Going Deep Again at the WSOP

Posted by ChipSteela

So last time you guys got to hear all about my frustration as I made an attempt at actually having a decent live score in the $1k WSOP event. Well even though I was bummed that this tournament didn't pan out like I hoped, I was still excited that because I busted I got to play the 3k triple chance tournament that started the next day. It's called the triple chance tournament because players are allowed to choose to either get all their 9k chips at once, or take them 3k at a time and gamble a bit more since they could get their other chips whenever they wanted. Usually in a tournament like this I take all the chips I can get at once because then if I get myself in a good spot to double against someone who also bought the maximum in chips then I will end up with way more chips. Makes sense? Well I arrived a little late to start the day and was surprised to see several well known live players who had opted to buy in for the minimum, including Pokerstars (and Go Daddy!) pro Vanessa Rousso and Full Tilt pro Mandy Baker. There were also a few online regulars that I recognized, but as a whole I wasn't too worried about my table draw. Unfortunately due to the fact that our table was positioned directly under a massive air vent our whole table was moved to the cash game area over fear that the cards might blow around, and then broken about 4 hands after we moved. This whole process seemed completely ass backwards, but its the WSOP so I wasn't too surprised.

At my new table sat everyones 2nd favorite Canadian poker player Gavin Smith, and UB Poker pro Matt Graham among others. It wasn't long before I got into a massive confrontation with Gavin when I picked up A-A and 3-bet against his open raise knowing good and well that he is incapable of folding to one reraise preflop. As expected he came along for the ride, and we saw a 9c-8c-5d board. Needless to say this flop wasn't the greatest for my hand, but against Gavin I still couldn't really imagine folding with all the flush draw type hands hes capable of having, as well as overpairs I'm sure he would get it in with as well. I wasn't too happy when he check shoved all in on me, but I stuck with the plan and called to find that I was ahead but he was very live with the 4-7cc for a straight and flush draw. Miraculously I was able to fade his abundance of outs, and double up while sending him to the rail at the same time.

After this hand I pretty much went into god-mode, winning the majority of the pots I played including a big hand where i flopped trips and rivered a boat to bust Matt Graham. I was feeling good and stacking em to the top, as I basically took over as the table captain for the next few hours. I even remember a Middle Eastern man calling me a shark in his broken English everytime I opened a pot. That was a little awkward. I really started to pick up the aggression toward the end of the night as I knew many players were going to tighten up so they could safely make it to day 2, and there was one player at the table who I could tell was getting tired of it and I had a feeling that a big pot was bound to occur sooner or later between us.

It turned out that my instincts were dead on as he opened a pot from mid position and I looked down at J-J. Against this player I really had no problem with getting this hand in preflop knowing that he was getting tired of being pushed around and was bound to play back at me. I was in the cutoff and decided to put in a small reraise that could easily look like I was just trying to steal another pot from him, sure enough he put the rest of his 40bb stack in preflop and I snapped him off. I was indeed way ahead as he had snowmen, 8-8, but that didn't last long as an 8 materialized on the flop and I had to sit and watch in disguest as the biggest pot I had played that day was shipped away from me. Winning this hand would have put me in the top 5 in chips to end the day, but sadly it wasn't meant to be. Still, I didn't let it get to me and I finished the day strong, bagging up around 55k at 400-800 blinds.

The next day I got up a little early (anytime before 12 is early to me), and decided to hit the gym to get the blood flowing for the day. I honestly have to say it is completely absurd that you have to pay $20 to use a poor excuse for a gym for one day when you are staying at most hotels in Vegas. I suppose most poker players don't go to the gym though, so you wouldn't understand. Regardless after the workout session I was ready to go to war, as I sat down at my table to see tons of familiar faces of people I play with all the time online. Thats not usually a good sign, but I got the day started well after rivering a boat with T-T in a pretty weird pot against K-K and getting paid off, and then winning a pretty big race with 9-9 against A-K. It seemed like everything was in place for me to make a deep run with how well I felt I was playing on top of how good I was running. Then the madman Tommy Vedes, who recently won a WPT this year, sat down was a chip stack that was so immense it nearly collapsed the table. I wasn't really looking to play a big pot with the man, but these things just happen. I picked up K-K in early position and made a standard open and wasn't the least bit surprised when he put his big stack to work and decided to 3- bet me. Now I could obviously flat here and trap, but I'm not really looking to play this pot with a positional disadvantage against a very good, albeit slightly crazy post-flop player. I decided to put in a small 4-bet to try to induce a shove, but instead he decided to just flat. Weird. The flop was Q high and I was pretty much ready to get it in so I made another small bet in an attempt to induce a raise, but instead he mulled it over for nearly 5 minutes and then folded. I'm nearly certain he was hollywooding, Vedes likes to take as much time as possible to make every decision from what I saw. He actually almost busted his massive stack right before the money, but instead in true Vedes fashion binked a 2 outer to stay alive.

