Looking to start a small(ish) skype group to discuss all things poker - interesting hands, mental game/theoretical concepts, approach to poker, work/life balance, etc etc.
Who am I? Been a 'pro' for 10 years now, with reasonable success but never really approached or given poker the necessary attention it requires! Here's my stats from 2017:
My 600nl 6-max stats show why I'm creating this group - this was my go to game when on tilt/chasing, hence the disgusting winrate!
There will be NO bad beat stories, moaning, or the like - it's not beneficial to anyone, is a defence mechanism for the deeper lying issues, and is basically a waste of time and energy that could be geared towards becoming a better player and happier person!
I'm looking for positive people who currently beat low-mid stakes games and are looking for ways to gain a further edge over the field and progress up the limits/improve their winrate.
PM me or my skype is gary.richard.chappell
Jan. 3, 2018 | 5:13 p.m.
I think one of your 2018 resolutions should be to update the learning paths material. Most of the videos are years old, some 5 years - you know full well the game has evolved and changed drastically in this time so the material isn't all that relevant or useful. People pay a decent amount of money for their subscription so deserve access to up-to-date relevant tutorials. I know you have pros with regular updates, but these are commonly in the form of session reviews, not concepts, and the learning paths feature is, I'm sure, a key component for many people subscribing in the aim of improving their skills.
Thanks and good luck for 2018!
Jan. 3, 2018 | 11:33 a.m.
So its not the end of November yet but I felt it right to post an update. I've taken the decision to discontinue my blogs for the time being. I feel they have massively helped me in my quest to improve my mental game. Blogging has given me a sense of accountability, and made me focus more on my entire approach to poker. However, I've felt over the last couple months that it's become more of a chore than the enjoyment and satisfaction I gained during the first half of 2017. Not only this, but I believe my last few blogs have been very similar and at this point I cant contribute/offer much more insight into the life of a poker player.
In saying the above, the main reason for stopping is that the time I dedicate to poker can be better served focusing on playing and studying, as well as some others aspects - namely staking. I wont go into too much detail but basically I feel the time may be right to re-start staking poker players again. So for that reason reducing my commitments is necessary to free up time in order to achieve all I want to. Plus I still need to dedicate time away from poker to my hobbies, social life, and health/exercise.
I feel my mental game has drastically improved over the course of the year. While this is partly due to blogging, I largely attribute my improvements to the time spent reading books/articles, watching videos, thinking about my approach, and coming up with strategies that work for me - basically giving it the proper attention that I previously have never done!
I'd like to thank everyone who has read my blogs and got involved in some discussion. It really has made the process more rewarding and enjoyable. I hope you've learnt something from me that you've managed to incorporate into your own game, if only what not to do from my mistakes/experiences.
I may look to blog again in the future when the time is right and I feel I can offer some new interesting insights, but for now its chaps1988 over and out!!!
Nov. 24, 2017 | 3:30 a.m.
yeh I'm working on my postflop play. being relatively new to 6max/zoom I still make mistakes and have plenty of areas where I can improve on my strategy.
For 500z my W$WSF = 45.5 and W$WSF rating = 0.96.
Nov. 4, 2017 | 9:46 a.m.
2017 continues to fly by, and here we are with another monthly review. My results:
OVERALL 2017 RESULTS:
I sit here writing this in a position where I feel the most content and happy that I've been for a good few months. You may not think that seeing as I had a losing month (albeit only $600), but let me explain:
Those who have followed my blogs know that I talk about and dedicate a lot of time to the mental side of poker. I've struggled with anger, frustration, and consequential insane monkey tilt! The fact I managed to stay on an even keel (for the most part) throughout October even though I clearly ran ridiculously badly (look at EV compared to actual results), proves to me that I have a far stronger mentality which ultimately makes me a tougher opponent and no longer a 'mental game fish'. Ok, there were a couple of sessions where I continued longer than I should have to try and turn a profit, but I didn't tilt and continued to play solid. What's important to mention is that by no means is my work done - I need to continue striving to improve my mental game, or at least maintain the level I'm at. As soon as I switch off and stop thinking about this aspect, I will slip back into old habits. It's the same in any walk of life - if a footballer stops playing for 6 months do you think they'll come back at the same level as before?!
So, what's changed?
I think I'm slowly coming to realise that if I want to be successful long term then I just have to accept losing sessions. It's inevitable, and while it sucks to work hard for a day and have nothing to show for it, I just have to accept it. I do not possess a divine right to win every time I sit down, and this is a good thing. If the best players always won, poker wouldn't exist! We need the 'fish' to win sometimes to keep them coming back for more!
I also believe that becoming a better player myself, in terms of understanding theoretical concepts at a more advanced level, has benefitted me in taking more consolation in the math knowing I made the right decision. Nothing is more frustrating than making a mistake.
The better I am -> less mistakes -> less frustration -> less tilt -> less stress!
In terms of my game selection, I am very happy with my October results. Yes, I lost over $6k at 500z but look at the EV! I feel a lot more comfortable and confident at this level, and have a far better understanding of general 'reg' tendencies. Playing 500z alongside any 400nl-1knl full-ring games that run has worked well. It allows me to play the games that I've crushed throughout 2017 and make the most profit from, whilst learning and improving my 6max/zoom strategy and theoretical knowledge.
I plan on continuing this throughout the remainder of 2017, so we'll see how we get on. I spoke to a fellow poker player the other day about my thoughts on the future of online poker and my plans, and afterwards I basically came to the assumption that I just have to adapt to whatever the poker ecosystem throws at me. The future is unknown, and if I'm honest is something that constantly plays on my mind - what if online poker dies, what will I do for work?! At this point in time I am happy with my game selection, knowing that if it doesn't work out I can still make decent money playing 100-200nl full-ring. I've kept an eye on those games and there is still decent traffic most of the time. In the future I may also have to play more evenings and weekends, adjust my schedule to the traffic. I may have to play more live, who knows. But it's out of my hands. I just have to make sure I control all that I can - 'control the controllables'!
Outside of poker, life is good. I've been spending a lot of time with my wife and family which has been lovely, went to a wonderful wedding in Kent, still hang out with my friends regularly, and continue to be active through various sports and going to the gym - a key part of a healthy work/life balance which I've discussed many times before!
That's about all for now, thanks for reading!
