Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I'm Mentioned in a Pool Book

I have mixed feelings about this. I'm reading, "Running The Table, The Legend of Kid Delicious: The Last Great American Pool Hustler" and get to the following paragraph:

“After a few small scores in Mass, Delicious took an easy $100 off a Worcester drug dealer with an inflated sense of pool skill; Bristol took $250 off a kid named Tony P. who had allegedly won a million dollars playing blackjack in a casino and lost it back to the house within a month”.

It's nice to be in a book but that isn't exactly the way I wanted to be mentioned. I don't remember much from that time period because of all the self-medication (drugs) I was taking part in. I remember Kid Delicious, he's a memorable person, but I only remember Bristol Bob's name. I don't even remember playing him although I'm sure I did at some point. And it was "only" 500K that I won and lost at blackjack. Those were some crazy times in my life, I feel very fortunate to have survived (literally) that period and be where I am today.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

October Update

I just hit 837K VPPs which only puts me about 20K VPPs or roughly 7 days ahead. I was sick off an on for about a week and just got back from a Reno trip so I haven't been able to play a ton of hands this month. I've been running pretty well though. I'm winning more than my fair share of big (15-20 big bet) pots, that's probably been the biggest contributing factor. I've even run well at 50-100 since my last update, finally! I'm starting to feel more comfortable with the swings in the 50 games, today I had a 10K downswing in about 400 hands and it didn't faze me.

Hopefully my good luck continues. I intend on playing a lot of hands in the next month, I can't afford to lose any more ground with the holidays coming up.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Improving Your Game away from the Table

Admittedly I haven't done as much studying and learning away from the tables this year as I normally do. I just haven't had time with all the hands I'm putting in on a daily basis. But normally I do spend a lot of time learning. Here's a list, in no particular order, of what I've done over the years to build my knowledge:


I used to read every single piece of poker literature released ranging from Theory of Poker to Bad Beats and Lucky Draws (I don't ever recommend reading this other than to laugh). I eventually stopped as the market became over-saturated with poker material but I still filled an entire floor to ceiling bookshelf. Nowadays, I occasionally order books on my Kindle. Next year I plan on ordering a few no-limit books.

I also used to surf to every poker site I could find and read through all of their strategy articles. One of the sites I've always enjoyed is Cardplayer, I like Roy Cooke and Matt Matros' articles in particular. Also, the 2+2 magazine has some really good articles. Some are complicated and go way over my head but others are easier to follow and I've learned a lot from them.

Analyze Data

I've done a lot of this over the past couple years. Before my computer crashed earlier this year, I had a database of a couple million hands so I was able to analyze even semi-obscure situations and still have a reasonable sample size to draw meaningful conclusions from. Nowadays, there is so much data out there available for purchase that I think meaningful analysis could be done using other player's data especially winning player's data. For anyone unfamiliar with this, Hold-Em Manager is one of the best programs out there for analyzing data.

Subscribe to a Poker Learning Site

There are a number of these sites out there, the two I use most are StoxPoker and Cardrunners. I have links to both at the top of my blog page along with SureFire Poker. SureFire is exclusively no-limit and Omaha and has arguably the best NL player in the world (OMGClayAiken) making videos. I really can't say enough about these sites, they have some of the most successful online players making videos of themselves playing while explaining each decision they make in detail. For me this has been a huge part of my development and learning. I still watch 1-2 videos a week.

Discuss Poker with Friends

This is something I haven't done much of this year but used to do all the time. I was lucky enough to meet a friend, Rory about 4 years ago and we'd discuss all sorts of poker topics via email. He helped me immensely with my game not only with his ideas but by asking me a lot of questions and really forcing me to think about the game. If you're able to find someone like this, take full advantage of it, it's a great way for both of you to learn.

Use Software to Analyze Hands

I guess this could have gone under the analyze data section. Two programs in particular I've found really useful are PokerStove and StoxPoker Combo. PokerStove is free and I believe you need to be a member of StoxPoker for the Combo software although there is comparable free software out there (not sure of the names). Both of these programs help to simplify the math when breaking down hands to determine your best course of action in the hand. Something I've found really helpful and that I've been doing this year is: Any time I'm confused or unsure of what to do in a hand, I will copy and paste that hand into notepad and then go back after my session and use PokerStove or StoxPoker Combo to analyze the hand and try to come up with the correct decision.

