View Full Version : Humble Pie

01-29-2004, 05:46 AM
This post is not one I think a lot of people would make, or enjoy making, but I think the
humble pie is worth the effort, because I don't think I'm the only one in similar circumstance, and because if anyone can help it’s the 2+2 guys (and girls). There are three recent posts that initiated this:

The thread on Zoo: Who here makes over $20/Hr?
The thread on TF: Winning % in Sit N Go's
And CrisBrown’s quote in "Suggestions" post by thomastem: "Yup. Figure your first $1000 is tuition for "poker school" and don't expect to make much profit from it. You may be the exception, having a lot of ring game experience. And of course reading here may help a lot. But you still have to pay your tuition money."

Now I know Poker players wouldn't lie, (Stretch the truth a little maybe). But 2+2 makes it sound like everybody on the site is making $30-$50 an hour, and winning 50%-70% of their sit&go's.

Well, I'm not. I have spent Cris's grand. Partly on books, partly on 1/2, 2/4 ring tables,
partly on SNG's and regular tournaments.

I got on line Sept 15 after reading some of DS's books while on vacation.

I have read TOP(twice), GTBOI(twice), HEP, HEPFAP, Hellmuth, 5th Street, finishing SS now. I have found several articles interesting especially "The Different Stages in a Player's Life" RZ, Skill, Luck, Tortoise, Hare DS, & On Tilt MM. I bought TPFAP DS today, and plan to read PL&NL Poker Reuben and Ciaffone next. (and 22 more books on the list after that.)

I play mostly on Stars, some 1/2 or 2/4 LHE ring, but mostly 10+1 SNGs, and 10&under buyin Tourns both LHE and NLHE. Still learning the differences between LHE & NLHE, either ring or tournament. I consider the low buyin tournaments as an investment more than a loss, because I get lots of hands of poker at a fixed price, and if I win, as I started out to do, that’s fine.

I won 2nd in the SNG two weeks ago, and that was the only one I had won this year. (Update: cashed 4 straight SNG’s on Party Sunday.) I have won $3+addons satellites to get in the Stars 200+15 or 500+30 NLHE four times but not cashed in the tourns. 133rd, 156th, 84th, 400th.

The situation I have found myself in recently is simple: I couldn't win a buck if I was
the only person at the table. And I am NOT on tilt. I'm not playing or betting crazy, If
anything I play too tight. I well know that I need more experience, especially on short
tables. Under my name it says enthusiast, and I am, but I am also a learner, and know I have a long way to go to be a good HE player much less a good poker player.

Now, the $900 plus books that I'm out at the moment isn't killing me. I’m not gambling with the grocery money. I spend 12K a year on Spurs season tickets and as much on fly fishing vacations. That probably makes me one of Cris's "Weak rich fish". (Which I feel like some of the time.)

I am also smart enough to know that when you sit down to learn a new card game at this level you pay your dues. I did it 15 years ago at Hollywood Gin, and 10 years ago at Blackjack. I bring home their money today most of the time at either game. Anyone wanna play gin? I could re-stake myself for poker pretty quickly. Before September I was a better than average kitchen table poker player. I decided to learn it well enough to play with you guys.

I am making this post for a couple of reasons.

One is to let the other learners out there know that all the poker players in the world are
not making $20 and hour or cashing 70% of their SNGs. You're not alone.

The other is to ask for some assistance in formulating a plan that will get me on a winning track. Moving down to micro limits and reading more books until I learn how to play poker is of course one option. Continuing to enter 1+0, 3+0, and 10 cash tourns, and entering 3+addons to the Sunday tourns until I win one and cover the stake is a possibility, and is the one I have largely been using for the last month. It also gives me lots of hands to look at for a reasonable price. So far I haven't covered the stake. I know I need short table practice. I can beat 80% of the people in any game I've been in recently, but that is not good enough to cash. That also tells me I’m playing too tight..

The long term plan is keep playing poker, gaining experience, reading books, and reading on 2+2. At two books a month, in a year I will have finished my reading list including reading the good ones more than once (and will, of course, have a new list). And by then I will either be a solid poker player, or have enough sense to go back to Blackjack and admit this is not my game. It took me more than 4 months and cost more than a grand to learn either of my other two games.

I could use some advice on the short term plan. It would be nice to stop the bleeding.

I would also be interested in hearing from some of our better players: How long did it take you to get to a level where you were winning consistently?

(Probable answers: 1)“About a week and a half!”, 2) “My mother taught me poker while she was breast feeding me”, 3) “I was a poker player in a previous life, and was born this way”).

Thx in advance.


Ps: After the SNG tonight I entered the $3+0 on Stars. Report follows. Further comment at end of report.
__________________________________________________ ___________
PokerStars Tournament #880579, No Limit Hold'em
Super Satellite
Buy-In: $3.00
1459 players
Total Prize Pool: $4377.00
Target Tournament #839639
9 tickets to the target tournament

Tournament started - 2004/01/28 - 22:30:00 (ET)

Dear DrPhysic,

You finished the tournament in 6th place.
You qualified to play in Tournament #839639 and are automatically registered for it.
See Tournament #839639 Lobby for further details.

In addition a $188.22 award has been credited to your Real Money account.

You earned 235.76 tournament leader points in this tournament.
For information about our tournament leader board, see our web site at

Thank you for participating.
__________________________________________________ ____________

The $188 helps both the budget and the confidence level. However, the questions in this post are still valid. I would appreciate thoughts from my friends at 2+2.


01-29-2004, 08:25 AM

Been there and done that. I think we all have. Here is a copy of a little bit of my story, hope it helps.

For most of us, Poker will NEVER be anything but a hobby. A very lucrative hobby indeed but still, just a hobby. 99.9% of the people that play poker are break even or overall losing players (for our more literal posters...don't quote me on the %, it was just an illustration) who like to play for a chance to stick their hand 6" or so up the Golden Gooses *** and grab an egg or two. It took me 6 months and MANY (mostly small) deposits to make my first cash out of any site. Luckily, I have a good job and could afford to play by making a deposit or two a month. Well, I just consider that my tuition, sort of like starting a new hobby like golf. You have to buy the equipment and pay the green fees to really learn the game. Well, wonder upon wonders, I DID improve. I haven't made a deposit in a few months and have cashed out numerous times since then. Now Poker is more than a game that I love to play. It has become a source for a decent secondary income. I still love to play thank God. I think that if it became a job I would miss the fun.

[/ QUOTE ]

You have only been playing and studying for 3 months. It took me 6 before I stopped the deposits and started the cashouts. I went down to the microlimits more times than I like to think about. Just hang in there. Your enthusiasm for the game and willingness to invest in yourself will payoff. /images/graemlins/smile.gif

01-29-2004, 08:45 AM
Hi Doc,

Very nice post, and honest, wich is something rare in a poker player.
What you ask is very difficult to deliver, a guideline of how to become a succesfull poker player can't be found, as the only genuine answer in poker, no matter what the question or the situation is "IT DEPENDS"
That beeing said, you can get good advices and some tips, but the real truth, will still be that it depends on yourself, some have it, some don't. It's that simple.

First, you have to be aware that 98% of all players are losing players, or at best "rocks" with a very small profit.
You have also to understand that when you are a constant loser, you normally don't rush to your computer and write about it, so here at 2+2 you will find those 2% that can win, wish to get better or at least have a good undertsanding of the game. You cannot allways rely on what they write, human nature is such that we like to be admired at what we do and much too often, posters will tell a small white lie to be regarded as what they wish they were instead of what they really are. If you are able to admit that you are not playing well in certain situations, and are able to see wich errors you have made and where you need to improve your game, you are halfway there.

It's easy to learn opening hands, betting patteerns and so on, but poker is a game of emotions. Table feeling is crucial(even online) deception is a powerful weapon and image is important, but everything changes all the time, as you will meet different players at different tables. Nobody can dominate every table; you must be able to se that you are not comfortable at some tables and willing to get out of there, not seeing it as a defeat, but as a strategic decision to protect yourself.
You must be able to manipulate your oponents, better than they manipulate you. Allways open/raising 3xBB for example, as many advocate is certainly fine. Knowing that other players expect that from you and changing the pattern often enough to create confusion it's better. Not showing fear is essential.

