Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Those Who Love To Call, Float

If there is one generalisation that would describe losing / inexperienced / bad (delete as applicable) poker players it is that they call too often... sure there are times when a call is undoutedly the best play - but as a principle... euccchh.

Poker strategy follows fashions... 4 betting is the new 3-betting, UTG is the new place to steal blinds from - and now any player with a weeks worth of 2c / 4c no-limit experience is a master of the 'float'... calling in position on the flop with nothing, with the intention of taking the pot on a later street if your opponent shows weakness.

While good players spot situations where a float is a nice play - it is my opinion that far too many calling stations are using this 'strategy' as a (poor) excuse to do what they really wanted to do anyway - to call. Whereas before they would call without the odds with a gutshot and 1-over simply because they liked to call... now they are a strategy master... with their cunning float play!

Back to fashion... mentioned this for a good reason - since the latest floating craze is not the first strategy to play into the hands of horrible weak calling stations. Oh no - those of us who have been around poker for a while will recall the (excellent but alas much abused) Gigabet Dialemma... using those extra chips in a tournament above the table average to take (somewhat) minis ev risks when the big stack would give you many positive situations later... a callers dream strategy right... I knew I was beaten with my 22 on a 9-10-j-Q-A board with 4 spades, but my call was due to Gigabets theory...

Anyway, something new will come along soon - in the meantime todays food for poker thought is to make sure the situation is right for floating... and you are not just making a thin excuse to call.

GL at the tables, Mark

Monday, September 29, 2008

Tournament Success And A Vision Of Poker Hell

Some long overdue success to report from a few games at the virtual tables this weekend.

Beforehand an accolade! Well almost - an 'honourable mention' in Bill Rinni's list of the best 10 poker blogs for www.MeltedFelt.com , my satire blog. Bill has been online since the rest of us were in blogging short trousers (erm, or something) and has earned the respect his writing receives... so, great to get a mention!

Successes! Started 6 tournaments on Saturday evening across various sites... in reverse order here are my 4 cashes.

Tilt Pot-Limit $10+$1 HA (half PL holdem half PLO)- 11th for my buy-in back and bus-fare home

Stars $10+$1 PLO - 45th (ish?) for double my buy-in... rivered twice in this by the same idiot after getting in on the turn as an 80-odd% fave...(thats where the money comes from in poker (repeat))... hmmm

Stars Nightly 80k Gtd $50+5 - 16th for $450 (always disappointing to miss a final table in a large field tournament buy hey, did my best with 2 separate comebacks after running KK into A9 (grrrr) and then kk into aa (baaahhhh) at critical times in the last 50-ish ... oh I satellited in for $7 too!

Party Poker Speed $10+$1 - 1st for $961, bit of a push-fest late... which played to my SNG experience somewhat. Helped by opponents who did not understand pot-odds / any-2 situations... but great, first semi-decent cash in ages.

So, after 1 week the Thailand fun has increased... going to put aside half of this money and use the rest towards investing in the business. With the $100 bonus cleared at Party this makes the Thailand fund after week 1= $750 (might make a side menu entry for this later - the goal is $5k by the end of Jan for Erika and I to have a few weeks in my favourite country!)

Anyway, don't want to turn a cheerful post negative - so take this as 'tongue in cheek' but really, poker hell last night... I was close to the $100 from Party but not close enough... requiring 220 more 'base points' to release and having one day to do it.... thats about 4 hours of 8-tabling.

OMG! It was hell... 'forced' to do it every hand hurt, the clock slowed to a crawl every decision seemed twice as hard as it should have been.... in short the fun was gone. Might as well have been doing some data-entry job somewhere (and if you have never done this sort of thing then I recommend hard study to ensure that this remains the case).

So, my question for today is how do you cash game players do it??? I mean, respect for your deep stacked skills and all that good stuff - but this is really brain frying stuff!!

GL at those tables, Mark

Friday, September 26, 2008

10 Commandments Of Poker #9 - Small Favourite / Big Dog

Nearly there with the 10 (well in fact there are 11) 'Commandments of Poker' as penned my Reubens and Ciaffone back in 1997.... the theme of all of these posts has been that - while poker has evolved beyond recognition in the 11 years since the commandments were set out, they are as true today as ever.

