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.
March 3, 2017 | 11:27 a.m.
As we come to the end of February I've got quite a lot on my mind that I want to share in this blog update. I have learnt an awful lot this month about myself and the poker ecosystem, which I'm sure many of you will be able to relate to. First a breakdown of my results...
2017 Overall Results:
All in all things are going very well! I'm obviously running pretty well at certain games but I'm not reading anything into those results given the small sample size. The games where I've mainly focused my attention (200-400NL full-ring and 6-max zoom 200-500) give a better representation of where my game is at the moment - and I'm pretty happy!
3 things have come to my attention recently that I feel is worth sharing:
*Winrates don't tell the whole story!
*Full-ring is not dead yet!
*Zoom is not for the weak!
*Winrates don't tell the whole story!
When I think back to the majority of my 200NL fr play during February, tables (for the large part) were consumed by regs. I choose to play my sessions during the daytime as it fits into my personal and social life a lot better, so I never really have too much choice in terms of table selection given traffic is usually fairly low. I find that a lot of the time I play on tables with possibly only 1 recreational player, sometimes all regs. Compare this to evenings and weekends where you'll probably find 2-4 recreationals (or semi-recreational/bad regs) on each table. It got me thinking about how table selection and session timings play a HUGE part in your overall winrate - I'm not stupid and knew this already, but you'll see what I'm getting at.
There are a huge number of players who table select carefully, to the extent where I've noticed a couple guys will only sit at a table where they have the 'jesus seat' (or as good as) versus a recreational. They won't even sit on a table with a recreational halfway round, let alone a table full of regs! I would seriously question this strategy. Yes they may be a winning player and boast an enviable winrate (interestingly some don't), but are they really improving? In my eyes these guys have no ambition and with this approach will be stuck at low-mid stakes for their whole career - I may be there with them too, but at least I am challenging myself and trying to progress.
My approach and attitude is one where I am happy to sit down on any table make-up because I see advantages of both. If there are recreationals then it will be a profitable game for me, but if it's full of regs then I see it as a way of improving my skills (i.e. implementing sound exploitable/GTO strategies depending on opponents/reads etc). To realise my poker goals I need to sometimes subject myself to tough games in order to become a better player, something I am never going to achieve by solely playing against recreationals (where a highly unbalanced strategy will be adopted)!
So with all this in mind, I am more than happy with my 200NL winrate thus far. My 400NL fr winrate kind of supports my points. The fact my sample size is a lot lower is because these games rarely run, and when they do it's only because of recreationals sitting down. NEVER will there be a 400NL fr table full of regs, hence why my winrate is so much higher!
*Full-ring is not dead yet!
This may sound contradictory to what I've already said, but I've had some games lately that have been awesome! I often find more enjoyment from playing against regs than recreationals, which may not be the norm. 'Work' for me is not just all about the money, it's about non-monetary gains as well. I want to have a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction from the process and not just the end result. I think most people in 'normal' jobs would sacrifice some of their annual income to have a job where they wake up each morning excited for work, as opposed to seeing it as a chore. 'Live to work' or 'work to live' comes to my mind here. If you can find a balance of the best of both worlds then it's an all round win!
Back to poker - versus recreationals I obviously adopt a highly exploitable strategy and it becomes very mundane as I often bet when I've got it and check/fold when I don't. Whereas against decent opponents there is scope to make more plays, implement game theory concepts from what I've been studying, and basically put my brain to work! This is what I consider poker to be and levelling is a really fun element! I get a lot more enjoyment and satisfaction from outplaying an opponent or making a sound play than I do from getting a free double up from a recreational. I think it's because I can feel myself improving and growing in confidence, which is crucial to achieving my goals! Outsiders (6-max players) view full-ring as nitty and dull, but nowadays it is nothing like that! While there are some solely full-ring grinders, a lot of the regs have ventured into 6-max games as well so they have a lot more plays in their armoury, with 3-betting/4-betting a lot more common and games in general are far more aggressive!
