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Setting Poker Goals for 2014

Posted by BlackRain79

Setting Poker Goals for 2014


First off, I hope you all had a very merry Christmas! New Years is a time of big dreams and goals for many poker players. You will see new blogs or old ones get re-invigorated with lofty plans for the new year. Many of them with unrealistic projections spurred on by the excitement of the moment...the "new start." But like the legions of lose weight resolutioners most people have given up after a few weeks when the initial enthusiasm wears off. In this article I will talk about how to make sure that this doesn't happen to you. It all begins with proper planning.


Rakeback Goals - Start Planning Now

In the case of online poker making goals at the beginning of the year actually makes a lot of sense. This is because many poker rooms (and particularly the biggest site in the world - Pokerstars) work on a yearly based system for the upper echelons of their rakeback program (Supernova and Supernova Elite). This means that it is much better to start towards your rakeback goals at the beginning of the year as opposed to halfway through or later.

As regards cash games, Supernova Elite is something that is only realistically achievable for a very small amount of players already playing close to mid stakes (at least 1/2) or higher with big volume. This is a microstakes blog so this will probably represent a very small amount of my readership.

Supernova however is achievable at low stakes, as low as NL25, or maybe even NL10 if you are a truly sicko grinder. For a lot of people struggling at the micros I often recommend that they make a plan to get to NL25 as soon as possible, although with a proper plan and bankroll management strategy in mind. It really makes all the difference in the world. So many regs in the NL25-NL200 range especially are kept afloat through the cash bonuses, milestone rewards and more available to you when you become a Supernova on Pokerstars.

The rakeback levels at lower tiers such as Goldstar, Platinum star etc. are just not comparable. Also, VPP accumulation and thus FPP accumulation is almost non-existent at NL2 and NL5 and not so great at NL10 either. This is of course balanced out in some way by the much higher winrates that are possible in those games. But it just doesn't come close to making up for all that free rakeback money that you are missing out on.

Not everybody plays on Pokerstars of course but similar programs exist on other sites. Many sites still use a "traditional" rakeback format where there are no levels to achieve though. You just get a standardized cut of your rake paid back, 30% for instance. If you play on a site where this is the case then you should just skip ahead to the next section of this article on table profit and moving up.

If the site that you play on has a yearly based rakeback system though, and you play low stakes, start planning and going after your rakeback goals now, not in July. It is very easy to do this by getting a rough idea of how many points you earn as you play. For instance, if you play 10k hands of NL25 on Pokerstars then just divide that by the number of VPP you gained in order to calculate your VPP per hand at this stake.

So say you gained 1200 VPP in those 10k hands. 1200 / 10000 = 0.12

Your VPP per hand is 0.12

Since it requires 100k VPP in order to achieve Supernova on Pokerstars you will need to play approximately 834000 hands over the course of the year in order to get there.

0.12 x 834000 = 100080

You could break it down further by volume needed per month.

834000 / 12 = 69500

You will need to play 69500 hands per month at NL25 in order to achieve Supernova by years end.

So as you can see it is very easy to calculate how many hands you will need to play in order to achieve a certain rakeback level even down to the exact number of hands needed per month. This also assumes that you stay at the same stake all year - hopefully not! Obviously higher limits mean much higher VPP rates. Please note that the VPP rate used above was just an arbitrary number used for the example. You will need to play a certain amount of hands yourself in order to see what your VPP rate is. Probably just a few thousand hands will be good enough.

For more on all of this including milestone bonuses and FPP multiplier rates at each rakeback level you should refer to the Pokerstars VIP page on their website. Or if you play elsewhere then check your poker rooms equivalent page. The important thing here is to plan now.


Table Profit Goals and Moving Up

But enough about rakeback. Table profit is why you should be playing this game. A forgotten concept amongst so many of the mediocre regs who fill the micro and small stakes tables these days.

First off, as I have stated in many previous articles, including my "State of the Games 2013" post a few months back, we need to understand that online poker is not as easy these days. I don't think the games have gotten considerably tougher in the past couple of years but they are quite a bit harder than they were in the so called golden days of 2005-2009 roughly.

If you want to take this game seriously and develop a solid side income or even a full time one then you will need to be prepared to work hard in today's online poker climate. The vast majority of people out there are simply not willing to do this and they will get left behind.

The key thing to remember is that there will always be a pecking order in this game and it is all completely relevant to who you are playing against. If the hypothetical 6th best player in the world sits down at a table with the 1-5 best players in the world then he/she will have a losing EV (expected value) in the long run in this game. In other words, the 6th best player in the world would be the fish in this game.

The beautiful thing about poker though is that you only need to be better than most of the players that you are playing against in order to have a long term positive EV. Nobody is a world beater at the micros and small stakes these days. In fact most of the regs are downright terrible. If you exercise a little bit of table selection and work hard on studying and improving your game then you can certainly do just fine in these games.

