anzpt melbourne

Hey guys,

It’s so bloody hot in Adelaide right now. I think yesterday was about 40 degrees, which for you backwards Americans, is about 105 F. And it’s not even summer yet. Summer in Australia is such a magical time, and something I always look forward to. It’s festival season, everyone is happier, there is lots of partying, girls rock out in skimpy clothes, and boys get to drink beer and watch cricket. And then January rocks around, and it’s Aussie Millions time.

I’m pretty excited for Aussie Millions this year. In normal chu fashion, I’m yet to book anything yet. Last year, mjw006, bennybunny18 and myself stayed in a cool apartment in Docklands, which was pretty sweet for everyone but Benny, who ended up sleeping on the couch for the whole trip. “We’ll take turns” we said. Unlucky.

I really love Melbourne. I was over there last month for ANZPT Melbourne, and was lucky enough to be asked to represent South Australia in the State of Origin event. Each state selected a team of players to represent them in a shootout format, with the placings on each table contributing to a final table chip stack for their state. Although SA didn’t have the strongest team, we managed to do surprisingly well in the shootout phase, which gave us a good stack going in to the final table. Unfortunately though, we weren’t able to win the fucker, and had to watch as a team of smug New South Welshman took it down.

The night before the main event, I actually dreamt that I busted it during the first level of the day. I was staying with bizbills, and apparently was talking in my sleep (no, we weren’t spooning). This was pretty funny, and even funnier when I actually busted the next day in the first level. Go hard or go home I guess. The only real run I had during the trip was in the 6max event, which is my favourite format of the old texas 2 card tournament. I ended up coming about 12th, which didn’t really equate to much at all, but was fun nonetheless.

The most fun was probably just the social aspect of seeing all the people who you talk to on Skype every day. I hadn’t done a poker trip since Aussie Millions this year due to uni and social commitments, so it had been a while since I had caught up with most of these guys. Drinks were had, dinners were eaten, and late night kebabs were punished. And I’m ready to do it all again this coming January.

My schedule is pretty hectic for 2013. I’m going to Thailand in January, then straight to Melbourne for Aussie Millions. I’m then off to Sri Lanka for my cousins wedding, and back to Melbourne for WSOP Aus. After that, who knows – probably Europe. I’m looking forward to travelling lots, something which I felt was lacking from this year.

Finally, I’d just like to give a big congrats to my friend Kevin ‘flopped6810’ for winning the Sunday Warmup recently. He was one of the first horses I ever picked up, and it was so satisfying to watch him develop and grow as a player over the year and a bit since I had been backing him. It was actually the 3rd time he’s final tabled the Warmup over a 4 month period, which is just insane when you think about it. Hope you enjoy your trip to Australia, mate.

Have fun, be safe, and enjoy the end of the year.


WCOOP wrap up

Thank God WCOOP is over.

I’m always so excited before a big series like WCOOP starts, but by the end of it, I’m really glad to get to the end. Playing 5 to 6 to 7 days a week really grinds you down, especially when you consider the Australian time zone, and having to rely on 4-6 hours of sleep per night.

Results wise, I had a pretty meh WCOOP series. In WCOOP events, I had a couple of runs, making day two of the first 1k, and getting 28th in the Big Antes event. Other than a couple of other mincashes, that was pretty much it. Outside of WCOOP events, I had a couple of close calls, with a 11th in the Party major, and a 15th in the Sunday 500 (KK<AA for infinite). These were disappointing but definitely can’t complain. Luckily I chopped the Stars 320 6m early in the month, and won two WCOOP Main Event packages, which meant that the month wasn’t a total disaster.

It was my intention that post WCOOP, I’d take a bit of time off to relax, catch up with friends, and do all the uni work which I had put off for the last 6 weeks. Monday, after busting from the WCOOP Main Event (without any of my swaps/pieces cashing either…), I went out for lunch with a couple of friends. It was suggested that we should perhaps engage in some light social interaction. Needless to say, my expectations were completely blown out of the water as I did not return home until the following Thursday. I think this was more of a tactical decision than fatigue, as I limped towards Saturday which was, as many of you would know, the AFL Grand Final – a near religious day in which televisions are yelled at, beer is consumed and legends are made (both on and off the field). This reckless pre-grind preparation was evident in my inability to cash a tournament the following Monday.

