Monday, March 30, 2009

Why haven't I been posting as many reviews?

Well first and foremost I'm lazy. On a serious note...

Although goal-setting is extremely powerful and almost essential imo, the fact that they are required to be set within predetermined time zones like days, weeks, months or years forces us to form bad habits and develop bad thought processes. By that I mean, for example, instead of just looking at our poker goals (like number of hands, strategical improvement, tilt control, hours of study etc) from month to month, we also look at our actual poker progress as broken up into months. I think it's destructive because it pushes us from the position of looking at poker as one big game, and instead we look at the results of smaller chunks of the big game, and as such focus more on the day to day variance. And that kills your tilt.

So instead of looking at each hand individually and separate from others (with metagame considerations obviously), we look at the results of our session; "FUCK, today I lost $X, and it's going to be harder for me to win $Y on the month now". Of course the results of each month are insignificant and arbitrary, and the important thing is simply playing each hand as best you can.

So that's one of the reasons I'm trying to ignore monthly results. That, plus the laziness of course.

So this being the end of month wrap-up, I'll be looking at my poker goals instead of my results, which have obviously been less than stellar.

One of the reasons I shied away from getting mental coaching from Jared in the beginning was that I just didn't feel there was enough time before, after, and during each session for all his warmup/warmdown/breathing exercise stuff. And I think it's partly true, but I could definitely have done better in that area this past month.

I only have 9 entries in my warmup/warmdown booklet for the entire month, and a good chunk of those don't contain a warm-down. This was mostly for the reason that I was so enraged after so many of this month's sessions that I didn't give a shit about writing down "why I felt angry", or "what can I do next time to improve". But therein lied the problem of why I was so tilted every time I started the next session.

How did I get out of the loop without actually adhering to the entire process? I have no idea. I think my desire to hit the ebooks, coaching videos, forums and sweat sessions helped boost my confidence tremendously and I've been on a nice heater for the past few thousand hands because of it.

It's just hard doing the warmup/warmdown every single session. I'll have to revise something, but it's just not going to happen when I decide to play a 1/2 hour-1 hour HU session on Prima with a horrible reg. Maybe it should, but I'm far to impatient and lazy to do so.

I think, before I start really ranting, my month can be summed up as such:

- Played 25k+ hands despite having my internet cut out for 1/4 of the month or more
- Was put to a real test with my tilt control, failed miserably in the beginning, but pushed through like a champ in the end
- Did warmup/warmdown for well under 1/3 of my sessions. Big fail.
- Really improved my work schedule and have been playing far more hours than I ever have. I can now actually visualize playing 4 hours a day.
- Really took a look at my game and studied lots. Very happy about that.
- Even played HU with all my tilt problems.

And although I'm posting a a graph below of my winnings (or lack thereof), I'm doing so purely for entertainment value. It's not any measure of anything except maybe my tilt problems early in the month. Most definitely the swingiest month I've ever had in my poker career, and I hope it will hold that title for years to come.

I mean really. I've made almost $34000 in my career, and this month is but a drop in the ocean. I finished the month ~$1000 under, but what the fuck does that even mean? It means relative to the beginning of the month, another completely insignificant point in time, I've dropped that amount. Relative to the beginning of my poker career, I've won $34k. So what does the month matter?

Obviously results are what we're looking for in poker, but paying attention to the monthly or even daily variance is just going to do nothing but break your brain. That said, here's the horror I've been complaining about all month, along with the slightly depressing all in EV line :p

My goals for next month:

- Play 35k+ hands
- 5k of which HU, 50nl-200nl
- Play at least 3/4 of my sessions with a >5 minute warmup and >5 minute warmdown.
- Get at least one more hours of coaching with Jared even if you feel like you don't need it
- Persue coaching with balugawhale
- Play all the WSOP satties from CC
- Set weekly goals including certain days where you have a certain number of hours to play, starting tomorrow
- Do at least two more sweats with fellow CCers, post videos of them (one of Icemonkey and myself coming soon btw)
- Spend less on sushi
- Go skydiving if you can find someone to go with you
- Get sub to gym before the 5th of the month

Can't think of anything else at the moment, but that's quite a list as it is anyways.

