a little blog about poker
The Maximus event over at Merge Network has come and gone. It is the largest tournament series on the USA side and I will say it was a success. The overlays were high and there was a lot of poker for the month of March. This past Sunday was 600K Guaranteed prizepool alone. It offered first place price money for just Sunday of a single day’s events of over 200K.
gbuldsdastack34 – Main Event – $67509
CaseyattheBat – SuperStack 550 – $81224
M1NDGAM3S- High Roller – $45862
spiker123 – Mini Main Event 11.00 buyin – 7304
It is impressive turnout. Through the series, Merge upped the ante on their prizepool throughout the tournament. This tournament series drew a very impressive field sizes. The first event was a was a $15K Guarantee for a $11.00 buyin and it drew 5055 players. It was a freezeout with a starting stack of 5000 chips and 15 minute blind levels. The winner of the first event was sizzlinbettasucks for a $7384.85 pay day.
Since Black Friday (April 15, 2011), the Merge gaming skins had very low numbers as far as the real money player base. They were small taters compared to the big three sites that dominated the online poker market. While PokerStars was the #1 site with over 400,000 real money players on the site and the now defunct FullTilt Poker which had about 200,000 players and UB/Absolute Poker with around 10K in player base. Merge was looking at a big hit of around 2K or even less before Black Friday.
Black Friday hit and the masses of US Players were in the dark wondering what to do next. I remember distinctly opening up the browser to my Pokerstars and just literally staring at the screen DOJ message of the seisure and I was in wonderment. I wanted to still play. I risked a year of learning poker and losing money as I learn and didn’t want to bag up the opportunity to play poker so I began the search.
I did in fact the following week as the dust settled and got plenty of podcasts and listening intently to QuadJacks radio online and exposed to the ruin of online poker, I decided surely there are some site that will let me play and I came across Lock Poker. I stayed there and was getting rakeback at 35%. The first game I played was the $3 All in or Fold game, dinkering around the elements of rabbit, deal it twice, and the unique chat items within Merge and was hooked ever since.
We are now going on a year since Black Friday, must be coincidence to see that Merge gaming is heading up the chain and finishing out the year anniversary with a bang with a great tournament series and marking their territory as the premier US sites for online poker.
Now, I can’t go in this blog to say the great things but there are things that haven’t changed. There is some due issues with Merge as a whole and hopefully off this jump in this tournament, I am sure they raked up some good funds to put in some improvements on the site. I frequent http://www.twoplustwo.com and http://www.pocketfives.com and their seems to be the need of a overhaul on the game selection and the lobby re-design. With 2K player base they had, the lobby was simple but with more games, it has been very difficult to get through the lobby and filter out things that some 10K of players have to sift through to find their “cup of tea” to play. The lobby needs to be re-designed and also more information needed on the tournament games section like starting stack. The addon feature is not desireable and clunky at best. The ability to double addon if desired should be introduced. The other thing I would like to see is Merge having more flexibility to it’s affiliates of the ability to provide their skins more ownership to their sites. Skins such as RPM, Lock Poker, Carbon Poker and others need to give right for a more reasonable amount of rakeback to improve each of their sites.
I would like to see in the future of Merge Gaming is a series that would allow some “friendly” competition against the skinned sites. It would be a brutal calling but seeing a simple leaderboard similar to the maximus series and seperated out by skin would be fun for the players but really expose each skin as who the master of skins really are.
It would be interesting to see where Merge Gaming will do to “Maximize” the success of this series in April and May as the dust clears from this series to what happens in the coming months. Maybe a Live Merge Poker event in the fall maybe? hmmm, satelittes for the chance to head to Vegas or AC or even the “Lock Castle” to play live poker with the best. That would be cool.
Over the past couple of days, I took a break from Lock Poker due to some liferoll issues but it didn’t stop the grind. I decided to take bit of a different route this week in poker, so I explore some subscription based poker sites.
