Sunday, December 11, 2011

Vancouver Review

After running insanely well for the entire trip, I finally got a dose of negative variance today. At one point I was down almost 25K which would have been my worst day ever but I managed to win back more than half of it. Overall, I had one losing day, today, and never experienced more than a 170 big bet down swing over 14K+ hands. A pretty amazing run playing almost exclusively 5-6 handed at high limits.

Overall the trip was a huge success, I ran way above expectation. I played exceptionally well the first week but my game and focus seemed to fade the longer I was here. Part of it may have been running bad but I didn't have the same motivation and focus the last three or four days I was here. I took a much more targeted approach the whole trip though. Instead of 4-5 tabling for 8-10 hours a day, I game-selected mostly at 30-60 and higher. Often I was 2-3 tabling and as a result was able to really hone in on what my opponents were doing and adjust. It's made me wonder whether this would be a better approach for next year instead of going for SNE and subjecting myself to endless hours of grinding at lower limits. We'll see how the games are when I get back on in January, that will likely determine the path I choose.

It's back to California tomorrow. I have a couple of one pocket matches scheduled with Jose Parica this week. I played him earlier this year for two days, about eight hours each day, and ended up down 7 games total. It's was a very competitive match at times and I played really well. I'm out of stroke at the moment but plan on doing a lot of practicing in the next couple days to get ready. It'll probably be my last opportunity to play pool for quite a while.

I don't mention pool too much in this blog but it's the only activity I enjoy more than poker. If only there was some money in the sport.

After California, it's off to Boston for Christmas and then Cancun for New Years and Jamena's birthday. After Cancun, it's off to the Bahamas for the PCA and then Costa Rica to play poker for at least three months. It's going to be a really busy first half of the year for me, hopefully I can continue improving and have another solid year at the tables.

Happy Holidays everyone.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Sweet Start in Vancouver

I came here with fairly low expectations, in fact I would have been thrilled if you told me ahead of time I'd make 20K in the two weeks I was here. Fortunately, I'm already far ahead of that. I'm running so well that I played some 5-10 and 10-20 NL trying to make the Stars Leaderboard and promptly stacked someone at 10-20 catching a gutshot on the river to crack a slow-played set. I don't know if I ended up making the leaderboard, I'll find out at 5 PM tomorrow. Going into the last hour I had 3900 VPPs and 4000 VPPs was the bottom spot which pays $500. I ended up with ~4450 so it's going to be close. $500 may not seem like it's worth chasing but that's 5 big bets at 50-100 which is approximately what I average over the course of 2.5 hours playing a single table of 50-100 so it is significant. These are exactly the types of things I look to take advantage of to reduce variance and improve my bottom line.

As expected, I was pretty rusty after my three month layoff. It was by far the longest stretch I've gone without online poker in the last eight years. In fact, I don't think I ever missed three days in a row over the course of those eight years. I started playing two tables and I felt dizzy trying to keep up with action which was amazing to me at the time. But after a half hour or so I felt fine. This is one of those times I felt like I needed to run well and thankfully I have. I did a lot of studying the week before I came here and made some significant changes to my preflop game, I'd like to think it's paying off. Overall I think I've played pretty well. My gauge as to how well I'm playing is how many medium to big sized pots I think I'm winning with the worst hand and there have been several in the last two days. Maybe I'm getting lucky running into the bottom of people's ranges, regardless I'm happy with my play.

Hopefully I haven't put the hex on myself with this post. Ten days to go, the goal as always is to make the best possible decision, each and every decision.

I should mention I only had half of my action playing 200-400 so the results aren't quite as spectacular, nonetheless it's one of, if not the, best four day stretches I've had.

Good luck to everyone playing this month and Happy Holidays.

Friday, November 11, 2011

What have I been up to?

Good question. I've been playing a fair amount of live poker at Bay101 and the Oaks card club which is about 15-20 minutes away from me. I didn't realize until last week that the Oaks spreads a 30-60 game. So instead of driving an hour to Bay101 to play the 40-80 game, I can drive twenty minutes and play 30-60. The skill level of the two games is pretty similar, so it's hard to say what's more profitable. Driving the extra 90 minutes to be able to play stakes 33% higher or having that extra 90 minutes to play along with saving some gas money to play lower. It's pretty close.

My results so far have been disappointing. I'm on about a seven session live losing streak over the last month or so. It terms of hands it's probably 2,000 hands which is literally one half of one day of playing online for me but it feels a whole lot worse than that since it's been spread out over several weeks. Live poker is brutal in that regard, I feel like I can play through losing streaks online, with live poker that could take months.

