Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Long time no post.

Took last week off from blogging while I enjoyed life. Went to WS game 1 in fenway, watched the rest of the series, went to a couple of parties, had a friend over 1 night, and life was good.

On the baseball front I’ve been throwing a couple of times. Haven’t been in a couple of days though, and I was especially lazy today. Time to get back to the grind tomorrow.

On the poker front I had a horrible run of 8k hands, followed by some solid grinding and running better over the next 5k. My month has been pretty much a roller coaster, but I’m going to finish well in the black.

I’ve also been playing a lot more NL cash the last couple of days. I watched several of the cardrunners videos by some of the more respected pros on the sight, and have been trying to apply their very LAGGY play at the 1/2NL tables on FTP. Frankly I’ve found the games to be extremely easy playing this style. I’m playing about 32/25 preflop and really focusing on paying attention to the action at the table and my understanding the impact that my table image is having on my opponents.

The effectiveness of this style I believe is in large part due to the shift in the paradigm of online 6max NLHE cash games. As players have gained more experience and knowledge of the game, it has become common knowledge (even among poor and weak players) that tight play is correct. What this means is that the current online cash game fish is not necessarily the loose passive calling station (although those still exist) but many are weak tight TAGs and semi-loose weak players. These players will consistently put money in the pot both pre and post flop and then fold despite the fact that understanding hand ranges they must know that you often have little to no hand.

Thus to be successful at these limits I have begun playing very loose, and VERY aggressive. I consistently raise loose limpers and over-limpers, and try to re-squeeze TAGs whenever possible. This strategy works simply because NLHE cash with 100bb stacks is little more than a glorified game of chicken. Basically this breaks down strategically so that I can consistently 3-bet (re-raise preflop) TAGs, and they realize that they have no good options to combat that. If they re-raise they are committing to play for stacks. If they call they are playing a big pot OOP against a player with a wide range and a lot of possible plays. If they fold then once again they have give up on a pot where they likely had good enough equity to call. There are two ways to counter this, and both still make it relatively easy for me to play. If they start 4-betting me preflop (re-re-raising preflop) then I can scale back my aggression, wait for a hand, and bust their whole stack. If they continue to fold I’m just going to keep running over the table until they fight back, and then I’ll just release my non super-strong hands.

I know this is somewhat simplified, but to a large extent that is it. I’m finding the games to be extremely soft and profitable. Frankly compared to the 10/20 limit games I’m used to grinding it is a joke. If I continue to have success while playing NL and can work my way up to playing 3/6 I may spend significantly more time playing NL.

Here are a couple of hands that went down today to reinforce my points:

In this hand the LAGTAG player on the button is iso-raising the loose limper with a fairly wide range. The player in the SB is cold calling with a very wide range, but has consistently avoided getting his small stack in preflop. I have been 3-betting the LAGTAG quite a bit, but we’ve both played back at each other, and he’s shown my re-raises a lot of respect. I figure I have a good hand against the SBs range, I can get the limper and button to fold, and if the SB wants to play for his stack then so be it. As expected they all folded, and I picked up the dead money.

Full Tilt Poker $1/$2 No Limit Hold'em - 5 players

Hand Converter Tool from www.DeucesCracked.com

SB: $77.05

BB: $226.20

UTG: $122.85

CO: $210.85

Button: $235.35

Preflop: Hero is BB with Tc, As

UTG folds, CO calls $2, Button raises to $9, SB calls $8, Hero raises to $48, CO folds, Button folds, SB folds.

Final Pot: $29.00

So not too long after I pick up KK, and the LAGTAG player raises again from MP. Now if I was playing TAG at this table when I re-raise preflop I am probably not going to get a lot of action. But the fact that I have 3-bet him preflop quite a few times, I expect that he’ll play back with quite a few hands if I re-raise. So when I re-raise I was not surprised when he re-popped me, and I thought for just a few seconds before shoving in. Obviously his call is horrible, but with the aggression he has seen from me, and the number of times I have run him over, I guess he decided he needed to take a stand at some point. This was exactly the result I was looking for. Ship it.

Full Tilt Poker $1/$2 No Limit Hold'em - 6 players

Hand Converter Tool from www.DeucesCracked.com

CO: $200.00

Button: $240.20

SB: $96.85

BB: $153.60

UTG: $162.00

MP: $216.35

Preflop: Hero is Button with Kd, Ks

UTG folds, MP raises to $7, Hero raises to $25, SB folds, BB folds, MP raises to $78, Hero raises to $240.20 (all in), MP calls $138.35 (all in).

