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Movin’ On Up

Posted by preachercasy151

As well as being one of my favourite songs of all time (Movin' On Up by Primal Scream), it makes a pretty good name for September’s blog. A few of my students have found themselves in the enviable position of moving up in stakes recently. They have beaten their usual game for an impressive winrate, and now they’re ready to take a shot on some bigger buy-ins. Here’s the single biggest piece of advice that I gave them:

Blend in the new stakes; don’t jump into those games exclusively.

There are a few good reasons behind moving up in stakes slowly and seamlessly, and those reasons all centre around the individual’s comfort zone.

First and foremost, it can be intimidating to step up to higher limits. Some people become inclined to gamble it up more than usual, almost as if they’re unconsciously trying to get lucky and take the new games by storm. Others nit up, protect their chips to the bubble, and hope to take it from there. Neither strategy is optimal.

The allegory I always use is that of a young footballer. He’s an 18 year old winger and has really been impressing for the Youth Team. His style is fearless; he likes to take defenders on, using his direct running and dangerous crossing to terrorise opponents. Now the manager selects him for the Senior team. He is ready for his first-team debut. He gets onto the pitch and instead of running at the full-back, he decides to keep it simple and play easy passes to his more experienced team-mates. When he has a chance to shoot at goal, he plays a square ball instead. Now does the manager want to see this from the youngster? He most certainly does not; the youth was selected for his mad skillz, and now he’s playing like a nit! That is not the type of performance that the manager deemed good enough for the big games.

When you move up to bigger games, you must resist the temptation to think about the stakes. Your natural game made you a stand-out at the lower-levels; now take that same skillset and keep doing what you do. Do not modify yourself initially; improvements can be phased in over time, once you have a better feel for the intricacies of the demands of the new level. The young footballer and his manager believed that he could bring the ruckus to the first-team scene, and my students and I are no different. If I tell them they’re ready to take a shot, then they’re ready to take a shot. However, taking a shot does not encompass making broad adjustments to their natural game. It was their natural game that brought them this opportunity, and it is their natural game that will make the most of it.

The only way to overcome new limit tension is to get comfortable at those limits. The best way to get comfortable at those limits is to avoid attaching added significance to those particular games. If you tend to play 12 tables of $15s, why not try 9 of those and a couple of $30s? When the tables are stacked up, you will not give the $30s extra attention; you will just play your natural game and keep your decision-making consistent. Or let’s say that, like me, you regularly play the $60 games on Pokerstars. You have beaten them comfortably over a big sample, and you want to start playing the $100s. Your first thought should be to select good, beatable $100 games, and mix them in with your regular $60s. That way you get a feel for what it takes to beat the $100s without having to make the psychological leap of thinking ‘now I’m a $100s player’. Poker should be about playing in good games, not about stroking your ego by only playing the highest limits you can afford.

In a recent session, I played 40-odd $30 games, 60-odd $60s, a dozen $100s and four $15s. I’d rather have played them all at the $60s and $100s, but those games were often extremely tough and I have no interest in losing money. If a $100 6max game is registering and I see Foreman12, AndyAFC#1, Koovoon, Bigstealer and maybe one fishbowl sitting, should I think ‘well, I’m a $100 player, guess I better register’? Hell no! I think ‘there is no way on earth that I can sit in this game and expect to earn money long-term’, so I check the lobbies at lower limits instead.

So when somebody asks you what games you play at poker, your answer should not be ‘the $100 6max Sit N Gos’. Nope. Your answer should be, simply, ‘the good ones’.

***For more on the subject of Moving Up in Stakes, check out my video with MD261 entitled ‘Soft Eyes: The SNG Outlook’ only at Drag the Bar!

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The part time pursuit: Episode 2 – Diversion

Posted by davedastardly

If you read my last blog, you’ll know I’m first and foremost a family man. But I’m also fairly darn serious about this poker lark (though you may not think it having read some of my posts : p). Previously I was able to get all my Poker in at work during a 60+ hr working week, but since then things have changed, which meant almost zero Poker time. My first and second love were colliding… something had to give.