Anyway, now that WCOOP is over, I have a bit more time to focus on my uni work, social life, and coaching/stable commitments. I’m interested to see how the poker climate shifts post WCOOP – whether we do indeed see the mass exodus of relocated American grinders home for Thanksgiving/Christmas, or whether they will stick around and ride it out until the coming relaunch of Full Tilt. I haven’t fully collected my thoughts regarding Full Tilt, how it will change things or how it is to be best approached. I guess we will all just have to wait and see.

I will leave you with this video, kindly linked to me by Tasmanian online poker legend Ben “bennybunny18” Richardson. This cringe worthy clip shows how one should not act in a post tournament interview.


dear diary

I broke my leg. Actually, I may have done it twice, but that really is only a matter of debate between historians and the most hardcore random_chu fans. As it turns out, I had fractured it, and didn’t realise. I played footy on it, and ended up taking a kick right to the weak spot in the last few minutes of the game. I can assure you that this was unpleasant. After frolicking joyfully to the Royal Adelaide Hospital for some tea and crumpets, the doctors told me the bad news, wrapped my leg in a cast, and sent me off with crutches. And trust me, getting around in crutches sucks. I felt like such a prisoner. I wasn’t able to drive, wasn’t able to really go out or do anything at all. Anyway, I was lucky enough to get out of the cast and in to a moon boot yesterday, so I now find myself filled with vigour and a new found feeling of youthful exuberance.

And it is this state that has given me the strength to write another blog post.

I’ve been looking at picking up a few new horses for my stable. I’ve had a bit of success in the backing industry so far, with most of the people I have put time in to showing notable improvement. One of my horses finished 3rd in the Sunday Warmup, and followed it up the next week with final tabling it again, albeit this time only managing to finish 8th. Backing can be fun when things go well. It’s really rewarding to mentor someone, be able to identify leaks in their game, and watch them learn and grow as a player. In an industry where players are so isolated, it’s a welcome change to be able to build positive relationships like these with people across the globe. There are obviously downsides to backing as well. The obvious one is trust/theft. It’s really souring to have people stealing from you when you have so much optimism regarding their potential. I backed a few lower stakes players in games like 180 mans, and pretty much turned them into profitable regs, only to have them leave after starting to notch up a few wins. I guess it’s foreseeable, and it’s obviously within their rights to do so, but when you put in a lot of work in to someone’s game, and have hopes for them to move higher, it’s disappointing for them to get off at the first stop, oblivious as to where the path would take them.

I’ve been doing a bit more coaching as well. Coaching isn’t something I necessarily like doing that often (outside of the stable), because I find it a bit tedious, and I have to be a bit more polite than I’d usually like to be. I’ve given my horses various sprays from time to time, like when I think they’ve played a hand woefully, because it’s actually quite effective in making sure the message sinks in. I’m not sure how receptive paying customers would be to this kind of tough love. Regardless, I’m really happy with how my students have been progressing.

WCOOP is around the corner. I can’t wait. I haven’t really had any breakthrough scores in my career, so I’m hoping that I can post something monstrous this series. Historically I haven’t had much success during the big series’, but I’ve never been more confident in my game, so hopefully this WCOOP can change all that. Or, I could just burn a large sum of money, chasing the equity dragon.

I’m due tho!

Best of luck to all my friends playing the APPT Melbourne Main Event this week. Given the broken leg, and this research paper I’ve been avoiding from my law degree, I’ve had to sit it out. I’m so itching to play a decent live series. I’ve been playing a bit of live cash recently (with decent results), which really reminds me how profitable live poker is. I hope that I can fit in poker trip before Aussie Millions, but I’m not sure if there’s really anything coming up that tickles my fancy. Maybe I’ll try and satellite in to EPT San Remo or Prague, and get out of Australia for a week or two.

