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FOUNDING THE BEST NL CASH GAME STUDY GROUP TO CRUSH HIGH STAKES IN 2022

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FOUNDING THE BEST NL CASH GAME STUDY GROUP TO CRUSH HIGH STAKES IN 2022

FOUNDING THE BEST NL CASH GAME STUDY GROUP TO CRUSH HIGH STAKES IN 2022

Your goal is it to make it to the high stakes cash games online?
It's not enough for you to be one of many average poker players?
You want to connect with like minded people and climb the mountain together?

My name is Lukas Hösl (23) and my goals for 2022 are exactly that.
I realize that crushing high stakes is a very ambitious goal that many aspiring poker players have, but only a handful achieve.
Let me show you why you should join me and how we will make it happen.
Therefore I wrote this thread, but to start of I want to give you some bullet point facts about me and what I have to offer:

  • Playing NL1k-NL5k on GG and ACR at the moment
  • Winning 100k$+ in the last 6 month playing online poker
  • Willing to share my knowledge and information
    • Library with 27 finished and reviewed presentations (pictures in appendix)
    • Saved PioSolver Runs for every SRP and 3BP in 6-max cash
    • 6 Preflop Ranges in PioSolver format

This thread is divided into three sections:
In the beginning I share my thoughts on what this group could look like and describe a way how we will crush high stakes NL in 2022.
After that you find my story of how I got here and my thoughts on the future.
In the end are the requirements for joining the group and how you can apply.
Finally, there is an appendix with some pictures for your entertainment.

If you have the same goal, enjoy reading about people with big goals or try to figure out if I am full of shit, I recommend you give it a read.

I hope you’ll find what you’ve searched for.
After that, read through the first part again, get hyped and apply immediately.

If you prefer to read the same text in a google docx document, that is a little bit easier on the eye, follow this link:
Link to thread as google docx document

FOUNDING A CASH GAME STUDY GROUP

What is the vision for this group?
The goal for the group is to become the hardest and smartest working group of poker players in 2022.
The group should consist of 3-5 like-minded people

How is the group put together?
I will go through each application and schedule a video call with anyone who makes a promising impression, so we can see if it fits on a personal level.
Then I will try to put together the best group possible.
Thereby I will focus on quality not quantity, rather have a group of 3 A-performers than a group of 4 with one B-performer in it.

How do we start running?
To kick things off we do a bootcamp, where we meet up in real life and grow together as a group.
Everybody should write up their poker goals for 2022 and break it down into tasks that need to be done to reach them.
Then we will make a first plan on how to reach those goals and set milestones over the year to make sure we stay on track and keep each other accountable.
We will organize the knowledge and data everybody brings into the group and use that as our baseline.
Finally we will review and refine our baseline, before we start creating knowledge on top of it.
After the bootcamp we get to work!

What could the core organisation of the group look like?
(The following is me thinking about it - all decisions going forward will be made by the group)

The group should not try to micromanage what every member is doing, but only provide the necessary guidelines, so we work and communicate effectively.
It is always possible to create more meetings, but I’d like to keep the core as slim as possible.

In the short term I recommend working with time slots for tasks of 1-2 weeks. (sprints)
There should be a sprint-start-meeting, where the tasks to be done are discussed and distributed to the group members. (maybe use Trello boards for this)

At the end of the sprint we meet up again and everybody is supposed to show what they've worked on, what they've found and how this is useful to other members of the group.
Other group related topics or issues should be discussed at the latest in these meetings, so that nothing is undealt with for more than 1-2 weeks.

We should also take a look back and analyse what went good or bad in the last sprint.
Especially in the beginning there will be a lot of room for improvement on how we work together, how we structure things, how we divide tasks and so on.
Therefore, it is important to learn from each sprint so that we can better prepare the next one.

Once we have completed the last sprint and learned our lessons, we begin the kickoff meeting for the next sprint

In the process of these sprints we will break down different aspects of the game into small pieces and save the information gained in a document.
Every document becomes part of our library, which is saved on a cloud to which only members of the group have access to.

Presentations, spreadsheets and text documents can be created on the cloud itself.
Doing so avoids false copies, redundant work and provides an easy way of working on something together.