I have been playing some tournaments at the Oaks as well, trying to get sharper for the PCA. I final tabled the first tournament I played. Well came 10th out of about 75, but final tabling it sounds better. The rest of the tournaments I've played, I haven't cashed. I'm heading to Vegas on Monday to play some of the Venetian deep stacked tournaments.

Aside from that, I'm heading to Canada after Thanksgiving for about two weeks. I'm planning on grinding as much as possible while I'm there and trying to get back into the swing of things. I'm sure I'll be very rusty at first so I intend on restricting most of my play to lower limits until I'm confident I'm playing well.

I'll be heading to Boston for Christmas, Mexico for New Years, the Bahamas for the PCA and then likely Costa Rica for 3 months to play online next year. I just contacted Poker Refugees to help with the move to CR. We're hoping to get a nice place on the ocean with reliable internet. It doesn't sound like CR has any problems with online poker players being in their country so that's nice. The only potential issue is opening a bank account there which I've heard is a hassle. Ideally, I'd like to keep the Canadian accounts and continue withdrawing there but it's still a little unclear whether Poker Stars will allow that.

Good luck at the tables everyone.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


I haven't done a whole lot since I got back other than play pool and relax. I did make it up to Bay101, a card room near me, the last two weekends. They regularly run limit games up to 80-160. I played the 80-160 game last night for the first time and surprisingly most of the players were decent. I'd equate the game to about a 15-30 full ring game online. I say surprised because the 40-80 games I've played in have an amazingly low skill level. In many ways they are tougher to play because the players are much less predictable and have wider ranges. There are a lot of multiway pots where several players can have almost any two cards which makes the decision making very difficult. It's hard to say which game is more profitable, I'd guess the 80-160 is slightly more profitable but comes with a whole lot more variance. I'm planning on heading up there every couple of weeks to play.

I haven't done any studying on my game yet but I have a whole list of things I want to look at and that's something I intend to start doing in the next couple weeks. There's a NL tournament in Reno next month I might go play. I'll be playing the PCA in January and would like to get some more NL tournament experience in before that.

I do miss online poker already and am looking forward to playing next year. It's possible I may even make a trip up to Canada before the end of the year to put in a week or two at the tables. I am worried about getting rusty and I don't think live poker is going to help much due to the low volume of hands.

Not much else to say. Good luck at the tables.

Monday, September 5, 2011

SNE Hat-Trick/Canada Recap

I made it for the third year in a row. 720k VPPs in 3.5 months. I'm certain I'll never play that much poker again in that short of a time ever again. It was grueling to say to the least.

Overall the Canada trip was a huge success. I far exceeded my expectations coming up here. I knew I could make SNE but I didn't know how difficult it would be. I didn't expect to do nearly as well money-wise mostly because I didn't think I'd be able to get in much volume at 15-30 and higher particularly after the first two weeks when there were very games running. Overall I think I ran about average, maybe slightly below average. I hit a 100K hand break-even stretch in terms of money and big bets. That seems to be about a once every year or two occurrence. Given the amount of hands I was playing, I think I played pretty well. At times great, at other times not so great. The only negative was running so badly at 100-200 but it always got my full attention and best game so no regrets. I also ran way above average at 100-200 early in the year and have run exceptionally well at 50-100 for over a year now.

It's back to the US tomorrow morning. And although I don't even want to think about poker right now I"m sure I'll be doing a lot of work on my game when I'm home. I'll likely be playing some live poker from time to time as well. I just registered for the PCA in January and I'm hoping to be able to stay in the Bahamas for a month or so and play online during that time. It's not really clear with PokerStars whether that's feasible yet. I'm also still worried about using the banks up here. I haven't had any problems yet with TD or BMO but I have a significant amount of money coming into the accounts over the next week so my fingers are crossed.

Thank you to everyone that supported me both here and at the tables. There were at least a dozen regulars in my games over the last few days that wished me luck and said a lot of nice things. It was completely unexpected and I really appreciate it.

Here's what the last 3.5 months looked like. After I send nearly half my money to our state and federal governments, pay a bunch of bills, and make some investments, I should have a few bucks to spend on myself.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

August Recap

This was by far my toughest month mentally. I can't count the number of days I felt completely unmotivated. Too often I was just going through the motions trying to get my VPPs for the day. I hit about a 100K hand breakeven stretch dating back to last month that made things even more difficult. In total I put in 321 hours at the tables or just over 10 hours a day. Imagine the mental wear and tear of walking twenty miles a day, every day, for three and half months and that's likely similar to what it feels like 4-6 table poker 10+ hours a day for 3.5 months. On the bright side I'm up to 967K VPPs, only have five more days of this, and don't ever intend on doing it again. I'm hoping next year to travel to some different tournaments, using my FPPs to buy-in, and staying at the different locales for 3-4 weeks at a time while playing a more normal schedule.

