Back to the Beginning

    • bennisboy
      bennisboy
      Silver
      Joined: 11.04.2011 Posts: 711
      Skip to page 3 for the reboot

      For the last twelve months, I had been living my dream. I graduated from university in the spring of 2011 and that same summer, secured a job working on wall street. I'd always dreamed of living in the USA, and now I'd finally found my opportunity. I seized it with both hands, packing my life in to two bugling suitcases and headed for the big apple.

      Of course, after Black Monday, online poker is no longer legal in USA. So I withdrew what I could to my neteller account in order to safeguard against any more sites being shut down, and off I went.

      I won't reveal everything that has happened in this past year, but I might tell some of my adventures when the poker talk in my blog slows down. There are some real gems, and just thinking about them now makes me laugh.

      You may be wondering why I'm starting a poker blog if I'm living in the USA. Well unfortunately, my time in the USA was cut short. I originally moved here on a “training” visa, also known as a J-1 visa, used for “cultural exchange”.

      I've worked my nuts off from 7am to 6pm everyday, and partied like a mad man every weekend. I figured I was in great shape to convert my role to a full-time position. Sure enough, one day, my boss asks me to come and see him before I leave. So we sit down and we start discussing what I wanted to gain from my current role. I told him I was looking to stay over here full time and would like to stay on at the bank.

      A couple of weeks down the line, we sit down again, and I'm told they've found me a full-time roll. I was overjoyed. No more shit pay, no more worrying about my future, and no more worrying if I would have to say goodbye to my girlfriend and all the friends that I've made at the end of August. So the powers that be start to get the paperwork together, and moving stuff around to accommodate me, when we reached the stage of getting me a full-time work visa. We sent off the forms, and I could barely stop smiling for the next few days.

      However, after a couple of days had passed, my boss again called me in to his office. He told me he had some bad news, we missed the visa quota set by the US government. There were meant to be enough visas to last for a whole financial year, instead, they'd run out in less than two months.

      I was devastated. I didn't know what to say, or what to do. My dream that I'd worked so hard for, was ripped from my hands at the last moment. Three days off since I'd started at work almost 9 months ago, for less than minimum wage, and it had all come to nothing.

      I spent the next few weeks in a state of almost constant depression, contemplating how the hell I would cope with returning home to London, after living the crazy life in New York City. How could I go back to living with my parents, and leaving behind the girl that means the world to me, and the friends that I explore it with?

      The blow was softened slightly, with the talk of a job for me back in London, but again, the fickle nature of the financial industry bit me in the arse. High level management changes had meant a global headcount freeze for the business. It was too late to even get me a job back in London. I was now going to be unemployed when I returned home as well. I felt like just sacking off work. I was pissed off at everyone, annoyed at my bosses for not coming through for me, annoyed at my friends that never had to worry about immigration laws, and annoyed at myself for daring to dream.

      But then, I remembered poker, and the first thing that popped in to my head was tilting. You can't get mad and give up just because things didn't go your way. You have to look and evaluate where you could have taken a better course of actions, what could you do differently? And overall, was the play good or bad?

      I have to say, this year has been the best I've ever had, the memories from this year, I'll never forget. I've learnt how to live life to the full. The choice to come here was definitely +EV, even if it didn't work out the way I had hoped. And thinking about how great my year had been, and realising that I still had a few months left to make it even better, I pulled myself together, and managed to get through a period where I felt like I was being dealt one bad beat after another. And let me tell you, those last few months were the best, I knew what I was going to lose, so I knew what I had to treasure, I knew every moment was special, whether it was watching tv with my girlfriend, or overlooking the statue of liberty at a rooftop party.

      You may have realised, this has all been in past tense. So where am I now? Well I just got home after a 30 day road trip across the USA, living with my parents again, and thinking about what might have been, it's day one, and I can't sleep, so you find me writing this epic opening blog post. Tomorrow, I'll be searching for a job, and I'm not sure how many other people have been in a similar situation, but there are only so many job applications that you can send off each day. I need something else to do, something to look forward to, and something to take the pain off feeling like I'm an alien in my own country.

      This has been building up to one thing... Poker. The perfect distraction, and the perfect thing to keep my brain sharp during these dull autumn days.

      And now, after one of the best detours along one of the most scenic routes of life, here I am. Back to the place it all started, back under my parents roof, Back to the Beginning.



      Now it's been a while since I played any poker, and to be honest, I remember very little of even the basic strategies right now, giving my blog a second reason for it's name. I have to start from the beginning, and attempt to learn more than I even forgot in the first place.