What could daily business look like?
For group communication I would recommend a discord server.
We can use that to organize all communication like companies use Microsoft Teams.

Everyone can meet other group members online, but also mute or take themselves offline if they want to focus on other things.
We can split up communication in different channels, so it is somewhat organized and archived.
Important information can be pinned to the top, so nothing gets lost.
Video and voice calls can be done in discord as well.

For stuff that comes up daily (work together, discussions, hand reviews, questions, personal/offtopic talk) we just call each other and make that on the fly.

What I bring to the table:

  • Library with 27 finished and reviewed presentations (pictures in appendix)

    • 20 presentations focusing on different spots of NL 6 max cash 100bb deep

      • Most common spots in SRPs(11) and 3BPs(9)
      • Human replicable strategies simplified by running own PIO simulations (1-2 sizings on the node solved for)
      • Strategies broken down for different board categories
    • 7 presentations on implication of stacksize and rake on preflop play

  • Saved PioSolver Runs (186 flops each)

    • Multiple Sizings for all streets
      • For every SRP and 3BP spot
      • 100bb deep with z500 ranges
      • Small saves (no river saved) - 1.65TB
    • Simplified flop strategy
      • Created for selected SRP and 3BP spots (see presentations)
      • 100bb deep with z500 ranges
      • Full saves - 9.3TB
  • Preflop Ranges in PioSolver format

    • 6-max 100bb 500z
    • 6-max 200bb 500z
    • 6-max 50bb 500z
    • 6-max 100bb bb ante
    • 6-max 100bb GG 3b/f
    • HU 100bb 500z
  • Subsets, to group similar boards together in one category
    (created out of the 186 flop subset provided on the PIOSolver website: https://www.piosolver.com/blogs/news/62725637-choosing-a-subset-of-flops-to-represent-the-whole-game)

All this combined took hundreds of hours for my roommate and me to create - he generously allowed me to share our combined work with my new studygroup.
To give you an example of how all of this looks, I include a few pictures in the appendix at the end.

The next few pages are about my personal poker story.
I include them here, because I think reading about my past struggles, mistakes and successes gives you a good overview of who I am now and what I want to achieve in the future.

If you don’t feel like reading 6 pages of personal stuff, feel free to skip and go straight to Requirements for becoming a group member.

MY STORY

Early Days
My name is Lukas Hösl (23) and I was born and raised in Germany in a middle class family.
In 2014 I first watched WSOP and High Stakes cash games on television and the fire for poker was lit.
It's just too cool that these people are playing a card game for thousands or even millions of dollars.
I wanted that too!!

Convinced my parents to let me deposit 50 bucks on Pokerstars when I was 17 years old.
Lost that playing NL2/NL5 6max cash in some days and the fire was gone for a while.

After my highschool graduation in summer 2016 I picked up poker again and created my own legal Pokerstars account.
Deposited 50 bucks, but played it smarter this time.
Got my hands on some preflop charts and signed up to PokerMarket, a German strategy forum, where I lurked around in the hand discussion threads for months.
Bought Pokertracker4 soon after and spun it up to 3k$ playing NL25 over the course of 3 years.

I studied Electrical Engineering at the same time and played online poker for around 10h/week with periods of playing way more and breaks of up to 6-9 months where I did not play at all.
It was fun for me to sit alone in my room at evenings to play 4-6 tables NL25 and I did not want anything else.

“What a waste of time” I think in hindsight, but on the other hand there was just this tiny flame inside of me, that burned for poker in the background for all those years.
Not that I had a career ambition or that I wanted more money to buy stuff, it was just that I enjoyed playing the game.
I loved to think about hands and strategies.
And the feeling to outplay someone and get to keep his money, who doesn't like that ha?

When the graduation of my bachelors degree came closer I forced myself off the tables to focus only on my thesis. (scored an A+ brag)
As a reward, I would take up to one month off after that and play as much poker as I like.
Afterwards I planned on getting back to university early to get a headstart on my master degree and start a position as a working student.

Gaining traction
The day I handed in my thesis I came home and opened Pokerstars.
(No need to feel bad for me - handed it in early and it was Covid anyways)
The fire was still burning.
The next 2 weeks I spent my time first and foremost on what I loved - Poker.

