Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Gross Profit

Since October I have focused primarily on the Daily Double Jackpot Multi table tournaments on Full Tilt and the Dirty Dozen Jackpot sit n go games on Betfred. In the later I have so far played 144, a gross of games with the following results:

I am encouraged by my efforts with a high proportion (16%) of wins. The Jackpot opportunity I had last month only adds to the satisfaction. At this win rate I would win the $2000 jackpot around every 1500 games. In real terms though the profit return is only around $50 for these 144 games which is progress at least. In a year when I have struggled to make a profit I have ended on a high. To make this approach more worthwhile I need to play a lot more games. No reason why I could not play a couple of thousand next year.

Meanwhile, my efforts in the Daily Doubles on Full Tilt have also been rewarded. Having played them for just a few months I am ranked in the top 6% of players on Full Tilt, a figure which ignores the $500 or so bonus payments I have received. I have also cashed in around a quarter of the tournaments played. The games fit great into my evening routine and once I make it past the money bubble I really enjoy the chase for those top final table spots. One disappointment is the lack of a win in one of these games. Something to rectify in the new year.

My approach will be to continue my recent good work, make a positive start to the year and build from there. I certainly have no reason to change things right now. I also intend to be a bit more active on this blog which I have neglected a little this year. Anyway seasons greetings to all and have a great 2014.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Dirty Dozen Jackpot?

Recently I have dropped down to the lowest value Jackpot games, the $2 Dirty Dozen version in which twelve players start on two tables of six. Win four consecutive games and you get a $2000 Jackpot. Following a three game winning sequence I had a big opportunity to win it. This significant event for me coincided on 5th November with the World Series Of Poker Main Event coming to its exciting conclusion. Congratulations to Ryan Riess on his $8 million dollar haul. I watched a lot of the ESPN coverage, both highlights and live which I really enjoyed. I think he was one of quite a few potentially credible champions and I hope he does poker proud over the next twelve months.

Meanwhile in my more mundane poker world I had to defeat eleven opponents to have my own more modest jackpot payday. As I began I was focused and determined to get to the final table and at least give myself a chance. I had done all the right things in terms of preparation, some of which I have learned from my previous attempts. My internet browser was off, I was focusing on just this one game and I was avoiding any known good regulars. Everyone else in the house was asleep and my wife knew nothing of my opportunity. I had just won two consecutive heads up games on Full Tilt and had stable confidence. I was ready.

Early on things did not go to plan as I sought out an early double up. Then some good progress was quickly reversed with a blind on blind battle, my AJ losing to AK. Now I was short stacked and looking for a good spot to shove whilst playing four handed on this first table. With the final table bubble about to burst I made my move with A6 and was called by pocket tens. I spiked an ace on the turn to give me a workable but lowish stack as the final table began. Luck was massively on my side in this hand but I was happy with both the move I made and obviously the luck I enjoyed. This luck would continue at the final table with an early double up my AJ beating AQ following a JKJ flop. I was running good, playing controlled sit n go poker. Could this be it. Finally a jackpot win? I was making some strong moves including the odd bluff when I sensed weakness to build up my stack without risking my tournament life. The defining hand occurred three handed, the chip leader having roughly 7000 chips, me with 3000 and the short stack with roughly 2000. With blinds approaching 200-400 there would not be a lot more action. The short stack limped when first to act. Instinctively in the small blind I shoved my A5. A move I have made a thousand times and will a thousand more. In these circumstances his hand is medium strength almost all the time. Too weak to shove, too good to fold. The big stack in the big blind folded and after a short dwell the short stack called with his QJ. A jack on the flop left me with less than ten percent of the overall chips and struggling. Had I won the hand I would have been heads up for $2000. I fought on valiantly for a few more hands but eventually my K8 shove lost to A3 for a return of $3.60!

Having missed out once again I was disappointed for sure but the overwhelming feeling was one of satisfaction. Firstly that I had got into this position and secondly that I had given it a really good go. That's all you can do. Despite my failure to win I was happy with my play, felt I had not made any mistakes and had played aggressive enough to give myself a chance. Jared Tendler would be proud.