I did say in my last update that I need to sacrifice full-ring games to focus on 6-max but I'm debating this now. I'm going to continue what I'm doing, which is basically playing whatever I'm motivated and confident to play at that specific time. Being a profitable 6-max and full-ring player is a great weapon to possess to be able to dominate whatever games the lobby throws at us, so I will continue working hard on my 6-max study as I realise there are a number of aspects that need work.
*Zoom is not for the weak!
This has been without question my biggest test so far, both from a poker and mental perspective. I've solely focused on zoom when playing 6-max due to traffic. For the majority of my career I've focused on full-ring, and even when multi-tabling 15+ it's hard to endure major swings given the relatively slow nature of gameplay. When I have tilted in the past I've shifted to mid-high stakes 6-max, and I found the swings there pretty big given the aggressive nature and faster gameplay. Then I played zoom.....
CAUTION! If you feel you have a mental weakness in dealing with downswings and tilt then stay well away! My mental game was really tested every time I played, simply because it's impossible not to go on some kind of downswing. If you look at my graphs you can see the times this happened - there were a couple huge downswings, one as much as 5k!!! I'm fairly pleased with how I came through this even though there were a couple of dodgy marginal calls/plays in there! A lot of the time I felt I played well and I'm moving to a position where I'm not results orientated. I did struggle to deal with the 5k losing session and it was a tough few hours afterwards. But when I came back for review I realised it was largely down to variance, so this helped to eradicate a lot of accumulative/knock-on tilt going into my next session. What really sucks as poker players is when we have our bad days at the highest stakes we play - imagine how long it would take to win 5k back playing 200NL?!
To counter any mental weakness I have I'm continuing using the strategies I outlined in my previous blog update, as well as only playing zoom when I'm in the right frame of mind. The ultra fast gameplay means that if I'm not on my 'A game' then I will potentially spew a lot of money! I'm also just 1 tabling for the most part unless there is good reason to play more (profitable pools/playing well). I once heard someone say that 'zoom poker is for those who don't know how to play'. It was quite an interesting comment which I neither agreed or disagreed with. In zoom you don't get the same table dynamic element or levelling that you find in a normal ring game. I believe this is one area where I am particularly skilled and therefore I'm thinking it may be beneficial to focus on 6-max ring games over zoom in future months.
In general I haven't done enough study this month which is explained by the fact I managed 77k hands. Quite often I would sacrifice studying to play because at the moment I'm really enjoying poker - I'm confident and my results are good. However, there are known areas of my game that I need to work on so I do need to be stricter in terms of my scheduled study times.
In saying the above, I'm really happy with the way my mental improvements are going, even though I do still have momentary blips. While they've made me feel angry and frustrated at times, they haven't been bankroll crippling because not once this year have I chased losses by opening more tables or playing higher stakes! (ROUND OF APPLAUSE). One key thing that is stopping me doing this is the accountability of starting a blog and posting videos. We all crave credibility in everything we do in life, and my poker career is no different. For starters I don't want to appear like a muppet on video! Then whenever I feel myself tilting I just think how well I'm doing this year overall and not in that particular session - I don't want to ruin my overall winrate and become just another breakeven player. Why would anyone listen to anything I say if I show up with average results? I'm not saying people do listen to me, but I'd like to give myself a chance through proving myself. This attitude has helped me walk away from the tables, take a break, and/or get me back to a level frame of mind a lot quicker than I used to! Until yesterday....
I am writing this on the back of a 14 hour marathon session where I skipped meals, skipped the gym, had dinner on my lap while playing, and basically did everything I have tried to cut out this year! Today I feel drained to the extent where I know I'm not in the right state to be playing. While it was a really unhealthy way of approaching things, there was some method behind the madness. There were a lot of profitable games running and at one stage I was 9 tabling 400NL-1kNL fr, which is unheard of in today's poker ecosystem! I couldn't bring myself to leave given this was a rarity and I was really enjoying playing, but it has ruined any chance of me playing my 'A game' today. Finding the right balance is key, even when it means quitting profitable games for the greater long-term good. We as humans are constantly battling with ourselves to keep our emotions in check and use them to our advantage - as you already know this is an area I am prioritising!