Soon after this hand we were in the money, and somehow I was still in good shape to actually have a worthwhile live performance. I wasn't too bummed when I was moved to another table of mostly all online guys including John "Sketchy1" Eaton and Bradley "Fatsofat6969" Craig. I decided that at this table I could use my tight online image to do some work, and I was able to chip up a good amount by making a couple moves here and there. Sadly all good things come to an end, and this one came to a quick one as I was uprooted from this table and moved to the table of doom after only a few orbits. I knew that it was the table of doom because Jared "thewacokidd" Hamby let me know immediately as I sat down. This table was full of very aggressive players including Pokerstars pro Florian Langmann, Fulltilt pros Adam Junglen and David Singer and online pro Ryan Welch who actually went on to take this event down. The action was fast and furious, and it didn't help that I was as card dead as possible. I did try to raise a few marginal hands but was quickly met with resistance. Finally I picked up a real hand in A-Ks with 140k at 4k-8k blinds. A player in middle postion opened and I knew I had to go with this hand so I announced I was all in. It wasn't a good sigh when it didn't take long for thewacokidd to announce he was also all in over the top of my shove. I was hoping for the best as I asked if we had the same hand, to which he responsed "Probably not" as he flipped over his A-A. Talk about your coolers. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get any help from the board and I was out in 42nd.

Although it came to such a bitter end, I really enjoyed playing in this event and I felt much more comfortable in the live environment this time around. I also thought it was pretty awesome that I went from 2 lifetime cashes in live events to 2 cashes in 2 tournaments in a row. Now I feel like it is only a matter of time before a breakout live score. I have to say congratulations to Ryan Welch for winning his first bracelet in this event, and also congrats to Jon "Sketchy1" Eaton who took 2nd for a nice payday as well.

Check out more of my work at www.pokerworks.com

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Trying to get lucky in Vegas

Posted by ChipSteela

Well it’s been almost 3 weeks since I got to Vegas and miraculously I don’t want to blow my brains out yet. If you have been reading my past pieces you’d know that for some reason Vegas has been like a black hole of frustration for me these past few years, but this year I was determined to make it a better experience. From the beginning of the trip I knew this year was going to be different, as I managed to win my first 3 credit card roulettes against my roommates, proving to be a good omen of things to come.

The next day I woke up just in time for the $1500 WSOP event, but that didn’t last long. I got a pretty easy table draw and was able to win a majority of the pots I played in the early levels, however they were all small pots and didn’t really add up to much since they never got further then the flop. I couldn’t get much going after the first break, and since the structure was so terrible you basically have to double up in the first few levels to have any shot, I was out the door in no time when I shoved the short stack with the K-Q and got called by the J-J. Somehow the online nuts didn’t come through for me, and it was on to the next one.

I decided to play the 1k event the next day since its known for drawing weaker fields, and also for some reason has a better structure then the $1500 though you start off with less chips. I’m really not sure what these people are thinking when they design the structure for a lot of these lower buy-in tourneys at the WSOP. Anyways, I missed a few flops early but then was able to double up with the 5-7o when I flopped two pair and check- raised the flop against an older guy who seemed pretty fishy. The board ran out pretty unfavorably for me putting a 4 card straight on the turn, but when he checked back the turn and a K hit the river I decided that he probably didn’t have the straight and decided to go for max value and shoved in my stack for around a pot sized bet. The man couldn’t call fast enough with his rivered top pair, as he had the K-Q. I can’t make up these hand histories, the players are really that bad out here. I turned up the aggression the rest of the day, and was able to build a pretty decent sized stack. It also didn’t hurt that I picked up A-A in a very opportune spot where a short stack shoved and a deep stacked player shoved over the top to isolate the short stack. I was able to hold and finally make a day 2 appearance with a stack where I had a legitimate shot at going deep.

