Tuesday, 2 November 2010

4 tabling and gambling issues

As you can probably tell from the title, I have good and bad news. I'll start with the good news first. At the end of last week I moved up to 4 tables! After playing 3 tables for a while, I started getting comfortable and decided to open a fourth one. The way I see it, it goes like this: first I open one table more than I usually do and find it slightly hard to manage everything. Then I start getting more comfortable and after that I get slightly bored. At the point of getting bored is when I open one more table. So far this whole process has been taking me about a week. If I keep up with this pace, I'll be 12tabling by the end of the year, which would be great! I try not to get my expectations too high though, cause I don't want to get disapointed in case I reach my limits sooner than that. But so far, it only seems to be a matter of practice.

The next subject I would like to share with you today is gambling issues. Trying to make a living out of poker and being a gambler are two things that do NOT go together. So I'd better fix this now that it's only the beginning. Don't worry, it's not like I'm going to recklessly put every single penny I have on poker tables until I lose it all. That's not the type of gambling I'm talking about. It's more something like knowing what the best play would be, and then taking an action in the complete opposite direction hoping that it will work. Most of the times this occurs, I have conversations with myself that go like this:

-Katerina, what should you do in this situation?
-Probably fold.
-You do realize that the opponent(s) have a straight/flush/two pair/whatever, right?
-So what should you do?
-Definately fold.

And after I have it all nicely figured out, I go ahead and call. Cause there's a little voice that's bugging me: "What if he's bluffing?" And I know that most of the times he's not. I also know, that even if he is bluffing, it's not EV positive to get involved in coin flips (apart from very specific situations I guess). I know all that. And yet I still call. Like seriously, what's wrong with me? Does this happen to any of you?

After thinking about it for a while, I realized I have two problems: one is that since I'm playing the micro stakes, there are a lot of bad players. And I'm not saying that to be mean or anything, nor am I trying to set myself apart from the all the others. I do think I'm waaaaay below average to put it nicely. But often I see plays like someone calling an all-in on the river, at the very first hand of the tournament, with nothing! And when I say nothing, I mean not even ace high, where anything, even the lowest pair of the board has them beat! And as I'm looking at the board, I don't see any flush or straight draws on the flop, so I really have no idea what the guy was thinking at any point of the hand! I mean, that doesn't take anything more than simply knowing the basic rules and having some common sense to know that you have to fold, does it? Believe me, those situations do not just happen once in a blue moon, they are pretty frequent.

I also find that since I'm playing the knockout tournaments, players overall have a lot more suicidal tendencies than normal. I guess they see value in getting a bountie and doubling up early so that they can bully more people around and get even more bounties. While that makes sense in a way, it also means that they play much looser than they would at a standar tournament. Now combine the above cases, and you'll get why my hand goes towards calling in flip coin situations. Of course it doesn't mean I should call. How do you guys react when you hear that little "What if...?" voice?

My last problem has to do with aces. I was going through Negreanu's book the other day, and I found a chapter with the title "Don't get married to your aces". Well let me tell you something. I've only been playing one month now, but I've been married quite a lot of times. And while it was love at first sight, continued with a lot of romance on the flop and all that junk, there where some occasions where I've been brutally divorced. I mean, when you have an overpair such as aces, doesn't it break your heart to betray and fold them when there's just a tiny flush draw on the board? Or X33? How bad can a 3 be comparing to your lovely aces? Obviously it can be VERY bad, awful, disastrous, duh! These sentimental situations have lead me to heartbreaks such as seeing my pocket aces developing in a wonderful set only to be crushed by a full house/flush/staight. I have never folded aces so far. Even though on some occasions I heard that little voice inside saying "Fold! Fold!". This is one of the times I choose to ignore it. Has to do with the gambling issues we were discussing I guess. It's pretty obvious that I should learn a lot more about poker. Or go to a marriage counselor.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Working space, having a schedule and 3tabling

Last week we received our things from Greece. That meant a huge improvement on our quality of life because not only we stopped sleeping on the floor or on a couch bed and moved to our actual bedroom, but we also improved our working spaces. For my boyfriend that meant receiving his super-powerful computer and his two 30 inch screens. For me, that meant getting the computer that my boyfriend had been using so far, along with a 30'' screen as the main one and a 24'' screen as the secondary one that we put in vertical position. Considering that the past 3 years I have been using the same laptop with a 15'' screen, having a desktop is already a huge improvement for me. Now I actually have a computer that takes far less than half an hour to turn on, runs so fast that I do not have time for a coffee while waiting for an application to load, and the screens are so big that I need to slightly turn my head around to see everything from one side to the other. I'm telling you, it's like I fell asleep and woke up in high-tech heaven! The only "downside" if you can call it that, was the keyboard. After using a laptop's keyboard for so long, I found the regular ones hard to use cause the keys felt hard to press. Problem solved though: I bought a Mac keyboard which is absolutely divine and now my happiness is complete. : )

Moving on to poker stuff. Last Sunday I finished Collin Moshman's "Sit 'n Go Strategy". I already told you I liked it, but I'll say it again: the book is great. It's very easy for new players to read but most importantly: it has tons of examples of hands to illustrate each and every one of the theoretical parts. The previous book I read (the one by Phil Shaw) was very good too, but lack of examples made it a bit harder for a new player like me to fully understand the information presented. I will definately read more of Moshman's books in the future.