      My method will be to take one (or maybe two) lessons from the pokerstrategy pages, each morning, and my play that day will try to incorporate it. I'll then write up my thoughts on the lessons, and my play for the day. At the start of the month, I will post my goals, and keep track of them throughout the month. For the first month, I will probably not set a target number of hands or any arbitrary goals, it will be more about completing the lessons.

      I'll be doing my best to keep the thread interesting, and share with you some of my stories from my time in America, there are some to love, and some to make a lot of you jealous, but I hope to build up a decent following from you guys, and we can see where this all leads. One things for certain, it's going to be uncharted territory.
  • 64 replies
    • spydex1234
      spydex1234
      Basic
      Joined: 06.09.2011 Posts: 38
      gl luck mate hope it all goes well for you maybe you will find a way to go back to usa i just wanted to ask you why didnt you stayed and get another job ? i mean i have friends who are staying there illegal and they found something to do
    • bennisboy
      bennisboy
      Silver
      Joined: 11.04.2011 Posts: 711
      Originally posted by spydex1234
      gl luck mate hope it all goes well for you maybe you will find a way to go back to usa i just wanted to ask you why didnt you stayed and get another job ? i mean i have friends who are staying there illegal and they found something to do
      Breaking the law to stay isn't exactly something I wanted to do. Had to go to hospital a couple of times out there, and not having medical insurance would have made it impossible to survive.

      Plus when you do finally find a real job there, chances are you wouldn't be able to get a proper visa or work clearance due to staying there illegally before. So in my opinion, the risk outweighs the reward!
    • bennisboy
      bennisboy
      Silver
      Joined: 11.04.2011 Posts: 711
      So I played a little bit over the day today, just trying to ease myself in really. I haven't read any real strategy of late, but I wanted to blow the cobwebs out my brains before I started my learning process again.

      I played about 50 hands of NL5 SH, was just single tabling while I got my poker hat back on. Went fairly smoothly. Can't say I played that well or that badly, and I marked down three hands to put in the evaluation forum. Currently waiting for feedback on those. Once I get it, they may be discussed further in here.

      Also just whacked out about 200 hands of NL5 speed poker on Ipoker network. I quite like the higher number of hands, which may be useful when clearing bonuses, but the games can be so tight it gets a bit dull. Spent most of the session stealing blinds. Played a couple of decent hands, couple of poor hands. I didn't have my HUD running, because HEM seemed to get confused by the seating and it all got a bit messy! I'll be having a look through for the hands I didn't like or wasn't sure about.

      Also, I've been reading Jared Tendler's book "The Mental Game of Poker", I like it so far, and it's useful for me just to get an idea of how to get my mindset right to progress properly and also to sort out the masses of accumulated emotion I have in my head right now.

      I'm still trying to get my head around being back home. I'm taking this week to get over the jet lag and disappointment, but I want to sort out an organisation schedule to help me get my life back on track
    • bennisboy
      bennisboy
      Silver
      Joined: 11.04.2011 Posts: 711
      So today I have signed up for the BSS School. Seems like a good idea to start right back at the bottom, but hopefully I can get through it at a decent pace!

      Played some more speed poker. There's a lot of spots where I'm not feeling too confident about my plays (specifically, not knowing when to fold or how to act when my bet is raised!)

      For example:

      Grabbed by Holdem Manager
      NL Holdem $0.05(BB) Replayer
      SB ($5)
      BB ($0.85)
      UTG ($5.59)
      Hero ($5.16)
      CO ($8.83)
      BTN ($6.50)

      Dealt to Hero J:spade: J:club:

      fold, Hero raises to $0.15, fold, BTN raises to $0.52, fold, fold, Hero raises to $1.63, fold

      Hero shows J:spade: J:club:

      Hero wins $1.11

      I wasn't too sure how to react here when I was 3b. I decided that OOP and not wanting to see any tricky overcards on the flop, it was 4b/f spot. As this was speed poker, I knew any 5b/shove would mean I was beat, but anything worse wouldn't call. So I hoped to take the pot down there rather than turning my JJ into a set mine hand
    • MasochisticDesire
      MasochisticDesire
      Bronze
      Joined: 25.10.2010 Posts: 486
      I wasn't too sure how to react here when I was 3b. I decided that OOP and not wanting to see any tricky overcards on the flop, it was 4b/f spot. As this was speed poker, I knew any 5b/shove would mean I was beat, but anything worse wouldn't call. So I hoped to take the pot down there rather than turning my JJ into a set mine hand


      I play SH but not Zoom but your thinking sounds solid to me.
      Dont think your 4bet/fold needs to be so big though, $1.3 is fine IMO

      wow, life not pulling its punches atm huh. :(
      Duck and weave my man and you'll come out the other side better for it, of this I have no doubt. :P

      I'll be following.
      Which city are you living in?

