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Ny name is VBlue and I'm a Pokerholic

    • VBlue
      Joined: 31.07.2012 Posts: 37
      Hello to all on the forum.

      A quick bio:

      Been playing online for about 10 years. I got into poker through watching Late Night Poker and playing home games initially with a group of guys including an accountant, who literally had to count out chips in single chip denominations and was nicknamed 'The Count', and a mate who was putting in some volume with success online who was accused, more than once, of swan-necking a look at your cards, and was named 'The Swan'.

      Mainly been recreational with a view to improving over most of that time. Had a run at some STT volume 2 years ago and now am now playing low-stakes MTTs.

      I have run pub poker in Kendal over a couple of years and am just talking to two venues about starting up again after a break of about 2 years. I have also been involved with a poker club in West Cumbria/Carlisle for a number of years who have a partnership with Neil Channing's site.

      I am also getting into playing a little more live again and branching out into local casino games and looking to satellite into some more prominent UK tour events.

      I am fairly methodical about my approach to my game but time has been my biggest barrier to playing and learning more. Or certainly organisation and commitment to making time has been.

      I play on ipoker, 888, and have signed up for Everest for the free starter bankroll through.

      I had been running a long STT-related thread on another forum which I then turned into a blog, ongoing since 2010, which I will publish on this site too in future.

      Am currently reading The Mental Game of Poker (if you haven't yet - why not?) and am working on my MTT strateqy, which remains too basic, through watching some Deuces Cracked videos, and want to get into posting HHs for review, something which I have overlooked for far too long.

      I also want to get into goal-setting, doing some work on the The Process Model concept described by Jared, which I think will help with my focus and motivation issues.

      I hope to give as much as I get from the site. I look forward to talking to you all more soon.
  • 21 replies
    • AyeAwriteMate
      Joined: 17.01.2011 Posts: 198
      Welcome to PS - I suppose there is no better site for a pokerholic! :spade:
    • IngridN
      Joined: 02.03.2011 Posts: 12,162
      Welcome to the community VBlue and good luck with your goals! 10 years is a long time but im sure you'll find the forum useful and can add a thing or two in your knowledgebase. :)

      Great introduction btw! Hope to see you around the forum!
    • ArkhamAsylum
      Joined: 06.09.2011 Posts: 527
      The count and the swan ...... such interesting nicknames. Welcome.
    • VBlue
      Joined: 31.07.2012 Posts: 37
      Just looking back in. Thanks for the warm welcomes. I hope to start making some contribution to the fourms soon.
    • VBlue
      Joined: 31.07.2012 Posts: 37
      So it seems like I am settling into a bi-monthly edition of my blog.

      I've been looking at a forum I have had only a passing interest in the past and stumbled across a thread which Jared Tendler had been contributing to and so I thought I would post and see if he was still replying. He was. How great is it in the poker world that you can talk to some of the most highly regarded experts and receive feedback 1:1?

      I asked Jared about two issues I have been trying to regain some focus on - motivation and approach to learning. This also ties in with some personal conversations I have been having and some introspection and a decision to commit a little more time to playing and working on my game. I think getting the structure in place, dedicating myself, setting some goals and setting out to achieve them, will help me with other parts of my life I want to make some improvements in.

      This is the extract from Jared's reply:

      "If I'm understanding correctly, you want to:

      1) Develop a consistent approach to learning that you can stick with over the long-term.
      2) Eliminate distractions while playing.

      Add anything if I've missed it or anything else comes to mind.

      Couple questions for you:

      1) What are your overall goals with poker?
      2) What's the reason your motivated by these poker goals? (Basically the why you want to achieve them.)
      3) Why are you motivated to develop a consistent approach to learning?
      4) Why are you motivated to eliminate distractions while playing?
      5) What do you want to get out of poker, and from doing this extra work to improve?

      The reason I'm asking these questions is to tap into your underlying motivations for accomplishing these goals/tasks. When making improvement with focus or motivation, it's helpful to answer these kinds of questions so you know why you're going to work hard to improve, rather than just continue to do what currently comes easy. With the answers written out, you can use them to Inject Goals/Motivation, just as I suggest Injecting Logic in the book. The difference here is that you're using the reminder for why you want your goal to tap into your motivation and find a boost of energy to push yourself to be more focused or to study when you'd rather play".

      To answer them then:

      1) My overall realistic goals in poker are (and I want to use the SMART acronym in my reply) - to commit 10 hours per week with 8 hours playing time and 2 hours study time. This goal is non-monetary but focuses on what I can control which is my commitment and refers to the 80/20 rule of play/study. A secondary goal in 2013 is to look for half-a-dozen live UK tournaments and commit some playing time and bankroll to satellites or direct buy-in if bankroll allows. I am keen to experience some of the bigger live events, but I also want to target those which are affordable (buy-in/travel/expenses considered) and where I think the softer competition will be.

      2) I think there are three main reasons why I want to achieve these goals, but the second and third probably more accurately answer question 3. The first is purely financial. I think I am intelligent enough, with the right commitment to improve, to make a decent income from what is essentially a hobby.

      3) The second reason then being I enjoy playing, but I get a lot more enjoyment when I combine playing with improving my game. Thirdly, as I have already mentioned, I think this type of focus and approach will rub off on me and motivate me to work on towards some other goals in my personal life.

