protect the major part of your winnings and avoid a horror story of building a big bankroll online and then losing it all due to tilt.

I did not try this cashout system on my challenge since I am at the bottom end of the buy-in levels with no room to move down if things went catastrophic. I did however want to try and make some hypothetical on what may have happened in my case had I tried to apply this system. According to Jennifear for 180/SnGs you should withdraw 8% of a buy-in for each SnG played including rakeback/bonuses as soon as you hit the site's minimum withdraw requirements.

So looking at 8% of a $2.50 180 player SnG I would be paying myself 20 cents per SnG played. Let's look at the profit and loss trend above in sections as follows and note the overall profit/loss, cashout payment amount and hypothetical bankroll (HBR) amount left after cashing out (I started with a bankroll of $534 at the beginning):

Section 1: SnGs=001-111, Profit/Loss= -$200, Cashout=$22.2, HBR=$311.80
Section 2: SnGs=112-201, Profit/Loss= $97.90, Cashout=$18, HBR=$613.90
Section 3: SnGs=202-398, Profit/Loss= -$192.5, Cashout=$39.2, HBR=$302.30
Section 4: SnGs=399-480, Profit/Loss= -$46.9, Cashout=$16.2, HBR=$470.9
Section 5: SnGs=481-532, Profit/Loss= $300, Cashout=$51, HBR=$783

So we can see that even with my two major downswings I could still have sustained a cashout system over all without losing my entire bankroll. However my bankroll would have dropped after the 3rd section of SnGs to  ~$300 or about 120 buy-ins left for the $2.50. But this again really reinforces why you need 200 buy-ins especially if you want to employ a cashout system.

Where would I be if I had been cashing out regularly based on the above? Well right now I would have had about $106 back in my bank account as safe profit to spend on real life goodies whilst still having a sufficient $783 dollars in my online account to continue grinding out a profit at the $2.50 buy-in level.

There is also another aspect of cashout strategy that Jennifear covers called taking shots where the idea is that you can use 25% of a particular cashout to take a shot at a high level to allow for the feeling of 'chasing a dream' which can help give your bankroll a boost or just help you release some tension around having a controlled attempt at a higher buy-in level. For example in my case above if have satisfied the criteria to cashout $100 this month then I could cashout the 75% and use the remaining $25 to take multiple or a single shot at some higher buy-in levels.

Of course I am not being too serious about the amounts at stake here but you get the idea of what you could be earning at the higher buy in levels with higher profits. The thing to note here is that for such a system to be successful at any level you need to be able to beat that level for at least 8% ROI otherwise moving down levels will be essential and should make you find your way to the level you have aptitude for.

I like the idea of a cashout strategy for many reasons, the main one being you can't kid yourself on the margin you are beating a particular buy-in level for. This is something I would like to try later on at a higher buy-in level.

5. Where to from here?
For the most part I think I have covered this bankroll challenge with enough detail on the basics for new comers and fellow part time players. I will probably leave the detailed analysis behind for the time being and give the occasional update and hopefully still manage to move up to the higher stakes as part of my own personal exercise.

As for what else is ahead I will be making a return to live poker at the local Casino in Sydney and look forward to playing in the weekly tournaments and upcoming summer series there in a build up for the Aussie Millions in January 2012. This should make for some more interesting reading and a change of pace for this blog.

I look forward to covering new and interesting material for you guys in the months to come and as always I welcome any feedback that you can leave in the comments section below.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A worthy small break

It has been about a month since I made my last post - a very busy October with work and personal commitments. After assessing my previous 10 weeks of the yo-yo poker grind trend (see trend graph in my last blog post) where I basically finished break and even - I felt that I had played well for the most part however it was time for a much needed small break during most of October. Even though I was not affected by tilt the poker grind can wear you down when the cards are not running your way and a well timed small break in this situation in my view was needed to avoid a feeling of burnout.

I'm pleased to say that following my conclusions in my last post - Quality Mini's - has resulted in a few steady sessions capped off with my most successful single 180/SnG session played yesterday with two notable 1st place finishes resulting in a bankroll increase to $725. The summary for the month of October comes to only 51 tournaments at an ROI of 154%. A week like this has well been overdue considering many horrific weeks of bad beats however this does not mean that I am now entitled to running good for months. I can only hope that I continue to get my fair share of even breaks coming into the end of the year and have a chance of doubling this particular bankroll.

I've also taken recent interest in my old past-time of chess again during this small poker break and its a welcome piece of variety to break up the mental side of this poker grind. I've spent quite a bit of time reviewing my overall chess strategy and started playing at a local chess club again. Its challenging trying to fit in another pass-time after work as demanding as tournament chess but I will have to make some practical adjustments to my playing style and approach.

I've also booked in my flights to Melbourne for the Aussie Millions upcoming in January - the tickets were booked with Qantas and with the Qantas crisis this weekend it wasn't the best piece of news but I'm sure the industrial dispute will be resolved by then.

Along with going to the Aussie Millions I will be trying to get some live action preparation in place before then. Having a look around the Sydney scene the local casino in Sydney has had an image revamp recently and renaming from Star City to The Star. The old Wednesday night $330 weekly tournament is still on and I will be making an appearance over the coming months. I'm also hoping to play in some online qualifiers if they are available for the Aussie millions leading up to January.

OK so now that I have had my well earned little poker break its time to ramp up the volume catch up on some poker reading with hopefully a lot more interesting poker and results to come. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Quality minis

This week's write up is inspired by a recent blog by good friend and wise poker pro Dara O'Kearney or 'Doke' as we've all come to know him by. Doke's blog back in early September Tanks and minis included the closing statement of "It's not always about driving the big tank in this game: the great players know how to navigate a mini through a minefield when needed too".

