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Comment | JDGskychaser commented on poker journal

I like the short buy ins and the reasoning behind it. I take it even further, buying in for 50bb initially and then reloading after a bust for a mere 10bb(!)

I want to play longer sessions, and I play really bad after losing around 200bb, so I want to keep that point as far away as possible.

The arguments that you are leaving value on the table by playing short may make sense for some, but it isn't for everyone.

June 26, 2018 | 3:46 p.m.

Nice post aceone.

I think a lot of us go through this, and it's very hard to find someone in our personal lives who will care about us doing soul searching after a $20 loss.

My non poker friends are so confused as to why I'm not just going to Macau every week playing $25/$50HKD (the smallest tables spread in Macau). No one understands, we need to walk this journey alone and just succeed in the end.

Very emo sounding thread

June 20, 2018 | 5:07 a.m.

Hey man, thank you again for this advice, I'll be following it.

June 1, 2018 | 6:42 a.m.

Reaching Goals

I hit my monthly volume goal of 10,000 hands of PLO online this month. It was the most hands I have ever played in a month, and I had to four table for most of the time, which used to be very difficult. Now I can handle four tabling, and I am ready to increase my volume goal for June.

June volume goal: 20,000 hands of PLO on the Internet

I got into a nice groove of being able to do 1,000 hands a day fairly easily, so I believe I can double my previous monthly total. Funny how I always thought 10,000 hands a month was really difficult, now I am confident I can do 20,000.

Here is my monthly graph for May

Total profit was $113.5 at .5/.10 for a reasonable 11.35bb/100. I ran pretty well, around 500bb above EV, which was really nice. I had a pretty long break even stretch of about 5,000 hands or so, but I did reach my volume goal, which was all I was really looking to do.

May 31, 2018 | 9 a.m.

Thank you for this advice.

I was strongly considering playing this game, and your post was just what I needed to decide to go for it.

With such high rake, and no complaints from the players, I can imagine that everyone is playing recreationally and shouldn't be too tough.

I will play next week for the first time and see how it goes, and I'll report to this thread with my experience.

May 29, 2018 | 2:04 a.m.

I would suggest not worrying about it :)

If RIO pros are saying you can treat a solver frequency as 100%, and you feel you are losing EV by simpifying, just take the solver at face value to put your mind at ease.

I would guess that the EV loss is extremely minimal, and whether you are getting that extra EV or not will not make a significant difference in your BB/100

But hey, I've never used a solver and I could be way wrong and you could be leaving significant value on the tables and should get an informed answer from a RIO pro

May 26, 2018 | 4:39 p.m.

Live Poker in China

In 2018, we hear a lot of advice from professionals that we should game select aggressively. This is easier said than done for most people. You could search online for the softest sites, you could try to get into some juicy home games, or you could come to China.

Poker in China is relatively new, and the meta-game is similar to how the West was in the mid-2000s when many people started playing the game for the first time and had no idea what good poker was. Back then, we "learned" poker by reading Play Poker Like the Pros and watching the WPT on Thursday nights. Over here, people learn by seeing other people jam 200bb with 66 on a JT9 flop and stack someone who had 44.

My comments on the games come from my experience playing in the Dongguan/Shenzhen area, so don't shoot me and say "the games are much tougher in Fujian or Shanghai" maybe they are.

Most Chinese have grown up with gambling, whether it be mahjong at Chinese New Year, or any number of card games. Gambling is everywhere and is a significant part of Chinese culture. Poker as we know it, is growing by the day and I can say we are entering a golden age of Chinese poker.

So let's talk about the dynamic of the players in the games. In most games, you will find expats and local Chinese. The Chinese players have a lot more gamble in them than the typical Western player. Also, every local Chinese player I have played with has been extremely wealthy compared to the general population. The expats are mostly English teachers, so in my experience the money seems to matter more to the expats.

The expat players almost universally see themselves as superior players to the local Chinese players. This is debatably true, however due to several factors like entitlement, money mattering to them, and general pride, the expats go on fatal tilt far more frequently. So much so that after a single bad beat, you can expect the typical expat player to come off the rails and play MUCH worse than the local Chinese players.