Nov. 1, 2017 | 10:12 a.m.
thanks guys, appreciate it.
Oct. 6, 2017 | 3:40 p.m.
So we come to the end of another month, and not much has changed from my last update in terms of my confusion and mindset as to where I should focus my attention. First here's my results:
OVERALL 2017 RESULTS:
As you can see it wasn't a very good month. My EV was poor and I lost at a number of games/limits that I played. It was a rollercoaster month with some very good days, and some very bad ones - which can be seen by the volatile nature of the graph. This is fairly normal in 6-max. Well, at least more so than full-ring.
Overall I'm not happy with how September went. It is worth pointing out that it was a very disjointed month. I got married, as well as being in New York on my honeymoon for a period of time, so I had a lot on my plate which affected my volume and ability to play my 'A game'. There was always something on my mind or something I had to do, and I definitely played at times when I was jaded/tired and therefore sacrificing my 'A game'. But I felt I needed to play because I was taking so much time off due to the honeymoon etc.
So, what have I learnt and what are my plans going into the final quarter of 2017?
I believe my 6-max game is definitely improving. This is natural with experience - the more I play the better I will become as I learn about how the games run, general tendencies, how certain 'regs' play, and so on.
I enjoy playing 6-max a lot more. The gameplay is faster, pots are bigger, and more plays are made.
My full-ring 200nl stats suck in the last 2 months, and I put a lot of this down to the fact I get lazy because I often find it tedious and slow. This is no excuse and a poor approach from a professional, I know. But it's best to be honest. Part of the reason for starting this blog was to be open and by writing about my thoughts I will learn more about myself and what I need to improve.
I am still crushing 400nl - I find it strange how this particular limit seems to be sooo profitable for me this year, maybe its just all my run good seems to be at this limit, I don't know. But I definitely play better than at 200nl as I properly analyse spots given the simple fact that there's more money on the line.
My mental game needs work to be successful at 6-max. Full-ring, by its nature, is very slow and it's easy to remain in control. Whereas 6-max is a lot faster, particularly if multi-tabling out of your comfort zone. This means decisions are more rushed and mistakes made... which has the obvious knock-on effect of frustration, anger and tilt, which I've talked about so often! I have found myself starting with two 500zoom tables, then opening up two more when I'm chasing losses, only to end up losing more as I don't given certain spots the necessary attention and thought. It's an area that I believe strongly separates breakeven-1b/100 players, to guys winning at 3bb/100+.
So, with that said what are my plans moving forward?
Now that my wedding, honeymoon and the cricket season is over I can fully focus on poker during the next 6-9 months. Other things are bound to crop up, but nothing that is going to dominate my time or brain energy. So my plans:
I plan on continuing to play and improve my 6-max game. I will focus on 500zoom as I believe there is money to be made here (plus 6-max ring games are dominated by scripters and I am not willing to buy one for the time being). There are some very good regs at 500z, don't get me wrong, but player pools are often filled with fish. Game selection is important because sometimes it may not be worth playing. At this moment in time (while I improve my 6-max theory) I believe 2 tables of 500z is my optimal level. And I plan on playing any 400-1knl full-ring games that are running alongside this. These games are fairly infrequent, but when they run it's for a good reason, and I am comfortable in these games and beat them consistently so it would be foolish for me not to play them.
Now I have more time on my hands I will dedicate some to studying. I have thought about coming up with a structure, but then I realised this completely takes away the freedom that poker gives you - one of the main benefits of this profession. So I will attribute time to study when I feel it's best served, and play when I feel I'm in the right frame of mind. I have certain areas of my game that I feel I need to focus on:
- continue reading Jared Tendler's book
- watch RIO videos
- find methods that work for me to keep me in line, eg breaks/approach/finding A game
- RIO videos on 6-max theory
- work on HUD, ranges, opponents tendencies
- analyse the top regs' styles, ranges and tendencies to improve my game
In general I feel improving my mental game and approach to poker will really make a big difference. It's something I continuously talk about, and for good reason. I believe it is hugely pivotal in long term success, not just as poker player but maintaining a healthy work/life balance. Factors such as adequate breaks, avoiding burnout, diet and exercise are all key.
I think that pretty much summarises where I am with my poker and thought processes at the moment. It may well be that I completely sack off 6-max and go back to the tedious 100-200nl grind in a months time, who knows. At the end of the day I'm ambitious, but I also have bills to pay so I need to do what's right for mine and my wife's livelihood.
Thanks for reading, see you next month!
Oct. 2, 2017 | 12:23 p.m.
6-max is different in that its a lot more aggressive - players 3B/4B/defend wider given the blinds come round quicker. the whole maths side of it is different and something I will be studying in October onwards to improve my skills. its not that i'm not good enough, its just that other regs who have been playing 6-max for years are a lot more familiar with how the games run and the math side. plus they probably can control tilt better than me.
Sept. 5, 2017 | 8:09 a.m.
As Ronan Keating once sang, 'Life is a rollercoaster'... Yes it bludie is Ronan, and so is poker! August was my rollercoaster where I achieved two personal records! It was my most successful month EVER, in terms of hard earned $$$$. But at the other end of the spectrum I had my worst ever day as a poker player, losing just under $10k in one session! We'll get onto that but first here's my results....
OVERALL 2017 RESULTS:
So I'm taking home a cool $22k this month! With a wedding and honeymoon to come in September it really couldn't have been better timed. But it certainly wasn't plain sailing. During the first 2 weeks of August I crushed my usual games (200-1knl fr) to create a beautifully looking HM2 database showing $13k profit and some enviable winrates! That's the point when things changed and I went on one marathon downswing session, dropping around $9.7k playing 400-1knl 6-max. Now if you know anything about me and have read my previous blog posts then you'll be aware of my goals, focus, and downfalls as a poker player - and playing 6-max is something I have constantly talked about avoiding due to tilt, inferior skills to regs, and mental weaknesses. Writing this, I currently sit in a very different position than I did when I closed my computer down after that session! I think it's best to start there....