Will link to the original post at the bottom of this one.

#9 Is an important commandment... and one I can personally relate to as it took me a while in my early days of playing to figure this one - it is especially important in SNGs and when all-in (or potentially all in) with MTTs... in cash games it will lose you money, but at least you can reload.

Here is an example, from a SNG on Carbon recently, I was short and dealt something along the lines of Q8s on the button - 5-left - and the SB calls me with a pair of 3's... now,, this call may be ok (doubt it somehow!)... this is not the point, the point is that against my entire range of pushing hands there was only 2 hands which he was a big favourite (22 and A-2). This is a classic small favourite / big dog scenario (in fact very mundane - only memorable for the chat-box abuse which followed!!)... against most of my range he was a 55% favourite... against those higher pairs a 80% dog.

Fine, away from SNG calling ranges for the moment. There was an element of this hand which was far more important than the hands. My opponent called. Yep, he willingly took a flip - if you are the one betting you have another chance to win the hand... so this logic does not apply.

We could construct many hands which fit in with this commandment depending on your opponents ranges and the exact situation... for example your opponent raises with 88+ AQ+ and you hold 99 or AQ... you hold a set on a straightflush flop... that kind of thing.,

liked this commandment and think it could be useful for beginning players, before you find yourself in a situation like those above ask whether calling the initial bet will result in a situation where you stand to be a small favourite or a big dog!

Gl at the tables, Mark

Thursday, September 25, 2008

New Party Poker Software Client Reviewed - On Video!

Well, at the risk of making a fool of myself here is a video of the New Party Poker Software Client... in the interests of full disclosure this does contain a plug for my bonus code SNGPLANET (hey, got to have some reward in exchange for doing this!). The quality is a little fuzzy - but you should be able to get the gyst of the improved new party poker software client!

Gl at the tables, Mark

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Poker Affiliate Business - Going Interactive

Launching a new 'widget' today over on SNG Planet (link below), its a little cheesy, fun - yet actually has a serious message, oh - and a lot of content!

This is consistant with something I have been saying here at Plan3t Gong for a loooong time... that moving beyond the 'big-2' poker sites actually reveals a whole world of fishy, profitable poker sites.

The actual tool is very simple, choose US / Non, Your preferred games and your current bankroll and press the 'Find Me Some Fish' button.

This gives 3 choices - along with an explanation of why each was chosen for those criteria... here is the hidden work... each of the 32 combos has 3 choices at 80 to 120 words each, seems like a lot of writing to me!!

Anyway, while this is aimed at the less experienced players - hopefully the message is clear enough for those of us who have been around for a while... time to take action and find some fish online.

Here is the link: Loose, Easy, Fishy Poker Sites

As usual feedback from Plan3t Gong readers is valuable and welcome - either via comment or you can mail me via the site.

GL at the tables, Mark

Monday, September 22, 2008

Protecting Blinds And A Small Victory

A small victory this morning... on our way to the office we pass a religious nut of some sort (we think a Hari Krisna but could be wrong), anyway a very persistant one! He hassled us with leaflets so often that it got to me - so a plan was hatched.

Next time he hassled us I gave him what could be called a right earful in my angriest manner (was acting if you like as it was pre-meditated rather than any real spontaneous anger).

So, did not see him for a week... this morning we approach him - he gets his leaflets ready... then sees who it is and (get this) walks on by refusing to make any eye contact (I was ready to grin!). A victory to my mind anyway.

Actually reminds me of when I worked in IBM, in order to get to some huge target for a certain area of electronic trading it was my role to 'approve' any exceptions to a process (will not bore you with the details). Thinking about it I was ideal for this role, which involved saying 'no' to some very senior people... so every day people used to 'escalate me' (report me to increasingly senior management for refusing to approve their exceptions)... and every day I would make life as difficult as possible for the people involved.

Now, this sounds like anti-corporate behaviour - but it was not. In fact I was very loyal to the company (most of us got brainwashed that way!!). My idea was that making life difficult for my colleagues internally made them think twice next time an approval was required... instead of 'no problem we'll get Mark to approve an exception'... the mindset changed to 'sh1t, Mark will never approve this one - better get the external supplier to send electronically instead'. What I did be being deliberately difficult was to get my internal colleages to do my job - which was to make the suppliers tow the 'e-business only' line...