The local Chinese seem to have an interesting dynamic with each other, where they almost never fold to each other, and almost every hand goes to showdown, often with a large amount of big blinds in the pot. I would assume this is due to not wanting to lose face, but maybe there is a Chinese RIO member who has experienced this and can help explain this dynamic. Anyways, these situations can offer some nice triple up opportunities if you are in the right place at the right time.

I made a post in the Live Poker section a few weeks ago suggesting a 20bb/h winrate was easily achievable Live, and got a response something along the lines of "only if people are shoving 100bb stacks with top pair." Well in the games I play in, people shove 200bb stacks with middle pair against a flush draw all the time. Pot odds be damned. I don't even believe for one second that I have found the softest games yet. I am extremely confident even softer games are to be found.

Getting in the games

So, it's clearly a +EV decision to play in these live games. Let's talk about how to find them in the first place.

First, you will want to go to every expat bar near you. This is where most of the games are going to run. Expats typically like each other in China, so don't be shy and ask the bartender, or other expats. If anyone knows about a game, you should have no problem getting an invite.

Second, once you are in a game, try to keep a low profile until you've established yourself as a consistent winner. Be social, have fun, drink a beer, and just don't cause any trouble. Don't take forever with your actions at the table, and don't cash out suddenly after doubling or tripling up. Call a time (I call 1:00) or an orbit. The bigger your win, the longer you should announce your intentions to leave the game cash out.

Third, once the game is extremely profitable to you (and I expect that to happen quickly), your role is going to change to that of an ambassador of the game. Your main goals will be to make sure the games run often, make sure the games don't die out. The way you do this is by making sure everyone is having a good time. If a new person joins the game for the first time, be extremely friendly and welcoming, suggest they bring friends, etc. Try to put out any fires if they arise. You don't want a spot in the game to get angry and leave because another player is being obnoxious. Buy a beer for a whale, offer some cigarettes (if you smoke), high five him or her after they win a big hand off you. Good games are transient, and your goal will be to make the game last as long as possible. With the advice given above, you should be great.

Alright, this looks good for now. I apologize if it sounds like I am generalizing too much. I have played in a lot of games over the last two years here, and my experiences have been as such. I would love to hear from some Chinese RIO members (Taiwan, HK, Macau) and hear what their experiences have been like.

Time to load up some PLO tables, fighting for my goal of 10,000 hands this month!

May 14, 2018 | 5:34 a.m.

Thank you Mancuso for this calculation.

From what I have heard of the game, being a 10bb/100 winner pre-rake should not be too difficult. Post rake, I am not sure. From what I have heard is that some pots reach ¥10,000 RMB, which would be raked for ¥500 RMB which sounds insane.

plolearnerguy - I am leaning this way too. If they don't change that structure, I predict the game will be gone within a few months.

May 12, 2018 | 5:22 a.m.

Poker Life in China

Many expats come to China for many reasons. Most come to either teach English or conduct some kind of business (the traditional manufacturing/trading company expats have been dropping in recent years). I initially came simply because I love living in Asia, and imagined I'd have a more exciting life than if I were to stay in Minnesota. I was right!

Two years ago, I was making really good money teaching English seven days a week. My goal was to get a car and eventually buy a house. After months on the teaching grind, I bought a car (and passed my Chinese driving exam!) and set out to buy a house. Well, buying a house as a non-Chinese citizen requires full payment upfront, with no chance for a loan. Seeing as even small apartments go for more than $100k USD, teaching would take several years of saving (with a moving target, as house prices are rising like crazy every year).

One fateful day around a year and a half ago, I stumbled across a Live poker game at a bar. They were short players so I was invited to play. I had played recreationally years ago, and stuck to a tight is right strategy. I ended the session up about 300bb and never looked back.

After that first session, I had dreams of teaching long hours, and supplementing my income with poker winnings in order to realize my dream of buying a house sooner. Not long after I found out that it was actually possible to play online poker, and I could deposit and withdraw directly from my Chinese bank account. I quickly signed up for every site that I could find, ipoker, Microgaming, GG, and Bodog.

