It's been a quiet couple of months since my last post - I played exclusively live poker in November and decided not to play in December to focus on studying and writing. RIO coach Peter Clarke and I now have 10 episodes of PIO vs Population out - you can grab episode 5 (the first I wrote) for free if you go to the carrot corner website in the next few days.
In terms of poker, 2021 was the year I quit my job and went professional and there was a lot to adjust to. It took me a long time to work out how many hours I want to put into playing and studying and to build a daily and weekly schedule that worked for me. I've finally settled into a really good rhythm and am really excited for 2022 which will be my first full year as a full-time player. I wanted to reflect on what has gone well and what hasn't gone so well this year and post a couple of my favourite hands of 2021.
1. I went Pro! I wanted to go pro ever since I was a kid and decided a couple of times to really put the time in to get good enough to go pro but failed both times. Finally it came off and I'm not a professional poker player, saying that feels amazing!
I bought a house. My girlfriend and I have been taking about getting a house for ages but we've finally done it and we're in love with it.
I started coaching and writing. I'm not only a poker player but also a coach and author and that's just awesome.
1. My mental game wasn't as hot as I'd have liked it to be. I've run under EV in 16 of the last 18 months and I know it shouldn't really matter but I let it get to me this year which hurt my volume and left me less motivated to study, setting me further back than it should have
- Covid. I got covid early in the year and it completely wiped me out for about a month, maybe a little longer. Same when I got the vaccines, each put me out for about 3 weeks which isn't great when you're trying to get your career off the ground. Here's hoping that I get a clear run at 2022.
1. I have been taking shots at 500nl this year. Really this should sit in the 'good' section, it's amazing to be shotting a stake that I never thought I'd be able to beat and I've won a couple of BI overall but fuck has it been stressful:
And at risk of opening myself up for criticism, my 3 favourite hands of the year.
And A shambles
Here's to a great 2022.
Jan. 1, 2022 | 11:51 p.m.
Thanks buddy, I'm not too worried long term, I'm still winning just not at the rate I'd like, the EV line is also still looking very good, it's been a tough year but I've learned a lot and got through an enormous downswing while still being in profit. Plenty of people will have been through worse so I'll close out the year and come back at full strength in 2022.
Nov. 6, 2021 | 7:26 p.m.
I missed last month's update, after dropping down to 200nl I went on a cool 15BI downswing in September before falling ill. When I recovered, it was the 19th of the month and I'd played about 28 hours. I still wanted to get as close to the 120h goal as I could and reasoned I could try to put in as many 6+ hour days as I could and I'm glad I did because it allowed me to come to the realisation that my schedule was simply not set up for me to succeed. I'd reasoned 120 hours should be easy, I just had to play 4 hours a day! But having to play every day without any days off just didn't work for me, other commitments would get in the way and I'd struggle to make back the time because I wasn't used to playing longer than 4 hours in a day. I realised that 6 hour days really aren't that hard in isolation so now I've switched my schedule up and am playing 6 hour days, 5 days a week with 2 days off.
I had a 2 week holiday in Cornwall in October but before I went I had 2 weeks on the new schedule, the schedule itself was great but I ended up +3BI but 10BI under EV. Normally not a problem but I've been running under pretty consistently for nearly a year and a half (run under in 14 of the last 16 months) and I can feel it affecting my mindset and decision making somewhat. While I was on holiday I decided to take the rest of October and November easy from a playing standpoint and come back strong in December.
I'll still be playing but mainly live games (far more relaxing), aiming to qualify for a monthly rake-race tourney. With the extra time I have I've started writing some poker articles - my old coach Peter Clarke had a Series called PIO vs Population that only published 4 episodes but I thought it was a great format so I've started writing those again in partnership with Pete. My first issue is already out which I'm really happy about and I'm planning at least one every few weeks for the next year or two. I'll also be doing a little more coaching from now until December, focussing on database reviews/leakfinders for students which I'm also excited about - I've been doing some coaching and have wanted to do more for a while but have been putting it off in favour of working on my 500nl shot.
