Berzerger's battle: resurgence

    • Berzerger
      Berzerger
      Bronze
      Joined: 24.03.2008 Posts: 910
      Hello everyone,

      First off, let me introduce myself. I'm Berzerger, 19 years old, I live and study in Belgium, but I was born in Russia. I speak Dutch, Russian and English fluently, but I prefer the English PS community to keep my forum visits coherent. I started playing poker less than a year ago, when it got popular in this country. Here's how it started: my friends bought a set of chips and invited me to come over and play with them for fun. I agreed, and after they explained the rules to me, we started to play. It was a lot of fun, and though the amount of my chips over time reminded a rollercoaster ride, I enjoyed the game and kept looking forward to the next time we played. After about two months, my friends started playing poker less frequently, and I thought it was a shame since I came to like poker.

      At that point in time, I didn't even realize poker was played online for money on a daily basis, so that would have been the end of my poker career if it wasn't for a LAN party I went to where they organized a poker tourney. I thought it would be fun to participate, especially if there was a prize at stake. It was a small tourney (3 tables, 30 players), but playing against people who I never met just seemed exciting. I was sure they were all much better at the game than me, which was mostly true since back then I thought poker was only about reading your opponent. And it was fun while it lasted, after three orbits I busted. I had trash, and my opponent looked like he was bluffing. I paired my six, so I thought I'd raise him. Even though I was right about him bluffing, he also had a pair of sixes, but with a better kicker, and so I was knocked out.

      But my poker rush wasn't over, I went online and started playing for play money on Everest poker (the sponsor of that tourney). After having played for a few hours, I thought "there must be some kind of strategy for playing poker". So the first thing that came to my mind was typing "poker+strategy" in google, and what do you know, I found this site. At first I thought it was a scam, but I still tried the quiz, thinking I could handle it. I failed, so I tried again, and failed once more. Then I actually took the time to read the articles and finally passed it. The recommended site at that time was Titan, so I made an account there, and received my first $50.

      I immediately started playing, without much consideration for BRM and strategy in general, so I ended up losing money in the long run. Eventually, I lost everything because of my loose play and lack of patience. Over the course of months, I played freerolls and scraped together some winnings, which eventually evaporated without turning into something more. Finally, I got two of my friends to join PS and got $50 from my TAF-account. My friends lost everything just like me in the beginning, but I got my $50 which, after 6 months of failure, gave me a fresh start. Over the course of two months, I built my bankroll up to a cumulative amount of $400, steadily increasing as I wrestle my way through small downswings and temptation to deviate from the winning strategy.

      Overall, I can say I learned a lot from all the times I went broke and tried to start from zero, time and time again. It helped me to gain patience, and showed me exactly what happens when I go on tilt or let my emotions influence my game. I still have much to learn, but I believe all that experience went to good use and helped me to become a better player.

      This blog is mainly meant for myself to write about how my daily battle at the poker tables is going and what I learn from it. But everyone is welcome to read and comment as well.

      Sunday, November 30

      Today I slept till 3:30 PM because I stayed up to about the same time (AM) last night, playing poker. I had difficulties leaving my SnG session with a loss, so I kept on playing until my Mansion balance was back up to 200 EUR. I almost succeeded, floating on 198, which I deemed enough for the night, so I went to bed, but when I woke up I realized I was late for the Silver freeroll on Titan as it was already full two hours before the start. I was really disappointed, but decided to move on and logged in on Mansion, where I'm building up my main bankroll.

      The reason I moved to Mansion was, well... Long run. First off, I couldn't stand the suckouts I got on Titan, and even though I knew that Mansion also belonged to iPoker, and that the card generator was the same one as on Titan, the thought of having a fresh start on a different platform lulled me into moving my roll there. Second, the $100 bonus that I had to clear after receiving, sounded as a great deal, which I gladly accepted. Last but not least, points. Titan points are pretty much useless, unless you like to waste your time playing those points buy-in tournaments with $50 prize pool. Even PLO ones aren't worth the trouble. But Mansion points can be redeemed: there's the VIP program, there's cash prizes, there's the Mansion shop, all obviously better than points tournaments, so I know I'm not wasting my time with the loyalty program.

      And I'm running decent on Mansion, really. I have the roll to play $5.50 SnG's, which are my main source of income, and I train my cash game skills with NL20 SSS. I usually switch between the two depending on where I run the worst. Today was a break even/slight loss session. I felt I was on tilt, which in my case means playing extremely tight by-the-book without much consideration of reads. A few bad beats and coolers really did it for me, but after a short break, a hot meal and an episode of South Park, I was ready for another go.

      My roll is now resting on 196 EUR. My objective for tomorrow will be to cross the 200 mark and make some decent profit to move up to $11 SnG's or NL50. The most important lesson I learned today is not to assume my opponents are worse players than me, because even bad players can win with luck, and winning in poker cannot be forced, regardless of your skill.
  • 71 replies
    • Berzerger
      Berzerger
      Bronze
      Joined: 24.03.2008 Posts: 910
      Tuesday, December 2

      Finally achieved my goal for this month to become a gold member. However it came at a price: I lost 50 EUR on a downswing, which, combined with tilt, added up to 80. $5.50 SnG's aren't going too well, and even though I made a little progress yesterday, I still decided to do the right thing and step down to a lower limit. I already lost my roll once because of BRM neglection, there won't be a second time even if I end up playing NL2. So now the battle against NL10/$2.20 SnG's will start. My aim is to get enough money to be able to play my limit of comfort (NL20/$5.50 SnG's) again, and resist the temptation of a quick win with high limits I don't have the roll for. With school exams approaching, I'll limit my poker time to 1 hour a day max.