Well, I found out pretty quickly that online poker is quite a bit harder, and just nitting it up and waiting for monsters wasn't going to get a house. So I adopted a progressively more aggressive poker schedule over the last year and a half. Originally working seven days a week, I cut down to four. Now I cut my teaching down to just two days a week, with five days a week dedicated to improving my poker game.

Most of my income now comes from live poker. A great skill I have learned is that being really outgoing helps greatly in live poker. I always take care of the whales in the games (sharing cigarettes, toasting drinks, and generally give "face" and respect), and I do my best to make sure everyone is having a great time when we play.

I will do a dedicated post to Live Poker in China soon, and throw in some tips that I have learned when it comes to getting into the best games, just in case anyone is thinking about staying in China for a while.

Goals for this month
- Play 10,000 hands of PLO (don't laugh, I know that's nothing, but it's still a challenge)
- Play in a ¥1000 RMB buy in Live game ($160 USD or so)
- Limit my studying to two hours a day, and increasing my play time (I am addicted to studying, I know it's a good addiction, but I do need to increase my volume).

More to come

May 12, 2018 | 5:16 a.m.

Bankroll Studying

For the last month or so I have been searching for information on bankroll management. Regretfully there is very little bankroll management information for Essential users, and I have always been suspect of "traditional" bankroll management strategies (30/50/100 buyins per stake).

I think a large majority of beginning players (0 to 2 years experience) are playing either too low or too high. I would suspect that I have been playing too low stakes for my current situation, and have been holding back my own development.

I have been very inspired lately by the advice of a lot of old school Live pros like Barry Greenstein and Mason Malmuth. Malmuth in particular recommends a bankroll strategy which is FAR more aggressive than most modern traditional bankroll management advice.

So here is a question: What stakes would you start at if you had a bankroll of $4,000 USD?

Assume the following assumptions are true:

You are an above average player in your player pool
- You can move up or down whenever you want
- You can reload your bankroll at a rate of $500 USD per month
- You have a cushion of five months living expenses (you won't need to dip into your poker bankroll for life expenses for five months)
- Your goal is to increase your bankroll as efficiently as possible**

May 9, 2018 | 3:40 a.m.

Thanks Everton, yeah I just took a look.

I do have a Chinese bank account but interestingly, in China bank cards are only UnionPay. The only way you can get a Visa card in China is with a credit card, and a foreigner living in China is basically prohibited from getting a credit card.

May 9, 2018 | 3:16 a.m.

This is awesome! I love journals like this, good luck man!

May 6, 2018 | 3:49 p.m.


I recently read Saulo's excellent journals, and I couldn't believe how much volume he put in. I was relieved to see in a recent post of his that he doesn't believe massive volume is the answer, but my volume is so low it's embarrassing, here is my YEAR to date graph starting from January 1st


As you can see, I have only played around 14,000 hands this entire year. Considering I only work one and a half days a week, this seems extremely low.

There are three core reasons for my low volume, some of them fixable, others not.

  1. I do not have access to fast fold tables like Zoom or Zone
  2. Whenever I play more than two tables, I play much worse, so I just play two.
  3. I get extremely bored after around 45 minutes when I am playing alone.

Problem 1. I have no means of solving. PLO doesn't run in the Zone on Bodog, and Pokerstars doesn't accept deposits or withdrawals from Mainland China.

Problem 2. I should just practice. I will admit when I did try playing 3 or 4 tables a couple of times I had a great feeling of excitement and wasn't bored at all, though I struggled to play (timed out with AAxx a few times)

Problem 3 would be solved if I knew any other poker players who were not my rivals. A significant portion of my income comes from Live poker, and I am not really looking to befriend anyone from that player pool since they are all recreational players. I find it much more fun to play online with someone else in the room. I can't stand feelings of loneliness.