When I started playing poker, some 10 years ago, one of the better players told me that it takes 4 years to become a winning player. I am not saying that it applies to everybody, so please spare me the wonder stories, I don't really care, (I mean reader's stories, not your's,Doc).
In my case, it was quite accurate. I broke even after about a year(and it costed substantially more than 1000$, so if you can keep it that low, consider yourself lucky) but after that I didn't consider winning a 1000 or so a month like real succes. The way I knew that I had reached a point where poker had becomed an income for life, was when I could seat at a table, knowing that unless something real bad happened that day, I would walk out of that room with somebody's else money. Until that moment, I would allways hope to run well that day or would feel uncertain, fear certain players and so on. Suddenly, all that changed, I still knew that certain people should be avoided, but I also felt that I was feared more than I feared them.
That can only be achieved with experience. You have to be patient and put the required amount of hours at the tables (or in front of your scream).

Now, as I have said before, 98% of the population could put all the hours of the world at the tables, they would still lose, so you have to be honest with yourself. If you are one of the chosen ones, results will follow, and in your case, when I read about the satellites to the sunday tourney, I think all good things will come on due time.

Find out where you feel most comfortable. ring games, tourneys, sng's or wathever. That should be your source of income while you get better at the rest. Analyze your game and define the areas where you feel unsecure (for ex. heads-up) be aware of it and try to improve experimenting a little. Eventually you will find the style that suits you at that precise are of the game, and it will just be a question of practice. Then you will find out that another area of your game needs improvement and will work on that and so on.
It is clever to become a good player at different forms of poker. Ring games, tourneys, but also different variations of poker; omaha, stud, H/L games, etc... this is important because if you allways play the same, you will soon burn out, get bored, and then it becomes difficult to stay focused and win. If you can manage at different games, you can play something else here and there and it will feel like a nice change of pace. You can also play something you find amusing at a cheap level, and just have a good time without endangering your bankroll or play a tourney for the fun of it. Again, only you can now what you need.

I am not the kind that begins his posts with " geee, I have just won this or that" but I will this time talk a little about my results, as an example of what I am saying.
I stink at limit and when i play stud, my brain stops functionning. My long term plan is of course to improve that, but I have allways done quite well at tournaments and NL/PL games. When I started playing at Stars, I saw these huge tourneys with several hundreds participants. I thought the luck factor must be astronomical and I should consider myself lucky to ever make a final table. I ended winning the first one I played,and from september to december I have won 17 of them(5-100$ buy-in), plus all the 2. 3. etc... places. So if you can, results will just follow, naturally. It also turned out that playing so many tourneys was very stressing, and in the long run, less rewarding than playing sng's and ring games, so now I don't play them so often anymore. But again, I got burned out, and maybe I will soon feel like playing tourneys again.

Doc, many more things can be said, and I will too, unless I can see that the thread deteriorates and then of course why should I bother? I'll be happy to answer any questions you and other may have and I will get back with more comments/ideas.
What works for me doesn't necessarly works for others, but we can all get better if we understand how the other players think.

Take care,

01-29-2004, 08:58 AM
This year has not been great for me either. After becoming confident in my ability to beat $10+1 sngs at Party, I decided that the new year would be a nice time to make my jump to the next level. Well, the $30+3s have not been going so well and after taking about a $250 loss (and me not being very rich in the first place), I have decided to move back down again.

I recently posted about this in the $10+1 vs 30+3 opinions thread, and still find myself thinking about it. I know I am good enough to beat that game. Or, I guess I don't know, but I really thought that I was.

I wonder a lot also about the posts claiming a $20/hr win rate. I have no doubt that some players on here can do it, but at other times I am sceptical. To be honest, when it started to become clear a few months ago that I was winning at all, I did a little dance for joy everyday. When it became clear that I could make as much as $5/hr I did an even bigger dance for joy. I'll never work for minimum wage again! That sounds silly to some who never have worked for minimum wage, or who could go get a $20/hr job in a minute, but I'm not so sure that I can (I majored in Philosophy and still have a semester and a half to finish my degree).

Since Nov 17, poker has been my only source of income and I was seriously underfunded to begin this venture. My goal was simply to make $4/hr. Again, I know that sounds silly but I was playing poker and things could only get better, right?

Well, this past three weeks has been painful. I am not as good as I thought I was (yes I am, yes I am, yes I am...), and I have now cut into half my bankroll as a result of my little $30+3 decision.

What's more, I am discovering that playing poker for minimum wage is not much fun. twice now, I have not left the house for over four days and I find that my bathing frequency has gone down. This has not been glamourous and feels a lot like work. Furthermore, baking donuts and flipping burgers never runs the risk of losing money.

I should start a business where all my employees make hourly wage +/- 15hrs wages standard deviation at the end of the day. "Uh Oh Bob, pretty unlucky today. Looks like you owe me again. Good job though"

Oh well. I am getting off track from your original post and just venting about this new "life" of mine.

As for a strategy, I am trying to write a short summary of my general $10+1 playing strategy. To be honest, it is almost robotic at this point and requires no creativity at all. I just follow a plan. That will not work at the higher levels but I know it works there. Be patient then and I will post it one day soon. I'd be interested to hear what the good players have to say about it.

I will say this also. Sometimes, at the low limits, I think reading too much and listening too much to what the good players say here can actually HURT your game. It is not that it is wrong, but I think that playing hands their way sometimes requires more skill than we all have.

Take hands like A9s-A2s or small suited connectors. Good players can make these hands +EV because they are good players. I want to be a good player, but more than this, I want to be a winning player. As a result, these hands almost never play for me. In a NL ring game, I play about 20 hands and nothing else. The other hands can have the potential for +EV, but I just don't play them well enough. I like hands that make my decisions for me (at least at this stage of my development).

I read an article once about how a player will often experience worse results as he/she begins to learn more as they cannot properly apply the info. You may be in the unique position of starting where others only get after a couple years. I don't really know.

Anyways, I liked your post.

Brad S

01-29-2004, 08:59 AM

Great post. Glad to see that the learning curve is there for all of us. Your willingness to give something back to the poker community is commendable. Thank you.

01-29-2004, 09:04 AM
I'm still learning (as this is only being my 3rd post), but one piece of advice that I have to offer is not to play ring games at stars. I started out on stars approx. three years ago and had basically only played there.

As I began lurking here, I read about party and other sites being full of fish and stars being a "rock garden." I didn't think there could be that big of a difference, but eventually i decided to try out Party. I couldn't believe the hands that people would play on party, I had never seen that on any level on stars (including a few trips to the .05/.10 tables).

I still play stars for the sit and go's, but I highly advise trying another site for ring games, I think you will be very happy with your decision.

01-29-2004, 09:18 AM
Hi Doc

How refreshing. It looks to me like we got online at a similar time. I haven't invested the same amount of time/money in the books you have although I did ask Santa for the TOP and Tournie play for advanced...(which I'm waiting to crack the combination to before reading!!) . I've also got Helmutts book but skimmed it just now. There are a good few others as well on my list but if I have my way this is a hobby for keeps and there's no rush.

Anyway, I don't know my ratio of SnG wins/losses. I'm doing better now but there are/were a few occassions where I logged in half cut after a series of wins at $5/$10 and even $20 single table events, thought I was God's gift to poker, upped the stakes and got my backside kicked back down again (deservedly so). Woke up to find I'd handed back 2-3-4 weeks worth of dollar profits and more. Did this twice before realising that
a) I was falling asleep losin money until the wee hours
b) Poker was'nt ever going to be my wifes first love!!
c) I had to dig out the visa card yet again!!

Anyway, have now broken even in cash in account (bar $10)thanks to a 4th place in a $10 PL tournie recently where I cashed $180 and a few more modest wins in SnG's again. I think this time I'm happy to play at the $10 level and pay some more dues as my bankroll now will tolerate a bigger run of losses. I will also have a dig at the satellites/super satellites once in a while if I have moved ahead of my starting blocks to take the loss.

I do currently have a free entry into this weekends $200+$15 NL on stars and there are times when I'd be tempted to take the tournie dollars (which gives me around 10 entries into $20 SnG's) or obviously around 20 in my current level.

