Monday, 18 April 2011

12tabling, Greek vs Portuguese and moving up (again!)

Hi everyone!

It's a wonderful sunny day as I'm writing this and I don't feel like playing all that much, so I'm going to delay today's session a little bit by writing a post.

(Un)fortunately, the weather since the beginning of the month has been very nice. Those of you who live in Lisbon know what I'm talking about... Not too hot, not too cold, just perfect. We tossed all the heavy clothes and jackets to the back of the closet and brought out t-shirts and bathing suits. It feels like summer is here a bit early this year. Anyway, with all these perfect-for-coffee-out-with-friends conditions, it was extra hard to stay inside the house in front of a computer screen and play poker. I forced myself to do it, but I didn't really feel like it. The result? I'm a bit behind schedule on my way to Platinum, but I'm still very confident that I'll make it.

After my last post, I increased the number of tables I was playing. I kept adding one per day, so it didn't take me long to get to 12. I do find it hard to 12table though. I've been 12tabling for about two weeks now, but I still find it hard sometimes... I have accidentaly folded kings and jacks because I ran out of time bank and I don't necessarily make the best plays when I'm playing 2 heads-up and 4 bubbles at the same time along with my other 6 tables. This step definately takes more time for me to get used to. But oh well, same as with every other time I added tables, it's just a matter of practice so I don't worry too much about it.

Moving up to the $6.5s was pretty intimidating at first, but it all turned out well. I'll let the graph speak for itself:

But even with those good results (that were far better than those I had at the $3.4s), I still felt like I should be profiting from the good weather instead of playing poker non-stop. So when my boyfriend left for Vilamoura to play the PPS, I decided to tag along. Of course, this was no time for vacation, so I went there prepared: I took a laptop with all the necessary programs installed so that I wouldn't miss anything while playing, and my book to study whenever I couldn't play. Here's the proof:

Needless to say, I didn't read a single page of the book, and I only did a mini session of 11 tables during my stay at Vilamoura. I think the pictures are self-explanatory as to why that happened. On the bright side, this mini excursion satisfied my needs for sun and going out, so now I'm a lot more motivated to play than before.

Speaking of playing on a laptop, this was an experience I've never had before. As I've mentionned in a previous post, I've been blessed with a "professional poker player" equipment since the beginning of my poker adventures, when I started out with only one table and I didn't put all that computer stuff to good use. While playing on a laptop, I had to have the lobby on top of TableNinja, on top of Holdem Manager, on top of my teenie tiny tables. I can't play in cascade which doesn't help either. Even pushing the tiny bet slider all-in was a challenge. Not to mention that everything was significantly slower. The shock of the downgrade was huge, which made me think about all those people that play poker on their laptops. I know for a fact that there are players who make a LOT more money than me at the tables playing at laptops and under worse conditions overall. You guys are HEROES! May I suggest, however, that you invest on a good screen asap. Anyway, it's not that I didn't cherish my computer setup before, but that mini-session on the laptop made me appreciate it even more!

Oh, but I was telling you about our stay at Vilamoura. So there we are, rushing out of the hotel to go to the casino when we run into two familiar faces. Andé stops to say hi and I see Henrique Pinho standing next to me. We have been introduced in the past, so I limit myself to say "Olá" and kiss him on the cheeks. I need to point out that there are two singificant differences between the Greeks and the Portuguese here: 1) In a situation like this where the people do not know each other very well, in Greece a simple handshake or a simple verbal greeting is more common than kissing, and 2) when kissing does occur, the Greeks start from the right side while the Portuguese start from the left. That means that a Greek trying to kiss a Portuguese can result into a complicated/embarrassing situation. Imagine people accidentatly kissing each other on the lips instead of the cheeks or at the best case scenario tilting their heads from left to right until finding a spot where they agree to start from. Fortunately, I've been in Portugal for quite a few months now so by now I'm used to starting on the left (I get a bit confused when I go back to Greece but ok :P).