So, having finished the book, from Monday my schedule consisted of watching training videos online, reviewing my hand histories on SitNGo Wizard, and playing. The ideal ratio according to my boyfriend/coach for that would be 4 hours videos, 1 hour SitNGo Wizard and 3 hours of play. That however, would mean I can dedicate 8 hours per day to Poker, which is hard to do since I have lessons at university every morning. This week there hasn't been a day where I did more than 5.5 hours of poker. The plan is to do something extra today though, Sundays seem to inspire me for poker related activities since I usually spend 10 hours studying /playing or so. 

Goal for next week: try to keep up with the schedule. It really is harder than it appears to be. We all make plans and schedules, but when the time comes to apply them in our lives, something always comes up to get us off the track. It can be from having a coffee with a friend to going to the super market. The important thing is to have the discipline to keep everything according to your plans, especially when you have a certain goal in your mind. Let's see if I get any better at it during next week.

Up until some days ago I was always playing two tables at a time. Then I noticed that I was getting bored while playing, so I was always looking for more things to do. If you can manage playing two tables and chatting with your friends on msn at the same time, then it's probably time to open a third one. And that's exactly what I did. It went pretty well, and I think it won't be long before I'm able to move up to 4. My only problem is when all 3 tables I'm playing require me to make a more complicated decision. Then I sort of start losing it and make missplays. Playing two HUs while a third table is at high-blind play and I get a good hand, is still too much for me. I even folded KK at a table where I forgot to click on the time clock and got sitout. I guess you get my point. :P

My question is this: is it better to start all tables at once so that the blinds go up at more or less the same time, or is it better to start one, then after the blinds go up a bit start another one and so forth? My coach is firm that the first option is better cause you adapt the same way of playing at all tables and change it as the blinds increase. On the other hand, I believe that the second option might be better, cause even though the tables are at different blind levels and therefore require you to play in a different way, not all of them will require the same amount of your attention. We are still arguing about that one... What do you guys think?

Last thing I want to mention is that I started a new book which I will be reading during my free time (that is whenever I'm not at university, doing my homework, doing my videos- SNG Wizard- playing poker schedule, yep, lots of free time left!). It's called "Kill Everyone" by Lee Nelson, Tysen Streib and Steven Heston. I'm reading the second edition that has been revised and expanded by Bertrand "Elky" Grospellier. But I won't give you my opinion just yet, cause I've only read a few pages.

See you soon, until then good luck at the tables!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Update, Sitngo Wizard & Rude players

During the week that passed it has been a lot harder for me to study Poker. I started lessons at University which means waking up at 5:50 every morning... By the time I get home I'm completely exhausted. Now add to that the fact that we received our furniture and stuff from Greece and there was a lot of cleaning to be done... and you'll have an idea of why I started falling behind. I plan to make up for it though, by spending all weekend studying Poker.

I'm still studying Collin Moshman's book. Right now I'm finishing part three, the high-blind play. The more I read of this book, the more I like it. Apart from being well written, I read in it stuff that I had heard before but nobody ever explained to me such as implicit collusion (hm, maybe I shouldn't write that word on my blog? :P), or things that were completely new to me such as the stop'n go, or the high blind limpers. I plan to finish the book by the end of the weekend.

Apart from studying, I also got to play a bit with the Sitngo Wizard. I downloaded the trial version (it's free for 30 days), and read the tutorial to get the basics. After that, my coach/boyfriend introduced me to the quiz section. He adjusted the parameters so that the program would only present me quizes about a very specific situation, and he let me do some questions. Before leaving the room, he told me I should not take more than 20 seconds to answer each one. LOL. I completely ignored him thinking that a) it's not like I could really know when exactly 20 seconds have passed and b) that time was not nearly enough for me to answer a question. So I took my time thinking about the answers, and by the time he was back I had answered around 20. I asked him for how long I would be doing that. "Until you answer 1000 questions", he said. He had to be joking! While I was arguing with my self if that was a joke or if he was for real, he added "And if when you finish your score is lower than 90%, then you will do it again from the beginning".

Since he was obviously NOT joking, I turned back to my screen and went on answering. Not only I started answering in less than 20 seconds, but after a while I clicked on the answer almost as soon as the quiz appeared on my screen. It took me around 10 hours to finish, but here is the result:

Fortunately, I won't have to do this particular type of quiz again since I scored 91.6%. The most difficult part, and where I missed most of the correct answers was when it was a situation where you go all in with any two cards. That "any two" just doesn't always make sense to me. Sometimes, in situations where for example a player has 1 or 2BB left behind, it's obvious that you should call/go all in with any two cause that player is for sure making desperate moves in order to survive. In other situations though, when things are a bit more complicated, I sometimes fail to recognize it's an "all in with any two" situation, and I fold my trash hands when I shouldn't.