Obviously we all play to, as some other 2+2'er put it so succintly, "stick ones arm as far up the golden gooses rear end as possible and fetch out one of it's eggs" but given that my chances of placing are hugely slim (not just on level of experience but also 700-800+ entrants) unless cards run over me, has anyone any thoughts on that too (taking tournie dollars v entering big tournie?).

Doc, I also think confidence is not to be underestimated in terms of winning/losing. At the same time I got online I discovered there was a local charity B&M game where it's £12 to buy in, there are about 60-80 entrants and top x places gets a little cash or a modest prize and a place at a yearly final where you can win a trip to Vegas etc etc and entry into a satellite for the biggy. I've found there are still a massive amount of entrants play really really really loose and taking a second and a third in these has really boosted the confidence of an ordinary player! Now when I go to play most know me by name and it's a lovely and confidence building (poker wise) feeling /images/graemlins/smile.gif

Oh, nearly forgot, sorry for the waffle, but I also watched a few ring games (live and online) and I simply don't play them, to me that's where the real tricky players play and my modest bankroll just would not survive. There are some skilled players here and also not so skilled players that have huge bankrolls and a disregard (lack of need?) for money that can simply buy me out a lot of the time. I only play (and have an interest in) tournaments.

I know it'll turn around for you, I think any form of recognition there is a weakness to be examined is where the leak gets plugged but I always write to take my thoughts very lightly.

Good Luck


01-29-2004, 09:23 AM
I couldn't believe the hands that people would play on party, I had never seen that on any level on stars

[/ QUOTE ]

Yes, this is a delicate subject. Do you want to make some fast money or do you want to become a good player AND make some money(you, know, the story about teaching a man how to fish instead og giving him a fish).

I personally don't like to play at a table with too many fishes. Poker really becomes gambling at that level and I seriously doubt the long term value of that learning experience.

When I play at Stars, hold AK and the flop comes A74, I know i have trapped someone holding AJ or AQ; at party, I am terrified of all 2 cards combinations oponents could be holding (see my post in the internet forum about 2 party hands) here (http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/showflat.php?Cat=&Number=499101&page=0&view=expand ed&sb=5&o=14&fpart=)

A combination of both sites is perhaps a good idea.

I allways liked this saying " You can't get wise with the sucker"

Take care,

01-29-2004, 09:32 AM
Great posts, and great replies, especially William's, which I enjoyed reading very much.

I for one am a novice player, and never intend to go pro. I play much less than most here (maybe 20 hours/month 1 table with some tourneys). I did not start out great, but slowly realized certain hands simply can't be played and how important position is. With experience comes knowledge of studying opponents and knowing what to do after the flop and beyond.

Playing smarter, not more, has resulted in a nice couple of wins, but if you take out a second place win on a UB $50 multi I would be pretty much even for the last year.

It's been said a lot, but the easiest way to ENJOY playing poker is to play within your limits. I am a $3-6 player and have found myself not enjoying myself as much at $5-10 because I get nervous. So I stay at $3-6. Sounds simple, right? I read many stories, even on 2+2, where egos and a short winning streak make people want to jump for the "quick hit." That's fine for some, but when it swings the other way and mood swings hit, you can get yourself in trouble.

My general premise is that I have a certain amount a year in my budget that goes to my poker hobby. If I lose, and I have, I'm done for the month. When I win, I offset 50% into a slush fund and play with 50%. This 50% is usually what I will use to play in some tournaments. When I hit the money in the tournament, my wife and I go out for a nice dinner, we buy a couple CD's, or something we wouldn't normally afford (the UB tourney I mentioned before resulted in a very expensive and awesome digital camera with all the bells and whistles).

I've got 10 poker books or so, and love the game. But sign me up for the rookie camp who went the first seven months or so not able to play in any given month because the budgeted funds were in some other 2+2's account. Patience, discipline, and money management are the keys for enjoying the game for those of us who aren't planning on going pro or making a living off this.

Of course, that doesn't mean I'm not competitive. Every time I play I play to win. This forum (long time lurker before posting) has been wonderful in helping my game, and the last 6 months I've been able to play whenever I want in any given month and accumulated a nice little slush fund. But last night I gave away 15 BB in about 1/2 hour and shut it down b/c I could tell I was starting to go away from how I know I should play. Sometimes that's as important as anything else in saving some money to fight another day.

Kurn, son of Mogh
01-29-2004, 09:37 AM
How long did it take you to get to a level where you were winning consistently?

If you asked me this at the beginning of November I would've answered "about one year." I had been winning consistently at Party 3/6 and had been regularly putting cash in my bank account. Unfortuantely, at that time, I needed to tap a good percentage of my online bankroll for unforeseen expenses. My mistake was in not dropping down immediately. I continued to play 3/6 on a very short roll and the inevitable downswing hit when I could least afford it. I took stock and refocused my efforts. I began to see that I had my biggest edge at the 2-table SNG's on 'Stars, and at the beginning of the year set-up a plan to start at the $10 level and work my bankroll back up.

To make a long story short, I'm not sure I'm a "consistent" winner yet, but my banrkroll is 3x what it was on 1/1/04, and I learn more about the game every day.

Still a work in progress.

I could use some advice on the short term plan.

Since SNG's are your focus, try to see if there are any holes in your game plan. Mine for 2-tables is simple:

1. Early on, don't bleed away chips out of position, but be alert to take advantage of opportunities when they arise. It's nice to double up early, but you don't have to.

2. As your table gets down to 7 players begin focusing on how you can make it to the final table with at least 15x BB. Have a good strategy to shift gears when you get 6, and then 5-handed.

3. After consolidation your tactics depend on your chip position and where the bigger and smaller stacks are sitting. Don't assume the bigger stacks are the better players. At this point, raw chip accumulation is not as crucial as in the middle stages of a multi.

4. Watch the other players as you get close to the bubble. I still try to force the action, but can get real conservative if I think others are impatient and likely to make mistakes.

5. Once you're in the money, attack, attack, attack. (unless some obvious stack-size differential screams otherwise)

A lot of this is probably pretty standard, but to my mind, one of the keys to success is the ability to accurately assess the dynamics of the table and shift gears accordingly.

And of course, you have to be willing to bust out without regret. Just not too often. /images/graemlins/cool.gif

Kurn, son of Mogh
01-29-2004, 09:54 AM
Great post, William.

When I started playing poker, some 10 years ago, one of the better players told me that it takes 4 years to become a winning player.

This sounds reasonable. I wonder if the reality of online poker makes it reasonable to say 2-years? Just wondering.

It is clever to become a good player at ... different variations of poker;

I agree. When I feel stale from HE, nothing sharpens me up more than a little stud/8. It exercises your brain differently.

It's easy to learn opening hands, betting patterns and so on, but poker is a game of emotions.

Great point. I think this is why the game is so hard to master.

Not showing fear is essential.

How does it go..."Fear is the mind-killer, the little death that precedes all others. I will confront my fear, let it pass over me and through me. When it has passed, all that remains is me."

That's probably a horrible misquote, but what do you expect from Trek geek quoting "Dune."

01-29-2004, 11:24 AM
Wow, great post. Wasn't planning to write anything this morning, but your post and the equally thoughtful responses got me thinking.

Let's go philosophical for a second. Why do you play the game?

1. Is winning important for you? It sounds like it is, not so much for the money but more for the mastery of the skill.

1a. Winning against whom? You say you are playing at Stars, which by most people's estimation is the toughest of the sites. Is your goal to learn to play a strong mid-limit game that can beat tough opposition, or to seek and destroy fishier players?

As for myself, I've always been mathematically inclined, and am one of the lucky/fortunate ones that beat the game from the get-go. Part of this is that I'm honest to myself about my motives: intellectually, I love the game, but I do strive to maximize my profits- I take classes during the day, and poker is more lucrative than a part-time job in the evenings. For me, this means the following:

-switching to party (I was a UBer at first)

-focusing on game selection (Right now I play mostly $50 NL, and I'm always surfing for tables with larger pot averages/wilder/weaker players)

-playing 3 tables of ABC poker rather than trying to play my very best game on one table

-playing NL ring games: these are what I enjoy the most, but in my limited experience seem the easiest for a learning player to beat. In all honesty, I'm guessing one could write an algorithm for beating the party 25 NL games that would occupy maybe a paragraph or two of type.