      Before I start today's session, I'll warm up with a private freeroll on Titan, and hopefully win another addition to my roll there, which I could then move to Full Tilt for rakeback. I originally wanted to move to Full Tilt, but the free $100 promotion on Mansion caught my attention, and the loyalty program was decent, so I moved there instead. But Full Tilt is still next in line, and I just have to scrape $50 together on Titan to withdraw it all at the same time. No concrete monetary expectations today, but I hope to make some steady profit, that would motivate me greatly.
    • Berzerger
      Berzerger
      Bronze
      Joined: 24.03.2008 Posts: 910
      After my disastrous swing I've taken a break from poker, but now back at the tables to build everything back up, higher than ever. But I'm going to start small, with just $10 on Titan, where I'm planning to build another bankroll from scratch. This way, I'm not risking any big money while still keeping my poker addiction fed, and actually accomplishing something. If I lose $10 - no big deal, but if I make something out of it, it'll be a great achievement for both my roll and my ego.

      Also, I'll stay away from SnG's. The swings there are just huge, and I've had my fair share of those for a while now.
    • Berzerger
      Berzerger
      Bronze
      Joined: 24.03.2008 Posts: 910
      Monday, March 2

      Three months ago, I promised myself not to play poker for money any more. I did this because I suffered total loss to my bankroll due to tilt. I thought it was the right thing to do, protecting myself from addiction and the losses that come with it. Over the course of the past month and a half, I reconsidered my decision. I had put a great amount of time and effort to learn the game mechanics and I managed to systematically increase my roll before the dramatic roll destruction I brought upon myself in one night.

      But what was the cause, I asked myself? Long-term bad play? Or bad bankroll management? Obviously, it was the latter, when tilt tempted me to put my entire roll on 1 SnG, and blowing whatever was left on roulette. Back then, I was mad at myself so I made the radical decision and stopped playing poker for what I thought would be an entire lifetime. Several weeks later, I calmed down and weighed up the pros and cons of returning to poker, and after a retrospective eventually coming to a rational conclusion that it's too early to give up. As mentioned earlier, I proved I can win money playing poker. And over the course of my entire poker career, I actually made net profit, so I haven't lost money. Therefore I returned to the tables with new courage.

      Overall, I've made around $500 in a month and a half, playing on a non-PS tracked site. Cake poker looks interesting, so I might be moving there for intensive play for the next promotion. All in all, it feels so great to play poker and win again. I think I found my style, one that suits me and lets me play my game comfortably, so hopefully I'm up for another adventure that will last. The lesson that I learnt over the last few months is that tilt is a serious problem, and the ability to cope with it is just as essential as a good strategy at the table. I'm not past the tilt phase, I admit, but much farther along the road of dealing with it.
    • Berzerger
      Berzerger
      Bronze
      Joined: 24.03.2008 Posts: 910
      Wednesday, April 1

      I managed to made over $500 playing on Cake, and some $100 on Mansion when I had the time. I also gathered a neat amount of almost $100 on rakeback (Cake) which I'm expecting to receive this week, bringing up my Cake roll to an amount exceeding $600. All in all, this means I'm going to move up to NL20 FR with a safe roll of 30BI. I hope to cross the $1k mark at least by the end of the month. Easter holidays give me 2 weeks of freedom, and I'm going to spend them on poker to see what my profit will look like over 1 week of full time play.

      This month, I've started almost every session with opening up 3 to 6 SnG's, and to be honest that's where a large part of my profit came from. Sometimes if the ring games didn't go too well, I just closed the tables and started a few SnG's instead, which mostly overcompensated any loss I might have made playing cash games. Today I started with a -$30 loss on cash tables, and made up for it with SnG's, winning another $70 on top of that.

      I liked the soft $10+0.80 turbo double-ups on Cake, they fill up quickly and are very profitable. As opposed to normal $10+1 SnG's which last much longer, and it takes a while to wait for opponents to fill the table. But I won't be playing any more of those since $10+0.80 is the highest DoN limit on Cake. Regular $20+2 will do just as well for me though, and I'll have my hands full with new cash table limit anyways. If something goes wrong, there's always a lower limit that I now know I can beat.

      Tilt is still in my game, and even though I'm minimizing it little by little, it can still take its toll on me, strangely enough only in cash games. I'll impose a stop-loss limit of 3BI on myself starting my switch to NL20, it should keep me from major mistakes on a relatively new limit. The lesson I learnt this month is to see my poker career as one big session, and that it's okay to end a session with a loss: there's always tomorrow. New day, new session, new fish, new profit.
    • Berzerger
      Berzerger
      Bronze
      Joined: 24.03.2008 Posts: 910
      Tuesday, April 7

      It's way past midnight, but I'm still up. Just finished a very profitable session on Mansion, clearing the bonus I forgot I had. Made a thread in Mansion Poker subforum about that little challenge, going just as well as I expected. The winrate is good too, except for not quite as good as I wanted it to be. My game has improved significantly compared to half a year ago, but I have the feeling I still have the same leaks since I became a steadily winning player. I try plugging most of them by watching videos, reading articles, being active on the forum and to a lesser extent attending coachings. Especially Hasenbraten's video about big pocket pairs/overpairs has helped me a lot to minimize my losses when I'm behind. Any beginner is practically incapable of folding aces, but I learned to see them as just a pair, and big pots are won by bigger hands than just a pair.