Overall 2021's felt like a tough year from a results standpoint but I have a tendency to be pretty hard on myself. For example, the results since I got my new PC a few months ago have been absolutely fine but emotionally it's felt like a really rough stretch:
Because of that I just wanted to end this by reflecting on some things that are going well - I think that's really important to do when you feel like things aren't going your way. I'm shotting 500nl and am up at the stake plus I'm now an author and coach - if you told me I'd be in this position 2 years ago I'd have told you it was impossible. I've finally worked out a routine that I think will really work for me as well. My family life is great and my sports are finally going well - I feel fit again after the Pandemic, things are starting to click at BJJ and I'm enjoying climbing and running again. the EV line's a much bigger thing in my head than it is in reality so hopefully I'll be able to put it behind me, enjoy November and come back strong in December.
Oct. 30, 2021 | 1:47 a.m.
Well August was a bit of a write off - Second Covid jab left me pretty exhausted for around 2 weeks, during which time I couldn't play so only got in half a month. Nothing to write home about, small losing month and 13th month in the last 14 I've run under EV which is frustrating but out of my control.
Plan is to just roll forward my previous month's goals - aiming for 130 hours of play this month and given I've had so much time out of action this year, I'm going to aim for some form of exercise every day - the days that I don't do any sport i'll either go for a run or a stint on the exercise bike, I'm keen to get my fitness back.
Roll on September - let's hope America starts letting UK players in before the World Series!
Sept. 2, 2021 | 10:29 p.m.
Rough month in the end, dropped down to 200 due to the downer to manage mental game (really not used to the 500nl swings yet) but I'm really excited about the rest of the year. My BJJ and Climbing are improving, I have gone for a few runs again and am going to start going regularly in the mornings to get in shape again and am looking forward to upping my volume going forward, I thought playing more and more would feel like a burden but I'm still as motivated after playing 6 hours a day as I was when I was playing more like 3.
Sticking to the goals I've set, focus in on volume and good study routines
Aug. 1, 2021 | 9:55 p.m.
'Having said that I'm preparing for my big losing session tonight'
well it wasn't a big one but it was the first in a while and i've been breakeven/slightly losing since the last update. I fan feel the return to passivity, when I come off my best my aggression stats drop by a few% and my tendency is to default to the more passive options when playing, I can feel it and feel how it's affecting my winrate. A lot of it comes from lack of focus, more autopilot and more concentration on the things that don't matter over the things that do so I'm going to spend the next few days emphasizing focus, playing a little slower and bringing a lot of my study attention towards the spots I'm trending passive in.
It was my Birthday last week, no longer in my 20s sadly but it also meant that I had a few days off so I'm a few hours behind my target for the month but confident I'll catch up. MTD results not looking great - clearly there's been some runbad the past week but I don't think I've played my best all month. Luckily i'm up at 500 and down at 200 so $ is looking OK but I need to get back to playing at my best.
The stat sheet I was working on is just about ready, have to create a few more stats and it's good to go. I lost a bunch of my old hands though, only sitting on about 30k on this computer so will need to run up a bit more volume for a good chunk of them to be useful but I feel things going in the right direction going forward which they really haven't been for a while - I feel like the blog's keeping me somewhat accountable so overall I'm happy.
July 20, 2021 | 1 a.m.
Things are going Decent so far. I'm getting the hours I want in but only just - I'm used to playing 500nl but still not used to the swings so finding it pretty stressful. I've been playing more 200nl than I'd ideally like looking to protect wins - I'm going to end up playing some 200 when the 500 games aren't good but i'm looking for excuses at the moment.
My stat report's about ready and I'm liking the look of it. I need to run a couple of aggregated reports still to get PIO numbers and double-check formulas but i'm happy with it. I do however need a bigger sample than I have given I struggled to get my old hands across to my new computer so I'll either hold off using the stats that need a bigger sample for now or try to import hands again.
