Sunday, 29 May 2011

Goals Setting & Fixing Broken Windows

When you become a pro poker player, you end up spending countless hours, playing hundreds if not thousands of hands repetitively sitting in front of a computer. After a while, motivation can become an issue with most players, especially when they know they have commit the time to get the volume in.

Lazyness sets in, and you start making excuses. I've been reading up on Jarad Tendler's great book, and listening in on some sessions he's had with James Atkin (thanks for sharing), and its been really helpful.

The main problem for most guys is that they have such a free schedule, that its hard to get any kinda structure in at all. For poker players, we play when we want, and have awesome freedom. But too much of this can lead to periods of lazyness, demotivation, and mega procrastination. Its no coincidence that poker players are known to show these characteristics.

Poker for me is work. I should treat it that way. Its how I make money, and the overall plan of playing hundreds of thousands of hands seem quite daunting. Which is why goals setting is so important... it helps you take small steps towards reaching your eventual goal.

Old Mentality;

- I play when I feel like it.
- I'll quit when I feel I'm not playing 100% or don't want to play anymore.
- I'll quit a little earlier now and play more tomorrow (I didn't, and procrastinated more).
- I didn't reach my monthly set goals, but its ok. (Its not.)

In one of my favourite books, "Freakonomics", they talk about how New York took steps to making their subways safer and better. It talked about something called "Broken Window Theory". The idea behind this is, that if a random building has a broken window, and it doesn't get fixed... after a while (whether it is true or not) it gives out the impression that nobody cares about this building. Soon, graffiti appears on the walls, and once that's not cleaned, squatters take over and the whole area becomes run down. This small thing, of not fixing that one window turned into a huge thing.

So with the subway, they started out by making sure no one jumped the barriers and paid. People did that coz they could, and no one stopped them... it seemed that no one cared. Then, by being stricter with that, all other areas improved in an amazingly short space of time.

Does this building look like its being cared for?

Relating this back to our goals setting; not for filling what we said we would do becomes a broken window. Its true that it probably doesn't matter this "one time", but really we know its not one time, and over time we make it acceptable to not achieve our set goals and procrastinate and be lazy. Jarad talks about the importance of being a "man of your word"; if you say you'll do something, you will damn well do it because when you say you will do it, what you say has value and meaning.

Another thing about goals setting, is that its good to do it in advance for yourself, to help you prepare. Planning things whilst your in a logical state! For example, in poker it is a good idea to plan for what to do in future streets so that you can prepare for it, and not make the wrong decision which could be influenced by emotion.

If you have JJ and the flop is A38, I will say, I want to check/call this flop and get to the turn... before I actually do anything. The pre planning of what you will do helps you get experienced in these situations. So with goals setting, playing until you get tired might be a good way to "caveman" it, but if you have a monthly goal of reaching a number of games it might not be a good idea because you might wear yourself out instead of pacing yourself towards your goal.

New Mentality;

- I will set small goals to build up to achieve the bigger goals.
- I will predetermine when I play, and be true to my word.
- When I play it will be a predetermined volume amount, at least 50 games, in order to achieve my set goals.
- It is unacceptable to not do something if I had said that I would do it.

I hope that this will help you guys in trying to play a little bit more disciplined in terms of the sessions that you do. After all, its so easy to forget that this is work none the less, although not as bad as sitting in an office imo (sorry if u do lol).

Make overall goals, then break it down with smaller ones that lead towards that goal, and then SMASH EM OUT DA PARK!!! BOOM!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Reaching The Next Level!

The Next Level

I think I might have reached... yes!!... OVER NINE THOUSAND!!?!

I completely crushed yesterday, getting a lot of high finishes and topping the day off with 2 simultaneous back to back wins at $3 rebuy 180 mans, for a cool $1768. My biggest winning day ever, totally smashing my previous $750 record.

I had been experimenting with doing 2 x 50 games sessions vs 1 x 100 game one, and so far the 100 game one has had the best results. I mean, I think both are reasonable anyway, but the big downside of the 2 session day is that I tend to get lazy and actually not do the 2nd one lol. However, it has to be said that it takes me around 5-6 hours to complete 100 games multi tabling on average 18 tables at a time.

No doubt I feel like I'm reaching a good level and I'm a lot more confident in a lot of spots now. True bb shoving is my obsession generally. But when you play these many games, which has so many players per tournament you have to accept losing a lot... sometimes in the sickest, most brutally timed bubble ways. But that's how playing a lot of tables can help, coz you shrug your shoulders and just open up another one.