Got in contact with someone from the old PokerMarket days who gave me coaching and let me try out to be a CFP horse.
And I got my first solid ranges - the classic z500 100bb.

For the first time I did not only play poker, but also reviewed hands from last session and took some notes.
After I started “studying” just a little bit I went on an insane run carrying me from NL25 all the way to shot taking NL500.
(Bankroll management was on the looser side^^)
F**k that was a great feeling!
But more important, something in my head had switched.
It was no longer enough to keep poker in the background for myself.
It felt like a now or never situation.

I already had lined up a spot as a working student in the company I worked at during my bachelor thesis, but now I hesitated to take the job starting next month.
I had no commitment made until fall, where I had written myself into university again to get a masters degree.

Becoming honest
With some winnings to my pokername I started telling friends and family of what I was doing and what was in my head.
Nobody close to me knew a lot about poker, so they were sceptical at the beginning.
They listened to me, when I tried to explain how I would make it work and believed in me, that I would know what I was doing.
I received a tremendous amount of trust and support from the people close to me at this time, I will never forget that.

Even more important was that I became honest with myself.
I have been kind of daydreaming about making it in poker all these years.
At the same time I was not owning it, I just lived my 9 to 5 as a student and never showed outstanding work or ambition for actually doing it.

If I wanted to make it I had to take a risk for once and go all in on poker now or leave it behind forever and focus on becoming an excellent engineer.

Canceled the CFP deal soon after - I wanted 100% of my own action.
Messaged people in forums and at the table if they wanted to talk strategy or get in contact otherwise.
Wrote to a guy in discord who was looking for a roommate in Vienna, unfortunately I was not good enough to get the spot.
A poker player from Sweden got back to me, we talked some hands and had a phone call a few days later.
Turns out he was living with another guy playing NL500 6max cash and they had a room left.
Took the train on the next possible date to visit.
We did not talk strategy that day, only got to know each other and checked if our plans for the future would match.
As soon as I left them to head back to Germany I called my girlfriend and family - I was moving to Vienna next week!
Within 14 days I had gone from a dreamer to someone who actually had a shot.
I had about 3 month to get this poker thing off the ground - full of excitement I dived in it head first!

Big expectations moving to Austria
In Germany I shared a flat with three other students, which to this day are close friends of mine.
It was hard to move out, but at the same time I knew it was the right thing to do.
A week later I had packed up my stuff in Germany, had moved to Vienna living with two grinders from Sweden I met once, had bought a desk and a chair from Ikea and a PioSolver license.

With a 10k+ winning month without a solver and mediocre volume back in Germany, I had much higher expectations going forward.
I had people with the same goal around me now and in addition I was able to play on GGPoker, which seemed to be so much softer than all the sites I played on before.
And there were a lot of tables going on NL500+ all the time.
I was sooo excited to get started - pretty sure I was having 6 figures to my name in no time.
Only played (95%), talked hands (5%) and slept in the first few days.
I was living the poker dream!!

The luck has turned
Unfortunately the luck from the beginning was turning on me slowly but steadily.
Who would have thought that a guy with close to zero solver work done would have trouble beating NL500?

What felt like a never ending downswing, was just reality kicking in - I was not there yet.
Did not win money in the first 2 months in Austria.
Lost quite a bit of money ingame and dragged myself to break even with rakeback.
Still impressive in hindsight given how bad I was doing it.

The sudden success had grown my ego and in no time I had marked close to all other regs as mediocre and there were fishes and whales everywhere.
No need to table select, if you are the best player on the table.
Probably smart to play up to 12 tables at once, that just increases your hourly.
The leaderboards on GG were juicy as well, so I figured playing 7-10k hands a day must be a good idea.
I had an alarm in the morning at the beginning of the happy hour (1.5x points for the leaderboards) for some time, just crawled out of bed and started playing with my brain still asleep.

It took me way too long to start questioning what I was doing and why I did not win anymore.
Still can’t believe how long, as I view myself as kinda smart (obviously).
Must have been 6-8 weeks and I can’t really say it was my own idea either.

One of my roommates had started to study more and play less.
He only played 8 hours a day, went to the gym and had other good habits.