      Stacking players has been my biggest source of income, way more than c-betting or any standard move. Set mining against aggressive bigstacks has proven very effective, since on microlimits people are rarely capable of folding an overpair, or even TPTK. Here's a fine example of what I get myself into on a daily basis:


      Known players:
      Position:
      Stack
      UTG1:
      $25,42
      MP1:
      $20,60
      Hero:
      $30,90

      0,1/0,2 No-Limit Hold'em (10 handed)
      Hand recorder used for this poker hand: PokerStrategy Elephant 0.67 by www.pokerstrategy.com.

      Preflop: Hero is BU with 6:club: , 6:spade:
      UTG folds, UTG1 calls $0,20, UTG2 folds, MP1 raises to $0,80, 3 folds, Hero calls $0,80, 2 folds, UTG1 calls $0,60.

      Flop: ($2,70) 9:heart: , 6:diamond: , J:diamond: (3 players)
      UTG1 checks, MP1 bets $2,70, Hero raises to $7,80, UTG1 folds, MP1 raises to $19,80 (All-In), Hero calls $12,00.

      Turn: ($42,30) 3:diamond:
      River: ($42,30) 4:spade: (1 players)


      Final Pot: $42,30

      Results follow (highlight to see):
      Hero shows three of a kind, sixes (6c 6s)
      MP1 shows a pair of jacks (Ac Js)

      Hero wins with three of a kind, sixes (6c 6s)

      I can only be glad such players never try to look for mistakes in their own game. In the beginning of my poker career I probably wouldn't lay this hand down either. Now I go by the rule that TPTK is a hand that you either win a little or lose a lot with.

      Most of my sessions lately have been on the positive side. I've read a lot of blogs where people complained about the swings they had on NL20. Either I'm running sweaty hot or I just found a way to dominate this limit. Every session ends with a profit, the more I play the more I win. Feeling great about it! So great that I even dare to dream of a career as a pro. By my calculations, if things keep going the way they do right now, I can play 5 hours a day and make a comfortable living off of my profit on NL20. Of course, I'd need the roll to have some money left after I withdraw, but that's all for the (possible) future. I don't want to give up my lifestyle for poker just yet.

      What have I learned this week? The importance of pot control. Marginal hands shouldn't create large pots, even if I'm sure I'm ahead. They're called marginal for a reason. Big hands, however, should be played to their full potential, since that's my main source of income. It's important to find the balance between betting big enough to make the most profit from the opponent with the worst hand, but not so big that I can't get away from the pot if he does hold a monster. Always give the opponent incorrect odds to call, and be wary of sets/slowplays, even with monsters like AA and KK. Just because I got dealt a hand doesn't mean I have to play it for my whole stack.
    • Berzerger
      Berzerger
      Bronze
      Joined: 24.03.2008 Posts: 910
      Wednesday, April 15

      Playing into the late hours again. Right now registering for another session of $25+2 double-up SnG's on Cake. Today's session on Mansion went well, but Cake cash games went terrible. Made no profit at all, all the cards were against me, every hand got either cooler, suckout or any sick combination of both. No draw completed, got beaten set over set and should be glad I only lost 2 NL20 BI. I know this is standard variance, but that doesn't make me feel any better. I'm used to winning. Perhaps too much for my own good...

      I'm seriously considering a career in the poker world. Usually I make $60-80 a day playing 3-4 hours and spending an hour or so on improving my game. If I play 8 hours a day, my winrate on NL20 alone should be enough to cover all my monthly expenses, leaving enough time to do something fun in between. Perhaps a career many dream of, but I won't wave it off with the classic response that I "can't do it yet". Why not? If I keep improving, I'll quickly move up the limits and get an even better winrate, making enough for a decent living. I don't see why this is impossible, and I am prepared to dedicate myself to accomplishing this goal. I will not drop out of school yet, though. Nevertheless, poker is getting more and more importance in my life, and that's not about to change any time soon.

      Over the course of this week I learned what it means to set goals for yourself and what hard work it takes to accomplish them. Profit is not an automatic result of playing, it's a product of work combined with insight, strategy, dedication and a little bit of luck. From now on I won't take my winnings for granted.
    • Berzerger
      Berzerger
      Bronze
      Joined: 24.03.2008 Posts: 910
      Wednesday, March 6

      Things are looking up for me. The tables on Cake offer much variance, but I'm winning and that makes it all worth the excitement. It all started with me crossing the $1000,00 mark for the first time in my life, and it gave me more confidence in my game than months of experience and articles read or videos watched. Using a fairly conservative BRM approach, I go by the 50 BI rule. Saving up $1k5 to start playing NL50. I don't think the level will be drastically different from NL20, especially on a platform like Cake, but mistakes will become more costly, and I'm not used to playing for such money at my direct disposal. I just recently realized that I'm gambling with some serious cash: in a single NL20 session I have $180 in play simultaneously. $180! That's more than an average day salary, and I'm gambling with it. The thought is exhilarating, but that's where I get the kicks from.