Study's going alright as well. A bit inefficient while I've been building reports and finding areas to dig into plus I'd usually study in the morning/early afternoon but I've not been on top of my sleep so haven't been in the mood early in the day which is something else I want to sort.
And in the meantime the sun-run continues although it's slowed a lot. The graph is my winnings with 'days' on the X axis and shows I haven't had a meaningful losing day since I bought my new computer so although it's not a crazy steep upswing, it's really nice to have a spell where I'm just not losing. Having said that I'm preparing for my big losing session tonight..
July 13, 2021 | 4:55 p.m.
I wanted to make another post because I watched Doug Polk's podcast on youtube last night following the Landon Tice vs Bill Perkins and a few things in it really inspired me.
One thing I found really interesting that Doug said is that when he started working for his challenge with Negranu, he was basically just clicking buttons. He had no idea how to play the game and was building from scratch. To me it was insane that he went from defeating Sauce123 in 2013 and only retiring in 2018 to having no idea what he was doing in 2020, that really showed me how important it is to keep working and commit to continued improvement.
It was also interesting hearing just how much these guys put into these challenges. Obviously they are playing for large sums of money and they're incentivised to work their arses off but essentially for the period of time they're working towards the challenge, they're trying to become the best poker player on the planet and they work really really hard in the lab. I don't want or expect to become the best player alive but it really did inspire me to work harder on my game - If I were to put in as much work as these guys, I'd improve at a similar rate to them and you can see through their challenges, they really really improved as time went on.
The final thing that inspired me was when they talked about some of their actual study. Their teams would compile all their stats for every spot and just look at where they were deviating (ie making mistakes). They could see exactly where the player was too aggressive, folding too much etc across the game tree simply by tracking their stats over time. I do this myself to some extent but it's really not that hard to automate this and extend it across the game tree so there's no reason I shouldn't be doing this myself. It's not perfect or the only study I should do but it should allow me to direct my study in to the areas I think will be the highest EV upgrades with minimal effort.
Off of this inspo I've decided to set myself a mini-challenge. Nothing too taxing but I want to re-direct myself over the next few months and build in routines that are going to help me grow in the long run SO:
- Play 80 hours from now until the end of July.
- Play 130 hours in August.
- Build a full automated report to analyse my stats vs PIO.
- Study min 10 hours a week.
The hourly commitments might not seem particularly taxing for some people but with commitments outside of poker and also just the stress of playing make it difficult for me to put in much more than 100 hours a month.
I'll post here with updates.
July 9, 2021 | 2:09 p.m.
We're back on the full-time grind again after a week off (Covid jab wiped me out for a week) and riding a nice upswing. Nowhere near the biggest upswing I've been on in BI but given I'm playing a higher stake now, the biggest in $ which is very nice. The two graphs below are back-to-back but the upswing started literally the day I got a new computer and HM2 has decided that importing hands from my old machine isn't something it's interested in so don't have.
strange how poker goes - i go from losing 90% of sessions for a few weeks to winning 90%
And I think I can finally put that unpleasantness behind me.
I was thinking the other day about what it takes to be successful in poker. It's a weird one because it's not like most other activities where you can continually improve just by practicing. Poker's just not like that, you can't really get that good just by playing.
I've got a few ideas but from what I've observed through teaching people and talking to other players that people don't seem to put enough effort into execution. Ask yourself, how often do you give up EV taking a lower variance line - checking back river with a thin valuebet, folding a good bluffcatcher or deciding not to fire a big bluff when you know it's the right thing to do? Do you start raising less flops or bluffing less rivers when you get tired or stressed or distracted at the end of a session?
