A little Starcraft player's journey into Poker - funnyclock's blog

    • funnyclock
      Joined: 06.06.2011 Posts: 68
      After about 4-5 days of diving into the world of Poker and motivated by the thriving community, I've decided to start this thread to keep track of my Poker progress, and have a thread to look back to in years ahead.

      My brief history

      Unlike a lot of the people successful in Poker around here, I'm already 24 years old and continuing to age. In my whole life I've always been a competitive guy and I like to win at everything that I'm serious about, which includes activities like chess, piano, guitar, basketball, swimming, Starcraft, and various kinds of sports. Unfortunately, due to the lack of interest in my studies, I failed my third year of my degree in a local university and don't have the motivation to continue any more. Together with a partner of mine, we launched a new startup company related to the computer gaming marketing in 2010. To date, our little company is still very small.

      How I got into Poker

      As I mentioned above, I was always a competitive player. Having spent many years in Starcraft, but not seriously practicing at all I'm semi-decent at the local scene, winning some local tournaments before but not anything big or international. Back then there's this website called TeamLiquid.net where we read that some professional gamers (Elky, Nazgul, Rekrul, ilnp, etc) switched to Poker and made lots of money. I paid no attention back then.

      Fast forward some years later, PokerStrategy.com sponsored the Teamliquid Starleague, which featured all the best players in the foreign scene, which was the first time I've heard about this site. Again, I paid no attention back then.

      Fast forwarding again, one of my close friends in Starcraft (now Starcraft 2) from China switched to Poker and told me that it's a really good place to channel your competitive spirits into. And so I went "oh well I don't see why trying hurts", made an account on PokerStars and deposited $50. I knew I should read some guides or articles before I started but I wanted to see how I'd fare without any knowledge at all. Needless to say, I blew all $50 in an hour or 2 playing 0.50/1.00 FL. Holy shit, I was such a big big fish back then - in this case, about a week ago. And suddenly PokerStrategy.com came to mind (thanks to the sponsoring!) and I registered myself, got my $50, and it started from there.

      One of my goals in Poker would be to catch up to my day earnings, so I would be profiting whether at work or at play!

      Current situation

      As much as I'd like to channel all my time into Poker, I have a mini business to maintain and keep myself fed every month. So I could only spend about 4 hours on average every weekday and maybe more on the weekends. I'd like to see myself as a relatively fast learner in everything I've approached or taken an interest to, but I would definitely take everything in as a humble new fish. After about 4-5 days of studying/playing Poker, I can manage to play MSS NL according to the charts by heart.

      Currently I'm playing MSS NL5 on Rush tables, as it allows me to practice the charts pretty quickly, and I think practicing and familiarizing on the micro limits is the most important thing. Not doing really well though, at about ~4k hands played, I'm down to $35 in my BR. Since I'm following the pre-flop charts perfectly like a robot, some bad post-flop decisions caused my -bb/hands.

      I'll continue to post updates in this thread and again, thank you for this amazing community!
  • 24 replies
    • funnyclock
      Joined: 06.06.2011 Posts: 68
      My plan now is to practice at NL5 until I reach the BR needed for NL10, playing Rush tables to fully practice the possible starting hands, playing strictly according to the charts. I've read about odds and pot odds calculations today but decided not to implement it in my game yet.

      If anyone is reading my thread at all, I'd like to know:

      1. When is the best limit to stop playing Rush and start playing regular FR tables?
      2. How far can playing strictly according to the charts without applying any calculations at all take me?
      3. How far can MSS take me? I'll need to switch to BSS after a certain BR cushion for the higher limits am I right?
    • IngridN
      Joined: 02.03.2011 Posts: 12,162
      Great story funnyclock! really! I enjoyed reading it and its really great to have you with us! :)

      Looking forward to see your progress! :club:

    • Kruppe
      Joined: 20.02.2008 Posts: 2,144
      you have any vods?

      if you move up a bit, maybe we I can give some poker coaching and get some SC2 coaching :D

      am gold 1v1 atm

      oh yeah:
      NL200 FR rush doesn't run nowadays, so i guess that answers your question. you can play NL400 though.
    • Salivanth
      Joined: 01.01.2011 Posts: 587
      Hey funnyclock, good to see another Team Liquid guy, even if I was always an SC2 fish! Here's some help from a Starcraft players point of view:

      1) Like Brood War, it will take time to get decent at Poker and learn to beat players who know what they're doing. If you plan to play 4 hours a day though, you'll do it a lot faster than I did.