Hopefully I won't have to wait eighteen months for the next Jackpot opportunity. 

Friday, 25 October 2013

Transient Bay

This is Transient Bay, my latest venture into racehorse ownership. Funded by my poker profits I have a five percent share. He is trained in Middleham, North Yorkshire by Phillip Kirby who is really making a name for himself and his expanding yard in 2013. If I was to compare him to a poker player it would be to Tom Middleton. Relatively unheard of until a couple of years ago this northern poker pro has had some notable wins this year, including EPT Barcelona. Like Tom, great things are expected of Phil over the next few years and hopefully I have joined the Kirby bandwagon just at the right time. Poker and horse racing certainly share the common theme that both luck and skill dictate the level of success or failure. Neither need to worry too much about the latter.

I have recently started a new blog which is the story of my journey to all the British racecourses. At the moment I have completed fifty of the fifty eight. I am recording my latest visits to new courses, such as Fontwell and Goodwood earlier this year and also reflecting on my earlier visits. Like my poker blog it exists primarily for me but if anyone else finds it of interest then that is a bonus. Check out:
If I don't see you at the virtual poker felt then maybe see you at a racecourse sometime soon.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Daily Double Delight

My life and my poker are running pretty good in October. Last night I had the perfect mental setting for what became my best poker night of the year. I started playing straight after England qualified for the World Cup in Brazil next year by beating Poland 2-0. Whilst this gave me a massive mood boost my general sense of well-being is at a highpoint. We are busy at work. My daughter looks increasingly like getting into a wonderful secondary school. We are currently voting to name my latest racehorse. My family are all enjoying good health and we have just booked the holiday of a lifetime at Disneyland Florida for next year. I also recently watched my first live NFL game at Wembley Stadium. OK so I look like shit and am always tired but you can't have everything!

Anyway I played the Full Tilt daily double games, around one hundred and fifty players competing in each. My returns for my 2 x $12 investment and around three hours of my time were as follows:

$90 for 5th place in game A
$90 for 5th place in game B
$6.96 for cashing in both games
$37.14 for the best average finish in both games
$371.41 for final tabling both games

I played really well and also got good cards or won some key coin tosses when I needed to most. Just shy of $600 is a pretty good nights work and I have generally been doing well in these games and the Dirty Dozen Jackpot games in October. To keep my feet on the ground my tentative action on Pokerstars continues to be for no reward.

Good luck
Jason (Kartajana)

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Fourth Quarter

In the fourth quarter of the year I am focusing on only specific games per site. Following a more random approach I have found some games I can both enjoy and exploit. In terms of the search for a Jackpot win I am dropping down to the lowest level for now, the $2 Dirty Dozen games (Four wins equals $2000). Not a life changing amount sure, but it would be great to win one and I am confident I can make a few cents per game along the way. The discipline of sticking to the same games will help with both focus and tilt control.

I recently attended the Minnesota Vikings v Pittsburgh Steelers NFL game at Wembley Stadium. In that game the Steelers were seventeen points adrift going into its final phase. Like me they needed a good fourth quarter to turn things around. They gave it a good shot, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger using all his experience to put them in with a chance. I need to do the same.

Here we go Steelers, here we go!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Random Poker

In my quest to find a profitable seam of poker in September I have played a random variety of games on different sites but for the first time since it restarted I have played most of my poker on Full Tilt. I have been taking part in the two $12 Daily Doubles tournaments which are standard multi-table tournaments but with a bonus twist. If you cash in both you get a bonus of around $25, if you final table both you get around $400. Winning both gets you around $2000. I like this kind of concept and the timing fits in well with the games being played from around 9pm to 1am. With around 150 players each night, bonuses are not too unrealistic. I have only played a dozen or so nights and have had one double cash and a fifth place for $90. Hopefully a big result is just around the corner. As well as these tournaments I have unusually been playing quite a bit of heads up which I have really enjoyed. Mainly at the $10 level, the focus needed in these one on one battles is great as is the rematch option. To be honest I have probably lost as many as I have won but have enjoyed the diversity they bring. No two opponents seem to be alike.
Meanwhile I am still playing a lot of "Brussels" six man sit n gos on Betfred Ipoker which has been a bit up and down but overall solid enough. For the year I am making around 60 cents per game over a pretty large sample which in the current poker economic is pretty good I think.