*I imagine any MTT players reading this will scoff at 14 hours as they are used to grinding long sessions. But in my opinion MTTs are nowhere near as mentally taxing as most decisions are automatic, with far less levelling and making plays. I also think it's safe to say that a large majority of online MTT players are seriously unhealthy, play when tired, and have a messed up sleep cycle. Some nights they finish early and some nights they run deep , therefore their sleep cycle is constantly affected. I know quite a few players myself who have completely random sleeping patterns and often say they played badly - imagine my surprise....
As a final point, I have started my Twitch/YouTube channel and posted 3 videos so far. I don't have fibre in my area so at the moment they are recorded but hopefully this can be resolved soon so I can stream live. I plan on varying my videos in future months with some of just me playing (will vary games and try to record higher stakes as they are more interesting), and some going over a hand review.
Aside from my poker results, my work/life balance is probably my most pleasing aspect. I have really got into a great routine in terms of diet, exercise and sleep - what I consider the 'life holy trinity' of a poker player. Here I'm talking about Monday-Friday, my 'work days'. I tend to give myself weekends off as a reward to enjoy life with my girlfriend, friends and family. Even though weekends are profitable times to play, being happy and enjoying life is the most important thing to me so I'm willing to take a 'paycut' to achieve that. My diet and sleep cycle is affected on weekends but it doesn't really matter given I'm not working. I use Sunday's (and sometimes Monday's if need be) to recover so I'm ready and fresh for the next poker week. It's the work days where I really focus on being on-point and the impact of nailing a nutritious healthy diet, exercising regularly, and having a consistent sleep cycle has massively improved my poker in terms of results and approach. I labelled these 3 factors as the 'life holy trinity' because I believe they are essential for long term success and sustainability as a poker professional.
In terms of achieving goals, the gym is going pretty well. I mentioned in a previous blog update about the importance of high intensity exercise for poker players to achieve eustress, so I've moved to more of a 'pump training' style of weightlifting. While I may not be as strong as before, the most important elements to me of using the gym is staying healthy, being in good shape, and positively influencing my poker - walking out the gym feeling fresh, revitalised and satisfied has really benefitted my frame of mind and attitude when I sit down to play poker. My previous gym regime subjected me to just go through the motions, lifting heavy and resting for long periods. I found myself bored and just looking at my phone, not really focusing on the task in hand. I walked out feeling no better, just jaded and like I hadn't really achieved much.
- 40k hands
- Work on 6-max theory (3 hours per week)
- Work on mental aspects (3 hours per week)
- Focus on 6-max ring games over zoom
- Make 2-3 twitch videos
- Write 1 article
IT'S MY STAG DO!!! For a week in March I am going to be at Cheltenham Festival (Horse Racing) followed by a weekend in Cardiff for my stag do. I've written this week off from all poker. This means I won't be able to play as many hands or dedicate as much time to study this month. But I don't care, it's going to be a great week! The other 3 weeks will be the same normal stuff (minus a couple recovery days after my stag do I imagine).
Think that about covers it all, thanks for reading!
March 2, 2017 | 2:46 p.m.
Just posted another video of a live session playing 500z. Can be found on twitch, youtube or my website. Any feedback about how to improve my videos and make them more interesting is welcome. I appreciate sometimes I'm not the most exciting guy as when pokering I'm concentrating on my decisions.
Blog update to come at end of Feb.
Feb. 24, 2017 | 8:58 a.m.
Quick February results update seeing as a lot has happened in the last few sessions. From a bit of a 'spewy run bad' 500z session (easily noticeable in my graph), to a crushing 'A game run good' session! I will discuss reasons for all my results and good/bad sessions in my monthly review at the end of February.
Feb. 20, 2017 | 4:49 p.m.
thanks mate, appreciate it
Feb. 20, 2017 | 4:45 p.m.
hi there, thanks for the message.
poker is my job (has been since 2006). I don't and have never worked alongside poker. I am a big sports enthusiast and make decent money on the side from sports betting and fanduel.
volume wise, I play anywhere between 6 and 15 tables depending on what games are running and how fresh/switched on/motivated I'm feeling. 9 is about optimum for me. this is full-ring. 6max I will only play 2 zoom or 6 ring as my understanding of 6max theory and gamplay isn't good enough to consistently beat 400-600NL games without analysing every situation/decision properly.