      Luck,
      MD
    • bennisboy
      bennisboy
      Silver
      Joined: 11.04.2011 Posts: 711
      Originally posted by MasochisticDesire
      I wasn't too sure how to react here when I was 3b. I decided that OOP and not wanting to see any tricky overcards on the flop, it was 4b/f spot. As this was speed poker, I knew any 5b/shove would mean I was beat, but anything worse wouldn't call. So I hoped to take the pot down there rather than turning my JJ into a set mine hand


      I play SH but not Zoom but your thinking sounds solid to me.
      Dont think your 4bet/fold needs to be so big though, $1.3 is fine IMO

      wow, life not pulling its punches atm huh. :(
      Duck and weave my man and you'll come out the other side better for it, of this I have no doubt. :P

      I'll be following.
      Which city are you living in?

      Luck,
      MD
      Yeah I agree, looking at the size now, seems too big, should have been closer to 2.5x rather than 3x.

      Its true, life is being a bit of an arse right now, but at least I know what I want. It's just a case of figuring out how to get there now.

      I'm back living in London (suburbs) with my parents, who are both retired. Not liking the lack of independence right now! Plus they're both home all day. Absolute nightmare! haha
    • bennisboy
      bennisboy
      Silver
      Joined: 11.04.2011 Posts: 711
      Grabbed by Holdem Manager
      NL Holdem $0.04(BB) Replayer
      SB ($6)
      BB ($6.01)
      Hero ($7.75)
      CO ($4.93)
      BTN ($3.08)

      Dealt to Hero K:diamond: Q:heart:

      Hero raises to $0.12, CO calls $0.12, fold, fold, fold

      FLOP ($0.30) 8:heart: T:club: A:club:

      Hero bets $0.20, CO calls $0.20

      TURN ($0.70) 8:heart: T:club: A:club: 5:spade:

      Hero bets $0.36, CO raises to $1.30, Hero folds

      CO wins $1.33

      Was confused by the villain's play here :/

      Took a while to call pre, same on flop. An apparent brick hit and he raises my bet. I thought the bbrick would allow me to take down the pot with a 2nd barrel. I'm not really sure what calls twice then decides to raise on the turn here. Altho cos I'm beating nothing, I had to give it up.

      DOes this look like a bluff to take me off the hand? Or a slightly poorly played set?
    • bennisboy
      bennisboy
      Silver
      Joined: 11.04.2011 Posts: 711
      So I completed the first two BSS School lessons, and have started my own thread in the coaching forum. Yet to receive feedback on the hw, but I have done it all before!

      Played a decent number of hands to get back in to the swing of things. I've been playing mostly break even with a couple of "nice" plays thrown in for good measure, and a few more "why the hell did I do that" plays, for not so good measure...

      The articles I've read so far were talking about the basic players types, and how to get their dollar, and about odds, outs and pot odds. After reading them, i did notice I don't seem to end up drawing a lot, I've yet to really see what effect this is having on my game though

      I've also been reading "The Mental Game of Poker" and like it a lot. I'm going to start using the warm up techniques mentioned in the appendix.

      I've come up with a basic routine, which should see me learning about poker for around 2hrs per day for each week day. Weekends are still in the air really.
    • muumionu
      muumionu
      Bronze
      Joined: 25.07.2012 Posts: 816
      Hey, nice blog and opening post, you've posted it somewhere else too right, I must have read it somewhere before.

      I'm playing NL50 at the moment and I could review some HH's of yours if you'd like, pm me your skype if you're interested
    • bennisboy
      bennisboy
      Silver
      Joined: 11.04.2011 Posts: 711
      Originally posted by muumionu
      Hey, nice blog and opening post, you've posted it somewhere else too right, I must have read it somewhere before.

      I'm playing NL50 at the moment and I could review some HH's of yours if you'd like, pm me your skype if you're interested
      Hey, thanks, I gave a run through of what had happened in the Q&A thread with Jared, you might have seen it there.

      I've added you as a friend on here and will message you my skype when you accept.

      I'm thinking about trying to find some study groups to join to keep me motivated, and I find talking concepts helps me pick them up quicker.
    • MasochisticDesire
      MasochisticDesire
      Bronze
      Joined: 25.10.2010 Posts: 486
      I'm thinking about trying to find some study groups to join to keep me motivated, and I find talking concepts helps me pick them up quicker.