The truth is edges in poker are too small for you to spend your time playing at 80% of your peak ability. If you're breakeven and all your study has been technical, chances are you'd be winning if you put more effort into playing as close to the peak of your ability as possible, as often as possible and that doesn't just mean tilt less but it means focus on execution. I've spoken to some good poker players who can't win for this very reason and it's something that I try to look at every day.
I split my study time between improving my overall ability (learning new stuff) and improving execution, which usually involves, running a filter for the previous day's play for a spot I don't think I'm executing well in currently, finding all the mistakes I made (usually times I've pussied out) and bring a lot of attention to them. I try to work out why I didn't pull the trigger in-game, what emotions/factors caused it and re-emphasise why it's the right play to slowly stamp out the mistakes over time.
As an example I've recently been looking at 2 things. First, my flop raise Cbet stat was a little low both in and out of position and second, I haven't felt I've been executing river check-raises well recently, specifically picking good combos to check-raise river with both the value and bluff region (I've just autopiloted too often) so I have filters set up to show hands for these spots that I run through every day to check my execution in these spots and draw attention to the mistakes I'm making. I'm not trying to learn something new so there's no solver work just simply 'did I execute to the best of my ability here or not' and over time, drilling these spots gets me to the point that even when I'm tired or tilted or distracted or whatever, I still play these spots at peak ability.
IMO this is how you should drill in poker if you want to improve - isolate a spot, learn about it and once you've done that, drill it consistently until you're executing it in every session rather than proficiently point out mistakes in yesterday's play.
July 4, 2021 | 2:03 a.m.
I was going to post again sooner but went on by far the biggest downswing I've been on in terms of $. I've been moving up stakes so it was coming but it was also my biggest in terms of BI for a long while as well - looks like I'm through it now and on a mini upswing. Luckily I'm in a position where I've got a lot of people I can talk it through with which has been really helpful. In poker there's a stigma around talking about your emotions when you're on a downswing which I think is really harmful to a lot of players. We're humans and it's healthy for us to talk about emotions to help process them - nobody wants to hear you whine about getting stacked with AA but if you're on a downswing and are struggling to deal with it and can frame it properly, I've found people are generally appreciative - It's also good for other people to realise it's not just them when they're struggling.
I've managed to get back on track mentally, I moved down in stakes for a while but am back at 500nl and am largely happy with how I'm playing. My volume dropped off a cliff and I'm building that back up again - June is going to be a pretty low volume month for me but I'm looking to build back my hours and post a 120 hour month in July. I've not had enough time playing full-time to know exactly how many hours I want to spend playing each month just yet so I'll hopefully figure that one out soon, I'm just glad to be back playing regularly - i really miss it when my volume drops.
June 23, 2021 | 3:16 p.m.
Thanks bro. When I was beating 200nl for a comfortable winrate I was preparing myself and when I got to the point I was ready to shot 500nl I was fully ready for it. I'm lucky to be in a good financial situation as well so don't have to worry too much about bankroll/liferoll right now, otherwise I'd have stayed in a job for a while longer most likely.
May 19, 2021 | 9:27 p.m.
A little over a year ago when I was moving through 100nl I had a really nice 40BI upswing, took a shot at 200nl and although the first shot didn't go well, the second shot landed really nicely with a +15-+20BI month which was May last year. Ever since then my results have been pretty average. Don't get me wrong I'm doing fine and have been remarkably consistent - I've only had 1 losing month in the last 15 and I'd probably much rather have consistent wins each month than drastic swings but at the same time it's been a year since my last really good stretch. Along the way I had a stretch where I ran about 45BI under EV which was tough and two days ago i had my biggest ever losing day - I am only 15k hands through a 500nl shot so it was inevitably coming soon and was only $3k so there'll be plenty worse to come but it hit pretty hard given the timing.
Truth is it's been so long, I've subconsciously started craving a juicy upswing. At the same time however I've been complacent and haven't invested the time into study and improvement that I should be, I've been suspecting that I've not been playing at the peak of my ability but rationalised it by telling myself that new concepts were just bedding into unconscious competence so I was probably playing just as well as I'd ever been but with less effort.
