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The Downtime filler

Posted by gritgar

I quit online poker some time ago. Recently, however, I've had a lot of downtime, so I came back to online poker in order to help the time pass. I redownloaded the Party Poker client and dropped $60 in my account and am noodling around playing the 2-cent NLHE full ring tables. I know it's early, but here's my PokerTracker graph:

I know it's very early, but I'm already noticing improvement in my play as I remember all the basics I learned a long time ago. I hope DTB will help me become a profitable player.

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Gifts From The Dead

Posted by GiantBuddha

I’m leaving my homeland on Saturday night, spending the year abroad. Hamburg, Soderhamn, London, then expedia knows where. I don’t self-identify as an American, even if I am quintessentially so. But I am interested in being a citizen of the world, seeing the sights, learning the language.

In the process of putting my affairs in order, I’ve divested myself of the majority of my worldly possessions. Ideally, I’d like to own only what I can carry, but I have this really cool sword, and I don’t want to cause a scene going through airport security. So I’ve kept a few things at home.

Throwing things away is a difficult process, empowering as well. But how do you cast off gifts from the dead? So many of my belongings were presents from those no longer present. I can’t say I’ve discarded those as ruthlessly as I intended. But the greatest gifts from the dead are not things, but memories. And those I hope I never let go.

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Moving Up in Stakes

Posted by BlackRain79

moving up in stakes

Moving up in stakes is a big deal for a lot of poker players. It is the subject of plenty of conversation on forums for instance. People want to know what to expect at the next limit, what adjustments they should make and so on. This article will argue that by making moving up less of an event, you will actually be more likely to succeed. I have a lot of experience from trial and error with this subject so I hope that I can offer some useful advice here.

First things first, make sure that you have an adequate sample at your current limit before moving up. If you only have 10k hands at your current limit and you are crushing it beyond belief, ready to challenge Ivey HU etc, you need to realize how wildly off the mark from your true winrate you might actually be. I would recommend playing at least 50k hands at your current limit with a decent winrate.

What is a decent winrate? Well this is hard to say because the games are always changing and therefore winrates are always changing. I think it was A.E. Jones who said that there is no such thing as a winrate when the games are in constant flux. I would tend to agree with that. However, you should have a winrate which is decent enough that you are more than a marginal winner in your current game.

Your winrate will drop at the next limit usually by at least half a big bet per hundred due to tougher competition and less fish. So if you are only winning at half a big bet per hundred at your current limit, you might be better served to delay moving up and instead focus on getting better at your current stakes because you will likely be breakeven at the higher one.

Secondly, the most important thing to remember when playing at a new limit (assuming it is the very next one above where you currently play) is that the players there really aren't that much better. There is a natural inclination to think that it is going to be way tougher, no more kiddie pool, when you move up. This isn't true to anywhere near the extent that you think and it is in fact dangerous to your success.

While the players at the higher limit will be better it will only be by a marginal amount. There will be small differences in the best regs. They will have a few more advanced plays in their arsenal. However, most of the regs (breakeven nits for instance) will be at exactly the same level as at your former limit. And fish really are fish no matter the stakes. They just like to splash around a lot and play poorly. The only determining factor on where they play is what remains of their current bankroll.

So it is important to not go into your new limit all wild eyed and thinking that you have to change a bunch of stuff up in your game. Trust me, I have made this mistake many times myself. The best thing that you can do when you move up is to just keep doing exactly what got you there. And I do mean exactly. Do not change anything at all. Once you have several sessions under your belt and have a better feel for how the game plays, then you can look at finding new ways to exploit certain tendencies that you may have noticed.

Another good idea when you move up is to play less tables than you currently play at least for the first few sessions. This is another area that I am all too familiar with. Don't be like me and just fire up 24 tables at your new limit on a Monday afternoon when the games are at their worst and you have no info on anybody. Help yourself out. Make things as easy as possible. You didn't just jump on a bike right away right? Your parents put training wheels on it first and helped you get on and get going etc.

So play less tables than you are used to at first so that you will have extra time to think through hands and table select. Move up on a Saturday or Sunday when the games are the best. And if at all possible do some advanced scouting on your competition before you even sit down. You can use the top winners list on PTR for instance to easily identify who the best regs are before you ever even play a hand against them.

All of these things will give you a better chance at having some winning sessions right off the bat. Nothing is guaranteed with the short term variance in poker but as we know the best thing that we can do is just consistently put the odds in our favor and things will work out in the end.