      4) This is tougher to answer. I guess I am motivated to avoid distractions because when I am distracted I am not really playing poker primarily. What I am doing is killing time in the evenings and probably using poker, social networking, web surfing, listening to tunes online, as a little bit of escapism. What I want to do is to be more productive with my time and achieve a goal(s). Being distracted leaves me feeling unsatisfied as I never know whether I have given my best and I can always have that to fall back on if my results fall short or I make mistakes (I wasn't giving it my full attention so....).

      5) To summarise then, I want to achieve financial gain from playing poker, I want to get the enjoyment from playing poker and seeing my game grow through focused and committed learning, I want the sense of achievement that comes from the improvement in my game, and finally I want this to be habit forming and to be an attitude I can take into other areas of my life.

      Not asking too much then.

      I'm sure there will be all sorts of different reactions to this. Maybe some people will say why not just get on with improving the other things in your life that you want to and forget about the poker. Some people might think this is all a bit of nonsense. Some people might nod and agree with parts of it.

      I'd love to hear your opinions, whatever they are. I don't really mind baring my soul a little from time to time and I'm big and ugly enough to take others' opinions in return.

      The second part of this blog refers back to something some of the Black Belt players are trying to get going again and something I have long wanted to develop.

      We have agreed that one thing that a large part of the current successful poker playing community has in common is that they all talk about their game with one another. To this end, there are a few lads (lasses welcome too) who want to set up regular skype group to discuss hands and strategy and maybe do some post-session sweats and hand history swaps.

      It is not easy fitting in around each others' schedules, agreeing on formats, and then actually doing it, but I hope we can get something going that will be worthwhile for all involved.
    • IngridN
      Joined: 02.03.2011 Posts: 12,162
      Hi VBlue, shall I merge this into your original blog thread?

      Ny name is VBlue and I'm a Pokerholic
    • thazar
      Joined: 14.09.2009 Posts: 6,561
      Hi Vblue

      and welcome to our blog section. I will be following your progress. IMO becoming a poker pro is very hard work. But most people can do it with dedication. I wish you the best of luck.


    • VBlue
      Joined: 31.07.2012 Posts: 37
      Originally posted by IngridN
      Hi VBlue, shall I merge this into your original blog thread?

      Ny name is VBlue and I'm a Pokerholic
      Yes please. Sorry - I had forgotten I had started one already. Thanks.
    • IngridN
      Joined: 02.03.2011 Posts: 12,162
      Originally posted by VBlue
      Originally posted by IngridN
      Hi VBlue, shall I merge this into your original blog thread?

      Ny name is VBlue and I'm a Pokerholic
      Yes please. Sorry - I had forgotten I had started one already. Thanks.
      done :)
    • VBlue
      Joined: 31.07.2012 Posts: 37
      Do you think this post would be better in the Blogs section as it may get missed being here in Introductions.

      I maybe caused confusion by naming two posts the same.
    • IngridN
      Joined: 02.03.2011 Posts: 12,162
      Originally posted by VBlue
      Do you think this post would be better in the Blogs section as it may get missed being here in Introductions.

      I maybe caused confusion by naming two posts the same.
      sorry I thought it was in blogs already :rolleyes:
    • VBlue
      Joined: 31.07.2012 Posts: 37
      Hi all. Thanks to everyone who has looked in on this thread so far.

      I've been putting some work into my blog. I hope you like what I've done and I really appreciate all who call in and read.

      I have an external blog site, but am not sure it is appropriate to link it, so I'll just cut and paste it here. It's a little longer than my previous blogs (I've been writing for 2 years now) but I think it is better for it.

      When I Was A Child I Wondered What If My Name Had Changed Into Something More Productive

      "When I was a child I wondered what if my name had changed into something more productive, like Roscoe", lyric to 'Roscoe', by Midlake

      One of, if not the, greatest lyrics of my life. I love it when a band present you with a song and then refuse to define it. Pink Floyd's 'Wish You Were Here' being another. You can have all the explanations and analysis you want, but if it means something to you that nobody else has picked up on - hold on to that and use it in whichever way you choose.

      When I was a child, I played cards sometimes with my Dad and my brother. It's a familiar story, like a 'jumpers for goalposts' anecdote, but 'matchsticks instead of money' here. I had always been fascinated by the potential my fantasy of Wild West poker playing conjured. I had no idea that the game was what it was across the Atlantic and that it would come to the UK online and live in the way it has in the ten years since I first turned on Channel 4's Late Night Poker show, captivated by the names and characters - 'The Elegance', Jacarama, Bambos, and a very nerdy looking Phil Hellmuth (think Eugene from the musical film Greece). But this blog is not a trip down memory lane, or my story of how I found poker, made a small deposit online, ..........and sleep.

      This is about the now. And it is about the future.

      Something happened to me a couple of weeks ago. I unloaded on my girlfriend.......I was struggling to find motivation at work, I was giving myself a hard time perhaps, and my view of the World has been better (and worse). The next day, I felt clarity and invigorated. Some times we just need someone to listen to us (and to hold us).

      Raise your standards and change your limiting beliefs. Anthony Robbins said to, and he is a huge guy, so who am I to argue? This is where it started for me. Believing in myself again. Without the vision we cannot begin the journey. With the belief in place, we simply will find away. I promise not to preach throughout, but this has meant a lot to me recently.