I haven't ever written down my thoughts, emotions or feelings after a session, but it's something I thought I would do in this instance to try and find some sort of closure and avoid any accumulative tilt. It's something I read about in Jared Tendler's 'Mental Game of Poker' book months ago but never carried out. The fact I couldn't sleep that night and just continued to go over hands in my head, or think 'why did I play those gamest?' made me think I really need to do something about it. So here is what I wrote the morning after that session:
"Ahhhhhhhhh, what was I thinking? How many times have I said not to play 6-max?! I can't handle the swings, I can't control myself and always open more tables to chase losses! I'm sat here feeling angry and frustrated with myself, but worst of all... I'm worried! I'm worried about my future - what if I can't make a living out of poker because of my flaws, or the poker ecosystem? How will I support my family? I don't have any other qualifications. Can a 40 year old with no qualifications get any kind of decent job? I don't want another job - I enjoy poker and the freedom it gives me."
I didn't player poker that morning. I forced myself to the gym in spite of the fact I really just wanted to sit down and try and win a large chunk of my losses back! At least this was a positive move - in the past I would of skipped the gym and probably spewed more with the fatal presence of accumulative tilt! After letting out some steam in the gym I must admit I did feel better - Haseeb Qureshi is the man that helped me here. If you haven't read his stuff then I suggest you do! I was keen to play poker but thought I'd revisit what I wrote down earlier and add to it...
"Gary get a hold of yourself!!! You're a winning poker player, you're still $3k up this month! That's more in 2 weeks than the majority of poker players, and definitely more than the majority of people my age who have 'normal jobs'. You've had a bad day, but learn from it and improve!!! What do you need to do to better yourself and become a better poker player and person? Get that whiteboard up and running again and stick to it - make plans, goals, whatever it is! 2017 has been a very good year both on and off the poker tables - let's get back on board!!!"
Now while that all sounds great, I definitely still suffered some accumulative tilt during my next session. I think that's perfectly normal and I doubt there's a poker player out there who wouldn't! I'm just thankful the poker gods were with me and I managed to turn things around and now sit here talking about my best month ever!
Did I stop playing 6-max and go back to my bread-and-butter of fr? No I didn't. Was this the right decision? To answer this question I'm not thinking about my results as it's easy in hindsight to say 'yes, I made x amount', but I'm trying to think in the long term. And If I'm honest, I'm very confused. I'm confused about where I'm best to focus my time and energy in playing and studying in order to be successful for years to come and not just the here and now. I could easily grind 100-1knl fr and make a decent return, but what about if these games dry up? Am I already missing out on more potentially profitable games at 6-max that are currently happening, regardless of the future ecosystem? As I've said over the last few monthly blogs, I haven't put much time into study because I've had so much on my plate with cricket, social events, planning a wedding etc. But with the wedding in 2 weeks I'm starting to think about my plans for after the honeymoon - how I'm going to manage my time in terms of study and playing, and what I'm actually going to study.
For the remainder of August I played a mix of 6-max and fr games dependant on my mood and table selection. Everything was smooth sailing. Table selection was solid, I didn't overplay (i.e. play too many tables so decisions were rushed), and I took appropriate breaks. One of the major reasons I played 6-max was because I was on the road a lot. I was away for a few days visiting my girlfriend's friends/cousins, and then on another occasion spent a few days with her immediate family. So I only had my laptop to hand where 6 tables is really the optimum. Normally I have 2 screens - one with the tables I'm playing, and one to scan the lobby for profitable games that are starting. With this near impossible on my 13inch laptop, I found it best to play some Zoom alongside any 6-max profitable games that were running. Also I kind of fitted in work around whatever we were doing whilst away, so it was a case of playing for an hour here, couple hours there. Sitting on fr waiting lists and 4-6tabling for a short period of time wasn't very appealing and I felt was my time was best served elsewhere!
Now, back to my point - 'everything was smooth sailing' Yes it was, because I was winning! Poker (and everything that comes with it) is an easy profession when you're winning, and life is great! But it doesn't always work like that. This is why I'm currently confused. When I'm back in my normal work habitat I don't know what to do, what games to play. I do believe that my 6-max game is a lot better and good enough to be a winning player. My career stats at these games contradict this and are bad, but I can put a large % of that down to the fact I've mainly played these games when nowhere near my 'A' game, but when undergoing tilt and chasing losses. Even this month I've lost at 6-max games overall, but considering I dropped $9.7k in one session, the fact I'm only $1.2k down is fairly positive. We all know confidence is a huge thing in poker, and as I sit here I'm high on confidence - not surprising given I'm on a $19k upswing! It's just whether my bad days are too savage to the point where they undo all the hard work of my good days. I do know for sure though that my mental game and approach HAS to improve! I need to be more disciplined. It's one thing being disciplined at fr, but 6-max is a whole different ball-game. This is the main area of my game that I plan on studying/improving post honeymoon. I even picked up Jared Tendler's book the other day when on the beach and read a few chapters - it's really great stuff and will play a key part in my study sessions!
I think that pretty much summarises my month and where I stand right now. As you can see I'm in a bit of a predicament. Maybe it would of been better if I just lost more and therefore returned to fr for good? Although I've been in that position many times before and always find myself returning to the 6-max arena! I'm aware that I continually contradict myself in this constant battle between fr, 6-max, and my mental state. But I guess that's just part and parcel of this profession - there is no consistency, there are no guarantees, it's just one big head-f$$k! But that head-f$$k is the reason we love this game!
See you next month, when I'll be a married man! Jesus :/
Aug. 31, 2017 | 8:52 p.m.
yep, you were right! yesterday was disastrous. over confident and played out of my comfort zone. will be in end of month report.
Aug. 10, 2017 | 4:26 p.m.
I know I said I won't post mid-month updates any longer, but I had to given how this month has gone so far....
Playing well, running well! Long may it continue! See you at the end of the month.
Aug. 9, 2017 | 8:01 a.m.
A bad month! Everything about my poker was off in July - from discipline and patience at the table, to session preparation, to study, to table selection & volume. My results suffered....
OVERALL 2017 RESULTS
As you can see my red line for July was very poor, suggesting I wasn't playing particularly well. Yes, variance has a part to play in this and there were sessions were I literally couldn't hit a hand, but over the course of a month I expect and demand better from myself!
One of the biggest factors involved in this was my volume. 79k hands is a lot of full-ring (FR) poker, and I often played too many tables. I believe my optimum to be 6-9 tables where I can still play my 'A game', but I continually played 12-15 during times of high traffic. Decisions were rushed and results suffered!