And he played only 9 tables at a time.
He said he could not handle more.
He was winning quite a bit, while I was “working way harder”, as I played double the amount of hands to collect all the rakeback.
So unfair that I ran so bad.
I´d already moved down to NL200 to cut my losses and refocus, but it seemed like I could not even beat that anymore.
After thinking for a time that I can luckily play 12 tables for 12 hours a day, I took a closer look and decided to shift gears.

Waking up:
I started to study poker, but for real this time.
Not only quick hand reviews, but studying the actual math of the game.
My roommate had rented a server weeks before and had saved PIO sims for all SRPs and 3BPs in 6max cash on his harddrive.
The sims were well done with solid preflop ranges and different betsizes for every street.
He shared them with me wanting nothing in return.

I knew he was a better poker player than me, when I came to Austria, but in fact he was way ahead in his head as well.

He told me about his plans for studying more in depth and showed me some stuff he had already done.
It was sooo interesting to me what he found and how he understood the game.
At the same time it was shocking to me that I did not come up with this by myself (again).

We decided to unite forces and study together.
The work he had done so far lacked an overall structure and it was hard to grasp it fully, if you did not do it yourself.
We decided that we want to start from scratch again and plan ahead how we do it, so we get the most out of it.

The following steps were the sum of a lot of discussions:
Split the 186 flops we had solves for into board categories (subsets), we viewed as similar enough to treat them the same
Come up with simplifications for each spot and board category and run the sims again with only 1-2 sizings for this node
Set up a template powerpoint presentation, which covers one part of the game in depth at a time.
Create a new presentation for each spot and work with the simplified strategy for each board category

The first one we did was: “SRP BTNvBB C-Bet”
I got myself an own harddrive and each of us started to look at new spots alone soon after.
“SRP UTGvBB C-bet” was the first one I did on my own.
Each of us looked at one spot at a time, tried to find simplifications in the solver output and ran the sims for it.
Then we created a new presentation with the template presentation as a guideline and filled it with the simplified strategy the solver put out.
We showed them to each other, talked about it and came up with a summary, underlying concepts and simplifications.

After a few days I noticed I was overwhelmed by playing 12 tables at the same time.
It is much harder if you actually think about what you are doing.
I picked up other positive habits as well, like going to the gym and a 10 minute meditation before every grind.
Lastly I unloaded all the weight from my shoulders by telling friends and family that it was not going too well.
And once again became honest with myself, that I did not put in the work yet to reach my high expectations.
I tried to make myself loose from monetary goals as best as I could.
It was not bad luck that kept me down - I was simply not good enough.

The Turn around:
Once again a switch flipped.
I started winning again and bigger than ever before.
Moved back up to NL500 and went on a crazy run, after 6 weeks and 200k hands playing breakeven at NL200.
Started to add NL1k tables soon after that.

With time I continued to play less and less tables and less and less hours every day.
I started to think about every decision again, which brought back the joy of playing that had suffered in the long “downswing”.
The free hours I put into solver work and creating presentations.

After I looked more closely into the rake situation on GG, I created an ACR account.
Played on both sites at the same time and mixed in NL2k - NL5k, when I spotted a weaker player on the table.
Variance was on my side once again.
Running +30k$ over EV in the last weeks, made it feel like I got it now.
I overestimated myself once again and moved up too quickly, but at least I worked with it this time.
Every session got reviewed, I was taking a lot of notes and thought about where my understanding of the game might be off.
I tableselected hard and only played the best tables on ACR and GG combined, playing sometimes 4 tables or less.
After losing some back, I am still left with a solid win in the last weeks.
Decided to stay out of NL5k for the moment - I know I will be coming back even better prepared.

A unexpected loss:
When I started to feel safe and confident in my game and life setup, something unexpected came up.
My roommate and study partner is leaving poker.
He wants to pursue a career in the crypto/trading space.
I owe him to the moon and back for showing me the way and walking it with me.
As hard as it is to lose him in my poker world, he remains one of my closest friends and I wish him nothing but the best.
He will be successful in whatever he turns his attention to - he has the work ethic and smarts to make it everywhere.
You can bet there are already a lot of presentations in his new library.

Where we at today:
This leaves me on my own for now.
I made quite some progress in the last months, as a poker player and a person.