      So what do I believe and what are the standards to which I will hold myself? I truly believe in being responsible for my own future, in integrity, and that there is a giant inside us all waiting to be awakened. Copyright attributable to the aforementioned Mr Robbins.


      I want to blog, and I want people to read. Why? I like communicating. I have newly discovered the medium of Twitter and can see so many opportunities. Unlike Facebook, Twitter allows you to talk to the people you 'follow' instantly and hear back from them, if they choose to reply. Where the person you are following has millions of 'followers' it is obviously much less likely that they will even see your 'tweet' (shall I continue with the quotations?) but I have been able to talk directly to Barry Carter (who has promised to read this blog, so Hi Barry and thanks for looking in), Jared Tendler (both he and Barry have authored the excellent Mental Game of Poker - the bible on modern poker psychology), and I am currently stalking a number of other people I would like to make connections with in the poker world and beyond (relent now and save us both some time as I will hunt you all down eventually).

      I have found myself becoming a master of the multi-task communication, often live-talking to an actual person I can see in front of my own eyes, tweeting someone else, chatting on Facebook, answering an e-mail, and flagging morse code, whilst feeding the baby! This means that I can speak to the World and all those who live in it 24/7 on all manor of subjects.

      Publicity for professional poker players is something which has grown over the ten years I have been playing this game for and we now see that growing a profile has many advantages. I want some of that.

      This is the first of a new focus for me in blogging. There are some other bloggers (and their blogs) around that I admire - James Atkin, the Black Belt Poker bloggers, Daleroxxu, Victoria Coren, and many more, for both writing ability and in some cases the beauty of the blog itself. What do my readers like to see when they read blog? Is this plain black on white with no distracting backgrounds preferable over something more designed and individual (could you stand starting at my tiled face in the background?) I will start to add bells and whistles - blog links, maybe one or two affiliated links to some sites I admire and recommend, and some other stuff I haven't thought of yet. The affiliate links will be very carefully added and I will only recommend those sites, or products which I understand and believe are value - this will not solely be an exercising in spinning some income.

      Also, Wordpress or All input is greatly appreciated as I write for you to read and for your enjoyment, as well as for my own reasons.

      Breakthrough Poker Training

      We chased our pleasures here
      Dug our treasures there
      But can you still recall
      The time we cried
      Break on through to the other side

      lyrics to 'Break On Through' by The Doors

      Nick Wealthall sends me stuff (not just me) all the time. The man is a pest! It's usually free (groan) and the stuff I have got around to watching or reading is also useful, intelligent, fresh, and sometimes humorous (please stop clogging up my online storage system which actually has no impact on my life whatsoever).

      To put a cherry on the top of it, he only then went and badgered me about some twelve month training course he is selling, with a month free trial and no tie-in beyond thirty days, even reminding me on the day the offer ran out. OK Nick - if you stop this I will sign-up.

      The course is delivered online, in pdf and mp3 format (it's like getting sent your ring binder, dividers, and four weekly parts per month with attached cassette, only a bit more 2012) and you have access to the Gold members area, a monthly webinar, opportunity to ask questions (all of which are replied to by Nick personally) and contributions from Kevin MacPhee and a few other guys who have won the odd million or five playing poker.

      To compliment the package there is also a poker goal setting template which I will be turning my attention towards this week, together with the first part of the first month's training on pre-flop aggression and playing against other aggressive pre-flop players.

      Nick also delivers on the topic of mental game and the only video of his that I have watched to date was pivotal in focusing me back on playing poker, as opposed to clicking buttons. The advice I recall was simply - enjoy playing, enjoy the challenge, and if you don't then go and do something else where you do.

      Half a Dozen Live Tournaments

      I've played live poker, from pub poker to private members' clubs, going back over about five or six years now. I have only just recently ventured as far as the Vegas of the North (which is the casino closest to my locality) in Blackpool.

      I played 132 runner £50 re-entry the weekend that the Sky Poker Tour wass in town and played again a couple of months later in a slightly smaller buy-in event with half the runners. I felt very comfortable at the tournament and cash tables and I know I can make money down there.

      I want to devote some bankroll and effort to finally experiencing some of what the UK has to offer on the tours and in a large local event with a poker club I have had involvement with since inception, although that involvement has waned this year. Northern Poker Stars, of Cumbria, hold a £200 + £20 event and have run the biggest legal poker prize pool in the county of just over £10,000. The player pool is made up of some very good talent and the banter is second to none.

      I am going to look at the UKIPT series, GUKPT series, and new kids Genting series - which on current bankroll will have to be satellite opportunities. I have long wanted to play one of the excellent and very highly regarded Black Belt Live tournaments and await the announcement of the 2013 calendar with much excitement. Finally, another organisation I have flirted with and would like to get tighter with is the Amateur Poker Association Tour (APAT) and I will probably pay the £75 buy-in direct for the closest tournament on the tour to me, which I think will be Glasgow.

      What I now want to do is form a Band of Cumbrian Brothers to travel with, satellite alongside, and go and take these tournament felts by storm. When Neil Channing and Jamie Burland visited us in February we asked them to name famous players they knew from Cumbria and they gave answers for players from the North East. We are North West chaps (they don't get past the Watford Gap too often I don't think). I want them, on their next visit to the lands of mintcake, sheep, and hills, to breathe our names in answer to that same question.