Final Pot: $435.70


CO doesn't show.

Hero shows Kd, Ks ().

MP shows Kh, Qh ().

Outcome: ($435.70 Rake)



Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I'm going to Game 1 of the World Series. WOOOOOT!!!!!!

running about breakeven right now since my last post. racking up lots of RB though, and just waiting for the boomswitch to come back. Also picking up more vip and fpp at FTP and AP to trade for cash and goodies.

I'll try to post again later after I finishe a session, and see if I can find any interesting hands to discuss.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

traveling again this weekend

going to VT and NH to see the leaves, drink some cidar, get some maple syrup, and overall kick back with the gf. Should be good times.

Ran horrible all week long, but I'm still showing a decent profit for the month so I can't be too upset. The thing I'm most proud of is that I was on pace to get in more than my goal of 10k hands for the week (except for the fact that I'm going to be gone this weekend). I played almost 8k through 5 days this week, and thats a fair bit of poker.

I've also been shorstacking the 2/4 NL game on AP and FTP. The games are surprisingly soft, especially coming from 10/20 and 8/16 limit 6max. I've been working hard to follow the REM and SPR guidelines and thought process from Professional NLHE. I've found it works very well, and my all-in commitments have been very easy and I'm almost always getting in ahead. When I first heard reviews of the book I had my doubts as to its worth since it seemed like it might turn you into a very predictable player. But employing the strategy myself I find that it works extremely well. I'm no longer lost after the flop in hands, and I know what I need to do to maximize my expectation against LAGs and TAGs. The SPR system lets me know when and how much I need to raise preflop in order to create the right kind of pot for my hand, and set me up in situations where I will make the maximum on the flop.

I really think it is a terrific text, and I think if you haven't read it you should do your NL cash game a favor and pick up a copy.

well off to get some sleep before the drive tomorrow morning. I'll be watching the sox game on TV tomorrow night, but I'm really going to be pulling hard for them because I want to be around Fenway for game 7 on sunday night.

have a great weekend everybody.



Friday, October 19, 2007

what was that that I said yesterday....

That being said Beckett is arguably the greatest postseason pitcher of all time so you can't be giving the ball to a better guy.

gogo sox in game 6....

Thursday, October 18, 2007

ran bad, but still doing ok

So I ran like absolute dog crap for the last 4k hands. Luckily though I had run so good at the beginning of the month that I'm showing a nice profit anyway. I'm still making more per hour playing poker than I was at my job, despite the fact that I think I ran poorly and had at least one session where I played very poorly.

I actually found some really good games at AP tonight, which brings up another interesting issue. I am facing a moral dilemma whether or not to continue playing at AP long term. If you have been following recent online poker news you have probably heard about the AP hacking and cheating scandal. Basically someone hacked the system and could see all of the players hole cards and used it to clean up in the high limit games and in a few big guarantee tourneys. The evidence can be found on twoplustwo and on pocketfives, and it is pretty damning. Especially bad is that the evidence is pointing in the direction of APs former CEO.

Despite the fact that I loathe that AP both let this happen, and attempted to deny it (initially), it is very hard to convince myself to leave the site. Their perks for frequent players are really really nice. They have rakeback, points for cash, frequent bonuses, and have a 9% interest bearing account for VIPs. Those are huge kickbacks that will add greatly to my bottom line. If there was an easy way to move money online nowadays I would be very tempted to move my funds to stars and give it a go. Their security, customer service, and software is pretty much the best in the business. But I have a decent roll on AP and I hate to have that money held up while I figure out how to transfer it.

so we shall see...

In other news the redsox really need for beckett to pitch a great game tomorrow night, otherwise they are probably done. Other than the middle of their lineup noone is hitting at all, and I don't think you can expect to see them score more than 4 runs tomorrow night. That being said Beckett is arguably the greatest postseason pitcher of all time (I said arguably) so you can't be giving the ball to a better guy. I just want to be around the ruckus for game 6 and 7 here in boston. Should be good times.

here is a hand that I played early today that caused me to end my session. I pretty much threw up in my mouth when he turned up his hand:

Full Tilt Poker $10/$20 Limit Hold'em - 5 playersHand Converter Tool from www.DeucesCracked.com
Preflop: Hero is SB with Ts, Th
UTG calls,
CO raises,
Button folds,
Hero 3-bets,
BB folds,
UTG calls,
CO calls.
Flop: (10.00 SB) 6h, Td, 6c (3 players)
Hero bets, UTG raises, CO folds, Hero 3-bets, UTG calls.
Turn: (8.00 BB) 4c (2 players)
Hero bets, UTG raises, Hero 3-bets, UTG caps!, Hero calls.
River: (16.00 BB) 8d (2 players)
Hero bets, UTG raises, Hero 3-bets, UTG raises to $73 (all in), Hero calls.
Final Pot: 23.30 BB
Results:Hero mucks Ts, Th.
UTG shows 6s, 6d (four of a kind, Sixes).
Outcome: UTG wins 23.15 BB.($3.00 Rake)

thats right I flopped the second nuts against the nuts and we capped both of the big streets. $460 pot, shipt it to him. also lost a $450 pot with AA against AT when villain caught his two outer on the turn in a 5-way preflop capped pot. If I had won those two pots (along with the $1000 NL pot where AA hit a two outer on my set on the turn) I would be having a very very nice month. Instead I'm grinding.

oh well, still beats the hell out of that cubicle (and I'm making more $$ too).

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My first losing day :-(

-$1000 today (not counting RB which should be worth about $100). PLayed about 1.5k hands, and it was a total roller coaster. I started out by dropping $600 in about an hour just running horribly. Then I made it all back +$300 running really good at a 10/20 table.

Took a break to watch some baseball, and played about as well as the Red Sox did tonight when I came back. Got brutalized in HUHU where I ran horribly (never flopped a pair and missed every draw....Yay!). At the same time I was losing in a great 10/20 game where I had the best seat. Dropped a quick $900 and I was back to -$650 for the day.

Played a late night early morning sesssion of 3-tables, and just ran and played fairly bad. Had several two outers in big pots, and wasn't catching many cards. Only lost $350 during the session, but I decided to quit because I was tired and the tables where turning crappy.

Overall it wasn't a stressful day, because I am happily well rolled for the games I'm playing in (think over 1000BB). And I'm still having a solid month and on target to meet my monthly goals. Mostly though I just need to be getting in more hands since the trip to durham this weekend, and still being at my job the first week has set me behind for the month. I would like to get close to 40k hands this month, and I'm currently only at 6k. To get there I need to play 2k hands a day for the rest of the month, and I have my doubts whether I'll make it. Either way I'll give it a go.

Weekend was good times, and seeing all of my old teammates and some former classmates was a blast. Hit up all of our favorite spots, and generally had a good time. Duke got killed in football (shocking), but the tailgate was as crazy as ever. I threw decent in the alumni game, but I only pitched 1 inning because noone really wanted to face me (I throw quite a bit harder than typical alumni game standards).

Tomorrow is serious grinding. Need to work out, get in 2k hands, post some HHs on 2p2 for discussion, and generally get back in the flow of things. I certainly think part of my losing today was due to rust and poor play on my part.


Friday, October 12, 2007

I run goot

+$915 in a quickie session tonight at a table of 10/20 and a table of 8/16. I really felt like I played well, and I adjusted very well to have a bad seat in the 10/20 game (tight guys were to my right and LAGs were to my left).

my flight is leavig in 7.5 hours so I'm going to be early tonight to get some sleep. I was supposed to be finishing beers and stumbling down main st. for burritos right now, but instead I have to get up at 6:30am to go to the airport. yuck.

so here is an interesting hand from tonight:

Full Tilt Poker $10/$20 Limit Hold'em - 6 playersHand Converter Tool from http://www.deucescracked.com/

Preflop: Hero is BB with 2s, 7s
UTG raises, MP folds, CO folds, Button folds, SB calls, Hero calls.

Flop: (6.00 SB) 2d, 8d, Kc (3 players)
SB checks, Hero checks, UTG bets, SB folds, Hero calls.

Turn: (4.00 BB) 4d (2 players)
Hero checks, UTG checks.

River: (4.00 BB) 5h (2 players)
Hero bets, UTG calls.

Results:Hero shows 2s, 7s (a pair of Twos).
UTG mucks Tc, Ac.
Outcome: Hero wins 5.85 BB.($3.00 Rake)

abbreviations i tend to use:
c/f = check planning on folding to a bet
c-bet = continuation bet
c/c = check planning on calling a bet
c/r = check planning on raising a bet
UI = unimproved hand
b/f = bet planning on folding to a raise

so I call preflop because the UTG raiser is very laggy and the SB CC is horrible and I'm getting 5-1 with a suited hand.