      2) In StarCraft, the key to winning at the beginner levels is macro macro macro. In Poker, the key to winning at the beginner levels is value betting. Don't slowplay your big hands, get the money in. You can slowplay on certain boards, but you'll learn about that later.

      3) Study! Massgaming in Poker is about as ineffective as massgaming in Starcraft to learn. You must study if you wish to move forward, as well as play. The articles on this site are a great start.

      4) SSS/MSS is like an SC2 4-gate. It's easy to learn, it's effective, and there are variations of it that can win even at high levels. (Though in SC2 a 4-gate can be used as part of a strategy in world-class tournaments, in the best cash games MSS is inferior to BSS as it's easier to play against. Think a 4-gate but the opponent knows you're doing it as soon as you start.)

      However, in the end, if you wish to truly learn the game, you'll eventually want to switch to BSS once you get the mechanics under your belt. You don't have to rush into that.

      Also, you'll need to have a strong mindset, and to deal with variance. You're a skilled SC2 player: If you were to play me in a best of 100 series, you'd probably win like, 95+ of them, maybe all 100 if I couldn't surprise you with cheese. If a skilled Poker player were to play you HU, if you knew the basics of HU you'd expect to win at least a third of them. Poker is a game of small edges. In SC2, you will almost always beat a weaker player. In Poker that's not the case, and you must accept that. You win in the long term, not always in the short term.

      However, I'm confident that another Liquidian can do it! Good luck!
    • funnyclock
      Joined: 06.06.2011 Posts: 68
      Didn't expect such fast replies :)

      IngridN: Thanks, I'll try hard to improve!

      Kruppe: Nope, I don't have any VODs and I wasn't that good in SC2. Was about mid-high diamond when the last season ended and I almost stopped playing 1v1 competitively coz it's not profitable time-wise for me, as we like to use that word around here.

      Salivanth: Wow... Those comparisons to Starcraft cleared the cloud in my head like I never thought possible! Thanks a whole bunch. Anyway, I'm stopping almost all my gaming hobbies to make time for poker and get small amount of sleep daily (about 5+ hours, and slightly more on days with swimming sessions because I'll need a lot of energy on those). I guess I'll be 4-gating my way into the next limit then at least.

      I understand the factor of luck in Poker and it is that kind of game, but sometimes hands like these really bring the wtf out of me. I need to constantly remind myself to play like a robot.

      Hand converted with online PokerStrategy.com hand converter:

      Play hand

      $0.02/$0.05 No-Limit Hold'em (9 handed)

      Known players:
      BU (Hero):

      Preflop: Hero is BU with Q, K.
      UTG1 folds, UTG2 calls $0.05, 4 folds, Hero raises to $0.20, 2 folds, UTG2 calls $0.15.

      Flop: ($0.47) 2, 6, 7 (2 players)
      UTG2 checks, Hero bets $0.25, UTG2 calls $0.25.

      Turn: ($0.97) K (2 players)
      UTG2 checks, Hero bets $0.60, UTG2 raises to $1.20, Hero raises to $1.36, UTG2 calls $0.16.

      River: ($3.69) 9 (2 players)

      Final Pot: $3.69.
      Results follow:

      Hero shows a pair of kings(Q K).
      UTG2 shows a straight, ten high(T 8).

      UTG2 wins with a straight, ten high(T 8).

      Tomorrow will be a better day I hope!
    • Salivanth
      Joined: 01.01.2011 Posts: 587
      Glad I could help! I like to help people, even though I'm like a silver player coaching a bronze :P

      As for the bad beats, you'll get used to it eventually. When I started, a bad beat like that was "Ugh, that sucks." Then it was "Awesome, the other 9 times out of 10 that happens I'll stack the guy". Then it was "Meh." I don't even care about bad beats any more, I'm used to them. As long as you don't spew money while tilting, it's a natural part of a Poker player's growth. If you feel yourself tilting, just leave, and you'll be fine. Playing like a robot is far harder than simply admitting to yourself when your emotions are rising, and stepping away from the table for a while. Over time it will take more to tilt you.