I play about 6-8 hours per day, 5 days a week. some days more, some days less, some weeks more etc. depends on my mood, focus, and other things going on in my life.
any other questions please get in touch.
Feb. 20, 2017 | 1:16 p.m.
Thanks Phil. Appreciate it.
Feb. 19, 2017 | 9:16 a.m.
...aaaaaaand we're crushing!
We reach the mid-point of February and it's time for another update. I'm pleased to announce that things have continued on the same path as January, with my poker results and approach to life being on course to where I want them to be!
While I'm running pretty hot in some games, my EV winrates are decent in the games where I have a big enough sample and that's what I'm most happy about!
I couldn't ask for a better start to 2017. My winrates are above where I want them to be and I'm well ahead of schedule in terms of my progression goals. My 6-max 200NL winrate isn't that impressive, but given my inexperience I'm fairly content as I believe they will only get better as I sharpen up on game theory. My early success has allowed me to move up stakes a lot quicker than anticipated, with my bankroll and confidence levels allowing me to play up to 1kNL full-ring games (albeit only a few run per week). I have also started 'shotting' 6-max zoom 500NL games. If I'm honest I don't think my 6-max game is solid enough to be playing this yet, but I like to challenge myself and I'm not going to improve unless I subject myself to tougher games. I debated it for a while, but then thought 'sod it, why not?!'. I can't remember too many times when I've been so mentally strong and confident in my own game, so it seemed like a good a time as any to take on the challenge!
A big part of 2017 was to transition into 6-max and I'm not doing this at the rate I envisaged. I previously discussed that I would play 6-max when I felt my skills and mental game were good enough, as well as being dictated by traffic and table selection. While I feel I am ready to be playing 6-max, I have often compromised planned sessions because there were profitable full-ring games running. I have a lot of experience at full-ring and know the regulars and exploitable players very well, possessing more comfort and confidence in these games as a result. In comparison, I have little knowledge of the 6-max field so don't enter those games with the same level of confidence. This kind of goes back to a problem I've had in the past where I only saw poker in the short-term, looking to win as much as possible on that particular day. I need to start looking to poker as a long-term project and make sacrifices on profitable full-ring games to improve my 6-max skills. This may sound stupid but there are times when full-ring traffic is low and I'm forced to play 6-max, so I need to maximise my potential profit in these games by becoming more experienced and having a better understanding of 6-max theory.
So looking ahead I need to put more focus on playing 200NL 6-max games, as well as studying game theory. I already put a lot of time into working on my mental game (watching videos, reading books, producing my own methods) so I will continue doing this. It's going to be interesting to see how I respond when I suffer a proper downswing and how it will affect me mentally - confidence, motivation, stress levels, and history of tilt issues. Until that point I can't discuss those aspects in more detail (and long may that be the case!).
*One final note to say that I have setup my Twitch channel (chaps1988) and will be posting videos of me playing from now on. At the moment I haven't got fibre so they will be recorded which sucks, but hopefully I'll find a resolution to this should my internet provider not sort it! These videos will also be posted on my YouTube channel (chaps1988 Poker) if you prefer using that.
The work/life balance is something I've always struggled with but I'm continuing to create strategies to live a healthier life. I have added a whiteboard in my office where I write reminder notes and any improvements I need to make (see image for current notes written down). Pretty sad I know but it's something that helps keep me on the right path in terms of being mentally strong and living a healthy lifestyle.
I am achieving a lot of my lifestyle goals that I set out at the beginning of 2017. I maintain a regular sleep cycle, have a healthy diet (most of the time), exercise 4 times a week (gym, badminton, football, cricket), and don't sacrifice socialising opportunities for 'work'. I talked about the necessity to enjoy the freedom poker provides and not let it suck up our whole lives in my recent 'Avoid Grind Mentality' article. It's something I speak about from experience and (in my opinion) is imperative for both long-term poker success and avoiding burnout. In terms of my diet I said 'most of the time' because weekends are often filled with a night out, or calorific dinners/takeaways. I allow myself this because it's part of my socialising and things I enjoy doing. What I do guarantee is that during the weeks I am strict and eat a healthy balanced diet. This is to ensure I am feeling fresh and in the right frame of mind whenever I play poker, which is weekdays. It's also why I discussed in my last blog update that I sometimes avoid playing on Monday's - I am often still jaded from the weekend so give myself the morning, or even the whole day (if the weekend was particularly heavy) to sort myself out so I'm ready to crush on Tuesday and don't suffer from the accumulative effect!!!