Me and Pokerstars are currently on a break in our relationship due to a couple of key software problems. One is that my settings on the site keep lapsing which means a lot of frustration resetting each time I play. The second is that the Pokerstars random card generator has somehow taken a dislike to me. Following a Sunday Million satellite win a few weeks ago I spent the $215 tournament dollars on dozens of sit n go games which generated around $18!  You know you are in trouble when you think maybe changing your picture icon might help!

Good Luck


Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Brussels Sprout Bankroll

My sit n go challenge has gone well over the last ten days. I have played fifty $10 games, mainly the six-man Brussels game on I-Poker, which is easily the most active at this buy in. Whilst there have been a few ten man games mixed in, it is the six man games in particular that have help see my bankroll sprout forward. I have benefited from the freedom the chip structure provides in these games compared to the jackpot games.  I have been able to play more poker and rely less on fixed strategy and maths based luck. These six max games are much more time efficient too as I don't start them with a fairly inactive fifteen minutes as happens in the Maui Jackpot games. Obviously I have also benefited from only paying the standard rake too. An extra $50 in rake would make a massive difference to the outcome, particularly in the long term. Anyway I can report a profit of $122, a ROI of 22% and progress like this:

I have enjoyed this challenge so much I am going to continue playing these games for now before having another bash at the jackpot games. For sure I have won more than my fair share of coin flips in this small sample of fifty but I feel positive again. I believe I can realistically win $1 per game at this level. I just need to prove that now over a bigger sample of games. See you at the tables. Just don't stand behind me!

Jason (Kartajana)

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Month End Challenge

In an attempt to end July with a positive feel I am setting myself a short term poker challenge. Ten days, fifty sit n gos. What is the worst that can happen? (see below for answer). I am hoping this mini challenge will rekindle my focus, reignite my form and reverse the general direction of my bankroll. For a change I am going to play the non Jackpot sit n gos. No tight chip structure, no winning runs considerations, no double rake, no excuses. To make it a proper test I will play $10 games.

My performance so far this year has been disappointing. My recent form is also poor and I am running fairly bad I believe. More importantly both my profitable edge in poker and my enthusiasm for poker have dwindled somewhat this year. The two are definitely intertwined but I cannot see the real cause and effect. Which one is driving the other. Hopefully this mini challenge can give me some insight. I will report on my progress both financially and otherwise.

This year the number of my poker blog posts have also been in decline. This is not unconnected to the previous paragraph but I have also been focusing my energies on a new blog I have been working on. This relates to my other great passion, horse racing. More on this soon.

(Answer: In the last ten days of July I could lose fifty seven buy ins ($627). Poor play, lots of bad luck and really bad counting!)

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Golden Moments

June has not going brilliantly on the poker front from a financial perspective, but on reflection there have been some very positive moments. At at time when my love of poker is dwindling, perhaps because my edge is diminishing, a series of moments have reminded me why I play the game - why I love the game. Sure I have made mistakes in June. I should not have played those $20 and $50 Jackpot sit n gos when frustrated. I can't beat those games even at my best. I know I should not have played loads of Sunday Million hyper satellites where luck is a massive factor. But even in a thirty day period there has been some golden moments. The highlights were:

  1. Freeroll second for £80 - Early in the month a few hundred players competed for £500 in a weekly freeroll which I only occasionally play. Things went well and I had a nice cash.
  2. Jared Tendler Webinar - I attended a exclusive seminar based on pre-ordering his new book. It was great to listen to his insight on key aspects of the mental game. It has also motivated me to revisit his second book and focus on the aspects that most relate to me.
  3. Golden Sit N Go for $14 - I played maybe fifty sit n goes during this Pokerstars promotion and it was nice finally to play in a Golden sit n go were I was rewarded with a free double buy in. I just missed out on a bigger payout when sixth of eighteen
  4. Contact from Rio Jackpot regular. It is always great to hear from fellow Jackpot players and share strategy advice. This German grinder plays a high volume of Rios and I will watch his progress with interest this summer.
  5. Maui win rate at 16% - This is above my target of 14% and although only for a month is very encouraging.
  6. Maui Consolation win - The great thing about this win is that I was able to play the final game on its own and used my own advice (from my blog post, see below) to help me have a top two finish in the final game. I had no distractions, played just one game, told no one of my opportunity, was totally focused on it. I even practised game selection by waiting for a game the solid regular did not play in. I made good decisions and was rewarded with a second in a game that went  almost perfectly for me.