Hire a Mentor or Coach

I've never had a coach but I've had a few friends that have been mentors. If you're really serious about getting better and taking your game to a high level, a coach is a great idea. A lot of the poker learning sites have coaches and although it's a bit pricey if you're starting out, the upside of what you can make playing poker far outweighs the coaching costs.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

October Update

It's been a slow month for me in terms of hands, I've played about 13K so far but plan on picking up the pace. I'm happy with how I've been playing and the results have been good so far.

However, 50-100 continues to be my nemesis. I hadn't been playing much of it the past month or so but I'd been running well and feeling good. Last Saturday night I saw an average player sitting alone and another pretty good 5-handed game going. I decided the time was right to jump back in. Bad idea. I went on what is quite possibly the worst 500 hand stretch I've been through. At the very least, the worst I remember. I lost 16 thousand and 160 big bets. It was like someone flipped the doom switch and I couldn't win a hand. It's been really frustrating that this keeps happening when I decide to move up but it's not going to deter me. One of my goals before the end of the year is to start playing more in the 50 games and to at least win back the three or four hundred big bets I'm down this year. Aside from my 50-100 nightmare session I think I've run pretty well this month. And fortunately most of my luck has come at 30-60 so that helped undo the 50 damage.

I hit 800K VPPs earlier this week and earned my last milestone bonus. And down the stretch I come. Hopefully I can finish strong and start planning for next year.

Also, thanks to the two people that sent me blog ideas. I have a bunch of things I can write about and plan on doing so when I have some free time.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Some Easy Ways to Improve Your Game

Take Notes:

I’ve found note taking to be a big help in keeping me focused on what people are doing as well as remembering how they are playing during a session. It’s not the notes themselves that help me so much as much as it is the act of taking notes - though the actual notes do help. When I’m taking a note on somebody it means I’m paying attention to what they’re doing. The act of typing the note causes me to make a mental note that usually stays with me for the duration of the session. Without taking the note, I’m likely to forget quickly what they’ve done.

As far as the notes themselves, I generally take a note of something that is out of the ordinary or something that I wouldn’t necessarily do. By doing this I can focus on the areas of my opponents game that differ from mine and assume the other areas are similar until proven otherwise. When I take notes, I try not to be too vague but also not too specific. For example, it doesn’t really help much for me to take a note that opponent is passive. This is too general and I’m able to see this through their HUD stats anyway. I also would not take a note that says opponent failed to bet AQ on AJ483 board on the river after being the turn aggressor. One, I don’t have time to type all this when multitabling. Two, it’s too much information. . But I would take the following note, “Miss vb w- tp on riv” (vb=value bet, tp=top pair and riv=river). It’s concise and useful. If I see my opponent bet the river in the future, his range is likely to be polarized between very strong hands and bluffs. Abbreviating is important if you’re multitabling and pressed for time. Everybody has their own abbreviations and as long as they make sense to you, that’s all that matters.

Pretending to commentate on your play:

A while back, I narrated a few videos of myself playing through Camtasia. I intended on posting them on StoxPoker in the “Member Video” section but later changed my mind. But in doing this, I learned how beneficial it is to articulate your poker decisions into words. It’s not always easy to do and as a result it forces you to think about why you’re doing what you’re doing. In other words, every action you take has a well thought out reason for it. This also causes you to focus intently on what’s going on which greatly improves your chances of getting into the zone.

This also was something I was doing at the World Series this year. Because I’m used to playing 500 hands an hour, sitting in a live game was extremely slow for me and I found it difficult to pay attention. But by commentating on every hand, including the ones I wasn’t involved in, I had a laser-like focus and incredibly good reads on everyone’s play.

Make a video of yourself playing and watch it the next day:

There is a lot of free video capture software out there and some of the best software like Camtasia comes with a 30 day trial period. I usually keep my videos short, 20 or 30 minutes and try to record when I'm in the heat of battle with 4 or 5 tables open. I will watch the video the next day and look for mistakes. I've found this to be incredibly useful in finding holes in my game. I'm always amazed at some of the things I do playing that I never would have realized had I not recorded it.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Quick Question for My Blog Readers

I was PM'ed by two people on 2+2 for my blog address which I thought was pretty cool since I didn't know either of them. It's nice to know people outside of my immediate family and circle of friends are interested in reading my blog. So, I decided to add a "stat counter" today to see how many people are actually reading and it looks like a lot more people than I thought.

So my question to anyone reading: Is there any poker related topic you would like me to blog about? If so, leave a comment here and I'll do my best. I'm running out of ideas. Admittedly I haven't been thinking too hard, I usually just blog when something pops into my head. Now that I know I have a lot of readers, I feel obliged to write more.