Thursday, 11 July 2013

Back to zero...?

Hello everyone!

It's been a while since I made a post... Actually, my last one was in April. I didn't write a single word for two months. The last time I skipped an entire month without making any posts was... over a year ago. This post is not an easy one to make and that's why I've been avoiding it up until now.

In the beginning of May I was feeling very prepared for the SCOOP. With our new office all set, my new spreadsheets and all the studying during April, I was ready to go. And the best part of it, we had a trip to Monaco planned during the first days of May. André had a photoshoot there and I decided to tag along for some fun time in Monte Carlo. The plan was to jump right into the SCOOP as soon as we were back, with my batteries fully recharged.

And that's what I did. I got back into the grind. Unfortunately, things were not going very well, so I saw my bankroll evaporating pretty fast. The chart that you will see below is my accomplishment for May. 

Now you may be thinking that 1,8k games during a month and especially during a SCOOP month is really low. And you'll be right, cause those results are from just one week. The thing is, the more I was losing, the less I felt like playing. And when I realized that I lost almost half my bankroll within a week's time, I decided to take some time off to clear my head.


That's when fear started creeping in. While being away from the tables, I started looking back at how the year went until that point. And the truth is, this year I've been losing money.

Another annoying fact is that the whole year so far I've played only 15,5k games. Just to put this into perspective for you, back in December 2012 when I was chasing the Supernova status I played 7k games in just one month. And since it's the hypers we're talking about variance is crazy. In 15k games there is quite a bit of variance involved so I can't jump to any solid conclusions about how bad of a player I am. I'll tell you one thing though: the fact that over the past few months I haven't made any money out of poker has affected my psychology in the worst possible way. 

The Hyper-Turbos

I was feeling like I was stuck in a dead end. I spent quite some time talking to André about the subject and he thinks that there's little value to the hypers these days. I don't know if it's because there are less players trying to qualify for tournaments through the hypers or if it's because the number of regulars increased, but that's the way things are right now. André would describe SCOOP days from a couple years back when he was playing where he would be the only regular at the table or maybe it would be him and one more. But the shark/new players ratio back then has nothing to do with what it is today. Last May, I would open the lobby 1-2 hours before a SCOOP tournament would start with the expectation of getting those great games. To my disappointment, I would open very few tables (far less than 12 which was my ultimate goal) and even those would not be great (3-4 regulars playing). I spent a lot of time staring at the lobby, watching games open with 6 (yeah you read it right - six!) regulars. Most of us saw the potential of the "prime time" before the start of a tournament - the only ones who didn't apparently were the recreational players.

I don't know why this is happening, if it's because people have moved to other formats or because way too many of us got interested in the hypers on a professional level. But the situation is what it is right now and we can't ignore the facts. I'm not saying that the hypers are unbeatable. Someone at André's level can probably still beat them with a significant profit. But if you are not at that level, you struggle. I've been talking to a couple of hyper-turbo players, some of my opponents whose opinions I respect. I heard all sorts of stories: from busting their bankroll (which came to a surprise to me cause I considered that specific player to be pretty good) to making a profit while getting a great amount of VPPs (which ultimately translates into money of course, but there's a big difference between making a profit at the tables right away and making it through rakeback).

The bottom line is, in my humble opinion, unless you're a brilliant player at the hypers then you should be getting ready to swim in tough waters. The margins have always been slim (an ROI of 1% which in other formats would be ridiculous is actually good at the hypers), and now they are getting slimmer. You need to accept the fact that there aren't enough games running at all times and keep yourself ahead of the rake, ahead of your opponents and ultimately ahead of variance. Which, in case you have forgotten is BRUTAL in these games. Sadly, those are a lot of obstacles to overcome. And that's why I think there are a lot of good players turning away from these games.

Cash Games

So having to deal with this new era of hypers, I started thinking about alternatives. What if I tried out a different format? MTTs are totally out of the question (if you have been following my blog for a while then you know why), sit n gos I've tried in the past and they're ok but... What if I tried something entirely new? Cash games is a format I've never ever tried before, not even with play money. And yet, that's where I think people really play poker. Not to mention that I would actually learn how to play flops and all... To be honest, it makes me kind of sad that I've been grinding at the poker tables for over a year now but I still don't know how to play flops. I feel like I'm missing the essence of it sometimes.

I started reading a book André gave me. Pretty soon I decided to stop cause it felt like I was reading Chinese. Okay, maybe not that bad cause I actually understood the language (and by that I mean both English and poker slang) but I did not make any sense out of it. The first chapter was about stealing. Why the heck would I wanna know anything about stealing when I don't even know the basics as in what hands to play and what hands not to?