      I had a hard time crossing the $1k mark, my BR swung between $999,86 and ~$600. When cash games weren't going well, I tried to catch up with my losses by a quick DoN SnG session. I switched to $25+2 ones when I had the feeling I could handle them, and the truth is there is no level difference between $25+2 and $10+0.80 on Cake, the $25+2 ones are just slightly more advantageous in terms of rake (saves $0.40). The swings were terrible however, I found myself 14BI down at a certain point, but won it all back. At least partially. The big breakthrough came when I started playing HU SnG.

      It all started with a NL20 session on Mansion when I lost a stack to some self-proclaimed poker pro advertising how much better he plays than the rest of the table (evidently by suckout). I got into a discussion with him, and after minutes of flaming I told him I deem my skills superior to his. He immediately disputed my claim, which was my cue to challenge him for a HU game. He acted all high and mighty, but never really accepted the challenge, waiving it off with something ridiculous like "tomorrow, if you'll show up". Haven't seen him since, what else to expect...

      But then I got intrigued by what would have happened if I really played him HU. The only real HU experience I have is from regular SnG's and tripple-or-nothing ones I used to play on Mansion. But that's not really solid HU skills, I'was still a rookie with no clue about HU basics. So I just hit the tables to see how it would go. And it went disastrous. I kept getting bluffed out of every pot, the times I had a hand and started raising, villain only proceeded with something like at least two pair, stacking me every time. I tried switching opponents, nothing helped. I kept getting outplayed and losing. After being 6 stacks down I called it quits.

      I started to hate the whole HU format, but my hatred didn't last longer than it takes for tilt to wear off, and in no time I was browsing the forums in search of HU material that I didn't find in the videos or articles. Didn't find anything at first, and I was feeling the need for entertainment, so I looked up National HU Championship and watched the whole show. That really pepped me up to try HU. I didn't want to play cash games anymore though, the rake alone is reason enough for me. So I tried the HU SnG format, starting with the $25 games that had a smashing low rake of only $1.25. Won 5 in a row, just steamrolling my opponents and feeling great about it. Since HU SnG's help you develop HU skills (in contrast to DoN's that teach you little about poker), last even less long that turbo DoN's, have lower rake for the same payout and emphasize skill over luck, they quickly replaced double-ups for me.

      Playing NL20 and $25+1.25 HU SnG's I quickly crossed the then seemingly impossible $1k for the first time in my life. Soon after I got over $200 in rakeback for the month April. NL20 sessions brought me up to $1349, and then dropped back down, below $1300. HU SnG's returned into play, but another swing struck and I found myself down at $1150. A break and a (very unhealthy) meal got me back on track for another HU session, playing 2 to 4 tables at once, and stopped at $1360 about an hour ago with chin way up. Even though I won the last two because I sucked out with a backdoor flush draw (both times), I take comfort in the fact that the opponents called my 3bet with a worse hand pre-flop, so poker justice prevails!

      Overall, I've had a few very productive weeks, building my BR and getting ready for higher limits in between. I work on my game for my own pleasure now, it's become entertainment to me. I learned the importance of BRM and how big swings can become at times. My bankroll endured some big ups and downs, but in the end it's increasing at a comfortable rate. I also learned to play shorter sessions, taking breaks more often and relaxing in between and during the session as it's proven to affect my winrate positively.
    • Berzerger
      Berzerger
      Bronze
      Joined: 24.03.2008 Posts: 910
      Monday, June 6

      A lot has happened in the past 4 months. I went on a massive downswing on Cake, playing HU SnG's and losing over half of my bankroll. I'm now slowly recovering it on NL20 and now stand on $680. If I can get up to $1200 just by playing cash, I'll switch to NL50 sooner than I was going to before I hit the swing. I mean monetarily, since I was planning on gathering $1500 before I try fully switching to a higher limit. Money now has less meaning to me compared to my skill. I know I'm capable of beating a limit, I have confidence and I'm not afraid to put my money at risk if I see profit. Bad beats, coolers, mistakes and losses in general no longer make me mad, and I find myself dedicating more time to learning and analyzing the game.

      Also, I learned how to use advanced HUD on Mansion. That, along with some time and effort, got my Mansion roll past $1100. Since I cleared my Mansion bonus, I want to withdraw at least part of my roll and transfer it to Cake, taking advantage of the FDB. I like the Mansion interface and their loyalty program, but I want to play more profitably on Cake and move to another site (perhaps back to Mansion) when I clear the bonus. Lack of software assistance isn't a nuisance, but I wouldn't mind some extra help.

      I now also have a small roll on Pacific poker, worth little over $77. It's been up to $190 until I hit an 11BI downswing on $11 SnG's (oh the irony) and went down to $5.50 ones. So far so unlucky, but I don't expect much. This is my tilt/drunk/fun account where I play when I'm not out to make money but still feel like playing a little. Who knows, maybe it'll turn out great some day.