Presumably, once I move up in Live stakes I could take someone from my current game under my wing. I did try that once, but the person was a hardcore recreational player who discovered Spin and Go's, got sucked in and never got out. It's hard to find recreational players interested in going pro. Most recs seem to be looking for their quick gambling fix.

If anyone has any other advice, or had similar struggles and broke through them, please share. Any ideas are greatly appreciated

More to come

May 6, 2018 | 1:55 a.m.

I am in the city of Dongguan, nestled between Guangzhou and Shenzhen. About an hour and a half from Hong Kong, and two and a half hours from Macau.

May 5, 2018 | 1:14 p.m.

Post | JDGskychaser posted in Chatter: Poker Adventures in China

This is long overdue. It's time to finally start a poker journal about becoming a professional poker player in China.

The purpose of this journal is threefold:
1: To provide an inspiration for those thinking of becoming a poker nomad
2: To motivate myself and others who have little or no support in their poker lives
3: To get feedback on my general plans, ideas, and strategies in my pursuit of success

Some background:

I have been living in China for about five years (from Minnesota), and started playing poker around a year and a half ago. At the beginning of this year I got a RIO Essential membership, and switched to a more aggressive poker schedule. I reduced my English teaching days to one and a half days a week, with the remaining time entirely for poker.

My games:

I play two games almost exclusively:
1. Live NLHE Cash
2. Online PLO Cash

My goals:

  1. Move up to PLO200 Online and ¥10/¥20 RMB (about $1.50/$3 USD) Live
  2. Earn $3000 (or ¥20000) a month playing poker
  3. Destroy my biggest weaknesses

My challenges/weaknesses:

  1. Zero external support, and many doubters in my personal life
  2. Zero access to poker tracking software (none of the sites I can play allow trackers)
  3. I generally struggle to get motivated to sit alone in my room all day playing poker on the Internet

My strengths:

  1. I love learning. I learned Mandarin in a year, Cantonese in two years, and now poker
  2. I have an outgoing personality that gets me into some of the best Live games you could conceive.
  3. I have great patience and can play Live poker almost endlessly without getting bored or too results oriented.

My plan:

I am going to better use my time at home. Right now my study/play ratio is about 80:20. I study for hours a day, and can barely bring myself to play for more than an hour a day. I really enjoy studying, but this is probably a large weakness, since my goal is to be a professional poker player, not a professional poker professor.

Things are much better on the Live side. I currently play in a ¥1/¥2 RMB ($.15/.30) game which has earned me approximately ¥6000 RMB ($1000) a month for the last six months or so. The difficulty I have is being able to grow the bankroll, since I use my earnings to pay for life expenses. I would like to move up to a ¥5/¥10 RMB game so that I can build my bankroll faster.

My current liferoll sits at ¥55000 RMB. I can probably afford to drop to ¥30000 before I need to start teaching more English classes.

I will try to keep this journal entertaining, but I can't make any promises. I will also try to update this journal extremely frequently. I would like to post hand histories or graphs, but I am extremely limited in my poker sites, and none of them allow PT4 or HM2, so I don't even have those programs. That said, I'll do my best to share some interesting poker spots on the tables and off the tables in the poker life.

Lastly, a big shout out to Saulo for his epic journals which inspired me to finally start my own.

The best is yet to come!

May 5, 2018 | 5:31 a.m.


One question, how much of your liferoll does that $2,500 represent?

May 4, 2018 | 12:31 p.m.

I found a new game and I am wondering if I should play it.

Here are the details:

Game Type: NLHE/PLO Mix

Stakes: 5RMB/10RMB (about $.80/$1.50 USD)

Player Pool: Largely unknown to me, though I have history with two of the players, and my expected edge over them would not be significant.

Minimum/Maximum Buy in: 500RMB - 2000RMB

Rake: 5% uncapped(!) No Flop No Drop policy NOT in play, 5 RMB minimum gets raked from every pot regardless of it's size.

Now, about my current situation.

Bankroll: 55,000 RMB total liferoll

Current Game: A zero rake 1RMB/2RMB NLHE game that runs three times a week. The game is extremely soft, and I have been using this game to support myself financially over the last five months.