Anyway, those days are gone for me (and that feels good!). The reason for sharing was to get you thinking about blind defense... after all there is a balance between always giving up those blinds and always fighting back.

- In cash games those blinds are such a small portion of your stack that defending them for its own sake is hardly worth it... yet cumulatively they add up so you have to defend some time.

- In SNGs this is risky, since the chips you lose when it does not work can be critical to your fold-equity later in the game, here it can even pay to let the SB complete a few times at the lower levels and then shove over his completes once the blinds become high (not too often, you'll end up getting trapped!)

- MTTs are the sweet spot for this kind of pre-emptive difficulty... especially when this does not involve too many chips (the old call then check behind the turn routine). Getting a reputation for being a difficult blind to steal can not do any harm... this will give you the advantage of knowing that any LP raises are more likely to be geniune hands. Something to think about at least.

GL at the tables, Mark

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Life, Poker and Business

Ahah, failed to spot some important information on the Party reload bonus... that it must be completed within 8 days (ugh!). This is not going to be possible with my very busy schedule - I hope to take a couple of hundred of the $500 available though, and those tables are also pretty fishy (for example nice pot at $50 PLO when my top full was paid off by both a flush and a straight - yep on a paired board!!).

Got a hectic period coming up shortly. First a trip to the UK starting on the 6th Oct... as soon as we are back we move flat and office at the same time. Since our flat needs work to sort out some damp we will move into a new one while still in the old office... once the work is done this flat will become the new office. Easy, nothing can go wrong, at all, ever.

Business-wise we are about to release a new widget on SNG Planet which takes your inputs and finds you the loosest / fishiest tables. Almost done (with more than 8,ooo words of possible outputs written already!!) and will announce / link here early next week (we are also going to do a press release etc for this one). Also plan on getting a 'mixed games' section up on Omaha Planet next week.

Kind of deciding on where Plan3t Gong goes as we get to the end of this year. While every blog evolves over time I feel like this one should have a more definite direction - with less time to do the 'hard-core' strategy here the options include breaking out the business side into a new blog, starting to look outward more often (links to articles / posts all over the web), or even retiring this one completely... ending on a high etc. No decision yet, we will see.

Gl at the tables, Mark

Friday, September 19, 2008

Another 'Challenge' - The Plan3t Gong Thailand Mission

Well, challenges - in poker terms at least - are not usually my thing... since becoming part of the poker business my hours of play have been seriously curtailed - when not working I kind of want to get away from the virtual felt (not to say I have stopped loving the game of course!)

The last Plan3t Gong challenge was a micro-stakes one - after finding a forgotten $6 on Pacific, pretty sure I doubled it before getting bored with seeing 10-way flops...

The 'Thailand Poker Bonus Challenge' is a little larger - and has a great 'get out' clause too. It was triggered by writing about poker bonuses all the time... and, erm, not actually taking advantage of them myself (!). So, I have pulled up my proverbial socks and plan on going on a bonus mission each month from now until February - by which time I want to have an extra $5k in hand... enough for a few weeks of trekking, diving and generally enjoying massages on the beach (a feeling that Erika will add shopping, shopping and more shopping to the list too....).

So, deposited $500 on Party last night to clear their 100% reload to get things started. Off to a flying start when my full-wrap + FD on the flop in PLO failed to hit any of its 2 zillion outs and lost to flopped middle set (opponent thought he was actually a favourite judging by his chat - don't worry, I restrict my strategy lessons to websites / blogs and did not tell him!).

Anyway - will update once a week or so, not going to take over the whole blog - $1k a month should be do-able even with my busy schedule.

Oh, the 'Get Out Clause' in the challenge... thats a good one. Yes, if I fail to meet the challenge then we are going anyway - worked bloody hard building up the business this year, got to have some sort of reward!!