      Since I started this blog for myself, it's up to me what to do and how often to write here. Still, I like to keep track of my progress, so I'll try to post more often, even if it's just a few hands or something funny that happened at the tables. I'm just glad I'm slowly progressing and not giving up. There is still much to learn, so I'll get right at it.
    • Berzerger
      Berzerger
      Bronze
      Joined: 24.03.2008 Posts: 910
      Sunday, August 9

      I was planning on writing here more often, but somehow never got to it up until now. Not much of a blogger myself, I just write about what's happening to my bankroll every now and then. And a lot has happened, again.

      One night, I was playing a 4 hour break-even session, and just before I decided to end it, I lost 3 BI in the last few hands. The amount of time it took to earn that money was just ridiculously huge compared to the seconds it took me to lose it. I got so fed up with the game being unprofitable regardless of how well I were playing that I just took the rest of my roll and entered a high limit tournament in order to either get back to the point I was at when my swing started, or just lose it all and get it over with. The luck was not on my side, I busted before the money and went broke.

      I took a break for a few days, then started playing again on Mansion where my roll was $1200. At the end of the month, after I received my MCP boost for the last time, I decided it was time to quit playing at Mansion and move to another platform. I spent the MCP I had on a $55 tournament token, played the tournament and cashed out my roll. When it was time to choose a new platform, I thought I might have given up on Cake too early and went for another try, depositing $600 for the maximum FDB.

      I went for an aggressive BRM and started playing NL50. Ever since, it went uphill for me. I learned to adjust to my opponents' ranges better, started folding against decent players when I felt I was beat, and kept notes on my opponents. Putting in some volume, my average amount of tables is 12. I get an average of $100 a week from rakeback and now have $1750, officially the biggest roll I ever had at any given moment in my poker career.
    • yaxkukmian
      yaxkukmian
      Bronze
      Joined: 24.12.2007 Posts: 2,020
      Read it all :D

      I'm glad your self-confidence is so high, that's never a bad thing - really like your optimism ;)

      As it can be seen you're analyzing your hands and thinking about your game. Not only the hands but also about length of your sessions, different game formats (though I'm not a fan of mixing it too much because I believe that if you play too many formats you can't concentrate so much on one or two as you could. It's working for you but I still believe you shouldn't mix so many different games...), playing conditions, mood, etc.

      I really respect people who devote themselves to something and admire people who show such devotion for poker which is "just a game" for most of normal mortals. Since I don't have so much self discipline to do it myself I said to myself the other day why not praise people who show such a devotion. I'm holding my fingers crossed that your progress continues the same way it went until now. :s_cool:

      Though I must mention you're quite lucky that you don't have roll at Mansion because if you did I would challenge you to HU match...maybe some other time :f_biggrin:
    • Berzerger
      Berzerger
      Bronze
      Joined: 24.03.2008 Posts: 910
      Tuesday, August 18

      First off, thanks for keeping your fingers crossed all this time, yax, please keep them that way until I double my roll (or you get finger cramps, either way). Now for the news...

      Today I finally passed the $2000 mark. I started the day with $1955, spent $55 on the Daily $10k guaranteed, but busted just out of money. Nevertheless, I played about 90 minutes NL50 and ended the day with $2007. I don't expect myself to make hundreds of dollars every week from now on, but it's nice to know that all the study and practice is paying off.

      I know how to grind NL50, have note on most Cake players and cleared over 1/3 of my FDB. My plan is to continue playing FR NL50 BSS until I clear the bonus, then start learning SH and possibly withdraw and move on to some other site. Can't say I dislike the whole Cake loyalty program, on the contrary I enjoy the rakeback and the fact that it comes on top of the FDB. Also, gold cards are fun to collect (and spend), and so are gold chips, but sometimes I'd just like to have a more densely populated site like PokerStars where I don't have to wait for rush hours to start a profitable session, and since they're offering a $600 FDB now as well, the choice is basically between PS and Full Tilt.

      I almost feel bad for "abandoning" my Pacific account, where I have less than $50 left, but the software is just really bad. The traffic doesn't make up for the time I spend there either, only 5 full NL50 FR tables (although very profitable ones) or less at times. Though it's fishy, the site just doesn't justify a deposit in my opinion. I might open one table there and mix it with other sites during play, if I go broke I won't deposit there again.

      Right now I'm putting about half of my study time into learning SH, and the other half in FR material. Omaha, SnG and MTT can wait, I'll focus on what I (will) play most. Since FR is getting increasingly less popular compared to SH, I'll end up playing it sooner or later as I go up in limits. The main reason I'm not playing it (that much) on Cake is because of the lack of stats. That's a handicap even for FR games, although stats can't be used against me either.

      Overall, poker has been going great for me lately. I keep learning new things every day, throughout every session, and what's made the most impact on my game since the beginning of my career is tilt management. Lately I can get 3-4 coolers, lose some stacks and continue playing normally. Of course, not without slithering to the forums after the session to whine a little...
    • Berzerger
      Berzerger
      Bronze
      Joined: 24.03.2008 Posts: 910
      Monday, August 24

      I've spent some more time grinding NL50 on Cake and now am up to almost $2200. I really like the layout of the tables, they're easy to rearrange and everything is clearly visible even with minimum table size. Very good for 12-tabling, especially because I can arrange them in such a fashion that I can see my hole cards at every single table even though they overlap each other. I like the software in general, too, got really accustomed to it. There are a few things I'd like to see improved though, like a check/fold button instead of the standard fold to any bet button. If I auto-check 72 in the BB and flop quads, I'd like to get a chance to play that hand rather than have it auto-folded whenever someone bets before I even notice I have quads.

