Monday, 14 December 2015

One More Year?

When I first started playing poker in 2005 the initial experience was nothing short of awesome. In my first tentative game with play money I was completely out of my depth and shocked at how quickly hands progressed and decisions had to be made. Soon though I got to grips with this new on-line experience and began to learn about the game of no limit holdem via books, magazines, on TV and on-line. Quite quickly it became apparent that there was money to be made here whilst having fun. Ten years on I have amassed around $27000 based on doing something I enjoy.

In truth over the last five years the games have got tougher, new players are in less abundance and profit potential has been reduced. Since I moved to my current house five years ago I have made $10,000 but I had made that amount in the two years before. Over the last few years I have recorded my progress in this blog, this being my one hundred and forty ninth entry. I intend only to write one more, should the situation arise, entitled "Jackpot". It is a great disappointment that I have not won a sit n go Jackpot and despite the money I have earned through poker I certainly feel I have left some winnings at the table, so to speak. Not that I am giving up hope. No way. In fact the poker I do play next year will be entirely Jackpot focused which can’t do my chances any harm.

By the end of 2016 I plan wind down my poker activity focusing instead on my horse racing blog and the historical material that relates to it. If horse racing is of interest to you please follow the link and take a look. Meanwhile, thanks to everyone who has taken an interest in my blog over the last five years and good luck at the tables for 2016 and beyond. For now my Jackpot quest continues.


Jason (Kartajana)

A week or so later I received big news from Betfred Poker:

We are sorry to inform you that iPoker will be fading out the jackpot tournaments from the Poker Lobby as each jackpot is won.

All four Jackpot games:
  •  Dirty Dozen
  •  Maui
  •  Rio
  •  Fort Knox

…Can only be won one more time!

In some ways I am fine with this. A natural conclusion to my ten years in Poker. Certainly I am not totally surprised by this news. If anything it will spur me on to try even harder now the clock is ticking. Good luck to all during this final Jackpot period, especially to me. Based on the last ten years I will need it!

Friday, 18 September 2015

Countdown To Christmas

Following a family holiday in Portugal at the end of August I am largely re-focused on poker and my Jackpot goals. I am playing both the Maui (Currently 58000 Euro Jackpot for 5 consecutive wins) and Dirty Dozen (Always 2000 Euros for 4 consecutive wins) versions. This mix helps me fit more games into my busy schedule and gives me a more realistic Jackpot possibility. From September until Christmas I aim to maximise my win percentage in these two games to provide a very special Tomlinson Christmas. In both games I will challenge myself to hit a 15% win rate - tough but attainable. My long terms average rates are 13% and 12%. As a minimum I hope to earn enough to buy a new laptop over the holiday season. I will update my progress as I go along:

MAUI WIN RATE: 14%    (Including sequences of 1-7-1-3-1 and 1-5-1-1-5)

DIRTY DOZEN WIN RATE: 11%    (Including a sequence of 1-8-1-1)

Good Luck

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Fantastic Four

I have started the month on a high having managed to bag my fourth Maui Jackpot sit n go consolation prize of the year. Five consecutive games finished in the first two positions wins the prize. At 150 Euros a pop this really is a Fantastic Four. Indeed, this 600 Euros represents around 25% of my year to date profit so these opportunities are not to be taken lightly. It also massively helps cover the additional rake paid for these type of games. I am fighting back from a recent slump and in the main playing well and running good too. Even my consolation claim went well and I was paid out in less than 48 hours,  a new record. All in all this is a confidence boost and an indicator that the main Jackpot for five wins in a row, now standing at 47000 Euros, is genuinely within reach. A realistic dream at least.

Meanwhile I am recording the different ways I am able to double up early in the Maui games. By assessing my success in each category I intend to adapt/improve my early style based on the findings. It really does make a big difference to your winning chance sitting with a double stack from early, but only when the risk associated with getting it is manageable. More on this in a future post if my analysis proves fruitful.

Saturday, 25 July 2015


One of the hardest things to do in poker is stop a losing run. Bad luck can lead to bad play. Bad play can lead to frustration which itself leads to worse play. Then, even good luck can't help! Okay, so things have not got quite so bad for me of late but I am on a losing run. Good luck has deserted me in my Maui Jackpot games and I am not playing my best poker. It is a while since I have won on consecutive nights and I am getting a little frustrated. The graph below shows good progress over the first eight hundred games this year followed by a shocking run over the next two hundred. Is this really the same player and what the hell is he doing?

More importantly what can I do to turn the tide back in my favour? 