One thing I've done a lot better is not expecting to win, but rather hoping that the cards fall my way. This way, I take away the knowledge of knowing that I played my best and that there was nothing I could do if I lost. Hopefully this will be the start of some more $1k+ days; I've never had one before and was always wondering how they'd feel... pretty great, but I'm quietly complacent as I know it could all turn around in a second.

I've also surpassed the $15k mark on my overall winnings on sharkscope. Finally the graph is moving upwards! What seems like a never ending almost 10k game even stretch is over. I am never ever ever going back to STTs again...

Bigniux vs Puyan!

From Monday 23rd May to Sunday 5th June, I will be doing a prop bet with Bigniux, an amazing MTT grinder who is one of the first applicants to finish his contract at SNG Protege.

Of course, despite my baller day, he is gonna be a strong favourite imo, coz he's got more experience in these games and I'm still a newbie. Numbers tell the story, and considering my last epic fails in prop bets this is gonna be a tough one to pull off.

We will be only counting 180 mans on Pokerstars.

In true PortlyPig (hope u don't mind that I copied u) style, we will be using a points system and the winner is the guy with the most points at the end of the 2 weeks.

  • 1 pt per game
  • 1 pts per $ profit
  • 10 pts per $ per game 
  • 200 pts if 3 ships in a day
  • (100 pts per shipz after that)
  • 150 pts if $1500+ profit in a day
  • 100 pts going from 9/9 to ship
  • 100 pts for best biggest HU comeback*
  • 25 pts for going into FT 1/9
  • 100 pts "I Read Your Soul Award" for best lowest hand hero call whilst being ahead pre flop (pre showdown)*
  • 50 pts per KO'ing each other
  • -50 pts for being the Bubble Boy coming in 19th

*These will only be awarded once.

Winner gets money of course, but more importantly pride in the fact that the loser has to change his avatar to "I <3 Bigniux/Puyan" for the rest of June!

GL@TT everyone... l8erzz!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Have a Good Mentality!

The Mental Game by Jared Tendler

I just bought this book and it arrived yesterday. So far I'm really impressed. Not just with the topic of the book, but mainly the easy to read layout with diagrams and other mini sections of testimonials from existing well known winning poker players. I have every confidence that this will help my game immensely.

In case you haven't heard, Jared Tendler is a mental coach for poker players. He started his career coaching golfers actually, and then after meeting Dusty Schmidts transitioned to poker.

The line between what we associate as sports is hard to tell (if not poker, why not chess, or pool? Is a game involving the mind a sport?), but one commonality of them all is about handling the pressure.

When it comes to poker, there is nothing more important then handling your emotions well, keeping perspective and almost embracing the variance. One of the quotes I like is
"If the weather fortcast for tomorrow says its gonna rain, do you get pissed off when it does? Because like variance we all know that its coming, so why are we surprised and angry when it does?"
The best athletes train themselves in mind and body now. Standards are so high now that just handling the physical aspect just isn't enough. Handling pressure is totally mental and that also needs training too. Look at guys like Tiger Woods, Roger Federer... Phil Ivey. Cool as a cucumber, handling their mental game as well, if not better then their physical game, to dominate their sport.

There are topics ranging from Tilt, Revenge, Focus, Confidence, Motivation, Laziness, Risk Aversion, Injustice, and Running Bad. Look forward to reading it!

Check out his site for more info, or details about the book. He does private sessions too.

PokerStars Handling of Black Friday

According to this article, its clear that Pokerstars was the only Online Poker Company to prepare for the possibility of Black Friday. The fact that they kept credit of everyone's money, shows how they had prepared for this, compared to Full Tilt who have yet to pay out USA customers, and Absolute/UB who now look likely not to get their money back.

I am really happy that I switched to Pokerstars last year. Seems like great timing now. They never have seemed to "settle", and have clearly kept trying to improve. They also seemed to have a plan for if this type of thing was to happen, unlike the other sites. Their handling of Black Friday has been awesome imo, prioritizing their customer's money refunds and making sure that they assured them that they would be getting them back.

I really hope that when the online poker legislation is passed that it wont become like France and Italy, where they're only allowed to play other players within the same country.

But for sure, Pokerstars has done a great job in keeping their customers assured that their money is safe, and in the long run it will pay off. I'm happy to be playing there for sure.

Post Post Post Changes at Pokerstars

I mean honestly, I appreciate that Pokerstars are open to listening to their players and changing things, but now its getting silly. This is the 3rd time they've changed the stakes, and again, without warning mid peak time... on a Sunday! I mean, at least give us some kinda heads up or something so that we can prepare?!