Think that'll do for this update, will be back at the end of the month. Good luck at the tables guys and thanks for reading!
Feb. 16, 2017 | 1:09 p.m.
So we've reached the end of January... time for my first monthly review. I plan on giving a comprehensive progress report at the end of every month and will make random mid-month updates throughout the year when I deem it necessary - for example if I stumble across something that I believe will be interesting and useful for others.
The first thing to say is that January was a bludie good month for me! I'm not going to kid myself into thinking I will maintain these kind of results throughout the year (i.e. my 400NL winrate). Even though I was below my EV I ran well the majority of the time and never suffered what I consider a serious downswing (e.g. a mega losing session or a few losing sessions in a row).
One of my main goals for 2017 was to transition into 6-max and I'm pleased with how this is going. I'm happy with my results (even though they may not appear amazing) because of my inexperience in 6-max games both from a poker skills/math and mental perspective. I have quickly picked up some 6-max strategy that I've been learning and feel I've incorporated it into my game relatively successfully. Yes I am still making mistakes but over time these will become fewer and happen less often!
*I have nearly finished setting up and familiarising myself with Twitch so I will be posting my first stream/video soon. I don't have fibre in my area so not sure if I'll be able to stream so will have to post recorded videos instead for the meantime.
THE MENTAL GAME/STUDY
Mental game fish? Not for much longer!
Given my problems in the past with tilt, chasing losses, and an inability to quit I've designated the majority of my study time to developing a much improved mental game. Reading Jared Tendler's book and watching videos on training sites has really helped me look at poker in a different perspective and see it as a long term project. Previously I was so focused on every single session being successful that I was unable to quit when 'in the red'. I'm slowly learning that this is just a ridiculous attitude and so unfeasible given the nature of poker. I'm developing methods and strategies to assist my quest for mental game stardom and have recently purchased a whiteboard for my office. The idea behind this is to write cue's to maintain mental strength as well as writing any intra/post session thoughts on how my session went and areas I need to improve etc.
'One step back, countless steps forward'!
Whilst listening to a RIO training video I developed this mental approach which has proved hugely beneficial. I originally had 'one step back, two steps forward' written down but this didn't do it justice! Whenever I make a mistake or feel myself being mentally weak I look up to see this phrase on my whiteboard and think:
'I made a mistake and lost a buy-in there, but I know that and will avoid making that mistake in future on countless occasions'
'I felt myself become frustrated and angry after getting sucked out on but I know I'm winning that spot 80% of the time and I can't help the results'
'I felt myself become frustrated and angry after losing another buy-in, but all I can control is what happens from here on in'
'I 3bet that spot because I was on tilt, but I knew that straight away so will prevent it happening in the future on countless occasions'
While I still have some moments of tilt, these triggers seem to be working to quickly return me to a level frame of mind. I've learnt that to develop and maintain a solid mental game I will continuously need to work on it. It's like any skill in life, as soon as you stop practicing you will plateau or become worse! Take a footballer at the top of their game.... what would happen if they feel they're so good that they no longer need to train...? Pretty clearly they will soon lose their match sharpness and skills - the mental side of poker is no different!
'Keep on keeping on'!
I truly won't know how strong my mental game is until I suffer a real downswing (a big losing session or a string of losing sessions), so I am not under any delusional false pretences that I have a world class mental game or anything like that. It's going to take time and I will still have lapses in years to come, just like a cricketer occasional drops a catch - human error is something that can never be eradicated! As I encounter mental problems I will look for ways to improve, come up with new strategies that work for me. Everyone is unique and needs to find their own personal solutions. For example I'm not just going to copy some of Jared Tendler's suggestions simply because of who he is. Don't get me wrong they're obviously expert opinions, but I need to use them as guidelines and adapt them to my life, my current mental position, and what will work for me!