Anyway, I guess this blog post really just amounted to a bit of a catch up as to where my head is at right now. If you think you’d be a suitable horse, or are interested in coaching, shoot me a PM on pocketfives.


The Prodigal Son

It’s been 6 months since I’ve last written a blog. For that, I apologise. I mean, that kind of assumes that a) there people reading my blog and b) that I have a duty to update it, neither of which are likely to be true. Nevertheless, I will choose to overlook these minor details and continue with this stream of consciousness.

For those who were reading my blog late last year, I was really struggling. From memory, I had three brutal losing months in a row to end off 2011, and then failed to cash any Aussie Millions events. Coupled with losing 80% of the credit card roulette bills amongst the various groups of young poker phenoms with large expendable incomes, it was probably the worst losing streak I had ever been on. When you go through 4-6 months of losing consistently, it doesn’t really matter how good of a mindset you have; you start to crack.

I never gave up though. As I’m sure I’ve eluded to in earlier posts, I did quite a large amount of poker related study. I was driven. I reviewed everything I could, went over my hand histories, hand histories of friends, watched training videos, etc. It was this process that really helped me, as I found and addressed several areas that I needed to work on and improve.

Wind the clock back to February 2012; having returned from Aussie Millions, I did a review of my financial position, to find that I had wiped approximately 75% of my bankroll in the last 6 months between online losses, live losses, stable downswings, and expenses. I was pretty depressed. Although those who knew me at the time wouldn’t have known the struggles I was going through, there was a brief moment where I really did think about walking away from the game. I wasn’t sure if I could play optimally, as I wasn’t in the right headspace.

Maybe I should get backed? The thought definitely crossed my mind. I’d be able to work closely with a mentor, who could give me insight in my game, help me through the phase I was in, and bring me through to the other side, stronger and more confident as I had ever been. I had always been determined to make it on my own, though. ‘The day I get backed is the day I quit’, I used to tell myself. In my brief moment of insecurity and self doubt, I applied to a couple of stables, and managed to get an offer. It really wasn’t the offer I was expecting, to be honest, and really made me question if it was even worth continuing. I sought the advice of a friend of mine in the poker community, who gave me some really good advice, and told me what I needed to hear.

I ended up swallowing my pride, and dropped lots of the high stakes tournaments out of my schedule. I worked a lot on optimal registration schedules, and tried to maximise my ROI whilst minimising my outlay. It ended up working quite well. I was winning again. Consistently. It wasn’t long before I was back playing the high stakes schedule again, but this time, I had ironed out various leaks in my game, and I was starting to see results. Six months after this downswing, I’m at the top of my game. I’m playing the best poker I have ever played. I targeted several specific areas of my game, and improved in each one. My understanding of the game increased tenfold.

And here we are. Six months in to the year and I’ve already had a better year than last year. I’m also far happier; although I’ve been playing less, I feel that my life balance is great right now, and this has enabled me to play my A game more frequently. I’ve been far more social, lost weight, improved my fitness, and this has all culminated towards the best positive mindset that I’ve been able to achieve so far in my life.

Anyway, I didn’t really know what I was going to write when I sat down. I just started typing. This stream of consciousness included capital letters; I cannot promise that they will remain for future posts. Will I post again soon? We’ll see.

PS, couple of quick points

  • Konvict Korner, the podcast hosted by myself and mjw006 on the QuadJacks network, is set to return after the WSOP
  • I’ve been doing a bit of extra coaching, so if you’re interested, hit me up on Pocketfives
  • I may take on another MTT horse, if I can find the right candidate. Must be a low/mid stakes reg, already competent – not a rookie
  • Unfortunately I’m skipping APPT Queenstown, as I already committed to going to Splendour, and the dates clash. Devostated!