      Here's what my screen looks like with a NL50 session in progress:



      Note: the task bar is auto-minimized. Screen resolution is 1680x1050.

      I just recently found out that Cake shares players with Doyle's room and 35 other skins when I saw some poor sucker whining in the chat about how unlucky he is and how Doyle's room hates him. I thought why is he mentioning Doyle's room? He's playing on Cake now. Then I looked it up and was surprised to find out there are 37 platforms on the Cake network, some of which I never even heard of. Trivial, but interesting nonetheless.

      I also finally deposited $600 at PokerStars as I already cleared half my bonus at Cake and decided it's time to create an account at the world's biggest platform where I'm likely to spend the majority of my poker days. The traffic is indeed impressive, especially SnG's. I played cash game there, at all times there are over 12 tables with VPIP>30%, I just love it! And the cherry atop the cake (no pun intended) are of course the stats which I missed so badly. Notes become virtually useless because there are so many opponents you probably won't see them again after this session. My only complaint is the table layout. Smallest size makes the text and numbers difficult to read, and the stats are so tiny (and often misplaced!) it's hard to use them. I can adjust, of course, but I prefer my information clearly visible, and I'd expect the world's biggest platform to provide me with a way to increase the font size of the tables.

      My biggest disappointment so far is my run. I've played a few hundred hands at NL50, won in the beginning but then lost 3 stacks and ended up hardly break-even. So then I tried SnG's, and that's where I crashed and burned. Even DoN's, which are supposed to be easy, didn't make me any money, on the contrary. Out of my initial $600 deposit, only $371 now remains. And I cleared $30 of my bonus, so if it wasn't for that I'd have sunken even lower. Nevertheless I'll stick with SnG's (DoN or regular ones) to get my money back, with correct play it shouldn't take long unless I hit some insane swing.
    • Berzerger
      Berzerger
      Bronze
      Joined: 24.03.2008 Posts: 910
      Wednesday, September 2

      Another hectic week. I dropped down to gold status due to lack of volume. Not that I didn't have enough time to play, on the contrary. But I just didn't find the energy to grind out enough points just to support my PS status. My rolls have increased slowly over time. On stars I'm almost back to my initial $600, and on Cake I now have $2350.

      Most of my time I've been playing on Cake, 12-tabling NL50 as usual. I can clearly see I have an edge against pretty much all but one or two players at my tables, and even those rarely play at the same time as me. The problem is variance. I've swung up and down 2-3 BI pretty much every session, sometimes losing a big pot and setting my progress back half an hour, which can get quite frustrating. But I've recovered and recorded some profit over a week.

      My Stars account is not tracked, apparently, so I'll be leaving the platform as soon as I clear the bonus. A shame, really, but nothing to do about it. Although it's the biggest platform in the world, I've done some calculations and it seems their rake isn't as low as people like to believe it is. For NL50 FR, which I'm likely to be playing for the next several months, Full Tilt actually has the same rake, and 27% rakeback, so if I decide to go for a big room to settle at (in distant future), Full Tilt is likely to be my choice.

      My game seems to have improved, especially the hand reading, but that might be only an impression from facing weaker opponents. I should attend more coachings, but first I need to find the time to attend them. Videos rarely teach me anything anymore. Not that I know that much about poker already, but some situations in videos I watch are either standard or I already know how to play them anyway. Articles on the other hand are good to refresh my memory and review the basics and details of the game.

      Overall, I'm making progress, building my roll and learning little by little. So I'll try and keep things that way.
    • Berzerger
      Berzerger
      Bronze
      Joined: 24.03.2008 Posts: 910
      Sunday, September 27

      I have found out the hard way that I'm not tilt-proof after all. First everything was going great and I got up to $2800 on Cake. Then, on top of my already staggering loss of 4 stacks I tilted away 3 more, and played a $109 MTT (evidently busted after losing a flip) before finally quitting. Smoked 5 cigarettes that day, even though I quit months ago. Now I'm quitting again by slowly decreasing the number of cigs I smoke a day, down to 1 at the moment and planning on quitting permanently some time next week.

      The bankroll recovery went painstakingly slowly as usual. Right now I'm back at $2500, thanks to PLO. There's usually only one or two PLO50 tables on Cake, but the players seem to have absolutely no idea what they're doing. I won a stack with top set against some joker who kept calling potsize bets with nothing but a flush draw. I'm starting to like this game a lot. Nowadays poker is associated with Hold'em, and a lot of players are getting better at that game. But Omaha is a totally different game, and most players who play it started out with Hold'em and never properly adjusted. The fact that there's way less content on PLO than there is on NLH means that average PLO players have less ways to improve their game, thus giving me better winrate. I especially enjoy the diversity as grinding NLH can become monotonous after some time.

      I need to clear the bonus on Stars some time soon. It only expires in February next year, but I'd rather clear it and move to a tracked platform as soon as possible. If someday by a swing of fortune my account gets retracked, I might return there for the huge traffic, but for now I'll just do some grinding and get the hell out of there.