If things do go bad during your first couple sessions at your new limit it is important not to get down on yourself and think that you aren't good enough. Variance will swing wildly over a couple of sessions and with the larger money amounts that could mean that you lose more than you are used to. It's just a part of the process. You were more likely to win more than you were used to and that is why you moved up in the first place!

But if things go bad it is important to move back down and just continue on grinding out your old stake for a week or two and then try again. As I said, this is a process and you will not always succeed on the first attempt or even the second or the third. You just have to keep putting the odds in your favor and you will stick up there eventually. Always remember that poker is a long term game. And it isn't going anywhere anytime soon. There is no rush.

If you want to take more time between move up attempts or not even move up at all then don't feel pressured. Do not allow other people to pressure you into doing something that you don't want to do. Poker is an individual game, not a team sport. If there is one thing that you will find in no shortage around poker communities it is opinions. Everybody has one and they will be more than willing to tell you about it whether you asked them to or not. Listen to smart, winning players but at the end of the day listen to yourself and make the decisions that you feel comfortable with at the tables.

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A Little Help From My Friends

Posted by GiantBuddha

Dear Friends,

I'm putting together my first work of published fiction, and you can help make it a success. My project is a collection of (mostly dark) short stories titled Zen Madman's Flash Fiction Folio.  For $9 or $15, you can pre-order the book (PDF or hard copy, respectively), and there are bigger rewards as well, like discounted coaching sessions. My goal is to raise $777 by January 16 to cover the cost of printing, shipping, and design. While financial backing would be outstanding, Kickstarter is as much about promotion as it is about funding. There are lots of totally free ways you can help:
  • containing my project link:
  • Share: Throw my link up on your facebook, tumblr, blog, or anywhere fiction lovers might find it. If you're more ambitious, you can embed my project video or even a full widget by using the Embed button below the video on my project page.
  • Forward: Perhaps the most helpful thing you can do is forward this email to everyone you know who likes fiction and might forward it on to their friends. Friends are awesome, but friends of friends of friends are geometrically more powerful.
  • Comment: Put a comment on my Kickstarter page letting me know what you think of my stories, what you'd like to see, and any questions you have.
And of course, you can:
  • Pledge: If you have an amazon account there you don't even have to reenter your credit card info. You can pledge as little as $1, get the ebook for $9, the hard copy for $15, or both for $20. There are a bunch of higher pledge levels, too, but i'd rather get lots of little ones than a few big ones. Of course, no pledge will be turned away. :p


My long-term goal is to become a professional writer (and publisher) of fiction, so this is a huge first step. Not only is your help (in any form) useful, but knowing that my success comes with a little help from my friends means more to me than doing it alone.


Signed in virtual blood with actual undying gratitude,


- Paul
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Christmas Solitude

Posted by GiantBuddha

Today I'm alone on Christmas for the first time in a decade. My mom's moved west, so I have no family left in New York, and my girlfriend's off on a cruise with her family. "Here I go again on my own" blares from my computer speakers as I try to psyche myself into being productive, casting off the feeling of loneliness by reveling in it.

That's all well and melodramatic, but the truth is that I'm not alone at all. I spent the 24th and 25th with friends - chosen family, as one of them says in his sermon. I'm lucky to have good friends that welcome me to their family events. I'm also lucky to have people whose absence I actively miss. I'd rather have family that I miss than family that feels like an unfortunate obligation. It's sort of the better to have loved and lost thing.

I've always felt comfortable by myself. That could be an artifact of my one-parent, only-child upbringing. Even when I still had two parents, I could spend hours alone, engrossed in activity. I can't say that I really get bored. There's always something to be doing, and a lot of things are better done alone. So today I'll value my friends and family, but also my solitude. I'm lucky to have both.

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No Balls, Two Strikes

Posted by GiantBuddha

I just finished up a new story for my Flash Fiction Folio. This one's about baseball and may have too much lingo for those who aren't fans. Let me know what you think, though. I'm always interested in the opinions of fans and critics alike. You can read it on Free Association.

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Posted by briqville

Hey guys,

I have been playing poker for a while, i was always super interested, but never enough to study a bunch. So from now on i made a goal for myself. i am going to blog after evry session i played. In this way i am able to overview some hands i did or didnt played well.

When i was starting on (2 years ago) i played 0.25/0.50 HU after a while i had a nice br, but lost it due to bad brm. Because of the swings i started playing 6 max. i had to rebuy a couple of times. So from now off i want to learn poker the hard way. Starting from 0 en going up... the sky is the limit ( i hope)

I had a 100 dol in my account, but lost it by not paying enough of attention. So i was left with 11 bucks. I decided to play 0.02/0.04. After 2 sessions i ended up at 43 bucks... we will see from here on.