So after the first and successful (!) attempt, I turn to the girl who kisses me too and says "Olá Katerina!". Before I have any time to congratulate myself for adjusting so well into the portuguese way of greeting, I mumble an "Olá" back to her and sit there all baffled about how she knew my name. I'm convinced that I've met her somewhere before, and feel embarassed that I don't remember her name while she remembers mine. AWKWARD! André, however, who is in a hurry to get to the casino before the tournament starts, saves the day and pulls me away from that weird spot. As we move away I ask "Who was she?". "Catarina Santos", he replies. "Oh wait!", I say the realization of what just happened coming to me. "Was I supposed to say my name back there?". You see, there's another thing the Portuguese have. While in between the two kisses they quickly throw in their names to introduce themselves. I had forgotten about that, as we Greeks normaly wait to be introduced by the common friend who would say something like "Catarina this is Katerina". The fact that the pronounciation of the two names is almost identical didn't help either. Ok, there is a slight change that is very obvious to the Portuguese, but to my greek ears honestly, both names sound the same. So there. As André is laughing about the whole thing, I feel even more embarassed for appearing anti-social or too snobbish to introduce myself. Greek vs Portuguese: 0-1. (At least he run into Catarina Santos for a second time in the casino and explained the whole thing to her... :P)

So, as our stay at the wonderful Crowne Plaza was coming to an end, we sit nearby the pool enjoying the sun and relaxing. "I've been thinking", André starts and I can already tell by the tone of his voice that it's not going to be good, "that you should move up to the $16s when we go back to Lisbon tomorrow". His justification for that was that after Poker's Black Friday people tend to play with real money as if it was play money due to the delays of cashing out, so the games are going to be softer and therefore it is a good time to move up. I get a slight panic attack but I overcome my urge to throw him into the swimming pool. There are too many people around anyway. The $16s? Really? I've only been playing the $6.5s for what, half a month? Anyway, he has been right in everything he's told me so far so since I don't have any ground to doubt him I let the idea sink in.

By the way, my sympathy goes out to all the Americans who were playing poker for a living and suddenly found themselves "unemployed" or to those who just loved to play the game and were deprived of their favourite hobby. I hope that things work out so that they are able to play again as soon as possible. Adding to that, I don't see any reason for poker players to panic. Yes, it does affect the rest of the world if Americans play with us or not in terms of traffic at the tables and the games being easier or harder, but that's as far as it goes. Personally, I don't feel that the money in my PokerStars account is threatened in any way and will continue playing same as before if not more.

I gave my first try at the $16s yesterday. I also had my longest poker session ever: 11 hours (with small breaks of course). It went pretty well, and I ended just $10 negative. I lost all of my profit during the last hour of play so it could be because I was tired. I was going for 12 hours but I stopped opening tables cause I couldn't take it anymore.

When I started writing this post it was sunny, but now it's all rainy and dark. I knew it was a good thing to delay today's session! Now I have the perfect weather for indoors poker activity. Wish me luck cause I'm not comfortable with the idea of playing the $16s yet... :P 

See you at the tables!

P.S.: Sorry for making another gigantic post, hm, maybe I should write more often to prevent this from happening?

Friday, 1 April 2011

Moving up, handling tilt and 9tabling

Hi everyone!

Shame on me, I have slightly abandoned this blog... I've had quite a few things to write about during the past month, but whenever I had some free time I'd rather spent it elsewhere and not in front of my computer screen. Sorry 'bout that, I'll try to squeeze all my news in this post!

First of all, as it was expected, I moved up to the $3.4s shortly after my last post. I reached 100 buy-ins to play that level and I had a positive ROI over the last 500 games at the $1.75s so I was ready for the change. Unfortunately, the $3.4s did not go so well for me. Here's the graph of March (which is also my lifetime graph when it comes to the $3.4s):

Not very nice, huh? I have been studying (even though not as much as I should) but I haven't been able to beat the level. Then again, the sample is not THAT big (my boyfriend says that 2k tournaments is a reasonable sample size and I've only got half of that) and I'm not insanely negative either. I'm losing something like 16 buy-ins which is not the end of the world and could be fixed relatively easy. 

As you can probably notice in the graph, I have 3 major downswings. My coach/boyfriend was looking at it and told me that whenever I lose, I lose big. And that is not just because of being unlucky. On the third downswing, I was losing around 48 buy-ins total and I wasn't taking it very well. Not well at all actually. André came to watch me play and after 2 minutes he was shouting at me "What are you doing?". My instant reply was "Whatever, I just want to go away from the computer". The thing is, up until the point I said that out loud, I hadn't even noticed I was tilting. I used to think that having downswings was either due to bad luck or due to lack of skill. It never occurred to me that it could be because I wasn't playing as well as I could even if overall I'm not a winning player at that level. I know it may sound like a simple thing, and I had heard about tilt before, but when I realized it was happening to me at the point where it could make me play far worse than what I usually do, it was like an epiphany to me.