After the quizes, I opened two tables. When one of them got to the bubble, the player with the shortest stack went all in. I evaluated it as a "call with any two" situation, and called with my 42s. It doesn't matter to me that the opponent revealed aces, nor that I lost the hand and a big part of my chips. What matters is that when I checked the hand on Sitngo Wizard later, I saw that it was indeed a missplay, since it was not a "call with any two" situation and I only should have done so with the best 33% of hands.

The annoying part of this story though, is that a player on my left as soon as he saw my hand was like "24?" and then "Idiot donk". Maybe he was a good player and saw that it was a missplay. Maybe he would have said the exact same thing if it was correct to call with any two just because he is a bad player and has never heard of those situations. I couldn't care less. What I do care about is that nothing gives him the right to talk like that. I hate how people sometimes hide behind their screens and say mean stuff that they wouldn't say straight in your face had it been a live tournament.

I didn't reply to that guy cause there is no point in arguing with such people. It did ruin my mood for the rest of the evening though, and I left from my computer feeling bad. Wether one is playing poker for fun or for a living, I believe that such an attitude ruins everyone's mood. And since I can't change the way some people are, I will change how I react to them. So next time a situation like that appears, I will force myself to not care or get affected cause in the end I have something these people don't: MANNERS.

How do you react to rude players? If you have any good advice, please leave a comment below!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

First win!

Did I say at the previous post that I wouldn't play again anytime soon? Well, erase that. As I was studying yesterday, my coach/boyfriend told me that I should play one sit'n'go by the end of the day. Not wanting to feel as helpless as last time, I organized my notes in a better way and I opened a 9-players table. This time I didn't play two at the same time, it's too soon for multitabling I think (LOL, some people play 20 tables at a time and I'm calling multitabling playing only two! : P)

Anyway, during the early game I didn't get many good hands so I spent my time watching how my opponents were playing. And then the blinds got too big, so I started playing all in/fold poker. It worked out fine, I stole the blinds a lot of times and I won the times I got called. Then before you know it, 5 players were left. When the ones with the shorter stack went all in and my hand was decent I called, and eliminated them one after the other! So when the bubble burst, not only I was in the money, but I was also the chipleader. At heads up I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, cause that's a part of the game I haven't read that much about, but I used a principle that Collin Moshman mentions in his book "The aggressive player takes the cash". So I played agressive (at least what I consider to be agressive with my current knowledge of poker), and I won!

Ok, I'm not saying that I know how to play poker now that I won a tournament, I obviously don't. And I'm sure I made tons of mistakes while playing. But it felt nice to win, and I did feel a bit better about my plays at the early game than what I was feeling the first time I played.

As far as studying goes, I finished the first part of Moshman's book about the Low-Blind Play, and then I reread it taking notes of whatever I thought was important. Today I will move on to the second part, Mid-Blind Play. I will also play another sit'n'go. My latest instructions say I should play one per day and study the rest of the time.

That's all for now!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010


Wow, writing the first post of a blog is harder than I thought. I've been staring at the screen for some minutes now, not knowing how to start. I guess I should explain a few things about myself and what this blog is about.

My name is Katerina and I'm greek. I'm 25 years old and I recently moved to Portugal. As from next week I'll be attending classes at university, but apart from that... let's just say I have a lot of free time on my hands. My boyfriend is a professional poker player, as in he plays poker for a living, and he offered to teach me how to play the game.

Even though I have watched him play online a lot of times and I have gone to a couple of live tournaments with him, I don't really know how to play poker. Until last week if someone asked me questions like "Is a flush better than a full house?" I would not be 100% sure about the answer. Apart from that, maths is not really my thing. My studies were in litterature and languages so whenever someone talks about percentages, chances, and numbers in general I'm completely out of my comfort zone.

I don't know if I have what it takes to become a profitable player, build a bankroll and move up in stakes. But I am willing to give it a try.

I will be playing Texas Hold'em sit'n'gos. The reason why I'm creating this blog is to help me stay on track and monitor my progress (if there is any, lol!). I started last week by reading Phil Shaw's "Secrets of Sit'n'gos". The book was nice, I think it's easy to read for new players. That said, there is so much information in it that there is no way a person would absorb it all just by reading it once. I started doing the quizes at the end of the book, but soon I was missing a lot of the right answers so my coach/boyfriend decided that it would be better for me to study a bit more and save the quizes for later.

I also spent a couple of hours with him, where he explained how I should play and answered my questions. At the end of my first week of studying, he suggested that I play two tables simultaneously and try to apply what I learnt so far. I played two $1 standard speed 9-player tables. Huge disaster! The entire time I was struggling with paying attention to both tables, calculating how many big blinds me or my opponents had, and going through Phil Shaw's book and my notes. Even though I lost on the bubble on one table and made it in the money (3rd place) on the other, when the games were over I was left frustrated and with a feeling that I am completely clueless. At least I know where I stand and can work towards improving. I will go back to studying and will definately not play again without being a bit more prepared. This week I'm studying "Sit'n Go Strategy" by Collin Moshman. Let's see how that goes.

If you are a beginner like me or if you are just interested in following the progress of a new player, then follow my blog! Any advice or comments are welcome!


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