GL at the tables, Mark

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Poker Commandments #7 and #8

Going to speed up with Reuben and Ciaffone's 10 Commandments Of Big Bet Poker this week to finish them off... link to the original post here (with a breakdown of the 10 liberally sprinkled over the interviening month!) http://plan3tgongpoker.blogspot.com/2008/08/reuben-and-ciaffones-10-commandments-of.html

As a quick aside I got a Battle of The Planets bonus from Stars yesterday... just a small one! Had been playing a few low level SNGs to clear the WCOOP bonus (yeah, still doing it - just not enough hours in the day to get the damn thing cleared!!)... anyway a small but nice surprise.

Right then, commandments #7 and #8 are....

- Don't give or receive aggravation and don't get tricky against a weak player....

Number #7 is very familiar to any online player... the anonymity of the chat box meaning that some scawny, spotty 18 year old suddenly turns into a 'tough guy' (incidentally my favourite these days is when some kid says 'lucky boy'... since I am closer to 40 than 30 I take this as a compliment to my youthfull good looks, oh wait a moment, its online... doh).

For me the question to ask is does this aggro chat affect you - STOP - before you say 'of course not', think for a minute or two about any situations in which chat has made you want to 'teach a lesson' or 'take that idiots stack', where some comment has made you call a big bet suspecting a bluff when you might not have done otherwise... if you have changed in any way in this situation then the chat has affected you...

Hey, the idea of this blog is to make you think rather than suggest remedies... but moving table / switching off chat / using the ignore button are all viable if you find your behaviour changes.... if you are anything like me then 99% of the time the aggro-chat will be nothing more than an amusing sideshow - and 1% it will get under your skin... and strangely that 1% need not be when you are a target of the chat (some idiot 'table professor' for example)... anyway, move if possible, no need to let it cost you bets.

Giving aggro is a given for most of us. For those few who find it fun my observation is that the aggro given actually results in the negative effects rather than any benefits... every time I see some young chronic-masterbator berating the table 'fish' I physically cringe - STOP - think about this one... why the hell would you insult someone who is donating money to the table and make them leave... oh my.

Long Post Alert!

Oh well, want to get these commandments done... so onto number #8 'Don't Get Tricky Against A Weak Player'.

Like all of these points this one seems obvious, but seeming obvious alone does not mean that we are not guilty of this 'sin' at some point or other. We all know how to beat weak players right? You keep the pot small until you have a hand and then build it as fast as the individual opponent will allow... you bluff less (smallish c-bets are fine) and you take them to value city.

The great thing about playing a weaky is that they will tend to slowplay monsters, call with a range from top pair down plus draws and fold junk. The slowplaying is a huge advantage to a thinking player... a weaky will be so scared of losing their opponents with those aces that they will give you a great cheap shot to outdraw them... and then whine that online poker is rigged of course.

Level 2+ thinking is pointless against many players, whatever hand you think you have convincingly represented throughout the betting rounds is meaningless against someone only playing their own cards... next time you say 'how could you call with just XYZ there' ask yourself this question instead - what evidence was previously available to tell me that this player was not going to fold this hand... it will help. Same in SNGs, next time someone calls your all-in on the bubble with K3 off do not blame them for a 'bad play' try to work out how you could have predicted this for similar situations in the future (ok, not always that easy but the main point is about taking responsibility for your actions rather than blaming a weak opponent for your losses).

Anyway, hopefully a couple of things to think about... time for me to get back to focusing on the poker business!

Cheers, Mark

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Misc Pokerage Update

Books, Sunday Strategy and Stars VIP Levels On Display might be a suitable subtitle for this misc update... first the books:

Decided that what the world is currently missing is a PLO e-book for beginners (think 'Comedy Of Errors' with 4 hole-cards). So finally got off my but and ordered a couple more PLO books to get some more ideas... Hwang's book and Reubens 'How Good is your PLO' too... sent these to the UK where I'll pick them up in early Oct along with those from Stars which already arrived (the mathematics of poker, the poker mindset and 'kill everyone'). Expect the e-book by late Nov depending on other projects.

Was just playing a few SNGs... crazy at the lower levels always, but on a Sunday they seem twice as crazy! This got me thinking whether there should be any special 'Sunday Strategy Adjustments' we could make??

The tried and trusted bluff less and value bet more needs to be extended for sure.... but I also managed to keep a large chunk of my stack on 2 occasions with AKs... normally I'd play these super-aggressively in the middle stages, but against opponents who are never folding a pair of 7's on a 5 overcard, straight and flush heavy board there is little point stacking off. Having said that we also need to get value of from the 'But my ace-6 was sooooted' brigade'... have to think about this one.

Finally I note that you can now show opponents your VIP level on Stars with different coloured stars on your avatar... many people have already taken this option and are showing the world how much of a 'VIP' they really are! My question is.... why?

Why would you give this information to opponents (telling them you are experienced in many cases)... what benefit could it have??

Anyway, each to their own.

GL at the tables, Mark

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A Thought Exercise... What If The UIGEA Was Repealed?

While life is never really this simple... I would like to invite readers to close their eyes and imagine - just for a moment - that you log on tomorrow morning to find that the UIGEA has been completely repealed.

What would be the immediate impact - both for players and for those involved in the poker business?

Would US players immediately leave Stars / Tilt in droves and find 'fishier waters'?

Would the influx of new novice players, combined with the greater choice of site lead to a new 'golden age' or poker profits - or would the effect be short lived?

Which of the current non-US friendly sites would be the main benficiaries of the new player population?

I'll share my thoughts, for no other reason than to simulate yours. I feel that the immedate impact would be huge, yet short lived - after all it would only be 'news' for a month or two at most (though during those every man and his dog would sign-up and lose their $50!)... the impact further along would be big for sure, yet the international nature of the game would not fundamentally change any one site or game - the change quantitative rather than qualitative.

Some smart US players would seek fishier waters - however IMO this would not be marked - after all, the likes of Carbon, Cake, Doyles Room and UB are significantly weaker than Stars, and are openly available to US players - yet only a very small percentage take the time and effort to change...

The 'obvious' candidate for a serious benefit would be Party Poker... since the brand is still well known and the fishy tables remembered fondly by many players. What most US-based players are not aware of (though would quickly learn) is that the iPoker Network is not only larger than Party, but considerably fishier too... my thought is that in a post UIGEA world, Titan will become a huge success... incrementally.

Brief Commercial Interlude For Non-US Plan3t Gong Readers!

Guaranteed tournaments, super-soft cash games and a regular influx of new players from wealthy European nations (UK / Germany / France etc etc) would actually amaze those who have not yet seen the tables with their own eyes (not to mention the improved 100% to $500 bonus and $20 free cash available with my exclusive bonus code SNGPLANET) (!).

--> Check Out Titan For Yourself Now!!


Anyway - meant to be thought provoking rather than a Titan Poker Review ... my guess is that regulation will come eventually - and slowly bring poker into the mainstream, rather than it being one big 'event' of a repeal... as a poker affiliate as well as player - I live in eternal hope though.

GL at the tables, Mark

Commandment #6 - Don't Be A Calling Station

Back to the Ciaffone and Reuben's 'Commandments of Poker' today with a look at number #6... one that we can presumably all agree with right?? But, extremes aside - how many of us are guilt of calling a little too often.

The occasional tired PLO pot is the most dangerous for me... when an unlikely backdoor draw comes in and that nagging doubt rears its head - boom - of course your opponent has the unlikely nuts, of course.

Now, we really need to distinguish being a 'Calling Station' from someone who calls bets as part of a balanced strategy... there are of course many good reasons for calling bets, particularly in position which would include:

- Taking a free-card
- Controling the pot size
- Avoiding a suspected check-raise
- Floating (calling a presumed continuation bet on the flop with the intention of taking the pot on a later street after your opponent shows weakness).
- Encouraging a 3rd party to Squeeze.
- Slowplaying

Probably more than this, but wanted to keep this post reasonably sized!

Now, no post on calling stations would be complete without mentioning the fundamental '2 ways to win a pot' idea... you either show down the best hand, or you make your opponent(s) fold. Easy right? Someone who calls rather than raising can only win under ideal circumstances... not only do you need to show the best hand on the end, but also to have had an opponent who is willing to bet for you - ugh?

Raising wins pots and also disguises your hand those times you have a monster. At the lower limits playing 'tricky' poker is almost a standard... my perception is that slowplaying is considered a must whenever this is possible. Throw in a couple of observant opponents as we get to the mid-lower stakes and those changes in betting are like a big flashing red light above your head.

Back to raising - and this sums up commandment #6 in 2 pieces. Firstly raising wins many smaller pots, it also disguises your monster hands in a far better way than suddenly calling ever will... it disguses your holding at the same time as building a big pot - perfect! The other angle is that even the most dedicated calling station will flop a monster now and again... unless your opponents are out there with the fairies they will need to (wait for it)... bet! And what, may I ask, do observant players do when a dedicated calling station starts betting??? Well, they run away and get on with the next hand - waiting unil they have an edge on the station before betting once again.

A more interesting commandment than it first seems - have made a note to try and work out whether there are more circumstances in which I am calling too much... for another post.

GL at the tables, Mark

Monday, September 08, 2008

How Long Is A Piece Of Poker Player?

Some interesting stats to share today... this actually came from the Party Poker stock market report on the first 2Qs of 08, and contained a few 'nuggets'.

The one I wanted to mention today was the averages for the length of stay for real-money signups - here is the data:

25.8% of RMPs (real money players) still active after 6 months.
20.2% of RMPs still active after 12 months.
16.3% still active after 18 months.

Now, my first obsertvation here is how small the jump from 6 to 12 months is... and then the 18 month mark too... to put it another way 80% of those players who stick at it for 6 months will still be there after a year and likewise for those who make a year compared to 18 months.

Of course, many players will switch sites, however we can assume that a percentage of the RMPs in fact started elsewhere.

The 74.2% drop out rate for the first 6 months does not suprise me really. Included here are the players who signed up for a chipset / bonus with no intention of playing more, those who put in $100 then played passive horrible poker convincing themselves that the game was rigged and those who ran their same $100 up to $700 playing way above their roll - before convincing themselves that they are really very good at poker, just unlucky.

Another interesting snippet from this is that Party do not offer rakeback... this actually backs up my thoughts that the majority of players do not actually care about this - that the site you are most 'comfortable' at is a big factor in where you play... of course they will lose some high volume . value players along the way but the fact that the majority of attrition occours during the first 6 months suggests that RB is a minor factor.

Well, will leave you with one more thought - especially for those regular readers of my 'planet; strategy sites... if you can not beat a bunch of novices - 75% of whom have less than 6 months - then you may need to study a little harder (or just suck-out better!)

Gl at the tables, Mark

Saturday, September 06, 2008


At the in-laws once again... back tomorrow so normal service will resume Monday! In the meantime here is an interesting site for anyone with a blog or otherwise RSS enabled website - the idea is that you punch in the URL and get a cloud like the one above.

The address is: http://wordle.net/

Also props to Mike W, since I found this link through his personal (mostly non-poker) blog: http://jellymillion.livejournal.com/

GL at those tables, Mark

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Moving From Tournaments To Cash - Thought Provoking Forum Post

Not going to re-open the decades old debate on skill levels between tournaments and cash games... however I would like to pass on a piece of 'advice' which came up in a forum thread recently which was requesting tips for a lower stakes player moving from tournaments (SNGs?) over to cash games.

Can not recall where it was or I'd give you a link... oh and thinking of disclaimers I am not saying this is correct - just something that is worthy of some thought, both in immediate consequences and longer term strategy... it is short but sweet:

'Don't overplay big pairs after the flop in cash, there are too many set miners in these online games'

I like this one - after all, if the betting gets really big on the turn or river in a cash game it is far from certain that your overpair will be good! Of course, we need to balance making good laydowns with getting value those times top pair / overpair hands are good.... hmmmm.

In tournament we also play deep stacked for a while at least. Here the dangers are less marked, weak opposition coupled with the pressure to accumulate chips mean that these hands can and should be played fast.

Well, there is a lot more to it than this - however as a 'nugget' for the less experienced cash player I think it works!

GL at the tables, Mark

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Commandment #5 - Run Your Profits And Cut Your Losses

Time to revisit Reuben and Ciaffone's commandments of big bet poker. This one 'Run With Your Profits and Cut Your Losses' does not appear to make much sense at first glance... are they suggesting some kind of Martingale system for poker?