      The Boy - Roscoe

      This brings me back to my opening line. I hope to not only share tales of a rising online poker star, or a fearsome live tournament shark, but I also want to share a little of the human side. This is where I hold up a nice picture of some fluffy kittens. In fact, I have a family photo session booked soon so perhaps one of those naked from the waist up holding my naked son photos would better illustrate. Although if you have seen the amount of hair that sprouts from my front, back, arms, and neck it would potentially lose what few readers I currently have and I'm trying to build something here, not knock it down.

      The boy was born on 4th December, 2011. It's a cliche, because it's true, but life has changed - beyond recognition in many ways. The first three months were all about a tiny baby that needed us for everything and struggled with many things life presented. The next three months were about establishing routines, getting him in his own room, baby groups, and dealing with a baby that could move of it's own accord. The last three months have been about gaining some control over a very strong-willed character with a disregard for danger, an amazing sense of humour, and a determination that has left me astounded. The connection we have made in the last month or two has illuminated my soul and helped me to believe in myself. The boy looks at me in a way I have never experienced before and he only needs a smile in return to splatter a wide open-mouthed smile across his beaming face. That is a powerful moment.

      I purchased a new toy last week, and I'm not usually a boy's toys kinda boy. It is a Sony HD camcorder. Do the Oscars have a best home movie category? I really wanted to make The Blair Witch Project before it was made. In fact, as I thought of it first, I may be due royalties. The other question: has anyone ever made a home movie that anyone outside their own family would want to watch? If not, I'm sure we will have many hours of fun. Not those home movies either.

      Health & Fitness

      Has long been neglected. I think my diet and lifestyle is reasonably healthy but my fitness level is only maintained by a thirty minute walk to and from work five times per week and wheeling the buggy round on a weekend. We did venture out into the Lakes a couple of weeks ago for a stroll around Tarn Hows near Ambleside. I might take up tennis. Anyone for tennis?

      I close what I hope has been a refreshing, enjoyable, informative, and inspiring read. If I've set my sights a little high with that goal then I do not apologise. If I have failed to reach it, then I promise I will work harder next time to get there and I would really appreciate you sticking with me as I do.

      Please add your comments as with your feedback and investment in this blog - big things could be achieved.
    • VBlue
      Joined: 31.07.2012 Posts: 37
      The Difficult Second Blog Title

      I'm starting this second episode of my new blog whilst drinking a coffee and eating a huge slice of humble pie. Humbled because 283 very lovely people took time to look in, read, and offer feedback on my first episode in just three days since I posted. A very big collective thank you to all. An extra special thank you to those who offered some insight into what worked and what could have been improved and offered some very kind encouragement and critique of my writing.

      It really is difficult to keep coming up with relevant and/or witty titles - I hope the one I went with will suffice.

      'Life, oh life, oh life, oh life doo,doot doot dooo. Life, oh life,oh life doo, doot dooo'.Lyrics to Life, by Des'ree

      Wise words indeed.

      It's important to surround yourself with the right people in your own life, to understand those relationships, and to appreciate and use each others' strengths to compliment your own weaknesses and get the best out of each other. I am very lucky to have a beautiful family and some good friends around me and I am still learning more each day about how to nurture those inter-personal relationships.

      In addition to having the boy at home, I also have a teenage step-daughter - a young girl with a big heart and brimming with potential, who I have had the pleasure of being a step-father to for ten years. It is a challenging time; those with teenage children will be nodding (and thinking of words I would not print here to replace challenging). I want to be a light, not a judge, a model, not a critic. I think if you adopt this mantra then the positivity that you radiate on those around you becomes infectious and comes back to you many times over.
      Raising Standards

      I keep a second blog, for personal use only, which is a note-based journal from a couple of books that I have used to help inspire and propel me towards achieving the life I feel is my destiny. I mentioned author Antony Robbins (Awaken the Giant Within) last time and the recently late Stephen Covey (The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People) is the other. I am not suggesting that the only way to achieving what you want from life is to read these two books, but I have found them both full of some very sensible and accessible views and advice. I had previously been a cynic of the field of personal development/self-help literature, but these guys have had so much success with an impressive list of clientele and I think they have something to offer almost everyone.

      I have been guilty of letting slip some of my standards this weekend and want to focus back on the raised standards I mentioned previously. I was, I think, harshly judged (not harsh in the judgement as everyone is entitled to an opinion, but harsh in the sense of being judged at all) and the only thing I can do about it is accept responsibility, apologise, and listen and understand how I was perceived and what I did that offended.

      To begin to put something positive into action, I will be writing down all the things I will no longer accept in my life, all the things I will no longer tolerate, and all the things I aspire to becoming. For all of you poker players out there, I think this type of exercise has so many transferable benefits. Nick Wealthall provides a bonus video, through the 12 month training course I am taking, discussing how to write a poker plan. I think both exercises will compliment each other.

      The Hills

      I am extremely privileged to live in such a scenic part of the World. Kendal sits to the south of the Lake District and is known as the Gateway. Our home sits in a cul-de-sac with views of 12th century Kendal Castle from our lounge and as I leave for work every morning and look to the North and the East, I can see the Lakeland fells. Just spending the one-and-a-half mile walk to work soaking some of that in, reminding myself of everything I have to be grateful for and to put a perspective on the first world problems in my life is a very rewarding half-hour. I read many blogs, tweets, and Facebook posts, with people who are very lucky to be where they are today, spending too much time bemoaning poor hotel service, travel headaches, or the turn of a card. Please deliver a very swift kick to my virtual knackers if you catch me using my blog to do the same.

