The Frog and the Willow

    • Harrier88
      Harrier88
      Bronze
      Joined: 01.05.2012 Posts: 1,973
      Hello everyone,

      This is Harrier88. I've been playing online poker since April 2012, actively posting in the forum since late 2013, blogging since early 2014, and moderating the EN community since August the same year.

      When I started my old blog, which possibly had an equally weird name, I was in a different situation than today. I had finished my bachelor's thesis just a few months ago, and all that stood between me and my B.A. degree was a mandatory internship and a written report on it. Basically, I was a student who didn't need to do any studying, so it was the ideal situation to take a serious shot at this online poker gig that I was so passionate about. I had loads of free time and not many responsibilities besides making a token effort applying for internship positions. What better time could there be to see how far I could go in my attempt to get a steady income through poker?

      It's now two years later, I finished my degree in the meantime, and I already decided long ago that poker will not be the way I will make my living. Even back in 2014, I eventually found my real-life responsibilities slowly catching up with me, and the long and bumpy road of online poker suddenly didn't seem like such a great option anymore. Nevertheless, I kept playing, albeit in a less serious and organized manner, and tried to make the most of it. It wasn't until a few months ago when I started to feel that poker lost its appeal to me and I ended up throwing in the towel for the time being.

      I've had a decently sized break now, and after a few casual sessions, I decided that it's time to come back to this cute little card game we all love to hate. There won't be any serious, determined grindfests like back then anymore, but maybe, that's for the better. It doesn't mean that I have to turn my back on this game entirely, though.

      So don't expect to find any volume or profit-related goals in here. In fact, one of my goals is to keep the volume to a minimum in order to find enough time for more important or worthwhile matters – time that I didn't always have in the past.

      In short, this is just the journey of a recreational poker player trying to lead a meaningful life, like we all try to do.

      And what's up with the title? Find out in my next post.
  • 46 replies
    • la55i
      la55i
      Moderator
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      Joined: 27.01.2013 Posts: 6,482
      Hi :f_cool:

      Interesting blog.. Will definitely start following it :f_thumbsup:

    • Harrier88
      Harrier88
      Bronze
      Joined: 01.05.2012 Posts: 1,973
      As some may know, I'm not only interested in poker, but also in other traditional games of luck and skill from around the world, especially if gambling is involved. Followers of my old blog, for example, might remember me adding online mahjong to my repertoire last year, which is still one of my favorites, even compared to poker.

      Other enjoyable, exotic gambling games involve the use of Hanafuda cards. These nice-looking traditional Japanese playing cards debuted in the 19th century, after Japanese card players kept coming up with new versions of cards that use images instead of numbers, in an attempt to bypass the strict anti-gambling laws of the era.

      A deck of these cards involves 12 suits of four cards each, with every suit representing a plant from one of the twelve months of the year. There are different games you can play with them, but most of them involve capturing matching cards to make combinations using the four different types of cards, consisting of junkcards, ribbons, animals and “brights“.

      One of these so-called “bright“ cards is the Rainman of the November or Willow suit, pictured below.



      And just recently, I found out that the man in this card is based on a historical figure, the legendary Japanese calligrapher Ono no Michikaze, and the event depicted on it is based on an actual legend involving him. I'll just quote directly from Wikipedia...

      One day when Michikaze was feeling inadequate about his calligraphy he took a walk outside in the rain. Seeing a frog trying to jump on a willow branch, again and again missing its mark, he thought to himself "Stupid frog! No matter how many times you try you will never be able to reach the willow". Upon thinking this, the willow curved in a big breeze allowing the frog to jump onto the willow. Michikaze then realized "I myself am the stupid one. The frog created this chance with his determination. Up until now I haven't been as diligent as this frog".
      It seems like I recently felt the same way about poker as this Michikaze felt about his calligraphy back then. And like the frog in the story, I kept landing on my face when I tried to make any progress. But in the same way, I must keep carrying on, keep trying, keep jumping. And one day, I may create opportunities for myself that I never even thought I had. In poker, and, more importantly, in life.
    • SDK1987
      SDK1987
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      Joined: 12.11.2008 Posts: 31,160
      It sounds fun. Good luck with your new start :gl:
    • Harrier88
      Harrier88
      Bronze
      Joined: 01.05.2012 Posts: 1,973
      Thanks for stopping by already, la55i and SDK! :f_drink:

      Now that the introduction is out of the way, let's take a look at what's going on my life right now, and what kind of topics can be expected in this blog:

      Career
      Let's start with the most important issue. Ever since I graduated from university last fall, I have not yet been able to secure a decent job for me. This is not necessarily a big surprise. I have studied what people over here sometimes jokingly call an “orchid degree“, which is one of those obscure degrees that may perhaps look nice on paper, but without having a lot of practical use. Kind of like an orchid, hence the name.