I managed to put in more volume that I had planned in January. The main reason for this was that I was so confident in my game that I was motivated to play at every opportunity, even sacrificing study times to play another session. While I realise the importance of continually working on theoretical/mental aspects as well as avoiding burnout, I was in such a good place that I felt my time was best served at the tables. At the end of the day there are going to be numerous times throughout the year when I'll be too unmotivated, tired or stressed to play so I believe I need to maximise the times when I'm playing my 'A game'!
In general I'm happy with how I'm approaching the work/life balance conundrum. I'm hitting the gym 4 times a week and maintaining my physique and weight at a time when every weekend seems to be a 'boozey' junk food affair. It's just that time of the year when there are birthdays, stag do's, reunions etc. It can't be helped and these are things I love doing, I just have to be on the ball to balance my lifestyle so it doesn't affect my work, my life, my health, my happiness or my general well-being.
'Get up and get it done'!
In these cold and rainy winter months it is hard to get out the house and to the gym, but my attitude and cue of 'get up and get it done' is what works to give me the kick up the arse to not only go to the gym but work my nuts off when I'm there. My training used to consist of heavy weights, low reps and long rest periods but I found this was doing nothing for my mood and stress levels whenever poker was tough. I then came across Haseeb Qureshi's articles and learnt about eustress and the importance of releasing endorphins for poker players. If you haven't read it then 'How To Live As A Poker Player' is a great read! So I've now shifted to higher intensity stuff, still lifting heavy and getting stronger but doing more reps and vastly reducing the time between sets. I can't begin to tell you the difference. I walk out the gym far more satisfied, feeling fresher, de-stressed, ready for an afternoon poker session! After all I came to realise I'm not a gym freak, I'm not a weight lifter, I'm not a body builder, I'm a poker player and an amateur sportsmen! I need to train in a way that's going to benefit my skills in those areas.
'Take the poker freedom, don't let poker take your freedom'
One major factor that's helped my enjoyment of life is to live with the flexibility and freedom that being a poker player allows. I used to constantly play everyday regardless of my mindset or motivation because I felt I needed to treat it like a 'proper job'. Never again! Now I will play when I feel like it, chill out when I feel like it, and go and play Golf when I feel like it. I've found this has already had a positive impact on my results - I'm closer to my 'A game' more often and avoid auto-piloting or making marginal 'fishy' plays!
So all in all it's been a great month but I'm aware it's early days and 2017 is a long old year. There's still plenty of time for things to go wrong and I need to continually focus on improving my methods to maintain a healthy work/life balance and achieve my goals!
Moving onto February I don't really have too many goals other than 'more of the same'. Basically everything I outlined at the start of 2017 and what went so well in January I want to replicate. And as I've already mentioned I will constantly be working hard on plugging leaks in my poker game, mental game, and lifestyle!
Thanks for reading!
Feb. 3, 2017 | 11:57 a.m.
nice to see there's honest and open players out there who don't hide their downswings or pretend they never lose.
playing when away from a normal routine/environment is always going to compromise your A game because of session preparation, sleep cycles, exercise, diet etc.
no doubt you'll turn your results round soon as you're a hardworking and knowledgeable poker player.
Jan. 18, 2017 | 6:48 p.m.
Jan. 16, 2017 | 11:10 a.m.
PROGRESS REPORT/UPDATE - (16th January 2017)
So we're midway through January and things are going pretty well. My results are decent, I've started the transition into 6-max, and I'm easily able to play enough hands to achieve my goal (average of 50k/month) while still having plenty of time for hobbies, socialising, rest, exercise etc.
I've structured my poker sessions based on traffic and table selection. If there are profitable 200-400NL fr games running I'll play them, but at times when there's only a few tables I'll focus on 6-max. Up to now I've solely played 6-max zoom because I've found the player pool juicier than ring-games.
Given my history of 'tilt' issues the most impressive part of 2017 so far is my ability to deal with bad beats (highlighted by my EV stats). The time I set aside to improving my mental game is really helping and I've noticed positives changes in my emotions and reaction when subjected to a bad beat. However until I go on a proper downswing I won't know for sure that to what extent my mental game has improved - watch this space....!