      The Blog

      I have added some of the bells and whistles I said I would in my last post and I will continue to build on this. For now, I wanted to repay the kindness shown from a few readers from across the poker world and blogosphere by adding some links to their blogs. I have also added my Twitter account links where you will find blog updates linked and I promise to make a very big effort to be worthy of following - just give me a try for a few weeks to see what I tweet about. Please also either add me to your RSS feed or become a follower of the blog to stay with me on this journey.

      I have a second website I am developing which will be purely for site referrals, reviews, and other online poker-site related news and items. This will not be just another affiliate-linked website, but a much more informative and, I hope, innovate in itself, source for poker players who find themselves at similar stakes and with similar requirements to me.

      I was posed some very helpful questions by a very esteemed blogger I have followed for the last few years. He asked: what am I saying, why, and who am I saying it to? Why do they want to read about it? The answer currently is I want to share with you my journey to becoming a more effective person and poker player in the hope that I can inspire and entertain you for a few minutes of your day. I really want to reach out to as many people as I can who are also challenged in the same areas of their life as I am and to get their involvement and views in return. I hope you want to read about it because you relate to it and you find the blog a source of camaraderie.

      Personally, it helps me to hold myself accountable to you all, to record my thoughts and my goals for ongoing referral and for the purposes of focus. It's also certainly a huge buzz to feel the warmth of the encouragement I have received so far.
      Speed Poker

      It would be churlish of me to not talk a little poker, especially considering the title of my blog. I have discovered Speed poker, on the ipoker network. You may know it as Rush or Zoom if you play your poker elsewhere on Poker Stars, or previously on Full Tilt. If I could use a single word to describe this game it would be 'Wow'.

      How am I ever going to go back to playing standard 6-max cash now that I have found a way of playing over 200 hands per hour on a single table? One of my monthly targets is to maintain the first reward level on Black Belt Poker, a system rewarding 'belt points' per dollar raked in return for access to a schedule of weekly freerolls with some very enticing prizes and spending points to use in their store on merchandise, poker training, and online tournament tokens. Playing Speed poker will be the most effective way of doing this, as the stakes I currently play at for cash would mean quite a considerable investment of time, or number of tables to play, to maintain my Orange Belt month after month. To add an update to this before publishing, Black Belt added a new tournament on trial called the Nightly Nifty, an opportunity to trade in 50 points for an entry token and compete for more points. A second place finish in the second of two tournaments I entered means that I have now earned my target points for this month and will remain Orange Belt for October and November and have two months in which to earn my target to hold for December.

      The adrenaline from playing Speed poker has given me two immediate advantages; I can play a lot more hands per hour which means that I can learn much more quickly through the repetition of putting myself in the same situations over and over - repetition is the Mother of skill. Also, the thrill of playing this game is more fuel to the fire, which all adds to the drive and determination I have to get better and become a consistent winner. There are some opinions that the game has some negatives and I will talk more on those as my experience of the game grows.


      This week I had planned to play some of Black Belt Poker's online Ninja series, with one event per evening, aimed at the lower-stakes player, hosted by one of the Black Belt pros. The bounty for busting the host is a ticket to the £50 Sunday night Main. Unfortunately, I only ended up playing two events - a virus put me out of action on Tuesday and Wednesday with a friend recommending I look at installing a better Firewall (don't give up the day job for a career in stand-up) and Friday night was The Piranha's birthday, so Saturday and Sunday were reserved for recovery days.

      I played a couple of satellites for a couple of these events. With 5 minute blinds, my experience of playing turbo STTs meant that I felt a considerable advantage going into these. I was a little distracted last Thursday from playing a couple of other tournaments, The Mulligan - a $15 deep-stack, and the $5k GP on ipoker. In the end, I ran 22 into KK when short, and lost AK to AQ in the earlier game. I had been 3/100 in the 5k and led The Mulligan by some way for a considerable time, only to end up min-cashing in both. I have posted three hands from the 5k up on the Black Belt boards and the advice given in reply has been very useful and I thank those who have contributed to that.

      On a very wet Sunday afternoon, I decided to try one more satellite to the #2 Ninja event, a $25 deepstack, for only $3. After bobbing around the average and then going on shove-mode with less than 20bbs, I was called by AT with AQ, when getting it in for the third hand in a row. I then went from about 3k to over 8k in just a few hands, dropping back a little when 77 couldn't beat AJ v AJ when a J came on the river. I felt that winning that hand would have put me out of sight. Unfortunately, I then tilted off my last 20bbs when 3-bet from the BU after opening with 99 and despite feeling sure I was way behind, I inexplicably shoved my stack and got called by KK. An old habit which I have done well to curb recently, but has obviously not been stamped entirely.

      I did make 4th in the ninja#1 - a $10+$1 event with 120+ runners last night. Thanks to all for providing one of the most competitive small-stakes games online, to Black Belt Poker for putting the series on, to Kevin Williams for hosting ninja #1, and to Paul Seaton at The Poker Deck for his support.
    • VBlue
      Joined: 31.07.2012 Posts: 37
      Coffee Is For Closers

      Soy un perdedor
      I'm a loser baby, so why don't you kill me?
      (Double-barrel buckshot)
      Soy un perdidor
      I'm a loser baby, so why don't you kill me?