With PokerStars once again destroying livelihoods by cutting loyalty bonuses (capitalist *), now is the time to really focus on winrates and not volume! With this in mind I really need to get my discipline in order. Yes, volume is key to negate variance as much as we can, but what's the point in playing loads of hands if I can only show up with results like this?!
Analysing my results further, 200nl ($1/2) was the biggest concern. The last 2 months have been really poor and pushed my overall 2017 winrate down from 4-5bb/100 to 3bb/100. This is down to what I've just been talking about - decisions are rushed through playing 12+ tables. 400-1knl is a different story - these games run less often so a desire to maximise profit coupled with the fact there's more cold hard cash on the line creates a better focus! I really need to approach 200nl games in a similar fashion, so 6-9 tables is where I need to be!
Further to what I've said so far, burnout is a factor I need to consider. There really is no need to play so many tables nowadays given loyalty rewards suck, so playing less will have the added benefit of decreasing the chances of burnout, as well as accumulative fatigue (mental and physical) going into my next session. This will create a more enjoyable, successful and healthy work/life balance (which I've discussed in more depth in some of my other blogs/articles).
All sounds easy huh? Only time will tell. I should imagine my opponents will look to gain more of an edge given the loyalty rewards situation, so I need to spend sufficient time working on my game away from the tables. This is something I mentioned in my June Review, in that the summer months are busier times so I neglect study for playing time. As I move into the autumn/winter I will look to dedicate more time and improve my skills, both from a theoretical and mental standpoint.
That's all for now, thanks for reading!
Aug. 1, 2017 | 10:44 a.m.
yeh I'm not sure whats going to happen. I guess losing/breakeven regs will stop playing? will you move to 6max or other sites? fr traffic wont be as good anywhere else will it?!
July 17, 2017 | 9:17 a.m.
cheers Julian, appreciate the words.
holdem888 - tbh ive learnt through experience and intuition. I've never really studied that much until the last 6-12months.
July 5, 2017 | 8:52 a.m.
Wow this month flew by! It feels like only a few days ago I wrote my May review. Anyway, June was a mixed bag and left me contemplating what's best for my poker. Here's my results...
OVERALL 2017 RESULTS
As you can see I played a fair bit of 6-max. In my blogs this year I've talked about how I shouldn't play 6-max for various reasons including:
- I don't deal with downswings very well mentally
- My 6-max game isn't that strong
- 6-max table jostling/scripting is tilting
- I play badly more often (due to more swings, faster gameplay, and being out of control)
So why did I play? Well, I really lacked focus and motivation throughout June. With other things going on in my life (Cricket, wedding planning, social events), Poker isn't prioritised the way it should be, or the way it is during the winter (when not much else is going on in life). I often found myself getting bored quickly of my 'bread and butter grind' that is 200-600NL full-ring, particularly at times when traffic was low. So I switched to 6-max in the hope of finding more stimulating and profitable games.
In general I'm happy with how I played at 6-max. I do feel my skills and mental strength is a lot better than in previous months/years, and should I need to make the transition on a full-time basis (dependant on traffic in years to come) I'm confident I can soon become a decent winning player. Given I haven't played a whole lot of 6-max in my career, at this moment in time other regs will clearly have an edge over me in terms of applying game theory.
My results do appear to be poor, but a lot of this is due to mental factors and not my actual poker skills. You see, often when I was on a downswing I compromised my 'A game' and either opened more tables, chased losses, or a combination of both - game selection went out the window! This is a problem I've had before and a reason I try and forbid myself from playing 6-max. Full-ring is a lot more controllable. Another reason is due to a lack of 6-max game theory knowledge/study. A lot of spots I am unsure what the correct play is so find myself becoming angry/frustrated if I make a mistake, which obviously promotes tilt. At full-ring I'm so experienced that I can take consolation in bad beats or the occasional mistake knowing that most of the time I'm going to be making the right decision (from a theoretical standpoint).
So to sum up, my 6-max results are largely down to playing sub-A game poker! My month (or 200nl and overall 6-max results to be more exact) was basically ruined by a couple really bad sessions where I lost over 2k, so overall I'm happy that I still made reasonable profit!
During times when I go on downswings, play badly, or feel mentally weak I often find myself questioning my approach to poker and how I can improve. Sometimes a bad time of it can be hugely beneficial to long term success - the 'one step back, two step forwards' mentality! This has been the case during June. I've come up with plans for the remainder of 2017, and have also looked ahead to 2018. I won't go into too much detail, particularly for 2018 as that will come in my end of year review/2018 plans.
- No 6-max games!
- End 2017 with 200nl winrate +4bb/100
- 50k+ hands per month
- Create and stick to a study plan
Very simple and achievable! I haven't included 400nl+ winrates because it's hard to know how much volume I'll get at those games. Plus I'm crushing at those stakes and am happy with how they're going. Most of my sessions consist of 200nl tables with the occasional 400-1knl table, so the majority of my income will come from 200nl. I really need to focus and improve my winrate - June shows just how a winrate can suffer when you're not fully focused because a lot of the time I was playing 200nl on the side of higher 6-max games.
50k+ hands per month is very achievable. Lately I've been playing more than this but that's because I've neglected study/review times. As I've previously said, the summer is a busy time for me and so I have less hours to dedicate to poker. The outcome of this is that I tend to sacrifice study for more playing time - not good!!! Cutting my hours will enable me to attribute more time to study, which should help improve my skills. Plus playing slightly less will prevent any poker burnout which is a huge factor in declining winrates as you lose motivation and focus!
At this stage I don't think I'll be doing any more twitch videos. I used this as a way of maintaining focus and having another level of accountability. I am never going to be able to use this as an income stream until I can stream live (not possible with current internet speeds in my area), so I will only make videos when I feel it will benefit my game and/or focus and motivation. For now my real focus is the goals I've outlined and finishing the second half of 2017 strong!
However, I have written a short article titled 'Knowing When To Quit' which may be useful for some people out there. I will write more articles as and when I think of something that may be insightful and worth writing about, so it won't be with any regularity.
Sorry this wasn't as insightful as some of my other posts, but that's all for now!
Thanks for reading!