      Hey Bennis,
      There are a couple of NL10 bloggers here trying to set up a small but dedicated study group to assist each other in our climb through the micros.
      Still judging a level of interest atm but if you want in PM me your Skype.
    • muumionu
      muumionu
      Bronze
      Joined: 25.07.2012 Posts: 816
      Originally posted by bennisboy
      Originally posted by muumionu
      Hey, nice blog and opening post, you've posted it somewhere else too right, I must have read it somewhere before.

      I'm playing NL50 at the moment and I could review some HH's of yours if you'd like, pm me your skype if you're interested
      Hey, thanks, I gave a run through of what had happened in the Q&A thread with Jared, you might have seen it there.

      I've added you as a friend on here and will message you my skype when you accept.

      I'm thinking about trying to find some study groups to join to keep me motivated, and I find talking concepts helps me pick them up quicker.
      Alright I added you back
    • bennisboy
      bennisboy
      Silver
      Joined: 11.04.2011 Posts: 711
      So I've played a bit over the last couple of days, I say "played"... I start off pretty spewy, usually losing some dollar pretty quick, then force myself to focus, play well for just long enough to start breaking even, then spaz out because I've played too long.

      I'm thinking of setting myself a time limit on play at the moment. Or taking a five minute break every so often to relax my brain and re-focus.

      I'm still really just getting back into the swing of it, haven't really checked my graphs or bb/100 yet. Think I'll give it around a month until I start doing any of that.

      It's also been nice to get a few of other people's post in my blog and some offers of study groups and HH reviews.
    • bennisboy
      bennisboy
      Silver
      Joined: 11.04.2011 Posts: 711
      Played about 500 hands of speed poker today and just over 100 of normal. Feel I played better in speed poker today, which is funny given that I usually find it tougher. I think it's cos when I'm consider trying something crazy, I time out and fold before I have a chance to think out all the madness and convince myself that it will surely work this time!

      Here's a hand where I struggled to make the most of my strong hand. Any feedback would be appreciated, I've also posted in the evaluation forum.

      Grabbed by Holdem Manager
      NL Holdem $0.05(BB) Replayer
      Hero ($12.49)
      BB ($0.86)
      UTG ($12.41)
      UTG+1 ($2.99)
      CO ($5.40)
      BTN ($6.16)

      Dealt to Hero 7:diamond: 6:diamond:

      Villains unknown, speed poker

      UTG raises to $0.15, fold, CO calls $0.15, BTN calls $0.15, Hero calls $0.13, fold

      I only call here because the second opponent gives me better odds to play this speculative hand

      FLOP ($0.65) 6:club: 6:heart: Q:spade:

      Hero checks, UTG bets $0.32, CO folds, BTN calls $0.32, Hero calls $0.32

      TURN ($1.61) 6:club: 6:heart: Q:spade: T:club:

      Hero checks, UTG checks, BTN bets $0.92, Hero raises to $2.95, UTG folds, BTN folds

      Hero shows 7:diamond: 6:diamond:

      Hero wins $3.28

      My C/R on the turn was an attempt to get more value in the pot, but thinking about it, would I have been better off simply calling and allowing the villain to fire a third barrel on the river?

      As I was OOP, there is a chance that if I didn't lead out on the river, I would see a check behind, but was unsure if that would be a risk worth taking to try to extract more value?
    • bennisboy
      bennisboy
      Silver
      Joined: 11.04.2011 Posts: 711
      ouch, bad variance session that.

      Unbelievable swings. Had AA and KK cracked, was 2 outered, 3 outered and got my money in with 75% in another time. Could have been a beast session, instead ended up losing, but I don't think there was much I could have done differently right now. Oh well, it'll come good! On another night, I would have been up 4BI instead of down 1.5BI!

      Oh here's a pic of my HUD in case anyone is interested. I've kept it simple and easy to read.

      We have the abbreviations in white. % on left, and % fold to on right
      I'm yet to really color code them, but that should be my next step, just need to think of some critical values to match my standard bet amounts to show me the EV (i.e. if fold to cbet > x%; show as green, where x% is the critical value for my 2/3rd pot cbet to be +ev)

    • bennisboy
      bennisboy
      Silver
      Joined: 11.04.2011 Posts: 711
      I'm noticing a common theme in my sessions.

      1. Boot up poker770 and HEM
      2. Open games (either 6max or Speedpoker)
      3. Proceed to play my A game and quickly get deep stacked
      4. Start to piss away my chips doing some stupid plays
      5. Get big hand(s) cracked with huge equity
      6. Start tilting
      7. Try to regain control (usually back to break even in my session now)
      8. Fail to regain control and keep doing stupid shit until I force myself to quit

      It's really stupid, and I need to work on it. Maybe cutting down session times to include more breaks will help.