Well the answer to that is a firm 'no', and actually their explanation of this commandment makes good sense.

The concept behind it is that people play differently when they are winning and when they are losing in a session... and that this is a matter of confidence and psychology.

When you are winning you are able to make decisive positive moves, you go with your 'reads' or logical deductions and make moves to back these up - you are not scared to get involved in pots and are somehow able to value bet effectively.

Conversely losing tends to make players more passive, you check behind instead of value betting the river for fear of being raised off of your hand - you fold in potentially profitable situations to avoid the possibility of an outdraw and so on.

Then there are the 2nd level effects:

When you are winning, playing confidently and pushing the table around your opponents will begin to fear you. In situations where they might have made a huge bet you could never call they will check or fold... you will have the initiative.

And the opposite is again true when you are losing - you'll be bluffed off of more hands, have your blinds stolen more often and so on.

Now - lets think of how this might apply to individuals and to the online game in general... after all we have a choice of exactly when to walk away.... will ask some questions:

= Ever started a session badly and just 'known' you were going to lose that night, but continued playing anyway?

= Ever built a stack and used it to win pot-after-pot as your opponents wait for the nuts to play back at you?

= Ever found yourself folding into the money at the bubble of a tournament since you might as well take the minimum rather than lose a coin-flip?

Yes to any of the above (like me!)? then I guess Reubens and Ciaffone gave us yet another good 'commandment'!

GL at the tables, Mark

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Poker Affiliate Business - End Of Month Update August

After yesterday's higher level poker business post it is time for a more usual end of month update... featuring each of my 7 sites and plans for new ones. Back to the 'commandments' tomorrow!

Will link to a couple of new things here, the banners on the top right hand side of this blog should suffice for anyone who is not familiar with the sites themselves and wants to have a look.

An announcement of sorts - I have ended my relationship as a 'niche partner' with the poker strategy forums. Working with Jason and the partners was great. However the momentum never really got going and I had to make the decision to focus my time on other projects... would like to wish the guys the very best of luck with this project moving forward and thank them for having me involved.

1) SNG Planet: Our largest site and one that continues to grow, in terms of content, visitors and now languages. The big change was the announcement of the Hungarian version in early August. The Russian version is well on the way now (target to go live early October) and what is more we just kicked off the Romanian translation which should be ready in 10 weeks (then a couple more to get the site ready).

Planning one more language this year and then ramp up the translations early in 09 - preference is for another Central European country (so if you are Polish, Slovak, Czech or Croat and can offer me good value and quality translations then please let me know via comment - note: no agencies / pro organisations please)).

Other plans for the SNG Planet include some great new content and hopefully a couple of fun interactive 'widgets' to make the site more interesting... not confirming these yet but hope to soon.

Here is the link to the all new Hungarian version (click the flag in the top right corner to return to English!):

Póker Stratégia Online Pókerversenyek

2) Melted Felt: Having a lot of fun with my spoof poker news blog. It went to PR3 very fast after some generous links from bloggers and webmasters. Small issue at the moment is that organic traffic has fallen off a cliff! The site was getting 40 to 50 search engine hits a day... then suddenly a week or so ago it went down to 3 or 4...bah! basically the name 'melted felt' only. Not sure what the issue is and hoping it is only temporary. Fortunately a good amount of traffic is arriving via links and recommendations, so we keep on keeping on with this one. Submissions always welcome (I can think of stories most days but do appreciate the assistance when ideas are submitted!).

3) Omaha Planet: Honestly a little stuck with the direction for this one... it is gaining visitors all the time and has some nice links... also recieved very positive feedback on the articles. Might even run some sort of contest for ideas for this site... tons of potential (and decent conversions too). Then again I could try and sell it?!?! Will add some more content this month and aim to come to a decision by the end of the year (when the site will be 1 year old!).

