Monday, August 10, 2009

Planet Network Expands Again (Not Strategy)

Just a quick post to inform the search engines that my network continues to grow, the latest additions are:

- a Hungarian rakeback-focused site providing reviews, a beginners rakeback guide and our SNG rakeback calc (along with a Texas Holdem one), this site also features some VIP loyalty deals which are too good to be called 'Rakeback' !!

- this one is Russian, again the rakeback side is the focus, and agfain the best articles are available along with reviews and widgets. My focus here is that it is more important to get people on the right deal (for the long term), than just a big percentage. Hopefully this is reflected in the quality of the sites.

- not a new site, but has had a complete renovation, looks 100% better IMO and we also added a bunch of new articles and simplified the navigation. In fact we were so pleased with the results of this one that it kicked off a desire to completely renovate SNG Planet next (Sept by the time we finish that one... big job!).

Oh, just a FYI - we are having SNG Planet translated into both French and German at the moment (can not wait!!)


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The PG Online Poker Strategy Super Jump-Off Page

OK - As will shortly be explained in a sticky post at the top of Plan3t Gong this is the Online Poker Strategy super jump-off! This will contain links to many of the articles posted here over the last 3 years - and many of the links to good outside resources too.

This will take a little while to fully update, and will work in categories. If anyone would like to see my current writing on SNG, MTT, Omaha, Satellite and Rakeback (and more) then check the square adverts towards the top right.

We can start with posts which were deliberately put into series - with their own jump-off pages:

Series #1) 10 Post Series On How To Increase Your Profits By 63% By Making Incremental Small Improvements..... Improve Your Poker Profits Idea was that just a 5% improvement in 10 different areas + the wonder of compounding + the wonder of rakeback = $$$$

Series #2) Articles Covering Annette_15... all quiet on that front at the time of writing, but I'm sure we have not heard the last. Updated versions of these articles are available at SNG Planet, but here is a small sticky with the originals: Annette_15 Strategy Annette_15 Strategy

Series #3) PLO Strategy... well, not so much a series as a collection: This smaller collection were my initial musings on PLO, which eventually morphed into the biggest and best Omaha resource online in the shape of Omaha Planet... I'm sure there are more than this, will look for them and add them to this sticky: PLO Strategy

Series #4) The Big One - SNG Strategy: While I played poker regularly the majority of this was SNGs - when PG started it was 'just another poker blog from a SNG fan' until I accidentially found that I enjoyed writing about the strategy.... anyway, this sticky is incomplete too - will make an effort to grab the URLs of all of the SNG posts soon: SNG Strategy Sticky

Going to publish this post now before completion - Double or Nothings, Draw Poker, Psychology, and External Links to be added as separate stickies, followed by a '20 posts which have stood the test of time' (which will take me a little while to pick from the 600+ posts here, but hey!)

See you soon!


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Classic PG #1 - Reasons For Checking In Sit n Goes!

First in a few posts from the archives today... noted earlier that strategy posts go into our commercial sites these days.... meaning that I somehow do not feel like posting them here at Plan3t Gong any more. So, develed into 2007 and found one that is the opposite of the 'conventional wisdom' that you should always be raising and betting while playing poker.... entitled Reasons for Checking in SNGs.... enjoy


Any SNG player (well poker players in general) knows there are a whole number of reasons for raising, most - if not all - poker books and strategy guides cover this subject. Well Plan3t Gong is the blog that likes to make you think... so today we can turn our thoughts to a slightly obscure area of Sit N Go Strategy - reasons for 'checking'.

(in no particular order!)

1) Pot Size Control. Sometimes you'll have a hand you are happy to play a big pot with... other times not - a top pair with kicker for example is often very vulnerable. If you do not want to build a big pot then you'll need to check at some point during the hand. This is especially useful when you have a big stack and are in a pot with another biggy - no point going to war when you can pick on the medium / small stacks instead!

2) To Take A Free Card. With position you can check to take a free card to make your draw. Works especially nicely if you bet the flop and missed your draw on the turn, now if you miss you have invested the minumum and if you hit (especially with a straight) you may find your opponent betting into you on the river.

3) To Induce A Bluff. So your opponent is known to usually call a flop bet... now checking on the turn might induce a nice bluff on the river from hands that might have folded if you continued to bet at the pot.

4) To Check-Raise / Slowplay.You know your opponent is aggressive and will keep firing at the pot, you check-called the flop when first to act... against the right opponent a check-raise on the turn can get more money into the pot. Make sure you pick the right players though... you do not want your opponent to check behind and take that free card when there are draws out there...

5) Co-operation Plays. When a short stack is all in and there is no side pot... checking down a hand can be mathematically beneficial to you. The increase in your equity from maximising the chances of knocking out an opponent are greater than the potential to win more chips. Make sure you know the math here though... there are many situations (when the bubble is not yet here) when a bet might be the better option.

6) To Prevent Yourself Becoming Easy To Read. Less common, especially at the low stakes, but if you always lead with strong hands and check weak ones you'll become exploitable by observant opponents. Mix up that play enough to put some doubt in their minds by occasionally checking when you would have bet and vice versa.Any more? drop a comment to let me know!

In the meantime... GL at the tables, Mark

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Poker Basics - Introducing Poker Hand 'Ranges

Get searches in Google et al from players at many different stages of poker knowledge and experience.... so to keep things balanced I'm starting a mini-series on a poker basics topic today - one that is a bit of a buzzword recently, but has been around as long as the game itself - the subject of Poker Hand Ranges in Texas Holdem games.

Todays idea will be to explain what we mean by ranges and point out come common situations in which they can be used. Later we can look at more detail of how your opponents ranges will affect your pre-flop decisions... whether we get post flop will depend on reader feedback for the first posts!

Going to assume that readers have a tool called PokerStove... if not then grab it now, it is free and invaluable for players at all experience levels to compare hands with other hands and hands with ranges of possible hands too... get it from or search google (there are no strings etc).

Right, with all that preamble out of the way, let us look at poker hand ranges.

Imagine a situation at the end of a SNG tournament (to keep it simple, we will adjust for cash / tournament play later). You are wondering whether it would be a good idea to shove all-in into a single opponent and would like to know whether this is a profitable move in the long-run.

(just as an aside we are ignoring ICM here, this example is to explain the concept of ranges only)

If your opponent folds you will win the blinds, a nice addition to your stack. If he calls then you will bust x% of the time and double-up y% of the time (the x and y depending on the hands you both reveal). We will start at the beginning, how often will you actually be called.

Lets look at 2 opponents, a tight player who will 'only' call with pairs 8-8 and better, and Ace-King or A-Queen - suited or unsuited. And a Loose player who loves to call wide and will play any pair 44 and up, any suited ace and unsuited ace-seven and up, K5suited + and J-9 off + lots of 'any 2 high card' and suited / unsuited connectors 8-10 or better....