      My A-game is working really well at NL5, but my B and C-Game needs some serious work. It's costing me too much money. I know I'm making stupid plays, but I just cant stop until it's too late.

      Learning to fold is priority number 1
    • bennisboy
      bennisboy
      Silver
      Joined: 11.04.2011 Posts: 711
      Well, I would appear to be quite a high variance player at the moment.



      All the big losses are down to me being a retard and making horrendous plays, but most of the winning sessions feel solid rather than lucky.

      I think so far I've experienced my A and C games, but not my level B.

      I'm quite liking speedpoker at the moment, but the no use of HUD for it makes tracking villains a bit hard.

      I'm also playing some normal 6max and have started marking out the fish to find them easier when I'm online
    • bennisboy
      bennisboy
      Silver
      Joined: 11.04.2011 Posts: 711
      Just played another quick good session. Have to say I love the volume you can put in just two tabling speedpoker.

      My laptop screen is pretty small, so it makes multitabling anything more than 3/4 normal games very awkward.

      I have to say, I've not seen a move like this before, must be pretty advanced bluff all-in call....

      Grabbed by Holdem Manager
      NL Holdem $0.05(BB) Replayer
      SB ($1.97)
      Hero ($7.88)
      UTG ($5.62)
      UTG+1 ($4.22)
      CO ($5)
      BTN ($5.02)

      Dealt to Hero 8:club: J:heart:

      fold, UTG+1 calls $0.05, fold, fold, fold, Hero checks

      FLOP ($0.12) K:heart: 8:heart: 8:spade:

      Hero bets $0.06, UTG+1 raises to $0.12, Hero raises to $0.36, UTG+1 raises to $0.60, Hero raises to $7.83 (AI), UTG+1 calls $3.57 (AI)

      TURN ($8.46) K:heart: 8:heart: 8:spade: A:heart:

      RIVER ($8.46) K:heart: 8:heart: 8:spade: A:heart: 3:spade:

      Hero shows 8:club: J:heart:
      (Pre 26%, Flop 94.4%, Turn 95.5%)

      UTG+1 shows J:spade: A:spade:
      (Pre 74%, Flop 5.6%, Turn 4.5%)

      Hero wins $8.04
    • bennisboy
      bennisboy
      Silver
      Joined: 11.04.2011 Posts: 711
      So here's a hand I also posted in the evaluations forum, I'm annoyed I didn't get full value out of it, but when villain checks river, I don't know how much more I could do

      Grabbed by Holdem Manager
      NL Holdem $0.05(BB) Replayer
      SB ($5.23)
      BB ($4.77)
      UTG ($4.95)
      UTG+1 ($0.54)
      Hero ($5.95)
      BTN ($4.88)

      Dealt to Hero 4:spade: 4:diamond:

      fold, fold, Hero raises to $0.15, fold, fold, BB calls $0.10

      FLOP ($0.32) 4:club: 8:spade: Q:diamond:

      BB bets $0.24, Hero calls $0.24

      TURN ($0.80) 4:club: 8:spade: Q:diamond: 4:heart:

      BB bets $0.40, Hero raises to $0.80, BB calls $0.40

      RIVER ($2.40) 4:club: 8:spade: Q:diamond: 4:heart: 8:diamond:

      BB checks, Hero bets $1.10, BB calls $1.10

      BB shows 7:heart: Q:heart:
      (Pre 49%, Flop 3.5%, Turn 0.0%)

      Hero shows 4:spade: 4:diamond:
      (Pre 51%, Flop 96.5%, Turn 100.0%)

      Hero wins $4.37

      PF
      Standard Open

      Flop
      We flop the set, unfortunately only one broadway card out there. Villain leads out and I decide to call. I figure this would let weakish hands carry on rather than raising. I mean, if I raise, I surely only get calls from AQ, KQ, maybe JQ, then QQ and 88.

      Turn
      Set turns to quads. Now how do I extract max value? Villain bets out, I raise here to try to get the pot bigger, and hoping to face a re-raise, but villain flats. Again, if I raise bigger, only TPGK comes along?

      Should we be 3betting bigger here? I know the idea is to get where I can shove the river, but wouldn't that require a scare sized bet here?

      River
      Should have bet bigger here really if the villain has made it all this way, but no draws have come in, and I can't see any hands out there that villain could go broke with. I bet under half pot to try to get some thin value

      Any thoughts on how to get more value from this hand without scaring the villain off?