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Learning to Learn

Posted by johnsisk

I've been playing online since 2005 and have never made it beyond 10NL. Took a few gut-wrenching shots at 25NL,  usually beaten back down after a couple of sessions. Currently playing 4NL FR on the Merge Network.

I love playing Poker. Even though I'm a losing/break-even player I don't see myself ever packing it in. It does bug me that I don't seem to have the discipline to improve and that is why I'm going to give it a good lash one more time, just to see if I actually have it in me to succeed.  Some day I would like Poker to provide an income. For now I will be happy to beat the snot out of 4NL.

I will be working my way through "Crushing the Microstakes" by Blackrain79 and" The Mental Game of Poker" by Jared Tendler. I've read both books already but now I need to implement the strategies and will plan and track my progress here.

I'm not as prone to tilt as hard as I once was, my family and dogs are very appreciative of that lol, but I do need to figure out what it is I need to do to improve even further.

Jared's concepts of The Adult Learning Model, Inchworm and the Process Model were eye-openers for me. Made me realise I need to put as much effort into how I learn as I do into what I learn.

Nathan's book pulled a lot of stuff I kind of knew into an overall strategy that I feel I will be able to implement without getting overwhelmed.

For now I need to figure out some stuff with reports and filters in HEM to help with my session reviews. I do have Leakbuster but it's just too complex for where my game is at the moment.

I borrowed the following outline of the Process Model from TMGOP (The Mental Game of Poker) and think it might work well to fill one of these out for every session and see how that goes.

Preparation/Warm-up: What you do before you play. Whether it’s planned, random, or nothing at all, it’s how you prepare.
Playing conditions, my mood, am i tired, focussed, any distractions. deep breathing. list what I am paying attention to eg strategy for getting raised on the turn holding AA or KK. Review my triggers for tilt
Performance: Playing poker.
How am I feeling during the session. Was I aware of how I was feeling. Number of tables, table selection recognising when I should leave etc
Results: The outcome of your play.
Length of session,  number of hands, bb/100, vpip/pfr stats etc
Evaluation: A review of your results right after playing.
Use reports and filters in HEM to examine if I stuck to the strategy
Analysis: Actively working to improve your game away from the table.
Deeper more long-term work on expanding strategy/skills.  Does deliberate practice apply here?

How would I go about scoring and tracking the above, I wonder?  Maybe an arbitrary  1 to 5  scale and track it in a spreadsheet.

Enough rambling ...

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Announcing the Release of My Book: Crushing The Microstakes

Posted by BlackRain79

Hey guys, well it is finally here. I just want to thank you all for the patience and even moreso for all the support. Truthfully I could not have completed this thing without all the words of encouragement on my blog, here on DTB, Twitter, and elsewhere.

Nearly 3 months ago when I decided to start writing a book I thought I would put together some little 50 page manual in a week or two and toss it up here. How much could there really be to say in a book about microstakes poker? Boy was I wrong.

250 pages, 46k words and countless hours later I have created what I believe will be the premier guide on how to beat crush the microstakes. I have detailed every single component of the game and added every bit of wisdom that I could glean from 6 million hands to create a blueprint for the utter destruction of these games.

This book is about raising winrates. Period. The games will never be the same again :(

Instead of trying to outline all the topics covered here as they are far too numerous, I will just post the table of contents and let you see for yourself.

Click to view.

In sum, this book is a complete manual from table selection to the final river raise on what to do in every situation imaginable at the micros. I tried to touch on every single scenario I could think of and provide as many examples as possible. I make frequent use of visuals to really bring the book alive and hammer home main points.

  • HUD popups
  • Pokerstove equity analysis
  • Illustrative screenshots
  • Detailed HEM analysis
  • Dozens of example hands
  • Clickable table of contents and bookmarks for easy navigation

While I refer to NL2 and NL5 on many occasions I also make a point to remind the reader that the NL5 sections fully apply at NL10, NL25 and NL50 as well. That is, I would play it the same at those limits. The NL2 portions of this book do not apply to those limits.

Also, this book is mostly written with full ring cash games in mind. However, 6max players can certainly get plenty out of it as well. A full ring game is really just a 6max game with 3 more seats.

Writing this book was the hardest thing that I have ever done in my life apart from graduating from university. But it was also a thoroughly enjoyable experience. This is the one thing in the world that I really am an expert at. This game (especially at the micros) has literally been my life for the past 5 years. The actual writing portion of this book was totally effortless.

When you know something this well. When it has been pounded into your brain 6 million times you don't even need to think about it anymore. My fingers just kind of wrote it. The editing and formatting was the truly crazy part. I will spare you all the details.

I just want to thank each and every one of you again for all the support over the years. I wrote this for you guys. My greatest hope is that it takes your game to that next level. A level you deserve to be at.

Nathan Williams aka "BlackRain79" is a microstakes grinder, poker coach, DragTheBar instructor and the author of Crushing the Microstakes. Now available in Spanish and Russian as well.

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An Even Keel (another short tale)

Posted by preachercasy151

Poker involves a lot of pain. One thing is guaranteed: if you are not able to remain emotionally even, then you are at a disadvantage. Of course, I handle swings well because I have more experience than most when it comes to disappointment.

After all, I support Aberdeen FC.

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Why Merge Should Lower Their Fixed Limit Rake

Posted by GiantBuddha

Some poker players sing a requiem for Limit Holdem. They think it’s dead. It’s not. About 20% of all poker hands played are still of the Fixed Limit variety of Texas Holdem. But only a small portion of these are played on the Merge network. Why? Because they’re strangling the games with high rake.