My poker background is basically is Lock Poker in the micro MTT stakes and really don’t go past the 11.00 freeze outs and occasionally hit the 22.00 deepstack event but my average buyin is typically 3.00 and below..
One thing I struggle with in MTT micros is the terrible play. I have decided to hit the play tables and work on playing with players that don’t really think of Position, bet sizing, 3bet, four bet, outs, push/fold. Most the players are just your average player that don’t put up their money up to play, they just play and have a good time. This gives me a chance to really begin working with some skills that I have learned up at Tournament Poker Edge and really get prepared for a live tournament that I am playing this week that is a micro buyin that I typically will call a “donkament”. It is a daily at my local casino. I typically play these when there is a major event at the other casinos for I will be playing with “fish” or I like to call them in this particular day as I did last year, “guppies. My goal is by October when the WSOPC event hits my area, and play a ring event. My bankroll of these mini tourneys I play and the cash games will hopefully build the proper bankroll to make it to the ring event. I almost took a shot to the MidStates Poker tournament running the same time at Hollywood Southern Indiana but it is a $345 re entry event and just don’t have a shot at re entering so with it “NOT” being a freezeout, I opted to play the guppies and get more value out of my buyin. Last year, did this, took 100.00, entered the donkament, binked it, went to cash and turned my $100.00 buy in to a 2500.00 end of the day. I hope to repeat that.
I will start with two sites that are subscription based sites. They are ClubWPT.com and Southpoint Poker. These are the top US legal subscription based sites. ClubWPT.com is more televised with the World Poker Tour televised brodcasts and SouthPoint Poker is a brick and mortar casino that is getting into the subscription based online poker arena using Zen Entertainment that also has skins such as CardPlayer.com, NLOP (National League of Poker) and the (I think) defunct Rise Poker which was sponsored by my favorite poker clothes brand, RiseClothing.
The subscription sites typically will go by a point system through your play for buyins instead of cash we typically are used to in rake poker sites such as PokerStars or LockPoker. It will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of as low as $10.00 to $29.99. It will give you a starting points to start with and you usually get a reload daily. So you can literally bust out the day and login the next day and start over. In order to get to the money tournaments on these sites, it is imperative that you build your points so you can enter these tourneys. They also have satellites into the tourneys as well.
I will review with the following scores on each site.
1-5 for Software
1-5 games selection
1-5 money to be won
Money to be won=3
WPT.com is a subscription based site which is heavily advertised on the WPT shows on Sundays. This is probably the top subscription based site and it is simply due to its exposure.
The software is pretty much AbsoluteBet/UB.com feel. The site has a lot of games for cash prizes and for trinkets and the one we see a lot are good quality seats to any WPT event. Great value for the money if you manage to bink first place in these tourneys.
The style of games played on WPT is pretty standard. It takes a little getting used to but I got the hang of it pretty quick as far as play. The standard tourneys start out at 1000 chips and you begin with blinds of 5/10 so you start at 100bb deep. Play seemed faster and the horrible players are usually bust out when the higher antes hit. Best strategy with ClubWPT.com is play very tight and hang out. A premium hand, try and accumulate chips. Don’t get to frisky in the beginning or you will get that ugly Suckout to crack those AA with 72o when the board flies 722. People have a hard time finding the fold button. It happened to me a couple of days ago. I had the button, UTG+1 opens with a minraise. I three bet half his bet, he calls with his 72o. The board goes 72x. He throws a minraise (just clicks the raise) I re-raise to 1/3 pot. I do this because I give him a button choose of him hitting raise, call or fold. He hits his raise button. I shove, he calls. He gets it in with 72o. The turn gives him another 7. I didn’t improve.
The field size on the game is pretty good for a game say 11am. There were about 300 so it was a field similar to Lock.
WPT.com gives a free two week trial and provides you benefits like Bluff magazine, discounts at spots at Vegas and free access to VIP only games and tourneys. It is all “play all the poker you and never lose a dime playing poker, guaranteed”. They have daily games and the nightly tourneys go up to 500.00 and weeky 10K on Sunday and they have bounty event to bust the Royal Flush Girls.