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Low Noon

Posted by GiantBuddha

You know how 12:00 PM is called high noon? Well, I like to call 12:00 AM low noon. It's gonna be a thing. When in doubt, talk about the weather.

A few days ago, it looked like winter was finally here. The temperature dropped into the 20s for the first time since last winter. But now, on the winter solstice, it got up to 59°F, and at low noon, it's still 55°. What's that all about? Sounds like Armageddon to me.

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I ♥ NY

Posted by GiantBuddha

New York is the Greatest City in the World. I say this not out of any disrespect to other cities. Sure, there are bigger cities, and yes, there are friendlier cities. And god knows there are cleaner cities. But nowhere in the world are more languages spoken, more cultures mingled, or more stereotypes debunked.

I used to love New York in an elitist way. I kind of thought everywhere else sucked, and The City ( The City) was just better. But I had it backwards. What makes The City great is all the good things from cities around the world, and maybe some of the bad things too. It's not all here, but in one form or another, most of it is. And that's why this will always be my home, no matter where I am.

On that note, my New Year's countdown starts tomorrow at 10. That's 10 days until I leave New York, New York, and America for the better part of next year. I'm going to Germany, then Sweden, then the UK, then who knows where else. It should be an exciting journey, seeing some of my roots and some of my city's roots. Fragments of those places are found here, but I want to see the source.

I'll leave you with the following clip, the most stirring performance of The City's municipal anthem:

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Bluff Raising the Flop

Posted by BlackRain79

bluff raising the flop

This is a concept that I have wanted to talk about for awhile now. While I constantly preach about how keeping things simple at the micros is the way to go, we should always be looking for those little edges as well. There is a greater issue, often referred to as "metagame," that has some bearing here as well. While players at the micros are generally paying less attention than those at higher limits, there are still benefits to building an aggressive image.

People will notice this even at the micros. And building an aggressive image will of course help you get paid off much easier. Here is a hand that I played a couple of months ago which really helps illustrate this.

Villain is an 8/3 supernit reg who I have 6k hands on (i.e. we have played a ton together)

PokerStars No-Limit Hold'em, $0.02 BB (8 handed)

SB ($4.43)
Hero (BB) ($6.53)
UTG ($3.29)
UTG+1 ($2.40)
MP1 ($2.65)
MP2 ($0.71)
CO ($2.16)
Button ($1.30)

Preflop: Hero is BB with A, Q♣
6 folds, SB calls $0.01, Hero bets $0.08, SB calls $0.06

Flop: ($0.16) 6, J, 2 (2 players)
SB bets $0.02, Hero raises to $0.16, SB raises to $0.30, Hero calls $0.14

Turn: ($0.76) 5 (2 players)
SB checks, Hero bets $2.50, SB calls $2.50

River: ($5.76) Q (2 players)
SB checks, Hero bets $3.65 (All-In), SB calls $1.55 (All-In)

Total pot: $8.86 | Rake: $0.42

I have the chat turned off 99.9% of the time I am playing (very +EV and a good idea for a future blog post) but I turned it on after this hand to hopefully get an idea of what the hell happened here. Why on earth does an 8/3 nit lose his mind against me like this? Here is what he said (I didn't say anything before or after by the way):

xxxxxx said, "dint believe u)"
xxxxxx said, "seen u raise with 910 so :p"

So because he saw me make a loose raise one time in 6k hands he decided that I just had to be bluffing up a storm 200bb+ deep here. Maybe an extreme case (and it is NL2) but I think you get the point.

Poker players tend to have a very selective memory.

Much like how people tend to remember a single bad beat late in a tournament for years, such can be the case in cash games as well. Nevermind the fact that I am a winning TAG reg, this guy saw me raise with T9 one time (could have been months before this hand who knows) and that stuck in his memory and caused him to play his hand here very poorly against me with very deep stacks.

So the point of all this discussion so far is that we need to view our play not just in the vacuum of this particular hand but also in the much wider sense of the long term against players we might see for months down the road.

Bluff raising flops allows us to cheaply and effectively win pots but it also allows us to build an aggressive image that may pay big dividends down the line for us. And it is great if you get caught every once in awhile. Because when they see you show up light just once (as we saw above) that can be enough to get you loads of loose future action.

So when should you bluff raise?

Well this depends on a couple things.

  • Perceived ranges
  • Flop texture
  • Player type

Let's explore these three ideas one at a time.