-playing an anti-fish strategy... what this means could vary from game to game: at NL ring, it means overbetting big hands and reducing one's bluffs; both of these changes take advantage of calling station types.

This isn't the most interesting way to play in the world, but it does the trick. And, as I further study the game, I can hopefully build my bankroll, further refine my strategy, and perhaps eventually move up in limits.

So that a strategy that fits with what's important to me at the moment. I hate making pronouncements about othe people's games/playing styles, etc., but it seems like you are playing in situations that are going to be a lot tougher to beat. This is of course fine, but perhaps with that playing style it makes sense that it will take longer to start winning. On the other hand, when you do you will have a much more robust game, since it's being tested by harder competition.

I hope you are successful in finding a way to tailor your game to meet your motives for playing.

Best of luck,


01-29-2004, 12:03 PM

I played play money SnG tournaments at the PokerClub and then Ladbrokes for about 3 months. This is the only way to play for zero cash (online) and get some very basic poker experience. Usually about half the field play like bozos, but then when they are gone you get around 3 or 4 players who are actually reasonable players (about equal standard to $10 SnG players).
A very few of them are really quite good - they just don´t believe in gambling of any kind.

You are obviously well beyond the stage where you need to do this.

I then played $5+1 NLHE SnGs for about 10months at Ladbrokes, with the occaisonal foray into Limit ring games and NL ring games (lowest stakes available).

I deposited $50 got $50 free and cashed out $200 when I got to $400. I then lost the remaining $200, I don´t know what happened. A combination of a run of (my first) bad cards and then having the mental feeling that I was going to lose, which probably made me a very passive player. The games also started to get pretty tough at Ladbrokes.

I then didn´t play for 2 months last summer (2003).

I then arrived here in Iceland and started reading again (all the usual books). When my PC arrived I connected back up and started playing on Party. Depositing $100 and getting $50 free. I worked my way up to $500 playing just $5 SnGs. I then got myself to $550 and played $10 SnGs until my bank roll dropped below $500, then went back to $5 SnGs up to $550 then back to $10 SnGs. I had to do this 3 times before I started to get the hang of $10 games.
Looking back it was mostly mental, I played more passively in the $10 games, expecting everyone to be much better.
I am now at $1000 - $1100 and I am trying to make the move to $30 SnGs. I am trying not to fall into the passive mode. I will let you know how I get on.

Some things which I think, which I have never seen posted before:

Try not to constantly cash in and cash out:
If you are losing then wait until your roll is zero before filling up again. Never cash out unless you plan to stay at the same limit until you get back to where you are now or stop playing forever.
I do this because I get a bit more of a relationship with my bank roll. Every $100 mark is a milestone and I loathe dropping below that point again (of course it happens sometimes).
I always know exactly how much money I have in my account to with 2 or 3 dollars. ($1077 /images/graemlins/smile.gif )
When I lost the $200 it felt bad, and I went away and thought hard before putting money in again. I made a fresh start with a fresh bankroll.
It sounds crazy but it works for me.

Don't sit down with the intention of playing just one SnG:
Make sure you have long enough to play at least 2. Otherwise you don't feel mentally prepared to play. It also stops you from having the mindset of "I'm bored what shall I do - I'll play poker". You always do badly like this.

Slow down:
I make myself consciously count to 3 before EVERY action. It stops you going on autopilot. Think about it - how often have you hit raise and then thought even before the other person has acted "Oh feck that was wrong".

Play with a 4 colour deck - it is just easier and better.

Turn off the sound effects and listen to music that has no words, and has sections which are slow and sections which are energetic. Mahlers 4th Symphony is good (both as a piece of music and for playing poker), as is just about any opera (yes I know it has words, but can you understand them!?)
This might just be personal preference - but it seems to help me a lot. The change in music pace often helps me mentally change pace in a game, and doesn´t seem to force me to change pace when it is obviously the wrong thing to do. Also most Symphonies are around 45 minutes long and become more energetic as they reach their conclusion, much as your poker should do in a SnG which takes about...45mins!
Sound effects seem to encourage me to act too quickly, they also piss off my housemate.

Turn off chat:
It is distracting and you can base actions on your opinion of the person, rarely a good move after 10 lines of chat.

Never give up:
It is amazing how easy it can be to grind yourself back into a SnG from T200.

Don´t play more than one table at a time:
You might make more money, but you certainly wont improve your poker much.

Doing something else in the early stages (not poker!):
Read e-mail, post here, whatever. This I find can stop me being impatient to push people out of the tournament or generally chivvy things along to the interesting stages.

just some thoughts.


01-29-2004, 12:16 PM

I'm answering this post before reading the others. Sorry if I repeat something already said.

1st question is why are you playing 2-4 if you aren't beating 1-2 on your ring game? If you are still learning ring 1-2 causes less bleeding in general.

Next is a point. I read an article in card player about a tourney pro who is profitable but went year at a time sometimes not coming in the money. It takes longer in tourney to even get a good gauge on if you are a winner or not. SNGs are shorter but still longer than ring.

Another point. No man can serve 2 masters. Plays correct in limit aren't necessarily correct in NL and plays in tourneys aren't always correct in ring, etc. Trying to learn all at once may actually generate bad habits. I suggest that you learn 1 and use the occassional SNG as a change of pace. But reading and studying IMO should be Tourney or ring and limit or no limit. Once you are winning at 1 at feel confident in your skill at the game then pick up another.

One more thing that can help. Find a partner that will play at your table once a week. During play there is no mercy but after play you can teach each other from a different point of view. It helps a bunch. Just like the weekly sng that you organized the discussion afterward helps.

01-29-2004, 12:20 PM
Hi Doc.

(Sorry for the long post, but I see I'm not alone in this /images/graemlins/wink.gif)

Great thread. Your are a brave poker player, to put it out this way. And these are just about the questions every newbie asks himself: is it possible? Am I on the right way? Why am I losing if others win?

I'm a newbie. Been playing SNG's for about 5 months now, and actually wasn't doing much in these last 5 months except of learning poker and playing like crazy. Read only 3 poker books, but hundreds and hundreds of archived threads here. I think this is, BY FAR, my main source of education.

Regarding winning and losing, I think I'm quite lucky in that sense. Put 50$ in Stars, played with them like 150 5$ SNG's (I was quite amazed by my ability to break even /images/graemlins/smile.gif), but lost it all eventually (very humble tuition?). Then found the 15$ free-no-deposit thing in TGC, took them and played there like crazy, 2.5, 5.5, 11 SNG's, and was very very lucky not to bust, and made it into 300$. Put 200$ in stars and made it into 700$, playing mainly 10 and 20 SNG's, 1 or 2 tables, and a LOT of them. Won two 3$+0 215$ satellites, but lost most of my 400$ winnings on higher buy-in SNG's (mistake?). That's where I stand now, with around 500 SNG's, on the the levels between 2.5-22, under my belt. I feel like a small-time-winning very lucky newbie, that has yet a long long way to go. And yes, I had some pretty frustrating 12 games out of the money streaks (and I'm not talking about my very begining).

William (in his most insightful post here) said it should take 4 years to become a winning player. I think on-line it can get faster, if you are really dedicated, and ready to put A LOT of your time into it. So, It should maybe take a year? two? ten months? I don't know. But I bet there isn't one fixed number for all.

Doc, I'm not really in a situation to give advice here. I think others will do it much better than me. I can only tell you I think it is positively possible, to win money in this game. I don't know exactly how much, what ROI, etc., and I know that being in the learning-curve stage of my poker, these numbers will be very skewed. I guess it is probably true regarding your numbers too.

Kurn, William and others had some good SNG's strategy (and atittude) points in this thread. I'm considering myslelf very far from their league, but if I may, let me add one more. Maybe it's obvious, so I ask for your forgiveness in advance... /images/graemlins/blush.gif

In many of the SNG's I ended in the money, certainly on those I finished 1st, there was almost always a key hand. It wasn't necessarily a very interesting one, or a tricky one, or a hand to post here, and it could come at the early stages, the late stages (sometimes HU), but mostly around the mid-late stages.