Lots of things for sure:

  • Firstly writing this blog should help get some of the frustration out of my system. 
  • I also need to get some perspective about how big a problem this really is and why I really play. I am so lucky in many ways even before I log on to play poker and I need to remember what is truly important. For example my kids (pictured above) have started their summer holidays this week with a big focus on fun. 
  • Despite this bad run I am still having a winning month anyway in July based on some good form and good fortune on Pokerstars and Full Tilt.
  • I play these Jackpot games to give myself a chance at the Jackpot itself, currently running at 45000 Euros. Over the next one thousand games I will get myself in a position to do just that whether I win a $100 or $1000 along the way.
  • I mainly need to focus on my game, the way I am playing and a little less on the influence of luck. I will analyse my end game push fold actions a bit more often to promote further understanding and confidence.
  • When I am playing well I plan to extend my session. When I am too tired I will not play at all.
  • Another way forward is to look at my results in a more positive way (see below). Am I really playing that badly? When you remove the rake from my results during my 'poor' run I am still holding my own against my opponents which is reassuring to some extent.

Time to turn a corner. Signalling left. 

Good luck.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Being Patient Like Alex Fitzgerald

Quite often in poker you come across a tricky situation where you are unsure how to act but perhaps feel obliged to act in a certain way. This regularly occurs in my usual jackpot sit n go games. For example when you are dealt a good pocket pair during the mid to late stages of a sit n go you are ready to get involved. But what happens when there is significant action before you. That pair of nines doesn't look quite so attractive, but it might still be the best hand. I recently read a good related article in the final WPT Poker magazine published last December. In it Poker Pro Alex Fitzgerald responded to a question about such a scenario during a multi table tournament. The player asking the question had felt obligated to get involved in a hand based on his chip position and the cards he held even though he did not feel comfortable doing so. 

The thing that interested me here was that Alex encouraged the player to avoid the obvious and mathematically optimum strategy in this situation. Instead he was encouraged to follow his instinct and wait for a better spot. Based on my related experiences in the world of sit n gos I agree with this advice for two important reasons. You may be giving up a small amount of equity by following this path. However you are avoiding sacrificing all future potentially clear cut opportunities. As Alex concluded "Making a slightly tight fold is much better than putting in all of your chips without a clear idea as to what's going on." There is possibly a more important second reason, for me at least. Being in control and being mistake free is key to my focused A-game. If I make a mistake or take a path I doubted in this kind of scenario and my actions backfire it can affect my play across all the games I am playing. Suddenly my A game becomes my C game and I take on every opportunity to gamble and flip for chips. Patience is still key especially in the middle stages of a sit and go. So dump the pair of nines, follow instinct not obligation, stay in control and wait for a better spot. See you there.

Thanks Alex

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Top Twenty

My main focus this year has been on the Maui Jackpot Sit N Gos. My successful journey so far has seen me play around seven hundred games and achieve two top twenty Sharkscope rankings and win three consolation bonuses for 150 Euros. I am currently ranked seventh for the best 100 streak average profit at this level this year and ranked eleventh for the best 500 streak average profit. The former has a good chance to see the year out and become permanent but the latter could be close to call. I am very pleased with my efforts especially as there are an increasing number of regulars playing these games. Overall I am up $1713 year to date and intend to continue my Maui mission playing perhaps another thousand games this year whilst mixing in some other action on Full Tilt and Pokerstars. 

Most recently my form has been somewhat patchy but I ended May on a very high note, a sequence of 12211 leading to a consolation win and a near thing on the 37000 Euro Jackpot. In both second place games I had a chip lead during heads up play but could not quite take them down. I played the final four games simultaneously and having won one must have been at least 25% to win it all when heads up in the other three. A great effort but also massively frustrating. I could recount the hands that would have clinched it for me in these games but I won't. To be fair I had plenty of luck along the way in the five games so I can't get too hung up about the final outcomes. I have to take forward the positives from this. Once again I have got myself into a great situation. When there I was relaxed and playing well despite the huge potential jackpot. I made no mistakes when it really mattered. The key for me now is to get there again soon and hope luck and skill can take me just a little further, finally to Jackpot glory!

Good Luck.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

One Dollar

The outcome of my challenge over the lent period was in a sense a failure. I did not hit forty wins in the Maui games I played and I failed to achieve a 15% win rate. I came close but I failed. However in many ways the period was a great success. It was a pretty profitable period, an enjoyable poker experience and a significant period of my life. I managed to amass over $450 profit via the 267 Maui games I played. Exactly $1 profit per game plus 150 Euros for a consolation bonus, plus a little rakeback. I also managed to achieve a Sharkscope ranking for a 100 game hotstreak. I am currently in fourth place and it should last the year out in the top ten. If I can play well over the next month or two I could also add a 500 game streak to my repertoire.