That night, André gave me a book that had a big part dedicated to tilt. Reading that helped me rationalize my feelings and see that poker is also a psychological game not only in the sense of reading your opponenents but also in the sense of being able to read yourself. Which trust me, is harder than it seems to be. After that insightful reading, I went back to the tables the next day and I changed one more thing: I stopped checking my results while playing. I used to check them non-stop, but it ends up doing more harm than good. At least this way, if I'm running bad I'll only know how big the damage was AFTER I stop playing, and then I have plenty of time to feel bad about it without having the situation affect my game. By next day I will be cool again. All those changes happened around 900 games. And as you can see in the graph, I got a major upswing right after. Was it just luck? Obviously I was running above average, but I honestly don't think the good results came just because I got lucky. Two days after my worse poker day ever (-25 buy-ins) I got my best poker day ever (+23 buy-ins). You can make your own conclusions from that.

Another subject to discuss is the number of tables I play. When I wrote my previous post I was playing 6. One day, my coach/boyfriend comes into the room shortly after I started a session and takes the mouse from my hands. I thought he wanted to check something on the internet, so I let him. Next thing I know, he walks out of the room with a semi-evil smile on his lips and I have 3 more tables popping up on my screen!!! "Good luck" he says and closes the door behind him. I really felt like shouting at him, but I obviously didn't have time for that... I could barely manage 9tabling and after 5 minutes I had an awful headache that just wouldn't go away. My eyes were going back and forth trying to keep up with the action and I was finding it hard to do so, let alone think about what would be the best play in each situation. I felt like I was going crazy! I reduced to 8 tables and then to 7 thinking that if he came back in the room and accused me of not 9tabling as he obligated me to, I had plenty of objects like books, shoes etc. within my reach to throw at him. Fortunately for him, he didn't come back.

I realized however, that I could easily play 7 tables. So after a couple of days I moved to 8. And a couple of days after that I went up to 9. At 9 tables I always got a bit of a headache at first, but after some sessions that  went away. I'm playing 9 tables now, apart from the times when I have a disagreement with my TableNinja who probably has a bug and insists that I should be playing 10 tables even when I tell him to just open 9. And the worst thing is, I cannot throw anything at him. Which might also be a good thing I guess cause he's a Ninja and all, so I can see that going bad for me. :P

A big win of March as far as poker is concerned is that I did reach Goldstar status as I had planned. Yeay!!! I had to be more strict about my program than the previous month and I also played more hours, but I made it! I also made it to 4k VPPs so now I'm going after the first $50 VIP Stellar Reward! Cool!

And as March was coming to an end my coach/boyfriend was telling me that the plan for April would be to maintain my Goldstar status, beat the $3.4 level and move up. All is well that ends well, right? Well guess again!

We were having dinner the other night, when he was silent for a while, thinking. You know those peaceful moments before the storm? That's exactly what I'm talking about. Then he says "Ok, listen. Your goals for next month will be the following:

1) Move up and play the $6.5s.
2) Post 20 hands that you have troubles with on the forums each week.
3) Reach Platinum status.
4) Be able to 12table by the end of April."

After successfully managing to not choke on my food, I started laughing. LOL, lol, LOL and lol again. "I'm not joking he said, why are you laughing?". "I know", I replied, "I'm laughing because that's better than crying which would also be appropriate in this situation". I mean, come on! Ok, #4 is doable. #3 sounds like a lot, Platinum is 7500 VPPs, but it's reasonable since we're talking about one level higher so I'll be getting more VPPs per tourney. #2 is where it gets hard though, because it takes me looooooots of time to go through my hand histories and think about all my plays and what could have gone wrong until I find some that I can't figure out by myself. And even after I do find some hands, it takes me more time to prepare a post with questions and a replayer video etc etc. As if it wasn't enough that I'll need to play more hours to reach Platinum, I'll need to increase my studying time as well! As for #1? OMG, I don't know what he was thinking. Maybe he wasn't thinking and it has to do with the phases of the moon or something... I mean, a)I'm losing at the current level I'm at and b) I don't have 100 buy-ins for the $6.5s. I only have 73 to be exact. But he made it more than clear that I have no saying on this matter, so starting from today, you'll be seeing me at the $6.5s.

Wish me luck, cause I'll need it! :P

P.S.: Sorry for the humongous post, I had a whole month to catch up with you! Oh, and happy April Fool's day!


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