      Also, instead of saying "Profitable time-wise" the buzzword is "+EV" (Or -EV). It means plus expected value, in other words, you should benefit from that move if it's done infinite times (So that luck is removed from the equation.) For example, going all-in preflop with a pair of Aces is very +EV. Doing it with seven-two offsuit is very -EV. So playing 1v1 wasn't +EV for you any longer :)
    • Wriggers
      Joined: 21.07.2009 Posts: 3,250
      Nice blog :D I will follow it.

      Do you have Holdem Manager by the way? Or any other tracking software? If you don't I would suggest that you invest in that as soon as possible. Either by buying Holdem Manager or Pokertracker or by downloading the Elephant software from this fine site :)
    • funnyclock
      Joined: 06.06.2011 Posts: 68
      Wriggers: I was looking at PokerTracker and Holdem Manager, but discovered Elephant here so I downloaded and started using it 2 days ago. Is there any big difference between the tracker software that I need to purchase and Elephant?

      Anyway I'll try to play at least 1k-2k hands per day and see how long it'll take me to bounce back to the positive part of my graphs and hit $160 to move on to the next limit.
    • funnyclock
      Joined: 06.06.2011 Posts: 68
      Downloaded Hold'em Manager to try for 15 days - and I could only describe it as overwhelming. Trying to work out all the configs and get the time zone correctly. If all these work out I'll probably start out by buying the micro stakes version when the trial expires. Thanks for the tip!

      So much to learn..... so much to learn.....
    • funnyclock
      Joined: 06.06.2011 Posts: 68
      Played an hour of NL5 Rush before going to work. I'm getting very addicted :P Managed to lose all my little winnings at one badly played hand and ended up a negative earnings session.

      Grabbed by Holdem Manager
      NL Holdem $0.05(BB) Replayer
      SB ($6.04)
      BB ($4.81)
      UTG ($6.04)
      UTG+1 ($5.07)
      Hero ($2.26)
      MP1 ($5)
      MP2 ($1.87)
      CO ($3.20)
      BTN ($2.40)

      Dealt to Hero A:heart: K:spade: , fold, UTG+1 calls $0.05, Hero raises to $0.20, fold, fold, CO calls $0.20, fold, fold, fold, UTG+1 calls $0.15

      FLOP ($0.67) T:heart: 2:club: K:diamond:

      UTG+1 checks, Hero bets $0.30, CO folds, UTG+1 calls $0.30

      TURN ($1.27) T:heart: 2:club: K:diamond: 7:diamond:

      UTG+1 bets $0.70, Hero raises to $1.76 (AI), UTG+1 calls $1.06

      RIVER ($4.79) T:heart: 2:club: K:diamond: 7:diamond: 9:spade:

      UTG+1 shows J:diamond: Q:diamond:
      (Pre 40%, Flop 31.5%, Turn 31.8%)

      Hero shows A:heart: K:spade:
      (Pre 60%, Flop 68.5%, Turn 68.2%)

      UTG+1 wins $4.48

      From this case and previous stats I suspect that I CBet top pair too aggressively in a lot of situations which causes -EV in the long run (am I using that noun correctly? lol). I'll post this hand in the evaluations forum and see what the coaches think. Hopefully it's my first big leak that I fix!
    • Salivanth
      Joined: 01.01.2011 Posts: 587
      If you did misplay that hand, I don't think you misplayed the way you thought. I would have raised to 5BB preflop, because of the limper, and bet bigger on the flop. TPTK is definitely a hand you're willing to go broke with. In fact, when you got it in on the turn, you were ahead. I think you c-bet top pair too passively tbh, I would have bet 2/3 pot there, especially in a multiway pot. It's just a bad beat, imo.

      Of course, the coaches will know better than I will.
    • funnyclock
      Joined: 06.06.2011 Posts: 68
      Thanks Salivanth. Got a bit of insights from Gerv in the evaluation thread. It's really useful to review the hands that I lost and have a forum specially dedicated to it, just like how we watch the replays that we lost in SC in order to learn something new/correct a mistake, and in this case in Poker, fix the leaks.