Day 2 of the 1k started well, as I drew a super weak table, and had no problem chipping up. That was until I decided to make a play on a tighter player right around the money bubble. I 3-bet his open on the button with the 5-7o, and got myself into a pretty bad spot on a Q-5-Q-6-5 board when I rivered a boat against his bigger boat. That was a minor set-back, but I didn’t let it get to me. I had no problem finishing in the money, and was able to double up with A-T against an aggressive online player’s A-6. Since my stack was made up of only black chips at this point I jokingly asked the player to pay me in all blacks and he did just that. My stack was now looking monstrous, unfortunately black chips are only worth 100 so it wasn’t worth anywhere near what it appeared to be. But hey, its all about appearance anyways, right?

A few hands later I was moved to another table with heads up specialist Oliver “Livb112” Bousquet on my direct left. Him having heaps of chips and position on me is the stuff nightmares are made of, as he 3-bet my raises every opportunity that arose. Though I’m nearly certain I didn’t win a single pot against Livb, I did take advantage of one spot where I opened UTG with A-8s , and since the player in the small blind wasn’t paying attention he tried to open for a raise thinking I had already folded. He was forced to put in a minimum raise folding out the player in the big blind, but since I was nearly certain not only that his raise was completely an accident but also that he could have such a wide range since he thought he was only raising blind vs. blind I decided it was a great spot to make a move. Once the action got back to me I thought for a few seconds then announced that I was all-in, some may call this an angle shoot but I think that if the player isn’t paying attention than its fair game to capitalize on his mistake. It would have been hilarious if he had a monster here, but I think he’s nearly always folding in this spot, which he quickly did.

After that hand I couldn’t get much going once we returned from the dinner break of Day 2, and soon found myself hovering around 20bbs at a pretty tough table full of those damn internet wiz kids. I picked up A-Qo in the hijack and decided I was probably going to have to go with this hand after I opened for a raise. I got flatted by the button, and then an aggressive internet player in the big blind announced he was all in pretty quickly in a spot that really seemed like it could be a squeeze play. Online I wouldn’t give much thought about getting it in with this hand in a spot like this, but because I had already committed 2 days of my life to this tournament and wasn’t really trying to bust making a bad call when I feel like I had a legitimate shot of going deep for a nice score, I had to actually consider my options. I came to the conclusion that from what I’d seen so far this player was definitely capable of making a play in this spot, and if I was wrong the 3k event was tomorrow and I wasn’t just trying to coast into day 3 of this 1k event with 20bbs anyways. After some deliberation I called, and was shown the bad news when the player revealed his A-K. I got no help from the deck and busted in 109th.

I have to tell you that getting paid 3k for playing nearly 2 days of poker is just about like kissing your sister and I’m not from West Virginia, but luckily I had the Vegas nightlife to soften the blow. Still, I was happy to have finally broke my Vegas curse and actually cash in a tournament. This score brought some confidence and I had a few more events on my schedule, including the 3k triple chance which remarkably had a decent structure so I was looking forward to it. I felt a deep run coming in my blood, but you guys will have to check back next time to see if I actually pulled through.

If you would like to check out some of my earlier work go to pokerworks.com where i have been a contributing writer for over a year

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Quest for the Top 10

Posted by ChipSteela

I have to admit these past few months have been more than hectic for me. I never really imagined that I would be able to get to the level I have finally achieved in online poker, and now that I’m here it’s just made me more hungry to improve my game. The Sunday Million win on Full Tilt Poker launched a snowball effect for me, giving me the confidence to continue rising in the online tournament rankings and perhaps it also brought with it some needed run-good momentum. Now I’m in striking distance of the coveted top ten as posted on the infamous Pocketfives.com top 100 rankings.