June 30, 2017 | 5:12 p.m.
one area of my poker that I'm not proud of is my inability to break and walk away, particularly when having a losing session.
if I stuck to what I write 100% then all would be well, but I'm human and I make mistakes. I'm trying hard to play 90min sessions max, then break for 10-15mins then come back to it. and only play 6 hours a day because any more and I get mentally drained and have found it affects my poker the next day as still suffer from some accumulative tiredness.
I do still play longer sessions at times (as I said normally when on downswing), or when tables are good. funnily enough I often find myself sat playing really needing a wee but holding it in. ridiculous!
to answer your question, I think its very player specific. some guys can concentrate for hours, some cant. just pay attention to yourself whilst playing and if you feel yourself auto-piloting or being lethargic in decisions then take a break.
youre a decent player and ive watched some of your videos. surprised you aren't playing higher, and surprised youre asking for my advice.
June 7, 2017 | 12:31 p.m.
So here we are for another monthly review. As you have probably worked out I've stopped my mid-month updates. Now I've kind of settled into where I'm focusing my poker for the foreseeable future, there wouldn't be enough happening to warrant blogging every 2 weeks, and I'm not going to write something just for the sake of it. My goal is for the posts to be interesting and insightful, and I want to be motivated to write them and it not become a chore - we all endure enough of these in life without creating unnecessary new ones!
So let's get to it...
OVERALL 2017 RESULTS
May was a great month overall - I made decent profit and my winrates were pretty impressive, but most importantly I enjoyed my poker.
It can be seen that I fell short of my volume goal but I'm not worried about this. I was ill for a week and have been on holiday the last 5 days (actually writing this poolside in the south of France), so the fact I still managed a decent amount of hands is something I'm happy with. I also played some games that I wasn't planning on (e.g. 1000nl and some 6max), but I decided to as the tables were soft and profitable.
For this month's post I'm going to focus on motivation as its something I believe is vitally important to long-term success and is an area I'm working on.
It's been proven and is commonly accepted that high motivation levels have a positive effect on performance in any activity we participate in, and poker is no different! Being highly motivated enables us to be more creative and more sensitive to learning. Think back to school, how many times did you day dream in class because you couldn't give a sh!t about what was being taught to you?! Relate this to poker.... how many times have you played just because you felt you had to and ended up auto-piloting, not thinking clearly, making marginal calls, randomly clicking buttons?! In my opinion it's just as costly to long-term winrates as a lack of 'GTO' knowledge, and I speak first hand! For years I've played when completely unmotivated and/or tired because it was my 'job' and I felt guilty if I didn't. This not only negatively impacted that particular session, but the accumulative effect was huge! I really struggled to become re-motivated by continuously playing at times when I wasn't in the mood. And what's the worst part of this? Results! Playing unmotivated will produce more losing sessions, particularly in today's tougher ecosystem. This is where it gets even messier because then we get into the subject of tilt, accumulative tilt, and subsequent stress, anger, frustration etc. Basically all the things we need to avoid for long-term success and mental well-being! And a lot of it stems from motivation!
So how can I increase and sustain my motivation?
I should say that these are things that have worked for me over the last few months and boosted my job and life satisfaction! They may not be for everyone but I can only talk from my experiences given the fact that I'm not a scholar!
DONT PLAY WHEN UNMOTIVATED - This sounds very obvious but I guarantee there is a large percentage of poker players that don't abide by it! They are still in the mindset of focusing on volume and feel guilty when they don't 'work'. I've been there and still have my moments, normally when I'm trying to get out of a downswing – stupid hey?! The beauty of our profession is the freedom it gives us so use that and get out the house, go for a run, meet a friend for lunch, do whatever it is that you enjoy doing in your spare time! Poker will always be there when you get back! I've found doing this makes me realise how fortunate I am in my 'job' and the freedom that comes with it. I don't want to lose that luxury so it motivates me to really focus on playing well to sustain my poker career.
APPROACH POKER IN THE LONG-TERM - Poker is without question a very stressful profession, particularly for the online low/mid-stakes 'grinders'. If you aren't motivated and need to take a week off then do so and don't worry about it. You've got years to play and achieve your goals and make poker work for you! There are so many negative things associated with poker - stress and depression being 2 major ones. I have suffered both recently, albeit to a fairly mild degree. As I've moved into my late 20s and my responsibilities have increased (mortgage, bills, wedding, future family plans) it has put more pressure on my job to be able to support those things. With some uncertainty around the future of online poker due to PokerStars decreasing loyalty bonuses (again), and my own worries about whether I'll be able to play to the same level when I'm 50 has caused some level of stress.
*I should note that I really can't see online poker dying. The game is and will always be seriously popular and there is still plenty of traffic around. But I've always liked to be in control and the future of the poker ecosystem is out of my control so therefore I can't help but feel some level of apprehension about the possibility of there being no online poker in the future.
Stress also comes hand in hand with downswings. That is and will always be the case. We just have to manage it as best we can - I will come onto strategies to do so shortly.
I have suffered some level of depression also. This is, I believe, to be a knock-on effect from the stresses of poker. The uncertainty around poker's (and therefore my) future has impacted my enjoyment of life, which subsequently has caused me to feel some form of depression. So it's imperative I view poker as a long-term project and don't let a bad day/week affect me. Getting into a mental state where I have the same emotions post-session regardless of whether I win or lose is supremely beneficial and something I'm striving for - easier said than done! I struggle not to let a losing session affect me, often finding myself going over hands in my head whilst eating dinner or watching TV - it's exhausting, unhealthy, annoying! I've started trying to counter this in a number of ways which I'll continue to talk about now.
GOALS - Looking at my goals helps bring me back to a neutral state of mind. A bad session is very unlikely to affect my monthly or yearly goals so having a glance at them after a losing session is a quick fix to make me realise things aren't that bad. I can then enjoy my time off and go into my next session with a clear mind, avoiding any accumulative tilt. Looking back at your goals also re-focuses the mind ahead of your next session knowing you cannot play 'sub A-game' sessions if you want to achieve them.
EXERCISE – This is imperative not just for my general health and well-being but the positive impact it has on stress levels is crucial for my long-term sustainability and success as a poker player. Exercise is a great way to achieve eustress - the positive stressors on the body. This helps to counter the stress that I encounter/build-up from poker and keep me happy, stress-free, reduce depression, and generally feel good about myself. The days I don't exercise I often find myself feeling lethargic and sluggish, which incidentally negatively impacts my poker. Getting up and exercising in the morning is a great way to start my day. It helps get rid of any frustrations I have and I enter my poker session feeling fresh and good about myself.