lady luck; she likes to hang with the guys who practice the hardest

sorry about the delay since my last blog post. i’d like to use the excuse that i’m going for quality over quantity when it comes to blogging, but the real reason is that i’ve just been flat out on the grind, trying to accumulate enough VPP’s by the end of the year to hit supernova. that, together with running a stable, doing coaching, and trying to enjoy a social life during a glorious australian summer. after my last blog entry, i was approached by a few different HSMTT regs, who seemed a bit uneasy at the fact that i had actively put out information that probably wasn’t that beneficial for the self interest and EV of other HSMTTers. i feel that i was pretty general, and didn’t really cover anything too specific, not to mention that most of the stuff that i had addressed was readily available on mainstream poker forums such as 2p2. anyway, as much as i have a trolling or nasty image on some forums (mwahaha), i’m always willing to contribute to the poker community in some respect, whether that be via replying to PM’s, giving advice or posting some strategy stuff in my blog.

let’s get on to what i wanted to talk about today. tournament poker is such a variance filled game, that you often go long stretches without making money. even the most astute poker player can go weeks and months without making a cent, even if they are playing a high quality game. i find that many regs will struggle to emerge victorious from the deeper downswings, as they lose the ability to properly assess spots and make profitable decisions, as their negative streak has hammered these pessimistic thoughts in to their head. they lose confidence in their game, and begin a negative spiral which often prolongs these downswings, and can cost them a lot of money. how do you get the luck back? it’s simple. put in the effort away from the tables. i’m by no means one of the best poker players, but i am one of the hardest working players, which is why i’ve been able to climb the stakes from the bottom rung in a year and a half. here are a few things that have helped me.

review hh’s: hand histories are great to review, because it allows you to focus on all aspects of your game, and give thought to the more complex situations. some people will just whizz through the hands that they had played, but i find it much more beneficial to watch the whole hand history (yes, all hands, even the ones you didn’t play), to be able to make reads on other players, and understand table dynamics. this is great for mid to high stakes regs, as they’ll be able to spot tendencies in other regs, giving them extra information they’ll be able to draw upon in future games. you can also get down and dirty with the math work through programs like pokerstove, which will give you greater understanding of what your optimal pushing/calling ranges should be given various assumptions. it’s great to go over hh’s with other people on skype, and/or go over their hh’s as well. everybody plays slightly different, so it’s great to see what people are doing differently to you, and assess whether this is something that’s worth incorporating in to your game.

talking spots with friends: this is similar to above, but more so singular hands in a vacuum. there are always various ways to play a hand, and people will argue their view to the death (hello mr. hawkins). it’s great to get other peoples perspectives, and even better when these perspectives conflict, because it forces you to analyse things even closer. lots of people fall in to the trap about having preconceived ideas or assumptions, which they always take as gospel. the one thing that helped me transition from the midstakes to higher was that there really aren’t any concrete rules in how you should play, and thinking within a boxed in mindset like this limits your creativity and ability to win pots that you otherwise wouldn’t.

reading poker forums: this is more so related to reviewing hands posted up in forums, but can also extend to general poker community related posts. it’s great to interact with other players, as sometimes the game can be very isolating and cruel. there are some great theory posts in the HSMTT 2p2 forum, and various other hands in the lower forums that you can look over, make a decision on what you think the optimal play is, and then read the next few pages on what other players think.

watching training videos: this was probably a really big part of my fast development as a player, as i’d watch a lot of training videos on sites such as pokerxfactor (specifically doubledave22 and AJKHoosier1). i also suggest having a look at tournament poker edge, as they’ve got a few good pro’s there as well.

work with a coach: most people have leaks, let’s face it. working with a coach fast tracks your progress, as instead of having to figure out what your leaks are, you can work with a more experienced and successful player who can usually identify leaks within a session or two, and help you take corrective measures. i did a few sessions with doubledave22, who i highly recommend to all low and midstakes players looking for that little bit extra. i also do a few sessions with the_dean22, when i can get him away from the live poker circuit.