For the second half of 2013 I will focus more than ever on the Maui games but I will try to only play when super motivated to do so. Good luck.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Kartajana: What's in a name?

The Horse:
Kartajana was originally a racehorse trained by Michael Stoute and owned by The Aga Khan who ran in the early 1990's whilst I was at University. On my Nineteenth birthday in 1990 she made her first racecourse appearance at Leicester where me and several friends clubbed together to have £35 on her to win the last race. She romped home and started what was to be a very top class racing career, though she never quite fulfilled her potential. For example she flopped when strongly tipped for the Oaks later that year but finally won a group one contest in France the following year. I followed her throughout her career which included six wins. Possibly her best run was when third in the Arlington Million in 1991.

The Student Band:
In early 1991 me and two friends formed a band which we named Kartajana, with me as lead singer! We only played together for a few months and only played in public twice but it was a really fun time and is a special memory for me. One night we played support for a well established student band at a Valentine's day event at one of the halls of residence. We played four songs, three of our own and a cover of Rain by The Cult. I still see one of the other band members Andy occasionally but rumours of the band getting back together are greatly exaggerated!

The Poker Player:
Fifteen years later when choosing my poker name, Kartajana was an easy choice. Full of positive memories I have always played poker under that name. The choice of your poker name is quite interesting I think. Many choose a name that identifies them or like me one that gives them confidence, others try to influence other players by suggesting a style of play or skill level like QuiteTight or BadPlayer777. I am a big fan of the more comical ones such as xxxsitoutxxx, luckyknickers or the quite appropriate for me imbaldsowhat. My favourite though is probably NeedJackpot.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Last Chances To Qualify! Failed!

Having now dropped out of the top forty I have only a handful of chances to qualify for the Betfred Social League Final this Sunday and a shot at the £1000 first prize. As the league has progressed the number of daily entrants has increased to just short of two hundred. To move up the league table you need a final table spot which clearly is not easy. I have been more focused over the last few days and have given myself a chance to do that on a couple of occasions but ultimately have fallen short. If I don't make my third final table appearance of the league by Saturday I will simply not qualify for the final. Given there are probably only one hundred regular players, not making the top forty would be a big disappointment and an opportunity lost. 
If I don't make it good luck to those who do.


I write this as the worthy finalists prepare to do battle for the £1000. On the final day of qualifying I did it, I made another final table and finished seventh. However my prediction that this would be enough was as impressive as my overall play in this league series - pretty poor. Whilst I have not seen a final overall league table I expect my final position was around forty-fifth. I made a pretty good fist of it over the last few days of the competition but it was not good enough. The three positives I take from it are as follows:

Playing this early at night is not a good idea.
I returned around £45 from £25 invested.
It reaffirmed the need get stuck in and play to win in tournaments. 

I am taking a few days off poker to lick my wounds and re-focus on my Maui Jackpot strategy.

Good Luck

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Storming Result And Betfred League Update