DIET & SLEEP - This is linked to exercise and I've previously described these 3 things as the 'real holy trinity' of poker given the importance I attribute to them! Have you ever thrown a healthy diet out the window after a losing session and started 'comfort eating'? Eating junk food, not staying hydrated, and not getting enough quality sleep will all negatively impact poker, and I've been there many times! My brain doesn’t work to its maximum, I feel lethargic and generally gross about yourself. Not only do my results suffer but given I'm quite conscious about my appearance and like to stay in reasonable shape it puts extra stress and unhappiness into my life that I just don’t need! I'm really trying hard to find and make lifestyle changes that work for me so that I can sustain a healthy diet, exercise and sleep pattern in the long run. I know that I feel better about myself, have more energy, enjoy life, and play better poker (plus not letting a downswing affect me) when I eat, sleep and exercise right! I have found that if I'm happy within myself then I don't really care if I have a losing session because other things in my life are going well. There is more to life than work. But if I'm not happy about the shape I'm in or have had a disagreement with my girlfriend or friend and then suffer a downswing, it becomes a lot worse and brings more stress/depression into my life as nothing seems to be going right.
REMINDER NOTES - This is something I've incorporated this year. A couple months ago I mentioned I have put a whiteboard up in my office and use it for reminders and areas I need to work on. This is really helping me. I write down little phrases that keep me focused and on a level state throughout my sessions, little prompts that prevent me from going on mega-tilt, or playing marathon sessions, or chasing losses - basically everything that has crippled my bankroll and caused me anger and stress over the years! I also use the whiteboard for 'To-Do Lists' and 'Areas To Work On' so I have a daily/weekly plan of how I'm approaching my poker, e.g. What days I plan on studying, when I plan on playing my sessions, etc. I've found it a really useful way of having a more professional and organised outlook and approach to my 'work', and it has benefited me to move my mindset to something more long-term. In that I mean looking at poker from a perspective whereby if I set small goals and always find ways of improving my approach and skill set then I know little by little I'll become a more successful poker player, and as such losing sessions won't affect me. I can take consolidation in the fact I'm working hard to improve my game and that variance is just something that comes with the job. In the past I've just walked into my office and loaded up the tables, played a session and win or lose I've never analysed what went well/badly and how I can improve. I just walked into my office the next day and did the same. No surprise I suffered tilt, anger, frustration, tilt etc. And no surprise that my results have plateaued over the last couple years whilst the rest of the poker world improved their game to meet the demands of the tougher ecosystem. The changes I've made this year are really working, and this can be seen from my results/winrates
A disappointment for me in May was the fact I only managed 1 twitch video. I plan on increasing this to 2 or 3 per month. I didn’t play as many sessions as I'd liked to have during May so had to make them count. This meant focusing on playing more tables than just the 4 I play when recording.
That's all for now, see you next month!
June 5, 2017 | 1:39 p.m.
posting today, sorry have been on holiday
June 5, 2017 | 1:28 p.m.
there's plenty of info on RIO mate...
May 26, 2017 | 3 p.m.
Julian - I play around 120-140 hours per month. 16-18, wow. how do you manage? you must of nailed GTO as playing that many gives you no thinking time!
where I live, the nearest casino is 60mins, and the games aren't great. better off moving to 100NL online I think.
May 7, 2017 | 4:32 p.m.
I get what you mean, but I don't see it happening for a long time. The software is well above any others (other than FullTilt but that's not the same site anymore as it was before Black Friday), and there is vastly higher traffic at all times.
In years to come I do hope new sites (offering better loyalty bonus schemes) can improve their software to compete.
May 3, 2017 | 9:42 a.m.
So we come to the end of another month, and it's been a disappointing one from a 'work' perspective. Here are my results:
OVERALL 2017 RESULTS
In my last monthly review I discussed how I would be shifting my focus back to 200-400NL full-ring, and leaving 6-max games alone. I won't go into the reasons for this again as they can be found in the March update blog. This decision has really benefitted me, even though it may not seem given my results. I feel a lot more in control, high in confidence, and am really enjoying playing poker. The control has also come through limiting myself to 9 tables. During times of high traffic I have often opened more tables because they appear profitable, only to then find myself rushing decisions, making mistakes, and handing back my edge. In a poker ecosystem where winrates are more crucial than ever (given reductions in loyalty bonuses), playing 6-9 tables is my current optimal level and something I am trying to be disciplined with!
It's fair to say that I ran pretty bad in April (shown by my EV), and the stats don't tell the whole story as it really was a month of coolers, particularly at 400NL! Considering I started April with a 5k downswing I am very happy with my results and how I dealt with it - staying mentally strong and recovering my winrate. In previous years I would of probably tilted and chased my losses at 6-max and/or higher stakes games.
That's the good out the way. Now time for the bad.... April was a really disjointed month. It's the beginning of the Cricket season and being the 1st XI captain I am heavily involved. Training and organising teams took a lot of my time and focus, so my mind wasn't always on poker. Not only this but my girlfriend had a week off work so we went away for a few days, and in the end I pretty much took the whole week off as well. All of this meant I wasn't able to give poker the necessary attention, often sacrificing study time and hand reviews in a bid to hit my volume goals. This may not sound all that much of a problem, but I like to be structured and I have certain areas of my game earmarked to work on...
- Continue reading Jared Tendler's book
- RIO mental game videos
- RIO game theory videos
If you've been following my blogs then you'll know I've tended to play 'exploitative poker' over game theory. While I obviously have a decent understanding of game theory to be able to produce decent results, it is an area I can definitely improve on! Incorporating a sound theoretical strategy will not only benefit me against the better 'regs', but also help my mental game! Common factors associated with tilt are frustration and anger, which often come after getting caught bluffing or making a marginal 'pigeon-holed' call. This is a problem with exploitative poker and not understanding game theory. When adopting a strictly exploitative strategy some percentage of the time you'll actually be subject to exploitation by your opponents, even though you may not realise it! A strategy more theory based will allow you to take consolation in the math with the knowledge that your decision is a profitable one in the long run, therefore decreasing the chances of tilt, anger, frustration - whatever negative emotions you experience!