I put the book aside and decided to spend some time reading the courses section of Poker School Online. I must admit, Pokerstars did a great job with that one. It's very well written and I feel like it can really help a new player get started.

My worst poker enemy

And somewhere among all that, thinking about the hypers, the cash games, my future in general, I get so discouraged that I stop before I even get started. Is the best decision to keep trying to make it at the hypers, a path that I've already taken but feel like I've failed? Or is it better to give a shot at the cash games? And if that's the correct way to go, how can anyone get up one day and say "Hey, you know what? I think I'll start making a living playing cash games!"? That sounds absurd to me. It takes years to learn how to play poker well so how can I expect of myself to make money out of it in the next, let's say, months or year? I even considered combining hypers and cash games. My idea was to separate my working time in two: half of it would be to study/play the hypers and the other half of it would be to study cash games not really with the goal to make money out of it, but in order to learn more about the format and make a more educated decision about whether that's the road I wanna take or not. André however discouraged me from doing that saying that in order to succeed in anything I'll have to allocate all my time and efforts to it so it makes no sense dividing my time. I still don't know who's right on this one.

So here I am, at a crossroads. I'm really unsure of what to do next. And I've come to realize that my worst poker enemy is following me both on and off the tables: my worst enemy is me. I feel like I can't take any more losing, even though I know it's inevitable and necessary in order to learn. Also, somewhere in the back of my head I think that if I don't take any action and don't do anything then I can't fail. Like, if I don't pick anything then I can't make a wrong choice. Which is as stupid as it sounds and there's no logic to it, but I'm trying to be honest.

Since the fear of what to do next was preventing me from doing anything, I just let the days go by. In the beginning I was telling myself it was a short break to mentally recover from that downswing. And I truly needed that break, but when I felt like it was time to go back to the tables, I kept postponing it over and over. I went on vacation, did some soul searching or nothing at all. And before I knew it, two whole months had passed.

What next?

I even considered the possibility of getting a normal job. That option has a lot of pros and cons and it would take a separate post to talk just about that. I'm just saying it crossed my mind and I haven't completely ruled it out. As for hypers vs cash, I think I'll stick to the hypers a little longer. Not sure if that's the best thing, but I've put so much effort to it that I feel like it's a shame to go wasted. Plus, I don't think I have the mental energy to start all over from zero again. So I'll put the cash games plan on hold. I can't say for how long - it could be only until I get my face smashed on the virtual felt playing hypers!

In any case, I know I'm not the only person out there struggling with this type of decisions. I'd love to hear your guys' experiences, your ideas, or advice. Maybe it will give me some inspiration, and I could totally use a bit of that at the moment.

I apologize again for the absence of two months, at least now you got an explanation why that happened. Hopefully I'll talk to you soon with a new blog post!


  1. Sorry about your bad run.

    You should definitely give cash games a go. If you started at a very low stake you would not risk much and you could really learn the game. If anything you may start to enjoy poker again.



    1. Hi Rosh,

      I do enjoy poker (satellites included) as long as I'm not losing like crazy... With cash games it's true that I can learn the game without much risk at the low stakes, what worries me though is the amount of time I need to invest before I am actually able to make any profit. I don't have the luxury of studying the game for a full year for example while making zero money out of it.

      Anyway, I really appreciate you leaving a comment. I hope you are doing better at the tables than me! :P

  2. This situation has to come, of course i can say i knew that but i really did, but it is obvious.
    Simply you are a player who approached to the higher buy-ins too much early without getting strong in mindset. Most of these players fail hard when they get a downswing they are not ready to. You just miss a lot of (hour) experience from lower buy-ins to become mentally stronger.
    So there is nothing strange about this your mindset crushing you inside and doesnt allow to play anymore.

    Anyway if you decide to continue in anything do it for 100%.
    To do 2 things and spend half of time for one of them has a minimum chance to succeed especially in actual poker world.
    Just do 1 thing and master it.

    Hard to advise if stay at satties, it also depends how much time you are willing to spend on a new type of game. I would say If you are bored of learning anything new and prepared not having some longer time any income from poker stay at satties but i have to confirm your words and say that at these times there is a huge regfest there. Even on 3.40 and 7.45 buy-in you see 4-5 winning regulars.