As Epitomizedsuggested, the buy ins are now nice round numbers which include the rake.

For 180 manz its;

$2.50 (22 cents rake)
$8 (66 cents rake)
$15 ($1.23 rake)
$35 ($2.87 rake)

And the 180 man stakes end at $35, which is a bit weird. But who knows they might add more later. Now overall this is a slight reduction in rake to the original $2.20/$7.70/$12 games, but not much... but tbh it shouldn't effect out winning lines that much anyways.

One thing to note tho, is that reverting back to the old jumps means that its harder to climb stakes. For example, with the suggested 200 buy ins, to play those stakes you'd be at $500, $1600, $3000, and $7000, which are huge jumps obv. Why does this matter? Well for me anyways, I was grinding $2.50/$5/$10/$3r games all at once with a roll of around $1500 to get the most games in since there is lower traffic, but now probably cant add in $15s as aggressively now.

Anyways, with all this commotion its funny that after all that, the games (180m) are pretty much the same now, back to 5 min blinds and same structure as before. I guess it fits the phrase "If it aint broke, don't fix it!".

Really hope that they stick to it this time tho, or at least tell us if they are going to change it.

Karl Pilkington

Was grinding away when I noticed this avatar.

Its Karl Pilkington! I love that guy. In case you don't know who that is, he's from The Ricky Gervais Show (Most downloaded Podcast ever, and now TV show cartoon). In the show, they talk about random shit, and Karl basically has the most uneducated, bizarre theories ever lol. Seems really innocent like a kid. Makes me laugh so much, and Ricky Gervais and Stephan Merchant are great "straight guys".

Hope everyone is good, Good Skill at the Tables guys! L8erzz

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Post Reflection on Changes

In my previous post I had talked about the various changes in the SNGs. The main changes are the changes in rake and the structure. After putting in some decent volume, I am able to give a more valid response to how it has effected the games.

Please note I am talking specifically more so about how these games effect the Pokerstars 180 man SNG tournaments.

Generally speaking I welcomed some changes, and others having more of a neutral view on it by just explaining what they were,but because I'm a MTT SNG grinder they simply don't effect me as much as they do to others. I am aware however, that these rake changes are higher for lower staked players, making them less beatable. But on the flipside I discussed how it would allow them to rake up those VPPs to get Supernova or even SNE a lot quicker.

Now there are a large percentage of players who are not happy with the changes. I understand and accept their positions. I'm not saying that they're amazing, fantastic changes, but the reasoning for saying that they were good... is because there *are* changes implemented. Not the fact that they got it right first time. What I mean is that I believe that PokerStars is showing the potential for changing something, and then modifying it til they get it right.

There have been many software improvements throughout the 2 years I've been playing on PokerStars, but a good example is the fact that they have changed the $3 rebuy 180 man non turbo to turbo, only 1 day after implementing it. I had complained about it on twitter, and they changed it soon after! Maybe it was a mistake? Maybe there was a lot of demand for it? But what's important to know is that if there is a demand for something, then they will change it for their customers! And I think that's good. Comparing to back when I was playing Full Tilt, it would absolutely take ages for anything to change or seem to get through to them!

I'm gonna go through all the categories again and give my 2 cents on each change now and talk about how successful each one is, now that I've put in some games to get a first hand feel of how they effect the games.

New Blind Levels - 3 minute turbos, 6 minute non turbos.

Cutting the turbos from 5 mins to 3 seemed to be something that was introduced to balance out the fact that they added more levels to flatten the structure. Whilst I agree with the flatter structure, I think taking off 2 mins from turbos is too much. Seeing that the old turbo was 5 mins, the new non turbo is 6 mins, which is close to the old turbo then the new one! What's funny is that I think there is a general satisfaction with having turbos at 5 mins, but probably the 10 mins for non turbos is too slow.

My choice - After playing a few, it became apparent to me that 3 mins is too fast. Of the 2 games which I won, 1 ended at blinds 7/14k blinds (which is the cap), and the other at 6/12k. With 300k chips in play, for that to happen almost every time you win it means that it is too fast. I would say, try putting turbos to 4 mins, or give us 2k starting stacks instead of 1500.
Non turbos can still be 6 mins, or 7-8 mins instead.

Change Rating = 2/5 Even no change would have been better.

New Additions - Super turbos, Turbo KO 9 mans.