I did finally break out of my extended slump, winning about 700 big bets over the last 15K hands or so. It didn't translate into a great deal of money because most of it came at lower limits. The higher limit games have been incredibly dead over the last week. In fact, I've noticed at the end of every month I've been here the games have died down. I'm not sure why but there were a lot of high limit games towards the middle of every month. In any event, it's nice to run good and string together consecutive winning days.

Good luck to everyone in September.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Oh Variance

Don't ever underestimate the amount of variance in poker. And further don't underestimate the affect variance can have on your game and mental attitude. If you asked me four weeks ago how I was playing, I might have told you as good or better than anyone in the world. Ask me now and I'm not sure I'm playing better than at least twenty-five of the regulars in my games.

The only thing that's changed is that I've gone through a 400 BB downswing, a 300 BB downswing, and a few 100-200 BB downswings all in the span of 70K hands. There is a serious negative mental impact this has, I start questioning a lot of the things I'm doing and my mind starts playing tricks on me. For example, it becomes a lot more difficult to make a thin river value bet on a scary river card when you've been raised the last nine out of ten times in that situation. I've read that the human brain is conditioned to believe an outcome is likely after it's seen it happen two or three times. This is an evolutionary trait and obviously has a lot of value in the real world, just not when you're playing poker. At that point, you have different parts of the brain conflicting with each other about what the best decision is and when making split decisions for hours at a time, it's easy to choose the wrong one. It's a subtle form of tilt I suppose.

That's just one of many examples.

I've said it before and I'll say it again (and will probably keep saying it), what separates the good players from the great players is being able to maintain your composure and play your A game even when nothing is going right. I think I do a good job of it compared to most but I have a whole lot of room for improvement as well.

I've got about two weeks to go and am up to 915K VPPs or so. I need to get more focused at the tables and bring my A game. I'm not leaving Canada with any regrets about the way I played. I've been really burnt out and unfocused this month. In a strange way this losing streak has been helpful. It's jolted me awake and reminded me that I do actually have to give 100% effort and think through all of my decisions.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Down the Stretch

I'm up to 873K VPPs. I pushed back my return date to the US to Sept. 6th to give me a little breathing room and still have enough time to make my cousin's wedding in South Dakota on the 10th. I still need to average about 6100 VPPs a day to make it. It's been incredibly challenging, I'm completely burnt out and sick of poker. I've been totally unmotivated this month and often just going through the motions at the table to get hands in. My win rate is probably spot on for the level I'm playing at. All in all, it's just been a frustrating month because I hate playing when I'm not on top of my game. Only three weeks to go thankfully. And for anyone thinking of doing something similar, don't do it. Don't even think about doing it. ~750 VPPs in 3.5 months playing limit borders on insanity.

On the banking front, I found a convenient way to get money back to the US cheaply. I was able to open an account with Canadian Forex. I'm now able to make a bill payment from my TD Canada trust account to CF and have it wired to my US account in about 4 days. The fee is somewhere around 1% which beats any of the banks.

Good luck to everyone at the tables. I'm really looking forward to playing no poker for three months, I never thought I'd say it.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

July in the Books

It ended up being another great month despite running pretty poorly over the last week or so. I've run so well since I've been in Canada, I almost forgot what it's like to run bad. I'm on about a 40K hand breakeven stretch right now. No complaints though, I continue to run exceptionally well at 50-100.

I'm shooting for September 3rd as our return date to the US. I've fallen further behind the pace I set for myself and need to average about 6700 VPPs a day to make SNE by the 3rd. I've been waking up later than usual the past few weeks and by about 7 PM, the games have been completely dead sometimes with nothing running above 3-6. So I'm planning on adjusting my schedule to wake up by 7 AM to make sure I get my hands in.

HSBC ended up closing all of my accounts. This after telling them exactly what the accounts would be used for at account opening and the approximate amount of money that would come through the account and be wired to the US. I also paid them about $3700 in fees. I really hate banks, they're no better than the criminals who rob them with a mask a gun. The banks just hide behind the mask of a corporation and find creative ways to steal people's money and homes.

So I went to TD Canada Trust and opened two more accounts explaining exactly what I'd be doing. The rep opening the accounts asked a bunch of questions, talked to her manager for several minutes, and said it wouldn't be a problem. Time will tell.

Good luck to everyone in August.