Doke was referring to the patience and ability of the good tournament players to not just rely on and play well with a dominating huge stack (a tank) but also not lose hope when in possession of a short-stack (a mini) - knowing how to use a mini in the right spots to chip up is crucial to overall tournament results. Perhaps this skill is even more important in the small stakes 180-SnGs as there is a lot less room to manoeuvre than the traditional large field MTTs. As I will elaborate below I have fallen back on this style of playing 'minis' more over the past few sessions and the results have been promising.

This week I didn't achieve much volume but ended the month of September with 120 tournaments at an ROI of 18% bringing my bankroll almost back to even. Here is the summary for the past week:

Session 1: Played 8, Placed 2 (2nd, 5th), Prizes $109 
Session 2: Played 8, Placed 1 (7th), Prizes: $14 
Session 3: Played 6, Placed 1 (8th), Prizes: $11

And here is the trend graph (the big 'W'):

So after 10 weeks and 432 tournaments I am more or less break even at $527 (four buy-ins down but still over 200 buy-ins for the current level). Considering what seemed like a couple of bankroll breaking downswings along the way I'm not too disappointed. Although I am not used to playing this low I am really enjoying the challenge at the moment and building a strong mental resilience which will pay off for me in later larger events.

As I stated in my last blog my focus of late is less on quantity and more on quality which is more in line with my natural patient style of play. This does not mean that I play like (or condone playing like) a total nit but just that I have focused more on not getting involved in a lot of dodgy 50-50 spots when I know that there will be better spots available later against poor opposition. In fact my observation during my huge downswings has been that I have taken every 50-50 spot in the hope of building a huge stack only to be unlucky at crucial times and have my the large stack counting for nothing. The rest of the time I might be knocked out in the first few levels playing this way and not giving myself a chance later on against more crucial errors that opponents at this low level make - at least just specific to this level this has to be -EV.

On the other hand during my upswings I'm playing more sensibly in terms of +EV and surviving to the late stages before taking risks with an average or quality mini stack and it seems to have payed off. I've even managed to be patient enough running my stack down to 3-5BBs right on the bubble and still making the final table. Of course running good is always a key factor no matter what your style is so long as you have the fundamentals right. Hopefully this approach will get me moving upwards again.

I have to say that reading The Poker Mindset by Ian Taylor & Matthew Hilger has probably been the biggest help of late helping me keep it together mentally when things haven't been going so well. Some of my learning from this book may make up some material in future blogs. If you are starting out and would like to see a book review or applied learning in my game please leave me a comment.

On other news I have now booked in my trip for the 2012 Aussie Millions in January so I will be looking over the next few months to prepare by playing some live events, some qualifiers as well as some larger online field MTTs so stay tuned...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Snakes and Ladders

Its been a couple of weeks since my last post as I haven't had much of a chance to play or study during the earlier part of the fortnight attending some personal engagements.

This week has been a positive one winning almost 50 buyins in four sessions of play - although it was the last session today that seemed to be the saving grace. It is very clear that I know how to play these things - its just some small adjustments and consistent upward trends

This weeks summary:

Session 1: Played: 13, Placed: 2 (11th, 11th), Prizes: $10 
Session 2: Played: 6, Placed: 2 (6th, 17th), Prizes: $26
Session 3: Played: 10, Placed: 1 (4th), Prizes: $33
Session 4: Played: 8, Placed: 2 (2nd, 6th), Prizes: $103

Some final table near misses and an unlucky 2nd place most certainly had an impact on my bottom line however with such little volume played for the week one can't complain with the overall return.

Despite this past good week the bankroll challenge overall feels like a big game of snakes and ladders after 410 tournaments so far. Below is the trend graph:

One observation of late is that during the downswings (despite being very unlucky) I have played very aggressively - maybe too aggressively. During my upswings I have been a lot more patient and solid dropping to as low as 3-5BBs at times (may be a reflection of recent chess study). This patient approach is normally something not recommended however I might continue in this vain for a while and judge the results. I have been putting off my study of push-fold charts and ICM calculations for the 180s - its clear that in order to improve I have to start getting this work done soon.

As mentioned above I am also working on my chess game again for the first time in a long time. Despite a seven year break from tournament play I wasn't too happy with a below par City of Sydney Championship this year. The chess study is a good way to break up the monotonous poker grind and hopefully my revamped approach to chess will also help my poker game.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Slow September

It has been a couple of weeks since my last blog and a very busy couple of weeks at that. I've been away at the annual Microsoft Tech Ed conference on the Gold Coast networking with my old IT crowd and also had a subsequent challenging week at work which has taken away a lot of time and focus from my poker play.

Despite the time sink in 'normal' life I have managed to get some sessions in over the two weeks but unfortunately the results haven't gone my way with a decent 9/57 money finishes (16%) which is my expected percentage however only three 7th place finishes and the rest as min cashes leaves my bankroll down to $400. It just shows how important it is to score regular top 3 finishes in these 180s.

I was quite unlucky in every single one of the 7th place finishes getting my money in good only to be outdrawn. And the same thing happened a couple of times finishing in 10th only 1 place from the final table but this shows how important it is to play a lot of volume in order to be on the lucky side of a coin flip or have a 3-1 favourite spot hold up for a change.

The breakdown over September is as follows:

Session 1: Played 10, Placed 2 (10th, 10th), Prizes $10
Session 2: Played 16, Placed 4 (11th, 13th, 15th, 18th), Prizes $20
Session 3: Played 11, Placed 1 (7th), Prizes $14
Session 4: Played 20, Placed 2 (7th, 7th), Prizes $28

Despite the $200 downswing since my last peak I am fairly happy with my game however I do feel like I am getting a little tired with the monotonous grind on the same format week after week and some small leaks may be working their way into my game.