    1. Hi Roy4lpl4yor!

      I don't think I approached the higher buy-ins far too early as you put it. I know you didn't mean it from a bankroll point of view but from an emotional one, but still. I was playing the micro-small stakes for over 6 months before moving up and I think that's quite enough time. What would you suggest, that I play the micros for 1-2 years so that I get tougher through downswings? Maybe that would even be a good idea, but we're all in this game to make money eventually so that's not a viable option. Also, it has a different impact on a person's psychology to lose a small amount of money at the micros than to lose a more significant amount at the higher stakes. It's just not the same kind of training.

      Anyway, I do realize I have a problem when it comes to poker mentality and I've always said that's my biggest leak. What I'm saying is that having played the micros longer wouldn't have made any difference. Actually this is a problem that is pretty hard to fix, cause it's not a poker leak that you can study and find the solution to, it's part of yourself.

      I played the satellites from 3.75 to 7.50 yesterday and the traffic seemed to be good, but then again maybe there were winning regs that I don't recognize cause they never play higher. I'll have to play a bit more to get a better image of what the games are like. I'll just keep my fingers crossed it's not as bad as the $37s+.

      Thank you for your comment and see you at the tables!

    2. Yes, you played 6 months before going higher but still it isnt much. Just notice your multitabling impacting to the total volume.
      Your 6 month time (20k satties) can be 3 weeks at somebody else who is playing 25 tables six hour a day. This volume is really very low and doesnt make you so strong you would need.

      You know it is really an individual issue. Everyone has different difficulties with adjustment to higher games, playing big money etc. but you agree when i say it is much more easier to adjust (mentally) if you have a long time/volume practice.
      Most of consistent winning regs on mid/high buy-ins have experience of thousands hours of playing poker and milions hands no matter what format/exact game they had been played. They have experienced many swings and emotional impacts.

      Also, I didnt explain well that thing about CG. Just if you decide to go a new way you have to be prepared to not have any income for longer time because it takes a while to get better and start winning some money.
      But at satties you know that you should be at least better than average player so can be relatively sure of some regular monthly profit.

      And also, more important ! :-) excuse my straightforward comments, there is not much mercy in it but i feel for you.

      cya, you know where (but not at many !)


    3. Haven't you read "The mental game of Poker"? I almost sure that Andre talk about that book once..
      It's a great book for someone to learn/remember how to boost confidence, and repair some personal leaks ;)
      Give it a try :)

    4. Hi guys, sorry for taking forever to reply!

      @Roy4lpl4yor: Comparing to someone that can 25 table my volume is obviously nothing, but I can't play that many so I need to make it work with what I have... Anyway, we agree that overall my mentality towards poker still needs a lot of work!
      Also, as you probably have noticed, I decided to stick to the satellites cause not having an income is not an option right now, I simply don't have the luxury to spend time learning a new format (unless of course there really is no other option).
      Don't worry about the straightforward comments (or the lack of mercy as you put it), I really appreciate your honest opinion. Constructive criticism helps us improve!

      @Strac: I have read scattered pieces of it, it really is a good book. It's in my immediate plans to start a more detailed reading of it. Thanx for the suggestion!

  3. Very interesting read! It really staggers me how similar your story is to mine! I started off playing tournaments online about 4 years ago and played those successfully for a couple of years before i decided they no longer suited my living style. I then moved to hyperturbo sngs where I was taught by a successful hypers grinder but as you said the variance is brutal and that coupled with the fact I was still learning and the rake is crazy I quickly blew off around a third of my bankroll (which for me as a bankroll nit was a huge blow). I then moved to CAP cash games where I spent a year playing nl50 and nl100. These games are extremely difficult to beat pre rakeback and it took a lot of coaching and serious study before I began to even break even pre rb. I did make profit from CAP over that year but I found poker for me had become a chore and a lot of the decisions at these tables I was playing were automatic. Ultimately I was losing my love for poker which I never ever thought was happen. CAP poker had taken part of the challenge out and poker had become an entirely numbers based game (something I'm sure you're familiar with playing hyper turbos yourself). So basically around 4 months ago I turned to playing 6max cash on fulltilt. starting out at nl25 I was able to secure very reasonable coaching and very good coaching! My dudes rates are something like 35 dollars an hour (cant remember off the top of my head). You'll see at nl25 (and im assured up to nl100) the tables these days are still super juicy. The abundance of megacrazy regs and spewy whales on these tables almost guarantees profit (be it small or not) at these stakes with knowledge of the basic fundamentals which you will learn quickly. Best players at nl25 are attaining winrates of between 5-9bb/100 so decent cash if you can put in the hours. If you're interested in a good poker read then check out ''professional no limit holdem'' by matt flynn, sunny metha and ed miller. Anyway! Thats just my two cents! If you would like to chat more about it or get in touch with my coach then feel free to add me on skype (THEitinBEST) or facebook And cutting your losses with hypers may be prove to be a very profitable idea! I know when i quit CAP i also felt like id wasted serious time but its better to move on than stay stuck in a raketrap rut. Hope to hear from you!