In terms of poker study I have set aside Monday mornings and Fridays. I've found over the last 6-12months that my results at these times are a lot worse and have put it down to 'Monday morning blues' where I'm still jaded from the weekend (eg, alcohol/junk food/late nights) and some form of mental/physical fatigue by the time I reach Friday after a week of hard work (poker and exercise). Currently my focus is mental aspects because I feel this is what has been stunting my progress the most, as well as the necessity for a solid mental game when playing more aggressive 6-max games. I am watching 3-5 training videos per week, reading 'The Mental Game of Poker' and creating methods/reminders that help my approach and to keep me in check. Aside from mental game study I analyse marked hands on a daily basis and attribute a few hours a week for blogging and reading other blogs on RIO and 2+2. I plan on recording some hand review/training videos for my website and YouTube channel in the next couple of weeks, as well as starting streaming on Twitch when my setup/workstation is complete from a revamp.
One thing I've found useful is that before every session I will watch 10-15mins of a game theory video. Not only does this keep my theoretical learning moving forward while my primary focus is my mental game, but it puts me in the right frame of mind from the first hand I play rather than feeling my way into the session.
My studying is really helping with motivation, understanding concepts in a more advanced way and improving my overall approach to poker and life. But most importantly it has allowed me to forget about poker when I walk out the office. In previous years I had little understanding of game theory because I never studied. I would constantly analyse hands/mistakes for hours after a session because I didn't know what the 'correct play' was - this caused high levels of stress which really weren't necessary! Having a better understanding game theory allows me to analyse any mistakes (of which there are less through improved knowledge) a lot easier, as well as having the added benefit of taking consolation from the math/theory when suffering a bad beat or 'cooler'. I feel fresher and revitalised when I sit down for a new session, as opposed to the old days of worrying about previous hands/sessions and suffering the 'knock-on effect' which immediately puts you in a compromised position against your opponents!
For the remainder of January my goals are:
- 25k hands
- daily hand reviews of marked hands
- read 'Strategy' chapter in 'Mental Game of Poker'
- watch 6-8 RIO training videos on mental aspects
- make my first hand review/training video
- setup Twitch and make my first stream
- write/post my 'Knowing When To Quit' article on website
- 5 hours of blog related activity
- complete my office revamp
- 3-4 gym sessions a week
- get under 150lbs & 10% bodyfat
- maintain healthy diet/exercise/sleep cycle
- enjoy my weekends with girlfriend/friends/family
So in summary it's been a positive start to 2017 but I am not getting carried away. I understand I haven't really been tested yet in terms of dealing with a downswing, or other aspects of my life having an impact on poker.
Thanks for reading!
Jan. 16, 2017 | 11:06 a.m.
there are maybe 3 tables running per week. what I mean is that I have the bankroll to play these games with confidence. there are rarely 400NL fr games, so my transition to 6-max will happen once my mental game and skills are in the right place. Will update my goals so makes clearer sense.
Jan. 9, 2017 | 7:43 a.m.
thanks man, gl to you, whats your stars sn? do you have a journal/blog i can follow? and whats your thoughts on why the 'shit will hit the fan'?
Jan. 8, 2017 | 10:28 a.m.
After a decade of floating through the poker world it's time to get serious and get s**t done! Poker obsession, a gambling addiction, an ego problem, stress, and an unhealthy lifestyle are all factors that have prevented any real progress, and at times have made poker a brutal career choice!
Over the last 5 years my base has been 200NL, not that it's ever stopped me shooting higher when I get bored of the monotonous daily grind, or go on one of my mega-tilted splurge sessions! Poker hasn't always been my priority, with other hobbies/interests and running a staking business eating up all the focus I could muster in one day. This, combined with possessing a 'mental game' weaker than Rory Mcilroy at the 2011 US Masters goes a long way to explaining my stagnation at 200NL.
My 2016 graph highlights the volatile nature of my poker career. On countless occasions my tilted game selection crippled my bankroll and undid weeks/months of hard graft!
WHY A BLOG?
Other 'regs' who I'm in contact with have suggested blogging is a good way to maintain motivation, track progress, get involved in the poker community, learn from others, and be accountable. We shall see if they're right....