Perceived ranges

A perceived range is a spectrum of hands that a certain player is believed or assumed to have in some particular scenario. It doesn't mean that they will always have one of these hands. Rarely are there any absolutes in poker. It simply means that this is the range of hands that people expect them to show up with.

When somebody raises preflop their perceived range is big pairs and big broadways. Hands like,

AA♣, KK♠, A♣K♠, A♠Q etc.

When somebody calls a preflop raise, their perceived range is small pairs, mid pairs, suited connectors and some weaker speculative broadway type hands. Hands like,

55♠, 99♣, 6♠7♠, A♣8♣ etc

Flop Textures

So this ties directly into flop textures. If I am the preflop caller and the board comes something like,


This is not the kind of board that I want to be bluff raising. Why? Because this board absolutely nails the range of the preflop raiser. He is therefore unlikely to fold very often when I raise. Furthermore, I won't have many hands in my range that hit this board anyways. I would have 3bet preflop with a lot of the hands that connect with this board.

So we will want to bluff raise flops that hit our perceived range. If we are the preflop caller then these are going to be boards like:




These boards contain a lot of small and middle cards (which we are supposed to have in our range) and they are also very wet (flush draws, straight draws). When our opponent cbets with his big pair or big broadway, he will not be enjoying life very much when he gets raised on these types of boards.

Conversely, if we are the preflop raiser and someone donks into us, the boards that we should be bluff raising are ones that contain lots of big broadway cards such as:




We are supposed to have these cards in our range when we raise preflop so if somebody donks into us we can credibly represent them. The second board only has one broadway card but remember our range also has a lot of big pairs in it which don't need to improve.

Player Type

So the last thing to consider when bluff-raising is the player type. Against call stationy recreational types players who go to showdown a lot it isn't going to make a whole lot of sense to be bluff raising at any point during a hand, let alone on the flop. Similarly against nitty players who have a very tight range in any given situation I will be less inclined to bluff raise as well.

So this leaves that big middle category of players from nitty TAG's (13/10), TAG's (16/14), LAG's (20/18) and SLP's (semi loose passive, 24/6) who we will want to be doing this against. Now I feel compelled to stress again that bluff raising is not a standard play of mine at all at the micros. But let's see if we can create a couple of hypothetical scenarios here where we might want to think about employing this play.

Example #1

An SLP raises from MP and we call in LP with,


The flop comes,


He cbets and we raise.

Instead of just calling here we can entertain raising because this is the kind of board that is going to be hard for him to hit, and presumably easy for us to hit, given our perceived range. Raising isn't completely necessary here but it is an option. We probably have some decent equity against his range with a gutshot and a midpair. But more importantly we have position and a board that looks scary to him.

The added benefit here is that even when he does call we are going to secure a free card on the turn most of the time since we have position. If he wants to station up and call us down we can just foil those plans by checking back the turn and seeing if we can hit something. A lot of the time with passive players at this limit they will even check the river here as well. There is no need to continue on with our bluff.

We can possibly value bet in some spots if we think that he is stationy enough to have called the flop with just overs or a worse pair. But there is nothing wrong with seeing a showdown as well. Remember that other players at the table will then get to see our hand and realize that we are capable of raising with stuff that isn't exactly the nuts. This might pay off in the future.

Example #2

Let's look at another sort of scenario.

A TAG raises from the button and we just call from the SB with,


We just called because there is a fish in the BB and we didn't want to blow him out of the pot by 3betting. The fish unfortunately folds anyways.

The flop comes,


We check and the TAG cbets. We should raise.

There are a couple of things here. First, we should raise because this flop represents cards that hit our preflop calling range. Even though the TAG's range is going to be really wide from the button, in theory this flop should still be better for us than it is for him.

Secondly we have a hand that has a lot of hidden equity. Since we know that our opponent's range here is going to be pretty wide, we expect to have the best hand when we hit our ace or jack. We will also hit our backdoor flush about 1 in 20 times. And we will pick up another club on the turn 1/4 times which we can continue bluffing with.

But also, we could easily be bluffing with the best hand here. This is why we want to make these plays against players who have a wider range and not against supernits or fish whose range is incredibly wide but their ability to fold even bottom pair is low.

It is important to note here that we are raising with a hand that has equity. Something that I like to always mention when bluffing is that you should always have some equity. There is just no need to run stone cold bluffs in full ring poker at any level in my opinion. If you have 6 high with no draw just fold and don't even think about doing anything.