Before we make any decisions we should learn the 'how often' side of the equation for these players (and those in-between). For this you click on the 'player 1' (top left) of the PokerStove main screen, and then the 'pre-flop' tab on the next window. You are then presented with a matrix of possible hands like the ones at the bottom of this post:

By selecting the hands that you judge each opponent will call with based on their previous play, you can get a percentage figure which is the proportion of hands they will call with compared with the hands that they will fold.

For the examples we gave these numbers are:

Tight Player: Will have a 'calling hand' only 5.6% of the time (yes, if someone is this tight they are folding more than 94% of the time... change your play at all??)

Crazy Player: Will call you 30% of the time, that is a lot but even someone this loose will fold 70% of the time to your shove.

Next we look at how your hand will fare those times you are called.

Say you have 7-7 and want to know how you will do against the 2 ranges we identified those times you are called. Lets use some really simple numbers to illustrate the point here. After posting a small blind of 50 and big blind of 100 you each have exactly 1000 chips left, we then use information from PokerStove and run the hand 100 times to see what the average loss / gain is:

100 Hands Against Tighty:

94 Times we win the blinds +150 chips * 94 = 14100
6 times we are called.... using Pokerstove we select 6% for player 1 and choose 7-7 for ourselves (as player 2) once ok'd we click the large 'evaluate' button to get the equity of each hand. Here we have a clear 66/33 result (so a ratio of 4 losses and 2 wins from our 6 hands)
- 4 times we lose 1000 chips = (4000)
- 2 times we win 1150 chips = +2250

When we add these up we end up with a gain of 12350 chips over 100 hands or 123.5 chips per attempt... this is huge and clearly shows that shoving tight players has a positive outcome, mostly based on the fact that you steal the blinds to often.

100 Hands Against Loosy:

70 Times we steal the blinds +150 chips * 70 = +10500
30 times we are called, again we need PokerStove to show us how much equity we have against the 30% range, next to player 1 on the main screen type 30%, then choose 77 for player 2 and click the 'evaluate button' ... as you can see we are a small favorite when called, so:
- 16 times we win 1150 chips = + 18400
- 14 times we lose 1000 chips = (14,000)

When the dust settles, our balance is +14900 or +149 chips per attempt, even better than the push against the tighty, albeit with some significantly increased short-term volatility.

Anyway, the examples are just to give you an idea of the thought process (raising / seeing a flop / something else may be optimal depending on stack sizes and situations). To start working with ranges:

- First we estimate all of the hands an opponent would play in a given situation.
- Next we memorize the basics of particular hands against these ranges
- Finally we combine this information to make a decision with a positive outcome over time.

Well, hope someone finds this 40 minutes of my Sunday afternoon useful!

GL at the tables, Mark

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Start Of Month Business Update - Plans Plans Plans!

After the previous more thoughful post here is a more normal one - about my plans for the month ahead for Planet Corp and the ever growing list of sites in our portfolio. As usual I'll go through site-by-site, not going to link out from the article to any of these... but if you are interested there are adverts on the top of the right hand side-bar.

Sit And Go Planet: Well, the Polish version is basically complete, the Romanian is undergoing a nice revamp and we will continue to add some great content (have some top stuff ready on my computer but will ration it through the month). Going to pause a little in June to make sure we are maximising visitors experience (less bounces, more pageviews, more return visitors etc) as well as catching and converting those fleeting visitors looking for specifics. We are planning to take June off from new translations - will start looking for a German translator here in Budapest in the 2nd half of the month with the aim of getting this up by September.

Omaha Planet: My favorite bugbear, growing visitors + revenues... until now was never sure of what to do with this site. Now a plan at last - we are going to focus it on rakeback - as well as a major revamp during June. The thought process is this: People looking for Omaha info are already somewhat experienced (on average at least), experienced poker players are not likely to be signing up without rakeback - especially those who play reasonable volume / value. Makes sense right! This will be a big job and ties into the one below... again some great content to add, and the long-promised e-book (about transitioning from NLHE to PLO) is now in outline form.

Rakeback-Planet: (with the dash!). Redesign actually underway while I type, the big announcement is a move of back-end, hopefully by the start of next week. Previous provider was ok but their CS seemed more interested in closing tickets as fast as humanly possible, rather than thinking about actually helping the customers or adding any value - and PAS (who we are moving to) have a great reputation for service. The back end of the previous provider was my other concern, my 'deals' page still showed offers that were closed months ago... anyway, this should be a real boost and I will tie it in with more content too. Even better we already have Hungarian and Russian versions translated - so as soon as the English one is up we will create these (on their own domains) before transitioning Omaha Planet to this provider last.

Melted-Felt: Really enjoying this one - I'll keep writing those pieces as long as visitors keep coming to read them.

Durrrr Challenge Blog: Bored with this one, oh well, will keep it up now I have started. Might have to start paying its way with the odd link to my other sites though.

PB Klubs: We now have 4 separate bonus portals, in Hungarian, Russian, Polish and Romanian, growing now, with 35ish pages each. We will add some more content and tidy up the reviews on all of these this month... no major plans though (mind you, thinking about it maybe I should get another one done - Slovakian or Slovenian would fit the bill!), oh and increasing visibility for would be good too.

Killer-Holdem: No big plans, needs a tidy up (couple of out of date reviews etc), since we do not have an English 'PB Klub' we use any content created for that network on this site - so could potentially get bigger.

Plan3t Gong: Will continue with its stay of execution, when I get the time and motivation I will 'retire' this blog and start a business / personal one instead. There is a ton of strategy buried here, what I was thinking was to dig some up (well, after all statistcally speaking 85% of those who read it 2 years ago will have moved on from poker by now!). In fact the next post will be the first in a 'Classic Plan3t Gong' series!

Well, thats the plans ahead, we are hoping to make the next interim milestone in terms of players this month. Have a ton of ideas just waiting for the money to invest in them, and will want to be hiring a German speaker for the office here by the end of August to bring the total up to 5 - we will see!

Gl at the tables, Mark

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Start Of Month Planet Corp Business - Thoughts

New record for sign-ups and revenue last month and steaming ahead with some great plans for June. Always start each week with 'its going to be busy' and June is once again no exception.

Had a thoughful and welcome comment from a reader last week noting that my sites have become 'spammier' of late. This is both correct and part of a premeditated plan (though I still firmly believe we have a far better balance between content and adverts than at least 90% of the competition!). This comment was worthy of a reply - so let me explain:

I had always been a bit of a 'quality content snob', write the best content and the world will be your lobster school of thinking... and you know what - it sort of worked. I managed to create some sites that had top quality articles, very few adverts and that a small minority of readers would think were pretty cool.

Now that was all well and good - but at the end of the month having a site that was kind or amateur but interesting, that tried to get people to think about their game without preaching and deliberately did not 'over-advertise' for fear of being considered too commercial - did not pay the bills, and the reason was simple...