For those who aren’t aware this ranking system is a world renowned system based on both statistics and the opinions of top ranked players. In order to keep these rankings as current as possible, scores progressively go down every few months after the initial score. All of these factors make it the most accurate ranking system possible, and because of this it is viewed as the standard for online poker tournament rankings. Before this year I had been sporadically moving up and down in these rankings never getting higher than the top 50, and for that reason I never really gave too much thought to them. However much like someone who jumps on the bandwagon when their local team finally goes deep in a sport and makes it to the championships (You know who you are), I finally got interested once I actually had a shot at the glory that is the top ten too be placed in a list along with the greats of the game like Gboro780, Moorman1, and DJK123.

Right now I find myself hovering in the top 20 on the rankings, on the strength of a few nice wins after the Million, the biggest being a win in the UB $500 150k guaranteed tournament for right around 40k. I feel pretty blessed to have had the success I’ve had these past few months, and I believe that as long as I continue to dedicate myself to improving my game that I may actually have a snowballs chance in hell at cracking the top ten. The way I see it the only real obstacles in my path are 1. time since my huge score will go down in value very soon here and with that that will come a noticeable decrease in my score 2. the cruel bitch that is MTT variance.

Poker is a very streaky game, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I have been on one hell of a hot streak lately.
The problem is that during these streaks we get so used to winning that we hardly even appreciate the success we are having because we just begin to expect it. I’m telling you now that if you find yourself in this spot definitely make the most of each win. Go pop Cristal at the club and make it rain as the kids say these days, because a few weeks later the inevitable downswing will once again rear its ugly head leaving you wondering if all those scores were just a fluke and if you will ever be able to have that kind of run again. This is actually the number one thing that frustrates me the most about poker. It’s not about the bad beats, it’s the fact that a month ago it seemed like I was winning everything and now I can’t even cash in a $30r tournament. After the years I’ve put into poker I’ve realized that this is only part of the game, but some of the best advice I can give to someone who just got into the game and is running like god is to strap yourself in because it’s not always going to be rainbows and butterflies. Variance can mess with your psyche more than the most psycho girlfriend you have ever had, and for this reason I think it will be my biggest obstacle in my quest for the top ten.

Time is also definitely a factor since I know longer have any desire to grind all day sessions 5 days a week. I actually have cut down my volume substantially, and some weeks I only play 2 days. These next few weeks I will be in Vegas trying to break my live curse, so that gives me even less time since I’ll more than likely only be playing online on Sundays out here. I really can’t see myself grinding online with all the distractions of Sin City looming in the background. Really all it takes is one more decently big score though and maybe a little bit more love from the pro poll and I should be able to make it happen. One time for the kid?

It is definitely time for a much deserved and needed vacation from the online felt, so I’ll be in Vegas the next 3 weeks at the WSOP attempting to not suck at live poker. For those interested in keeping up with my status out here you can follow me on Twitter @endlessj. Yea that’s right I’m on Twitter now, feel free to hate all you want. I’ve said it a few times before, but I really think this is going to be my year at the series. I’m so sure of it that I’m even playing the main event this year. Hopefully I’ll see some of you guys out here in Vegas, and if you recognize me come up and say what’s up. I also plan to keep the blog updated while I’m out here so check back soon.

If you would like to check out some of my earlier work go to pokerworks.com where i have been a contributing writer for over a year

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The Sunday Million Pt. 2- The Final Table

Posted by ChipSteela

So finally after all the time of put into poker I got my chance to shine going into the final table of this massive tournament with the chip lead. Knowing what I did from the player’s stats, I went to the final table with the game plan of opening as many pots as possible just to see what I would be able to get away with. To my surprise absolutely no one played back at me, and I was able to take down pot after pot uncontested. This allowed me to add some extra padding to my stack in case I did take a few beats. Despite the amount of hands I’d been winning, I hadn’t seen many playable hands at the ft so far, so when I picked up the Aces I was hoping that maybe the other guys had had enough of me bullying them around and would pick this opportunity to make a move on me. Well someone did, however they had a real hand in Q-Q and I was in great shape to have an overwhelming chip lead if only I could hold. I guess the Poker Gods decided they wanted to make me work a little hard for this one, because one of those Qs my opponent needed popped out right on the flop. Normally I would get frustrated after losing such a key pot, but I had so much confidence at this final table that I didn’t even let this beat phase me. I just continued to chip away at the other player’s stacks by stealing the blinds and antes whenever I felt I could get away with it, and also three betting players who had decent sized stacks and I could tell were waiting for the shorter stacked players to bust before they really wanted to get involved in any huge pots. This strategy worked like a charm and I was back to my rightful position as chip leader in just a few orbits.