The same thing goes with small pairs. Don't bluff with your small pairs when all you have is an underpair. Your chances to improve (2 outs) are just so slim. We always want to be "semi- bluffing" even if it is as weak as a gutshot when we are bluffing because why not? Why not have some equity in the hand? You are going to get called more often at the micros and we at least want to have some chance to dish out a nice beat and put them on tilt.

I guess that would be a good topic for another article as well. But another added benefit of bluff raising with some outs is that we will hit them from time to time and there is nothing more tilt inducing in poker than when somebody raises you with a weak draw and hits. And obviously when we put people at our table on tilt this is a very good thing for our bottom line.

Example #3

We raise from MP with,


And get called by a LAG in the BB.

The flop comes,


He donks into us. We should raise.

We should raise in this spot because this board is very dry and therefore very hard to hit. When a board is very hard to hit it favors the preflop raiser because the perception is that he doesn't need to improve his/her hand to the extent that the caller does.

And in cases like this it would be especially useful to just have a quick look at the opponent's donk bet stat. This can be found on the bottom left of the HEM full popup. If you have a decent size sample (the number to the right in brackets which represents opportunities to donk bet is around 5 or more) and it is 30% or more we can probably safely assume that he is doing this pretty wide.

And especially on a flop like this, all types of players love to donk out with their marginal strength hands because they don't think that you can have anything either. The issue that you must be aware of with these types of boards however is that you will often have to fire multiple barrels in order to win the pot.

Players at the micros don't like to fold marginal hands so we expect to get called here by a wide range of middle pair type hands.

9♣9, 8♠8, 77♠ etc

As well as all the Jx hands.

We will need to fire again on a lot of turn cards, especially big broadway ones. However, if your opponent is a straight fish (55/5) type player you would be much better served to just give up as they will often just call anyways. Or even more mind bending, that broadway card (especially an ace) on the turn actually hit them because they floated your bluff raise on the flop here with


So I hope this discussion was helpful to you. My approach to the micros is one based largely off of exploiting bad players with big hands. I don't do a whole lot of bluffing. But we should always be looking to maximize our edge to the fullest no matter what game we are playing in.

Situations where we can cheaply bluff raise the flop and possibly win the pot will arise from time to time. And at the very least we might be able to develop a bit of a bad image for ourselves and get a bunch of loose action later.

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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Flash Fiction Folio Kickstarter

Posted by GiantBuddha

Yesterday's blog was about writing every day. Continuing in that trend, I'm happy to launch the kickstarter for Zen Madman's Flash Fiction Folio. is an all-or-nothing funding site, where you can pledge to help me publish my first collection of fiction. Pledges are not donations. Instead, you receive rewards based on the amount of your pledge. You can essentially pre-order the book, get special stories just for you, or receive copy-editing, proofreading, or discount coaching services. Click here to pledge or learn more, and check out the video below.

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Write Now, Every Day

Posted by GiantBuddha

Almost every book ever written on the subject of writing contains the following advice: "If you want to be a writer, start writing every day." Now that may seem obvious, a less generic version of "Just Do It." And while everything in life may seem as simple as that, two things make it particularly applicable to writing.

The first is that anyone can be a writer. In fact, you don't even need to know how to write. You only need to know how to speak. A friend recently related to me the story of his father, an illiterate man who wrote technical manuals by dictating to his secretary. Only if you're mute and illiterate are you precluded from joining the ranks of writers worldwide.

So it's easy to be a writer? Well, yes and no. The other side of writing is its permanency. Most would-be writers fall short because of a fear of commitment. When you write something, you commit those words to the page (or computer). Yes, your words can be edited, erased, or deleted later, but there's a special terror that comes with putting your thoughts down in a semi-permanent fashion. Even for those that overcome this initial fear, there is a secondary fear of showing your writing to another person, and the tertiary fear of the finality of publication.

How many great stories are left untold because of the teller's fear of telling? I fear many. So if you have a story to tell, put pen to paper, hands to keyboard, chalk to cave wall, and write now. I'll be going with the "every day" thing, writing an entry in this blog every day for the rest of the year. To put my money where my hands are (on the keyboard), I'll give 2 books or 1 hour of coaching to the first person who calls me out should I fail to make a post on any day between December 19th and December 31st (EST).

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Crushing the Microstakes Bonus Materials

Posted by BlackRain79

Book Cover1

Hey guys, hope all is good. I have finished with the last of the free stuff to go along with my book. As I have said all along Crushing the Microstakes is simply a guide on how to start doing exactly what the title suggests. I am not going to be winning a Pullitzer prize anytime soon (although please vote for me by all means!). The book is a strategy guide first and foremost. I am very happy that there have been so many good reviews so far. But as I keep saying the best reviews to me are graphs that go up and to the right.