preparation; sleep, food, drink and exercise: although this is a small factor, i think it definitely has some impact upon your ROI. you want to be in the perfect state so you can perform at your highest theoretical standard. it’s tough for us aussies, as most of us have to get up really early to play. in the winter, i have to get up at about 3:30am, which is never ideal, especially since i’ve never been a morning person. i also hated eating breakfast… i just was never hungry when i first woke up. i found that when getting up early to play, i definitely needed to eat something, or mid session i’d be really tired and lack the ability to concentrate, or think deeply. so now i make like goldilocks and the three bears and smash some porridge. i’ll also have some snacks during the session, usually fruit like a banana or a pear, just to give you that little bit of energy. it’s also really important to keep hydrated, so i try to drink a glass of water every hour or two. exercise is also a great tool to keep you refreshed during a session, so i suggest things like situps and pushups in your breaks, or jumping jacks to get the blood flowing again. outside of a session, i think it’s also worth doing physical exercise, as it’s a great stress reliever, which can really help you break from a negative spiral.

managing tilt: this is such an all encompassing topic that i’ll probably write a blog entry simply focusing on this topic. i think that the key to beating tilt, is to just change your thought pattern to trick yourself in to playing better. i’ve always been a competitive person, so the way i like to approach the issue is, after taking a cruel beat, i try to react better than your average reg would. if a reg would be affected by a beat like this, well then i’m going to manage it better than he would. this little mind trick has been able to snap me back in to focus many times, and i’ve had numerous times where i’ve played hours upon hours and ran terribly, only to bink off one of the later tournaments to hit profit for the day.

anyway, there are a few more things i could talk about, but i feel that this is starting to get a bit lengthy, so i might wrap it up there. a quick update on my VPP grind, i need to hit 15k VPPs in december to qualify for supernova, so should be hitting the grind pretty hard over the first half of the month. it’s always better to be ahead of schedule than behind, especially with the holiday festivities towards the end of the year.

wow 1400 words.


whinging with a sprinkle of insight

this is going to contain a bit of theory, so if you’re not an online poker person, i’d suggest bailing prematurely.

poker has been pretty ordinary so far this month. after my score from the bigger 162, i’ve gone through one of the biggest and sharpest downswings i’ve ever had to deal with. naturally, the more success i’ve had, the higher i’ve been playing, so it’s obvious that the swings will be higher in $ terms the higher i play. i haven’t bothered to sit down and analyse the downswing itself (in terms of buyins etc), but instead i’ve really been putting in effort analysing hh’s, talking strategy with other players, and doing all those extra bits and pieces needed to improve one’s ability.

the whole high stakes downswing has brought a couple of things to my attention; game selection, and turbo mtt strategy.

in regards to game selection, i think this is probably one of the most important things which is often overlooked by many regular players. to put it simply, some tournaments are going to be far more profitable to play than others. this is usually determined by how many recreational players play vs the amount of regulars. for example, a flagship tournament on pokerstars is always going to be extremely profitable for a good player to play, as there will be a lot of satellite winners (who are going to be hopeless), as well as a lot of lower stakes players taking their ‘shot’ at big money, together with just random recreational players. compare this with some of the higher stakes stuff, where if you open the lobby you’ll recognise 90% of the players as being regulars. it’s a lot harder to accumulate chips, as you won’t be able to pick on scared money, value bet thin vs calling stations, and induce the aggro people to spazz.

this kind of brought me to my second point, that most of the high stakes turbo action on pokerstars are just full of regs, all who play a very competent and mathematically sound push/fold game. a good player in a normal tournament will be able to make a lot of decisions post flop, which is arguably where one maximises their edge vs the field. in a turbo, your edge is mainly playing optimal push/fold vs your opponents. when your opponents all have really good knowledge of push/fold strategy, your edge is going to be significantly diminished. in theory, your reduced ROI% should be compensated by the ability to play multiple turbos in the time it takes to play a single tournament. however, are you really beating other HSMTT regs, as well as the rake? assuming the answer is yes, as it would be for most good regs, is it more profitable to play these tournaments where your edge is so small, as opposed to playing additional tables of lower staked, fishier games? i’m not sure exactly how one would go about measuring this, but one thing that is certain, is that playing a HSMTT turbo schedule is going to be very high variance, which all MTTers know, isn’t always sunshine and rainbows.