I know the new game I am considering seems like a terrible game with that insane rake structure. The only reason I am considering it is because while I can support myself at my current game, it is difficult to grow my bankroll, and the only other higher stakes game available to me are significantly higher and I would be well underrolled. In this new game, a 5 BI win would represent a 10% increase to my liferoll, so it is incredibly tempting to play.

Any thoughts, or advice, or follow up questions would be extremely appreciated. Thanks everyone

May 4, 2018 | 6:19 a.m.

I would suggest the best way to improve live is to play online. You will get a huge amount of volume which should improve your general hand reading skills, which I believe is the most valuable skill you can have in live poker.

I would focus less on live tells. They do come into play, but probably less often than you think. For me, I use live tells only when a decision is extremely close. Being skilled at live tells probably won't make or break you as a live player.

May 1, 2018 | 12:01 p.m.

Many skills you learned in NL will carry over, but there are some PLO nuances you will need to be aware of, namely the importance of position (more valuable in PLO) and strength of starting hands (no starting hand is really THAT strong in PLO)

May 1, 2018 | 11:27 a.m.

I would imagine in the united states or Europe it would be extremely difficult to find such soft games in 2018.

Asia though is an entirely different animal and the games I play in play almost exactly as Jake described.

Good times, but it does hurt my motivation to play online for a living, so I more or less grind every day solely with the purpose of continuing to improve my game.

May 1, 2018 | 11:22 a.m.

Agree with Saiyan, Leszek videos have helped me immensely, especially the flop strategy part 1 video.

April 27, 2018 | 5:27 p.m.

This is a great topic, and while there is only a small amount of Live content on RIO (especially for essential members), it would be great to get some discussion going on improving in Live poker.

I think one of the most important things you can do right away is to pay attention to the rake in all of your game options. Rake in live poker tends to vary much more than online, so some games may be outright unbeatable due to the rake.

Beyond this, try to play hands which do well in multiway pots, as there are a ton of them in live poker.

April 26, 2018 | 9:09 a.m.

Great video. I like Tim's videos because (and no offense to him at all) he made several mistakes that you pointed out, and at least a few of them were not so obvious to me. Some Essential reviews you have done the players make few mistakes, so there aren't as many obvious things I can take away from a single watching.

As for sites to play at for some live videos, I've never played there, but I saw Chicago Joey make a video where he played on Global Poker, and it seemed alright. Maybe you can check that one out?

Thank you again for another very useful Essential video

April 19, 2018 | 5:50 a.m.

Obviously. The point of this post was to discuss the merits of straddling on the button in games where it's an option.

April 17, 2018 | 3:38 a.m.

Why is that? In a 6max game it seems like you can terrorize the blinds by straddling the button by forcing them to act first preflop.

The drawbacks seem to be that people could raise you lightly preflop, but in PLO they can't really hurt you with a single raise pre, and closing the preflop action from the button seems like a huge advantage

April 17, 2018 | 2:54 a.m.

Loved it, thank you for making these Essential videos. They have helped me a lot over the last three months.

April 15, 2018 | 2:18 a.m.

I agree with you completely. Even though I don't play Stars, it's conceivable that other sites will see what Stars gets away with in terms of rake and follow suit.

I play on three or four different sites, (all of them about the same quality wise, all have benefits and drawbacks)have you noticed the games getting better on the other sites recently? Or is Stars looking like it's going to be the only show in town for a while?

April 15, 2018 | 1:02 a.m.

If button straddles, SB is first to act preflop and button closes the action

April 3, 2018 | 4:07 p.m.

I'd be gutted too. I've had similar experiences when I've taken shots. You'll be back in no time

April 3, 2018 | 12:04 a.m.

Post | JDGskychaser posted in Other: Straddling from any position

In games where straddling from any position is permitted, is it optimal to straddle the button 100%?

This strategy makes life hell for the blinds, and if someone re-straddles to defend, it can't be that bad since you still have the button on later streets.

Does anyone have any experience deploying an exploitative straddling strategy?

April 2, 2018 | 3:45 a.m.

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