Sunday, November 25, 2007

Going pro or going nowhere?

I just got back from my Asian holiday. I had a great time in Thailand eating and drinking too much, and doing a ton of shopping. It also gave me some time to think about where I'm going with the whole poker thing.

My goal has always been to get my game to a standard where I can take a year off work and have a shot at going pro. I've carefully calculated what level and win rate I need to be at to enable this to happen. I've spent the last couple of years studying and playing poker in most of my spare time, working towards this goal. Unfortunately while my game has improved greatly over the last couple of year, so has everyone else's. Over the last 6 months despite a lot of effort on my part my win rate has actually dropped. Most people have realized that to be successful at No Limit Hold'em you need to play aggressively. While the fish haven't disappeared from the game the number of sharks lurking to drain them of their money has grown exponentially.

Doing the sums on going pro next year I've figured out that I would need to 9 table the NL200 games for 30 hours a week to make an acceptable return. While this is easily within my grasp, the prospect of sitting in front of a computer grinding away at 30 hours of poker a week in solitude has become very unappealing to me. A year ago I would have jumped at the chance, but at the moment I just can't find the enthusiasm for it.

Where does this leave me with poker? I can't continue working a full time job and keep grinding away at poker in the evenings if I don't have a set goal. At the same time I have invested a good chunk of my time into poker over the last couple of years and would hate to see that go to waste. My ultimate goal was to be able to make an average living from poker playing about 20 hours a week, and use the rest of the time to explore a few other opportunities and have more free time. To achieve this I would require a good win rate at the NL400 games, and unfortunately I can't see this occurring anytime soon.

On returning to Australia I got offered a work contract up in Fiji for a month, which I have decided to accept. My plan is to play no poker, work hard, and to enjoy the beaches of Fiji. I intend to take a ton of poker books with me and see if I can't figure out some way to take my game to the next level. If I have internet access I will also signup to and see what I can learn from their pros. If I don't feel confident that I can improve my game and progress up to NL400 before March 2008, then I intend to shift my focus towards playing tournaments in 2008. If for no other reason than to have a change.

This means that this will be my last blog posting for 2007. While I enjoy writing about the game, if I am not playing, then I see very little point in writing a poker blog. I hope that after a month's break I will be ready to take my game and this blog to the next level. I hope everyone has a great Christmas, and I look forward to catching up with all of the goings on in the Poker world from the beginning of January 2008. Thanks for all the support in 2007 and hopefully everyone will stick around for the start of my new improved blog at the beginning of 2008.

Good luck at the tables all.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Busy, busy, busy

Things have been flat out for me lately. A new Asian airline has started flying into the gold coast, and has done an opening special of $99 flights to Malaysia. I managed to get a couple of weeks off work to take a holiday up there, but I promised to get everything up to date before I leave this Thursday. That means 14 or 15 hour days at work to get everything sorted, but it will all be worth it once I get on the plane. I'm heading over to Malaysia for 4 days, then over to Bangkok for a week.

Poker wise I've been a bit short of time, and as tired as a dog, but I've still managed to play about 10,000 hands over the last week. I've been 12 tabling the NL50 because I've been too tired to play NL100. I tried 15 tables last Friday, but with only a 20" monitor ran out of places to fit 15 tables, so it was a bit of a disaster. Will save the 15 tabling until I get a 24" monitor.

Now that I've played over 200,000 at both NL50 and NL100 I thought that I would list some of the differences that I've noticed between the two levels:

  • Continuation betting: NL50 player seem to love to check raise on the flop. It doesn't matter if they have a hand or not, they like to give the check raise a shot. This means that if I have position I'll often check my missed flops at NL50, and bet my monster hands. In NL100 I find the continuation bet works a lot better, and unless I have a good reason not to, I will always continuation bet any raise I make before the flop.
  • Calling stations: NL50 has a lot more calling stations that are prepared to commit most of their stack on top pair with a good kicker. This mean playing fairly straight forward poker at NL50 bet with a hand, check-fold with no hand. In NL100 you need to mix it up a lot more and try to trick your opponents more often.
  • No of people seeing the flop: With NL50 you defiantly get a lot more caller before the flop, meaning you can play a lot more hands, and I don't raise as much in NL50 with medium hands as I am going to get plenty of callers, with someone likely to hit it more than me. In NL100 you get a lot more raising and 3 betting, so you get to see a lot less flops so need to try and extract maximum value from you big hands.