Sites like PokerStars understand that Fixed Limit needs a different rake structure from No Limit. Due to the nature of the game, a typical player will see more than three times as many flops in Limit as in No Limit. (In a sample of 90k hands, I saw the flop 31% of the time in Limit compared to 7.7% in No Limit.) Under a no flop/no drop policy, this means a Limit Holdem player gets raked three times as often as a No Limit player.

The solution is to increase the increments by which rake is taken. In a $1/$2 game, that means not raking the pot until it hits $5. In a $2/$4 game, it means not raking until the pot hits $20. This allows the Limit Holdem rake to fall closer in line with No Limit. Merge is raking the pot as soon as it hits $.20. The charts below illustrate the difference in rake between Merge and its US-friendly competitor, Cake. Notice how Cake rake moves up in steps while Merge rake follows a smoother line.
$1/$2 LHE Rake Comparison
$2/$4 LHE Rake Comparison
The pale yellow area shows the extra rake that Merge is taking. Does this mean that they’re making more money than they would with a lower rake? No. The rake is so high that playing Limit Holdem below $10/$20 is an unsustainable endeavor. They’re suffocating their traffic by preventing anyone from flourishing. There are many high-volume players who won’t play on Merge because of the rake. If they cut rake by 30% and double their traffic, they could increase profits by 40%.

Limit Holdem should be a goldmine for online poker sites. Edges are thinner than in No Limit, so recreational players last longer. They can’t blow off their whole stack in one hand. And the typical loose style of a recreational player is less costly in Limit, since proper play involves playing many hands and seeing lots of showdowns. Being stubborn is an asset, not the liability it is in No Limit.

I sincerely hope Merge listens to its customers, because they have the opportunity to be a leader in online Limit Holdem. They have quality software and reasonable deposit and withdrawal options for US players. If they make their rake equally reasonable, Limit players will flock to their tables.

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Book 3, Poker Perspectives

Posted by QTip

I'm happy to announce my third book, Poker Perspectives, is in the final stages of development. I am accepting pre-orders at the time. They will be ready to ship before the end of the year.

You can find it here:

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A Short Tale

Posted by preachercasy151

I was awoken today by the sound of my phone ringing. It was my girlfriend, asking if I'd like to meet for lunch in half an hour. I said 'sure'.

That sums up why I play online poker for a living.

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Where the Hell Have I Been?

Posted by GiantBuddha

Casinos, not-so-seedy underground New York card clubs, and on my couch, watching Mad Men, mostly. I was going to write a blog reviewing the first six months after Black Friday, but it's looking more like seven now. I've enjoyed live poker a fair bit, but while the games are softer, it turns out to be a harder way to make a living than playing online. That's not to say it's impossible or not worthwhile. It just requires a larger bankroll relative to your hourly expectation, and even more patience.

I've played around on the US-friendly sites a bit, although the high rake and lack of game selection is frustrating. And the software! If you live anywhere but here, count your lucky Stars. It's easy to take excellence for granted.

I've managed to squeeze out a few videos here and there, even dipping my toes in the No Limit Holdem pond. But lately I've been thinking about writing a lot. I banged out this little story on 11/11: It's my first flash fiction piece. More to come. For now, it's back to the poker tables, both physical and pixelated.

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Why Play Poker?

Posted by BlackRain79

book exceprt

Hey guys, in advance of the release of my book I wanted to put an excerpt or two here on my blog. I am currently in the beginning stages of the editing process so this will come from the beginning of the book.

Why play poker? This might sound like a dumb question to ask to a bunch of people reading a poker book. However I think it is a question that is so basic that many of us often overlook it. And the answer to it provides some valuable lessons.

"I think that before I get started on anything related to poker strategy a question that needs to be asked is why should we play this game in the first place? It’s not that I am trying to convince you to play poker. You wouldn’t be reading this book without a pretty serious interest in it. I want to talk about why we play this game more in the rhetorical sense. That is, to remind us why we play. Because this underpins everything.

There are plenty of other games out there from chess, to video games, to board games and on and on. I think one of the biggest reasons why people are drawn to poker over these other games is that it involves money. And if you get good enough, lots of it. There is a direct financial incentive for getting good at this game whereas that isn’t always the case with the other ones.

Now I don’t think that money is the end of it though. It does largely make the world go round’ and everybody could use some more of it. But there is also an excitement factor that intrigues people. Televised poker in particular, over the past 5 to 10 years, has really taken this game to new levels. There is a huge level of excitement in a massive all in pot, with millions on the line, that is just unmatched in almost any other sort of competition.

And I am no different. After being shown the game by some friends, I started playing online poker with play money on Partypoker in 2004, and then real money on Pokerstars a year later. While I enjoyed the challenge and strategy of the game from the start, my enthusiasm was definitely spurred by watching WPT episodes and “Rounders” for the 14th time. I had an almost romantic connection with the game from the start. I was obsessed with it.

I think this story is pretty similar with a lot of people. However, anyone who gets involved with this game, for any reasonable length of time, soon learns that the reality of poker is quite a bit different. While it is exciting and constantly new and interesting, it can also be very boring at times, feel like a job, and be downright frustrating. That is, if you want to be a winning poker player. Losing poker players always have fun. As I often say, winning poker is simply an exercise in pain tolerance much of the time.

Well I hope you haven’t thrown this book in your trash bin yet after that and are still with me. The truth is poker is a beautiful game. It is amazing on so many levels and has so many direct comparisons with events and situations in our lives. I have always thought that poker is really just a microcosm of life. Poker rewards things like hard work, level headed thinking under pressure, discipline, and risk management. These are all traits that will also take you very far in your other pursuits in life."

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