      The mileage that I put into Poker these few days hasn't been nearly ideal, as real life always gets in the way :( At the rate that I'm progressing I wonder how long will it take for me to reach the next limit - when ending a day breaking even are consider good days for me right now. Nearing the 8k hands mark though (and I know 8k is nothing), hope I can put more time into studying and grinding NL5 next week.
    • Salivanth
      Joined: 01.01.2011 Posts: 587
      Anytime. Yeah, the hand evaluation forums are very useful, especially the BSS ones, as hands get evaluated very fast there.
    • mayapnd
      Joined: 15.07.2010 Posts: 131
      Very nice blog, i'm bookmarking this aswell!

      Just one thing,
      It's really useful to review the hands that I lost
      Never think that winning or losing a hand means you played it good or bad. Of course it is more probable to win when you play good, but my point is: also post in the evaluation forum hands that won you money, since you can also find lots of leaks in your winning hands!

      Good luck with your new poker career!
    • Salivanth
      Joined: 01.01.2011 Posts: 587
      Maya has a great point, I've posted plenty of hands where I won and felt I should have won more money. Value betting is SOOO important at the micros that it's important to be sure you're doing it as well as possible.
    • Targetme
      Joined: 04.05.2009 Posts: 1,888
      Eh interesting I played in the first team liquid starleague. Your english is good so your very likely canadian either way it was a small community we probly met
    • funnyclock
      Joined: 06.06.2011 Posts: 68
      Reached Silver status today, despite the noobness in my Poker skills, we shall see if the Silver articles can take me to the next level! All these vague terms that people are discussing around here (equity, range, etc) - I need to learn it.

      Salivanth: So far the only notion I know of value betting is to bet when you have a strong hand and usually bet 3/4 of the pot.

      Originally posted by Targetme
      Eh interesting I played in the first team liquid starleague. Your english is good so your very likely canadian either way it was a small community we probly met
      Hi Targetme. I'm actually from Malaysia and my English isn't really that good. I've never played in the Starleague though, way beyond my skill level :P Looks like there's a lot of ex-SC players around here!
    • Salivanth
      Joined: 01.01.2011 Posts: 587
      Well I bet 2/3 pot, but you get the idea :P Theoretically, the idea of value betting is to bet when enough weaker hands in his range call to make it a profitable move. In reality, if I have a good enough hand, I just value-bet without thinking of ranges most of the time.
    • funnyclock
      Joined: 06.06.2011 Posts: 68
      Played a lot of NL5 Rush due to the Rush week bonuses. Got sick today and instead of resting properly I played an hour session of Rush. Ended up losing 4 buy-in's and figured I gotta stop playing when I'm not in a good condition.

      Note to self: Stop playing Top Pair aggressively post-flop if opponent bets. I think this mistake has costed me 2-3 buy-in's and I gotta plug this leak.

      My biggest and stupidest lost/mistake of the session:

      Grabbed by Holdem Manager
      NL Holdem $0.05(BB) Replayer
      SB ($5)
      BB ($2.04)
      UTG ($1.39)
      UTG+1 ($8.57)
      UTG+2 ($2)
      MP1 ($10.07)
      MP2 ($3.52)
      CO ($7.56)
      Hero ($2.42)

      Dealt to Hero J:heart: A:diamond: , fold, fold, fold, fold, MP2 calls $0.05, fold, Hero raises to $0.20, fold, fold, MP2 calls $0.15

      FLOP ($0.47) 3:spade: A:club: 8:diamond:

      MP2 bets $0.05, Hero raises to $0.20, MP2 calls $0.15

      TURN ($0.87) 3:spade: A:club: 8:diamond: 5:diamond:

      MP2 bets $0.05, Hero raises to $0.40, MP2 raises to $0.75, Hero calls $0.35

      RIVER ($2.37) 3:spade: A:club: 8:diamond: 5:diamond: 6:diamond:

      MP2 bets $2.37 (AI), Hero calls $1.27 (AI)

      MP2 shows 5:spade: 5:heart:
      (Pre 54%, Flop 10.4%, Turn 100.0%)

      Hero shows J:heart: A:diamond:
      (Pre 46%, Flop 89.6%, Turn 0.0%)

      MP2 wins $4.59

      I didn't know what I was thinking at this hand and played like a super fish, calling his All-In. Promise myself this will never happen again.
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