I should probably start making weekly summary/goal setting/review posts from now on. Think I will.

Here's to making progress, gl at the tables guys.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


This is by far the month with the biggest difference between all in EV and my actual winnings. Normally that would freak me out and send me on monkey tilt (ahem, see the beginning of this month...), but right now I feel truly good about my game.

At one point I even took a small 100 hand shot at 3/6 to try to win some quick moneys back. Something I haven't done since my Titan poker days where I was playing 2/4nl with a $2200 bankroll. That actually makes me laugh out loud now that I think about it. I truly thought I could make it back then :p

I think my work with Jared has done a lot for me. Unfortunately I've slipped off with my warmup/warmdown stuff, but I've been paying a ton of attention to my mental state and working really hard on keeping it on an even keel. Usually what happens after a bad streak is I hit a good streak, and voila! My tilt issues are solved. That of course was the problem since I never worked on my tilt issues, so the next time I hit a rough patch I would blow up just the same.

Not to say I'm some zen master now, but I do feel a lot better.

Another thing I've decided to take a swing at is heads up. It's been a nice test for my tilt control, to say the least. Lots of typical HU craziness like stacking an overpair in a 4bet pot with tiny SPRs, only to see my opponent has 78 for a straight. Tilting stuff in the moment, but I've dealt with it well. Take the beat, realize he's calling 4bets way too much, adjust.

I'm still in the red with HU, but am running at a solid 6.5bb/100 sklansky winrate which isn't bad for someone who used to spew stacks left right and centre.

One thing Jared's taught me is that money 'lost' to fish isn't money lost at all. They're borrowing it. You can look at them as a huge school of fish; they are all one entity, and they are unending. You get unlucky or make a bad play and they win your stack? Another one is just waiting in line behind him to give you his stack. Make those winning plays in the long-run, and you will make that money back.

So instead of looking at real dollars (which I still obviously can't help but do), I've tried looking at each hour, calculating my average winrate over my career, and figuring out what amount of virtual bucks I've made, which in the long run will converge of course.

In the past week, I'm up nearly $4,000 virtual bucks. In reality, I'm only up $1,300.

Another thing that's helped tremendously is actually studying and posting HHs again. It sounds completely egotistical and is just nonsense, but I thought I'd got to a point where I could just figure out my poker problems myself, and would only post if I found myself in a really, really tough spot. I've tried changing that recently and am pleasantly surprised at how much response I'm getting.

I've made some significant changes to my game too, mainly (and from solid advice from some material and former coaching) to semibluff WAYYYYY more in big pots. A quote from one source of material says (and I have to note this is about mid-higher stakes where you can actually get floated light and can fold out your opponents later) is that if you decide to bluff, unload the whole clip. Don't just fire a cbet, or cbet and turn cbet then give up. Fire all three. And that's helped.

I also made a video which some may have missed:

Other than that, not much happening I guess. I've dropped so much dough lately that I had to kind of give up on the apartment for now. I just don't have enough in the bank anymore to be sure I can hold up that one year lease. It'll still be there in a few months and by then I might even have changed my mind, but for now I'm fine getting back to grinding.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My week so far

-PS gets laggy
-Internet dies soon after
-Called internet provider, turns out they didn't bother to tell me they halted my account until I called them about renewing my service with them
-Internet back up
-Try PS, still not working
-Find out modem is dead
-Replace modem
-Find out router is dead
-Dump router, so wireless is dead until I buy a new one
-Try PS, it's working, but lagging like fuck, and cuts me out in-session twice
-Call ISP, it's not them
-Phone is dead
-Call phone company, play phone tag with 3 different assholes before finally getting someone with half a brain, and only today is my internet 'working' (still lags some)
-I barely trust my connection playing online
-Go out to dinner with the lady to blow off steam
-Drop my awesome headphones on the way and step on them, crushing an earbud

Usually what happens is the phone line comes into your house, into a demarcation box which splits the lines so you can have more than one phone jack, and everything's good. What's happened in our house is that we did renovations, somehow lost the location of the demarcation box, and because of that they put a line directly into our house and into one phone jack which leads to our wireless phone hub. The problem with that is that there is no longer one rubber-coated line coming into the house. It's a flimsy little wire that's been connected outside our house that can easily be affected by rain, snow, or a fucking chipmunk running across it.

right on cue, my internet has cut out. Thank god for Blogger's post saving system.