Last Sunday I played in the weekly Sunday Storm $11 tournament on Pokerstars. In coming 1754th of the 35269 entrants I cashed for $42 but more importantly found some renewed confidence in my multi table tournament game. 
One of the main reasons I played was to help me focus on the latest Betfred league game running at the same time. Strangely when I am playing only one or two games at once I easily lose focus especially if they are low buy in games or freerolls, so I had six games open and enjoyed a profitable few hours. The Betfred league is now at the halfway point and I am starting to struggle after a good start. In the first five games I had two final table finishes (8th and 3rd) which established me in the top ten overall. However the last week has seen me slip down the table as I have failed to put in any solid results. I have not given the games the time they deserve, I have been distracted and also sometimes a bit unlucky. To qualify for the final and a chance to win the £1000 first prize I need to remain in the top forty. I need at least another couple of solid finishes to make it. Part of my problem is that these league games run quite early for me and coincide with other stuff going on in the Tomlinson household. For example the early tournament stages run alongside the kids bedtime. This can be a stressful time not conducive to playing A-game poker and reminds me why I tend to play poker when everyone else is asleep! Sometimes as a result the poker and real world combine in a bizarre way. One minute I am deciding push or fold, the next ham or corned beef for tomorrows packed lunch!
Not really complaining about my situation which is generally wonderful but as a family we can be guilty of trying to fit too much in. Me playing these league games is an example of that. I don't really have the time - but I do like a cash generating challenge.
Corned beef please.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Betfred Poker League Returns

Under the new title Social Poker League a new league based challenge has returned to Betfred. I do enjoy this kind of structure and am planing to get very much involved. Over twenty five nights you compete in a tournament with added cash in the prize pool. Over the league your best seven cashes count towards your final league position. The top forty UK league players then play in a final league game with £2500 added including £1000 to the winner. This final also includes the top ten players from a Rest Of The World league.
Given the league structure and the top heavy cash payouts in the daily tournaments the key is to get to the final table, (hopefully seven times) so it is worth taking a few chances to go deep and secure a good score. Two things help this approach. Firstly, there are some poor players taking part. Secondly, the structure does allow for some play so there is no rush to make your move. After playing two games I have made one final table (finishing 8th) and now lie 14th in the table overall. With around one hundred playing each night so far and £100 added each game the games are good value in every sense.

Went the game starts you are instructed to "Enjoy the table banter and the free cash." This I guess is what makes it a social league. So far the social element seems to be a mixture of berating each others bad play, complaining about the software favouring donkeys mixed with the occasional polite good wish. I will see how the banter develops and take the cash with a smile, hopefully the £1000.

Cheers and good luck.


Friday, 26 April 2013

The Mental Game Of Poker 2 On Its Way!

Today is my forty second birthday. It began well poker wise as I concluded last nights session with a victory in a Pokerstars forty five man sit n go for $90. A very overdue success on Stars where I have struggled this year. Despite my ageing years I still feel mentally focused and strong enough to take on the younger poker generation. Indeed, I am like two twenty one year olds .................................. until I need my mid evening nap!
One poker birthday gift I am particularly looking forward to is Jared Tendler's new book, the imaginatively titled "The Mental Game of Poker 2". The first book has helped with problems such as tilt and fear of losing.  The new book is focused on more positive issues, helping you play in the zone for longer and improve decision making. Yes please. I pre-ordered the book some time ago to get a discount, a signed copy and access to a Webinar Jared is running in June. If the new book is half as good as the first which I read a few times I will be very happy.

Play well.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Back On Track In March With Consolation Win

March was a very good month poker wise and saw me very much back on track. It was the coldest March in my lifetime but poker wise I was pretty hot. I played entirely on Betfred focusing on the Maui Jackpot games and trying to pick up any freeroll cash and rakeback bonuses. My total profit for the month was $503 plus a Spurs shirt. Quality not quantity was the key as I probably played only fifty hours or so and just over two hundred Maui games. Overall very satisfying. My progress in the month looked like this:

Two key pleasing aspects where my mental game improvements and the success of winning a $200 consolation bonus. I continue to be more focused on my play and less affected by things out of my control. This is really transferring well to my results. The consolation win later in the month also gives me great encouragement. The sequence of first first second first second shows how close I came to five wins and a big jackpot. Two coin flips in the right direction was all I needed as I was in a position to win both the games I came second in. A very pleasing and positive month.
I will not be getting carried away though. There is still plenty of room for improvement. For one thing I remain stuck at the 13% win rate. Also my first two April poker sessions have been poor. My old friends tiredness, computer trouble and misfortune have been round to wish me Happy Easter and make me look an early April fool!

Good Luck

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Losing My Shirt?