The session the other day was a kick up the arse and it got me digging into my database looking for areas where I was lacking and I've found a number of them. Nothing huge but there are a number of spots that are evident in the stats and hand histories where I can see I'm not executing well and autopiloting through the spots in-game. Over the course of a month these are what separate good months from great months and great months from mammoth months.
I'm sure a lot of this is related to performance cycles, I've been through this phase a number of times. I make improvements, my game improves, I put in volume and get results and over weeks and months my routines start to slip, I feel like I can just turn up and play and the results will fall into my lap and things stagnate somewhat. I'm happy to be at the start of a new performance cycle and somewhat lucky that it's coming off of a single losing session rather than a stretch of loosing weeks or months. Still sore from the other day but excited to feel like I'm moving forward again rather than sitting waiting for the money to fall into my lap.
May 18, 2021 | 10:07 p.m.
I'm a recently turned professional poker player from the UK (I promise we're not ALL fish over here).
Being a responsible parent, my dad taught me to play poker when I was 12 years old and that same year i watched the 2003 WPT final table on TV and wanted to go pro ever since. I tried a couple of times after leaving university but just wasn't good enough and although I looked everywhere for ways to improve, joining a couple of different stables but getting kicked out of both. I was just lacking something that led me to posting graphs like this which were pretty crushing at the time.
Eventually after years of work and coaching I eventually got to the point I was beating the games and have spent the last year and a half moving up in stakes, transitioning to effectively playing part-time and getting myself to the point I am at today where in January of this year I quit my job, took the plunge and went professional. I wanted to make this thread here to keep myself accountable and to share my experience (which so far has largely been a combination of freedom and stress).
My goals for the coming months and year are:
Sort myself out with proper routines to organise my days and stick to them!
Play a minimum of 120 hours a month alongside coaching
Get ready to shot take 1knl (although I'm not sure I'm going to find enough games running to put in much volume there)
Stop shouting at the computer screen at 3am and waking up the neighbours
Hopefully I can keep the sun-run from the last 12 months going!
May 8, 2021 | 1:48 a.m.
15 hands is nothing, seeing someone bluff doesn't make them a lag. This is pretty gross OTF tbh, sure villain has some SD/GS combos but only 8 so he has to begin turning bottom pair into a bluff which I don't see loads of people do at 25nl. I feel that OTR we probably have to fold, even if he does over bluff in general its pretty tough for him to do so. It even makes sense that villain does this with 5hXh.
Sept. 14, 2018 | 1:33 p.m.
When a live player limo calls preflop I don't think we should be expecting him to be folding TP all that often.
Agree with first comment, fold pre, we aren't deep, high rake and we are most likely playing a fish who we want to have a range advantage over and maximise our value betting.
As played, take the free card and just check it down. I think shoving can be a fairly massive mistake when villain just snaps us off with any Kx where's checking this hand is never going to be a huge mistake.
May 29, 2017 | 3:19 a.m.
Think we can 4b this over folding if you don't think it is a call. If I am 4b one hand v a nitty 3b as a bluff its this so makes sense to do so :)
As played I think betting flop is probably better than checking but once we get called I don't think we are ahead that much. Maybe like the bottom if his qx range that defends by 3betting x/c along with JJ but those check down otr anyway.
River is weird but idk how good we are doing v his range once he calls otf and we get overcadded ott. Like our best hope is he has AQ and can find a fold I guess. Calling may be slighlty worse than calling but for that price I may well call but not like it .
Sept. 2, 2015 | 5:36 p.m.
I'm only now starting to study but I am finding it difficult to use my study time properly and get anything out of it. Even though this was a small number of hands, the techniques you used look like an excellent place to start and there were some interesting concepts you spoke about.
I get the feeling many viewers are in the same situation as me, looking for ways to maximise their study time so excellent video and I hope you do more like it in the future.