      Lyrics to Loser, Beck

      Joey Barton inspired my title this week as he had tweeted asking for opinions on a film choice. We had been talking in the office only a couple of weeks ago about the incredible screenplay that is Glengarry Glen Ross. For those who do not know the film I urge you to take a couple of hours, preferably on a dark and rainy afternoon or evening, and watch it. If, like me, you have been searching for motivation and more so, inspiration, (the differences of which I will come to) then the scene delivered primarily by Alec Baldwin, described by one critic as justifying his entire career, will certainly serve to focus you towards your goals.

      For those who already know the film:

      "Put. That coffee. Down. Coffee's for closers only."
      Blake (Alec Baldwin), Glengarry Glen Ross


      "A-B-C. A-Always, B-Be, C-Closing. Always be closing. ALWAYS BE CLOSING."
      Blake (Alec Baldwin), Glengarry Glen Ross

      I have been playing MTTs in the main over the last couple of years now, since my very frustrating but fairly standard break-even thousand game run at playing low-stakes STTs over two years ago. Reviewing my MTT form from last year and my current run of form it seems that my biggest leak, when looking at the tournament as a whole, is my failure to close. In my professional life I am a salesman. Being entirely honest, my ability to close in the past has not always been great, sometimes for similar reasons that I have identified in my poker game.

      The first reason I think is to do with keeping my eye on the prize. I want/have wanted to win, but have I really been motivated and focused enough on why and what it would mean to me to win, what it would feel like, and how things would be different for me when I do win?

      In the online poker world, where the next tournament is only a button-click away and the low-stakes tournament first prizes can be anything as low as $300/£185 it is easy to see how not winning can be dealt with quite easily. The first prize money would not change my life significantly, although it may have an impact on my very immediate future. If I don't win, I can try and win again immediately, or tomorrow night. I might still be running well in another tournament alongside the one I am about to bust in, so there is still hope I could cash well in this session. Maybe I have never had enough scarcity in my life to be truly motivated by money.

      On further review, it seems that my controlled pre-flop aggression is getting me deep in tournaments on a regular basis but that perhaps I am not adjusting enough toward the later stages and taking on a gamble when I could just fold pre-flop, often compounding my error and not folding post-flop either.

      I realise also that I have to be careful that I am not over-evaluating my losses and that in some cases I may have just made a good decision but ran into the top end of an opponents range and lost and that the decisions I made pre-flop and post-flop had sound logic. For this, I will be posting more hands on the Blackbelt Poker forum hand tab for discussion amongst the community players and building into my post-session evaluation some work on equity calculations, using Pokerstove.


      Last Monday night I joined a limited group webinar, hosted by Jared Tendler - author of The Mental Game of Poker and regarded by Jessie May in this quote 'as far as I am concerned he invented the field'. A question I posed to Jared before the session concerned my occasional predisposition to call or shove when 'I know I am beat'. Jared's response referred to a need to train the mental muscle enough to turn this into a habit of folding. He also suggested that in some of these spots I may have been right to call or shove and just ran into a part of a range I was losing too, as I have already alluded to.

      In a tournament last week I had not been running a HUD, as a trial period on HM2 had come to an end and I didn't have available funds to purchase the full package immediately. I had been distracted from the table at times (although I did better at noticing this quickly and then refocusing), and regardless I had not been sat at this table for a long time, so think my instinct about the strength of my opponents pocket cards should have been trusted. Perhaps I had not had my eye on the prize enough - despite thinking how it would be a nice score and how I felt having more than double the average stack and being in the top twenty chip stacks with 200 players left meant I had a real shot. In the end, I gambled where I could have folded pre-flop, compounded my error post-flop, and all but finished by run at a big cash there and then.

      Coming back to an earlier thought, I need to start to visualise much more strongly how winning will feel and how it will affect me. What will that bigger bankroll, or if I cash out the realised money, actually mean to me? I am going to actualise the win by turning the prize money into something real and then I'm going to walk over to the coffee machine, pour a cup, and drink it when I do win - metaphorically speaking of course. This also goes back to something I was taught early in my sales career about the need to celebrate a win, to realise the attainment of a goal as part of your ongoing motivation to achieve the next, bigger goal.

      To begin with I can think of some needs around the house and some more exciting social occasions that I would like to attend, which I am financially constrained from doing. This means more to me than an inflated bankroll and a chance to step up a buy-in, so I will prioritise them, write them down, and then focus my eyes back firmly on those prizes.

      Planning for Poker

      As a supplement to the excellent training I am undertaking with Nick Wealthall, there is a video discussing the setting of poker goals. There is some excellent advice on how to set longer and shorter term goals - beginning with the end in mind, followed by putting first things first - both habits that Stephen Covey discusses as two of the The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People.

      To put first things first I have begun to look at what I want to achieve in the very session I have coming up. So that I am aligning my coaching with my playing goals I am focusing on pre-flop aggression - 3-betting, defending against other 3-bettors, and 4-betting. I have set myself three or four session goals which I am looking to achieve this week and next, before I move on within the coaching program following delivery of the second month's content.