Some gamblers regularly risk losing their shirt. In my case recently the opposite was true when I risked nothing to win a new shirt. I won a Tottenham Hotspur replica football shirt in a recent Betfred freeroll.
250 players entered for the ten shirts available, first prize being signed by the current squad. Despite some internet connection trouble I was pretty much one of chip leaders throughout but around the bubble was under pressure when down to 12th of 14. Some poor play from my opponents meant I was able to make the top ten comfortably, eventually finishing seventh and securing a shirt. Occasionally I will play this type of freeroll and win a prize as opposed to cash. A few years ago I won an Ipod Nano on Beftred so they can be worthwhile.
Whilst I am not a Spurs fan, I am a football fan with an appreciation of the current Tottenham team and Gareth Bale in particular. So I will happily wear my new shirt this spring and summer kicking around on the park with my five year old son Jake. He is a promising young footballer himself, recently scoring all seven goals in a seven-four soccer tots win. At the moment this is a great start for every weekend for me watching him enjoy himself playing football and usually scoring lots of goals. 

Friday, 15 March 2013

Poker Blueprint Breakthrough

As part of my poker plan I signed up for Nick Wealthalls winning poker blueprint program which has helped me refocus on my game in quite a few different ways. For example I have a warm up routine now before I play and a mental process for dealing with key hand decisions.
The main thing I have been working on though is changing my mindset from winning being more important than playing well. Last weekend I played a few sessions that demonstrated I have made something of a breakthrough in this area. On Friday night I played seven games ($42 staked) and won $95 (three wins and two thirds). I played well but had a lot of luck when needed most during the final phase of these games. So yes I was elated with such a good winning session but I was also mindful that I had run good and this was not sustainable. An inconsequential break even session followed on Saturday.
On the Sunday night I played six games ($36) and won only $10 but it was in this session that the main breakthrough was made. As I was playing I was focused on making good decisions and as things gradually unravelled in an unfortunate manner I was content with my play which seemed important in a new way. I followed the session with a quick analysis of my play in the key hands of each game, perhaps reviewing ten hands in total. The outcome made me feel very satisfied in that in all six games I made no significant errors. All key hands apart from one came later in games when blinds had become significant and confrontation was inevitable. In these I was able to use ICM/Nash calculator tools to assess my play. All my shoves and calls were mathematically correct. All my play was logical and thought out. The other game saw my aces cracked early on by ace-king in a pre-flop battle which saw two kings hit the flop With average luck I would have had a profitable session. So importantly I was more satisfied than normal with a losing session. Sure I was happier on Friday night when I was luckier and won but it definitely felt like a breakthrough.

I am not saying I played perfect poker but in key hands I made no mistakes. That's all I can do. The bottom line is that I am becoming much more focused on what I can control. Making good poker decisions, being relaxed about luck and being more realistic about my overall win rate is the way forward. On the Monday night I had no negative emotions relating to the previous session which really helps with avoiding tilt or a potential down swing. As a result in March this new improved thinking is impacting positively on my results.

Play well.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Tricky Spots And Overall Win Rate

Most decisions in the Maui Jackpot sit n go games are easy, clear and pretty automatic. As you get closer to the bubble and getting paid certain situations can be tricky, are genuinely borderline and require a bit more thought. One regular dilemma occurs when you are faced with aggression from a dominant chip leader and making a judgement for all your chips. Generally, I would try to avoid an all in confrontation in these circumstances without a very strong hand.