I appreciate the above may come across patronising or like I'm some top poker coach - apologies if that's the case!
So, my plans for future months are to really put more time into my theoretical understanding and mental game - basically strive to improve my all-round skills as a poker player!
CAPITAL GREED CONTINUES! - April was also a month where poker players learnt about loyalty bonus changes that PokerStars are planning to make - WTF, AGAIN?! Apparently it's to 'benefit the whole ecosystem' - yeh, sure! They really know how to look after their loyal customers, hey?!
Think that's about all for this month, sorry it didn't provide much insight! See you next month when hopefully I'll have more interesting stuff to write about!
May 2, 2017 | 12:06 p.m.
Sorry for not posting an update this month. I have had an extremely busy month away from the tables so any spare time I've had I've put into playing and studying.
I will provide a comprehensive update at the end of April with how this month went, and my future plans. And I will be back playing/posting consistently in May, as well as recording twitch videos.
Cheers for now!
April 21, 2017 | 12:53 p.m.
Thanks Julian. Yeh I don't expect to maintain it, and currently going on a 400NL downswing this month. Going to happen sooner or later.
April 6, 2017 | 2:43 p.m.
Firstly let me say that I had a great week away for my Stag Do! The betting at Cheltenham races was unsuccessful, but we enjoyed a few beers and had some great times! It did take me a few days to recover though...
Anyway, with March over it's time for another monthly review. The last few weeks have probably been the most eye opening in my poker career in understanding what I want from work and life, as well as analysing the poker ecosystem. Before I get onto that here are my results...
OVERALL 2017 RESULTS
So while things are going well for me in general (particularly 400NL which I am murdering), I have learnt a lot as to how I will approach my poker career in the future. In my mid-month update I outlined the following points that I would discuss:
- 6-max ring games are just as dead as full-ring
- 6-max ring game lobbying is frustrating to the point of subjecting myself to unnecessary tilt (scripters, jostling for tables etc)
- Zoom is a far easier and more enjoyable experience
- ‘Ambition-less’ low/mid stakes players may have it right (contradictory to what I’ve previously said)
After February I felt I was best served to focus on 6-max ring games over zoom because of slower gameplay (helping stay in control and stay mentally strong) and higher emphasis on table dynamics, levelling etc - areas I feel I am strong in. However, within just 2 sessions I realised the 6-max ring ecosystem is the most frustrating and tilting out there! Scripting is one factor that's killing it, but that's just the beginning. The large majority of players won't even sit at a table if their script doesn't get them the 'jesus seat' on the recreational player. The outcome of this was a constant series of tables opening and closing and I spent more time studying the lobby than actually focusing on playing poker. And when I did get to play it was often 3 or 4 handed, with full tables few and far between and barely lasting 5 orbits. Now, I understand the increased importance for game/table selection but this is just something I'm not interested in. I want to enjoy my job and not sit there feeling a sense of diss-satisfaction, stress and frustration! It got to the point where I was so tilted that table selection went out the window and I just played whatever tables I could, even when I knew my opponents had an edge on me.
For all those reasons I can see why zoom is such a popular format. None of this sh*t goes on - you just sit down and play. I like to get into a rhythm and this just wasn't possible at 6-max. On the subject of zoom, I did some research this month and found that it really isn't that profitable. I'm talking here about 500zoom - I'm not sure if 200zoom correlates. Basically I looked into the winrates of who I consider to be 10 of the better zoom regulars - these guys tend to have a winrate around 1-2bb/100. Then I looked at around 20-30 of other zoom regulars who have a winrate between -1 to 1bb/100. The amount of guys I constantly see playing 500zoom who show a loss is ridiculous! Why bother? I can only assume they make money elsewhere - either in live poker, MTTs, or business outside of poker. I plan on looking into 200zoom over the next few weeks to see how profitable that is. I imagine it will be fairly steady given there are more recreationals playing. But I've come to the conclusion that the edges at 500zoom are so small that it's just not worth playing. Particularly given my 6-max game isn't all that great at the moment due to a lack of experience/study. Another major reason for avoiding 500zoom from now on is that I've always struggled with the mental side of poker and downswings. Why would I subject myself to a game that will inevitably throw up big swings when I don't have much of an edge (if any) in the long run?!
This brings me onto the last point of discussion - 'ambition-less low/mid stakes players may have it right'. In previous blog posts I've gone as far as to belittle regulars who stick to 100-200NL full-ring games. I now feel completely differently and have to eat my words. I've always wondered why players who have a theoretically sound game only play 100-200NL. I don't understand the personal circumstances of these people in terms of their finances, mental state, responsibilities etc, but I suspect a lot of them have the same mindset that I now have....
For years I have built up my bankroll, then moved up stakes, only to get stung and be forced to move back down. The losses were due to natural swings and then my mental flaws meant I chased losses and sacrificed my 'A game'. Weeks of hard week were often lost in a single session, meaning my overall profit throughout the course of a year was very average! There is a real balance that needs to be found in playing a limit low enough where you have an edge, but high enough where you maximise profitability. I don't have much of an edge over regulars that play 600-1kNL games, so I shouldn't really play them unless the tables are softer/more profitable. Would a winrate of 1bb/100 at 600NL make more than 4-5bb/100 at 200NL? I don't actually know without working it out. Then there's the other factors to incorporate - i.e. how would losing 3 buy-ins at a certain limit affect your mental well-being? For me, badly! 600-1kNL games don't run often, so losing a couple buy-ins at these stakes would be very hard work to win back at lower stakes. Inevitably it will compromise my 'A game' at my bread and butter of 200-400NL. I don't care what anyone says, there are very few (probably none) poker players who maintain their best game when suffering a losing session!
So what's next for me? Well, I'm not someone who needs a lot of money to enjoy my life. As long as I make enough to pay the bills and do the things I love, as well as supporting my future family then I am happy. This can easily be achieved by consistently beating 200-400NL full-ring games, without the need to reach for the stars. It may sound dull, it may show a lack of ambition, but the impact poker has on my life is massive. For example downswings hit me hard and affect my life so much that I just don't want to experience them. Why subject myself to a potential 5k downswing playing higher stakes? The negative impact of losing 5k massively outweighs the feelings of happiness that come from winning 5k. Simple! A bad day at 200-400NL doesn't really bother me because it doesn't affect my bankroll or accumulative tilt going into my next session.