On the flop I would normally c/f, but I know that the UTG is going to c-bet his whole range and I'm getting 7-1 to call which is almost enough if I have 5 outs (which I do the vast majority of the time). Plus if I hit my two pair or trips and he has a hand I'm going to get more than enough bets on the bigger streets to give me implied odds. Also I've c/c the flop and c/r the turn against him recently so there is a chance he'll check behind most of his UI hands and I get to see a free river card.

He checks behind on the turn when a blank falls. Then another blank drops on the river. At this point I can't c/c since if he bets on the end he is probably ahead of my hand, especially because I expect him to check behind all UI A-high. However UI A-high makes up a huge portion of his range since he didn't bet the turn, and that is exactly what wil call my bet for value. So I decide to b/f the river, and he calls with AT which is exactly what i wanted.

for the second time I wish everyone a great weekend.

peace and fish grease


Thursday, October 11, 2007

total devastation....

fligh cancelled. Nothing leaving Boston tonight. Earliest flight I can get is tomorrow morning. Beers will be consumed, and good times will be had, and I won't be there. Thanks crappy boston weather!

well at least I can log in some more hands tonight. Not right now though, I'm on life tilt.

Day 4: I'm out b!tches!

Heading back to Duke for homecoming this weekend. Will be drinking with my boys at all of our favorite spots within 6 hours. NLCS starts tonight, and playoff baseball is the nutz, so I'll be watching. Sucks I'll miss the Fenway environment here in Boston this weekend though.

Played about 400 hands this afternoon, +$400 from, most from a horrible horrible player who ran triple donk bluffs when I flopped the nut straight. It was nice having him at the table.

have a great weekend!

Day 3 and Day 2 Addendum

After I posted last night/eary wed morning I found a great full ring 10/20 game that was breaking down to shorthanded, and a decent 8/16 game. Here is the thing about full ring games that are breaking down: when it gets shorthanded the people left at the table generally don't know what they are doing. Most full ring players whether decent or bad don't adjust well to shorthanded. In addition, when the game is breaking down typically the winners are leaving and the losers who are trying to catch up are left to play. So you can find a lot of good spots in a 9-handed table that only has 2-5 people at it. I ended up playing headsup with 1 stubborn player at the 10/20 table and took about 12BB off of him before someone joined the game. The someone was a bad LAG who quickly dumped off $150, and suddenly my so-so day was looking good.

Ended up about +$500 on day 2, so it was much nicer than originally noted.

Today I went and did a little more pitching, but mostly was just throwing to stretch my arm out. After yesterday I was a little sore, especially in my hand since throwing splitters (for the first time in a while) really puts a lot of strain on the joints in your fingers and hand. I was smart this time and left the apartment at 2pm so I was able to avoid most of the traffic. My arm felt pretty good, but I haven't decided whether to take tomorrow off or throw. I'm heading to Duke for homecoming tomorrow, and we have the alumni game on friday. Since I plan on pitching in the game I don't want my arm to be sore. But I could use the extra work, so it is a toss up right now.

On the poker front I played mostly NL today ranging from .10/.20 to 1/2. I am a prop player at a small site and I was just trying to get in enough hands to clear my bonus that is expiring on sunday. I also played a guy at headsup limit, and ended up taking his 25BB, although the rake ate half of that. I ended up making about $150 from the games, and cleared my $300 deposit bonus. Overall my initial $300 roll on that site turned into about $1300. I'm seriously considering cashing it out though, and depositing it on Pstars. I have basically no money on stars right now, and I can't make enough money propping at the small site to justify playing there. Also the game selection is really poor in off peak hours at the small site, and if I was going to play small stakes for fun it would probably be HORSE or stud8, not micro or small NL (ugh).

Planning on playing a session on AP or FTP depending on the games here in a little bit. Hopefully crank out 500 hands or so before I go to bed.