    1. Hi there!

      Very interesting story, thanks for sharing! If I ever decide to move to cash games, it will be to play 6max tables I think... For now I've decided to stick to the hypers for a little longer, it really bothers me to give up on the efforts of a whole year! Plus, I want to try and maintain my Supernova status, it's too much of a shame to let it go to waste!

      I didn't know the book you suggested, I looked it up and saw that it got some good reviews. Maybe I'll start reading books of that kind during my free time, since all working time will be for the hypers. If I change direction and go to cash games though, I'll definitely contact you for more info!

      Thank you once again for stopping by my blog and commenting! :)

  4. Hello . I'm Nick.

    I would like to publish a sponsored post (with one link) on your great blog - Could you please give me the price for the placement of it?

    Thank you and I look forward to your reply.

    Have a nice day.

    1. Hello Nick, I'm currently not interested in such deals but thank you very much for your offer! Have a nice day too!

  5. Hi ! good to see you posting again. Im sorry for the downswing. Good luck with the decision you make, whatever you take, and even with issues outside of poker, here you'll have a follower. τύχη και επιτυχία


    1. Hi Rainmy, thank you for the support as always! (And thumbs up for the greek!!!) :D

  6. Hi katerina! I can't tell you how much I relate to your post. Of course you are a much more experienced player than I am, as I only started playing poker seriously one year ago. But at some point I'm feeling the same way you described.

    I'm a cash player, currently at NL25 and I've been breakeven the whole year, which is pretty demolishing for my self confidence because microstakes are not that difficult to beat! I've been doing the same you did: taking breaks, studying a lot and then coming back at the tables feeling more confident, but nothing has worked so far :( Maybe I'm too hard on myself because I have a full time job, which means my volume is weak and it's harder to focus on poker when you've been working the whole day. But my goal is to make a living out of poker soon, so I just keep working hard on my game.

    I believe your main problem is the same I have: a bad mindset! It's almost impossible to be successful at this when you have negative thoughts even before starting a session, knowing that if you don't make money at this you will have to get a 9-5 job. And I don't know if you feel it too, but sometimes I think that if I don't become a better poker player, it will mean I'm a "failure" because I didn't reach my goals. So it's not only a financial problem, but a self-esteem issue. Nobody can achieve ANYTHING feeling such a huge pressure.

    Have you read "The mental game of poker"? It's a great book and I think it will be very useful for you in this situation.

    Hope everything works out soon, I'll keep reading your posts :) Good luck!

    1. Hi Celeste,

      It really is a lot more difficult if you're trying to juggle poker and a full time job, mostly because of volume issues like you said. Don't get discouraged by bad results, cause they are insignificant unless you have a pretty big sample. I totally understand you about it not just being a financial problem, but something that is related to self-esteem. The truth is however, that we need to find a way to overcome this psychological obstacle, otherwise we don't have a chance of succeeding.

      Thank you for reading my blog and good luck to you too! :)

  7. I suggest you try husngs as a relatively low variance game that will teach you a lot about postflop play. Cash games are much more complex and you will learn faster to play postflop effectively if you play hu sngs. Start with regular speeds and turbos first then you may try the hyper turbo format. There is plenty of material here to get you started.

    1. Dabd,

      If there is one aspect of poker I don't like, that's HUs. I can't really explain why, maybe it's a matter of preference or the fact that you play more the player than you play the game. It makes sense though that you learn faster to play flops if you play HUs. I tried to read a HU book in the past but the only thing I got from it was a lot of headaches. Maybe I'll give it a try in the future if I change my mind about the format? Who knows? :P
      Thanx for stopping by and leaving a comment!

  8. Keep it up, I think before you move to cash, better to stay to hypers. Move to Cash for a Hyper player is so much more difficult, because the value u start associating with marginal hands compared to to your stack size.

    I would say mix up some other sngs in between so u dont get bored of the game and start making leaks. I think adding a session of 45/180 man turbo occasionally will sharpen ur skills and lessen the auto pilot in you.

    1. Hi Deucesofclub,

      Yep, I've decided to stick to the hypers for now. I also thought of mixing up some different games (mostly during my free time) to play more poker and less "on auto pilot". I think that the hypers have brought me quite a lot of frustration to the point where I have forgotten that poker is after all a game. I need to re-discover my love for it. Thanks for stopping by! :)


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