      For those who don't know, my degree is called B.A. Anglophone Studies. Basically, it's the study of the English language for people who do not intend to teach it. Instead, it focuses on the study of literature, culture, linguistics and whatnot.

      There is no need to panic, though. My parents are quite supportive, and I'm essentially getting free bed and breakfast (more like lunch, really) at their home for now, and I also have some savings as well, so I'm far from becoming a charity case any time soon. It's a comfortable life, but it doesn't feel right. I want to stand on my own two feet, and contribute to society like everyone else, as soon as possible.

      The job hunt is not getting any easier, but I do have some plans in mind right now. So let's just keep jumping at that willow branch...

      Health
      Years of sitting at my laptop grinding poker ad nauseam have taken their toll on me, I'm not nearly as athletic as I used to be. In order to avoid turning into the stereotypical fat ex-jock, I'm attempting to introduce more fitness-related activities like jogging to my daily schedule, which gives me another good reason to cut down on the amount of time I spend with poker. I already picked up a martial art called Krav Maga a few weeks ago, which could be just what I need in order to get back into shape. But I'm still looking for another, possibly more playful sport to take up in addition to that, preferably a team sport.

      My diet has never been that great, but I don't think it's a massive health issue either. And to be honest, I don't really plan to make any radical changes to it in the near future. However, I would like to improve my cooking skills a bit. I also already cut down on my alcohol consumption, and I'd like to keep it to a manageable degree.

      Mahjong
      Still my prefered form of gambling at the moment, and I will continue to play at least a daily session if I have the time, as well as participate in two Hong Kong rules tournaments every Wednesday and Sunday, which tend to be quite profitable. One good thing about this game is that it's practically impossible to multitable effectively, and there is pretty low traffic, with most players being from a different time zone, so there is virtually no risk of getting carried away as there is with online poker.

      I also recently joined a local group to play live home games once a week (no money is involved). It is always extremely fun, in fact, there was one instance a couple of weeks ago where we were almost unable to complete our hands because we were laughing so hard. Plus, it is a nice way to get out there and socialize, which is another thing I didn't do as much as I should have in recent years.

      Poker
      Oh, right, this supposed to be a poker blog to some degree, isn't it?

      Again, I plan to play about one session a day, but preferably not much more. During my odyssey in the world of online poker, I tried out just about every format there is. I'm not that interested in the tiring grind of cash games right now, MTTs take too long, and I'm tired of the late game push-or-fold drama of STSNGs as well, so I decided that 45-manners will be my game of choice for now. They should be the right balance between the convenience of STSNGs and the excitement of big payouts promised by MTTs.

      I'm also dabbling in Badugi tournaments, but I'm not sure to what degree I will continue with them. Their time schedule is a bit awkward for me.
    • Harrier88
      Harrier88
      Bronze
      Joined: 01.05.2012 Posts: 1,973
      Didn't play any Hold'em this week yet. It's not like I gave up on it already, I just didn't feel like it so far.

      I did play in some Badugi tournaments, though, and managed to finish 2nd last night for around $17. To my surprise, it turned out that my usual $2.20 tourney that starts a little before midnight CET had been replaced by a $1.10 re-entry tournament after the recent schedule changes at Pokerstars. Normally, I don't like rebuys that much, so I was a bit skeptical about it at first. But now that I played a couple of them, I think that the re-entry format works pretty well with this game.