There are numerous small reasons for it, but two sum it up pretty good:
1) I took ownership of my life
a) By moving to Vienna and pursuing poker full time
b) By searching for mistakes by myself and not in bad luck
c) By working hard to get better
d) By writing this paper and planning ahead next year
2) I got to work with great poker players
a) Which had the same ambitious goals
b) Which had the same work ethic and energy
c) Which made it fun and easy to work with them

I have already written down too big goals for 2022.
To have a shot at reaching them I need to keep this process going.
While 1) needs to be done day by day, I need to take action now to surround myself with the right people to check off 2) in 2022 as well.
That's why I write this paper.
I also want to have fun at my daily work and working with other people seems to be a lot more fun.
If you are on a similar path, I suggest we unite forces and check that second box together. :)

Thanks for making it through six pages of self reflection by a German engineer written in English, I bet it was not easy.
Here is a picture of me standing on a rock to compensate you for pushing through.

(For real compensation you'll find my graph of the last 5 month in the appendinx)

REQUIREMENTS FOR BECOMING A GROUP MEMBER

Personal:
The following criterias are the most important and therefore non negotiable:

  • You aspire to make it to the top of NL cash games in 2022 (i mean that)
  • You are highly motivated and have a lot of energy and passion for poker as a game
  • You are self driven and not depended on told what to do
  • You are willing to put the groups study efforts before you sitting at the poker table, meaning you rather finish the presentation and miss the grind, than show up with a mediocre presentation
  • Poker has to be your one and only career pursuit
  • Playing NL cash games online is your poker format of choice and you don't plan to spend much time playing anything else in 2022
  • You bring energy into the group and not drain energy from the group
  • You are a nice person

Software:
Own a PIOSolver license and a PC that runs simulations at a reasonable speed.

My plan is to work hands-on with PIO rather than using other tools that provide pre saved simulations.
In my opinion the flexibility of configuring the solver exactly how you want to and the tools that come only inside PIO are so valuable, that it is worth the effort.

Location:
It is not necessary that you are based in Vienna. (But that’s the best case)
The more time the group spends together in real life the better, so living in Europe would be a plus.

But if you are based in Brazil and just a perfect fit, it's still worth applying.
Most of the communication and meetings will be done online anyway.
You should be willing to travel to central Europe for the bootcamp in early 2021.

Success in Poker:
The more you have to prove that you are the perfect fit indeed, the better of course.

These are some guidelines what you should have under your belt:
- 30k$+ Bankroll
- 100k+ hands played in online cash games (provide data)
- Winning at NL200 (50k+ Hands sample size)
- The more you studied up to this point and have to show for it, the better
(Ranges, Presentations, Solves etc.)
- Experience at other game formats can be a plus

If you surpass them by a lot I am sure this group is still your best shot at climbing the stakes even higher.
Possibly you will be working with people who surpass even your achievements.
In case there is an imbalance in skill and stakes played in the beginning, the less experienced players will catch up in a short time given the environment we will be creating.

That said, if you do not check all the boxes here, but you are sure you're a perfect fit, feel free to apply anyway.
Motivation and work ethic could cover some missing poker success - I did not check all these boxes 3 month ago.

Lastly if you do not want to join the group, but still want to get in contact please do so. Always nice to meet new people.

How to apply:
Send me your application to the following E-Mail address:
[email protected]
I will start looking into applications on 13.12.2021, so take your time.
There´s no final end date, but there's no guarantee that I will read your application after that.

Here's a short checklist for your application:

  • Personal information
    • Tell your story
    • Why you want to join the group
    • Thought and visions for the future
    • Rather overshare than undershare
  • Provide proof (Graphs, screen names, database entries) to verify the poker results you claim to have
    • The more hands you provide, the better
    • No shame of not winning in the past, we are all here to get better
  • Provide proof of knowledge or information you claim to have
    (if you feel that's necessary)

A) APPENDIX

The promised pictures are only to be found in the google docx document, as I dont like sharing them in a forum. (Sorry :/)

Here's the link one more time:
Link to thread as google docx document

Thanks for making it through this wall of text anyway!
Hope you had a good read:)

Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Best regards!

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