Slowly my opponents started busting around me, and as we got to four handed play some of the other players brought up the idea of a chop. I gave no thought to the idea considering the edge I felt I had, but the fact that both these players wanted one so bad allowed me to turn up the aggression even more as I let them think I would consider one giving them false hope. I felt that this would cause them to play even tighter thinking that if they stick around a little while longer that a chop might actually happen and they could make a lot more money. This couldn’t have worked out better for me, as over and over I just raped these player’s blinds. You gotta do what you gotta do when there is this much money at stake.

Everything was going even better than I had hoped at the final table so far. That is until the Swedish player (Issalloverbeby) on my left decided he was tired of me stealing his blinds and took a stand by moving all in on my button raise with the glorious Q-T. I had A-9 which is a pretty strong hand 4- handed, but I could also tell that this particular player was getting to the point where they were going to make a move on me soon with how aggressive I was playing so A-9 figured to be ahead of his range of hands that he would move in on me with. I made the call, and though it was a good call we all know that just because you make a good call doesn’t mean that you are going to win the pot. A Q flopped and T came on the turn and I was left drawing dead. After losing that pot I was still in good shape, but my Swedish friend was getting stronger as he busted a player a few hands later getting us down to 3 handed play.

Once we were 3 handed I noticed a huge change, as the Swede really turned up the aggression on me. We were basically even in chips, so I continued to play with the same aggressive style that had been working so well against him all final table, but at this point it seemed he had decided he wasn’t putting up with it anymore… or maybe he sold his account to JJ prodigy, who really knows. It also didn’t help that it looked like the player who was 3rd place in chips (ThugER) with a short stack was sitting out since he was folding each hand very quickly and playing hardly any hands. Because it looked like he was sitting out I’m guessing the Swede thought he could put more pressure on me since the other player was pretty much out of the equation. Well the Swede and I soon ended up clashing in an all in confrontation when I picked up the A-Q, which is a monster in 3 handed play, and given the fact that he was opening every button I had no plans of folding to him. I thought I was going to vomit when he snapped call my shove with A-K and I was completely dominated. I once again cursed the Poker Gods as it looked like my run was over. I was given a little more hope when the flop came down with all clubs since I held the Ac for the nut flush draw. I groaned when the turn was a blank, but when the club appeared on the river I unleashed the world’s hardest fist pump. I then busted ThugER when my A-K held against his J-8s, and we were finally down to heads up play.

In the past I’ve had some pretty absurd things happen while playing heads up, and since there was no chop discussed at this point we were playing for the 80k difference between 1st and 2nd. To be honest, I’m just not enough of a degen to play for this kind of money despite my 2-1 chip lead and the fact that this player’s stats didn’t exactly send the message that I was playing with the protégé of Phil Ivey. Since I did have double my opponent’s chips, if we did negotiate a deal I would still get quite a large sum of money so it made sense to me. At first I tried to ask for a little more from him based on the huge difference between our stats, but really I was fine with taking the ICM amount of 170k that my stack was worth at this point. I just didn’t want to give him any more money, and I think that by first asking for more and then decreasing my demands I was able to pull this off. After going back and forth for a few minutes we were able to agree on the ICM amounts provided, and then play for the remaining 10k that Full Tilt stipulates you have to leave aside for the winner. After the deal was struck it didn’t take long for me to put the nail in the coffin. I was opening nearly every button, as I usually do when playing heads up because of the positional advantage post flop, and this time I woke up with A-Ko. My opponent was starting to defend his blinds much more loosely, and I was able to get him to call off his remaining stack on the river after the board rolled out A-J-5-4-A. After barreling the flop and turn, I over bet the pot on the river because from the way he had called both my bets I figured he would never fold this river since there were no draws on the board and my range was very polarized to either trip As or better, or absolute air. He made the call with T-J for two pair, and it was all over baby.