It might be time for me to catch up on some poker study and analyse my play a little closer. Hopefully I will get a chance to balance some study in with my play over the rest of the month.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Keeping it in perspective

It's been a tough past week. My IT work has been more challenging than usual, this bout of Man Flu continues and the poker run of cards just wasn't great resulting in another sizable downswing that has me almost asking what could have been this month.

It's times like these that it's easy to just pack it all in and give up - but to me this is the normal run of the mill. It was a week where almost every time I put myself in a position to win a coin flip (or a was clear favourite) all-in preflop with 10-15bbs I lost. Instead of getting into the money or making the final table I would be out in 20th-30th position no less than 10 times. In the 180-player SnGs (or the 180s) this is the difference between recording a good or bad week. This is why volume is important - the more coin-flips at this stage the more we make it into the money spots - or so the theory goes...

Looking at the summary stats for the week:

Session 1: Played: 23, Placed: 0, Prizes: $0 
Session 2: Played: 23, Placed: 3 (4th, 9th, 17th), Prizes: $44
Session 3: Played: 16, Placed: 0, Prizes: $0 
Session 4: Played: 19, Placed: 2 (7th, 12th), Prizes: $19

All in all this week resulted in a $138 (or 55 buy-in) downswing with the current bankroll down to $470 and ruined what was otherwise a month that looked like I was going to be a big winner in. I have made a few obvious mistakes this week however I feel that in general I am playing well - after all I manage get into a good position in a large percentage of my SnGs and constantly losing when you get your money in good is just a sign of short term variance.

Without being overly results oriented on the past week I find the situation is not too bad when I look at it with some broad perspective. It's clear now that I am not playing enough volume for this type of poker and its inherent variance so week to week the results can vary by a big margin. Realistically I would need to be playing at least 200-300 tournaments a week if I were to reliably hope on any major results on a weekly basis. I am not sure with my current time constraints what I can do to fit in more volume but its something I will need to look at.

Taking the above into account I need to look at my current results on a monthly basis in these 180s. From this perspective July was a horrific month running at a loss of $164 in two weeks however August was relatively not too bad with a win of $99 at an ROI of 19% over 209 tournaments. Obviously this ROI is nothing to write home about for the $2.50 180s but a winning month is still better than a losing month and at least I have negated some of the damage from the previous month. Having close to 200 buy-ins remaining as well means I am still in reasonable shape from a bankroll management perspective.

I have also realised over this past week that I need to spend more time studying and working on my game - I have struggled to fit in study of late - and maybe its now starting to show. I know that there are still improvements I need to make in some of my pushing and calling ranges in marginal spots against certain villains. I also have made some mistakes of late on some final tables so I will review some ICM theory and push/call charts over the next week.

Next week I'm off to an IT conference on the Gold Coast and will most likely not be able to play much online poker. It may be the perfect opportunity to take a break away from the weekly grind and review my recent play as well as cover off some study material.

All in all its important to keep perspective on the tough times and stay positive. I still managed to win 40 buy-ins in August and that's not such a bad thing! Bring on September!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Going, Going...Gong!

Some rawkpoker blog readers might notice something a little different for this week's post and its got nothing to do with the look and feel...for those that are very observant - that's right - this blog has come a little earlier in the week than usual! Normally I write my piece on a Sunday afternoon but this weekend I have other plans...I'm visiting my old home town where I was born and bred - Wollongong or as the locals refer to it - The Gong! Yes I'm going back to the Gong.

I'll be travelling with Fi to my home town for a much overdue trip to see the rest of the family and the beautiful beaches. I am really looking forward to it as I haven't visited the old stomping ground since March. It's a reminder for me around how busy my schedule is and how I can get bogged down with IT work and side projects like online poker and of course the world series. I can't wait to get down there and take a break from the faster day to day pace of Sydney.

I'm still getting over this bout of man cold and hopefully I will be OK for our usual run on Saturday morning around the Bay. Of course even if I do run I won't do as well as Fi who finished with a personal best time in last weekend's City to Surf - congrats Fi!

And finally the update on the poker grind this week - not a bad week at all with the trend still steadily continuing upwards.

Here is this week's tournament summary:

Session 1: Played 16, Placed: 2 (7th, 10th), Prizes: $19
Session 2: Played 22, Placed: 3 (1st, 7th, 17th), Prizes: $142 
Session 3: Played 22, Placed: 2 (4th, 6th), Prizes: $54

All in all I managed to squeeze in my projected target of 60 tournaments this week at a 26 buy-in profit despite still being ill and not really playing that well in the last session. I wasn't overly thrilled at a couple of my plays on the two final tables I reached in the final session and I probably cost myself at least a one spot higher finish on each table. There was a small tragedy as well when right on the final table bubble in the first session of the week I watched my QQ UTG shove lose to a very poor T7o call from the big blind when he only just had me covered and we both had 15 big blinds! I do everything right but finish that one in 10th - that's poker!

I am now approximately 30 buy-ins up since the start of the challenge and have enjoyed an upswing of around 110 buy-ins or $277 since my lowest point in the first two weeks. My current PokerStars bankroll performance equates to 223 tournaments at an ROI of around 13.5%. Not a great ROI at this stage for 180-player SnGs but at least I'm not in the red and am starting to show some real consistency with final table finishes.

The overall trend graph is now looking a little better:

On a separate note I have really struggled to get the time to play on the Entraction network account I created recently which is a real shame. Playing during off peak European time means the only format that seems to fill up fast enough is the super turbo 6-max SnGs. The games there seem very soft but high variance and I need a lot more spare time if I am going to make any reasonable profit there on top of my PokerStars session. Hopefully I can get some sort of meaningful volume on there and add those results to this blog as well.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Back in the Black

Well it's been a busy week and the monotone (technically pedantic) seems to be BLACK all round. It has been a mix of the good things in life as well as a bout of the time old man flu.