The type of person that the type of site I created already had everything sorted as far as rooms / tools and rakeback deals was concerned. The best I could hope for was someone getting curious enough to check a new room or download SNG Wiz. I had aimed my websites at people who would only ever 'appreciate them' and not at the people I needed to.

Of course I enjoyed the self-invented 'SNG / poker thought coach' role, but even appreciation from that was an illusion of sorts- the kind words in mails and comments were not from people who knew me as an individual, however well meaning (and greatly appreciated) they were. Being cool yet anonymous among a few was nice, but this also failed to pay many bills.

what happened next?

Simple, I profiled my visitors. Figured that there are certain types of players at certain stages in their poker development who want different things from a SNG / MTT / Satellites site. Slowly but surely we have been adjusting the sites to cater for these people (in 3 main groups as it happens!). Yes the quality content continues, but appealing to experienced. established players is no longer our main focus and has not been since around October last year. But identifying visitors and tailoring to those with the most profit potential is not all:

We are now asking those visitors to click things - so simple, but so effective.

Whereas once it would have been fine to give a room review with a nice banner down the side, now we end with a sentence that says 'Visit XYZ Poker Now to See Those crazy games for yourself' with a link - yes, the site is focusing on conversions - something I am personally very irritated with myself about not focusing on earlier (must be my British reserve or something).

This is an ongoing process or course... but while there is tons more to do I am going to ensure that we keep a balance between quality and adverts in a better proportion than our main competitors. Though as long as my income keeps growing I'll never feel shy or embarassed about asking a visitor to click something ever again!

Well, a long post - guess we could boil it down to 'If You Can't Please All Of The People All Of The Time, Them Make Sure You Please Those You Can Most Effectively Monetise' or something like that!

Of course, some of my other sites have a completely different focus and were never designed to be strategy sites at all (but that is another story for another day).

Gl at those tables, Mark

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Opening Bets Late In MTTs

Always regret it, but decided to play in one of the small buy-in rebuys yesterday, along with almost 6000 others (!). Anyway, long story short for the background... won some, lost some, got lucky, got unlucky, stole pots, had pots stolen from me and eventually busted in a classic AK vs Pair situation in 195th (or something similar) place.

As a quick aside it was a friendly table for a long while, not overly chatty, but pleasant and good natured - something that is becoming increasingly rare these days.

Onto bet sizing late - my 'thing to think about' for this post is that the size of bets in the later stages can be used to anticipate calling ranges. Might be a little basic for experienced readers.

During the early stages of an MTT the 3 times raise is the 'standard' with 4 times or bigger on occasion. In the later stages with big antes smaller raises - ranging from 2.25 to 2.75 the big blind - actually accomplish exactly the same goals (building a pot for value or getting the blinds to fold). Experienced players know this and save those chips those times they are behind or want to play pot-control post flop by making the opening raise a little smaller.

This is not to say that everyone who opens for 2.5 times the blind late is a strategy expert... yet on the whole we can make the assumption that this player is familiar with MTT strategy and (importantly) has taken the time to think about the effect of different raise sizes.

So, it follows that to use this information to our advantage at the tables we need to ask the question of what other assumptions / approaches to the game someone who is familiar with bet sizing strategy might take... not going to provide a whole list but here are some ideas to start you off thinking:

- The gap concept, specifically the risks involved in calling with easily dominated hands.
- Moves such as the squeeze, stop-n-go and floating.
- The power of position and fact that you can raise a whole range of hands from here.

Note that we can not necessarily do this the other way around, just because someone sticks to 3 times raises late in the tournament we can not assume that they do not know about strategy... the key to this post is to spot a clue that your opponent has at least thought about different aspects of the game!

Gl at those tables, Mark

PS: Got a nice little pickup on the business-side, will do a roundup and look ahead to an interesting June next post.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Psychology Of 4/1

Friday used to be my favorite day... now I'm always baffled by how fast the week went and looking forward to planning for next week - must be in the right business for me!

Anyway - a good old fashioned 'something to think about' post today. This one was triggered by a comment over at Melted Felt, it was on a post about Carbon Poker being rigged not to pay out the bad beat jackpot... and was from a reader who posted his evidence that Carbon was rigged in all seriousness - this evidence was... wait for it - you'll never guess (!). It was a hand history from a $2 SNG in which his aces were cracked by queens all-in pre flop.

Well well, obviously not played much poker sir (probably the kindest thing I can say!)

Anyway, it got my old mind whirling about those odds 80% to 20%, and how the perception of most people - even those who know the percentages - is that those pair-over-pair situations are much bigger favorites than the mere odds suggest.

4/1 is not that big a deal in many situations.

You have 5 eggs left in your box and one turns out to be bad.

You order 5 scotches over the course of an evening and they add diet coke to one of them.

For every 4 times you catch the metro, once you arrive just as the train closes its doors.

I mean, when you put those same odds into every day situations it seems like each is almost waiting to happen. So then, why do people get so upset / surprised / amazed / conspirational when they lose a pair over pair situation?

Baffles me!

Gl at the tables, Mark

Monday, May 25, 2009

Poker Links Week At Planet Corp!

Starting 'Poker Links Week' today with some late-spring cleaning here at Plan3t Gong... and no less than 2 offers, one for for fellow poker bloggers to join my blogroll and the other for poker webmasters (or bloggers) that I'll supply some unique and high quality content.

First the blogroll here at Plan3t Gong... well, blogs come and blogs go as people's circumstances change - so we end up with a bunch of out of date blogs listed. So, today I'm going to remove any that have not been updated for 6 weeks (will keep a note and check back in a months time for updates!).

This will free up some space which I'd like to use to exchange with genuine bloggers out there - if you have a real blog (not just adverts / banners / reviews please, though I do understand bloggers deserve a little monetisation for their efforts!) then give me a shout, I'll be happy to link you up here and might even add a shout in a post too.

Secondly, content. This week I will be writing a bunch of additional content for my own sites - and also for other peoples! While I no longer write for money I'll be happy to do it in exchange for a link back to one of my quality sites. If you have a poker blog or site and would like strategy / reviews / bios or any other type of content then drop me a comment here ( all are manually verified and I will not publish contents which contain contact information).

Thats that for now... going to do the same at Melted Felt with the blogroll, though I prefer funny blogs to link to over there - may well update more about 'links week' as we go forward.

GL at the tables, Mark

Sunday, May 24, 2009

General Update - Psychobabble On Business And Playing!

Frustrated at the moment... the thing is I know that I should not be.