  • Maximizing value: Often when opponents hit the nuts at NL50 they will bet the minimum, scared everyone will fold. Quite often I will be amazed how a NL50 player will bet $4 into a $25 pot with the nuts. In NL100 players will nearly always try to extract maximum value from their huge hands.

In summary it is safe to say that NL100 players are a lot more aggressive. This isn't always a bad thing but you do need to play the two levels a lot differently. In NL50 you can fold a lot of average hands and wait until you get a monster, knowing there is a good chance you will get paid off. In NL100 you need to get value out of a bigger range of hands to end up ahead. I certainly enjoy playing the NL50 games a lot more, but can still make a higher overall profit at NL100.

I'm heading overseas on Thursday, but hope to get another post in before I go. I doubt that I will get much chance to post while on Holiday, so there might not be a lot happening here over the next week or so.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Multitable Madness

I 12 tabled the Pokerstars NL50 tables again last night, and I can't believe how much softer they are than the NL100 tables. I was thinking of moving back to the NL100 tables tomorrow, but the games are so good at NL50 that I am thinking of taking a shot at 15 tabling them for a couple of days. Don't know how it will work out, but i'll give it a shot tomorrow and let you all know how it goes. 15 tabling isn't that hard, but it does cost you money when you have tough decisions which need thinking about on multiple tables at the same time. I might just buy in for $30 on each table so that the hard decisions are kept to a minimum, and move more into shove or fold mode.

Found an interesting new site called I don't know how complete and accurate the figures are on the site, but it lists the top winners and losers at each level in cash games on Full Tilt. Below are some of the figures. I assume the week to date figures are for the last 3 days. To win or lose $1500 in 3 days of poker at NL100 is fairly high.

The next figures are the overall top winners at NL100 Pokertracker stats for the last week. As you can see the top winners all have one thing in common, they are highly aggressive. They play a lot of hands, raise nearly every pot that they enter, and keep on betting after the flop. It's certainly a lot more aggressive than I'm comfortable playing, but there might be something to it.

It will be interesting to see how the top players stats look after the site has been running for a few months. I keep you updated. Overall the message seems to be that if you want to win big then you need to bet big and often, and hope like hell that variance is on your side. Good luck all.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

It’s all in the mind

I've been in a bit of a rut with my poker lately. My results have been fairly average, and I am struggling to get excited about grinding out the hands each day. I have thought about moving up a level but decided it could be a dangerous move, so have decided instead to play more tables. I used to 12 table without too many problems, but wanted to concentrate on improving my poker play, so cut it back to 9. I think that I have now improved my game and am ready for 12 again. Pokerstars seems to have increased their max tables allowed to 15. I don't think I'm quite ready for 15 yet, but it could be fun to give it a go sometime. I get quite a bit of overlap 12 tabling on my 20" monitor so am thinking of upgrading to a 24". I started 12 tabling the NL50 tables today to get back into the swing of it, and went on a real rush. The good thing about playing more tables is that there is less time to get bored and I can complete my hands quicker each day. Fingers crossed that I can keep focused and playing well 12 tabling over extended periods.

Today's Topic: Why am I not winning at poker:

Here are the seven top psychological factors that damage your play and perceptions of poker according to Alan Schoonmaker in his excellent book "Your worst poker enemy".

  • Know less about the game than you think you know
  • Are less talented than you think you are
  • Let pride, anger, and other emotions adversely affect you
  • Don't seriously try to maximize your profits, despite anything you may say
  • Don't fully accept responsibility for your decisions and consequences
  • Expect greater profits than your talents, knowledge, and personality can produce
  • Don't analyze yourself thoroughly and objectively

If any of the above factors are affecting your game, then it is important to understand and correct them. If you are not certain how to fix them then get yourself a copy of "Your worst poker enemy" in which all of these factors and many more are covered in great detail. It has certainly helped fix a couple of psychological leaks that I had, the main one being " Not seriously trying to maximise my profits".

Monday, November 5, 2007

Cup Time

Hope everyone had a good weekend. I played a bit of poker and did a lot of relaxing myself. Was going to play in the Supernova freeroll on Sunday but being in Australia it's on at some ridiculous time like 4 am. Next week maybe. Tomorrow is Melbourne cup day. Melbourne cup is Australia's version of the Kentucky Derby, and each year the nation stops to watch the race and have a party. My hot pick for the race is "Master O'Reilly".