So I wanted to create some bonus materials for anyone who has bought my book past, present or future firstly as a thank you, but more importantly to help you achieve that goal of winning big at these stakes. I want to go so far beyond the expectations that you are used to with every other poker book that you will have no choice but to start turning your results around immediately. I think the poker book market is flooded with a lot of products that might read well. However they apparently don't always have that much practical application at the tables.

I see people that have extensive libraries of poker books and yet they can barely beat NL10 or even lower. This is ridiculous in my eyes. So I will be offering an unprecedented amount of support AFTER your purchase in order to make sure that my book is different.

Enough talk, on to the bonuses.

The first of these is a couple of private sections in my forum where I will personally help you with your hand histories and answer questions about the book every day. Plenty of people have signed up so far and the majority of the posts by far are in the private hand history forum. This is a friendly environment meant for you to learn. And you can post any hand you want. There are no "dumb" or "too obvious" hands. Please just don't post 10 a day. That's all I ask :p

Now I want to go further though. I am just going to give you a ton of information on my stats so that you can compare it to your own. You will be given access to screenshots that show my VPIP, PFR, AF, 3bet, fold to 3bet, cbet, turn cbet, fold to cbet, fold to turn cbet, 4bet, attempt to steal, positional stats, aggression by street and much more. And it will cover an enormous sample of well over 1 million hands all played within the last year and a bit.

Also included will be numerous graphs showing my red line, blue line and AIEV over this same sample size. This will allow you to see that variance really does work itself out over big sample sizes. And also that it really is ok to have a downward sloping redline at the micros. As I always say, the green line is the only one that matters!

People ask me sometimes why do I give away all this free information? Why do I waste my time on all this low limit stuff, blogging, coaching etc? They are right, I am not getting rich. Although I am doing ok.

However most of these people have probably never received something like the following. I have been wanting to post this for quite some time. It was sent to me in a pm on DTB over 3 months ago and I asked him permission right away but I couldn't find a blog post to put it in until now.

"All this lead to me starting to watch your videos....

MAN everything you say in your videos has registered IMMEDIATELY. I just seem to understand everything your talking about, and I feel like I am at another level after every video I have watched. Somehow you explain advanced concepts in a simplistic way that hits home and stays there. Since starting watching your videos, I have gone from a losing player, to a break even player, and I am now breaking into being a winning player. I won't really know until I get the volume in, but I really feel like a completely different player, and I have been achieving a winrate seemed impossible 6 months ago. I was also uncomfortable posting hands in the forums in the past because I really had no thought process before while playing, but watching your videos has helped me to form my own thought process while playing.

Poker at times is a very independent process, and there isnt always someone there to pat you on the back for a good fold, or to celebrate the monster pot you just dragged in. That's why I wanted to take the time to thank you. I am sure there are plenty of people who learn from you and your videos, and go on to make money without ever saying thanks for spending YOUR time teaching ME. Maybe Im wrong haha but I wanted to make sure that you arent going unnoticed. I wanted you to know that you have made a difference in the life of someone you have never met, and have never had a conversation with. I want to be more active in the forums and become a bigger part of the DTB community here, and I really look forward to discussing more hands and poker topics with you, other DTB coaches, and the DTB community.

Again, thanks for everything, and I hope that finding out you have helped someone without knowing it brightens your day a bit. GL with everything in the future!"

You seriously can't beat stuff like that. And ya, it absolutely did make my day.

Sometimes if you just be nice to people and honestly try your best to help them, it will come back to you anyways. I have had several people for instance buy my book, not because they needed it, but purely as a thank you for the blog, videos etc. One guy even sent me too much money on purpose! It works :)

I will have lots more content coming soon. I have a ton of mini-video ideas for the blog. And lots of ideas for posts as well. But I write this for you guys. Let me know on the forums, email, twitter, DTB, (*new* facebook), wherever.

And like I said it is hard to get the word out from this little blog. If you like the content, the book, the forum, anything please like it, tweet it, share it. It helps me a lot.

Until next time, keep crushing.

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The Luckiest Man in the World?