      I spent a couple of hours today browsing through different poker sites, looking for my next potential platform to bonuswhore, and so far Bwin seems attractive with decent cash game traffic at peak hours and many fish, if I can trust the VPIP percentages. However, IPN started seeming like an attractive platform. PokerHeaven's got some promotions rolling next month, and the bonus is not deducted from rakeback, which combines to a theoretical total of 43% effective rakeback. Besides, every raked $ brings 3 strategy points, whereas InterPoker only gets me 2 per $, so PokerHeaven seemed like a favorite until I discovered that the bonus on InterPoker is cleared way faster. However, I couldn't find anywhere whether rakeback goes on top of the bonus as well, if so InterPoker gets the priority without a question. I've written to support to find out if that's the case, awaiting reply. I can still do both platforms, and I probably will, but I'd rather start with the one that clears the bonus faster.s

      I'm not satisfied with the amount of time I put in poker in general and grinding in particular. I'm practically break-even for this month, and if I ever want to become a professional, I need to start making some progress. This means not only regularly putting in more hours, but also working on my game, especially psychologically. I really like PLO now, so I'll be playing it a lot for sure as it appears to be very profitable. My switch to SH will have to wait a while, at least until I move to a new site so that I can use stats. My time on Cake really taught me how to play the game right without relying on stats, but it will be nice being able to gather and use additional info. Eventually, I'll figure out the next step, like I've always done before.
    • Berzerger
      Berzerger
      Bronze
      Joined: 24.03.2008 Posts: 910
      Tuesday, September 29

      I just finished an almost 10 hour lasting session, officially both the longest and the worst I ever had. If I had to describe it, the only words that come to mind are OH... MY... GOD... I think that about 80% of all draws completed against me, and I couldn't rationally comprehend the possibility of so many bad beats for stacks, like this one:
      http://cakepoker.com/en/HandHistory/Default.aspx?Hand=xsTExsTFwM3CwcTExMHGxYjNxMDCwMI%3d
      Modest as I am, I deserve a medal for ending this with profit, albeit a minuscule one of $2. With only $10 of bonus left to clear on Cake, I started my usual grinding routine, and then the doomswitch got flipped on me. I lost literally every big pot in about 1k hands. Been as low as -5BI, but I told myself I'd set this straight even if I have to play until my eyes get bloodshut. And I did, eventually. Today's my last day on Cake, and I'm expecting at the very least $200 rakeback for the week.

      My whole day was basically filled with poker. I woke up around 4PM, ate breakfast, browsed the forums, then somewhere around 6PM I started grinding. Finished about an hour ago. During the whole session I was table-selecting, blinding out on tables that became unprofitable (VPiP dropped below 15%) and signing up for waiting lists on new ones. The circulation of tables never stopped as they seemed to eventually tighten up at some point in time, that's when they had to be replaced. I often had 16 tables open, it was really hectic. Didn't even have the time to drink.

      Actually, it was a frustrating but in the end satisfying experience. I have beaten the downswing. If this is what a professional player's average day looks like, then I could see myself doing this for the rest of my life. Assuming I run a little better, of course. Some part of the game has become a reflective automatism for me, but there were times when my heart was involuntarily pounding in my chest when I was all-in and watching those cards come off on turn and river, just hoping my hand would hold up. It felt good to be excited about poker and not let it turn into a routinized drag.

      Until today I thought InterPoker was the best platform for me to bonuswhore, but I found out Everest's $1k bonus is much easier to clear than I thought as they work with gross rake, I only need to be dealt cards in a hand. According to my calculations, the bonus will equal 70% effective rakeback, given I can accumulate 15k Summit Points in 30 days. Shouldn't be a problem, unless the traffic gets low, like right now for example. There are only two NL50 FR tables, one is even half empty. But since Everest is an European site, and today's Monday, so I shouldn't expect much. But there'd better be 12 full tables during peak hours.

      I was actually considering staying at Cake as they offered a 50% up to $300 reload bonus, but I had no way of depositing another $600 in those three days. Their "extra gold chips" promo in October is not enough to keep me there, although I wouldn't mind a few additional gold chips to spend in the shop as I come just a few short for a nice $100k guaranteed token. Since there isn't much else I can buy in the Cake shop for the amount of chips I now have, I think I'll let them be until another attractive promo brings me back to Cake somewhere in the future.
    • TheBrood
      TheBrood
      Bronze
      Joined: 17.07.2008 Posts: 4,383
      Nice blog you got here mate, just try not to burn yourself out playing too much =)
    • Berzerger
      Berzerger
      Bronze
      Joined: 24.03.2008 Posts: 910
      Sunday, October 4

      Something different today. I finally issued a withdrawal request, and soon my entire Cake roll will be transferred my Neteller account, ready for a deposit to Everest where I'll grind my fingers off. Unless something goes wrong, like Cake deciding to throw in an ID check before processing my withdrawal. But sooner or later (preferably sooner) I'll be climbing Everest's limits like I feel I should.