The weather has been quite dark down here in Sydney, I attended a suit fitting for my friend's up coming wedding and was fitted as expected with a classic black suit. I have been sick for most of the week and in bed over the weekend - but on the poker front the good news is that after this week's sessions I am finally back in the black three weeks into my bankroll challenge.

Despite having an absolutely horrible run in the first two weeks I managed to make back the 80 odd minus buy-ins and then some by finally having some cards holding up even though not everything went my way. I have always found my discipline to be my biggest asset - patience and just knowing that I have a good solid MTT strategy is worth its weight in gold at the lower buy-in levels where there are a myriad of casual and weak players.

Due to personal commitments and getting ill later during the week I managed to only get three sessions in this week and half my expected volume as follows:

Session 1: 12 played, Placed: 3 (3rd, 9th, 11th), Prizes: $61
Session 2: 11 played , Placed: 2 (1st, 4th), Prizes: $156
Session 3: 9 played , Placed: 3 (5th, 16th, 18th), Prizes: $37

I managed to finally break the duck and get a 1st place in a tournament under my belt. I also had five final table finishes that basically made for an excellent week of poker and giving me a lot of personal satisfaction in the knowledge that this week wasn't really a fluke.

Just to put the first three weeks into perspective here is a graph I put together of the trend of profit and loss:

This equated to having to withstand an initial 80+ buy-in loss (around $208 down) from the initial $534 bankroll and make it back to around a $10 profit overall. Let it never be said that I run like Super User or that I am a luckbox - its never going to happen that way for me unfortunately...but the good news is that this is the way I have been successful in the past and its all going to plan even if it doesn't look like it right now.

Staying away from cash games and the roulette tables when down buy-ins is a critical skill - its too tempting and easy to say "luck isn't going my way so let's put the last $300 on red or black and if it's meant to be I'll be back where I started and we'll play poker again next week". If you ever feel this way just disconnect your internet and go and spend time with your loved ones instead - you'll feel much better for it from every aspect.

So obviously I still have all my work cut out for me - It doesn't seem that I've proven to much so far apart from being able to be slightly ahead after 163 tournaments over the past three weeks. But on the contrary a lot has been proven here - the initial estimate of 200 buy-ins for MTTs seems about right to me now. If I had started with 100 buy-ins which is what alot of people recommend I would have been down to my last $40 in this case and tilt would have been more than a factor I would most likely have gone broke.

So where to from here? Looking at PokerStars they have 180-player turbos at the $1, $2.50, $8, $15 and $35 stakes.

So I have established a 200 buy-in level as adequate for the turbos but what's interesting is the that the structure of the $1 turbos is a hyper-turbo format with the blinds going up every 2 mins as opposed to every 5 mins in the turbos. The variance in these tournaments would increase - does this mean that a $200 bankroll for the $1 buy-ins may not be enough? Well the standard of the opposition hopefully being much weaker would be a balancing factor - in future I might try a different bankroll challenge on these $1 tournaments and see what happens - I am sure it will be stomach curling!

Assuming for a moment I won't do anything as insane as go down to the $1 level then there is a big jump from the $2.50 level to the $8 level which would require a bankroll of $1600 by my rules. Looking at my results in August I have an ROI of 102% - even if I were to maintain this excellent result from here at say 180 tournaments a month I would make 180 x (1.02 x $2.50) = $459/month. It would take me another 2-3 months to make an overall bankroll of $1800 to start playing the $8 buy-ins. There are a lot of ifs here as well - have I turned any of you off from grinding the $2.50 180-player SnGs yet? LOL

PokerStars have a $4.50 buy-in level that would seem to be the next port of call if I can grind up to $900, However! This $4.50 buy-in is at regular speed with the blinds going up every 15 mins - these can take 2-3 time as long as the turbos to finish! They also don't fill up as fast making it difficult for me to grind enough in a 3-4 hour session. It just doesn't make sense that PokerStars have this buy-in level at regular speed - it is the only 180-player SnG in this format at these low levels and doesn't make any sense - if anyone from PokerStars is reading this do me a favour and please make the $4.50 a turbo structure so that I can grind up to the $8 level much easier!

I will either need to prove my worth grinding all the way from a $500-$1600 via the $2.50 or look at playing the $3.50 45-player turbos but I have not worked out the details on strategy, bankroll requirements or likely ROI for the 45-player format. I may just start to do some research on this in the coming weeks.

Another option would be to try and fit in a longer playing session on the odd weekend in order to have more time to play some of the larger tournament fields in the hope of a relatively big score and quick boost to the bankroll - but as it stands time doesn't currently permit.

If nothing else - hopefully I can at least provide you all with some entertainment at the attention to detail (and confusion) that goes on in my head when planning my poker bankroll building expeditions. For some people who are starting out - there might even be a useful piece of advice or two.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A warm steady week

It's been a relatively warm and sunny week in Sydney compared to the recent grey and wintery days. The views out of the office window onto Sydney harbour have been a major distraction during a very busy work week...

Needless to say its been a tough week to get all my work done. Likewise its also been a tough week to get my goal of 60 180-player SnGs in as well partly due to work load, partly due to fitness sessions and partly due to a PokerStars maintenance window.

This week's summary brought me to almost break even for the week but the results for week 2 are a big improvement on week 1. The summary for this week's 180-player SnGs are as follows:

Session 1: 17 played, Placed: 1 (12th), Prizes: $4.92
Session 2: 9 played, Placed: 2 (6th, 6th), Prizes: $41
Session 3: 6 played, Placed: 2 (4th, 6th), Prizes: $44
Session 4: 4 played, Placed: 0

The last session was cut short by a PokerStars maintenance window - one of the disadvantages of playing from a timezone that is not part of the mainstream peak hour traffic. I may have been guilty of being results oriented in the second and third sessions by playing shorter than usual sessions due to running good however I unfortunately started these sessions later in the evening and needed to stop due to tiredness.