You will not have a Sunday Million opportunity like you do on a weekly basis on PokerStars or experience a WCOOP event in a month. WPT.com is the top site that offers more winnings than any of the sites I visited with a 10K monthly tournament and also seats to any of the WPT events.
Software = 2
Game selection =3
Money to be won=1
You get more value for your 29.99 on ClubWPT.com but they don’t have as many options for credit card. It didn’t like to take a prepaid debit card for some reason. I did however ran across Southpoint Poker and they did take my credit card. Anyways. this site is one of the skins from the ZEN network and have monthly items to be had like iPad giveaways, WWE wrestling stuff. Unique to Southpoint Poker is seat giveaways at times, 1000 Weekly tournament and monthly 2K Championship. Nothing to write home about when you bink it but is available for a little win here and there.
The game selection is only tournament games, no cash tables (for points) and offers some stud games and No River holdem and Royal Holdem. I didn’t hit those table hard or anything. There are typically 100 to 200 runners in each tournament so there is plenty of play. They have turbo games as well as some deepstack play which I like. It offers points for scores and cash for like top 2 or 3 or so.
The play as you will know with any subscription or play sites, it is extremely soft. Playing tight is appropriate for this play. The slider bars are difficult to use. I had to type in my bets vs. using the slider. So very difficult to 3x or 3bet.
Subscription rates are lower and even free in some games but you have to suffer advertisements. The prizepools are very low. Much lower than on ClubWPT.com. The max prize package that I could find on the site is a monthly 2K tournament from CardPlayer.com. I played a tournament for a deepstack tournament and played like 4 hours and won it for 10.00 if that can give you a clue as to the investment of time vs. money. It is designed for the recreational player that wants to step up from Zynga to possibly making real money. I do think they give WSOP seats but not very many.
In the next blog, I will give you some reviews of two other sites that I play. These next few sites are free to play and interesting play as well. Stay tuned.
I am a poker studier. I may not be great at poker but I will admit that I am getting better. I want to submit some thoughts on how to study poker in a way that will make you better at the game. There is this debate in the gambling world and society in general wondering if the game of poker is a game of chance or a game of luck. I am not going to spend my time hashing the debate out. I will only state the fact. The fact is, the game is the only one I know of on a casino floor that you don’t play against “the house”. You play the game against other people. If you are sitting at a table with 8 other people, there are 8 other people that are honing in on your chips and their plan is to “empty your plate” so to speak. Is it a game of chance?
How do you either prevent your plate from seeing the bottom or filling your plate up. I don’t have the answer to that question for if I knew it, I wouldn’t spend any time writing this page for the 8 of you that read this. I would be filling my plate. Ha Ha Ha. I want to offer some suggestions on how to get an edge of your opponent by studying the game of poker outside of playing the game.
1. Take a Break from Playing. In order to study, you will need to break from playing. It is amazing how I find that people will play, play, play the game until the busto and busto and busto. I did it when I first started. During that time, I didn’t look up to think that I needed to find out why I am busto all the time. This year, I made a pact with myself that one week a month, I will take a break from playing and will study. I hope that my tools will help you too.
2. Open your mind and evaluate your game. This is a tough one because we often think the way we play is the best way. I mean, we are comfortable playing our game. The problem is to step back and re-evaluate your game. There are some tools which are free and also tools that would be a good investment for you to evaluate your game.
Here are some software and sites for you that are free.
3. NOTES NOTES NOTES. Pretty important to yourself and evaluating. It is something we do in school and is no different to retain knowledge. Many of our poker sites we play on allows you to take notes. In a live session, we have to keep mental notes but also the iPad/iPhone is valuable. When someone is in a pot, do they limp the pot, when it goes to showdown, what was the card they played, how did they play it? What action did they take at each street? What was the board texture. How much did the cbet, did they cbet, when they cbet, at the time, what street, did they even hit the flop on the cbet? These things you may miss in the actual play but in Holdem Manager during your study session, pay close attention if you know the hold cards at the time. Note it on Holdem Manager and then it can give you more information the next time you play that person again.