A good example of this tricky spot came the other day. With five players left the stack sizes were as follows: the dominant chip leader had 5036, I had 1369 and the other three including two solid regulars had 925, 1630 and 1040. With blinds at the 50-100 level I am in a good position but still have some work to do. In the key hand I was dealt pocket nines on the button with the chip leader in the big blind. I raised to 300 hoping to take the blinds. The chip leader quickly shoved all-in putting me on a decision for all my chips. Up to this stage he had played well, had been lucky at times but was not playing recklessly. I was sure he had a good hand. But how good? In these key spots I am currently trying to put players on a range rather than an exact holding. In this situation, I felt he would have re-raised (not gone all in) with aces or kings. His most likely holdings are pairs from say sevens through to queens, good aces and at the very worst a hand like king jack. He very rarely has nothing in this spot. Ace King was my first instinct because of the speed of the all-in. No time to think was needed - in went his chips. Given my thinking is this a call or a fold? A lot of the time we are flipping and I have pot odds for this but is it worth the risk?  In short I have concluded that I fold if my aim is to cash and call if my aim is to win. Previously when my focus was on maximising my returns I think I would have folded, cowardly hoping to have better opportunities to double up or simply sneak a cash. I am currently focusing more on the number of games won, maximising my win rate to give me more of a shot at five wins in a row. I made the call and I am pretty happy with my decision. I am also trying to focus much more on making the right decisions as opposed to worrying about the luck based outcome of them.
Ironically this game was around the end of my first one thousand Maui games since I have been focusing on my poker plan and improving my win rate. Following years of play with a win rate of around 13% I can now report, following some solid effort, strategy adjustments, study and re-focus I still have a win rate of 13%! Undeterred I will press on into my next thousand games looking for that holy grail of Maui sit n go poker, a 14% win rate. I know its out there, I can almost feel it.
For those that care and are perhaps looking for a happy ending to this post I can report the chip leader had queens and sent me packing in fifth place. Content with my choice and the rational behind it I shall continue in my quest for increased numbers of  wins via good decisions.

Cheers and good luck.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

RIP Bridkid

I have just found out that Betfred poker regular Bridkid (Graham Barkworth) died not long before Christmas. Betfred are running a memorial tournament in his honour which prompted this sad discovery. He was one of the regulars when I started playing poker on Betfred in 2006. Whilst I never met him, I have spent six years or so regularly playing against him and exchanging banter over the virtual felt. He was a super friendly player, the type who enhances the poker experience for both newcomer and regular alike. He was also a pretty decent player too.
Very sad news indeed.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Poker Plan: Coaching & Mental Game Update

I have played nearly one thousand games since I drafted my poker plan. This is aimed at helping me improve my win rate at the Maui Jackpot sit n go tables. My historical win rate in these games is 13% and I have set myself a target of 16% which would massively improve my chances of winning a jackpot. It won't be easy but making small steps of progress in a few areas could really help. For now 14% here I come. In February I have been refocusing on my plan particularly in the area of coaching and the mental game. In effect I have combined the two by signing up for Nick Wealthalls coaching program "The Winning Poker Blueprint."

It is early days but I can already see this is going to be very worthwhile. There is some very good material being delivered and some good stuff for me to work on. Suddenly I have homework again! So far I have been working on how to think more like a pro, backing my judgement and making key decisions in big pots. One major issue I still have is that I am focused more on winning than I am on playing well. Why is this bad? I still judge my poker on whether I won or lost in a session or in an evenings play. This can be massively dependent on luck. I should be focused on how well I played and be satisfied with a losing session in which my play was good but my luck was not. Keep making the correct decisions and the money will come. Yes I understand that but I want it now! Something to work on and certainly something I am thinking about a lot. I possibly should get out more.

Play well or good luck decide.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Beating The Rake

In the Maui Jackpot sit n go games I play the stake is $5 for entry and $1 fee (or rake). I am looking to make an average of $1 per game for me and also cover the $1 rake. This is no easy task as it is double the normal rake % (which contributes towards jackpots and consolation bonuses). You have to play well and be lucky or at the very least keep on good terms with lady luck.
In January it would seem me and lady luck have fallen out somewhat, particularly in the early part of the month. Later as our relationship improved so did my results but not enough to beat the rake. I should state though here that whilst I did not run good in January I did not play my best game either. The Sharkscope chart below shows my overall results both with and without rake. It certainly provides an interesting slant on my results. I played 275 games and lost $100 if you count the $275 fees. Without them I won $175.
When you factor in rakeback (a proportion of your rake returned as a loyalty or volume bonus) the picture is complicated further. In practice I won $175 off other players and then gave it to the nice people at Betfred/I-Poker. I also gave them an extra $100 of my own because my results were not good enough. Then, for my loyalty they gave me around $50 back. So an overall loss of around $50!
On a positive note the Maui Jackpot has rolled over to $46,500, which is well worth my time and effort. In February I will refocus on working on my poker plan to try to improve my play. I will also try to stop focusing on the short term and luck.
Play well.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Choose Almeria

Its still snowing here in the North West of England. Its cold, dark and a bit depressing. However, as hoped for my luck has returned a little in the second half of January and I am progressively pulling back my early month losses. My win rate in the Maui games is much better and last night I won a forty five man sit n go on Pokerstars for $90. 