Also, as I have been preaching for awhile now, mass multi-tabling, though good for rakeback goals, will simply bring down your EV in a big way. Many of the regfish that populate these games are bad simply because they are playing so many tables at once and do not have enough time to explore the most profitable lines in certain situations. That plus the fact that they simply have to play much fewer hands overall. You can't win if you are always folding preflop. It is important to find that sweet spot where you play enough tables to keep your volume decently high but have time to make quality decisions and table select effectively as well.

If you are new to online poker or do not have at least some history of winning online then I would suggest that you start at the lowest stakes. That would be NL2. It is very difficult not to win at this stake in the long run. You would have to have major fundamental problems with your game in order not to. NL2 will allow you to find that out for sure and at a very cheap price and then make the appropriate adjustments. Stay committed to consistent play (every day if possible) and slowly move up. If you aren't winning then study the game more to improve, be it training sites, reading books or hiring a coach.

Also, set aside some time to study the issues that you are having in your game in either Pokertracker or Hold'em Manager on a regular basis. Both of these programs provide a plethora of great information on every detail about your game. Perhaps even better they both have fantastic filters that allow you to look at any conceivable situation in detail. Having trouble in 3Bet pots OOP (out of position)? Apply the filter and look specifically at 3Bet pots where you were OOP!

Equally as important and often overlooked is to study the games of the best players at your current level. What are they doing better than you? What parts of their game could you perhaps incorporate into your own? How are they playing in 3Bet pots when OOP differently than you?

Lastly, take controlled shots at the next limit when ALL of the following conditions are met.

  • You have been consistently winning at your current stake over a significant sample size (20k or 30k hands bare minimum)
  • You are currently feeling confident in your game and not in a downswing
  • You have a sufficient bankroll for the next stake (at least 20 buyins although preferably much higher for most people who take the game seriously and/or are professionals)

A controlled shot means that you are prepared to potentially lose X number of buyins in order to take a shot at sticking at the next level. If things do not go well for you then YOU WILL move back down and regrind what you lost and rinse/repeat the process in the future.

I wish you all the best in 2014 and let us know what your poker or even life goals are in the comments below!

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.


Poker Vacation Kauai

Posted by vulcans

It has been a little while since I posted a blog to DTB, but I have been on vacation and distracted! Everybody needs a poker vacation from time to time, and Hawaii is my favorite place to go in the winter. The island of Kauai is absolutely amazing and the temperature was 75-80 degrees the entire time. So I stayed close to the Poipu beach area with my wife and a couple of very good friends. One of those friends has a cool website on fashion in case you are interested, and probably did a better blog than I about Kauai :( lol. Don't worry though my poker content is superior haha

Our accommodation was about a 3 min walk to this beautiful beach




There is also incredible boogie boarding just a hundred yards or so from where I took this picture. As you can see not a bad spot to take a vacation from poker :)

So what should you do while on a poker vacation? In no particular order here are some of the activities I did while in Kauai

1) Golf

There is a really cool public golf course called Kukuiolono Park & Golf Course which features a solid little 9 hole golf course for only $9. They don't have a website but you can read about them on trip advisor if you are interested. It really is great value for the money though and unless you are a super picky golf fan this is a great place for you!

2) Hiking

Through out Kauai there are a ton of great trails to take. One hike that I went on while in Kauai was the Kuilau Ridge TrailThis trail was not terribly challenging but had some breathtaking views. Here is a picture from the hike.



3) Beach

Tons of great beaches to hit up while you are on your poker vacation. I spent most of my time at beaches in the Poipu area. There is a good one right by the Hyatt that is also the gateway for a hike through the lithified

4) Kayaking

There is a pretty cool waterfall that you can Kayak to while in Kauai. You can read about it here. This is just one company that had pretty good reviews on trip advisor. If I was doing it over again i would just do a self guided tour because it allows you more flexibility in terms of how fast you want to go.

5) Nightlife

This is definitely a quieter vacation spot than other islands in Hawaii like Maui. If you are looking to really party it up this may not be the place for you!

6) Food

Naturally, I also ate while I was on vacation. Unfortunately, the food in Kauai is not incredible. There is nothing wrong with it, but it just isn't at the level of nice restaurants in Vegas, NYC, San Fran, or other major cities.

Since I got back from vacation I have been busy working on my new poker book, which I expect to release early in the new year! I have also posted a couple of blogs on Anonymous poker tables. My most recent article you can see here.

Also, if you haven't already seen my blog on the Vancouver Poker scene definitely check it out. That is my most viewed blog of all time for some reason...

Anyhow,  I would definitely recommend going to Kauai if you are looking for a beautiful island to take a poker vacation to. Hope you enjoyed the post and be sure to follow me on twitter if you don't already!


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