      This hand alone was reason enough to celebrate. It's quite rare already to get dealt this hand in the first place, so it's nice to see a good pay-off as well:
      A pack of feral cows chewed their cuds for .0043 seconds to convert this hand
      PokerStars Pot Limit Badugi ($1.00+$0.10) t300/t600 - 6 players

      BB: t6,956
      UTG: t15,379 (Hero)
      UTG+1: t4,600
      CO: t26,634
      Button: t24,795
      SB: t7,370

      Dealing Hands: (t900) (6 players)
      Hero raises to t1500, 2 folds, Button calls t1500, 2 folds

      First Draw: (t3,900) (2 players)
      Hero stands, Button discards 1,

      Hero bets t1850, Button calls t1850

      Second Draw: (t7,600) (2 players)
      Hero stands, Button discards 1,

      Hero bets t2050, Button raises to t13750, Hero calls t9979 and is all-in

      Third Draw: (t31,658) (2 players)
      Hero stands, Button stands

      Hero showed , a Badugi: 4,3,2,A
      Button showed , a Badugi: 7,6,5,4
      Hero won t31658

      In such a high-variance game, one or two of these kind of situations where a great hand runs into an even better one often make all the difference. That's one of the reasons why I believe that the rebuys are a pretty good idea here. For one thing, you can take more risks early on, without the danger of a single cooler ending your tournament, but you can also take advantage of other players taking unreasonable risks if you pick your spots carefully. Much like in Hold'em re-entry tournaments, really, but in games like Badugi that give you even less information about your opponent's hand, this could come in especially handy.

      I think I'll stick around in this format for a while, it looks promising enough.
    • Harrier88
      Harrier88
      Bronze
      Joined: 01.05.2012 Posts: 1,973
      Kept playing Badugi only, with no results except for one mincash which allowed me to break even, because I had to use one rebuy in that tournament.

      I wonder how far I could go by playing nothing but Badugi tournaments. Sounds like a challenge...

      Anyway, I could use some advice for some off-the-felt stuff:

      A while ago, I decided to replace Diet Coke with non-alcoholic beer as my soft drink of choice, after I kept hearing about the health hazards of diet soda. As it turned out, though, non-alcoholic beer tastes quite different to regular beer. In fact, it's a bit gross. Not undrinkable, but it's enough to make me look for alternatives.

      Let's go over the obvious choices first:
      - I've tried plain old mineral water, of course, but it seems a bit too "Spartan" to me. I don't mind drinking it at all when I'm looking for nothing but a drink, but when I'm having a full meal, I prefer something with a little flavor.
      - Apple spritzer is often recommended as a healthier alternative to soda, but it's not for me at all, I just can't stand apples.
      - I'm not a big fan of iced tea either, I'd rather stick to my non-alcoholic beer in that case.

      So I wonder what other options there would be. If you have any recommendations for an alternative to (diet) soda that is healthier and contains few calories, please let me know.
    • Harrier88
      Harrier88
      Bronze
      Joined: 01.05.2012 Posts: 1,973
      Well, I wanted to focus on Badugi for a while, but I just couldn't help myself and gave those K.O. SNGs at Pokerstars a try. They're super swingy and the rake is immense, but the games are fast and there are a lot of bad players around. I think I would have liked them a year or two ago.

      Back to Badugi, I have some good news tonight because I managed to ship an MTT just now for $27.25. :f_drink:

      Decisive cooler of the day:

      Milked from the teat of a feral cow
      PokerStars Pot Limit Badugi ($1.00+$0.10) t900/t1800 - 6 players

      UTG+1: t62,467 (Hero)
      CO: t15,120
      Button: t45,698
      SB: t60,196
      BB: t63,009
      UTG: t29,510

      Dealing Hands: (t2,700) (6 players)
      UTG folds, Hero raises to t3600, CO calls t3600, 2 folds, BB calls t1800

      First Draw: (t11,700) (3 players)
      BB discards 2, Hero discards 1, CO discards 1,
      ||
      BB checks, Hero bets t6750, CO raises to t11520 and is all-in, BB raises to t21600, Hero raises to t58867 and is all-in, BB calls t37267

      Second Draw: (t140,954) (3 players)
      BB stands, Hero stands, CO stands

      Third Draw: (t140,954) (3 players)
      BB stands, Hero stands, CO stands

      Hero showed , a Badugi: 7,5,2,A
      CO showed , a Badugi: 8,6,3,2
      BB showed , a Badugi: 8,6,4,A
      Hero won t140954
    • pokerplyr12
      pokerplyr12
      Basic
      Joined: 11.04.2016 Posts: 11
      Sounds like an interesting blog that shows real life and poker all rolled into one!

      In terms of recommendations of other things to drink over in the UK we put tea bags into cold water to give it some flavour or stock cubes (normally for cooking) go well with hot water to create a tasty drink!
    • Harrier88
      Harrier88
      Bronze
      Joined: 01.05.2012 Posts: 1,973
      Thanks for the advice, pokerplyr12!