With the risk of sounding like another 'brag blogger', I believe I have the poker skills to be playing far higher than 200NL. I hand-read and analyse situations better than most at low-mid stakes and have never encountered many problems when I've played 400-1000NL in the right frame of mind! My actual skills aren't the problem, it's everything else - mental health, handling variance, study, motivation, lifestyle choices etc. Get those in check and I'll be on the right track! I don't plan on putting in crazy volume, but aim to approach every session in the right mental state and avoid/quit playing when unmotivated or tired. My volume has also decreased in recent months as I attempt to maintain what I consider a healthy work/life balance.
- 600k hands
- 200NL fr winrate 4bb+/100
- progress from 200NL fr to 1kNL fr (when traffic allows)
- transition into 6-max games
- finish year at 6-max 400NL
By the end of 2017 I aim to be playing primarily 6-max games. Poker traffic seems to be shifting this way and top pro's/training sites focus the majority of their material on these games. I will use monthly/weekly goals to track my transition by determining when it's right to include more/less 6-max. Dictating factors include motivation, confidence, skills, traffic, and table selection. With 6-max prone to bigger swings I will be focusing a lot on developing my 'mental game' in the early parts of 2017 with many of my blog articles on my website and forums geared towards these aspects.
THE MENTAL GAME/POKER STUDY
I initially became a 'mental game fish' (as Jared Tendler would describe me) as soon as PokerStars ripped a large % of my income from under my feet! Tougher games and not being 'bailed out' by lucrative loyalty rewards has meant downswings are far more frequent and financially crippling, therefore far harder to handle!
Poker is no longer the exciting venture it was when I was 18, it's my livelihood! I'm now 28 and have recently bought my first house. Mortgage payments, bills and food are all financial responsibilities I now endure. Added to this I have my wedding to pay for in 2017 and will be the sole bread winner from late 2017-2018 as my 'soon to be' wife goes to Uni for a Law Masters. All this has meant that poker (and life) is more pressured and stressful than it's ever been! My progression will undoubtedly be affected by cashing out chunks of my bankroll for various life costs, so I may need to adjust my goals for the year at some stage.
So with all the above in mind it's come down to the point in my life/career where I need to kick my arse into gear or quit the game altogether!
- develop a solid 'mental game'
- regular hand reviews
- weekly study sessions (database/HUD analysis, poker theory, mental training, forum chat etc)
- weekly blog updates on website/forums
- monthly videos on website (hand reviews/training/twitch)
In recent months I've started sorting out my life. I'm no longer a recluse sat on my arse all day playing poker or researching my latest interest! 2017 will be a year where I focus on mastering the work/life balance whereby I attribute enough time to poker in order to achieve my goals, but also live a healthy stress-free lifestyle.
- prioritise diet/hydration/exercise/sleep cycle
- create and achieve gym based goals
- create and maintain a session preparation schedule for poker
- at least 1 poker free day per week
- create socialising opportunities/don't be a recluse
I am a successful sports bettor/FanDuel player and see these as part of my yearly 'income'. I plan on continuing to dedicate the appropriate time in order to make sound bets/picks. Also, I have recently started a free sports tipping service ('GC Tipster') focused on my main two interests, Football and Cricket. My long term ambition is to build a reputable business, but I can't make it a revenue stream until I build up credibility.
I am getting married this year so a priority for 2017 is organising a special day! We have a lot done already so it should be fairly stress-free....
I play a decent level of Cricket and am captain of my local club who got promoted last season. My goal for the coming season is to avoid relegation and enjoy every Saturday fixture with the boys regardless of the result.
To help achieve my overall goals for 2017 I will create weekly and monthly objectives for all aspects. I don't know if they're worth posting as they will be fairly mundane, but we'll see how we go. This approach will break it down into very manageable periods of time, and being accountable will help deal with any issues in a more professional manner. In the past I've often brushed off bad results without appropriately analysing the reasons behind them.
I will post updates and reply to comments on here, but you can find all my articles/videos and track my progress at www.chaps1988.net (I hope I'm allowed to link this here?!). I hope you find my blog insightful and interesting.
I wish everyone all the best for 2017, thanks for reading!