It's a hand where I had to make a desicion. Sometimes it's to bluff big, or call big. sometimes it's to fold a monster, when you have this BAD feeling. I think what makes the difference in this game, is the ability to do the right move on key hands. Problem is, IMO, it is very difficult to learn this, other by using your own expirience.

I think finding your key hands, and thinking about them a lot, could maybe work for you. I know it works (a little) for me.

GL Doc,


01-29-2004, 12:46 PM
I wanted to add a couple of things earlier but work actually intruded and I had to end my post. The thing that absolutely by far helped me the most were the OIC's that ran in Nov and Dec. I don't think that it had anything to do with the money involved but I ended up playing many more hands than ever before and against some stiff competition from the 2+2 crowd that were also involved. Since there is no "formal" OIC going on right now, you are actually doing the next best thing by playing in these weekly 2+2 tournies on Stars.

Another thing that I started doing was getting a tournament summary from every SNG I played in. I have Poker Tracker and that information is priceless but that's not what I mean. I mean I literally read every hand of every tournament. I am looking for holes in my play and my own tendencies in different situations. I try to do this at least a day or two removed from the tournament so I am not influenced by a win or loss. Be self critical in the analysis. Ask yourself WHY THE HELL DID I DO THIS on every hand. You will also see things that are really obvious that you missed while playing. Believe me, that is a learning experience. Many times I have looked at a hand in the summary and said "well, of course". If a particular hand stumps you, post it. You are obviously self assured enough to take criticism of plays that might not have been optimum. I have been beaten down on a number of hands that I had questions about my own play. It has helped me learn. I have a very long way to go before I can consider myself a good player. I am still in the "newbie" range but progressing. Listen to those around you whose opinion you respect. People like Cris, Kurn, Thomas, William and others will give you advice with no holds barred.

Another thing that I can't agree more with. Download Party right now. Play the 10's there for awhile. If you would like I would even be willing to sweat a few and we can PM and discuss plays.

Continue to be honest with yourself and those on the boards here just as you are now and you will do nothing but improve and be successful.

Stage /images/graemlins/cool.gif

01-29-2004, 01:26 PM
Hi Doc,


I've decided to reply in two parts, as this got longer than I expected.

How long does it take to become a winning poker player? I dunno. I played a little poker as a kid. I got my first and only royal flush in a game of 5-card draw in junior high school. I was dealt it, took one look at my hand, and exclaimed "HOLY SH*T!" Everyone folded. Gee....

As a junior in high school, I took an AP math class that covered statistics, probability, and game theory. It was a fun class, especially the weekly Friday "lab." You guessed it ... we played poker.

The teacher kept score from week-to-week, and at the end of each class we'd discuss a few of our key hands and why we'd played them the way we had. He would explain the math end of things, so in theory it had some "real" educational value, but in reality he treated it play time for his math geeks. (And yes, I was a math geek back then.)

I didn't play much after that until about a year or so ago, when I bought a certain DVD that need not be named (I like Matt Damon) and thought it might be something fun to do my partner and the kids. We all like games -- we play Chess, Go, Scrabble, PIQUET (a miniatures wargame), GURPS (a role-playing game), etc. -- so poker was another form of family fun time.

I started playing online after UB's WPT broadcast, signing onto UB that evening, in fact. I first dipped my toe into NLHE about a month later, going out of a freeroll tourney on JJ vs. AA and KK. I didn't play it anymore for awhile, but when I decided I was bored with play chips, I realized I'd have to learn Hold'Em to consistently find good games. I lost my first $100 deposit in two days....

I waited a week or two to make another deposit, and in the meantime tumbled to SNGs, which seemed to offer better play at affordable limits. So I deposited another $150. That lasted about a month. And so it went until I'd lost $1000, closed my UB account, and resolved to quit poker forever.

Yeah, right....

About three weeks later, I deposited $175 into PokerStars, and started reading these forums. I currently have ~$2500 in my bankroll, but I've spent the last month or so winning and losing the same $1000.

How long does it take to become a winning player? Ask me when I reach my goal of a consistent $2000/month income, as that's my target. Another six months? Another year? I'm at least playing with won money now, which makes it easier to enjoy the learning curve, but I have a long, LONG way to go....


01-29-2004, 01:44 PM
First of all, Doc, let me congratulate you on another fine post. I think this type of honest, introspective look is what can help separate good poker players from bad ones.

Here's my story...for what it is worth.

Watched WPT and WSOP. Really enjoyed it. Saw adds for PartyPoker, UB, and the like. Didn't even contemplate playing poker online at first. Got invited to a $10 NLHE friendly tournament with nearly all extreme newbies. Won it without knowing anything.

Decided (with the help of my wife, of course) that I would try to see what I could do with $60. Hell, I just won a tourney, right? Started at UB, and (without reading a book or anything...again, I already know how to play poker) got my clock clean to the tune of $35, losing 1 $5 SNG and $30 playing .10/.25 for about an hour. It was pathetic.

Bought a book (Ken Warren's), read it. Went back to .10/25. had some success. Got my bankroll up to $100. Thought I was pretty good. didn't play s..t hands. Oops..didn't manage my bankroll. Took a huge loss playing $1/$2. got down to $50. Dropped back down. Hit a bad streak. Played poorly. Lost that, too.

Didn't play for a few weeks. My wife (smartly) held me to my $60 promise. My brother (who got hooked about the same time I did) notified me about Party's tell-a-friend. Got a free $75 bucks. Played cheap. Held my own for a while. Moved my bankroll back to UB. Fell in love with SnGs.

Bottom line: I now have $440 in my bankroll (playing at limits no higher than $10 SnGs (okay...1 $20 just for kicks) and .50/1.00 Ring games. $175 of that is from bonuses, so I've managed to turn my $60 into $265 in about 6 months.

Does this make me a winning player? I don't think so...not really. I am constantly making mistakes (really, really dumb ones), I go on tilt, I play when I'm too tired.

I've managed to keep my bankroll growing by sticking to my plan. I'm not jumping to $1/$2 until two things happen. 1. My bankroll hits $600. 2. I feel like I'm ready for it (which I think I am at this point). I am planning to jump to $20 SnGs after I finish my 100 $10 Sng recordkeeping quest (6 down, 94 to go).

I would concur that you should download party and play there for awhile. I just went back after three months at UB because of a $100 bonus opportunity, and I was amazed at the level of play at .50/1.00. It seems like every note I make on a player is "any two cards in any position".

Also, if you want to boost your bankroll just for safety purposes, try and do some bonus hunting. I have limited my play thus far to UB and Party (so as not to alarm the wife) and will have made $275 in bonuses in 6 months (nearly half my bankroll.

Again, great post. I think it shows a lot of guts and maturity for someone to be able to look at himself (or is it herself?) and realize that he (and we all) have a lot to learn. Very refreshing.


01-29-2004, 01:59 PM
How long did it take you to get to a level where you were winning consistently?

[/ QUOTE ]

My first year of playing in a casino all the time... I had read three books before the first trip to the casino. Five books by day three. Fifteen books by month one. After one year of playing and keeping careful records, here's what I found:

7 card stud 1-5: beating by $5.00 and some change per hour
limit hold'em: breaking even
Tournaments: more than doubling my money


I have been playing cards now 26 years, in home games and such, and therefore my experience related much better to stud than hold'em. Also, I'm young and was playing mostly against elderly tourists, so no doubt memory skills and my good math skills allowed for quite an advantage in stud, much more so than hold'em.

It was into my second year of playing hold'em that I started to show a profit. After four years I was able to beat limit hold'em for a big bet per hour. After six years I was able to beat it for more than a big bet per hour, but not much more, like 1.1-1.2. I have since stopped keeping track while playing online, so I can't say there.

The tourneys thing was weird. I made the money on the very first one, a hold'em tourney, taking 9th. I won the sixth or seventh one I entered. They were mostly $50 and $25 entry fee tourneys. I think my natural aggressiveness, and ability to steal pots in tight games, helped here. By a year I was doubling my money, on average. That was 70 tourneys or so. Perhaps some luck helped, but I'll take it anyway.

The most important stats here are my results in limit hold'em after a year. It's a tough game to beat, even at the 2-4 through 5-10 level, which is what I was playing. Experience comes after a long, tough road of frustration for this game.

We already talked and I gave you my suggestions as to your short term solutions, the most important of which was to read the sklansky tourney book.