I want to achieve some consistency in both my poker career and lifestyle. For years I've gone on emotional rollercoasters and lived life very inconsistently. My game selection would be completely random based on reaching for the stars, chasing, no real goals, boredom, etc. My session times were consequently affected because I couldn't leave when on a big downswing. This had a knock-on effect to my social life, sleep cycle, mental well-being and general happiness. I've now realised why do I bother? The last 2 years I haven't made anything to write home about from poker. I would of made a hell of a lot more if I just stuck to games I beat relatively easily (as well as not tilting/chasing of course)! It's worth noting that my success in the last 2 years was also affected by running my staking business and dedicating most of my time and energy to that. I want to wake up each day and go through that day feeling happy, stress-free, content, and basically live a healthy enjoyable lifestyle.
My responsibilities are also something that has affected my thought process. I have a wedding in September that I need to save for, then a honeymoon, then I have to support my partner while she is out of work and studying for a masters next year. This may sound negative but these are things I can't wait to do - I just cannot be selfish and take the risk of going on a major downswing. Not only that, but a big downswing would put me in such a pressured situation that I wouldn't play my best game, or feel the level of happiness in my life that I desire.
I currently sit in a comfortable position and feel fortunate for that. I have enough saved up for the things I want to do, and have a decent poker bankroll. I see no reason to risk that. Playing 200-400NL full-ring is something that will make me a decent living, and provide me with relatively easy, stress-free working days. It's a nice steady 'grind' - I feel in control, confident, enjoy playing, don't batter an eye-lid if I lose a buy-in, and can easily walk away after a bad session. Compared to higher stakes where I often feel nervous, out of control, inferior to other players, and hugely affected by a downswing because of the cold hard money it involves.
Sacking off higher stakes will help maintain a consistent lifestyle and avoid many of the negative associations with being a poker professional. All this means I have to re-visit my yearly goals...
FUTURE GOALS (rest of 2017 and onwards)
- Focus on 200-400NL full-ring
- 60k hands per month
- Continue improving my mental game
- Continue studying game theory
- Focus more on gaining an edge over regulars
- Continue regular blogging and writing articles
- Make regular Twitch/YouTube videos
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle - diet, exercise, gym goals, sleep cycle
- Re-start GC Staking - after wedding/honeymoon and when bankroll allows
Until I am dictated to by changes in the poker ecosystem I will be focusing on 200-400NL full-ring and avoiding 6-max and zoom. I will play 600NL when table selection allows it to be profitable, but am avoiding 1kNL for reasons discussed. I may be forced to play an alternative game in the future (e.g. 6-max), and at that time I will work on different theoretical/studying aspects and make the transition.
A sole focus on certain games provides the opportunity to analyse some of the regulars (who I struggle against) in more depth. While a GTO style is promoted these days, I still feel adopting an exploitive strategy has its merits and can be very profitable (particularly at the stakes I'm focusing on). Studying theory and mental aspects are still crucial to my overall development as a poker player and person. Having a stronger mental game will not only benefit my poker performance but my life as a whole. I won't be as affected by downswings and will learn methods to cope with other stresses in life much more effectively.
With my focus now being on full-ring I have altered my routine. Traffic in the mornings is very low so I am using the morning time to get in my exercise, food prep, blogging, studying, and chores. Leaving me free to focus on playing poker in the afternoon and early evening after feeling fresh and satisfied that I have achieved all I need to in that day. I believe this will be a good thing for me - often I found myself unmotivated to exercise midway through the day if I was on a morning downswing, if the tables were too good to leave, or if I felt mentally fatigued. So I'd often continue grinding and skip the gym and/or my chores. Exercising first thing is a great way to start my day in the right way - release those endorphins!!! However, I do need to make sure I take appropriate breaks throughout the day and not sit playing poker for 6-8 hours straight. It may be in future months/years that I need to start playing more evenings and weekends but I will adjust accordingly depending on how the poker ecosystem goes.
Twitch - I had planned to make a twitch video before the end of March, but when I came to film this week I found my microphone was distorted. I've ordered a new one so will look to post 2-3 videos in April.
Think that's enough for now, we'll see how April goes with my new approach. Thanks for reading!
April 3, 2017 | 1:10 p.m.
Ok, so we're midway(ish) through March and I felt it was time to give an update. Given I'm away for the whole of next week I'm only going to outline what will be discussed in my monthly review. Not much will change from now until the end of March as my volume won't be that great, so for the sake of repeating myself or not having anything to say I felt it best to save it for my end of month update.
Overall I'm fairly happy. My 200-400NL full-ring results are pretty impressive. It's just a shame my overall profit has been affected by losing at the biggest games I play, i.e. 1kNL. But this was just down to a couple lost flips/coolers, so I just have to suck it up!
Things I have noticed/learnt this month:
- 6-max ring games are just as dead as full-ring
- 6-max ring game lobbying is frustrating to the point of subjecting myself to unnecessary tilt (scripters, jostling for tables etc)
- Zoom is a far easier and more enjoyable experience
- 'Ambition-less' low/mid stakes players may have it right (contradictory to what I've previously said)
As well as discussing these topics I will be altering my future plans and will outline the reasoning for this - basically my yearly goals have been affected by what I've witnessed and experienced from playing 6-max ring games this month.
And of course I'll discuss the current state of my mental/theory game, and what I've learnt and am working on.
*of note I will discuss my red line, reasons for it, and how I'm going about improving it!
I will make sure I post at least 1 twitch video before March is out, and possibly write an article depending on time commitments.
See you in a few weeks, and wish me luck on my 6-day stag week....
March 10, 2017 | 10:11 a.m.
thanks mate, gl with whatever poker goals you have.
March 10, 2017 | 10:08 a.m.
should be everyone's number 1 priority! seen it kill a number of players' careers - both close childhood friends and guys I've met from playing against.
March 10, 2017 | 10:08 a.m.
thanks mate. gl to you as well in your poker ambitions.
March 10, 2017 | 10:07 a.m.
thanks mate. not my best session as I'm relatively inexperienced at 6max/zoom so some spots I'm not sure on the 'GTO' play.