Business first, I measure my results in $$ and sign-ups of new players. There we go trundling happily along at xyz new players a day and *boom* we fall off the proverbial cliff for 5 days now, with xyz daily tops... aaaarrrggghhh (edited out the numbers, you don't really need to know ;O) )

Here is the rub, in my heart I know that short-term fluctuations are just part of the game, that in a couple of days time the sign-ups will bounce back. Yet the frustration stays, results in my constantly checking the sites (something that was a big time-waster early on until that bahaviour was 'unlearned'), in worrying whether something has happened that will doom us to failure... actually more irritated with myself for being irritated than anything else. Chill Mark, it is just a few days!

Actually played some poker this weekend for the first time in a while, those Multi-table tournaments are as brutal as ever! Going to have to be honest with myself and admit that my mindset is probably not right for MTT play, I know the drill with 'keep making the right decisions and the $$ will follow'.... but it just feels too brutal for me to really - no bad beat stories allowed here, but when you actually read someones hand so well that you know they are bluffing the turn - and they still get there, it becomes dis-heartening.

Hey, becoming a morose post - the thing is I actually won money overall, if only a little, with a 5th in a 20 / 180 - so it was not all bad, just mentally not for me.

Being honest with yourself is important in life and poker alike - I'll be keeping those MTTs to a mimimum from now on and mini-raising in PLO instead... as far as the business goes it is time to fight a good fight rather than let any short-term fluctuations get me down. Going to spend some time this afternoon on an article idea which will compare SNG leader-boards at the main sites, and tomorrow - well that is the start of what I have termed 'links week'.... tune in tomorrow for details!

GL at the tables, Mark

Friday, May 22, 2009

Online Poker Accounts Hacked... PokerStars Again Show Leadership

You are never far from a 'my online poker account was hacked and all money stolen' story on forums these days. Lets face it, to a hacker there is a ton of money to be made - even more than normal bank accounts in a lot of cases. What is more, poker players are often to stoned / careless to take security seriously until too late! logging on in internet cafes... public wifi spots... downloading from torrents while playing... you are probably gambling in more ways that you think,

Anyway - this is supposed to be a useful post as well as a thought-provoking one.

Going to state the obvious first. You should treat your online poker account security as strictly as you would your online banking. No public machines please, that poker can wait!

Second, Poker Stars have again shown some leadership with a very neat idea - anyone who takes security of their online account should check out their 'pin' system, which moves the numbers around each time on the keypad to prevent key / screen loggers... basically a 6 digit pin in addition to your password.

Here is a link to the instructions... if keying in a 6 digit pin when you log on is too much hassle for you then please do not come crying to me if your account gets hacked!

Poker Stars Security Pin

For those who want to go to the next level Stars are also offering an RSA security system via their VIP store... (6000 points I think) this is linked to your account and displays a 6 digit pin which changes every minute, you simply type it in when you log on.

Me? Well I do have some FPPs hanging around... but will stick with the standard pin from here.

GL at the tables, Mark

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mimicry - Using Your Opponents Betting Tendencies Against Them...

Actually watched 2 Poker X Factor videos last week... have been a member since Nov 2006 and used to really enjoy the new series as they appeared. To be fair the offerings now are even better than when I first joined, with new instructors and some big-name online pros.

What changed was me - poker is now business rather than liesure - and so time spent watching PxF vids feels like 'work' and has to hold its own in the 100's of other competing tasks on a day-to-day basis!

Anyway, Bax is still great at narrating the vids and something he said in a recent series triggered the idea for this post - on mimicry.

Bax was dealt a big pair and saw a limp ahead, previously the limper had raised 6x with kings (they were v deep at the start of a tourney) and Bax said he was not going to make a bigger than standard raise - so as not to alert this player that he had a big hand... this was almost just a passing comment and easily missed, but to me it was something significant - in Plan3t Gong style it was something 'worthy of thinking about' a little further.

In essence this player had made a big raise with a big starting hand and thus would be likely (conciously or otherwise) to put an opponent on a big hand if they made a similar raise themselves. What I wanted to do was to expand this idea into common situations we might enounter at the tables. My thought is even opponents who are not yet at the level of thinking required to 'put you on a hand' will react to strong and weak signals - and that those signals are often based on what they perceive the 'correct' play to be in various situations.

*** Quick disclaimer, going to put a few examples below - these are pretty simplified to illustrate my point and trigger thinking... so no need to send me mails if you do not agree with the exact examples (though more examples / scenarios in the comments could make this post more useful still!). ****

Lets take a tricky trappy opponent (BTW thats most lower level players right? they would rather feel 'smart' by fooling you than maximize ev in many cases). They hit a set and check-call the flop, looking to check-raise the turn... they also implicitly assume that an opponent who spikes a set would almost always do the same. Mimicry can help us in a couple of ways here - leading right out with a set works, since this opponent would rarely consider this line, eliminating most sets / strong hands from this guys range when he does lead of course helps us too. But how about we mimic his c-c / c-r line on occasion when weak, since this is exactly how he plays a monster then we could do this to represent one... (or course check-raising the turn often screams strength, but hey - its just an example!!)

Another common example is that lower level players make small 3-bets with monsters and bigger ones with more vulnerable hands. These players do not want to 'scare away the opposition' when they have that 'invincible' premium pair. Lets mimic them too... but not when we have the goods of course. Small bets are great post flop too... if you know that an indivual makes smaller bets when very strong you can make your bluffs small as a proportion of the pot - maximizing your value for the money invested. And bigger bets against this opponent (! I'm sure you get the picture). Imagine in PLO an opponent who value bets small with the mortal nuts on the river each time... how profitable would bluffing a scare card become here!!?!

One more applies to draws, some players will play these aggressively and others passively... in position some players will raise the flop and check behind on the turn if they fail to hit. Spot one of these and checking the turn becomes a great option when you are strong... you 'appear' to be on a draw so strongly to someone who will regularly play this way that your huge re-raise when they bet the river into you will 'scream' that you missed to them. Of course against the worst opponents more straightforward pot-building plays may be good too.

Anyway, these are just examples - be great to hear your real-life experiences of when and where you have used an oppnents specific betting patterns against them!

Gl at the tables, Mark

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Welcome Break Over...

Had a fantastic long weekend with my Mother over to visit, was a good pychological break too with no thinking about poker and only a little thinking about the poker business. Caught the sun, 31 degrees C here in the city... oh and drank - a lot.

So, looking down the barrel of another hectic week and looking forward to getting stuck in. Have a couple of posts on poker psychology in mind for this blog. One concerns mimicry and using an opponent's observed betting patterns to shape their perception of your hand. The second is to do with 'cognitive bias' which is the phenominon by which we re-invent our own pasts to 'gel' with our self-image, belief structures and attitidues.

On the work front we are going to get the ball rolling on moving rakeback provider, start our 'tournament spotlight' theme, redesign a couple of front pages, put some new material for both OnGame and iPoker sites and generally create some world-class content which we can be proud of hosting on our network (ads at the top of the right hand column if you are a first time reader here!).

Best get on with it, not used to 4 days away from business and will have to tune back in!