Also started reading Professional NLHE. So far so good. They are just getting the basics out of the way. Reading the book should seriously help my NL cash game though, which is just average IMO.

here's an interesting hand that I played today with commentary in bold:

*** Handhistory for game 25294542 ***Blinds $0.25/$0.50 NL Hold'em - 11.10.2007 - 03:13Burgas

Seat 5 is the button
Total number of players: 5
Seat 1: ColonelGriff ( $72.69 ) - in game
Seat 2: BROOKLYNVA ( $27.05 ) - in game
Seat 3: theufuque ( New player )
Seat 4: themightyjim ( $49 ) - in game
Seat 5: Senate50 ( $59.45 ) - in gameSeat 6: 9999 ( $80.05 ) - in game

9999 posts SB $0.25.
ColonelGriff posts BB $0.50.
**** dealing down cards ****
Dealt to themightyjim [ 8d, as ] so I figure I'll steal the blinds here with a weak A.
themightyjim raises $3. Ooops! This is the .25/.50 table not the .5/1 table (I was playing both at the time)
Senate50 folds.9999 calls $2.75. Crap, somebody has a hand
ColonelGriff folds.
**** dealing flop ****
[ 5d, 6d, 7c ]
theufuque has joined the table
9999 checks.
themightyjim bets $3. Hmmm I flop an OESD and two overs, I want to bet small so maybe I can take a free card if I miss on the turn (plus I might take it down).
9999 calls $3.
**** dealing turn ****
[ 3h ]
9999 checks.
themightyjim checks. Yay! I get to take a free card!
**** dealing river ****
[ 4s ] DOUBLE YAY! I rivered the second nutz!!!!
9999 checks.
themightyjim bets $12. OK I'm going to bet the full pot because he'll always call, and he might think there is enough out there to try to bluff at it.
9999 raises $74.05. Oh god....maybe he flopped the nuts (89o) oh well can't fold the second nuts to a random player.
themightyjim calls $31.
9999 shows a straight, seven high [ 9h, 9c ]. His thoughts: LOLz...he never has an 8 I be bluffing all-in.
themightyjim shows a straight, eight high [ 8d, as ].
themightyjim wins $95.50 from main pot with a straight, eight high [ 8d, 7c, 6d, 5d, 4s ].
Ship it grandma.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Day 2, hello Variance, we meet again.

So day two is in the bag. Didn't get as many hands in as I wanted today. I spent most of the morning taking care of some errands and working out (laundry, haircut, running, etc). I also got some books in the mail today, including: Professional No Limit Hold'em (for if I ever go to the darkside), Turning your Poker Playing into a Business (how to register as a business and file as a pro gambler), and The Gamblers Guide to Taxes (which I browsed through and almost fell asleep ugh). The latter two of which I think will be required reading over the next month. I've already started keeping receipts. Planning on getting a business checking account, credit card, printer/fax, and maybe even business cards. I want to be as legit as possible in the IRS's eyes.

After running errands and browsing my books I made the mistake of trying to beat rush hour traffic at 4:15pm to go do some pitching. I hit the traffic, and a normally 20 minute drive took an hour.

Despite that it felt great to get back to throwing. I haven't thrown much since the season wrapped up in mid august, and all I can say is that the world feels right when I have a baseball in my hand.

Came back from pitching at about 6pm and grabbed some dinner. Watched a little TV while I was datamining some tables, and then I sat down for a session. Right away I could tell it was going to be a rough one. I got 2-3 outed a few times, and then I definitely caught myself making some really bad bluffs and call downs in spots where I shouldn't ever win the pot. Finally I realized that I was playing like crap, and not running much better so I took a break. Normally I would stay and work through it, but honestly I had bad spots at all of my tables so I really wasn't giving much up. I was down about $500 at one point, but I made back about $250 before getting up.

So then about 2 hours ago I hopped back on and found a couple of better games, and finally some decent seats. I had the LAGs to my right, and was able to play my game. I felt like I played much better the second session, and despite a couple of rough beats I was able to make back all of my losses from earlier. This was more of an accomplishment because I started out pretty bad during my second session, and got down another $500 (-$750 for those keeping track) before clawing my way back. So I finally wrapped it up +$120 (not counting rakeback) so I was really pleased with the session.

Along with yesterdays +$1300, that makes for a nice start to the pro career.

here's an interesting hand from today:

Full Tilt Poker $10/$20 Limit Hold'em - 6 playersHand Converter Tool from http://www.deucescracked.com/
Preflop: Hero is SB with 5c, Ac, UTG folds, MP folds, CO raises, Button folds, Hero 3bets, BB folds, CO calls.
Flop: (7.00 SB) 7s, 5h, Th (2 players)Hero bets, CO calls.
Turn: (4.50 BB) 4d (2 players)Hero bets, CO raises, Hero 3-bets, CO calls.
River: (10.50 BB) Ad (2 players)Hero bets, CO raises, Hero 3-bets, CO folds.
Final Pot: 14.50 BB

so the CO has been very laggy, and is playing about 35/25 preflop. I know he could be stealing with a huge range of his hands, and I also have some notes that make me think he plays poorly postflop (IMO). I 3-bet out of the SB because a) I think I have the best hand b) I want to get the BB out and play HU with the CO. On the flop I hit a pair which is obviously good, and the c-bet is totally standard.

