Back on Track (Sort Of)

Hopefully the end of my moaning like a little girl about running bad, just had a very good week and I am now officially $7.80 up for the month. It really was the worst extended period of bad luck I've ever encountered and I am really happy with the decisions I made regardless of the result. I had aces cracked 14 times out of the last 24 over the two weeks (You have to be pretty shit to do that) and ran kings into aces 4 out of 10 times. My Sklanksy graph thingy has me about $3000 up, and of course it doesnt include any cooler hands like set over set, so lets make May a month of running according to basic maths.

As it goes, with rakeback (Sorry, loyalty bonus, its iPoker) and the fact Ive doubled my usual number of hands for the month it has actually been a profitable month. I doubt I'll meet my 30,000 hand challenge but Im not far off. I go on holiday next month so Im gonna try and grind as many hands between now and then and try and then forget about poker for 10 days.

What has really helped me through this period (And I think that getting aces cracked 14 times in two weeks and still being in a miniscule profit is a huge success) is that I have been getting coached. I cant share the details yet for a couple of reasons but it has changed the way I think about poker dramtically and has also been a way to vent my bad beat stories (Even though I am part of the 'nobody cares about bad beat stories' brigade and a real hypocrite for even mentioning them in conurrent posts).

Another big leak I have been working on is tilt. Until a few months ago, I never tilted but recently its been a real problem. I've been doing some basic hippy-esque stress reduction techniques (Deep breathing, relaxing music, lots of exercise, green tea) and I have almost took the tilt out of my game, even though obviously aces do not like me right now.

I'm off to the Norwegian Poker Championships in Nottingham next week and win/lose/draw I am not going to whine about building a big stack and getting no hands when the blinds get big.

GBPT Nottingham

The one good thing about tilt is that you can shave a good ten minutes off your journey when the roads are clear. I did Nottingham to Sheffield in 30 minutes last night after another frustrating tournament exit. Once again I feel like lamenting my bad luck but that really will start sounding like a stuck record if I am not careful.

The GBPT Nottingham was actually a nice friendly little tournament. I was sat alongside a chap called Kev Smith for the majority of it and that was probably the highlight, as we had a good laugh, in particular at the standard play early on. Really felt like a 20 quid rebuy at times, x16 big blind raises pre flop followed up by 1/16 pot sized bet on the flop. Some guy also made called an allin on a AKJT flop with 44 which was a highlight.

I did really well, as usual, in the beginning. Played lots of small pots, got big hands paid and got away with plenty of well timed bluffs. Then, as usual, around the 200/400 level I get dealt nothing remotely playable, whenever I would it would be a raise and reraise before me or after.

The last 4 deep stack touraments Ive played (this one, GUKPT, DTD 321, Waterford) its been the same story. Build up a big stack early, run like god and then once the shovefest begins I get dealt nothing and ante myself to death. What I would give to get some action with an AK or even a TT once the blinds get big in one of these comps.

But, before I start sounding like a whiney little biatch, I probably do have to work on my patience, even though I wait for hours, you cant win it on day one so stop trying to. I also need to work on my end game strategy full stop, the reason I build these stacks early is surely my cash game skills, so maybe my 'bad luck' is just a lack of versitility.

Cash games for dough, tournaments for show. My passion at the moment really is online cash games, so I probably shouldnt beat myself up about it too much. With a bit of luck I can take my early big stack and do something with it in the non too distant future....but I guess that what most people who have just bust from a tournament say.

Generic Running Bad Post - move along, nothing to read here

I always hate when people post about running bad, especially in blog format. Some people think running bad is losing several coinflips in a row, others refer to running bad to a period of time when they are actually playing shit. Thats why I dont like running bad posts.....

So here is mine.

Im running awful, wah wah waaaaah! Apart from a few horrendous SNG runs a year or so ago, I havent really had many extended streaks of bad luck, but its been a ten buy-in downswing for the last two days. Luckily I started the month well and had a great session on Monday, reducing my overall losses for the month. Usual stuff really, overpairs cracked, kings running into aces, sets running into flush draws etc.

The sick thing is, lost a grand today but think I played better than I ever have. Really pleased with how I played, even though I could make a case for throwing a few of my losing hands away. Thankfully hold'em manager has that Sklansky EV calculator which tells you your theorertical winnings for when you got your money in good. That has me £1400 up for the month, obviously this doesnt include all the cooler set vs flush, kk vs aa, aa vs set hands but its all Ive got at the mo to stop me launching my laptop out the window.

Off to the GBPT event in Nottingham tommorow, would be a great time for the luck to even out.