01-29-2004, 02:07 PM
Hiya Doc,

This is part two of my reply. I decided to split it as the "history" post was already too long.

How do you improve your game?

In a sentence: play, LOSE, learn [repeat as necessary] play, win, LOSE, learn [repeat as necessary] play, WIN, lose, learn [repeat joyfully]. There are no short-cuts or easy answers.

Studying the game helps a lot. Books are good, but these forums are the single best resource I've ever come across, if you use them well. As one poster already said, you can get into a lot of trouble trying to apply advice you're not ready for. Focus on the posts that seem commensurate with your skills, most especially your player- and hand-reading skills.

Also, and I can't stress this highly enough, learn to distinguish the exception from the norm! There is no more important lesson in poker. It's how you get past the bad beats. It's how you avoid repeating a sucker play that worked ... once. It's how you can learn from "grandstand" plays you read about here or see on TV (e.g.: Kurn's "fishy call" comes to mind) without making them your standard mode of play.

Become very familiar with twodimes.net (or some equivalent) and use it to critique your own play. Were you really the big favorite (or underdog) that you thought? I have, more than once, been very surprised by the actual odds on a play I've made.

Keep a poker journal. PokerStats is useful, but a journal can be more helpful. You don't need to use any particular format. I use mine to "think out loud" about how I'm doing and why. Especially make note of the times you go on tilt, what triggered it, and how you played. That will help you to recognize your tilt triggers, and recognize when you are on tilt. That alone can save you a LOT of money.

Don't get ahead of yourself. Making the money in five or ten $11 SNGs is not itself a reason to jump up to $33 or $55 SNGs. Scout the level you're playing at, and the next level or two above it, and see how the play differs. Note the consistent winners, and watch how they play, as always remembering the first rule: distinguish the exception from the norm.

Finally, find a way to relax and ENJOY playing. For most of us, this will never be more than a hobby or at most a modest second income. If you can't enjoy it, it's probably not worth the time and effort. So play at stakes you can afford to lose, and don't make any one event (win or loss) more significant than it really is.

I hope this helps,


Kurn, son of Mogh
01-29-2004, 02:15 PM
It's how you can learn from "grandstand" plays you read about here or see on TV (e.g.: Kurn's "fishy call" comes to mind)

FWIW, I think my J9s hand is much more a grandstand play than the 95s play. /images/graemlins/grin.gif

01-29-2004, 02:23 PM
Hiya Kurn,

I agree, and please don't think I meant to single you out. I've posted a few "grandstand plays" of my own. One from yesterday comes to mind:

In in the BB with a middle stack, blinds are 25/50. UTG min-raises, MP and LP call, and it's to me with a measly 64o. I'm getting 9.5:1 on my call, and it's an easy hand to get away from, so I call.

The flop is 6-4-4.

I check, UTG goes all-in, EP calls, MP mucks, and I of course call. UTG has AA; EP has AK. I triple up and take a commanding chip lead, going on to win.

Now, I wouldn't take that as a license to call into a raised pot with 64o. In the BB, I think it was the right call, because of the pot odds and the fact it was SO easy to get off that hand if it missed. But you can burn up a lot of money calling raised pots with that kind of hand.


Kurn, son of Mogh
01-29-2004, 02:47 PM
No offense taken. We never post the many standard ABC hands we play and fold every day. The grandstand plays have to be part of your arsenal, but it's just as important knowing when not to make them.

Guy McSucker
01-29-2004, 03:46 PM
Great thread. Thanks for starting it, Doc!

And this honesty thing is catching on it seems...

Here are some facts about me, just to get things out in the open.

I read Theory of Poker before playing a single hand ever. I lost a few pennies in my first two home games, got ahead the third time I ever played, and have never been behind at live play since. I began online play in April 2000 at Paradise. I won $4 the first day which seemed like a fortune compared to the stakes I'd been playing before! Again, I've never been behind since.

So in a sense I became a "winning player" after two sessions, but of course that's not the whole story. I was a bit lucky. My opponents were terrible. And my wins were tiny.

I win nothing like $20/hr. I am quite dissatisfied with my win rate in fact. I am sure I could raise it if I played more on Party, but the software won't run well on my usual machine (Mac running Virtual PC) and I don't like the small stack NL games too much. So I'm sticking to Stars. I make about $7/hr overall, but that's an unholy mix of ring NLHE, PLO, sit and gos and multi table tournaments.

I am a mathematician and feel I have a good understanding of how to play poker, when I have time to think and analyse situations under no pressure. That's why I believe I can say useful things to people who post hands from time to time. However, I am a terrible player of games. Quick decisions are not my thing. When it comes to poker, I can't get inside my opponents' heads, don't adjust well to their playing styles, and make a lot of mistakes when I know better. Someone mentioned learning to pause and think before acting: that's going to be very important to me I think.

I also cash out rather than building a roll and moving up in stakes. This is probably a good thing for maintaining a consistent winning status, but not for improving, putting myself to the test, or raising my win rate.

My goals for 2004 are: build a bankroll rather than spending my winnings, and aim to move up in stakes; learn not to tilt (I lost $800 in a few hours on at least three occasions last year); learn to play better than weak-tight (see my posts about suited big blind trash in the PL/NL forum for some forays into this...); stop making mistakes I know are mistakes; and basically get better.

You are getting advice from people who play much better than I do, so I won't offer anything in addition. Listen to what the good people here say. They know!


01-29-2004, 03:47 PM

Some really good info in the posts above. Let me summarize what I think is important....

1) stick to one game. I'd suggest limit ring games. The problem w/ Sit N Go's is that they play like at least 2 seperate games. In the early stages its a full game then you need to shift in the middle to a short handed game.

Thats 2 different skill sets.

In a full ring game the strategy isn't really changing from hand to hand based on chip counts. Start there.

2) You're reading some great books but stick with the fundatmentals. I'm sure you've already read enough to become a winning player.

Put another way, save the fancy plays for later. You can and will win plenty with consistent boring poker.

3) Practice. I recommend Wilson's Turbo Holdem for practicing many hands quickly and getting immediate feedback.


01-29-2004, 04:49 PM
1) stick to one game. I'd suggest limit ring games. The problem w/ Sit N Go's is that they play like at least 2 seperate games. In the early stages its a full game then you need to shift in the middle to a short handed game.

[/ QUOTE ]

I respectfully disagree, DarkKnight. If you are going to stick to one game, you should pick a game that best fits your style of play and personality. I have the same level of expertise as our good Dr., and I am much more comfortable with my play in SnGs than I am in ring games, and I make more money there. Why? I guess I tend to be aggressive, and that tends to be rewarded more in NL. Maybe I should try NL ring games...hmmm...

That said, I think your advice is sound for those just getting started. I don't know anyone who started out playing SnGs (if someone's out there please correct me). Limit ring games are simpler only because your options are so much more limited than in NL. I can check, call, fold, or (min) raise. It's a fine place to start. But at some point, I think it's good for the brain to try NL, PL, tourneys. At some point...maybe I'll even branch out to Omaha, Stud or even Crazy Pineapple!


01-29-2004, 06:34 PM
My Story:

I discovered online poker from a brief mention of it on a stock trading forum about 2 years ago. I always wanted to learn poker, so I took about $500 (at the time about what I'd be willing to lose at the craps table on a typical trip to the casino) and opened an account at Paradise (then easily the biggest site). Started with Stud because I knew the rules, but quickly gravitated to HE (because who wants to concentrate on discards?).

I also picked up the Jones LL book and started playing .5/1. I worked my way to playing some 1/2. And my hands would tremble when I dared venture into the daunting 2/4 game. I managed to go through the $500 and another $500 just playing the .5/1 and 1/2 tables. That's a lot of BBs. I sucked ass.

So I quit altogether, disgusted with myself, and didn't logon to my shattered account on PP at all for at least 4 months. But after awhile, the itch came back and it took another $500 deposit to PP to scratch it. By this time I had at least a half dozen pokers books, mostly 2+2. All the staples. I re-read them with yellow highlighter in hand. I concentrated solely on LL HE. I built that initial deposit up pretty quickly. I bought PokerStat and got into my stats pretty seriously. Tried to really analyze my play and find my faults. twodimes analysis and everything. Devoured the advice on this site, but concentrated almost exclusively on the HE forums. That work pays off.

I quickly moved up as I recovered my initial $1000 I blew on the first go round. I moved up to and was beating 3/6 pretty well. Everytime I had about 200BB for the next level I would move up. Finally, I had a nice roll for 8/16 and had just a blistering run there. So I thought I'd take a shot at the big boys on 20/40. First hand on 20/40, I dragged a $600 pot and that led to an amazing +100BB week long run. I now had a legit role for for 20/40 and thought I was the King of Poker. From the $500 deposit to this zenith of about $12K in around six months. If you looked at a chart of my cummulative winnings, it would look like an internet stock in '99.

If you looked at that same chart over the the next 2-3 months it would look like a net stock in '00. I got crushed by the pros at 20/40 and was soon back down to 8/16. Then 5/10. Then 3/6. Then 2/4. I was having a surreal run of bad cards, bad play, and bad tilt. I turned $500 into 12K back into 2K. Lesson here, don't jump up limits too quickly. Don't get too cocky, this game has a way of humbling you. You're not the only one. After this I was pretty demoralized and I took another break.

A couple months later I came back. By this time the WPT had started and the wave of fish came online. The Golden Age of Poker had begun and I've taken full advantage of it with my previous experience. I opened an account at Party and Neteller and started playing there with some of the roll I had left. Started winning right away and was absolutely flabbergasted at the appauling play I was seeing.

It was only after again I built my roll to something decent that I turned away from my bread-and-butter limit HE and started expanding to other games. I was determined to be a good all around player. Since then I've played literally everything. SNGs, PL games, NL, O8, Stud, Stud/8, and multitable tourneys. Not that I'm a big +EV in all these games, but I can hold my own I feel in any form of poker. Right now my bread and butter game is $100 and $200 NLHE on Party with some SNGs and multis at Stars on the side. I haven't played limit HE regularly for quite awhile now. But it undoubtedly prepared me for getting into different forms and being a success.

My first ever multi was the first Zoo tourney. Opened an account at Stars, deposited $100 and played with the Zoo. Later entered a PLHE tourney and took 3rd out of 194 and ballooned my account to +$1200. I had the tourney bug and nice roll to play with. 21 final tables later and I have a very, very nice tourney income and ROI.

Anyway, that brings us to today where I'm over the $20K mark in total winnings over the 2 1/2 year period I've been playing. Not enough to make a living, but I have a fulltime job and play for a few hours from 9-12PM, 3-5 times a week, so I think this is pretty good for a part-timer. Cetainly not beating the hourly rate that I make in the "real world", but I think I could pull a "davidross" if I was forced to. I feel there are three major reasons for my success:

1) I paid some dues while struggling to learn the game. But I concentrated on one form of poker and played it relentlessly until I felt I could beat it. It was only when I felt really comfortable in limit HE that I branched out to other forms of poker.

2) Being pretty obsessed with poker. I think about it constantly when not working or not with family. Probably a sad thing to say, but this is much of my social life. Maybe not such a good thing.

3) The Golden Age of Poker - part of my success is no doubt due to the fact I've been playing online for a good year and half before the "poker craze" really took off with the WPT and the 5th St book. So I was already a good player by the time all the newbies showed up. I think the popularity has some ways to go before it peaks, but peak it will, and when it's over it will be a lot harder to earn online than it is now.

So my advice to you would be to concentrate on basic LL limit HE poker before moving towards more speciality oriented SNGs. SNGs and multis not only do you need basic HE skills, but more specialized "tourney only" skills like paying attention to stack size, etc. I remember when I'd dip my toe in SNGs when PP first introduced them and I was a fish out of water. Only after a solid year or so did I play and start winning in them.

01-29-2004, 07:17 PM
First of all, let me thank everyone for the honest, valuable, and forthright responses. Poker players DO lie sometimes, that’s how we win, but this thread has drawn responses I did not expect. The value of your responses to me is as follows: Every post in this thread, from the newest newbe to William, has been saved to my computer, printed, and is in a 3 tab binder on my poker book shelf right beside several Sklansky books.

As may have been apparent, the original post was written about a week ago. I thought that long about whether to post it at all, and had a couple of you look at it to tell me if it would be of value to anybody, including me, or just make me look silly.

Since there are some questions as to “Who is the Doc?”, let me give you a little about me and mine. My wife graduated with a BS from USC and a MS from UCLA shortly before she married her first husband at the age of 17. The kids are grown, educated, and well employed. The youngest of the grandkids started Texas State U this fall, the next one is a sophomore in “Undeclared”, one is a soph at Texas in Business, one is a midshipman at the Naval Academy, and the granddaughter that recently made me a great grandpa is a 2nd year Med student at Texas A&M.

My education is in Physics, but it was a LONG time ago. Long enough that I am having to totally re-learn statistics. In addition to some teaching, I have spent most of my career in Industrial Engineering. For the last 20 years, I have owned a business that designs and builds industrial automation equipment. It is a very high liability business that I would like to be able to retire from someday. I will be 60 in April, and like many today, there is not enough in the retirement account. Rather than work until I fall over, I am looking seriously to see if poker can be a supplementary income as well as a hobby.

Now, regarding poker: All of your poker histories are interesting and, one would hope, educational to not only me, but all the learners out there. (Yes, lurkers, we know you’re there. Jump in. At least most of these guys don't bite.) Your suggestions regarding development as a player are even more valuable.

I am trying to learn HE first. I play some LHE and some ring because I want to learn them, but my long term interest, I think, is in NLHE tournament including SNGs. Despite its sometimes terrifying aspect, I just like NL better. I agree with thomastem that you have to really learn one game and I am working on that. I hope learning the differences in play with the others will help me learn the one. We will see how far I can go with it. Like everybody else, I think WPT and WSOP would be neat. I may or may not ever get that good. (Frankly, 99.5% of us never will.)

muzunga is right, there is some inclination simply to master the skill of playing the game.

Cris, I agree totally, but I think you have to play LOTS of hands to learn the norm, before you begin to distinguish the exception. Also, I really like your 2 grand a month target. It’s a long way off, but that’s a significant enough amount to be really worthwhile.

Shub314 could be right to an extent about the books. Sklansky, Malmuth, Zee, Brunson, etc, are not playing low limits, nor playing fish, so they write about a different level sometimes than what we play.

Kurn’s 5 point game plan will be extremely useful, especially after I think about how it applies to my game.

Stagemusic: Thank you. What’s an OIC?

Tim, Good concepts “slow down” which I need, and "use the music library" (I have about 400 cds, classical, jazz, show tunes, and the pre-war swing era), I play them sometimes when playing. I guess I better listen, I had one on during the win last night. Also, I do only play one table at a time. Not good enough to concentrate on two.

William, my special thanks for your post. In your business, it is not required that you share hard earned wisdom with the very people who are trying to learn to beat you. Doing so shows a graciousness that not all have. I liked your comment, which could have been a typo, but was best one ever if so, about “sitting in front of your SCREAM”. Yes, I do, all the time. Your comments about emotions and table feel are very real to me. I am just educated enough to recognize when I’m on a roll and intimidating at least some, and when I am being dominated. I have to learn how to do it intentionally and more often. I am astounded at anyone winning 17 big tournaments since Sept. Someday. Anyway, your post is the front one in my binder.

What am I doing now to try to improve?
Downloading hand histories, annotating them (this good, that bad, really stupid, should have pushed) then trading with another player. Scooterdoo has been kind enough to offer to help my learning process as has Al Capone Junior.
Watching: I try to spend a little time each day using player search on stars and simply watching William, or Cris, or Kurn, or thomastem (among others) play poker.
Playing a $5 -2 or 4 seat HU SNG every day or two. An area I need to improve.
Reading a lot of 2+2, mostly these two forums.
I do use twodimes also. I had a Khigh 4flush, 4straight (not stfl) that I bet hard into an obvious high pair the other day. Twodimes educated me as to how bad a raise that really was.

Why not, as some suggested, go to Party and go fishing? I clearly do need to improve the bankroll. My answer is, that I don’t think I will learn anything playing the fish. When I do play ring, I look for the table with the 29% flop. I like the tourns, because if you can stay in a while, you get to play some really better players. There was a real ulterior motive in volunteering to start the 2+2 SNG’s. It’s fun. Also very educational to get to play against the people there, who would otherwise be at limits I can’t afford. Yet.