      With regards to the longer-term goals, over twelve months and three months, I have split them into coaching goals and playing goals. One very interesting myth-busting comment from Jared was that having monetary or results-based goals is actually a good thing in poker. Lots of people will tell you that we should only focus on that which we have immediate control over - how we play and how we learn. The results belong in the hands of the Poker Gods. However, I can now see how this is untrue and how motivating having a results-based goal is. When Richard Branson set-up, or first dreamt about his Virgin Galactic venture, I'd wager that he simply wanted to get into Space - the end was firmly in his mind. This would have been followed by the how. I am therefore going to revise some of my goals to include successes and results, not just approach and discipline-based goals.

      Motivation and Inspiration

      Jared describes these two as being quite different. Motivation is the end goal and the understanding and visualisation of what it will bring you - winning the WSOP would be a motivation, or a slightly more realistic one would be becoming a sponsored pro. The inspiration would be those boosts that you need to keep you on the path to your goal - reading an inspirational speech or quote, listening to a piece of music, looking at a picture of the prize you desire/what the prize money will buy you, or maybe a picture of your smiling family.

      There could be an argument that if you have clearly defined your goals and completely understand what they will mean to you when you realise them, then just a quick refocus or visualisation will be inspiration enough. Jared referred to the sportsman on the field of play, who when facing their biggest challenge, sucks in a deep breath and looks at the ground. This is not their head-dropping in the face of adversity, but them digging deep, searching for that inspiration to drive them towards their motivation. Clear goals mean that the digging is never required to be very deep at all.

      Until next time, I'm putting my coffee down and setting a goal to pick it back up very soon - as a closer.
    • VBlue
      Joined: 31.07.2012 Posts: 37
      The Path of The Righteous Man

      'The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee'
      Jules Winnfield, Pulp Fiction

      Structure and Routine

      Goal-setting, structure and routine give me a sense that I not only know what I want to achieve but I also understand that there are steps needed to be taken to get there. Continuing to focus on the mental game work I have been doing I wanted to put some of this in black and white. Whilst goal-setting, I also wanted to reveal the underlying reasons why I play poker and why I want to improve as a player. By building a model to follow each week I aim to bring structure and by following the model each week, routine and repetition will foster skill.

      Underlying Goals

      The single most interesting feedback I received from Jared Tendler was his suggestion that I delve a little deeper when questioning why I was struggling with motivation and focus recently. By revealing the underlying reasons of why this is important to me, Jared picked up on two things I said in reply:

      •I want to be productive with my time and feel satisfied that I've used it productively
      •I want to have accomplishments in poker that are entirely in my control

      I had felt that by allowing myself to be distracted and dividing my time between playing the game and time-wasting activities like social networking that I felt that I was not truly seeing the outcome of my potential and I could easily blame mistakes on the fact that I had not given 100%. I also think that this is a get-out clause for when I did play poorly so I don't feel as bad about having done so.

      S.M.A.R.T. Goals

      Now that I have two underlying reasons to study the game, improve, and focus when I do play, I set about building a set of goals. My approach was to initially just get something down in writing and then go back and refine them later.

      By planning the What and the Why and ensuring that each goal is relevant, achievable, time-bound, and measurable - I have a clear idea of what my poker calendar will look like over the next twelve months. I have some financial goals and some milestones set out throughout the year. I am also clear on what I want to spend my financial target on, so I can visualise what all the hard work will provide.

      One such goal is to target qualification for some live events in 2013 - APAT, Genting, Sky Poker Tour, UKIPT, GUKPT. I want to test myself against the UK live tour standard, experience the social aspect and I hope to encourage some other local players to join me, raise my profile, and for the chance of a big score, of course. I will set aside some bankroll, look out for satellites, and plan some time to try my luck at a cheap entry.

      There are also coaching/analysis goals to steer me through a learning and improvement plan and to ensure that I continue to consistently work on my game alongside putting in enough hours at the tables.

      My Process Model

      Beginning with Preparation, I have now got a fifteen minute routine to follow prior to each time I play a session. It involves reviewing goals, setting session goals, reviewing coaching notes, and a few minutes getting fired up for the challenge of the next few hour's play. This means that every time I sit down to play and the first two pocket cards are dealt to me, I am ready for action - not hoping that I get dealt a trash hand so I can fold and allow myself time to get into the right frame of mind. If you do not do something like this prior to playing you are in danger of preparing whilst playing.

      I have also been working on an Evaluation phase, which should be a few minutes of self-appraisal immediately after playing. I have thought about the areas of play I want to evaluate and have devised a scoring system to do so. This is a work in progress and I have only used it a couple of times.

      The third element of the model I have been refining is the Analysis stage - the time you spend away from the table in between sessions. I am now booking time once or twice each week to complete my coaching modules, analyse my sessions, work on equity calculations and hand history reviews, and continue with taking steps forward in my mental game. What I find most important when taking on new information is how we go about applying that knowledge to improve our game. Of course, it is not as simple as watching a video or reading a book and being able to crush the games like the authors. This is where setting session goals helps adopt new practises by trial and evaluation of the results.

      The two stages in-between all this are Performance and Results. The key message is that when playing poker, we should be doing just that. Preparation, Evaluation, and Analysis are separate stages and there should not be any cross-over. If you are reviewing hand histories or coaching notes while playing, you are in danger of losing focus and concentration on the game.