4. Talk to other Poker Players- When I first played poker, I didn’t have a single person to talk to about poker. I had no information when I started as to how to play. I would google and try and get involved in forums and such but my first year basically was a no go on talking poker. I am happy to now be involved with a poker I would consider my “poker buddies” on Tournament Poker Edge. I have skype and daily am involved in conversation about poker. TPE also has a chat session and people will rail and discuss hands and great forum area to discuss MTT play. TwoPlusTwo and PocketFives is another area of forums to discuss poker topics. There are countless of other sites that are up in a social way of connecting with other poker players. There is MyPokerHaven.com which is like a facebook for poker which once it hits, it would be a great connection tool. Twitter is I think the main area of poker players to connect with.
5. Joining a poker training site and coaching-There are scores of sites for poker training. I am a member of TPE but there are DeucesCracked.com, CardRunners and PocketFives. They all offer poker training in all different levels and concentrations to certain disciplines. They are all good and offer affordable solutions for your game. It is definitely an investment. I recommend it highly over getting a poker coach first. Some of these sites have coaching available through the site if you want to take your poker game to another level. I am personally looking really deep into this one.
6. Poker is Mental- Very important to get your mental state right for the game. I am no psychologist but there are lots of resources out there that will allow you get your “head right” for the game. It is the single most swingy game dealing with your emotions and state of brain power. You find yourself top of the chip lead and then in 5 minutes find yourself with 60 chips and find yourself at the end at final table. It happens but you got to have your brain right. It is discipline to your mind and studying poker is the step in the right direction but you need your brain exercised and mentally capable of the game. Couple of people to follow on twitter is Joe Navarro @navarrotells for he is a nonverbal communications expert which is invaluable in the poker world live.
Now…Is the poker game a skill? I don’t see the scores of resources out there for any other sort of betting. It is skill and luck at the same time. It is skill to have the edge of luck at hand. Can’t win them all but you can edge out your competition to be ahead of the other 8 players at your table to have your “cake and eat it too”.
“You don’t have the nuts until you get the river”
Being in an upswing in poker is a blessing and sometimes a curse at the same time. It is a good curse and I will agree that it makes a very good day in poker players mind to be in the middle of an upswing. It breathes life to a poker player. This develops confidence and strength.
Continue learning and adjusting your game.
You need to continue to learn. It is easy to be hot headed and king of the hill in poker while you are in an upswing. You need to level your field and still try and learn every angle to even improve where you are now and possibly take shots that you don’t normally take to get even better at the game.
Stay in your Bankroll requirements
You would know that I would have to bring this one. Still this is key for a great poker player to stay healthy in your bankroll and not rob it. It is less about making money and more about getting better than you already have. Robbing the bankroll means taking shots because you are “good” at poker and robbing your bankroll to play in bigger bets is a sore disaster. It will ruin your upswing pretty quick.
Remember downswings only define the upswings
You have to be honest all…Downswing is coming or there isn’t a such thing as an upswing. This also applies to good bankroll management. Variance in poker is real. It will get you. You will get sucked out. Yesterday, lost 1/2 my 50bb stack late in a tourney from a shorty that decided to shove a 72o on me to get a 22 that hit the flop against my AA. The downswings can last a day, a week, a month or even years. We need to contol our aggression and make good decisions constantly at the tables.
Take a break during the upswing
This is so important to have a proper balance in poker. While you are in your upswing, this is prime opportunity to stop your play for a bit and then go through your hands and really begin to go through the history of your hand and see why you are upswinging? Ask yourself questions, take notes on your resulting hands. Look for areas in your game that you still need to improve on even in your upswing. Also, take notes of what adjustments that were positive that is giving you an edge over the field during the upswing. The most important part is try and repeat your upswing and make it last.