Friday, July 15, 2011

July Update

I've cooled off quite a bit this month and have run pretty poorly over the last week or so. I've been really fortunate that most of it has been confined to lower limits. The games still are spotty, some days great and others really slow. I've been lacking motivation lately and slacking if it could be called that. I'm up to 693K VPPs but have fallen behind the pace I set and now need to average about 6400 per day the rest of the time I'm here. It's going to be tough, I'm really tired of playing but I'll have to find the motivation somewhere.

In other news, I received a call from an HSBC rep yesterday. It was more like an interrogation with her firing off a barrage of questions about where my money was coming from, what I was doing in Canada, what my job was, etc. etc. It felt a lot like a time early in my life when I was caught with a fake ID in a casino and interrogated by two state police officers. Every other question was a previous question rephrased with words being put into my mouth. The call ended with her saying she'd get back to me. She called again later that night and only asked two questions, "Whose name is the account in that you're wiring to to the US?" and "Why are you wiring through us and paying fees instead of withdrawing directly through MoneyBookers to your US account?" I answered both truthfully and I haven't heard back since. I was expecting a call today saying they closed my account. If I make it past Monday without a call, I'm assuming I'm good otherwise I'll have to start using a different account.

Good luck to everyone in the rest of July.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

June in the Record Books

It was an amazing month both in terms of money won and hands played. I shattered both of my previous records. I played a total of 325 hours or about ten hours a day. There were a lot of times where I didn't feel like playing and was way off my game but I mostly played lower limits during those times. The high limit games have really died down the last week or so. The first half of the month, there were several going every day and the last 7 or 10 days, it's been very slow. I'm hoping this is due to the main event. We'll see in a couple weeks.

I'm up to about 605K VPPs and need to average about 6250 a day for the rest of my time here to make SNE. I've been shooting for 7K a day since family will be visiting us up here and I won't be able to play as much during those days. Also it's possible I get sick or something unexpected comes up so it'd be nice to have a cushion going down the homestretch. I'm planning on leaving at the beginning of September and am really looking forward to taking a few months off and relaxing. I do intend on doing a lot of studying and work with HEM. I haven't been able to do that at all with all the hands I'm playing but I've been making a list of things I want to look it.

Good luck at the tables to everyone in July.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Fast Start to June

It's been a great month so far. I'm on pace for about a 130K month with bonuses which would be my best ever. Still a ways to go so hopefully I haven't jinxed myself. I have played a ton of hands, about 51K to this point. To put that in perspective, that's more than two hands per every minute of the month. I've run extremely well at 30-60 at 50-100 and have run at least a big bet above expectation for my last 50K hands at 50-100 so I feel very fortunate there.

The games continue to be sporadic, sometimes it's like pre-black Friday and other days there are very few games running. One minute I can be playing 6 tables of 5-10 and 10-20 and the next playing 5 tables of 30-60 and 50-100.

On the VPP front, I'm up to 505K and need to average about 6400 a day to make SNE by September 1st. It's going to be tough.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

May in the Books

Poker hasn't felt like as much of a job for me in a long time. It feels similar to when I used to host on UB and was forced to work four hour shifts every other day. The difference now is I'm working two five hour shifts every day in hopes of making SNE by the time I leave Canada in early Sept. My days have consisted of waking up at about 6:30, putting a pot of coffee on, and playing till about Noon. I've been doing cardio and eating lunch to break my day and then playing another 4-6 hours, usually finishing up around 6 or 7. I have actually gotten out of the apartment quite a few times at night at least.

In spite of an abbreviated month, my results were decent. I played more hands in three weeks than I've ever played in a full month. There were a lot of sessions where I felt like I was just going through the motions, trying to reach my daily goal of VPPs, and playing on auto-pilot. My strategy always has been to take a break when I'm not focused, unfortunately I don't have that luxury anymore if I want to make SNE while I'm here.

I feel like I ran below average, though it's hard to say. I hit about a 30K downswing courtesy of 100-200 but recouped most of it in the next few sessions. I've been running way above average at 50-100 all year so no complaints.

There have been very few high limit games running since SCOOP ended and now with the World Series starting, it doesn't bode well for June. In any event, I'll be playing whatever games are available.

Here's to a profitable June

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Info. on Relocating to Canada

I've been receiving a number of emails and PMs with Canada questions so I figured putting it all in a thread is the best thing to do at this point. All of this information is subject to change at any time of course.

Traveling Over the Border

The most important point here is to make sure you tell the truth to the border patrol agent. I haven't read of a single instance of a poker player being denied entry after telling the truth about what they are doing. In my opinion, the only chance of a poker player being denied is lying about their intentions. You will be detained, at least everyone I read about has been, and questioned. The questioning took me about ten minutes but some people are saying an hour. It's also possible they'll search your car though they didn't search mine.