      The final work I have been doing off the back of the evaluation of each session is to try to build a picture of my game, when it is good and when it is not so good, to give me a starting point of what I need to work on. This means that I can start to pinpoint the differences between my A game and C game, looking to stretch my A game by learning new techniques, but also working on the mistakes I make when I fall back into my C game.

      White Noise

      There are a lot of different sources of information all clambering for your attention in poker. There are magazines, websites, books, videos, Twitterers, Facebook accounts, etc. One of the most difficult disciplines can be to cut out the noise and really focus on what is important to you. I started by decluttering my Twitter feed, focusing on the types of people I want to follow and why. The coaching course is giving me direction for the next ten months, so I am going with that as my plan for improvement until completion. My guide in the mental game work I want to complete remains The Mental Game of Poker. The Process Model and goals I have set will continue to schedule what I do with my time each week.

      It is so easy to drift along in poker without ever really knowing where you want to get to or how you are going to ensure that you do. Be selective about what you want, who you listen to on your journey, and, much like you do when playing a hand, make a plan.


      For those who read my last edition a month ago 'Coffee is for Closers', I am very pleased to say that the day after I published it I won a small $2 buy-in event for just over $300 and $400 in profit on the site from an average buy-in of $3.5 over the two months since I started coaching. I think I can say that the cost of the coaching materials is paying for itself quite nicely. And just to put a few minds at rest, I really enjoyed both playing and winning.
    • VBlue
      Joined: 31.07.2012 Posts: 37
      I Wish

      "I wish I was little bit taller,
      I wish I was a baller
      I wish I had a girl who looked good
      I would call her
      I wish I had a rabbit in a hat with a bat
      and a '64 Impala"

      Skee-lo - lyrics to "I Wish"

      Instead of spending this time on the dawn of a New Year thinking solely ahead towards hopes, dreams, and achievements I want to target, I prefer to begin with a very simple thought. It is not a revelation. It is something you have thought many times before yourself. That is why I like to refer to this thought again now.

      Instead of setting about new goals and making resolutions, why not first just take a minute to look around you and your life as it is today. The friends, family, and other acquaintances in your life. The abundance you no doubt benefit from in relation to the vast majority of others who have so little. The small things in life that make your day - from a simple walk, to a nice meal, a conversation, a smile from a loved one. Soak it all up. It is these things that enrich our lives.

      I am not going to knock any individual here and I am not going to judge where people get their happiness from. In the past, I would have looked at some of the very successful poker players I read about in magazines and follow on Twitter and cast an envious eye at their baller lifestyles. I am sure many of them take great enjoyment from the lavish excesses their success in poker allows them to experience. What we all know is, that money does not buy happiness. For every player having the time of their lives, there will be another who has seen it all fall away, or feels empty when they take a look around and find there is something missing despite having 'everything'. To that first group, I say congratulations and long may it continue for you. To those who have aspired to follow them, I say do so if you know it can bring you what you want in life, but do so with caution and first take an inventory of your life today.

      There are many things I would like to try and achieve, but I have never been one for a bucket-list type approach to life. Swimming with dolphins is not on the list - Karl Pilkington offered his own concern in case he 'got a snidey one'. I would like to be a better person, be more successful, and find contentment in every area of life. I think the best place to start down that road is appreciating those little things and avoiding getting caught up in the thick of thin things.

      Poker Goals

      I have set about some poker goals, as I divulged in a previous writing and have just finished refining them. They include having identified some new areas for training and education, ongoing analysis of my game post-session, and trying to satellite into some of the local UK live events I have targeted from the GUKPT and Genting series.

      In the meantime, I will continue to take the Breakthrough Poker Coaching course I have enjoyed so much and try to adapt the new learning into my poker game. I am now trying to fire up a few players through a Skype group so we can share hand histories and talk a little deeper about the material and how our game evolves because of it. I am also going to keep focusing on mental game and have started a few threads online to take a workbook approach to completing some material in the hope that others will join me.

      Personal Goals

      I also have some personal goals. The first quarter of this year is going to be about discovery for me. I want to be in a position at the end of that three months to have some answers to some of the many questions I have about the future. Much of these questions are career-related as I have found a lot of contentment in my personal life.

      I have made some more minor/straight-forward goals - less time on social networking and more time getting back to reading, getting back into my self-learning Spanish language course, and taking a step-forward with fitness by building in another exercise beyond walking. I did receive a surprise package at home a few days ago, a vibration plate from the Piranha's sister for the family to use. If anyone has used one or knows anything about them I would be happy to hear from you. All I really know so far is it is hilarious watching someone else on one.

      2011 closed on the arrival of my son, Roscoe, who has brought immeasurable happiness into my life. Unfortunately 2012 closed with a very difficult time as the pregnancy of our second child ended in the very early stages. I do not ask for any individual messages of sympathy here. We have dealt with this and are now moving forward. We are going to try again and when a brother or sister for our boy, and for my step-daughter Holly, is born then their life would only have been possible because of what happened.

      Do not wonder what 2013 has in store for you. Do not live your life on a wish. Make it happen for yourself and maintain a positive mental approach throughout everything that you experience along the way.
      Joined: 27.09.2009 Posts: 22,254
      Wow, that was a very inspiring piece of writing VBlue :heart:
    • VBlue
      Joined: 31.07.2012 Posts: 37
      Thank you very much for the kind words.
    • szoketomi
      Joined: 14.10.2010 Posts: 965
      Seems to be great, good luck on your goals!
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