GL at the tables, Mark

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Online Poker Chat Debate... Great Idea!

Browsing the hate-filled forum that is Pocket5's yesterday and came across an interesting thread with an excellent idea from mod Adam in it... the subject is the debate about chatting while playing online poker.

Pretty sure I have discussed my own thoughts on this before - basically that any chat is bad for your profits, whatever convoluted reasoning you come up with for it being positive. The linked thread actually suggests actively getting banned from chat as a good solution for those who can not stop themselves breating the fish....

But Adam came up with an even better idea, one that could actually be fun - especially after time has passed and you have moved on / up / away from your current game.

Here it is:

Just keep a Notepad window open and type all your rants there. Or if you want a good laugh at the end of the day, type it all into an email window and then send it all to yourself after you're done playing.

Genius huh? How much fun would it be to collect these together for a year and then go back through them.

Me? I'll just carry on saying nothing at all.

Here is the link:

GL at the tables, Mark

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

SNG Planet Polish Is Here!

Always makes me jump out of bed early in the morning when we have a new site up (i know i know)... anyway - happy to be announcing the latest version of SNG Planet today, well 70% of it at least. We have gone live with:

PL Poker Tournaments

In one fell swoop the biggest collection of SNG articles in Polish... + tons of beginners MTT articles, reviews and comparisons - there are more on the way, we plan on completing the Satellites section by the end of the month too... should be 110 pages soon (bigger than a lot of people's entire sites!).

There are flags at the top of the screen for English, Russian, Hungarian and Romanian as well as the new Polish version... next plan is German, though we are going to pause for a little while first to consolidate and create some other sites. Will let you know here at Plan3t Gong first.

Gl at the tables, Mark

Monday, May 11, 2009

Hectic Week Ahead!

World record time... the number of consecutive Monday monrning posts here at Plan3t Gong which start 'going to be a busy week' (or something along those lines!). Well it is, both for our poker business and personally!

Personal first - I am receiving a royal visit starting Thursday night when my Mother and latest Step-dad arrive from the UK. Should be fun, we are already planning a trip down south to see Erika's family (not that they speak any English - but that is a minor issue).

Working wise we will be launching the latest translation of SNG Planet when the Polish Edition goes live. Once again this is pretty big news for me... we do not fuck around with these translations, talking 100 pages of quality strategy here - actually bigger than many people's entire sites.

Tons of other things to fit into a 4-day working week too including a SEO revamp of the Hungarian sites, some fairly large updates for Killer Holdem, a rakeback planet update and the usual ongoing activities with the other sites too... this week will also see us finalising plans made with the operators we met at the Conference in Amsterdam, this should involve some changes to the mix of rooms we are promoting but nothing that the casual visitor would particularly be aware of.

Not had too much time for poker at all this month, occasionally donking around for 30 minutes on the 8-game tables. Was momentarily tempted by the 'earn 7500, get 80k free' Poker Stars FPPs offer - and then remembered that I actually hate poker when playing for anything other than entertainment and the grind would have made me miserable very fast. Nope, knowing yourself is key in this kind of situation... and I know that fun (and the occasional profits!) has to be a big part of the game for me.

GL at the tables, Mark

PS: Follow me on Twitter for all the Planet Gong, Melted Felt and Planet Sites updates...

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Thought Provoking Article On Hand Reading

You know that feeling... the one when you get to the end of a 12 hour working day, sit back and assess - and then realise that your list of things to do is actually longer than it was at the start?? If you are involved in the poker business I'm sure it is a yes!

Anyway, to keep things fast I'll link to an excellent article on hand reading from the 2+2 monthly magazine today... this is seriously thought provoking, for those of us who find exact hands a bit of a challenge to read the 'catergories' approach could be a great starting point. My one disclaimer is that you need to be more cautious at the lowest limits - just because you are right about the weakness of an opponents hands does not mean that they will not call you with it anyway!

Hand Reading Made Simple

Gl at the tables, Mark

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Back In Budapest - Amsterdam Affiliate Conference Recap #1

Each time I go away it is with good intentions of blogging on the go.... and each time I return the first thing is to announce it here and apologise for no updates! Ah, well - let me make it up to you with part #1 of my re-cap of an excellent trip to Amsterdam for my first poker business conference.

Will post a more personal version of the trip report here - going to do a business one over at - the greatest commumity of poker affiliates

Fortunately, the annual 'Queens Day' celebration coincided with the conference, meaning we were able to don orange hats and join in the biggest party of the year in the Netherlands... would recommend this to anyone, literally the whole city was out in Amsterdam with people from all walks of life enjoying the day / night together. Did make getting to our hotel a little arduous, but hey.

Ah, the hotel. We stayed in the Krasnapolsky on Dam square... have been to the Netherlands many times and stayed in many hotels - but this one was a let-down. The building / staff and location were all excellent... but the room! Dated, small and tatty, bah. Back to the Barbizon next time (which has the added benefit of being next to my favorite breakfast place - the 'Prince Hendrik Sandwich Bar')

A definite advantage of staying at the Kras was the proximity of the sponsored bar - the 'Players Bar' - which was literally 2 minutes walk away. Went to the networking events both Thursday and Friday there to sup the free beer. The first day felt a little odd really, not knowing anyone at all, while everyone else seemed to know each other. Did chat with some affiliates and operators, however now recognise that the cold 'Hi, I'm Mark!' networking routine is not my thing, much easier when you have a starting point to meet people from... which was demonstrated Friday where we knew a few faces and felt much more comfortable.

Meeting with Greg Powell and Jeremy Enke was high on my priority list before leaving. These gentlemen are some of the pillars of the poker affiliate community and turned out to be really great guys too - looking forward to sharing many more beers with both at future conferences.

Staying in the centre of the city we had to work out how the Amsterdam tram system worked to get to the conference centre (the RAI). Brilliant way to see the city for just a couple of Euros... if anyone is wondering you buy a long ticket with 15 spaces - when you get on the tram the driver or ticket guy will stamp 2 or 3 depending on how far you go, simple.

The conference centre was huge and it actually took a while to locate the right conference. Several of the operators had laid on nice set-ups, a 'Party Poker' Bar, Boylesports Guiness / Darts, Cake had a giant kitchen setup, SmartLive a real roulette table and so on... many of the providers also used the age-old tactic of using pretty ladies to hand out leaflets / get you to the booth / or swap gifts for business cards... will give my top rating to BetUS (oops, I mean, I was not looking, erm, did not notice, eyes are only for you Erika!).

Some operators were more aggressive in getting attention than others, and to be honest 1 or 2 well known ones were a little too aggressive for our tastes. Going to keep the post positive, so will not mention any names.

Well, my list of things to do is massive.... so will continue this post tomorrow with some more of the business side of the trip.

Gl at the tables, Mark

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pot Limit Omaha Ramblings, Erm, I Mean Strategy

Been a while since any Pot Limit Omaha featured on Plan3t Gong... some small ammends today.