Posted by James Davis

You may have noticed my conspicuous absence on the forums, if you have been a member here long enough to know that I used to regularly post on the forums!  It's not because of anything you did, so please, don't take it personally :)

I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be lucky, recently.  On a whim, I masochistically checked poker table ratings last night to see if my profile was still there. Yup, the final black eye on my poker career is still there for everyone to see.  I had a chuckle, thinking about how it makes me look like the David Stern of poker - someone who had a long and successful career but who ultimately stuck around too long.  As always, I did a sanity check and returned to my old hold 'em manager databases...being off by over $100,000 in all-in EV over the course of a year (much of that at 5/10 and 10/20) has both kept me up at nights and helped me sleep. On one hand, it makes me feel like maybe I didn't just start to suck at poker. It helps me reconcile the (appropriate) comments on my PTR - "This guy is a coach!??! What a [bleeping] joke!" On the other hand, it makes me look at the rest of my finances, and think, "You know, it'd be nice to have that money in my bank account instead of in Sklansky bux on my HEM database."

I remember having the conversation with all my poker friends. "Dude," they'd say, "this has to be one of the unluckiest stretches ever."  I'd agree, and go off feeling like I had patched together some of my pride among those whose opinions mattered to me.  But today I really thought about the history of my luck, and it really helped me put things in perspective.

For public record, my biggest bouts with luck:

Fall, 2003.  My poker account is at $275 (my net worth as well).  Working as the beverages stocker in my college cafeteria, I win a tournament on Party Poker for $3,000 after hitting several %5-%30 shots.  

2003-2004: Party Poker offers the softest LHE games in history, and I make 6 figures, which felt like monopoly money as I graduated college.  My winrate is almost undoubtedly a product of excellent luck as well, but at the very least, I did not have bad luck.  My poker career has begun as I decide not to go into teaching or camping because the money is so hard to pass up.

2005-2008: I never have a downswing more than 300 bbs in limit hold em. I run the hottest of anyone when Party rolls out it's $10/$20 NLHE game and make 80 buyins in the 2nd month it's offered.   I do quite well at $25/$50 and $50/$100 NLHE, and get my brains pounded at $300/600 lmit and $100/$200 NLHE.  I'll never know if it was my skill or luck that was the cause of this, but I know at the very least I ran awfully in some of the softest limit games ever on UB and Interpoker.

2009-2011: My luck really goes into the tank as games get harder, and my mental game goes to hell in the process.  By the end of 2010 my confidence is truly shaken in spite of constantly checking graphs against my luck, and I decide I might do something else for a living.

Investment luck:
I bought 2 properties at the height of the real estate bubble. One I've already sold for a six figure loss, and the other is on the market and looking like a mid-five figure loss (if it sells).  I have been able to navigate choppy waters in the stock market and turn a small profit since 2003, but am mid-six figures down from my peak in 2008.

Life luck:  Had a healthy son in 2010, married someone awesome in 2008.  Perhaps in the biggest bout of luck I've ever had, I landed an absolutely incredible job in early 2011, which is what has taken me away from you all. I got a job as the Director of a camp called The Vanderkamp Center, which is a Christian Summer Camp and retreat center in central New York. I write a blog there about child development theory that you may fancy, if that's you're thing. Even though my relevant camping experience was nearly 5 years behind me, they took a chance on me to help turn around this business. The job has been absolutely amazing, and the only time I don't want to go to work is when I am having a particularly good time with my family.  Most of my life expenses are taken care of, and while I make less than many of the pots I've played in my life, I have something absolutely invaluable:
Peace of Mind

I still have a good amount of money saved up from my poker days, and what's great is: poker is fun again. I still play regularly (and mostly anonymously, which is very nice), and it's actually fun to keep my game sharp. I am winning again, which is nice as well :)   Between work, family, and poker, I find almost no time for anything else on the internet, which is why you don't see me active in the forums. I do apologize for that. I mean to be keeping up and contributing more to this community (and plan to do so in the future), but for right now - life calls.  I'll keep making videos, and will promise that if I ever feel like I've lost a step in poker, I will resign from making vids.

So to sum up all my luck, what can I possibly say? I have made more than most playing poker, but definitely not as much as some. I have a rather unceremonious ending to being a professional poker player.   My poker career did not shake out ideally in the end..but I managed to keep a semblance of a resume together to land my dream job, have a wonderful family, and wonderful prospects for the future.  I'll never get the money back from those all-in EV spots, and I'll never recoup the losses from selling our old house.  Even still - if I would have hit bad streaks at the beginning of my poker career, I'd never have made a dime in this silly game.

I also know that the sum of my life experiences has led me to this exact point at this exact moment in time, and for that, I will throw my name into consideration for the Luckiest Man in the World.