Now on the turn he raises on a very draw heavy board. Against this type of player I'm almost never folding in this spot, because he could be raising anything trying to get me to lay down a small pair or A-high. This could be KQo, 97s, or practically anything. Now the board is obviously not good for my hand, but we've played pots together, and he knows that if I call the turn I'm almost certainly going to call the river. Thus if he is semi-bluffing he gets to play his hand perfectly. Check-behind all draws, and bet all made hands. So I take a line that is not usual for me, and 3-bet the turn from OOP with a weak made hand. This is typically a bad play, but against this player I think I am ahead of his range, since he would tend to call down instead of raising the turn with weak made hands.

The river presents another interesting spot. Obviously if I think he is on a missed draw or a weak hand I want to get him to call or bluff. But against this particular player I expect him to check behind on the river most of the time, and if he bets he is very unlikely to call a c/r. My line looks so suspicious if I 3-bet the turn and check on the river that I think he'll probably give up or fold to a c/r. So in order to maximize I try to take advantage of his laggy tendencies by giving him a chance to bluff-raise another potential scare card. By leading the river I guarantee that he has to pay 1 bet to see a SD with all weak made hands, and if he wants to bluff (which this player loves to do) he's going to bluff raise so i can put in the third bet. If the river hadn't improved my hand I probably would have c/c'd and hoped to catch him with hearts or a straight draw. But with the river improvement I had a great chance to pick up at least 1 or maybe 2 bets.

I think my turn play is very questionable, but I felt like I needed to mix it up versus this very laggy player that had been trying to run me over. However despite my so-so turn play, my decision to bet and three-bet the river I thought was very solid.



Monday, October 8, 2007

My first day....

This is my first day playing poker full time. Just having a window here beside me while I type this is such a huge initial improvement. I left a job in structural engineering because everyday that I sat in that drab grey cubicle a little bit more inside of me died. I had contemplated making this move for a long time. But taking the leap from having a comfortable twice-monthly paycheck is a hard thing. Especially when you have expensive apartment rent and student loans to pay. And honestly it wasn't until this summer that I think I became good enough that I could consider playing full time.

So this blog entry is going to be about my poker history. Then I'm going to write my next entry about my baseball aspirations. And after that I'll probably update with the ups and downs and the interesting things that happen along the way. Maybe it will be a real bore and not worth reading. But whether exciting and humorous or dull and repetitive I think it will be a good way for me to remember this experience. If nothing else I'll have something to look back at and remember when I decided to take a shot at a couple of my dreams.

Poker...where to begin. I first became interested poker when I first saw some of my baseball teammates playing on a road trip in '03. They were playing a bevy of wild card games as well as some blackjack. Considering all we had was meal money to play with these guys were gambling fairly high. There were pots worth a couple of hundred dollars, and needless to say the big winners usually had to buy the beers for that weekend. I had no idea how to play, assumed it was gambling, and being the frugal person I am I stayed away from their games.

The next 12 months I started seeing reruns of the 2003 WSOP (ty Mr. Moneymaker) as well as WPT events. For a super competitive games player like myself (I grew up playing multiple sports and was an avid Magic: The Gathering player for about 4 years) this looked like the perfect hobby.

I quickly began trying to find games to play in. We had some $5 buy-in games on occasion, but that wasn't working for me. While I was home for about 6 weeks that summer I purchased my first set of poker chips. They were fabulous 11.5g casino clay dice chips (all the CTers reading this will get a kick out of that). They were total crap, but I thought they were awesome. Apparently so did all of my friends back at school. When I went back for summer session to take a couple of classes I had no trouble getting a game going almost any night of the week. I was waiting tables most nights with a couple of friends, so when we would get off work around midnight we would grab a case of beer and get around a table and start playing cards. One of them had one of those felt tabletops, so obviously we felt like real gamblers. None ever won or lost more than $10, but it was a great bit of fun. The 2004 WSOP coverage was coming on ESPN, and I was getting more and more hooked.