When the days are short and the nights are freezing like this I am a little jealous of my sister who lives in the Almeria region of Spain. Growing up together we were both exposed to the wonder of gambling: on horse racing, football and even cards. In those days three card brag and pontoon were the games of choice. It was me though who was most consumed by gambling which has remained a constant throughout my life. Surprisingly then it was my sister Linda who took the biggest gamble of all when in 2006, disillusioned with life in England, she decided to move to Spain and start a new life. Seven years on she is still there, enjoying the sunshine and has just completed a website highlighting the wonder of Almeria. Check out:

The site looks great and she has put a lot into it, though I think she might be a bit short of information on local casinos and other recreational gambling! I will have a word.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Routine Losses

In January last year I posted a blog entitled January Blues. The weather here was cold and miserable and my poker form wasn't much better. A year later these now routine January weather and poker issues have resurfaced. I am cold, running real bad poker wise and getting a little frustrated.
As part of my poker plan to improve my win rate I have been experimenting with my evening routine, playing more games at once in one session rather than two smaller ones. Certainly this is more time efficient but I have yet to see the real potential due to a significant downturn in fortune. My coin toss win rate feels like 25%. A significant thought for me right now is how badly am I running really compared to how well am I playing. I am certainly not playing my A game. I have reviewed quite a few hands to give me confidence that it is really my luck rather than my play that is the problem. I understand that Holdem Manager software can help here in that it can show you how well you are running compared to all-in equity expectation. I may well give the thirty day trial a go to see if it is of benefit.
Half way through January a particular game has really helped me, given me the inspiration to write this blog and hopefully turn my luck around. As part of an inevitably losing session, one game stood out. Before it even started Serhar was complaining about a previous game in which no doubt he had been robbed of victory. He spent the game complaining about his luck and the bad play of others. Never an endearing quality but usually of interest. Meanwhile, I combined some bad play with some bad luck of my own to leave myself with fifty chips. The next ten minutes were unexpected and thought provoking. Sehar when second in chips was knocked out AK v A7 by his only serious opponent. He was not happy, especially then seeing me double and treble up a few times to become a contender. I was called some names that I can assure you are entirely unjustified. Eventually I finished a wonderful and uplifting second for $15. What did I learn from this game? One, that there is always someone having worse luck than you and letting it get to them more. On examination Serhar is a winning player which emphasised the situation even more. Secondly and more importantly following an outrageous series of misfortunes, lost coin flips and bad beats, it reminded me that Luck Avenue is not a one way street in Runningbadsville, Tennessee. Only a few weeks ago I was posting about a hot streak. My luck will turn. I just need to be there, ready to capitalise when it does.
So, in the second half of January I will play well and run good. You never know the sun might even pop out at some point.
Good Luck

Saturday, 12 January 2013

The Rio Rhyme- Rio Jackpot Sit N Go Strategy

Following on from the great success of my Maui Mantra I wanted to capture my Rio Jackpot Sit N Go strategy in a memorable ditty. So here it is:

Get stuck in and use position
In level three make a decision
Bubble time, push-fold with precision
Then be lucky, the win is your mission

Strategy is very important in the jackpot sit n go I feel, though arguably you should have a somewhat flexible approach. Certainly adapting to your opponents play is important especially in these six handed games. However I do feel it is genuinely helpful to have a memorable strategy summary. It is easy to get caught up in the moment and play a non optimum style. To translate my rhyme you need to be active early in these games looking for a opportunity to double up. This is the best route to victory. Using position can help here. By the end of level three you make a decision based on the chips you have in terms of playing to win or playing to cash. Soon bubble rules kick in. Later, heads up, a combination of aggression and good luck are needed. If you are brave/foolish enough to take on the Rio games good luck to you, you really will need it to beat the rake and the regulars.

See Maui Mantra: