Sunday, August 31, 2008

The 3+R... And Other Pokerage

Well, supposed to be a successful couple of tournaments played this weekend... best was 3rd in a 90 player KO SNG and 28th out of 4 million in Saturdays 14:15 3+r MTT. It is the latter which will make up the bulk of this post - for a couple of different reasons.

The first reason is that with 3700ish players a tournament which starts at 8:15 PM (Central European Time) and has rebuys is now well and truly off the list for me. Finishing in 28th won me a whopping $80 minus my $9.30c minimum entry... not what I would call adequate compensation for finishing at 3:30 in the morning. Lesson learned.

Secondly I came across a 'name' online pro for a couple of hours in the later stages - sharing a table with Shaundeeb who is constantly ranked in the top few in the world on P5's and has much money in total cashes etc. No pots of note, the couple of times we clashed were both decided by 3 / 4 bets pre-flop. But I came away with a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach about this guy and his complete lack of any semblance of class.

Berating people is part of the game in one way, if you can do it within the chat 'rules' and tilt them to gain an edge then fine. But the way Shaundeeb treated one player in particular (and others but less so) was nothing short of disgusting... this player obviously did not have tournament experience at any level (limp folding with 10 bb stack and then complaining that nobody wanted to 'play' and it was all pre flop being a good example). There was no need to do this other than to stroke his own ego...

While I do not begrudge anyone success at the tables, if someone came to me and offered his wins (and $$) in exchange for my dignity (turning into Shaun) I would say a polite 'no thanks'. I actually pity him a little... a sad sad human being.

Anyway, no worries... onto the 3rd 'thing'.

People do not understand short stacked play. They really do not. Already mentioned the complaining about not enough 'play' but that was not all... I had two hands holding 9-7 this weekend in different tournaments while very short, pushed both and won both times - and got a 'chat box full' of abuse not just from the loser of the hands but from others too on each occasion.

The math worked both times, not going to go into it here but holding a short stack with some fold equity and antes in play... and being in position made both shoves nicely +ev.

Instead of going through the hands I'd like to leave readers with something to think about. In the late stages of tournaments our opponents who do not understand the need to shove in +ev spots without a strong hand are making an error. When opponents make errors we gain (thats how poker works!)... so how would you adjust to this situation? and how would relative stack sizes play into this??

Business update tomorrow!

GL at those tables, Mark

Friday, August 29, 2008

Life's Rich Tapestry!

Time for change once again in the world of Plan3t Corp... a reminder if you like that those famed 'unknown unknowns' are really the things which shape life - yours and mine alike.

The office which we have been happily subletting for the last few months is being closed, and quite soon too - as the lessee is winding up their company. So, we face a decision about where and how to manage the office space question.

One thing is clear to me, we need to keep the business and home in 2 separate places. Productivity and quality of life have both significantly improved since we took our part of this office. Another question is whether this change can be used as an opportunity to re-organise the living / working situation - our current flat is in a great location, nicely renovated and owned outright (so no mortgage!) - but is rather small and a little dark... an idea being that we could rent a better flat and use the current one as our office... hmmmm, all up in the air at the moment!

Then it gets more complicated. Damp has reared its ugly head, and not just a small patch either... one wall is soaked at the bottom and will require the plaster being removed and a new damp-course being installed.... yikes! Well, the house insurance will cover it, but oh dear this is going to be a BIG mess.

On a brighter note it is looking like another great month for the business... will do an update on that with some strategy ideas early next week... actually plan to make time to play a bunch of poker tournaments this evening, something which has been sadly lacking from life of late.

GL at the tables, Mark

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Commandment #4 - Never Play When Off-Balance

Continuing with the '10 Poker Commandments' as set out by Reubens and Ciaffone today - plan on linking all 10 of these posts too and from the original... however things appear to be getting to a peak of business right now so this can wait until I have a minute!

Commandment #4 is so simple, yet so significant - to me personally and I am almost sure to a great number of players worldwide.

"Never Play When You Are Off Balance"

Off Balance? What exactly does that mean??

It means not able to concentrate 100% on making the best possible decisions due to illness, tiredness, stress, emotional problems (relationships for example) or any other mental distraction.

The games in which the majority of us play, No-Limit Holdem and PLO for example, are played in such a way that a seemingly insignificant 'bad' decision on an early betting round can sometimes prove to be very expensive by the river - even when all subsequent decisions were very good. Focus on opponents, the flow of the table and the ability to plan ahead in a hand are all critical skills. Play when off-balance, in any number of ways, and you are basically giving up your edge.

An admission.

Yep, one of my biggest 'leaks' relates to exactly this commandment... it concerns playing too long after a hard days working in the poker-business!

Here is what happens, using a cash game night as an example (equally likely to be SNGs / MTTs though!). It is already 10pm by the time working / running / eating etc etc is all sorted. I play for a couple of hours making decent reads, good decisions and timely laydowns. It gets later and I get tired... and bam! Instead of playing a game with a positive expectation I am now more or less card-dependant... what is more I am less likely to 'care' about the money, more likely to believe that my opponents are bluffing (so will not fold when I should) and so on... what happens is that my judgement declines dramatically - my expectation becomes negative.

Of course, being aware of this is already half the battle.

Let me ask you this, ever started a set of SNGs and immediately regretted it? Ever sat in a cash game wondering how the fish you were milking just 30 minutes ago are managing to get your chips? Ever sat in an MTT working out how long it will be until the final table with a sense of dread at getting up in the morning?

Well. There are many forms of playing when off balance - tiredness being only one.

In my opinion a worthy commandment that will stand the test of time - what do you think??

GL at the tables, Mark

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Restealing Out Of Control?

Saw an interesting debate on a thread at P5's concerning poker psychology yesterday. Link below.

Notice that I did not say that the thread was about whether re-stealing was out of control (which is the topic being discussed on the thread).

P5s Post on Restealing

Some of the top online tournament pros contribute to this - fundamentally it concerns the fact that stealing / restealing is such an established part of poker now that much of the 'skill element' of the game has gone.

The reason for posting a link here was not to debate whether this is right / wrong.

Instead I'd like to trigger some thinking about poker's core... the fundamentals if you like. Poker is about adjusting to opponents right? People adjusted to the weak / tight Harringtonesque poker of 2005 and 2006... and now the tables are far more aggressive (well, often). While this frustrates some of the former champs, tomorrows big winners are already working on how to adjust to the new environment to beat the games... heh, something to think about!

GL at the tables, Mark

Monday, August 25, 2008

Commandment #3 - Don't Steam

Continuing with the 10 commandments of poker as started in this post:

Here is a commandment that we can all relate to... Steaming / Tilting is the second biggest reason that poker players lose money - 2nd only to calling (!) IMO at least.

Not going to go into the detail of tilt in this post... it is a big subject, will mention that I always try to look beyond the 'angry' tilt and into the other (equally dangerous but less obvious) forms such as a resigned 'bound to lose' form or a determination to 'stack' a single opponent who annoyed you while feeling fine about the others....

Anyway, wanted to tie this commandment in with something that the mad genuis of poker Mike Caro said about a poker-fairy coming along... which in turn ties in with yestedays post about never giving up (still following??)

The story was something like this: You lose $10k in a year playing poker. A fairy comes and says it will give you $10k to bring you back to even. Your choice is to have $100 added to each winning session, or to have lost $100 less in each losing session?

Its a strange story for sure - but very thought provoking for those who are open-minded enough to let it be...

- How many cash games have you lost $45 of your $50 buy-in on a beat and shoved in the last $5 with ace-rag with a shrug of the shoulders?

- How many times have you gone down to 150 chips in a SNG and just called a raise with the very next rag hands?

- In any form of poker how many times have you re-raised as a bluff and then called a subsequent re-re-raise 'just to see' when you are 100% sure this is a waste of $5 or $20 or even $200.

Anyway... those last few dollars (or % of equity in a tournament) can add up, and being aware of this can save you those small amounts... which in turn can add up to a lot of money over months or years. Of course it does not matter whether the fairy adds of reduces losses... the same cash at the end of the year - it is only when you see a 'silly question' like this one that you realise that keeping losses as small as possible is just as important as maximising your wins over time.

GL at the tables, Mark

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Back To My Spiritual Home (The Stars SNG Tables)

After messing around short=stacking both Omaha and NLHE, entering tournaments and sattys and generally donking around on the HORSE tables I decided to return to my spiritual home of the SNG tables to clear the rest of my Stars WCOOP reload bonus this weekend.

Starting at the $6.50s which is a definite step down for me - but to be honest those push / fold ranges are a little rusty and the practice will come in handy, just 6 tabling them for now. Will step up to the $16s next week and see how the BR looks as to whether to go back to the $27s.

A couple of observations as to the games since my absense... firstly they are still remarkably weak, the standard of play is a little worse than I recall if anything. Secondly there are more people pushing at the bubble (though by no means all) which seems to suggest that raising with <10 BBs is pointless is understood even if the finer points of ICM and indeed any sensible calling ranges are not understood at all.

So, Plan3t Gong likes to make you think... so here is a tale of 3 SNGs - all played on different days. In 1 and 2 I got down to 180 and 225 chips respectively in the first 3 levels... instead of pushing with the next ace-rag I waited for good spots and indeed cashed in both - a 3rd and a 2nd.

Number 3 is a better story... bb= 30 and set over set (with me on the losing side!) leaves me with 20 chips, and all-in in the SB next hand at level 3... my j-4o survives and I go up to 60 chips with the bb at 50.... fold a few hands... then 2 limps ahead and I see 9-7 sooooted, perfect for the job and manage to beat the AK which raises everyone out of the pot from late position to go up to 300-odd chips... next I'm in the blind facing a button raise and my A-7 is good and so on - into 3rd place at BB600 (!) when I run my A-6 into A-K.

Not bad heh! From 20, 225 and 180 chips to a total of almost $50 combined... just by not giving up.

Let me finish with a question then, whether you play cash, MTTs, SNGs of whatever... how many times have you got down to a few blinds and thrown that last few $$ in equity (or cash!) away?

Be honest with yourself here, your bankroll can only grow.

GL at the tables, Mark

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Fireworks > Chances Of Domination vs Calling Ranges

Well then, today's post was going to be a good old style poker strategy piece... until I changed my mind. Instead I wanted to blog some anecdotes about fireworks.

But Why?

Well, yesterday was the national day of Hungary - where your humble Englishman-blogger is currently based - and there was a HUGE firework display as part of the celebrations over the Danube.

While watching this and listening to all the 'oooohhhh' and 'ahhhhhh' sounds from the crowds my mind wandered back to my youth and some (hopefully) amusing firework related stories (will change the names to protect the guilty and tone them down just a little as I now know my Mum is a regular reader... Hi Mum!).

The most memorable fire-work related night was one October in 1989 or 1990 (ish!) and involved a group maybe 6 friends who thought it would be a really great idea to take tons of hallucenogenic magic-mushrooms and go out to buy fireworks (!). Would have been around 19 at the time.

Having stocked up on a few reasonably large fireworks we headed to the grounds of Reading University where we had arranged to meet more friends (no mobile phones back then but somehow we organised such things). Coming up on mushrooms is always fun and in the chaos the group split up, leaving 2 of us together in the middle of a big field.

Well, what could be more amusing than letting off an air-bomb? The type of firework that spews colours for a while then fires off a projectile that makes a really loud bang. We lit it, moved back 5 meters or so and 'Bang!' it did its thing. Ha, ha, now we started to walk towards the Student Union to find the others... and "BANG!" a second one right overhead and really really f-ing loud... left the 2 of us (completely straight and rather large) guys hugging in fear, like some instinctive grab... hmmm.

It got better.

After attempting (and failing) to play video-games in the union where we had met many others we went outside once again, by this time around 10 people, and were standing around in a loose circle / group.

One guy lit a reasonably large rocket, normal right? Usually we threw them at the last minute. But, erm, 'Bill' was tripping, and somehow forgot to let go.

Well, it is almost 20 years ago (gulp) but I still recall this one in second-by-second slow motion... the shouts of "Billllll.... lllleettttt...itttttt...goooowww' and people diving for cover, that strange look on Bill's face - questioning, he did not understand what everyone was making a fuss for - as if the big rocket was not lit or something... then - fzzzzzzzz - it broke loose from his hands and flew straight at the ground, went in circles for a few seconds and then 'Boom' sprayed us all with colourful hot things!


It took everyone a few minutes to get their sight / hearing back but we laughed about it pretty soon... just a couple of minor burns between us. I recall later at someones house some smaller fireworks being lit indoors (gulp!). A fun night.

I have were several more firework anecdotes but this is already a long post... they include the 'firework fights' and 'firework wars' of the early to mid 1980's when I was 13 to 15ish and showed no respect for such dangers.

A friend who got temporarily blinded when a big rocket went off in his face from behind a catering van in Reading Festival where we had a habit of letting off fireworks (not so much security in the late 80's so we usually got in free too!)

Another friend who really liked to make his own fireworks by taking existing ones apart and recombining them... now that produced some really dangerous things!

Enough already... if you have a good firework story then drop me a comment.

Back to poker tomorrow.

GL at the firework displays, Mark

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Funny thing a blog... have to admit that those times I am too busy to update I actually feel guilty about it... daft really.

The last week has been totally non-stop, not sure how my 37 year-old liver coped but the earliest end to a drinking session last week was about 4am... was it 6 or 7 in a row.... and many of them started in the afternoon too. No drinking this week, well, for a couple of days at least while I catch up on many things.

Hope to play some poker this week too - this has been completely missing from life while we watched bands at the Sziget festival (REM / Kaiser Cheifs / Killers were the best of the bunch).

Today is the national day of Hungary... and the Red-Bull Air Race is happening all of 150 meters away from our door (over the river Danube). They have been practicing for days (bloody noisy too!) so we feel it is a must to go have a look. Big fireworks later but really do not feel like partying.... must be my age.

Anyway, checking in - back to poker posting tomorrow!

GL at the tables, Mark

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Commandment #2 - Always Know The Rules Of The Game

Having a hectic time at the moment... Budapest's annual music festival is in town and several friends from far and wide are also in town... somehow after 'warming up' last wednesday, visiting the festival Thursday and Saturday... and 'going out for a few drinks' on Friday, I have survived 4 nights where the party stopped later than 4am... twice at 6am, not bad for an old goat eh? Got 2 more nights to go, back to the festival tonight and a re-union dinner on Monday... normal service to be resumed next week then!

2nd commandment in this series is less vital online... since the rules are hard-wired into the gameplay. It is still relevant in a slightly different way though... many people online play poker variations without really understanding the changes in strategy required.

A simple example would be from pot limit Omaha... how many times have you seen someone new to the game go broke with aces as an overpair on the river - folks, aces can win in these situations - but when the real big money goes in they will be behind 99% of the time.

Yes, we sometimes need to spend some money learning a new game - but on the otherhand this information is freely available in the many forums and poker strategy sites out there (hey, a great unplanned opportunity to plug my own Omaha Poker site!)

So, while commandment #2 really relates to the various small differences in rules in live poker games in various casinos, it is relevant to todays poker environment in many ways if we change it to 'Always know the strategy basics of the game'

GL at the tables, Mark

Commandment #1 - Never Play With Money You Can't Afford To Lose

OK, last day of working on the poker business before a 4-day break for the Sziget festival. Blogging will continue - have some fun Melted Felt pieces already in the can and will click the publish button as we go (the scheduled publishing seems to mess up the formatting). This is the first of a few more Plan3t Gong posts looking at Reuben and Ciaffone's '10 Commandments of Big Bet Poker' (links to 'jump off post).

Commandment #1 - Never Play With Money You Can't Afford To Lose

Sounds like common sense to me... but I personally believe that there is more to this than meets the eyes. The example that the orginal authors give is a guy who makes enough playing cash to rpay his debts (and then some profit) and is dealt aces only to see 3 raises ahead... he turns down the massively +ev situation because he can not afford to lose the money.

While it is not my place to lecture anyone on what to do with they're money. I would like to get readers thinking about the psychology of playing when you would hate to lose the money for whatever reason.

Think about a simple SNG - you have a +ev bubble call but could also fold into 3rd fairly easily. If you do fold into 3rd you cash will be safe - however you have just turned from a long term winner in the game to a long-term loser... nobody can afford to constantly turn down +ev situations and take the 'safe' route and be a long-term winner in the game.

Think of the same situation on the bubble of a tournament, folding into the cash when your expectation would be massively increased by a *likely* double up.

Of course this ties in with bankroll management. Yet is subtly different.

Bankroll management is a pre-requisite for profitable play over time... the risk of varience is too high. But if you do not mind losing the money then at least your lack of bankroll management does not itself lead to negative expectation play... it merely increases your risk of ruin.

Playing with money you can not afford to lose can lead to timid play. Weak and timid poker is not winning poker. If you can not afford to lose that last $200 in your account then withdraw it and play the micros instead, if moving up the levels is important to you then remember this - poker will still be there waiting when you have some cash to spare!

GL at the tables, Mark

Monday, August 11, 2008

Reuben And Ciaffone's '10 Commandments Of Poker'

Starting a new series of posts which cross over between strategy and psychology today.

This series will be based on inspiration from one of my favourite poker books of all time - Reuben and Ciaffone's 'Pot-Limit and No-Limit Poker', first published in 1997 - before internet poker became established - this is still one of the best, providing insights and 'gems' that would take years to learn alone... go get a copy!

Here are the 10 commandments of no-limit and pot-limit poker as outlined in an early chapter of the book... the idea of the series is to look at each 'commandment' individually over the next couple of months - both to discuss its implications and to see how it relates to the meteoric rise of online poker in the interviening decade.

10 Commandments Of Big-Bet Poker

1) Never Play With Money You Can't Afford To Lose
2) Always Know The Rules Of The Game
3) Don't Steam
4) Never Play When Off-Balance
5) Run Your Profits And Cut Your Losses
6) Don't Be A Calling Station
7) Don't Give Or Receive Aggravation
8) Don't Get Tricky Against A Weak Player
9) Don't Get Involved Where You Are Either A Small Favourite Or Big Dog
10) Don't Play In A Game Unless You Figure To Win
11) (yes, we know there are 11!) Vary Your Play

1997 Folks, 1997... and you thought poker strategy was invented by cardrunners??!?

Should be a good series, looking forward to discussing these points with readers too.

GL at the tables, Mark

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Look Out... Its A Bomb!

Non-poker quicky today, well it is not every day someone digs up (well dredges up!) a 1000KG WW2 bomb 150 meters from your home!

Discovered there was a problem when the Magrit Bridge was closed at around 6... preventing me getting to the island for my run. A quick check on the interweb and we find out the bomb has been found litterally at the foot of the bridge on the Buda side... yep, if I could spit somewhere around 150 meters I'd be spitting into exactly that spot from my home-office!

Now, since anybody who was anybody in WW2 bombed Hungary at some point, there is always some speculation as to whose bomb it was. Turns out this tiddler (by comparison) was a Russian one. It did not go off when first dropped, lived for 60+ years in the Danube, and also did not go off when dredged up... ahh, but you have to be cautious and bring the army in - after all it is not as if they have anyone to invade at the moment.

Back with a great poker-post inspired by Rubens and Ciaffone tomorrow!

GL at the tables, Mark

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Psychology And Blog Spammers

A little rant if you'll indulge me just the once.

Some more spam comments came in today, the standard stuff - this time just pitching some random betting site without even trying to make it look like a real comment.

Yeah, its annoying. Sure, the letter recognition test thing would slow them down (but also slow the genuine commentors). I know I know, that the internet attracts the lowest form of human slime.... but that is not what this post / rant is about... no, instead I just wanted to ask the quick and simple question:

- Do these people really think that spamming blogs is a 'good' way to build an online business?

I mean, will in generate traffic? Not likely right... I mean who is going to click a nonsense-english comment saying 'free betting' or whatever.

Will it generate links? No, blogger comments are not followed by search engines... else it would be all out spam instead of just the ton of spam already out there.

Will it generate brand awareness? Fuck no! Anyone with even half a brain will see through it in a second.

The thing that really gets me is that this has a cost in time (I'm assuming that the majority is manually typed or at least manually cut-n-pasted). That time could be spent on making your business, whether poker / gaming / betting etc, 'quality' in terms of content and SEO... the time the spamming scumbags spend on generating tiny amounts of traffic could actually be spent building a viable long-term business...

ah well, rant nearly over - the spam scum probably do not even understand the concept. Oh and forum spammers too... jesus you guys, you are down there with drug addicts and kiddy-fiddlers in the heirarchy of humanity!

Gl at the tables - and while you are here why not check out the great free bets at


Friday, August 08, 2008

Poker Affiliate Business Update: Finally - We Go Hungarian

It has seemed like an eon or maybe even an epoch, but finally we got the first translation of SNG Planet up and running.

The 100 best pages of the 300 or so which make up the site are now up and ready to be indexed by the big G. We think (and looking around the interweb are actually pretty certain) that we have created the single largest online poker strategy resource in Hungarian in one go!

At this very moment those same 100 pages are being translated into Russian, and after all the trials and tribulations of the HU version we hope this will be a smoother process... hoping for the end of September to launch this - by which time the Romanian translation will be well underway.

The 'big plan' is to have the central + eastern region of Europe covered entirely... to be the 'king of the east!'. When this is completed (or at least well on the way) we will look west... with French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch and maybe also the 4 Nordic languages in plan for 2009....

Of course, SNG Planet is only one of several sites - and with new ideas in plan it will become part of a growing family. No reason why our others should not also be translated but at the moment we have a chicken / egg situation where we need to income from the first translations to kick in to allow us to pay someone to do the next updates of the sites... otherwise the process will just be painfully slow.

Once that point is reached the momentum should be incredible... really excitied by where we are going to be in 6-months and 1-years time.

Anyway - for those who speak the worlds most grammatically complex language (Hungarian) we are soooo pleased to give you this - enjoy - SNG Planet Magyarul

For those (like me!) who do not understand a word of it... no worries - we have a huge backlog of brand new articles ready and waiting to go up next week including a new 6-max section and re-designs for the Satellites and MTTs section with great new content for both.

Gl at the tables, Mark

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Poker SEO - rel="nofollow" For Poker Bloggers

Time to continue my previous post which introduced Google PageRank for poker bloggers... to summarise, I see pagerank as a rough indication of the 'authority' given by Google at a fixed date (the last pagerank update) and one of many factors contributing to your search rankings.

Before I go into the basics of the some other ranking factors I'd like to introduce the concept of links containing anchor texts and then the nofollow attribute.

Right, you want to rank for a term... lets use 'Poker Banana' as a made up example. SEO for that term can be divided neatly into 'on page' (the things you do to your own site / blog) and 'off page' (which covers the links coming in from other sites / directories etc).

A quick way to rank for your term is to procure links with this term in them... this is exactly what the advertisers on many of your blogs are doing... buying 'authority' links with 'full-tilt-poker-bonus-code' for example from many places to try ranking for this term... it works (at least for those sites who did not get caught overdoing it).

Now, any time you link to someone from your blog you are 'voting' for them in the eyes of google... passing them some 'juice' either with or without their preferred text.

As bloggers we often have adverts for poker sites - and if you look at these (not here at Plan3t Gong... i removed them already... try elsewhere) you will notice that the sites add a text link to the bottom of their banners for all affiliates 'play poker online' for example... the cheeky bastards are taking your authority guys and gals - they are using you to rank for their chosen terms - often beating 'legitimate' quality sites to the top slots simply by virtue of having a ton of links from their affiliates.

Here is where the rel="nofollow" tag comes in.

If you would like to link to a site but do not want to 'vote' or 'pass authority' to that site then using this tag will ensure that Google does not pass rank - simple.

The added advantage of 'nofollow' is that your authority is finite... the less you pass out to the poker sites the more you have to point to fellow bloggers, your own internal pages and those sites which you deem to be quality resources.

Here is how it works in practice (will stick in 3 stars in strategic places else this will just look like a link - so just ignore the stars!)

<***a rel="nofollow" href***="" Online Poker Blog /a>

So, I have linked to plan3t gong using the words 'online poker blog', but nofollow will ensure my pagerank-based 'authority' does not get passed.

Practical Applications:

Immediate Action: Go through all the links to poker sites and nofollow them right now... no point wasting your link juice! Your affiliate click-throughs will not be affected.

Secondary Action: When you link to a page or thread out there but do not wish your link to make that site rank better (for example a 2+2 thread) then just pop the rel="nofollow" into the link. This can apply to all sorts on links in your sidebar as well as in posts - basically once you have the knowledge you have the control over who you 'vote' for.

3rd: Spread the word... those people who know about this are using it, let us strive to make poker bloggers aware so that they have the choice.

Not Forgetting: Since Mark from plan3t Gong was kind enough to share this knowledge with you then linking to any one of his quality sites without a single nofollow tag in sight would be greatly appreciated - after all, you just saved 10 outbound links... so one more would not hurt! (linking to with the text 'Online Poker Tournaments' would be ideal!)

Any questions then let me know - will carry on this theme intermittently - so stay tuned.

GL at the tables, Mark

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

More To Life Than Poker After All!

Was going to do a business update today, but there is a fine reason (which I will not go into) for delaying a couple of days with this. Great month in July BTW, with our highest yet number of players and 2nd best in terms of revenue.

Having poker as a business and a hobby means that making sure life is balanced is important to me. Even beyond the day to day there are things going on... here is whats on the news list at the moment:

- I'm currently half way through a course of major dental treatment (ugh!) and have a numb mouth at the very moment this blog post is being typed.

- The yearly music festival here in Budapest is just over a week away, known as the Sziget (means 'Island') festival this years headliners include REM, The Killers and the Sex Pistols. Should be a good one this year with a reunion of the IBM management team I was part of in 2004 planned!

- My mother has announced a wedding date for October, husband to be is a real nice guy who used to be a F1 driver in the 1970's! Looking forward to a family knees-up.

- Just finished re-reading one of my top 10 fave books... "The Day of the Triffids; by John Wyndham, plan on writing the sequel (yes, seriously!) when I have some quality time away from the business... a couple of years yet though.

- After an irritating leg injury I am back running, I do a circuit of Budapest's Margrit Island every other day... there is a running track all the way around which makes this very popular, it is 5.3km around which i'm pretty sure is 3 and a lill-bit miles. Running makes me feel great and is something I wish I had 'discovered' years ago!

Sure there is a ton more, but hey - will have to stop here - after all, this is supposed to be a poker blog!

GL at the tables, Mark

Monday, August 04, 2008

Retooling My Poker Game Part #211

Well, what about the other 210 parts then?

You may well have already seen them... or some of them at least - below. Funny how the posts here have got more psychological / high-level of late (with the occasional exception for a good-old-ICM posting!).

There is a reason, and it has to do with poker, my thinking about the game is evolving - while it is well documented that bring an 'online poker pro' is something abhorrent to be (well, ok, something I consider a little odd as a goal then!). I still have a desire to be a winning recreational player, to move up the stakes and *critically* to enjoy the game at many psychological levels and not just as a lower stakes 'grinder'.

Then, from the excellent blog of the Poker Grump, this quote pops up from Phil Galfond (will set the link to open a new window)

Galfond Quote In Poker Grump's Blog

Fantastic stuff.

Got me thinking too.

Really thinking.

Do I sit at a table and really think about what errors my opponents are making and how best to adjust my own strategy to combat them??

No, I sit expecting the same generic 'too loose' or 'too passive' play and hope that my limited hand reading skills and 'bag of tricky moves' will give me an advantage (and it does, to an extent)

Do I spend the time and effort to watch other peoples hands and try to put them on specific holdings ready for the next pot where I am also involved?

Nope, looking at the showdown to see what hands they started with and making vauge notes like 'called 3 streets with pair+ weak draw' is about as far as I go.

In other words, I'm not thinking clearly enough.

Thats the word 'clearly', a personal admission about my game... my thinking takes account of many factors, works on the 2nd level where required (no point thinking 3rd level in the lower stakes!), reads hands based on betting patterns, understands odds + equity + ICM + implied odds + SAGE + fold equity + Karlson-Sklansky rankings + Sklanksy-Chubakov rankings + optimal bluffing frequency.... and more.... but at the tables these are not clearly defined and logical thoughts... they are fuzzy ones!

The stepping back to retool is a long process (not least because the business keeps me very busy) but this is a significant step... the Plan3t Gong change over from fuzzy to clear thinking is on its way - one step at a time.

GL at the tables, (a sunburnt) Mark

Friday, August 01, 2008

Into The Mind Of A Donk - Part #4 - Better Understanding Opponents.

As mentioned yesterday a couple of hands from the Carbon $50k freeroll stuck in my mind (well, mostly!). Will outline them below - but first a small caveat - the purpose of this post is not to mock the play or poker knowledge of these guys... or even to chuckle at their expense (!). The idea is to provide some 'food for thought' about the mentality of a lot of opponents, even deep in tournaments, and to get those grey cells working on coming up with ways of adjusting our own strategy to beat them - after all, we are only in control of our own actions.

So, the hands.

Hand #1. Down to maybe 40 out of 2000... a weak player who had limped and limped and limped and limped (I had raised him off his limps 3 times in a row in the last orbit - and was called a 'moron' for my troubles...) anyway, blinds are 2000 / 1000 with 200 antes and he has less than 4000 left UTG+1.... and....... yep he limps.

So, 1 caller, SB competes and BB checks -pot = 10,000. Flop comes down 8-9-10 rainbow... SB checks, BB bets his last 6000 or so and the original limper calls for his last 1800 chips with AJ.

Now, weak limping is horrible and what got the guy short-stacked in the first place, but that is not the main point. The BB turned over Q8 for bottom pair + gutshot and the limper called with AJ for 2 overs + oo straight draw getting 6/1 on his money. He hit (the ace I think) and won a nice pot which he limped away over the next couple of rounds.

The psychological interest came from the BB, who was very upset, "calling all-in on just a draw" was his main theme in a tirade of abuse which could (and to be honest probably should) have resulted in a chat-ban.

Interesting, no understanding of pot-odds, the value of position or the winning chances of an 2-overs + a decent draw.

Hand #2 - A little simpler, we are down to 2 tables, blinds something like 5000 / 10000 (ante 1000?) and a shorty pushed for 18000 chips or so, the BB called with rags and was... erm, we should say 'grilled' about his play by another player... who unknown to himself was making it clear to all that he did not have the slightest clue about pot odds!

Anyway, longer descriptions than anticipated. The thought is this, on many occasions we are looking at the pot-odds, our opponents possible holdings, our winning chances if called and so on. Many many opponents are not - and I personally believe that giving every opponent credit for some kind of structured thought process in the hands we play is actually -ev for us. Why? Because by giving them credit for advanced strategic thinking we are missing a fundamental point.... that their bets and calls usually mean 'exactly what they say on the tin'.

GL at the tables, Mark