Much of the above will change or be adjusted as I digest all of your posts.

I have one further question: How do you document your play, and how many use PokerTracker or some equivalent?, however I will make that a separate post.

My thanks for the excellent posts, suggestions, and somewhat unexpected brutal honesty.


01-29-2004, 08:51 PM
ok. i've been reading a lot of responses here in-between my hands on 2 or 3 tables.

i didn't get all the way through the replies and i already know i'm repeating some info so apologies in advance.

1 - sng's on stars are nice with the software and the structure. but the players there are still generally tougher (even thought hey've been getting fishier lately) making for a less profitable game.

the party SNG's have a lousy structure that takes a bit of an adjustment period. but once you get comfortable with it they can become quite profitable. in a way, it's hard to play these things too fast....yet 75% of the players there do just that. i agree (with stagemusic??) that you should give these a try if only for a change of pace from the stars game.

2 - i find that after a couple of those 2+2 tournies on stars that my play has improved dramatically in the party 10+1 SNG's. i'm getting aggressive at more of the right times....and, more importantly, backing away when i smell danger. basically, i'm respecting the 'gap-concept' far more than i ever did before.

i was just playing in these 2+2 things for a little fun, and potential bragging rights if and when i don't embarrass myself too badly (finishing on the bubble yesterday qualifies as NOT embarassing myself, even though i had the chip lead heading into the final table).
even though i was playing a couple other games at the same time, i still noticed what was going on on the 2+2 table and i believe i have adopted my style of play in my party SNG's as a result.
this really doesn't qualify under the category of 'advice'....just an observation from my own play.

i probably owe some of you 2+2'ers a percentage of my next couple of first place finishes.....but i think my (usually) dead-money at the next event will have to suffice.

3 - i think there is no question that the internet has changed the amount of time it takes to become a winning player.
i win more than i lose...although i would not call my self a true 'winning' player quite yet. i think i have a decent grasp of math and probabilities, etc.
but it was exactly one-year ago that i first learned of the existence of internet-poker....had never played a hand of hold-em (much less knew the rules) and would probably not be able to tell you correctly whether a full-house beat a flush or vice-versa. a year later poker accounts for about half my income (maybe a little less....but it's on the rise rapidly).

more details in my upcoming post detailing my 'first year as a poker player'

4 - will probably listen to the advice here and hit the occasional O/8 limit (or maybe even PL) ring-game just for kicks. i also think that more TRUE beginners play stud just because they may not know the rules to hold-em (changing rapidly though because of TV coverage). it has been speculated before that there is plenty of money to be made in these games if you know how to play them properly. i would be willing to bet that these games are pretty beatable without even reading a book....just playing generally tight. will probably get the books for these games also sometime along the way but i have enough studying to do with my current library.

anyway, the basic point is....keep plugging away, look for adjustments to make, keep learning, studying, posting here, reading relevant threads here, etc. you'll get there...and i suspect i will too.

btw, if you can make it through to the final table in those 1500+ entry free-for-all $3 buy-in's on stars than i suspect you're probably pretty close.
i finished 26th out of 1420 in a $3 NL the other night and was pretty damn proud of myself, no matter how many suck-outs it took me to get there (got ousted when my KK got busted on river by QQ). my multi-table tourney play kind of sucks because i am waaaaaaaaaayyyyyy too tight. but the free-rolls and the cheapo-s on stars are helping me improve pretty darn fast i think.

01-29-2004, 10:06 PM
I think there are three major reasons why it takes less time to become a winning player online than live:

* more hands played: Even playing only one table, an online player can get in twice as many hands per week as the live player. Minus the travel and waiting time, and the same time at the tables takes fewer hours out of your life, making it an easier hobby to get into. Not having to wait for Friday night also helps here: you can jump online on a Tuesday night after work and play for an hour, with maybe just 10 minutes of overhead.

* lower rake: making a living at B&M 3-6 has to be next to impossible. My local rakes $1 per $10 and takes another $1 for the jackpot, plus a tip of $1-2 per pot. UB takes 50c/$10 and nothing more. In a $30 pot, that's $1.5 out online vs $5 or more live. The result is that online games have a higher EV (all else being equal), lowering the bar for being a winning player.

* lower limits: it's easier to jump into the online pool. After beating the free game, you can move into the 1c/2c; then 25c/50c and 50c/$1. Tuition is lower, allowing more players to get their poker degree. The live player might burn through his bankroll before he learns enough, and then have to wait til he can save up enough to try again.

01-30-2004, 03:13 AM
Dr. Physic,

This is just an awesome post! I am amazed at your honesty (which William commented about) and believe it will go a long way toward making you a much better poker player.

I have a bit to contribute. 1st. as good as the books are (beleive me they help!) they are only a starting point. It is difficult to win playing "by the book" As has been pointed out over and over, poker is situational. Until you see situations repeatedly, and develop the discipline to play these correctly (I will settle to close to correctly...) you can't progress. So playing a lot and analzying situations is the only way to really get better.
2nd, slow down a little bit. On-line poker goes so fast that you find yourself making many marginal decisions because you feel "pressure" to play fast. Your 1st take on a situation is usually the best, but only if you have taken a moment to work through it. No one cares about taking a couple of extra seconds...so don't let the online environment overwhelm you.
Finally, I have a book recommendation. This book helped me more than all the others because if you take it seriously it forces you to evaluate your game in an honest manner. The book is Killer Poker by John Vorhaus. It is not like the 2+2 books that try to tell you how to analyze specific situations. I found it invaluable to my development.

Good Luck and hopefully I will not be meeting you too often on the tables (except for very small stakes). Anyone who is as accomplished as you are will rapidly improve into a tough competitor.


01-30-2004, 03:24 AM
Thank you,
Your post is being added to my book with the others. (See my response to the posts here).

Vorhaus has written two books: Killer Poker and Killer Poker Online. Have you read both? Which do you recommend?

The online sounds right, but the other was his original and perhaps more valuable book. I don't know, if you do pls advise.


01-30-2004, 03:58 AM
Hi Dr.

Yes, I have read them both. I believe Killer Poker is the better of the two in terms of helping you develop. Online Poker takes most of the same concepts and puts them in the context of the online environment. The online environment is very different than the local casino (B&M) environment and this book does help you see how that effects your play. Still, Killer Poker 1st, Online next. You won't regret it.


01-30-2004, 05:06 AM
by the way, in my post i mentioned my book list. Largely gleaned from lurking on the books/software forum. both of vorhaus's books are on it. Your post may have moved them considerably higher on the list howeve.



01-31-2004, 04:55 AM
I wanted to respond to this post in particular because reading it helped me fix a few big holes in my SNG game. (I don't have an 'A' game; my current SNG play rates a 'D'.) As with any advice, it doesn't matter if I know how I should change my behavior if I continue to do the wrong thing when the situation comes up again. Anyway, Kurn O'Mogh prompted me (through the ref'd post) to behave different--not just know better. /images/graemlins/grin.gif

So I wanted to say thanks, and make a note of where this board has helped me play a better game. The two holes I plugged were bleeding away chips early on, and not being aggressive enough. After Black Thursday (0 for 15) my in-the-$ has been 45%. I felt much better about my last two losses, since I went all-in with strong hands and got outdrawn by players who shouldn't have been in the pot. It's nice to be able to look back on a loss and feel good about it, rather than miserable!

01-31-2004, 12:46 PM
Stagemusic: Thank you. What’s an OIC?

[/ QUOTE ]

It's a really simple concept that will give you a lot of experience in a short time. Basically you pick a site and devote $50 of your bankroll to playing. You start at .50/1 and play till you have $100 then move up to 1/2 and play until 200 then 2/4...move up each 50 BB's until you have $2000. This was started in the Zoo and became formal when a site gave us the starting money and tracked everybody for prizes etc. Many people do it on their own. It helps to play many hands at various levels with little risk to a bankroll. You might think about giving it a shot.

01-31-2004, 01:33 PM
good idea. what's oic stand for?


01-31-2004, 03:50 PM
Open Internet Challenge