When my teammates came back in town the games continued. We played at least a couple of times each week. I quickly became known as one of the better players. I credited most of my success to having bought a copy of Super System before fall break and reading it over the break. Mr. Brunson's ideas revolutionized my game at the time. Suddenly I was an aggressive and dangerous player that other people stayed out of the way of. I began to crush those games. I even made enough money in $5 increments to pay for my books in the spring of 2005 (which isn't cheap if you've seen the price of textbooks recently). Even when I had homework to do I would just take it with me to the games and play between hands. Poker was one of the few things that the baseball player could to for fun. We couldn't go out and party like most students since we had practice or a game nearly everyday.

Around November 2004 I created an account on UB and started playing play money and freerolls. I built up my playmoney to several million at one point, but lost it all in tilty sessions over Christmas break. That was my first taste with losing, and even though it was only play money it really bothered me. By this time I had Cloutier's NL and PL HE book (which is garbage) and I felt like I really knew what I was doing.

Spring 2005 came and went. I was swamped with finishing up my undergrad requirements for my two majors. We were finding less and less time to play with so many games, assignments, road trips, finals, etc etc etc. Eventually graduation came and went. I moved out of the dorms, and into an apartment off campus. I was planning on going to grad school the next year and playing baseball for one more season so this wasn't a big shift.

I found an offer for a free $100 on party poker through someone on Chiptalk.net (great website with everything you could ever want to know about poker chips) and soon was playing SNGs and $25NL on party several hours a night. I quickly ran my $100 up to $300 before variance began to kick in. For the next 8 months that $100 would fluctuate between $75 and $600 pretty rapidly as I tried to figure out how to beat NL cash games. I typically played 6max NL25 and usually 2-4 tables at a time. I had tilt issues, and also had no idea how to pick out a good table. So of course variance was high. I can proudly say though, that I never deposited a dime of my own money.

By this point it was winter of 2005 and I had a decent library of poker books. I had become tired of the constant fluctuations of my "bankroll" so I started keeping a serious log of my wins and losses, hours played, hands played, etc. My goal was to figure out what went right when I won, and what went wrong when I lost. Keeping the log was the first thing that started to turn me into a winning player. Before long I actually had a clue what I was doing. I also decided to try playing some limit because I thought it sounded like a decent change of pace. I really loved the .5/1 limit games where felt like the players played horribly. The more limit I played the more I liked it. I didn't feel like I tilted as much. Plus I was a curious player, and limit let me see what opponents had without blowing through stacks.

By the summer of 2006 I was playing 100% limit. Typically my sessions would be a couple of hours long and I would play 2-3 tables of 1/2 full ring on party. As I wasn't working a job and just house sitting for friends, I had a lot of free time. I ran my small bankroll up to $1.2k a couple of times, and then experienced bad swings down to $450 a couple of times. A few times I thought about quitting because the ups and downs were driving me crazy. I took a break for a few weeks to move to Boston in the end of that summer.

When I got to Boston I decided that it was time to take things more seriously if I was going to win at poker. I had already purchased Small Stakes Shorthanded by Ed Miller, which had improved my game by leaps and bounds. I was playing quite a bit of 2/4 now, and felt like I had a decent handle on the game. I decided to purchase pokertracker and start tracking my data. Soon I was able to get reads on opponents, and actually put thought into my table selection. Suddenly the game made much more sense. I began to look for leaks using poker tracker, and quickly figured out some weak spots in my game.

About that same time the US govt. passed the UIGEA and the Party was over. I used Neteller to move my roll to Full Tilt, and got a rakeback deal. I decided almost immediately that I should be playing 2/4 full time on FTP because that would make clearing the bonus faster (sound logic eh?). So while my bankroll went through pretty large fluctuations, I cleared the $600 deposit bonus on FTP, and got my first taste of rakeback. That $300 in my account that month was amazing. Free money for playing poker! I was pumped.

A couple of decent months of play and I was able to move up to 3/6. Soon I was 4-tabling 3/6 regularly with my PT stats and HUD fired up. I was reading and posting on 2p2 regularly, and my poker book library was quite extensive. I was a regular multi-tabling HUD 2p2 TAG. The kind of folks that you hate to see at your table. Now I was still just a so-so player, but I thought I was good. I was playing higher than ever before, and I was winning, so I had to be good right?

I decided to take a shot and deposit some money on AP and take advantage of their RB and bonus. Before I knew it I had a couple of grand between my two accounts. The RB was rolling in and I was beating 3/6. Not for a huge amount, but I was beating the game. I actually thought for the first time in the winter of 06-07 "I could do this for a living". How wrong I was.