The BP's primary concerns are that you have enough money to support yourself and that you'll return to the US within six months. Based on my conversation with the BP agent, they consider poker players a higher risk of going broke and being stuck in Canada. And rightfully so. Bring a bank statement issued within the last three months. I was able to show an ATM receipt that I had saved from the day before so that will likely suffice as well.

If you have any kind of criminal record, including DUIs, there's a good chance they'll deny entry. More information on this is here

Changing your Country of Residence with Poker Stars

Poker Stars is requiring a copy of your passport or license to verify your identity, easy enough.

To verify your address they are requesting a copy of a utility bill. One option with this is to rent an apartment and ask the landlord if you can setup a utility in your name ahead of time. If they are willing to do this, you should have a bill waiting for you when you arrive in Canada. An alternative to this, and what PokerStars accepted from me is a copy of a voided check from a bank, signed and stamped by a manager with the following wording,

"Please accept this copy of a voided cheque as confirmation of the above client's banking account information for purposes of pre-authorized debit or credit"

It literally took eleven emails before Poker Stars security department agreed to accepting this.

The other thing you'll need is a landline, it took a day to get this setup through Shaw. PokerStars will call and ask every imaginable question and once they're satisfied you are who you say you are they'll forward it to their verifications team for final review. The final review has been taking up to two weeks. I was able to escalate it through the VIPClub at PokerStars and it took about a day. If you're a SN or SNE, I strongly recommend doing this. The turnaround time could change though, they were swamped when I applied for my country change.

Opening a Bank Account

Any US citizen can open a bank account in Canada with a license and passport. HSBC required a passport and credit card. At HSBC, I told them exactly what I was doing: that I was a professional poker player looking to wire large amounts of money in from poker sites and then to the US. The rep who opened the account said it wasn't a problem.

I opened two accounts and may open another one in the event one of them is closed for poker transactions. I don't anticipate they'll be problems but it's hard to say until a lot of players start receiving large wires.

Right now the best option for poker players looks like the HSBC premier account. There is a 100K minimum balance requirement but anyone can open the account and pay a $50 fee if the balance isn't maintained. The premier account allows you to open an account in any country where HSBC is present without physically being in the country and they don't require any additional documentation which is great if you're traveling around. They also allow you to link all of your accounts from different countries online and transfer money in different currencies with no fees. Even with a regular HSBC account, they allow you to do wire transfers online. They are the only Canadian bank I know of that allows this, the rest require you to be in the branch to do an outgoing wire.

That said there have been a couple reports from pre black Friday of poker players having their HSCB accounts closed.

Right now I have three withdrawal options available to me in Canada:

MoneyBookers withdrawal up to $15,800 CAD per day
Check up to $52,700 per day
Wire transfer with a *minimum* of 52,700

MoneyBookers is looking like the way to go when out of Canada and requesting checks or MoneyBookers withdrawals while you're here. A regular MB account only allows about 15K to be withdrawn every ninety days after verifying your bank account and address with them. They have a VIP account which allows unlimited withdrawals. In order to become VIP, they've told me you need to deposit at least 5K per month on a gaming site and it can't be a gaming site that you're withdrawing from. So, I opened a new account on Party Poker (Party instructed me to do this) and have started depositing 1K a day to try to hit the 5K limit.

The plan at this point is to upgrade my HSBC account to a premier and get a VIP MB account. With that I do my withdrawals to MB, then to HSBC, then to a US account with minimal fees. I will likely open a US HSBC account when I get back to the US so I can transfer online without doing wires (and paying fees) to other US banks.

Plan B: When back in the US, if I'm not able to get a premier account or VIP MB account for some reason, is to wire the money from PokerStars to a Canadian checking account and then write checks to myself and deposit in my US account. I'm not sure how a $52,700 wire is going to go over with a Canadian bank so I"m hoping it doesn't come to this.

That's about all I can think of right now. I may update/change this as more information becomes available as I'm sure a lot of this will be obsolete in a few months.

Good luck to anyone relocating.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Canada: Week 1

Week one is in the books. I set a goal to play 6500 VPPs a day and fell just short earning about 41,000 . I ended up winning about 14K with bonuses/milestone credits and am very happy with that especially considering I'm down 2 big bets after 22K hands.

I was very rusty the first couple days, making a lot of mistakes. I also started out 6 tabling which was a big mistake. The pace was way too fast and I kept losing track of the action. I've cut down to 4-5 tables now and sometimes 6 when I'm thinking clearly. It's a ton of poker in terms of time, it's taking me about 9 hours a day of playing to hit 6500 VPPs. I don't know if I'll be able to keep up the pace but I'm going to try.