Still love this game, as frustrating as it can be.... wrote an article on playing top 2 the other day which will go up next week on Omaha Planet. Basic premise is that this hand is dangerous, especially on drawy boards - yet can be really very profitable against an opponent that you know is overplaying aces (and if you play PLO for a while these opponents become very easy to spot (and stack!!)).

All good - except the poker gods decided it would be funny to take 3 buy-ins from me in exactly the aces vs 2-pair hands over the last week.... admittedly one of them had a nut flush draw to go with his aces so not exactly a suckout. To balance this 80% of the money went in on the turn in the last one! No bad beat stories here... just laughing at the irony of completing the article only to have it come back and bite you!

When I am very tired at the end of a day there it can be enjoyable to become my alter-alter-ego 'The Phantom Min-Raiser of Old London Town' at the Omaha Tables. While min-raising every hand pre-flop and min-betting every flop is primarily for fun only, it actually does have an educational aspect too (yes, really! Read on!)

This occurs in two ways.... firstly peoples reactions are interesting. You can quickly judge who is adjusting and who is not, you'll get 1 (or 2) 'table captains' who will try and show you who is boss - the question is are they reraising you from position? With premium hands? does the size of their reraise tell you about their hand?

More passive opponents and tricky fools (no need to be tricky in PLO... you can disguise your hands perfectly well by raising lots of combos and betting lots of flops!) will try and check-raise you for sure, but what with? Especially when you have 95 big blinds behind you what is a 10BB check-raise from out of position hoping to achieve...

Sure, min-raising is not really poker - but adjusting to your opponents is, and you'll be suprised how much fun it can be to react... and as a special bonus nobody will believe you when you flop that monster hand / draw - those times you double your stack more than make up for the mini-bet / fold routine.

Anyway, not advokating this as a strategy... just some educational fun!

Gl at the tables, Mark

Monday, April 27, 2009

Preparing For My First Poker Conference

Going to be a busy week, not only the day-to-day of running the global corporate monster that is Planet Corp Kft - but on Thursday Erika and I will fly out to Amsterdam for the 'Amsterdam Affiliate Conference'... our first industry event. Thats not all - today we are expecting to welcome Corina to the team and start training for our upcoming foray into the Romanian poker market!

Judging by the conference agenda and feeback from previous meet-ups we are in for a fantastic few days - and as a bonus it is the Netherlands biggest party of the year on Thursday too - the 'Queens Day' public holiday / dress in orange and have a good time day!

There will, of course, be a serious side to all this, want to meet with some affiliate managers and as many fellow affiliates / industry leaders as possible... since we plan on being a big player within the next year or two this is a great opportunity to lay the groundwork for the future by meeting the current movers and shakers... and hopefully meet with some really great people, raise some glasses and have a good time.

So, any affiliates reading this Erika and I will be in the 'Hub Pub' (the Player's Bar in 'Dam square) this Thursday (early, the sponsorship ends at 8) and on Friday too... drop me a mail or comment and we can share a frosty beer and say hello.

The next conference is planned for September and will be right here in Budapest - great!

Gl at the tables, Mark

PS: Follow me and the Planet Poker sites over on Twitter at

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Poker Bankroll Management For The Recreational Player

Time to carry on my theme about poker strategy not really gelling with the perspective of the majority of poker players... the idea is that a recreational player looks at an article on Bankroll Management (for todays example) and can not fathom how it applies to them. So, instead of thinking about the subject they just assume that this is something for the pros (or geeks or whatever) and miss out on valuable adjustments to their play.

Lets be honest here, a player who works hard and enjoys a game of poker now and again putting $200 into their favorite poker site is not going to think... 'Hmmm, due to the effects of variance on this game of skill I'd better stick to an average MTT buy-in of $2...'

Of course not, they want to play, take a shot at some big prizes, have a little fun.

Cash is the same, someone parting with $100 on a Friday night is not thinking to themselves.... "so, I'll play 20,000 hands of 2c / 5c no limit to ensure I'm a winner and then move up to 5c / 10c after that.." - of course they are not, they want to have a good time, not set-mine the micros!

So, having established the background I'm going to ask the question of what a bankroll management article which would be useful to recreational players might look like?

It is not as easy as you'd think.

Make it to strict and the counter will be 'does not apply to me, governor' - make it too loose and it will not really have any value as far as our objective is concerned (to provide thought-provoking information on preventing yourself going broke for those who would prefer not to lose all their money - if someone does not actually care then all of this is irrelevant anyway!)

Here is what I'd suggest:

SNGs: Start at 10 buy-ins, move down a level at 5 and up a level when you have 20 buy-ins for the next level up. When you win 5 more buy-ins (same as your original roll), put this aside as a reserve for those times variance bites. From here you should try and build a nice buffer before moving up too much further.

So, with $55 , you can start at the $5.50s (on Stars in this example), if you lose $25 then you go down to the $3.30cs if you get to $220 then you can move up to the $11's... from here you build to $275 before putting $55 aside as your 'fall back' and enjoying the rest...

Cash: Starting with 6 buy-ins, move down when you get to 3 and up when you get to 8 for the next level. After moving up you should aim to keep the 8 + grind enough to put an amount equal to your original deposit to one side... after this you try and get 12 to 15 buy-ins for the next level before moving up again - going back down any time you get < 8.

So, starting with $150 you have 6 buy-ins for NL25, if you go down to $75 then move down to NL10 to regroup. If you manage to get to $400 then it is time to go up to the NL50, with the idea that the next $150 won gets put aside for a backup. You are then aiming to get that $400 up to $1200 before hitting the NL 100... any slips back to $150 then move back to NL25.

My guess is that 'seasoned pros' will be tearing their hair out at the thought of such 'dangerous' bankroll management. I'm going to suggest that even the guidelines above will seem 'very strict' to many recreational players reasonably new to the game... that having a guideline which gells with the reality of the common man (or woman!) player there is a bigger chance that the subject being raised will at least be considered.

Well, long post - hopefully one that has fullfilled the Plan3t Gong objective of giving readers something to think about though.

Will continue this theme intermittently... maybe Table Selection for the common man next!?!?

Gl at the tables, Mark

Thursday, April 23, 2009

In Search Of Pokerius Averagus

Been thinking about all that Poker Strategy Stuff... actually, since I spend so much time writing about it for my network of sites I probably think about it too much (ah well). Anyway, bankroll management, variance, long term profits, site and table selection, hand ranges and so on - sure we can find great information on all of these... the thing is does it really apply to your average poker player??

Well, let us start by thinking about what an average poker player might look like!

The internet is not a very good place to find evidence of pokerius averagus - because this creature does not post on forums or blogs or websites or social networking groups (though they may read some of them)... those people are part of another species pokerius serious - and we can subdivide this species too (another post for another day!).

To my mind Pokerius Averagus is not the kind of person who sees poker as a source of income, though winning cash is always nice. They are not the kind of person who cares whether a blocking bet or a check-call will extract the most value on the river... bluffing is much more fun anyway. They are not the kind of person who will only play with 1/20th of their bankroll at the table at any one time to avoid the effects of variance - since going broke is kind of expected and there is always a bunch more cash comining in next months pay. They do not get excited about the WCOOP, FTOPS and so on either, nor care about whether they have rakeback or just VIP points... nope, to my mind Pokerius Averagus is a normal person with a job, a social life and a nicely balanced life who plays (and mostly loses) at online poker because it is fun.

Now back to the strategy stuff - the internet is full of strategy, ranging from hand rankings through to maximizing your ev against light 4-bettors and so on... but pretty much all of it is aimed at Pokerius Serious - those of us who have decided to forsake the fun of poker (though many will not realize it yet) in pursuit of the money.

So what would a strategy article aimed at Pokerius Averagus look like? What would this fun player want to know about poker while avoiding all the dry and serious stuff aimed at others...

Well I have a bunch of ideas - but you'll have to tune in next time to start reading them... will start with 'Bankroll Management for Pokerious Averagus' which aims to bridge the gap between all the boring pro-level bankroll management articles and the perspective of the most prevalent group of players of all... the common man (or woman!).

GL at the tables, Mark

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

WSOP Step #6 Structure Questioned

Well, Stars have finally started their WSOP qualifiers... a month or so after their main rivals due to waiting for the SCOOP to finish first.

Already there are some big concerns over the Steps qualifiers, mostly the ones at the very top. Unlike last year these are 6-max, with either 1 table / 1 package or 2 /2 on offer. The concern is that the total entry fees add up to the $12.5k package for one player - meaning that there are no 'try again' step tickets or smaller cash payouts for the runners-up.

Secondly, there is concern that the ability to win multiple seats means that those same old 'high stakes grinders' of previous years will sit waiting in the step 6's for unwitting qualifiers to fleece... will save this for another post though!

My view is that the players have a great point - imagine someone with a limited bankroll who worked their ass off to get to step 6... and now can end up empty handed. A 9-handed game could give a couple of step 6 try again tickets and a step 5 for 4th place too - a huge improvement in the eyes of the 'average' recreational player who fancies a shot.

There is an exit-point in the steps - you can use a step 4 ticket ($215) for the double shootout qualifiers directly (same tickets work for any $215 buy-in event, such as the Sunday Million). Also, the idea of making the Step 5 tickets useable for the $650 direct qualifiers has been floated - an idea which I also support.

So Stars, listen to your customers please... and get those 9 player Step 6's organised!

GL at the tables, Mark

Monday, April 20, 2009

First Polish Poker Site Hits The Interweb!

2nd post in one day... must be something in the spring air.

Just pleased thats all, pleased to be announcing that we have another site to add to the growing collection... this one is part of what we are referring to as the 'Poker Bonus Club' brand, and joins a Hungarian, Russian and Romanian version... this time in Polish!

What is more we already started the mammoth task of creating a 100+ page version of SNG Planet in Polish too... what is even more more this is Anna's first site from scratch, with everything from organising the translation to creation of the template to breaking the matricies in firefox all her own work.

The address? Well, only useful if you happen to speak Polish, but here it is: Poker Bonuses

Gl at those tables, Mark

Monday Morning Has Changed...

Hectic weekend searching for a car (no joy yet, some close but nothing ideal!) and visiting the in-laws... but this post concerns Monday Mornings.

Used to hate them.

Sleeping in on Saturday and Sunday always meant a being awake late on Sunday evening - which in turn lead to the alarm seeming to be just a couple of hours too early on Monday. No choices back then, up shave, suited and off to work for the corporation... actually enjoyed my job, but the end of the weekend was always a depressing moment!

How things are different now.

Now I work for myself, on the poker websites (if you have not seen them then there are some adverts top right)... Mondays have changed completely. I actually wake up super-motivated on a Monday, looking forward to getting into the office and driving things forward... my mind racing about which projects to start and which will be completed, new ideas fight with improvements and virtual lists of possible new content.

Sure, running your own business is hard work - but that feeling of drive on a Monday morning sure is a good sign that I chose the right path.

Plan on posting several times this week, after all, Plan3t Gong has a role to make its 1000's of readers think!

Gl at the tables, Mark

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Catching Up With The Times - You Can Now Follow Me On Twitter

Well, if even I noticed that it exists it is no longer the 'latest thing' (thats something else which the cool kids are using)... yes, finally got around to creating a Twitter account yesterday.

You can follow me here

Will use it for various business and blog related tweets (though not this one, obv), and will be happy to follow you all back!

Cheers, Mark

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Quality Omaha Poker Website For Sale

Decided the time has come to part with my Omaha-focused site - broad outline of what is on offer below - the reason for the sale is to fund an ever more aggressive international expansion of my wider network. Sale is via an 'offers over' auction, full support during and after the transfer and use of Escrow are a 100% non-negotiable (so, any scammers reading this, dont waste your time and mine!)


With over 100 pages of indexed Omaha strategy articles covering all the main variations I believe that Omaha Planet is the largest single quality Omaha strategy resource out there. The articles are all written by me in my usual straight-forward + easy to read style... Omaha specific room reviews and comparisons also included.

The site was created in Dreamweaver and is simple to update, can offer practical support to get the buyer going with the template as part of the sale. Currently the main pages are PR2 and many inners PR1, have not really focused on the internal linking strategy - so tons of potential in this area. Domain is 16 or so months old and registered at 1&1.


Growing consistantly, last 30 days showing 3876 visits with 14,386 pageviews (a very respectable average of 3.71 pages per visit with 4:59 mins on the site, reflecting the quality!) 70% of visits are unique. Half of the visits from the US and UK, with the other half spread through Europe, Russia and the world.

Google + Yahoo supply the vast majority of visitors - with 80% coming via search engines. This is hardly surprising when you consider some excellent SERPS terms... big G highlights include:

Pot Limit Omaha - 5th
PLO Poker - 2nd
PLO Strategy - 3rd
Omaha Poker - 10th
Omaha Strategy - 9th
Omaha Poker Strategy - 7th
8-Game Poker - 4th

Yahoo is actually even better, with a slightly different mix of the same terms.

There are tons more on the first page and 2nd pages, and while a site should not be sold on potential alone I have not actually focused on the SERPS too hard with this site... anyone making a small effort to build links should be able to quickly take these up a level!


No 100% clear numbers to share here, more down to my poor tracking of where my signups are coming from than anything else. Will do my best to put some figures based on the percentage of visits in my network, while I will answer any questions pre-sale as fully and openly as possible I will not be providing earnings screenshots to anyone... since we can not separate this site alone and my income is nobodys business but my own!