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I Am Entropy

Posted by GiantBuddha

“You have, like, the worst superpower ever,” she said. For the third time in my life, I had just shattered a glass in my hand. Now, I’ve broken dozens of glasses. Most of them were on purpose. I’ve also smashed phones and lamps, computer mice and headphones, and even a television set. Breaking stuff is fun. My policy of non-violence towards living things apparently doesn’t extend to inanimate objects. But that’s not what this is about. This is about destroying things through no more than physical proximity.

A few years ago, a friend lent me his cell phone to make an emergency phone call. He dialed the number and handed me the phone. I spoke for five minutes, then handed the phone back. It never worked again.

I’ve never owned a phone or computer that’s lasted more than a year without some major malfunction. My last phone just stopped dialing 1, 4, or 7. Try to dial an NYC area code without those numbers. Others phones physically lost buttons or simply stopped working.

A friend and I used to walk around the Upper East Side a lot. Every time we passed this one streetlamp, it would go out. When we’d pass it going the other direction, it would go back on. When we formed a new band a few years later, we scheduled our first practice for September 11th, 2001. When that band went on to record a CD in August of 2003, the entire City of New York lost power.

Recording for our next band hit speed bumps when my guitar mysteriously caused the recording computer to malfunction. Drums were recorded fine. Bass was fine. Vocals went off without a hitch. But when I plugged in my guitar, the computer stopped working.

I don’t tell you this with a woe-is-me intent. It’s frustrating when mechanical devices malfunction, but sometimes it feels like there’s a little magic to it. That much is fun.

It’s not fun when people start dying, which has been too common a theme. For someone who’s never seen war or famine, I’ve seen too much death in my life. Sometimes it feels like a curse. I know that people die and things break down. These are laws of biology and physics. But it’s hard to feel like it’s not me.

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Zerosum79 breaks nonpoker related world record?

Posted by zerosum79

Well, I have been pretty silent lately. There have been a lot of things in my personal life which caused a prolonged shift from poker to taking care of my business on other fronts. Its probably still not ok to discuss the details but I am finally getting back to some semblance of order in my life.

One of the things that people probably don't know about me is that I am a Starbucks Fanatic. I worked there for close to 3 years in my teens, and still love almost everything about the company and product. I am guessing I have spent more there than I ever made from my time working at Starbucks. However, the gold card loyalty program is something that is a nice perk of spending a lot on coffee there. Every 15 coffee's I buy (tall bold please, no room for cream) earns me a free drink coupon where I can purchase an exciting concoction of unhealthy caffeine, sugar, and milk. After reading a blog post about someone who spent about $14 on a drink I saw my play. There is a new 31oz cup at Starbucks. Since the upper limit on price is really an upper limit on volume, I realized I had a chance at something great. A world record for the most expensive coffee drink ever produced by starbucks...

My friend Arbi is a great blogger and can tell the story much better than I can so go visit this site for some fun pictures and an accounting of how I now hold the world record for purchasing the most expensive Starbucks drink ever. $26.80??? Anyone know how to contact the Guinness world record people?!/2011/12/citizen-spotlight-most-expensive.html

The link is safe, I promise!


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Facebook Poker?

Posted by GiantBuddha

According to eGaming Review, Facebook is poised to enter the real-money gaming arena. How long before Facebook becomes the world's largest poker affiliate? I wrote an editorial for Pokerfuse pondering the question:

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Outlaws and Thieves

Posted by preachercasy151

Part of my job is to trawl through the poker forums every day.  Sometimes I offer strategic advice, sometimes I learn something new, and sometimes I just laugh at the whining on BBV. However, what I have noticed of late is a real determination among the recreational players to improve their game.  Of course, this concept is not new; every professional was, at some point, an amateur just trying to get their head around this poker malarky. Recently, though, it’s been especially noticeable.  It seems as if every time I log into the Drag the Bar forums or the Team Moshman blog pages, another noob with their head screwed on right is offering focused insight into this game we love. Strategy posts, long-term goal threads, video discussion; it seems that the hunger for knowledge will never be sated.

These aren’t people who spend their time dreaming of binking the Sunday Million (although it would be nice); they are smart, realistic folk who realise that, if they put in the time and work, then they have a real shot at making some solid money at poker. Gone is the image of poker being a game for gamblers, outlaws and thieves; it has been replaced by the booksmart, analytical outlook of the new generation of poker player. As someone who makes a chunk of his income coaching others, I can assure you that the sea-change in outlook has proven most refreshing. Here’s to the next generation!

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