The games themselves have been sporadic. Sometimes they'll be four or five tables going at 30-60+ and other times they'll be several hours with nothing running. Lobby watching has become even more valuable with the higher limits games since they run less frequently now and fill up so quick. In terms of skill, the games seem about the same. It's generally five regulars with one recreational player, with the occasional table with two recreational players. The lower limit games (5-10 and 10-20) run most of the day but there are even periods where those are dead. I've struggled at the lower limits, partly because I don't pay as much attention to them, partly because I'm not familiar with the players, and partly because many of the players are so difficult to read. I have a lot easier time understanding the regs at higher limits and feel like I'm able to exploit them better.

I haven't made any withdrawals yet and that's my main concern right now. It's still unclear how the Canadian banks will feel about US players receiving money from poker sites. More on that to follow..

Here's what the month has looked like so far:

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Back in Business...almost

We arrived in Vancouver on Friday and were detained by border patrol briefly. I immediately told them the truth about what I was doing and they had no problem at all with it. I asked if I was supposed to get a work visa and the agent said, no you're not taking a job away from a Canadian and you're not being funded by any Canadian entity.

Saturday we opened a bank account without issue and I forwarded basically all the proof possible that I was living in Canada to PokerStars and they wouldn't accept it. I went back to the bank, got an official stamp on a copy of a voided check (which they requested) and again they wouldn't accept it (no explanation given). So after maybe ten emails back and forth they agreed to accept a voided check, with an official bank stamp, with very specific wording. I went back to the bank Monday morning, got the document, and even had it addressed to PokerStars. The Financial Services Manager at the bank laughed when I said it was for PokerStars and said I should play on Party Poker, they're always sending him things in the mail.

So I sent the document to PokerStars and finally they accepted it. They called me at my landline here, asked a ton of questions, and said I was up for final review. Final review is taking anywhere from two hours to two weeks or even longer. I was able to get in touch with one of the VIP hosts who works with SNEs and he forwarded my case the head of security and said this generally results in being approved in less than twenty-four hours.

So, that's where I'm at right now. I've been working out and eating healthy, trying to get myself in the best mental shape possible for the grind. I'm planning on being here about four months and would like to make SNE in that time. As of today, I'd have to average earning about 6000 VPPs a day to do this. I'm really not sure if I'll be able to do it but I'm going to try. Over the last year and a half, I haven't really maximized my time in terms of tables when I've been on. If there were only 2 or 3 games going above 15-30, I'd either take a break or just play those tables instead of opening all the 15-30, 10-20, and 5-10 tables I could. So the plan is to always have at least 6 tables going, likely a couple of lower limit tables that I'm paying little attention to and devoting the majority of my attention to the higher limit games. The games seem to be running from early in the morning, maybe 5 or 6 AM PST to about 5 PM. I intend to wake up early, play for four hours, eat lunch, workout, and play for another four hours.

I'm trying to figure out the cheapest way to convert money as well since I'll be receiving funds in Canadian and later converting to US. I haven't been able to find a bank that does it cheaper than 2.3%. My accountant said the fees are deductible so that knocks about 35% off the 2.3% but I'm sure there are better ways of doing it.

I should have another update in the next week or so.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Update Coming

I'm in the process of relocating and hope to have an update in about two weeks. If anyone has relocation questions, feel free to email me - I've done tons and tons of research on it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Mid/High Stakes Multitabling Tips

Most of this post applies to the mid/high stakes games where there are generally few games running and the games that do run are predicated around a recreational player.

Some of this may sound trivial but I always try to look at things in terms of big bets or dollars. Most people spend a lot of time working on their actual game but overlook things like this. To me this is no different than learning a new profitable line or plugging a leak in your preflop game. They both will increase earn over time.

Here are a few tips:

-Make sure the lobby is clearly visible while you're playing.

It's extremely important at mid/high stakes to get into a new game quickly. Most of the time a recreational player sits and the table fills within a minute, sometimes a matter of a few seconds. And within a few minutes the waiting list is often several players deep. Some of these players lose at a clip of 5 BB/100 or more and to miss out on the table, particularly when other games aren't running, is costly.

In my setup I have a sliver of the PokerStars main screen showing on my monitor. It shows just enough of the screen that I can see the tables and # of players at each. I have this placed on my main monitor to the right of the tables I'm playing so I can easily see it without having to turn my head. I've made it a habit to look over any time I have a break in the action.

-Click sit out next big blind when a player the game is built around often leaves the game after only playing an orbit or two.