The main positive now is that the trend is turning around and four-tabling with continuous loading is proving a much more favourable set up for me now. I am also getting used to making a few adjustments in certain spots against more of these micro stakes players.

I always find it interesting comparing the concept of playing for the win and taking all coin flip situations in these turbo MTTs vs being a little more patient in the later stages and not putting oneself at unnecessary risk in certain spots against weaker opponents. I feel like I am getting this balance right more often at this low buy in level - I am interested in any feedback on this concept in the 180-player turbos - feel free to leave a comment here if you have any insight or opinion on this.

Anyway its been a good steady week balancing work, life and enjoying some nice weather.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Down early but not out

So it's been the first week of my 180-player grind and it's been an indifferent start. It's not completely unexpected since I haven't been in full online grind mode for about nine months. Just like any specific discipline just knowing how to do something or having done it before doesn't make up for being active and in the routine.

Just to digress I am also experiencing the same rusty performance with my running at the moment. Due to my recent trip to Vegas and other commitments I haven't done The Bay Run (a 7km circuit around Iron Cove in Sydney) for about 5 weeks and needless to say I am very sore today after yesterday's run.

Back to the poker - I have been quite happy with my overall play this week and my discipline with no moments where I was affected by tilt. This was re-assuring as this was a very tough week even for any seasoned player in my shoes - the bad beats were frequent & horrific and a huge number of times when I either approached the bubble or was in the money I would see my over pair all in preflop lose to a smaller pair - that's poker! However as the week progressed my results got better as I made a couple of important adjustments.

As I outlined in my previous blog I aim to play four separate sessions over four nights a week with each session lasting 3-4 hours. Initially I focused too heavily on volume, six-tabling and reloading tables continuously. Over the first three night's I played a little too much in autopilot mode and found myself in the 10BBs zone far too often by passively blinding down. On the fourth night I focused on playing less games simultaneously moving down to four-tabling with continuous reloading.

The payout structure for the $2.50 ($2.28 + $0.22) 180-player SnGs is as follows:

1st: $123.19, 2nd: $82.08, 3rd: $32.83, 4th: $32.83, 5th: $26.67
6th: $20.52, 7th: $14.36, 8th: $10.67, 9th: $6.97, 10th-18th: $4.92

The payout structure suggests the requirement to play outright for 1st place in order to make a profit in the long term. This doesn't mean going crazy from the get go however its important to play big hands fast and not just sit back and try to survive in the mid stages. It is also important to not be afraid of coin flips in the later stages. Usually the difference in a good week vs bad week is the result of these late stage coin flips.

Here is the summary of my 180-player SnGs session this week:

Session 1: 14 played, Placed: 1 (11th), Prizes: $4.92
Session 2: 33 played, Placed: 1 (11th), Prizes: $4.92
Session 3: 30 played, Placed: 4 (6th, 9th, 11th, 11th), Prizes: $37.33 
Session 4: 18 played, Placed: 4 (9th, 11th, 15th, 18th), Prizes: $21.73

I was very happy with playing 95 tournaments for the week and although I finished 62 buy-ins down there is no substitue for playing as many hands of poker as possible. This is nothing to write home about but also nothing out of the ordinary as a downswing - after all there is a reason 200 buy-ins are recommended for 180 player tournaments.

The main take away for me over the week was to reduce my volume down to 4-tabling so I could focus more on critical decisions and attack much more aggressively and frequently with a 20BB stack. These two adjustments certainly attributed to the improving results and something I will need to continue through the coming weeks.

As a refresher to any player wishing to get a quick summary of how to handle stack sizes and the different MTT concepts I like to review from time to time Bond18's excellent guide Things it Took Me a While to Learn. I also like to review this when on a downswing or when I feel I am just not playing well.

So what's next? I might be down 62 buy-ins but I still have plenty left and if the trend of improvement continues I might have a better week coming up. Oh and of course I will also need to continue my running regime on the Bay Run...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Bankroll management and volume

Since returning to Sydney five days ago the weather has not been very kind here - a complete contrast from the Vegas summer with constant very grey, raining and cold days. Luckily the weather turned around today as I travelled down to Sutherland and Cronulla to see the annual Sutherland to Surf fun run supporting my girlfriend who was participating.

It was interesting to see the different runners at different fitness levels and watching people constantly adjust their game plan as the race progressed over the 11km road course. This reminded me of my previous poker bankroll building endeavours and the ups and downs along the way throughout the years. Even as I became more experienced over the years I still had to adjust my approach as I discovered the need to move down levels or increase my study and game selection.

I am currently reading 'The Poker Mindset' by Taylor and Hilger. Although I am only part way through the book it is helping a lot in terms of trying to understand topics such as tilt, variance and goal setting in terms of making good poker decisions rather than monetary goals and milestones.

However I feel its also very important for recreational players such as myself to set realistic monetary goals based on ROI and volume. In terms of availability I only have at most four week nights a week to spend a few hours a night on the poker grind. This equates to only 12-15 hours a week and limits my choice of game type and volume.

Based on 4 hour sessions and my preference for SnGs/MTTs I will stick to 180 man turbo SnGs on PokerStars which usually finish within 2 hours. Assuming conservatively that I will 6-table simultaneously - and continuously load new tables as I get knocked out - I should be able to play around fifteen 180-player SnGs in a night. So I would be looking at a total of 60 180-player SnGs a week.