Has poker made me a better person part 3

Taken from my column on www.thehendonmob.com

I bring to an end this week my discussion on whether or not pursuing a career in poker has ultimately been a positive influence on my life. I could of course go on forever with tiny little changes to my life (Including ‘pro’ I get to watch the reruns on Frasier on Channel 4 in the morning and ‘con’ I miss these little fruit salad things my work canteen used to do) but have tried my best to stick to the broader things that I might look back at on my deathbed.

Pro – My observation has improved

One great side effect of playing poker to the extent that I do is that I now notice things I never would have five years ago. I still can’t tell what cards a man is holding by the expression on his face, but poker has taught me that a wealth of information available to you if you are prepared to look for it. Little things, like flaws in a friends story for why they can’t make it to the pub or the fine print in a contract. Poker has taught me to exploit the tiniest nuggets of information and has also helped me, for the first time ever, to win arguments with my girlfriend.

Con – My attention span is f***ed

Shame really, I have the observation of Sherlock Holmes but will have forgotten whatever it was I observed within the minute. This is entirely due to online poker, which has turned my attention span into one that a goldfish would mock. The speed of online poker means that I am forever channelling my concentration into 45 second independent events and it has affected my ability to concentrate for long periods of time.

Thankfully I still enjoy reading books unaffected, although for some strange reason no sooner have I picked up a newspaper than it is back on my coffee table completely unread. One unusual positive side effect of this is that I have developed an uncanny ability to not listen to a single word my girlfriend has said to me, yet repeat it back to her word for word when she accuses me of not listening to her (Poor girl, she really gets some stick from me on this website, I think I’m becoming the Les Dawson of poker).

Pro – I respond better to good and bad luck

There are times in poker where flopping a set is as regular as clockwork and other times where you will call out the one gutshot card that busts your hand just before it inevitably hits the river. Poker is a game where you can literally play perfectly and still lose for long periods of time, it is also a game where you can be rewarded for being an idiot. Once you learn to stop whining about cracked aces you just come to accept the role the poker gods play in your life. This has really had a positive impact on the rest of my life. Poker has taught me to just get on with things when life deals me a shitty hand and not to feel guilty when a bit of good fortune comes my way.

Con – I am a slob

This for me is probably the biggest single con. I used to be in really good shape and was one of those metro sexual chappies you read about. Now I am 2 stone heavier and have a tendency to forget to shave for an entire week. Not having to wear a shirt and tie every day means that I have really let myself go and although I go to the gym still, it’s more of a damage reduction exercise than anything else. I do make an effort when I play in live games of course, or whenever I do anything social, but usually by Friday afternoon I look like a Yeti wearing the one thing he has remaining in his wardrobe because he has forgot to put his clothes in the wash for two weeks.

Pro – I do something I love and I don’t get taxed
Having spent 6 years in the pensions industry I can say with confidence that when you do something you love, you never work a day in your life. I pinch myself every day when I think about how lucky I am to be working in an industry that I love and while most people dread Mondays on Sundays, I can’t wait to get back to work. Whether it’s playing poker, writing about it or just talking about it with someone, it never gets boring.

Obviously I fill in a tax return for my writing work at the end of the year like anyone else, but not getting taxed on my winnings (which make up a lot more than my writing does) really invokes smugness. If I write a bunch of articles I invoice for £1000, I might get back about £780 after tax, but if I win a grand I get to keep the lot. If I wanted £2000 a month take home salary, I would need to earn £32,325 a year, but from playing I would literally just have to win £24,000, it’s as simple as that.

Con – I have no job security
I’ll end on a negative, mainly on balance and also because I don’t want to end things with people thinking I’m a smug twat. As we speak I have savings, a healthy bankroll and several great magazines and websites who are more than happy to pay me to write for them. However, I don’t have any contracts, no sick pay, no holiday pay and no pension.

There are many factors which would see my career go tits up in a heartbeat. UIGEA could be enforced (highly doubt it but you never know) and kill the industry worldwide or Gordon Brown could decide to have his own little version waiting in the pipelines for us. My bankroll could disappear when I go on a bad run, it could be the target of online fraudsters, I could find myself at the table of a ‘super-user’ or so on. It could also be as simple as the people I play against will ultimately just be too good for me to compete anymore.

I started this series of discussions to ask whether poker has made my life better. I may have followed every ‘pro’ with a ‘con’ – but that was really to seem balanced and to make it a little more entertaining. The fact is my life is 100% better because of poker and the cons are unbelievably outweighed by the pros. Poker can and will destroy the lives of those that were probably going to destroy their lives at the casino anyway, but for me, like many, it has rescued me from a humdrum existence for which I will always be grateful.
Copyright © Barry Carter Poker