So that’s how it went down. It feels absolutely incredible to finally pull off the kind of win that may just put me up there with online poker’s most elite. It also doesn’t hurt that I made 5-6 times what most people make in a year in one day’s work. To be honest that seems kind of absurd. I hope this win will be an inspiration to those grinding tournaments for a mild profit that if you put in some serious time and dedication in this game, some day it will all come together for you in grand fashion. I’m off to go live the good life. Peace

If you would like to check out some of my earlier work go to pokerworks.com where i have been a contributing writer for over a yea

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The Sunday Million Pt. 1

Posted by ChipSteela

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been in this business for over three years now. When I look back on my poker career so far I can’t really be too upset, I’ve accomplished some incredible things that I never could have imagined including well over a million in winnings collectively, five poker triple crowns, and countless deep finishes in major tournaments. I’ve been pretty blessed to have the results I have, but still I’ve felt like there has always been something missing from my poker resume, that being that one big score that people will always remember you for. You know what I mean, that tournament win that makes you feel like putting in countless hours grinding online and working on your game was all totally worth it. Well after being so close so many times now and always falling short, I was starting to feel like this elusive score was merely a fantasy and I was doomed to envy and curse those who were actually able to run good enough to pull it off. Well believe it or not, that all changed last weekend.

The Sunday grind started off like any other. I built several stacks only to see them disappear in front of my eyes after a few lost races, some kamikaze plays that didn’t pan out, and one painstaking 2-outer on the river deep in the Sunday Brawl. I’ve actually been trying hard to maintain a positive mindset when everything starts to go to all wrong early in the day, after all on Sunday it really only takes one win to make the day a success. I’ve found that if you let yourself get tilted the rest of the day just becomes miserable, with little chance to finish on a positive note. This was a pretty big Sunday to, as it was the one time a month when Full Tilt runs a $500 with a $1 million guarantee and a deep stacked structure that allows for much more play. Armed with a positive attitude and more focus from playing a few less tables then usual I began my assault on the tournament.

I was able to build a stack early by playing aggressively and making some big hands. It also didn’t hurt that I started off at a dream table full of subpar players that probably satellited in and couldn’t help but to pay me off like they were Tiger Woods trying to keep countless women on the side quiet. Unlucky Tiger, we still love you… Anyways, thanks to the slow structure I was able to play my stack pretty solidly, but I can’t deny that I was also getting hit by the deck in pretty absurd fashion as well. I flopped several sets in big multiway pots, and always seemed to have the best of it when the money went in. Once we got into the money I started getting played back at from all angles, and it didn’t help that I was pretty card dead for about an hour causing my stack to slump a little with around 150 left. It seemed like it was as good a time as any to go on a sick run, so that’s exactly what I did.

First, I won a 3 way all in with T-T against T-J and K-Q to put me in much better shape. An orbit later I picked up the A-K when a short stacked player in early position moved in, and with around 35bbs in my stack I also put all my chips in the middle in an attempt to isolate the all in player. I was not happy when another player behind me also moved in without much hesitation leading me to believe that I was in trouble. Well the short stack player showed up with 6-6 but the other player had K-K and I was left thinking fml, not again. Imagine my surprise to see the flop roll out with an A-T-J, and when the rest of the board bricked a monster pot shipped my way.

These are the kinds of hands that can really put you back into the tournament in a major way, and it’s almost a necessity these days to have luck on your side with how aggressive poker has become. I used the chips gained from these hands, and also a monster flip I won against a tough player with J-J against their A-K to propel me to the final table with the chip lead. I was also incredibly fortunate to have some very good players that could have made my life much more difficult bust out on the final table bubble. Some of these players included Cdbr3799, Ryanbluf and Wywrot. With these sickos out of the hunt I was very confident that I could push around the remaining players just looking to move up the pay ladder, especially since after looking up my table using the Bluff Magazine tool I found that most of these guys weren’t even winning players according to their tournament stats.

Check back next time to see if I was actually able to pull off this amazing feat, and finally ship that 6-figure score that I have been chasing after for 3 years now.