In terms of bankroll for the 180-man SnGs (or any 180+ player MTT) the general consensus is that one needs about 200 buy ins. In my last blog I talked about starting at the bottom and moving up. I will start with the $2.50 180-player which equates to a minimum $500 starting bankroll. The first goal will be to reach a bankroll of $880 which would allow me to move up to the $4.40 180-player SnGs.

Now lets talk about return on investment or ROI. Conservatively speaking I would hope that with my experience and MTT skill level I can beat the 180-player SnGs by 20%.

Based on considerations above what kind of return could I expect as a recreational player in the course of a week or month? Based on playing 60 games at the $2.50 level with an ROI of 20% my weekly expectation would be:

60 x ($2.50 x 0.2) =  $30/week (or $120/month)

This return at first doesn't seem like much but it is realistic. One of the biggest mistakes that many players starting out make is thinking that they can double their bankroll in no time at all. Based on the schedule and volume I have presented here (assuming I play a solid winning strategy) it would take me about 3 months to be able to move up to the $4.40 level. A very sobering thought indeed...yes - there are easier ways to make money than poker. This is why professional players play a much higher volume (and at much higher buy in level) in order to improve their bottom line.

I would encourage those starting out to carrying out some of these calculations with different values in the equation to get an idea of the volume and time required to realistically achieve specific bankroll building goals. Of course one thing I have not mentioned is that some time also needs to be put aside for review and study in order to increase ROI. 

I will also be playing on the Entraction network after being referred to it by close friend Dara O'Kearney. There I will focus on playing 6-player and 10-player SnGs with a 60 buy in bankroll. The volume on players on the Entraction network is much smaller than that on PokerStars however this might be offset by the softer level of play after my initial test of the site.

I won't cover off any similar calculations for the Entraction network but will leave that for subsequent posts. 

I will begin the grind on PokerStars and Entraction this week and track how things go.

For the record - today my girlfriend improved her time considerably on last years' run - hopefully I will also be inspired enough after watching her to score my own personal best over the year to come.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Back in Oz - The roadmap ahead

Firstly I would like to congratulate Eoghan O'Dea for making the final nine in the this year's WSOP main event today. It was exciting to watch the live stream and it was only a few nights ago in Vegas that I had the pleasure of having dinner with Eoghan, Nick Newport and Peter Murphy before we wished Eoghan well to make the final table. I believe that Eoghan and his father, Donnacha O'Dea, have become the first father and son pair to make the WSOP main event final table.

I am now back in Oz and looking forward to planning the next twelve months of poker. This is always an interesting phase of the year because for me its not as simple as just logging onto 4-5 different poker sites throughout a day and playing every high stakes SnG and MTT available each day with a huge bankroll already behind me.

Being a full time IT manager and trying to balance work, life and poker means that my time is at a premium. I need to plan out the days every week because I will not be able to put in the volume online that the usual professional grinder can achieve nor will I be able to attend all the major live events each month. However given the choice I definitely have a preference for online poker. Many recreational players should be able to relate to my situation.

Another consideration I need to take into account is the current state of online poker since the events of Black Friday. I lost a minor part of my online bankroll due to the Full Tilt poker debacle. Luckily most of my bankroll sits on PokerStars which seems to be solid enough however its time to even review this policy. Once bitten, twice shy - it's probably risky now to keep too much of one's bankroll on a single poker site.

It interesting that since I have requested a large withdrawal from PokerStars today that I seem to be getting some 'routine resistance' from the poker site's security department on authorising my withdrawal. Although I have no doubt funds will be 'freed up' soon enough with my provided documentation I wonder if this is a damage control mechanism as result of current volume on player withdrawals?

Pending successful redistribution of funds I will primarily target my areas of strength in single-table SnGs, multi-table SnGs as well as MTTs. In terms of bankroll management I will be on the conservative side with 60 buy ins for single-table SnGs and 200 buy ins for the 180 man SnGs and MTTs.

It is most likely I will continue to play on PokerStars for the 180 man SnGs as they are the only ones with the likely volume to make the grind practical. As far as the single table SnGs are concerned I will look for a softer poker site which will also provide me a solid rakeback deal as well.

Taking everything into consideration I will start with amounts around $500-$600 exercising the bankroll management outlined above and try to build the bankroll. I will try to emphasise discipline with the aim to just continually make good decisions and review my play rather than just being results oriented in the short term. I will also only be able to play around 3-4 nights a week.

One area of exception to the standard bankroll management will be to take more one off 'shots' at satellites to major events. This is something I haven't done enough in the past but is worthwhile if I can budget for the right amount.

In the coming blogs I will try and cover the specific application of this game plan and some projected volume and ROI calculations. I will also try to track the leaks in my game and the adjustments that will be needed along the way through further study.

Hopefully the journey along the way will be an interesting account to recreational players such as myself as I go through the variance (and bad play?) swings. Wish me luck with this endeavour!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

WSOP 2011 main event aftermath

It's the day after my main event bust at the end of day 2a and I'm sitting here again in the Starbucks cafe at the Rio in contemplation of what could have been. On the bright side I managed to have a nice chat with WSOP senior tournament director Jack Effel - please bring some WSOP events to Aus Jack!

In my previous blog I was posing myself the question of whether I would do better at this WSOP and in particular the main event compared to last year...
Now that my 2011 WSOP campaign has come to an end the answer is 'yes and no'. 'Yes' in that I felt more in control of good overall decisions with respect to the specific tournament situations laid out before me. But a 'no' if you take a results oriented view compared to last year (which is not always the right way to look at things).

Last year I cashed in 2/5 bracelet events, cashed in a deep stack event and then went deep into day 3 in the main event. This year I cashed in 1/3 bracelet events and failed right at the end of day 2 in the main event. On paper 2010 was definitely a better series for me but I feel that this year I was a more complete overall tournament player.