I had a chat with the missus (she’s well up on my addiction) and explained that in order to fulfil my ambitions, I need to cut down my working hours so I can get some Poker in at home. I went on to say I was simply not good enough to be self-sufficient from Poker right now at NL30/50, but having the time to play and study much more would allow me to move up in stakes and eventually achieve this. Plus I’ll just be an outright pain in the ass if I don’t get my way and she knows it. Being the understanding soul that she is, we agreed I could halve my hours at work. +++EV or what?! We set out a Poker schedule, chores schedule (urrgh), and family time. My new Poker den is in my garage.

And yes, thats a lamp hanging from a Barbie bike



Despite pulling off this +++EV move, I’ve spent the last 3 months+ at NL30/50 on a mega downswing and some realization has hit. I’ve done a few 15 buy in downers and a 35k BE stretch before, but nothing like this for so long. 100k later and only rakeback has kept me going at these limits. I’ve had just a couple of heaters in the whole time but lasting no longer than 2k, and the rest has been truly ridiculous nothing stretches and endless set ups. (Sprinkle in some accumulation tilt in there too to make things worse). I was being force fed the realities of Poker.

Here are some other things I failed to consider that contributed to my demise:

Beating rake – Last month I paid nearly $800. So although I get a portion back, that’s $500 I need to make to BE at killer-rake low stakes. Ouch.

Working hrs – I first set out about 35 hrs play time. I can’t get near it, 28 hrs tops. It’s just so mentally draining, especially when it’s going bad.

Length of short-term variance – It’s not 3 weeks, or 50k of hands, not even 100k… not even close. It’s true when they say ‘One day you’ll run worse than you ever thought possible’.

Getting away – When I worked full time, the bad runs were spaced out i.e time to gather my thoughts, re charge if you like. When you play constantly though, there’s not always a desire to play the next session after relentless beatings.

But I shall not give up! What’s the alternative, work for the man forever? No thanks. It’s not all bad actually. I’m around more at home, I’ve had the summer off with the kids, and despite the results I’m actually far better than I used to be.

Like they say about soccer, ‘It’s a funny old game’.

The pursuit continues… (Just a-bloody-bout)

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Zoom Poker and Life Update

Posted by BlackRain79


Haven't updated this blog in quite some time so here goes. Life wise I am living in Thailand still. It does not suck. The only thing that can actually be tilting about this place at times is the internet. But I tend to move around a lot and when you do that you pay the price with crappy wifi much of the time. If I actually stayed in one place for awhile (but where is the fun in that?) the broadband situation here actually isn't that bad. It isn't as good as Canada but it's like maybe 75% as good in Bangkok and 60% as good in other major cities. Still easily grindable.

I have been able to meet many poker players here now. There are tons of grinders from a lot of different western countries, the US, Britain, Germany, Canada and France being some of the most common. There are in fact huge communities and "poker houses" in all the major hotspots in Thailand (Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai especially). It is really cool to be able to speak the same language so to speak and by that I mean poker. I have always maintained that trying to discuss this game with someone who isn't a professional or serious side income grinder is kind of pointless. They won't understand. At all. Or they will just tell you a bunch of bad beat stories and go off about how rigged it is.

Pokerwise I have been switching over to Zoom lately on Pokerstars. I thought it was just a gimmick for a long time and never really played much of the old Rush poker on FTP either. But it actually is a lot more fun in my opinion. It is very fast paced, something that I am already used to from years of 24 tabling, but there really never seems to be any stop to the action as the fast fold button eliminates any time spent on hands that I will never play.

I actually do think there are more fish playing Zoom than regular poker. I think Zoom/Rush is the new big fad and so it naturally is going to attract more of them. I think they love the speed of it also and the ability to get to their big hands faster so that they can play them badly. Zoom also appeals to the bad regs and nits. They can now fold even faster which means that I can steal their blinds and cbet/barrel the hell out of them with even greater efficiency!

But probably the best thing of all that I like about Zoom is no more damn table selecting! My game the past few years has been built heavily on playing musical chairs. When playing regular tables I literally am spending more time these days looking at the lobby than at the actual tables. My philosophy towards the game is based on the maximum exploitation of the fish and it just isn't 2005 anymore where you can be guaranteed to have one or five of them on your table at all times. Zoom eliminates this. I constantly tag fish as I play and I can easily look at the player pool in the Stars lobby and determine if I want to play or not. I haven't found it to be an issue at all. The Zoom games are always stock full of fish and bad regs.