Take the upswing to another level.
Be active in forums and “pass the mojo”. It will give you an edge and good confidence as you continue to the table. Join forums like two plus two and pocket fives. Take yourself to a good level and join something like tournament poker edge and great training sites and not only learn from the best but also bring you to reality a bit for there are better players in the game than you. Be optimistic but remember, you aren’t king either.
Upswing can also give you unrealistic expectations as you feel you are king of the world. I know of a lot of poker players that just have good luck on their side. They have a common mojo about them when they first start poker. I had that luxury early on my career. I entered a live tournament for the first time and find myself binking the tourney after only playing a year online. My first online roll on pokerstars had me seeing my bankroll double and that was a good accomplishment until I decided to donk off the roll within a day to find myself redepositing. Urgh…Never again. lol
Anyways, don’t let your upswing make you fall into the trap too soon for your downswing. The goal is to maximize the upswing and minimize the downswing. You also need to realize that downswings in poker is going to be there. You want to balance out a bit and just be consistantly a profitable player. To do that, learn, play, evaluate, and grow. Poker is a growing mental game full of skill that changes at every street.
For those bad beats, remember this its key “It ain’t the nuts until the river”
This is a long overdue post so I am going to give it a shot. My balance of family, work and poker is pretty important to be a successful poker player. I want to share with what I am doing at the moment with this pretty tough balance.
I want to start out by saying I am not a professional poker player and no where close. I am sure that professional poker players have their own way of dealing with the balance when they have kids and a wife and family.
I think to be a recreational or semi professional (which I am not sure if there is a such a thing) that has a full-time job and a family to support, it can be challenging. I think what makes a good poker player in this spot, you not only deal with good bankroll management, but you also have to deal with your life management to be successful.
When starting my poker career, I didn’t have this balance and still have some work to do. I hope that my story will help other poker players adjust a bit to the balance. I started the beginning of fall last year in 2010. I watched poker on TV and had the chance to go to the Aria for a conference for my work and they bought me into a poker tournament. I didn’t fair too well but was hooked to learn this thing. I watched the Moneymaker win on On Demand ESPN2 and then I was hooked. I was about 4 years too late to the Moneymaker poker boom but here I am.
This was a new experience that I was embarking. I begin my googling experience looking up Poker, I got Holdem for Dummies book and downloaded it on my new Generation 1 iPad and read it to death. I then went to Pokerstars.com website and learned about pokerschoolonline. I took a test and was entered into their freeroll games where you win 5.00 each time. I didn’t realize there was a leaderboard but started crushing that thing to death and low and behold, I ended up getting some cash on the site.
I now had a new toy called Pokerstars poker and then was hooked like your first time you got a video game system and you play it to death. I played poker to death and then was out of control crazy. I would play poker at home, at work, on weekends. I would speed my family home, they worked around my crazy online poker schedule.
Then it was family or the highway. My wife was considering looking for an apartment me and contemplating the separation of my family. This happened when I had my first coaching session with a respected poker pro and hitting the majors. I was planning my first journey to WSOP and WPT run and everything. I was so ready but it stopped….
Then reality kicked in and set in gear what was a long 3 month hiatus of poker. I didn’t look at a poker book, I didn’t see a card, i didn’t watch any poker shows. I deleted my poker email account, twitter account all the sites that I frequented. I stopped cold turkey. Dude, I was down and out but was the best thing I every did. It brought “balance to the force” so to speak.
I started back in November going to my local casino. It was my very first live tournament I played. I entered, got my first casino card. Went directly through the casino and the slots and blackjack table and felt so awesome to walk into the poker room and go to the poker table and give my money to the dealer and racked up my chips. Man it was a good feeling to just sit there. I shipped that tournament that day and was hooked yet again.
I went back the next day and decided to take a portion of my winning and rack up and quaded my initial buyin in cash and then I was hooked even more. On my 1 1/2 hour drive home that evening, very happy to be back, I decided to get my wife on my side. How can I explain what I just did. How can I convince that I can balance it out. So here is what I came up with.