Talking of sports betting I've been having a go at betting the NFL this year. I've been using the tips from Fezziks Place, and also trying out a system from a book I just finished reading. I've been placing my bets on a sports book called They have a good signup bonus and their poker site is part of the "Cake Network" which I've wanted to try for a while. There isn't a ton of games going on their poker site, but the one that are running seem fairly soft. So far it's been going well and I am up over $200 from the NFL picks. Not a fortune, but it makes watching the games that much more exciting, and as I always say "A dollar won is always that much sweeter than a dollar earned".

Good luck to all you Aussies placing a bet on Melbourne Cup tomorrow. If anyone one has any hot tips make sure you let me know.

Friday, November 2, 2007

A Stars Star

It's been a long time coming but last night I finally reached SUPERNOVA status on Pokerstars. I was expecting a little bit more fanfare, but a small box appeared on screen advising me I had reached Supernova. I was planning on reaching it a month ago, but got a bit sidetracked in that quest. I'm pleased that I have made it, as it does now guarantee an equivalent of about 33% rakeback. This saves me the time and hassle of looking around different sites trying to find whatever bonuses or deals they have going. At the same time it does lock me into playing on Stars for the foreseeable future which may or may not be a good thing.

Today's Topic: Poker Tells

As I mentioned yesterday I have been playing a bit of live poker of late and have being trying to pick up on peoples tells. A "tell" is any physical reaction, kind of behavior, or habit that gives (or tells) the other players information about your hand. The 3 most reliable tells that I have observed are as follows:

  • Shaking Hands: During a hand, if you notice a player's hands are shaking as she places her bet, she probably has gotten a really, really good hand. Perhaps the nuts.
  • Staring Down Other Players: If an opponent is staring you down, he's trying to represent strength. Usually though, he has a weak hand – he might have something, but it's something that can be beaten or drawn out on.
  • Sighing and Shrugging: If a player makes a show of sighing or shrugging, and says things like "Oh, I guess I'll call," or even "Why am I calling?" he probably is overacting and is trying to hide a big hand.

Hope everyone has a fun weekend and remember when it comes to poker "Nobody is always a winner, and anybody who says he is, is either a liar or doesn't play poker".

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Poker laws in Australia

The last couple of days I can do no wrong at Pokerstars. I just keep hitting everything. I hoping I'm on the start of a rush (if this doesn't jinx me nothing will). October as a whole was a fairly poor month. I struggled in the cash games, and donked off a bit of money playing sit'n'go's. The one good thing about a tough month is that it does force you to think about your game and make an effort to improve it. When things are going well, it easy just to go with the flow. I have definitely learned a couple of new profitable strategies in October, so it's got to be a good thing in the long run. One thing I have been doing in the past is over-betting my bluffs, when in reality if your opponent doesn't have much you don't need to bet a lot to get them off their hand.

I've also been playing some live poker lately. Public poker tournaments with a cash entry fee are illegal in the state where I live (Queensland), but 20 min's drive away in New South Wales cash games Tournaments are allowed. A Pokerdome has opened at one of the sports clubs, and runs cash tournaments all day. The level of competition is very weak, and is a bit of fun when I don't feel like playing online. I've only entered two 50 – 60 player tourneys and come second in both, earning me the nickname of "bridesmaid". I've been reading up on poker tells and it is amazing how obvious some of them are in live poker. I'll list the most reliable ones I've found tomorrow.

Today's Topic: Poker Laws in Australia

Poker is becoming very popular in Australia. The laws on where poker can be played for money vary from state to state, and I'll summarize below.

  • Cash game poker in a casino: Is legal and available within all states in Australia
  • Poker tournaments with a cash entry fee and commission charged, outside of a casino: Are legal in both NSW & Victoria.
  • Poker tournaments with free entry but prizes awarded, outside of a casino: Are also legal in Queensland


  • Private or social poker for money: It is legal to play poker for money at a private house or residence, for entertainment purposes only in NSW, Queensland, Tasmania, and Western Australia provided that:


    • No entry fee or registration is charged to play the game
    • No person derives a percentage or share of the amounts wagered
    • All money bet goes to the player/s who won the hand

You are not liable to pay income tax on any money won playing poker in Australia as it is considered a form of gambling. Gambling winnings are not liable for personal tax provided that the gambling activity is not regarded as your primary source of income.

For any Americans reading this I think that you will agree that the Australian government has a lot more liberal approach to poker than your own government.