So what went wrong in the main this year? Possibly a number of small factors that in the end all added up. As my girlfriend pointed out possibly choosing day 1c was not the best as that is generally the most popular day all the professionals prefer to start. In fact on day 1c I didn't find many soft spots on the tables that I could expose consistently and with the very strong John Tabatabai on his game seated a few spots to my left it was a difficult day for me to get going.

By the time our table was broken on day 1c I saw my starting stack of 30K dwindle down to 16K as all my continuation bets were being picked off and when I 're-adjusted' I lost the initiative in a lot of hands - basically had almost no spots all day where I could value bet. After a few words of encouragement from Dara O'Kearney I managed to hold tight and survive day 1 with a stack of just under 21K.

Start of day 2a the blinds are at 250/500/50 and I am looking for good spots to re-shove squeeze if the pot offers me enough to shoot for. After the first hour of play my open raises are consistently three bet by what I could only describe as a couple of young internet pros to my immediate left with huge stacks - I fold and wait for a spot. Eventually just after the first hour of play with 17K in chips I open raise AdQd from early position and I am three bet a 5th time in a row by one of the young guns - feeling I am way ahead of his range I re-shove my stack over the top and he snap calls with AKo!!! You know that sinking feeling when you think its all over? I had that feeling for a about 15 seconds but to my relief I flop a Queen and hold.

Back to about 35K in chips and I decide to be patient for a while as I can see the young guns not to happy about my suck out and a big target on my forehead. This was probably the worse thing I could have done as soon after I get too cute and slow play trips which cost me 5K instead of picking up 10K - then I overplay AA trying to have an old dude who three bet another open raiser. I won the 6K in the middle preflop but should have been able to get a lot more value in this micro session to where I feel I could have got to 50K. This is really where technically the tournament started going bad in terms of bet sizing and tournament value for me.

Along the way I play next to Andy Bloch (he was part of the original MIT blackjack team 'documented' in the movie '21' and a Full Tilt sponsored red pro) for the first time and we talk about the 'Team 1%' cancer prevention charity he is associated with but I refrained from asking about where all my Full Tilt money deposits have now gone...anyways back to the tournament...

For the following 2 sessions I go completely card dead and get down to 21K at the dinner break...which is where I started the day - oh the irony after trying so hard!!!

I spent the dinner break with Dara O'Kearney his son Paddy and Nick Newport just relaxing before the cut throat shoving begins for me after the dinner break. All the lads and I had been out ten pin bowling the night before with a small wager on the result - despite having the best bowling action I was no match for Dara's slow and steady 'finger-pinch' technique or Nick's 'my power will crush anything' bludgeoning style. For the record Nick won the wager...

After the dinner break at the start of level 4 for the day my table is immediately broken saving me any uncomfortable Full Tilt poker discussions with Mr MIT and amazingly I get moved to Nick Newport table where Nick had an OK stack of around 60K. After a few all ins that were rudely 'ignored' by everyone I eventually still managed to chip down to 16K after seeing rag after rag being dealt to me (92 suited was looking good at one point - you get the picture). I eventually find my best spot and re-shove on the button over a late

I was left surprised though when the open raiser didn't call but the caller called my shove and he turned over KQo and I was a 60/40 favourite - Nick sportingly wished me luck. The rest is now history as the villain flopped a Q  to go ahead and I flopped the nut flush draw for a good sweat which just blanked out on the turn and river - good game I have no complaints here with this result - that's poker.

It was another eventful experience at the WSOP and with my second main event under my belt and I feel I will only get better results here after my fourth straight WSOP. There are definite technical areas of improvement I need to make as well as certain mindset adjustments. I may need to reconsider playing on day 1c in future as well as look at options around trying harder to satellite in to make the burden of the $10K entry fee have the minimum impact on my decisions at the table. I am someone who doesn't lend money or ask for money and although that is a good life policy it can be a limiting one in the poker

Where to now? First things first - I have a few days left in Vegas to try and have a bit of a holiday and then I'm back off to Sydney where I am dying to see my family, friends and especially my girlfriend Fi.

Many thanks to Fi, Costa, Dara, Feargal and all my friends back home for you support during this WSOP.

After I have a week off when I get back home I will start to set up a schedule for balancing IT work, life and poker and set some bankroll building goals. And that's probably where my next set of blogs will continue...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A trip down memory lane

As I am sitting here typing away on my blog I am enjoying my rest day and contemplating day 2a of the WSOP main event tomorrow. This is my second WSOP main event and I recall disappointingly crashing out of last years main event mid way through day three when I started day 3 as the table chip leader with about 110,000 chips. A couple of questions came to mind this morning - Will I do better this year? How did I get to here for a guy that doesn't play poker full time? Let's take a trip down memory lane...

The year is 2008 and I had been playing some serious live cash games and online cash games for a couple of years up until this point with quite some success. I had a lot of annual leave time saved up at work and decided I was going to go to my first WSOP but with a very limited budget. My intention was to check out Vegas as a tourist and play in just one of the WSOP bracelet events. With a very limited ABC tournament strategy I manage to cash in my first event for 112th and about $4000 in prize money. This was nothing to write home about in terms of finances but the experience got me hooked on tournament poker and the WSOP for years to come.

During my 2008 bracelet event another important thing occurred - whilst my pocket aces were cracked by an unknowing Irishman's pocket eights (he was all in and this saved him!) I was about to make one of my best friends in the poker world. That Irishman is Feargal Nealon. Despite exchanging email addresses scratched on bits of paper we were not to talk to each other again until the following year at the WSOP where we 'accidentally' ran into each other again. But some things in this world are just meant to be!