      I did try stock cubes with hot water a few times when I was sick. It's not bad actually, but to me, it's more of a soup than a drink. I'm not sure if I would be very fond of cold tea, though...

      Generally, I prefer carbonated drinks when I'm having something to eat. I considered malt beer, which in my opinion tastes a lot better than regular non-alcoholic beer, but it's probably not much healthier than plain old soda, so it wouldn't really solve anything.

      Badugi is still going quite well, even though there weren't any big scores, but I cashed in both tournaments I played. I'll be away this weekend, but hopefully, I can keep the flow going when I return.
    • Remeyoyo
      Remeyoyo
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      Joined: 22.05.2015 Posts: 1
      Good luck !
    • Harrier88
      Harrier88
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      Joined: 01.05.2012 Posts: 1,973
      Thanks, Remeyoyo!
    • Jakkosh
      Jakkosh
      Bronze
      Joined: 29.07.2013 Posts: 261
      Hey Harrier,

      Nice start to your new blog. I like the title and the meaning behind it. I will definitely be following :s_thumbsup:

      I am about to give up tea and coffee, which is a very big deal for us brits lol! So I will also be trying to drink abit healthier. Maybe you should try making up jugs of homemade flavored water. I just squeeze some lemon, lime and/or oranges into a jug of water, add a little bit of mint from the garden, throw in some ice cubes and a little bit of sugar or honey and put it in the fridge for a couple of hours. If I can be bothered I leave it all infuse overnight and then pour out the liquid into a jug so it hasnt got any mint floating about lol. Its not carbonated but might be worth a try. Thats what im going to try and do to replace my unhealthy drinks, its got to be better than all that caffeine!

      Good luck with your fresh start =)
    • Harrier88
      Harrier88
      Bronze
      Joined: 01.05.2012 Posts: 1,973
      Hi Jakkosh,

      Thanks a lot for your advice. I looked up some more recipes for flavored water, I believe it's definitely worth a try.

      Good thing I don't have to give up on caffeine as well, I don't think I even would have made it through university without it.

      Glad that you'll be following. It's been a bit of a slow start over here, but let's see how things will go.
    • Harrier88
      Harrier88
      Bronze
      Joined: 01.05.2012 Posts: 1,973
      Apologies for the lack of updates, everyone.

      It looks like Pokerstars has made yet another change to their Badugi MTT schedule (either that, or I just can't find the other tourneys). For one thing, My regular $1.10 re-entry tournaments at around midnight appear to be cancelled, which is not that big of a deal, because I considered moving on to earlier tournaments anyway. The $1.10 ones can easily go until 3AM or longer if I'm doing well, and I wouldn't want to do this every night. It's not like my regular night life is all that exciting, but I should at least find enough time for the occasional movie night or something.

      In addition to that, it appears like the other re-entry tournaments are gone as well, being replaced by Progressive K.O. tourneys instead. I'm not a massive fan of this change so far, because the K.O. format essentially splits the prize pool in half, and I'm not sure if I can capitalize on that with my current playing style. Also, the inability to re-enter the tourney can make quite a difference in Badugi, where tournaments are often decided by who ends up at the wrong end of a cooler.

      My last few attempts did not go very well, but I'll stay at it. At the same time, I'm putting a good part of my bankroll on the line through private MTT staking deals, with promising results overall, but obviously including the usual swings, so I may have to look for a Plan B if things don't improve.

      But right now, there is no need to panic. The willow branch is still in plain sight, so to speak.
    • Harrier88
      Harrier88
      Bronze
      Joined: 01.05.2012 Posts: 1,973
      Well, i did manage to pick up a mincash and around $3.75 in bounties in last night's Badugi MTT. It's a nice start, but there is room for improvement, especially considering that my stakehorses are running quite poorly at the moment.

      It can be hard to focus on the long term when you're limited to one or two games per day.

      Since there is not much else to report from the virtual felt, let's talk about some IRL stuff.
      One week ago, I was away over the weekend because my brother got married. :f_love:

      At first, I imagined that things would be stressful, but that wasn't the case at all - in fact, it felt like a short holiday to me. I had a very pleasant stay at the Hyatt Regency in Mainz, I can definitely recommend that place if you ever want to visit this town, for whatever reason (maybe you would like to go see St. Martin's Cathedral or the Gutenberg Museum).