In January of 2007 I decided I'd had enough of full ring. The games were drying up because of the UIGEA, and everyone who posted on 2p2 said that 6max was the way to go. I gave the small 6max games a few shots. I played like a total lag idiot. I opened any Ax from any spot in the table, 3-bet suited connectors, over played every pair etc. It was like I forgot everything I knew over my past year of playing full ring. 50k hands of limit poker in the last 6 months and I was playing like an idiot. But somehow my understanding of general hand reading, odds, relative hand strength, proper aggression etc was still keeping me above water. By hand 15k I was beating 6max for a small amount. I still had a lot to learn, but I was a full convert. The games were more interesting. I got to play more hands. I had to challenge myself. Poker was more exciting than it had been in months.

After about 30k hands of steadily beating 3/6 6max I decided it was time to take a shot at 5/10. My first session went smoothly and I left up about $220. I thought, "Man, this is easy money". Again, how wrong I was. Despite my success at 3/6, I knew the games were pretty bad last winter. The fish hadn't yet come back from the UIGEA scare, and tables were full of grinders and LAGTAGs. I decided to make the move to 5/10 full time after a good run, and it was almost the end of my poker roll.

A 275BB losing streak quickly smashed my 4k bankroll. I tried playing more tables. I tried playing fewer tables. I tried changing seats. I got more aggressive. I got less aggressive. Nothing was working. From March 2007-May of 2007 the tables continually beat me down again and again and again. I had thought I knew about as much about limit hold'em as you could, apparently I was wrong. I thought about just giving it all up. Cash out my $2k and enjoy it. The variance was too much, and I simply wasn't good enough. Instead I took about 4 weeks where I barely played any. I reread some books (SSSH, Theory of Poker, Hold'em Poker for Advanced Players). I played some SNGs. I picked up the new book Winning in Tough Hold'em games.

I followed this up with more reading and studying, and posting on 2p2. I finally dipped my feet back in June of 2007. Mostly playing 3/6 and some 5/10. I was winning again, but not steadily. After posting and reading more on 2p2 I decided I needed some coaching. Coaching is a little pricey though, so I settled for the next best thing. I became a member of DeucesCracked.com. Their videos were a huge help to my game. I watched terrific winning players break down how and why they played hands the way they did. They had great lessons on tilt control, table and seat selection, and adjusting to the other players. The impact on my game was immediate.

By the end of Summer 2007 I had gone from a close to breakeven TAG grinder at 6max, to consistently winning in the 5/10 games on FTP and AP. My understanding of the game was better than ever before. I could see my mistakes ahead of time. I knew when it was time to get up and leave a table. I knew how to find and sit with the fish. My table and game selection were better than ever. I had cut down to 2 tables and began taking detailed notes on all of the players I played against. For the third time in my 3 year poker journey I felt I had the game figured out, but this time I had learned enough to realize you can't ever stop learning. I may be nearing 100k hands of 6max in the last 9 months, but I realize it wasn't until the last 35k that I actually started to get the game.

I continued to post on 2p2 everyday. I began swapping HH with other players for review, and even did some coaching and HH reviewing for some other players. All of the while my bankroll was growing steadily. I hit the 5-figure mark and decided to take shots at 10/20. I only let myself play when I found a good seat in a good game. Practicing such strong game and seat selection led to immediate good results at 10/20. It really isn't significantly different than 5/10 if you find good games.

Around this same time I decided I had enough of my job. I was making more per hour and per month playing poker than I was at work. I wanted free time to pursue baseball. I decided to take a shot at going pro.And that is where we are now. I am playing poker full time. I consistently play 5/10 and 10/20 6max. I usually play 2 tables at a time and work hard on game and seat selection, taking reads, and paying attention to opponents. I also play some NL, and occasionally low stakes (2/4 and 3/6) mixed games. I feel like I am one of the better players in the games I play in, and more importantly I pick better spots than many of the people I play with.

I just finished up my first session as a full time player before writing this lengthy blog entry. +$800 or 40BB in about 250 hands. It was a nice heater. I had all of the fish to my right and they kept dumping to me the whole session. I don't think the other TAGs were happy that I had the best seat on all 3 tables. When the fish busted I decided to take a break. Guess I'll go check out how the games are now.

My baseball background (to be quite a bit briefer) to come in a few days. I might update with daily stuff before then.

currently listening to: Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds Live at Luther College.

Peace and fish grease....themightyjim2k

Wednesday, October 3, 2007