I am not a professional poker player. I don’t need to play 40 hours a week on top of my day job. I want to enjoy the game of poker, learn the game, understand the details but don’t have to spend 40 hours a week. I can buy milk and my roof over my head with my day job. I don’t need to multitable 12 tables for 40 hours a week at home and totally void my family.
Learn to play MTT’s right. I love MTT poker. I love cash poker. I don’t need to grind out my bankroll to make it to the WSOP or WPT or EPT or anything like that. Just enjoy the play of poker. It is a bonus when I win. Put the earnings in poker back into the family. Buy toys for the kids, invest in our favorite non profits like World Vision, Put the winnings back into the family and also invest in others. Wow, pretty unconventional right? It is balance which is all. When you play poker, you win, you give and it returns. It allows you to enjoy poker but don’t have to live and breathe it.
Time is spent with Family, not Poker. This is the hardest. You invest several hours playing tournaments, sometimes days. It can get out of control real quick. I have decided to get back to the game. My earnings from November until now has been much better than ever before. My time spent with my family is priority. It is a Saturday that we have no poker day, it is family day. I may play in convenient times like nap times, evening times. I play a session or two and then done.
Finally, communicate to your family about your intentions. This is the game changer for me. It is so important for a poker person with a family and a spouse. Always communicate your intent and your goals. Work with your spouse and help them understand what your goals are. Be open to criticism and also come to a solid compromise that you both can commit to. If you have a spouse that understands poker and it’s own commitments, that is a bonus. My wife, when I mention tilt, she is thinking pinball and when I talk about “getting suckout”, then she is not understanding what the means and “hitting the nuts”. no go for her. I had to give her some bit of training. She now understands the commitment to a MTT game online, what the difference between a rebuy, freezeout, a turbo session and cash game and it’s commitment to time. She can now ask me, are you almost done and i can tell her how many bb’s I have and she can plan accordingly. When I say I have doubled up, she knows what that means. She is now on my side for when I say I am on one session, i stick to an agreement we set forth. Now the balance is important for I can now play my A game because we both understand that the commitment it takes to be a poker player and I am working on balance.
This one of my longer blogs I have done but it has been one that I have had in my arsenal for awhile that I would like to share.
whitelextown (Steve White)
Poker is a grind. It would be great to have a few 100K to hit the Poker circuit and travel the world to play in the Caribbean or the Aussie Millions or even Vegas at the WSOP all summer long. For most of us, it is a taxing grind. Like most of poker players, we sit down and we hammer out our goals of where we want to be by the end of the year. I have gone onto forums on two plus two and my forums that I travel frequently in the “Poker Goals” and I see lots around the first of the year. Of all my goals last year and see if I obtained them and guess what, I did achieve but not all of them. I did do one of my goals which was ship a live tourney so I got one check. Now it is 2012 and I will have to say that I have similar goals of last year but decided that I would be more specific with what goals I did arrive at.
Your goal may be like to win a live poker tourney at your local casino or it could be that you want to obtain the coveted WSOP bracelet or ship a WPT event. To some, it may be to stay in my Bankroll appropriately, have a 10% ROI by year end or it could be like to just make money and profit.
This blog post isn’t going to be about me and my goals, it is how to achieve your goals as a poker player. Now coming into February, we are embarking on what we have come to be known as New Years Resolution cracked. If you haven’t already broken your poker goals of your play, then congrats but I am willing to be a degen for a minute and I KNOW that the majority of poker players have already cracked their goals.
The nice thing is that it is only February and we can get back on track really quickly. Here are a couple of “Cracks” that most of us have already broken.
I tend to ramble through my blog posts but I am happy to see that some of you are reading it and are enjoying the blog. Please send me any feedback and I will do my best to make it much better for your enjoyment and for mine.
stevenutz/swhitelex/whitelextown whatever you see me in forums.