Enter the 2009 WSOP - over the past year I play more tournaments online with a very basic strategy but I study and improve dramatically in Sit and Gos and they become my specialty. I was not prepared to put up the $10K entry out of my poker bankroll. I play in one bracelet event and busted out around midnight of day one after twelve hours of play. I then manage to fall ill in bed with a severe cold for several days and realised after I recovered that there was only the weekend left before the main event entries close. How was I going to try to make the money to play in my first main event?...

The answer is always to try the satellite tournaments - I attacked the single table satellites which are essentially a 10 player Sit and Go where the winner takes all ($5K). Normally however deals are cut by the last 2-3 people left as no one wants to play for a few hours and leave empty handed. After grinding the $500 satellites for the first day of the weekend I managed to get to a $6K profit - this is no mean feat when a deal is cut 95% of the time. Rather than going all through the night I decided to go back to my room and get some sleep and try to do the same the next day. The next day things weren't going so well - I battled all day and night to basically break even and end up in the same position - $6K to the good but no $10K main event entry needed.

That night Feargal talked me into entering one of the $550 mega satellite tournaments the following morning - there were about 200 entrants and the top 10 finishers won a seat to the main event. I battled hard but busted out in 18th where I recall losing my final two hands in a row where I was the 4-1 favourite on both occasions - a very bitter pill to swallow just missing out on a main event seat - I was also back down to only $5.5K of my $10K needed. I played a final $500 single table satellite and managed to chop it for $2.5K bringing me up to $8K in profit but alas the main event entries were about to close and I was far too tired now to play in it on the same day with any energy. I may not have played in the main event in 2009 but the experience in trying to do so and railing Feargal during his first main event (in which he cashed!) has helped me more than any study materials ever could at that time.

Despite the 2009 WSOP being my least successful year to date in terms of poker I still consider it one of my most successful years in life. To re-acquaint myself with Feargal and also meet one of his close friends Shaun Craig who has also become a friend of mine means a lot to me. I remember the three of us entering a guitar hero competition in Vegas and the best we could come up with for a band name was "An Englishman, an Irishman and an Australian walk into a bar..." - what were we thinking? But we won the competition and the multiple jugs of beer as prizes!

Enter WSOP 2010 - I play in 5 bracelet events and my first main event! I manage to have my most successful year to date with 2/6 WSOP cashes. My tournament game has come a long way with exchanging ideas with Feargal and I also meet Dara O'KearneyWSOP - they are all down to earth, funny and OK they also like to have a drink! They are welcoming and more than happy to help me with my game. Remembering drinks one evening last year at the Wynn with almost the who's who of Irish poker was great - and Marty Smith if you are reading this I owe you a few drinks mate!  

I remember returning to Sydney after the 2010 WSOP with a buzz of excitement that my tournament game was really starting to improve. Since then I have had good success online in small buying MTT events grinding up a bankroll and continued to work on exchanging poker theory with Feargal, Dara and Shaun. I also get involved in staking players on Chip Me Up.

Enter WSOP 2011 - I have now played in three events this year and cashed in my first event of the series which basically has allowed me to 'freeroll' the other events. My only disappointment is that Feargal could not make it to be here this year. I have spent a lot of time here this year with Dara and his calming and logical influence. I have now cashed in 4/11 WSOP overall which is a result I am very happy with although like everyone else I still yearn for my first 'big' result. My thoughts now loop back to those echoed at the beginning of this blog...I have answered how I got here for a guy that doesn't play poker full time - the other question about 'Will I do better this year?' will be answered in a future blog...

Hopefully this was an interesting read on my WSOP trip down memory lane...if nothing else I hope it was enlightening to non poker players (and maybe even poker players alike) on the ups and downs a player goes through as they learn to try and compete at the world's most prestigious poker event. Its not always what you see on TV...

Friday, July 8, 2011

Why this Blog?

You may be asking - why a poker blog from a non poker professional...?

Well believe it or not my main motivation around this is to help me improve all round as a poker player. I hope that my writing and any feedback I receive from my friends and other players may help my overall game as well as possibly help anyone else just starting out in poker.

Although I am not a poker professional (i.e. I have a very demanding day job in IT) I have now competed at the last four World Series of Poker (WSOP) events with cash finishes and have played poker somewhat seriously for the last five years. To say that I enjoy playing poker is an understatement!

So what can we all expect? I hope to provide regular updates on my results, goals and challenges, study material I am reviewing, my opinions on the world poker scene and maybe even some non poker happenings in my general day to day life.

A little about me - I am a 37 year old IT professional living in Sydney, Australia. I have played a lot of sport from a young age up until my early 30s and I have also played some very serious tournament chess between from the age of 11 to 30 years old. I still have an interest in chess too however my serious playing days are more or less over in that endeavour. 

I currently play a majority of online poker but did start exclusively as a live player so I have experience and success in both of these poker disciplines. My main focus these days are no limit holdem multi table tournaments (MTTs) and multi-table sit and gos (MTTSnGs) however I also play cash games including no limit holdem, limit holdem and seven card stud hi-lo.

As I type - whilst in a coffee shop located in the Rio Casino in Las Vegas (thank you wireless technology!) - I am on the eve of playing in my second WSOP main event. I am quite excited but at the same time very nervous...could this year be the year?!

Things are made easier here in Vegas by spending time with my Irish Poker friends - most notably Feargal Nealon and Dara O'Kearney both of whom I have learnt a lot from over the past few years and have much respect for. In fact it was Dara who approved of and encouraged my idea to start a blog in order to help me improve my game.

Everyone is more than welcome to leave any comments or feedback to these blog posts whether positive, negative or indifferent - either way I am sure I will learn something new everyday.

So welcome to my blog! And with my first introduction post out of the way my next posts will surely be about my WSOP 2011 results so stay tuned...