If you would like to check out some of my earlier work go to pokerworks.com where i have been a contributing writer for over a year

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No Longer the Victim

Posted by ChipSteela

Hey what’s up guys, I apologize for the lapse in time since my last entry. I have been pretty busy being a “poker superstar“these past few months. It ‘s funny, I have had consistently good results for almost 4 years now in online tournaments and not until my recent big score had I been sought after for articles and interviews by major publications. I guess it really does a take a score like that for people to take notice. Now you can check out my insight on an interesting hand from that Sunday Million victory in this month’s Cardplayer, hear an interview I gave to them over the phone on their website, and even look for a feature on me in an upcoming Cardplayer. I never thought that sitting around the house in my underwear playing poker could ever lead to this kind of celebrity, and to be honest it doesn’t really even seem real. I’ve even found myself being placed in the top 20 in the world in the online poker rankings at Pocketfives.com since that win, an honor that I feel I hardly deserve. All this attention is a bit tough to deal with it, but I am just taking it in stride. In the meantime I’m going to let you guys in on one of the huge secrets to my tournament success this past year.

No I didn’t go out and read the book “The Secret” and just start mowing down tournament fields left and right, however this secret does have little to do with strategy and a lot to do with mindset. I’d say that for the past few years until recently, I’ve really made myself a victim to the game of poker. I know you’re thinking what the hell does he mean by that, well I mean that I had convinced myself the reason that I hadn’t gotten any of the really big scores that I had so often seen my friends accomplish was simply because I didn’t run as good as they did. It is so much easier to blame shortcomings on the cards then to really look deep into your own game, and I had gotten to the point where I was so set on this mindset that I would almost subconsciously hope for bad beats just so I could send them to all my friends on AIM in order to further prove how bad I run. I know it sounds ridiculous, but the mind can come up with all kinds of excuses to explain failure.

To add to that I surrounded myself with a circle of friends that would just send bad beat hand histories back in forth instead of discussing hands to actually help our game. Really when you think about it, when you are surrounded by this much negativity how the hell are you supposed to win. It almost becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, which for those of you who didn’t major in Psych in college is basically the idea that you are so positive things are a certain way that you behave in a way that help cause them to be that way even if that isn’t necessarily the way they really are. I knew that Psych degree would come in handy one day.

At the start of this year I got a reality check when I was at the PCA tournament in January and came to find out that my friends were more than tired of hearing about my poor luck. I didn’t want to be that guy that was better known for whining and complaining then his actual poker game, so it was at this point I realized it was definitely time for a change. I made it my mission to resist complaining about bad beats and sending the hand histories to friends no matter how brutal that they were. It was tough at first, but after awhile I found that I was enjoying my poker grinding sessions more and more and on top of that my results were noticeably improving as well. I was discussing more hands from a strategy stand point with friends whose game I respected, and this was allowing my approach to poker to evolve to a new level . The thing with online poker is that people see so many hands an hour when multitabling so the game really does evolve at a ridiculous pace, and if you get to the point where you have no desire to continue working on your game and learning new things then your results will suffer drastically.

When you couple this drive to always stay on top of the game with a positive mindset you make yourself a dangerous opponent on the felt. The fact of the matter is that there are always going to be bad beats in poker, no matter how hard it is to accept. It’s inevitable. We have no control over what cards come out, however we do have control over how we choose to react when that two-outer does come on the river next time. The more we let these things eat at us, the more bitter we become both on the felt and in our lives away from poker. Trust me, I’ve been there. I’m just saying if we do have the power to choose, why not choose to see them as minor road blocks in our path to success? That’s how I’ve decided to see it, and it seems to be working out for me so far. Alright, I’m stepping down from my soap box now.

No matter how corny it sounds, this whole positive mindset thing can really improve your game. There is no point in turning the game we love into a game that is out to get us, because once we do its really all downhill from there. Look for my next entry sooner than later as I’ll be preparing for the WSOP and continuing to grind online in my quest to reach top 10 in the world in online poker before the end of this year.

If you would like to check out some of my earlier work go to pokerworks.com where i have been a contributing writer for over a year

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