So you can tell, this hasn't been the best of months. I've still managed 10k hands somehow, but they've been pretty horrible. Dropped 3k within the first 4k hands, started to claw my way back up to a highpoint of 1k under, then had another horrible day that dropped me back down to 2.5k under or so. Ran well today but I'm still pretty disappointed this has all come down at such a critical point.

I'm trying my damn hardest to work on all the stuff that Jared has been teaching me, but it's been hard. Well that is it's hard when I play. When I can't play, I can't practice tilt control or following the process model (of prep., play, and evaluation).

I'm planning on moving out, getting my own place and having my girlfriend live with me and pay her side of things while she does. I've still got about 20k CDN, and I think that'll be enough for a place with ~$1500/month rent. I figure for one or two people with utilities and food it shouldn't be more than 2k/month. And having said that, I believe having 10 months expenses is pretty safe. Not that that 20k is static and guaranteed, but at least it's there now. Most don't even have first and last saved up when they get an apartment.

Once I did move out and got everything sorted (I figure one month to move all my shit, maybe two if there are delays), I think I'd be in the clear. All the time in the world to grind and start actually having to take care of myself.

The apartment is also awesome because it's a huge warehouse, something that the owner doesn't care about taking care of. ie, I could drill a speedbag mount into the wall as well as my flat screen and all that type of stuff.

Not to mention an ACTUALLY CONSISTENT internet connection!!! Imagine that!

I think before I make the commitment I need to really sit down and calculate everything to make sure it would work out alright. Unless I go on some ridiculous run where I drop 10k or something, I'm not really in any danger of not being able to pay for the bills though. That feels pretty awesome.

I played for an hour or so today, ran really well which was nice for a change. Still have a bad taste in my mouth from the rest of the month, but at least I reminded myself what it's like to actually win.

Spring's here and I'm sitting writing a blog, how lame. Gonna go grab a beer and chill on my porch, invite some friends over and then go celebrate St. Paddy's day! Have fun all, and don't die Liam.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Clawing back

Back on the upswing, still in the red for the month though. Have felt a lot better the last few days - still tilting, but to a much smaller degree, and my results were break-even before tonight as opposed to losing $500+ per session. It's so easy to lose confidence and just give up, but in my experience all it takes is getting back to the fundamentals, studying more, playing more, and trying your fucking hardest to stay level-headed. My arms are feeling pretty strong from all the pushups I've been doing. Knuckles are a little sore.

I have a feeling a lot of the tilt comes from the fact that I've been trying to 6-8 table as opposed to my now 'normal' 4-6 tables. I feel %100 fine following the action, but it's a little harder to tell how much the tilt factor is increased with the added tables. It was starting to feel like 40k+ hands per month was going to be a breeze 8-tabling, but after this past week or two I've realized I have to work with at most 6 tables for a while longer, and that means either the same hours and lower volume per month, or I'll have to kick in some more hours to make up for that.

I've gotten to rereading and reviewing some material I hadn't touched in a while, and am comtemplating rereading Elements of Poker again. Stosh also contacted me about doing a second Stoxpoker video with him, this time with his hands, so that should be fun and will no doubt refresh my poker mindset. Sweats with Fredrik have been great too, it's just a little coordinating it sometimes even though he does a great job of freeing time for them.