I haven't played any Turbo 9 man KO STTs, but from my one game of hyper turbo that seems really fun. 500 chips, 2 min blinds... and level 1 has an ante! I used to start out on Full Tilt playing Super Turbos, and I can really see this hitting it off. At the moment there is only a $5 stake but I wouldn't be surprised to see more coming, and for this to become a permanent game. The KO turbo does seem like a good idea tho, and its new (meaning that Full Tilt doesn't have it). The KO's money would seem to be a good addition to their bankrolls.

Change Rating = 5/5 Add more stakes in hyper turbos! Full Tilt Super Turbos have shown that these games are popular and will be very profitable for them.

Standardized Structure - Flatter Structure, Ante is 10% of Big Blind

I have to say, in playing quite a few (about 100) of these since my last post I honestly didn't notice a big change in having a flatter structure. The speed of the blinds basically vetos the smoothness of the blinds going up. I worked out it took me on average 90-100 mins to win a 180 man tournament, compared to the old tournaments when it would take around 100-110 mins. 10 minutes is huge! It would take 23 levels to get to 6k/12k where as now it takes 30 levels. But its hard to tell if it makes a huge difference because of the change in speed of the blinds.

However, I am not a non turbo player. I can totally see this structure benefit non turbo tournaments. But for turbos, I don't think it makes such a big difference because the blinds go up so quickly. The fact that it takes less time to complete a 180m makes it more of a "crapshoot" (I would argue that there is still skill involved) according to some players. Maybe a different structure is needed to turbos, instead of making them the same as non turbos.

New Structure, 180 Man Turbos.
Ante Introduced at Level 10, 30 mins
30 Levels to get to 6k/12k, 90 mins

Old Structure, 180 Man Turbos
Ante Introduced at Level 7, 35 mins
23 Levels to get to 6k/12k, 115 mins

I am a big fan of making ante 10% tho, totally standardizing that makes sense.

Change Rating = 3/5 For turbos the blinds seem to go up too quick for it to seem to make a difference. Maybe we need even more levels, or introducing antes later on would improve it. Either way, the structure must make it so that the new turbos take the same time to complete as the old ones for us to see any notable change effected by the new structure.

Multi Registrating MTTs - This seemed to have been taken off.

Change Rating = n/a Would love this, but I guess it does make the lobby messy. Maybe a mistake accidently put up?

Time Additions - More time per 5 levels, and 60 seconds more on Final Tables.

I really welcome this addition, although there are a lot of people who are saying that time hoggers will use this to prolong the bubble as long as possible. This is a valid argument, but so far in all my games I have yet to see it happening.

However on the flip side, it will allow you to play more tables and not worry about timing out. If I had to choose between not having bubble hoggers and more tables for me, I'd say more tables is way better then worrying about those bubble hoggers.

Change Rating 4/5 - Maybe some kinda protection vs bubble hoggers can be introduced... like they cant use their timebank 3 times in a row on the bubble, or have admins control it a bit.

Standardized Buy Ins - It is a much better system now that they standardize all the buy ins. All the buy ins are going to be 1,3,5,10,20 etc going up in a logical manner. However, I do agree with Epitomized that making the lobby add up the raked numbers does make for some very strange numbers on the lobby. A $3.38 or $5.43 buy in might seem a rather odd arbitrary number to a random fish who simply wants to play a $3 or $5 game! Its a very good point. Maybe making them add up to nice numbers of ten is better then adding rake on the whole numbers.

Change Rating 4/5 - Funny numbers, but a much smaller jump between stakes allows for easier and less risky bankroll building.

Rake - The rake has been standardized throughout the stakes. It isn't just a bunch of random numbers anymore. The most important thing is that the higher stake games rake has been reduced, allowing them to be slightly more beatable then before. However, whether fish will see the difference is debatable?

Unfortunately, the lower stakes has been hit hard. The $16s, now being the $10s+0.85 is now even less beatable then before, despite its regged filled games. However, on the flip side it is arguable that it is easier to get Supernova or SNE by risking less money.

One has to wonder what PokerStars are thinking as well. With their traffic being cut from Black Friday, do they make things cheaper for everyone, or do they try and make more money to balance out the loss of the Americans? It seems they've gone the for latter. Was this wise? Only time will tell...

Change Rating 3/5 - I personally think they should have lowered everything to adjust to Black Friday. Get more new players in by offering better value. It is good that they have introduced a lower, more standardized rake especially in the mid to higher level stakes, but I would have thought that incentifying new players at the lower stakes is a better strategy for the long run. Making the rake higher in low stake STTs for example, is quite a risky proposition considering that there are so many breakeven regulars anyway that make those game very hard to beat.

Change Rating 3/5 - Good that its standardized, but bad that the lower stakes have to pay for the reduction in the higher stakes.