I should mention that my newest series on DragTheBar will be all about Zoom both full ring and 6max. People have been asking me to do this for a long time so it's finally going to happen. Same format as the Crushing the Micros series' of the past. I will do a couple videos at several microstakes limits starting out at NL2. The first ones should be coming out later this month.

Lastly I should mention that I will soon be embarking on a huge project of which I will say absolutely nothing about right now :)

Diving in football. The Risk Vs Reward.

Posted by JohnnyChances

My first attempt at a blog which doesn't involve anything to do with my last holiday and
the food that i ate!
I was watching Bulgaria vs Armenia World Cup qualifying football match recently.
Since moving from England to Bulgaria I've been occasionally watching the premiere
league here in BG and also Bulgaria's national team games.
I'm glad that England haven't drawn Bulgaria in the qualifying group again.
I was walking on egg shells after England beat them 4-1 and 3-0 in the last European
Championship qualifying campaign. (The wife is Bulgarian)
Anyway, hopes were high for Bulgaria after playing Italy recently and being unlucky
not to win. In fact Martin Atkinson the English referee pretty much cost them a famous
win when he bottled a couple of big penalty decisions. (Thanks Mr. Atkinson for making
my Saturday evening a particularly frosty one.)

Back to the Armenia game. Armenia were attacking and their attacker drove
into Bulgarias penalty area, then proceeded to throw himself to the ground in a bid to
win a penalty with no defender within 2 yards of him. For once the referee saw this
and booked the diving Armenian player. (The ref wasn't English, fortunately
for the Bulgarian team and me).

This got me thinking about how, in this day and age, a player could blatantly cheat
to attempt to gain a big advantage with very little consequence.
If the ref gets it wrong Armenia get a penalty and they have, I'd assume, about a 90%
chance of scoring a goal from the ensuing penalty kick.

As most poker players know, a big aspect of the game we play is risk versus reward related.
And I realised that this same concept applied here.
Obviously in poker our risk is the amount we bet or call and the reward is hopefully the pot.
In this instance the risk for the attacker was getting a yellow card. A small
fine that won't hurt him too much. There's no damage done for the team unless he
gets another yellow card and gets sent off. So, the risk is very small. But the potential
gain in conning the referee was huge. A penalty and a chance to go 1-0 up
from the penalty spot and a strong chance at winning the game from there.

In the 70's and 80's in football the professional foul was rife. If an attacker was running clean
through on goal with a great chance to score, sometimes the only thing a defender could
do to stop this high percentage goal scoring chance would be to commit a professional
foul and take the centre forward down before he got to the penalty box.
This used to result in just a yellow card. So, the same concept applied here.
His risk was just receiving a yellow card but the reward was stopping a goal scoring opportunity.
If the team were winning 1-0 with 1 minute left commiting this offence was a no brainer to a
defender. So, to clamp down on this, they changed the rules.
Now, in this same circumstance the defender receives a straight red card and is sent off.
Even by changing this risk so that the punishment is more severe a defender
whose team is winning 1-0 with a minute to go will still take the red card and the 2 game
ban and fine that comes with the red card. Which shows you how askew the risk/reward
ratio was in the first place.

Back to the diving that goes on. For some reason FIFA do not seem to want to
take any action on this ugly part of the game which happens worldwide and ruins many games.
Unless it's a player who does it for your team and gets away with it. Then for that set of
fans it's fine and just a part of the game. The same set of fans will be screaming
blue murder the following week when they get robbed of a big win by an opposing forward
cheating in this exact same way. Is it cheating though? Or just taking advantage of a very poor rule.
Until FIFA clamp down and start awarding straight red cards for a dive in or around the penalty area  then this
trend will continue. [personally I think it should be a straight red anywhere on the pitch] I guess even then there will still be some forwards falling over blades of grass in the oppositions penalty area attempting to win that penalty as their team desperately attempts to score that winning goal in the final minutes of a match.


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