Interestingly, in the initial period of my challenge, when I set the one hundred game performance marker I was off work following an appendix operation. For the most part in this period I was relaxed, well rested and playing my A-Game. My previous response to the solid advice "don't play tired" has always been that if I didn't I would never play. I am always tired in truth, trying to jemmy in far too much each day - squeezing in some leisure time around my work and my family. In this week or two however things were different. I was compounded to rest. You could argue that this was just a coincidence but suddenly my poker skill was elevated, my patience increased, my confidence boosted. Throughout this period I was also not drinking alcohol, which I usually would have been whilst playing poker. Again a positive no doubt. I genuinely wonder what I could achieve in such ongoing circumstances. However, as I write I am back at work, way too tired to be doing this and should be in bed. Nevertheless my quest for more dollars continues.....

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Giving Up - Mini Maui Challenge

My wife recently ran a Sunday School session on giving things up for the upcoming lent period and the importance of self discipline. Inspired by Jesus and by her I have resolved to give up some bad habits over the next forty days or so. The aim here is not centred on Christian belief or on a noble desire to better myself though. I am simply intending to win more money playing poker by adjusting my lifestyle. For this period I will no longer go to bed way too late, drink too much or be distracted whilst playing. Instead I will play focused poker, specifically trying to win the jackpot sit n go games I have built my poker existence around. Between 18th February and 5th April I will challenge myself to win forty Maui Jackpot Sit N Go games with an overall win rate of 15%.

None of this will be easy but I certainly play my best when well rested, focused and working to specific aims. For anyone who cares (mainly me) I will update the number of wins and my win percentage as I go along:

Final number of wins: 38 (out of 267 games)

Final win rate: 14.2%  

My recent activity has been hindered by an unexpected surgery (had appendicitis!) causing me to miss a good few days play. It may be few more days before I am fully operational poker wise. On a plus note I am way ahead of schedule in terms of drinking less and sleeping more!

A week later I have been boosted by a consolation win. One hundred and fifty Euros for a sequence of 11221. I am playing well and running good, so good that I have now established a best 100 streak average profit top twenty leader board ranking on Sharkscope. Currently placed seventh, it may not be good enough to last the year on the leader board but it is very encouraging and I am now aiming to develop this into a best 500 streak ranking. 

As I approach the end of my challenge I am struggling for a win. A couple of poor sessions have been followed by a really good one, but with four seconds and no wins. My win rate is down to the magic 15% now which is still really good overall but I am starting to run out of time to hit my target number of wins.

With one session remaining I need two more wins to hit forty in total. I am running just below the 15% win rate mark. Whatever happens it has been a solid, profitable effort with elements of really good play by me. 

No win in my final session so thirty eight Maui wins in total at just over a 14% win rate. A shame not to hit my target having come so close but a really good effort. More reaction and statistics in a few days.

Take care, good luck to you and when it arrives Happy Easter!

Jason (Kartajana)

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

It's a Trap!

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away Admiral Ackbar uttered the classic "It's a trap!" line as the Rebel Alliance attacked a fully operational Death Star. As a kid I loved these movies and I have enjoyed watching them again with my own kids thirty years later. The joy of setting a trap is not just for those prone to the dark side. In poker one of the greatest feelings comes from executing a successful trap move. When I started playing this involved slow playing a set. These days I trap mainly using my old friends aces and kings. In early position at most stages of a sit n go or tournament I regularly limp with super premium hands. Often faced with a raise I then exploit my confused opponents by re-raising big style. In a mixed start to the year I have had one notable success on Pokerstars which developed out of this trapping with kings and aces strategy:

PokerStars Tournament #1099432314, No Limit Hold'em
Buy-In: $13.78/$1.22 USD 
45 players 
Total Prize Pool: $620.10 USD  

Tournament started 2015/01/04 17:56:20 ET 
Tournament finished 2015/01/04 19:11:50 ET 

  1: Kartajana (United Kingdom), $192.26 (31.004%) 
  2: pipiki (Greece), $133.32 (21.499%) 
  3: Matheeeew (Slovenia), $102.31 (16.498%) 
  4: Leviathan74 (Greece), $77.51 (12.499%) 
  5: DrTee28 (United Kingdom), $55.80 (8.998%) 
  6: wondras3005 (Czech Republic), $37.20 (5.999%) 
  7: cockneyboy19 (United Kingdom), $21.70 (3.499%) 

So if you do come across me at the tables limp, three betting you don't need to be a Jedi to work out what I have. Cheers and may the force be with you in 2015.