Overal, it is a good change. I said that in the last post. But no better then a lukewarm "good". Others might disagree. There are a lot of holes in it, but I think people don't understand that its almost impossible to get it right first time. The fact that they're willing to change it up, and show that they will is a good thing. If the majority of their customers cry out about something, then they will change it. It will be interesting to see if the traffic slows down on STTs. But as far as the changes to my 180 mans, again, its not really that hugely different so I'm not complaining.

Friday, 6 May 2011

New PokerStars Rake and Structure Changes

During my session today whilst playing, Pokerstars introduced the new raked games and totally confused my poor Table Ninja lol. Not only did it confuse him, it totally confused me as well, as $3.38 games started loading up too. I was like "What the hell is that?? Looks like a $2 and $3r 180m combined!" Geez.

Overall I think its a good change, because it standardizes all the buy ins and isn't random numbers of rake now. So here's the lowdown;

Blind Level Times
The blind levels have changed too now, where Turbos are now 3 mins long compared to 5 mins, and non turbos are 6 mins compared to 10 mins. However, I have also seen and even slower 15 minute game, unfortunately also at the same price and name as a non turbo. Seems kinda confusing I'm sure, hopefully they will change it so its more easily distinguishable.

New Additions
They've also added hyper turbo one man STTs, at an "experimental" $5 stake, which are 2 min blinds and you start with 500 chips. Super turbo mayhem!! I'm pretty confident they will catch on easily.

Another great addition is the KO Turbo 9 mans, which has upgraded from the non turbo speed, which means you will get paid for knocking out players, which I'm sure is great to encourage those big stack bubble owning situations!

The $3 rebuy turbo tournament has been downgraded from a turbo to a non turbo. So before it was 5 min blinds and now its 6 mins. Even though its only 1 minute extra, with the flatter structure it means that it will take substantially longer to finish.

Standardized Structure
They've also introduced a flatter structure to the games. In 9 mans it used to be t200, t200 with 25 ante, t400+25 ante, t600+50 ante etc. Now its t200+20, t250+25, t300+30, where the ante is always 10% of the big blind. This structure seems to be throughout all games, whether you play 9 mans or 180 mans its the same. This is good especially for multi tabling... not so confusing!

Multi-Registering 45 Mans and Below
It seems that you can now multi register in some MTT SNGs now. For a while you could do it in the 180 mans too but it seems they've taken it off.

Added Time
I'm not sure if this is a new addition of if I've only just noticed it now. But Pokerstars has decided to give us more time as tournaments progress, which is great for us multi tabling freaks! You will get an extra 5 seconds in turbos, and 10 seconds in non turbos per 5 blind levels. On MTT SNGs, you will also get an extra 60 seconds for reaching the final table.

Speed vs More Blind Levels
The introduction of the 3 minute and 6 minute blinds to everything makes everything faster, compared to the old 5 minutes and 10 minute blinds. But with the flatter structure, it might mean that they even each other out, and not actually be shorter/longer at all? I'm not sure, but I'm looking forward to my session tonight to find out.

Either way, I'm happily adaptable, so I don't mind. However, it has to be said that their steeper structure before would allow for fish to make bigger mistakes, because they don't realize how quickly the blinds get better. Only time will tell. But one thing is for sure... the more simple you make things, i.e standardizing all these structures, the better and [probably] more players will come.

Rake Changes Conclusion
MTT-wise, the rake changes hasn't really effected us. A [turbo 180m] $2+0.20, $7+0.70, and $11+1 becomes $3+0.38, $5+0.43, and $10+0.85. We get a cheaper "discount" but with MTT SNGs, the rake doesn't effect us as much because of the number of players playing means our ROI is gonna be higher then the 45 mans and lower. I'm sure at higher stakes this is going to be better for them, but for me I cant say for them.

STT-wise, the rake has increased. The STT's favourite $15+1 is now a $10+0.85. This is a huge drop in buy in prizepool and a much higher percentage of rake. The STTs are gonna be less beatable then before, but in saying that it is going to be substantially easier to get Supernova and take advantage of the Pokerstars VIP program by risking less money. Now a $1k roll is all you need to be able to get this status! Now more then ever are we gonna be seeing more breakeven regs who are living off rakeback.

Overall, I think these changes are good. The $1, $3, $5, $10 buy in levels make it a lot easier to climb stakes, not a huge jump like the $2s to $7s to $12s. The whole standardization of the blind structures, times, and buy ins all lead to everything being a lot more simple for the average Joe, which is great. It will be interesting to see how these changes effect everything... but Pokerstars is very good at making quick changes if things are right.