Pretty self explanatory. When a recreational player leaves the table in the mid/high stakes games, everyone instantly clicks sit out next big blind. It's an unfortunate reality but to avoid being the one who pays their big blind, you're forced to follow suit. I've found players that table hop constantly playing an orbit or two and with these types its important to anticipate them sitting out when seated immediately after them.

-Always check to see who's on the waiting list after you before refusing a table.

Sometimes you'll be offered a seat at a table where the recreational player has left and all good players are sitting out. Before refusing the seat, check to see who is on the waiting list after you. Sometimes a recreational player is waiting and often one of the good players will leave assuming the game has broken, the recreational player will sit, and the game resumes.

-If at capacity in terms of tables and a table becomes available that you don't want to sit at, immediately get back on the waiting list.

Pretty self-explanatory again but in the mid/high stakes environment there generally are a limited amount of games and the ones that do run can break at any moment. So it's important to always be on the waiting lists of all full tables no matter how many you're playing at.

-Do not use the auto-seat option.

Poker Stars did an update a few months back and this was auto-checked for everyone so it would automatically seat you at a table. Sometimes more than one seat will open at a table and there's always more value in having a choice where to sit. You can uncheck this under Options/Advanced Multi-Tabling Options

-Always check to see how much money the recreational players have at your tables before refusing to join another table that you've been waiting on.

Sometimes the recreational player the game's built upon will be shortstacked. If this is the case, it's best to accept the new table and sit out in case the player busts and the game breaks.

-Get on the waiting lists of tables fifteen to thirty minutes before you intend to start playing.

Part of my morning routine involves getting on the waiting lists of games soon after I wake up. Rather than sitting idly waiting to get in game, I can make coffee, read emails, etc. while I'm on the waiting list.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

March in the Books

March was a great month, one of my best ever in fact. I ran exceptionally well particularly at 50-100. I've been really fortunate all year not to run into any extended downswings, hopefully it continues that way for a while. I think I played pretty well this month, I wouldn't say great but maybe my B game on average.

Looking forward to April I have a 5 day pool tournament at the end of the month. And looking even further to May and June, we're heading to Vegas for the WSOP. Even though the WSOP is such a grind and chances are I won't make a final table, I still really look forward to it. The atmosphere is something I love.

One the VPP front, I'm about 6 or 7 days behind right now. I was 10 days behind and am hoping to continue making up ground and be at least on pace by the time the World Series starts since I'll be missing a lot of time that month.

I'm planning on doing at least one strategy post in April as well.

Good luck to everyone at the tables.

Monday, February 28, 2011

February in the Books

February was an unusual month, about 20K hands or halfway through I was even in money terms and down about 100 big bets. From there I went on one of those meteoric upswings where I won roughly 600 big bets and 60K in 10K hands.

I think I played a lot better this month. I was sick for about 4 or 5 days and playing my C game. Aside from that it was mostly my B game or better so I'm happy with that. I spent a lot of time taking notes on regulars and semi-regulars and focusing on areas where I think they're exploitable. At this point, I think my default game with no adjustments is probably a break-even to .5 BB/100 winner and the rest of my profit is coming from those adjustments.

I really haven't been in a blogging mood, hence the lack of updates. That could change but the days of multiple strategy posts in a month are probably gone with so much of my competition aware of this blog. I might write a book at some point but probably not till I'm done playing which I don't foresee anytime soon.

Looking forward to March I have my annual Vegas trip with my best friends I grew up with. It's something I look forward to all year and is a great time. I need to continue to be focused and motivated at the tables and that's the plan.

Good luck in March to everyone reading.

Monday, January 31, 2011

January in the Books

I didn't play very well this month. The .6 BB/100 is likely indicative of my play as I think I ran about average on the month. I was very fortunate to run well at 100-200 or it wouldn't have been nearly as good of a month. I had been running really poorly in the 1-2 games so things are evening out I suppose.

I made a few strategic changes for 2011. I decided I'm going to play a lot of marginal heads up and 3-handed games that I was passing up the last two years. There are a bunch of heads up and short-handed players I feel I have 1-2 BB/100 edge on that I was passing up. This is already paying off. The other big change is that I'm planning on playing any 100-200 games that are running. I have a friend willing to go halves with me in the games and about half the hands I played this month we're shared. This will probably be the norm for a while until I build up a comfortable bankroll to play them on my own.