      So after all the formalities were out of the way, we had a nice dinner and then went to the bank of the Rhine river to have some drinks and enjoy the amazing weather, when suddenly two backgammon players behind us chimed in because some of us were discussing the latest Bundesliga scores, and those guys planned to see a recap of these matches on TV that evening. Since I'm interested in backgammon myself, I later asked whether I may watch their game for a bit. "Sure, as long as you don't spoil any soccer scores.", they said.

      Unfortunately, they were near the end of their match, and I could only watch the last few of their moves before they were done. So we made some small talk. Recognizing my formal clothing, one of them sarcastically asked "So who's the unlucky couple?". Once I told them, they both let me know that they themselves are 'convinced singles', who are determined to keep it that way. They explained that they prefer to "observe people's mistakes from a distance" rather than making those mistakes themselves, so it seems like their question wasn't that sarcastic after all.

      That made me think for a bit. These guys represent what seems to be a growing movement in today's society of people who prefer to stay away from traditional, formal relationships. When I first heard about my brother's engagement, I initially felt pressured to get a move on myself in this part of my social life. But when we get down to it, life as a lone wolf does have a lot to recommend it as well, to be absolutely honest.

      Not that I'm a 'convinced single' myself, like those backgammon players at the Rhine. It's just that there are bigger fish to fry right now.
    • Harrier88
      Harrier88
      Bronze
      Joined: 01.05.2012 Posts: 1,973
      Can't really see me making a decent profit with the $2.20 K.O. Badugi MTTs in the near future, and my bankroll won't be able to take too many more hits. No lower stakes games are offered anymore, so it looks like it's time for a little break.

      I don't really feel like playing any version of Hold'em right now either, so the fate of what's left of my Pokerstars bankroll will be entirely in the hands of my stakehorses until I come up with another plan.

      Maybe I can at least pick up a few bucks at the mahjong tables in the meantime.
    • Harrier88
      Harrier88
      Bronze
      Joined: 01.05.2012 Posts: 1,973
      Well, I did have some decent success at mahjong so far. There were no really big cashes, but enough of the smaller stuff to bring my bankroll back to around $120, allowing me to add some cash games of slightly higher stakes.

      My bankroll at Pokerstars doesn't fare that well at the moment, so I can't really afford to play Badugi tournaments, or anything other than NL2, really. There's some hundred bucks at 888, maybe I could donk around in some MTTs, but I have no concrete plans right now.

      It's kind of tough to maintain a poker blog when there's not a lot of poker going on, isn't it? It doesn't matter, things will turn around, and there is plenty of other stuff to do in the meantime.
    • Harrier88
      Harrier88
      Bronze
      Joined: 01.05.2012 Posts: 1,973
      So I had a quick look at my 888 account, mainly to see what the tournament schedule is like, and noticed that there were two $3 SNG tickets that would expire quite soon. Didn't even plan to play, originally, but if it's on the house, I might as well.

      I chose a 6-handed PLO8 game (Super Turbo), since it seemed the most interesting, and was lucky enough to ship it for $10.92. Since this went quite well, I decided to play another one after dinner and cashed $5.88 for finishing 2nd.

      It was very tempting to play a couple more, wondering how much longer this lucky streak may last, even though I'm not properly bankrolled for those games. Then again, my previous winnings essentially made them a freeroll, so I eventually gave in and played two more on my own dime. No 1st places this time, but I did manage to finish 2nd both times, for a perfect 4 out of 4 SNG cashes.

      Also decided to late reg The Goldfish, but finished just short of the money. Nevertheless, the total winnings of $21.56 on top of the five bucks I received recently as an incentive to get back to the tables after a long time are certainly a nice "welcome back" bonus.

      I have a feeling that I may be back to those PLO8 SNGs. I also have a feeling that this might not be a very wise decision, but who knows... I've certainly been wrong before.
    • Harrier88
      Harrier88
      Bronze
      Joined: 01.05.2012 Posts: 1,973
      Okay, things are back to normalcy after a three or four (can't remember) game losing streak.

      I'd be happy to keep playing those PLO8 SNGs if they offered $1 games, but with the lowest stake being $3, I don't feel comfortable playing them with only around $125 at my disposal. So much for that...

      I could give The Goldfish a couple more tries. One or two tournaments a day should be manageable.