if most of the HSMTT regs play turbos the same, then wouldn’t an optimal strategy be to therefore deviate from that game style, and play differently? “when everyone zigs, you have to zag”. i’m not sure how this is going to affect my HS turbo game, and i’m not really going to divulge my plans publicly – both because i want to keep it somewhat hush hush, but also because i haven’t the slightest clue what these plans are yet – but i’m sure it’s going to involve analysis of r/f, 3b/c, 3b/f and open limping on a various array of stack sizes, across a various array of situations. open limping is something which i find very interesting, and is definitely an area which hasn’t been explored (albeit probably less useful in turbo MTTs than regular ones). the whole limping idea has been brought back in to focus after it was implemented at the WSOP final table by USCphildo. this is a great example of  zagging, as it’s a strategy rarely implemented in HSMTTs, which, when implemented by a skilled opponent, many regs will struggle to adapt to it. in regards to other ‘zaggers’ in online poker, a lot of discussion revolves around my favourite brazilian, pessagno. everyone knows that the man plays a style which at times spits in the face of fundamental poker theory. however – over a decent amount of time, and a large sample, he is successful. it’s clear that although he does play some abortions of hands regularly, his absurdity is often counterbalanced by a variety of different factors, such as frustrating opponents, hand reading well enough to know how to make regulars fold, and people just struggling to be able to ever give him specific ranges in any spot. the man definitely is a zagger.

the reason why i mention him specifically, is because pessagno both plays differently to average regulars, but he also practices very good game selection. his results over the last few years go to show that you really don’t have to be a poker prodigy to make a lot of money in this game.



back to the blogosphere

so i’ve been bugged by a few people for the lack of blog updates as of late, so for that, i apologize. i’ve been busy studying for an exam. i’m back at uni doing one day a week this semester, as i feel that if i abandon it completely, i’ll probably never come back to it. it also gives me a good way to split up my week so that i’m not overdoing it on the poker grind. for those who don’t know me, i’ve already completed a commerce degree, and thus far have done about half of a law degree. i’m not really itching to finish it off in the near future, but i’m determined to complete it.

okay so, poker. yeah it hasn’t gone that well this month. i haven’t been able to put in that many sessions so far other than the mondays, where dropping 4-5k in a day is common. i’ve still been talking to friends about tweaking an optimal tournament schedule, in order to maximise $p/h by playing softer, lower variance tournaments. however, the ego part in me wants to be playing as high as my bankroll allows. in that respect, i’m somewhat torn as to what the best +EV decision is, long term. sure, i could probably cut out some of the bigger stuff and make more money with less variance by grinding more tables of midstakes stuff. however, i feel that if i’m playing higher, i’ll be playing against better opponents, and hopefully improving at a faster rate. my goal is, and always has been, improvement over profit. i do feel like i am probably one of the fastest improving MTT regs in poker, having only been playing full time for just over a year, starting in micro stakes and moving up (this is why i’m not SN yet). i do have a real drive to improve, and i am always looking at the best ways to do so.

although the adelaide championship series didn’t go to plan, there’s an APPT series running in Macau in a couple of weeks, and I am pretty keen to go. i’ve never been to Macau, but i’ve heard some pretty cool things, so it’s definitely a place i’d love to check out. it’s annoying that i’ve downswung prior to an APPT which I would have loved to have flown over for, so i’m kind of hesitant to splash out on airfares, hotel and buyin, not to mention the socialising expenses that come with live poker travel. i played a couple of satties while i was in exam prep mode, and came 2nd in one of the 33r 3x turbo’s (where 1st prize was the package), so that was pretty tilting. i’m planning on grinding out for most of the week, so if i can turn things around, i might just make a last minute decision to go.

anyway, now that exams are over, i’ve got the time to work on the various things that i’ve put off over the last month and a bit. hoping to dedicate a good chunk of time to reviewing hh’s, working with some different people (both coaching and being coached), and analysing different spots. from one form of study to another, i guess. i’ll also be free to do a bit more blogging, so if anyone has any questions or topics they’d like me to discuss, drop me a comment.

ps quick team csb update, gotta give a big shoutout to my boy Kev, who seemed to be doomed by the run bads for a little while, but ended up clearing 10k of makeup within one weekend, and then fucked off to vegas to celebrate! perfect timing!

HUFD nowinber


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