On the VPP front I managed to earn about 75K VPPs despite missing ten days while playing the PCA. So I'm about 4 days behind there and plan on playing as much as possible in February. I need to step up my game this month, I've been distracted and unfocused way too often lately.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sizing up Games

Something I started doing late last year was to create a spreadsheet with the names of the regulars and non-regulars in my games. The first column I have is a rating between 1 and 10 of what I think each players approximate skill level is. This allows me to quickly look at a table, add up my ratings and arrive at a number that tells me the skill level of a table. This is particularly useful when I'm playing 4 or 5 tables and have the choice of joining more tables. 4 or 5 is my capacity so I can quickly make a decision whether to stay in a game or drop the one I'm in and start a new one. Although I know most of the regulars in my games, there are a lot of semi-regular players where I recognize the names but can't remember how they play. You're probably thinking, why not look them up on PTR, wouldn't that be easier? One reason I don't do that is that it's against PokerStars T&C's to have PTR open while their client's open. The second reason is that PTR often doesn't tell the whole story. Players play NL and Limit which can skew win rates. Also, players play heads up and short-handed which skew win rates. It usually takes me about a hundred hands to get a very good idea of someone's skill level and I feel more confident in my assessment than looking at PTR.

In addition to my rating column, I have a long column with all of my notes. Specifically, areas where I think my opponent can be exploited. To give you an example of some of the things I look for:

- High fold big blind to steal%
- Low or High 3-bet %
- Preflop positions where my opponent is overagressive
- Whether my opponent checks back flops or not
- How showdown bound is my opponent - how bluffable is he
- High or low flop and turn check raise %'s

All of these things allow me to make adjustments against my opponents. For example, if somebody is checking back a lot of flops (by a lot I mean 10% or more), I'll adjust by 3-betting from the big blind preflop and capping when out of position and having been 3-bet.

A nice benefit of having everything in a spreadsheet is that I'm able to look at a table before I start playing and formulate a game plan in my head with regard to how I'll play against the table in general as well as the specific players. So for example, let's say there's a seat open with a player that has a low 3-bet% to the left of the seat and then a player with a high fold BB to steal % one or two seats after him. I'll make a mental note before sitting that I need to expand my stealing ranges. I find it a lot easier to do all this before I start playing rather than starting 4 tables at once and doing it on the fly.

In nearly all sports, the competitors know who they're up against and formulate a game plan prior to competing that seeks to exploit their opponent's weaknesses and maximize their strengths. Poker shouldn't be any different.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Bahamas Update

It's been a rough trip gambling/poker wise. I ended up losing about 20K at the blackjack tables and didn't cash in five tournaments. In addition to the main event I played a 1K, a 1500, and two of the nightly turbos. In both the turbos, I tripled my starting stack early and then lost big races. The turbos are pretty crazy with the blinds escalating every fifteen minutes and people getting it in with all sorts of hands. In the 1K I had about 25K late in day 1 from a 10K starting stack and then lost a big all-in with AK vs. AQ. 2 hands later I raised AK from early position got called by two players and got it in on a KT5 all hearts flop. One of the players had flopped a flush - I was about 30 big blinds deep to start the end so it was unavoidable. I played the 1500 today and had my chips up to about 20K from the 12k starting stack and then was back down to about 13K when I ran nines on the button into the big blinds Aces.

I'm planning on working on my tournament game this year. I think I've made a lot of improvement over the last year but there's a whole lot of room for more. I'm going to devote Sunday days to tournaments from now on and start 5 or 6 them around midday and really focus on them. The problem I've always had with online tournaments is that I'm usually playing 3-4 limit games and giving all my attention to the cash games. Consequently, my results have suffered but more importantly I'm not learning anything because I'm paying so little attention. I think the best way for me to approach it is to not even look at the lobby for limit games so I can resist the temptation to jump into the games. It's going to cost me some money short-term since my earn is nowhere near the same in tournaments but I really want to improve and hopefully it pays off at some point in the future.

Online poker wise, I've managed to play about 10k hands so far this month and basically picked up right where I left off last month, running very well:

My next post will be strategy related - how I size up games and what I look for in table dynamics, hopefully within the next week or so.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Out of the PCA Main Event

Nothing too eventful to write about. I busted out with about 20 minutes left in Day 1. We started with 30K and I lost two medium/big pots on the river during levels 2 and 3 and was down to about 15K. From there I got back up to about 35K during level 6. I started the last level of the day with about 28K and blinds at 600-1200. I was moved to a really tough table, where I was 3-bet every time I opened - I opened 5 times over the course of about an hour and 40 minutes. I 4-bet all-in twice. The first with KQs and got instacalled with KQ and chopped. The second was with AT and got called by Kings. I don't think people we're 3-betting me light with the exception of the KQ hand, I just kept running into hands. That's poker.

I'm planning on playing a couple of the smaller buy-in events, probably the 1K NL's. I'll have some updates on those.