On a side note, the videos entitled "Sweat session with Fredrik Pt. 2" and "Taylor Sweats Fredrik" sparks a little bit of confusion with the girlfriend. She jokes about my homoerotic side :/

Can't remember if I mentioned it before, but I've been trying to find myself a really good rakeback deal on another medium-volume site. That includes some form of prop playing, but so far nothing's worked out. I put $500 on BetOnBet (prima) and like the software (even bought PrimaEye for table selection), but there are a ton of small problems that keep popping up that keep me from moving more money there and putting in more volume. I got an offer for a really awesome %40+ rakeback deal on ipoker but it turned out I already had an affiliate tagged to my account, bunk. The tables are so incredibly soft (even the regs!) on ipoker/prima/any other site other than PS and FTP, but even so I'm starting to think it's not worth the hassle. Who knows, maybe I'll try in another few months or something.

Thinking about more coaching, but to be honest I'm just not in the right state of mind and my game isn't sharp enough for me to be learning new shit right now. DeucesCracked and Stox are enough for me at the moment, on top of my regular studying and rereading old material.

Errm, that's about it. Here are some more interesting hands from today:

Against wwwBTHEREcom who's a solid winning reg. Don't think I can fold given I was playing a loose 30/25 game at the time, and the fact that there are just so many draws out there. I dunno, it could be a fold utg vs btn, meh. Don't hate stacking.

tee hee.

Against a good but tight (postflop) reg. Not so sure about the push; a lot of my decision was just tilt, I was desk-slammingly tilted at the time. Don't think it's terrible, but he had really low raise cbet stats.

Other than that, been paying more attention to my value betting and have been experimenting with overbetting (bluffs and for value). Things are looking up again :)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

In the gutter, but nowhere to look but up

Just checking my HEM now, it looks like I'm only down like $500 since my last post. Was up a good $2200 in the first 2k hands since the 21st, but since then I've been on an ugly downward swing that has more than erased those winnings. Looking at the big picture it's just a tiny blip in my graph, but it feels like I'm about to lose my whole bankroll. Just another shitty run; I'm laughing in frustration as everyone keeps showing up with hands that always seem to be one pip above mine.

I know a good chunk of my streak is bad luck, but I also know I'm very rusty from not playing at all last month. I think I logged like 10k hands total, didn't even bother writing up a monthly review.

I've been in raging monkey tilt mode while I play, but away from the tables I feel fine. It's starting to creep out of my poker life, but I still feel fine. Case in point, I just had my biggest losing session in quite a while ($1500 lost? yay,) and I feel fine after nearly breaking my keyboard, desk, floorboards and my knuckles. Almost all of that discipline is from the work I've done with Jared (and/or his videos).

I've mentioned this in previous posts, but the biggest things on my list are my tilt, motivation to play more, and organizing my personal life to make point 1) and 2) easier for me. First one is going good - sounds weird after losing a half dozen buyins and going apeshit, but it's true. I can calm myself down faster than ever. I'm also able to actually quit when I realize I'm too close (or way over) that tilt threshold.

My motivation is pretty high now. I'm already at the point where I'm starting to lose my confidence, but I realize that this is only a 5k hand stretch and as soon as I cool myself off and have a solid session, I'll be back in the green.

That's what poker is all about: the long run. Fuck the short-term daily variance, it's just luck. Stay in check, make as few mistakes as possible and continually improve your game through practice and study, and you profit in the long run, simple as that.

My personal life is still all fucked up, I guess that doesn't help. I'll be joining the gym soon, especially with spring coming along so I can have a warmup run before training. Been talking to my girlfriend and although it sounds much more like a big commitment than it actually is, we're thinking about moving into that warehouse I've been looking at for ages. As long as I can bounce back from this bullshit I'm trudging through at the moment and can bump my roll back up to at least 17k, I'm really confident it'll work. She already basically lives here at home with me, so moving out won't be much of a difference.

So one of the things Jared has taught me is that setting big goals is fine, but in order to achieve them you need to set periodic smaller goals. So for example my goal this year was to play 500k hands, but I simply can't do that without setting monthly, weekly, daily, even session-by-session goals. And that's what I'm trying to do.

Again, looking back at my overall graph, this is literally NOTHING compared to my other downswings. It's not really surprising how much it's affecting me mentally since I played so little last month and am obviously rusty. All I have to do is keep grinding and make sure I practice my tilt control. Get out of the rusty zone, get out of the tilt zone, and get back to winning 4BB/100 and rising.