      About Everest, I've only played a couple of freerolls there more than a year ago, and one $109 MTT because I won an entry token in a qualifier sponsored by Frag-O-Matic, a LAN party in Belgium that I've been attending for some time now. Though I busted with 99 vs. AK on A9KAK board (pretty sick), I still remember the level of players on that site. If NL50 cash tables are anything near that soft, I might actually stay there after I get my $1k bonus. It'll feel very nice receiving $1k at the end of the month on top of my winnings, like getting a poker paycheck.

      So far I've been playing on 1 or 2 tables on Pacific, recreationally. Managed to turn a $46 roll into a $122 one. Some people there stack off with TPTK. The hard part is waiting for those premium hands to hit and hold up, but I usually do something in between, like playing chess or browsing the forums. Something I can't do when playing on Stars for instance. Grinded some NL50 tables there yesterday, earned $70. My cash game successes on Stars are rather limited to say the least, and I'm still having difficulties using the stats properly, but I'm managing.

      At times, I set some monetary goals for myself. Not with the intention of forcefully making money, which I learned the hard way doesn't work out too well. Instead, I just have those milestone amounts that I happily scratch off my list when I check my balance at the end of the session. But instead of monetary goals, I decided that I want to become Diamond status member before the end of this month. Even if it's for a short time, I want to be able to say I made it to Diamond.

      Also, I finally found a use for Cake's gold chips. Just recently they introduced 2-table 6max double-or-nothing SnG's where you buy in with gold chips, but the payout is cash. I already played one of those, paid 55 gold chips to enter and cashed for $25. They do take a while to fill up, but they eventually do, so I'll just spend what's left of my gold and try to convert it into cash again. For now, I'm just waiting for my withdrawal, reading articles and playing short sessions on Pacific and Stars. More action coming soon...
    • Berzerger
      Berzerger
      Bronze
      Joined: 24.03.2008 Posts: 910
      Wednesday, October 7

      I expected to see action by now. Instead, I got two security checks and a polite lack of reply from Neteller support. Before withdrawing, Cake requested my ID and proof of address. I sent them a copy of my ID and a bill I got from school. Accepted without questions, money sent to Neteller an hour after confirmation. Then I get a phone call from Neteller support saying my account was frozen because I surpassed a limit that I never knew existed. Apparently, I was supposed to search their site for every scrawny little legal detail that they never bothered to mention.

      But I'm not upset, I was going to send them proof of address some time soon anyway to have my account upgraded. Oh, and they refused to accept the same bill I sent to Cake, saying it's not sufficient proof even though my address was mentioned there twice. Now I sent them a letter from my bank, waiting 13 hours for a reply. Oh joy, they'll probably decline that one too and send me to the city hall for an even more official piece of paper.

      I'm checking out Everest lately, it's good to know your battleground before you charge the enemy. To be honest, I can hardly wait to play there. I can honestly say I've improved a lot over the past few months, which I proved to myself by raising a small but decent bankroll. And stealing money from Everest players sounds like tons of fun. Hopefully my money won't stay frozen for much longer so I can start my rampage. It feels weird not having a main platform, PokerStars is my secondary, but I don't get strategy points for playing there.

      Which reminds me, I've ran my roll up a little, haven't had a losing session there since early September. There's always loads of tables, but they change stats so quickly I can barely keep up. Table-selecting while 12-tabling is a pain, way more than it was on Cake. At least there were less tables, and fewer players so they wouldn't switch tables so often, but it's a bloody nightmare on Stars. Sometimes the 60% VPiP tables I signed up for only have 7% left when I sit down.

      My solution is signing up for all top VPiP tables and closing down the open ones that tightened up during the time I played there. I usually blind out, but that means I barely have enough money to buy in on my basic 12 tables, and sometimes there isn't enough left for additional tables I try to open. Solution: more grinding so I'll have plenty of money to open as many tables as my needy self requires.

      It was also a pleasant surprise to find out I cashed in for $100 in the Cake rake race, despite many days of procrastination in September. I seem to unexpectedly get money lately: some time ago I sent $60 to a friend of mine whom I owed money, which he claims never to have received. Three months later, I get a refund of $60 out of nowhere with no explanation where my money has been all this time. I ended up paying him back in cash. Oh well, at least I got my money back. A few days ago I also doubled my Pacific roll, which is also a small but welcome addition to the grand total of my online funds. Two-tabling NL50FR there as I'm typing this, so far yet another $15 up and still loving the game.

      Though I only have a bankroll as small as $4k, I'm putting more and more thought into going pro. I'm putting tons of time into it, studying, watching videos, and grinding of course. With just 6 hours a day I bet I could easily earn as much as a low paying job, and when I move up in limits and become a better player I'd improve my winrate enough to compete with some qualified professionals. This was my dream ever since I started playing with real money, I thought it was all potential and very far future, but it seems so much closer now that I have confidence in my game and proof that I can make it as a player.

      Yesterday I've had my first serious conversation with my mother about poker and what part it will play in my future, and it wasn't so bad. I think she's okay with my career choice if I at least try to get my diploma for this year. But I've long lost interest in school, and the more I think about it the more I get convinced that I won't amount to anything in my life if I won't make it in poker. A sad, but partly encouraging thought to call it a night with...
    • TheBrood
      TheBrood
      Bronze
      Joined: 17.07.2008 Posts: 4,383
      Diplomas are overrated, if you can play profitable poker, you can do what ever you want in life. Don't let them tell you otherwise.