4) Rakeback-Planet: Trundling along at a paint-dryingly exciting pace... until we injected some life into the old dog (mixed metaphor penalty for Mark!). We have just added a SNG Rakeback Calculator and also started rakeback offers for PKR and Carbon via the site. It only went up yesterday and we are now working on adverts / links to it from the main pages of this site and SNG Planet... for a sneak preview of our oh-so-simple (but very effective) calc check out the following URL:

Sit N Go Rakeback Calculator

5) Poker Bonusz Klub: This one is our Hungarian language bonus / reviews portal... even though it only gets a handful of searches each day these are very targetted 'XYZ Poker Bonus Code' and the like. We decided that this one was not fulfilling it's potential so it is currently undergoing a redesign + big content upgrade... we had the 10 key articles from Killer Holdem translated and will use these. The idea is that this site becomes the template for many small country-specific portals next year. I also plan to start a mini-project to get more incoming links for this one later in the month.

6) KillerHoldem.net: A great start for the recent addition with a small but growing number of Texas Holdem searches. Have been collecting inbound links and adding a small amount of content to this site. This month is really just more of the same, might add some more 'basics' type articles which could be doubled up for use at the PB Klub.

7) Plan3t Gong Blog: Last but not least this blog! To be honest this is not part of the business, it started beforehand and I have always seen it as personal rather than profitable. Mind you it has been a long while since I put up a commercial post so maybe we will sneak one in sometime this month!! Anyway, writing this blog is a genuine pleasure and I am happy to report that the readership has continued to grow... if anyone has suggestions for PG Poker then drop me a comment - would like to ensure a good balance between the poker strategy / business and personal posts.

Many other plans this month to get some other projects started - but with the amount to do on the current sites we are not expecting to announce anything new for a while yet. The loyal readers of Plan3t Gong will be the first to know.

GL at the tables - and remember, I am always available to chat about the poker business or potential JVs!


Monday, September 01, 2008

Poker Affiliate Business - Plans Within Plans Within Plans

Thought I'd split this months poker business update into two this month... and start with a post about plans.

Regular readers may know I worked as a Project Manager for much of my 10 year career at IBM, the mix of interesting projects and 'all the responsibility with none of the authority' suited me well. Of course a successful PM needs to be a diplomat, a communicator and a planner... and todays post will focus the last of these traits.

My plans work backwards from big statements to units of work. My plans always involve removing myself from the project... I have seen so many PMs fail to have interesting careers by not being able to remove themselves from previous projects... whatever your role in whatever organisation please please please remember this 'If you can not be easily replaced then you can not be easily promoted', trust me on this one - make yourself easily replaceable and the sky is the limit!

Anyway - will share with you my plan for the next 5 years for my business... of course any PM will tell you that if projects were that easy PMs would not be required - so this plan is itself subject to change!

In 5 Years Time: I will no longer be directly involved in the poker business, my interests will be sold - I may have an advisory role. In 5 years time I will spend the majority of my time writing fiction... with the minority managing varying business interests which do not require me to run them on a day to day basis. The time will be mine to be creative and to enjoy the young family which will have hopefully arrived by then!

In 2 Years Time: I will be the 'King of Central and Eastern Europe' in the poker / gambling niche just in time for a huge explosion in online gaming in this region. I will be the first port of call for affiliate directors wishing to grow this market and the centre of a network of affiliates in each country working together for mututal benefit. Will also be active in other niches outside of gambling and have an organisation to manage each part on a day to day basis - freeing me up for strategy / aquisitions / top level communications.

In 1 Years Time: Here we get to the more measurable units. Income from the affiliate business will be 5 times what it is today, I will have my main portal translated into at least 10 more languages and new sites covering those same 10 countries. We will have a small number of people in place to manage the day-to-day. In 1 years time we will have diversified income outside of poker, and separated the poker sites to the extent that an issue (for example Google drop) with one would not have an catastropic impact on the business. A casino portal and associated mini-sites network + a healthcare portal (more on this in later months) will be generating great income.

In 6 Months Time: Income will be doubled from today, SNG Planet will be in 4 or 5 more languages and have some more interactive elements. Targets here include SEO goals and visitors per day goals which I will not put here. My Central European network will be underway with collaborations with webmasters from various countries. New sites and the early stages of the new portals will be created....

Well, there you go - the next level down breaks down into immediate tasks and those for this and next month ahead for each of the sites... and that will be the topic of the 2nd part of my business update...

Gl at those tables! Mark