So, my best estimate based on traffic is 6 to 10 RMPs a month to Titan, Stars and Tilt mostly with a couple to UB and the odd one to the other sites we feature. The sites where I do have code visibility seem to back this up, with around 10% to 15% of revenue coming from my Omaha sign-ups (the accounts themselves are not for sale, since these are all mixed up with my other accounts).

Looking through the site now as I prepare for this offer I feel that the 'sales level' is actually set too low, there is again a ton of potential (that word again!) with more calls to action and more links / banners etc to improve on this level (which may even be a conservative estimate to start with!).

The Sales Process:

Going to try an informal type of auction starting any bids at $7,000... while I do not have a BIN (don't ask... your offers first please!) a nice high offer could well convince me to close the bidding immediately. Will keep this open for a week after posting and update the latest offers as and when they come in... if we keep all bids via PM at Poker Affiliate Listings --> Via This Thread <-- span=""> then we can end with screen-shots to ensure that increments are honest etc (with names smudged over of course and happy to verify with a mod if required!).

I do have a 'reserve' in mind and reserve the right to change my mind if only low bids are received (!)... after all, there is a ton of potential - and other than wanting to re-invest I will not be starving without the money!!

So, any questions let me know... late here now so will answer in the morning.

Just remembered, this one is listed in DMOZ too.

GL at those tables, Mark

Monday, April 13, 2009

Working Weekend Update

Random update today... no plan, just going to blog!

Cars are on my mind at the moment - not actually had a car since I handed back the keys to my lovely big black Saab turbo go-faster monster when leaving IBM back at the start of '06... handing back the laptop / badge etc was a pleasure - the car still brings the odd sentimental sigh.

Anyway, not had one since, borrowed when visiting the UK, hired them on holiday and all that, but not owned one - especially since we live smack in the city centre here in Budapest where there is really not the need day-to-day. But alas, I have succumed to arguments that we can get away for more weekends, more often and enjoy this region better - and go to fvcking Ikea tons no doubt. So, going to be the reluctant owner of a car next weekend. Something along the lines of a 2005 / 2006 Polo or Punto by the sound of it... hey, I'm just the one spending the money - what has the choice of model / age got to do with me??

Not played too much (busy adding the Polish version of SNG Planet into Dreamweaver!) but did manage to bag a Step 4 ticket on Stars, these can be used for any of the $215 tournaments - plan is to save it for when I'm in the mood for a shot at the warm-up / million... or maybe a WSOP qualifier.

Speaking of WSOP qualifier I mailed Stars about this and they said the schedule would be up by the end of the 13th... thats today. With the SCOOP over the forum buzz should be World Series seat focused now.

Finally some good news, the latest recruitment project was a success and Planet Corp will soon be back to its full quota of 4.

GL at the tables - will be back with a less rambling post real soon!


Thursday, April 09, 2009

63% More Profit Project - #10 - The Final Installment

Time to wrap up the series on improving poker profits 5% at a time today. For new readers this is the last of 10 posts on ways in which you can incrementally improve your earn from the beautiful game - which add up tp a 63% gain overall due to the wonders of compounding.

Only one problem with number #10... there are several ideas as to what this could be... in fact I have enough to make this a 15 part series (but will not do this). So here are the ideas that did not (quite) make the cut for 5% idea number 10.

- Leave Your Ego Out Of Decisions (yes, you!)
- Stop calling junk in the blinds because you have 'good odds'
- Take better notes, individuals work in patterns, note them!
- Add Another Table... just one... repeat.

But number 10 that I'll suggest today is in fact: Focus on one format at a time.

Well, never said any of these 5% ideas would be difficult did I??

Anyway, how many times have you started a few MTTs, busted out of some and started a SNG, become short-stacked and decided to fill that gap to the right of your screen with a cash game, or heads-up... can't win at Holdem tonight? why not pull up an Omaha table alongside to see if your fortune changes...

I've been there, sometimes not that intensely - sometimes over the course of a week flitting between DON sngs, turbos and PLO cash games, not really studying any of them... not really improving in any of them.

Now, poker need not become a drag, after all variety is the spice of life - but surely focusing on a single game and working on your edges, your opponents weaknesses and your strategy for combating common situations can give you that extra 5%... once you have built that SNG bankroll then is the time to move over to cash and relearn from the ground up - trying to do a bit of everything is hurting many players bankrolls.

Something to think about!

Anyway, going to do a little cut-n-paste for you all now, get all 10 posts linked from the one 'kick off' which I will then pop into the side menu under 'List Of Plan3t Gong Strategy Articles' (towards the top).

GL at the tables, Mark

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Start Of Second Quarter - Poker Business Update

Well, the first thing to mention is that the separate business blog is still on the big list of things to do - will probably be a few more business updates here at Plan3t Gong before that one gets going. Has been another hectic month during March and April sees lots of projects on the boil and a conference at the end... will start with a recap of March

- Poker Bonus Clubs for Romania and Russia completed and Rakeback-Planet revamped
- Lanuched the 'Comedy of Errors' eBook in Russian.
- Finally Got our Limited Company running here in Hungary (what a task that was, hmmmm!), we are now 'officially' trading as Planet Corporation Kft
- Significant increases in traffic and more quality content across the network
- Player sign-ups holding up nicely and a surprise boost from software tools
- Tons more material translated... to be put to use this month.

Plans for April are actually quite varied... here are just the main highlights...

- SNG Planet: Should have the Polish version done, at least the SNG section which we plan on launching with (50-odd pages so no small task here). Also hoping to (finally) get a large number of the articles archived... they will still be available, it is just the list is so long that I have a feeling people do not know where to start. If there is time we will also revamp a couple of the main sections and do a better job of letting visitors know about the translations by interlinking key articles. Oh, more content too... in all of the languages!

- Omaha Planet: No significant plans here, just add some more articles to keep it fresh.

- Killer Holdem: Just written a couple more for this site, really not fulfilling it's potential at the moment but happy just to keep it ticking over for now.

- Rakeback-Planet: Just had a big revamp, need to add some more content here too... will write some this week in fact. Going to move forward with getting this one translated into Russian next... will involve finding a new partner to manage the back-end.

- Poker Bonus Clubs: New Polish version will be completed this month, at the moment we are working on revamping the 3 current sites in this group to make them more 'immediate' for visitors. Idea is that we use the Russian one as a template then cascade the changes through HU, RO and eventually Polish. Again more content on the way for this little network, will also decide on the next language and kick this off... maybe Slovak this time!

- Melted Felt: Hopefully my old brain keeps coming up with twists on the poker news - guest contributions welcome as long as they are funny!

- Durrrr Challenge Blog: Quietly pleased with how this one started, going to have a custom header made too.

- Plan3t Gong: Custom header in plan... if these look good we might start offering them to others.

Thats all for now... lots of things under consideration, just a matter of managing time properly, we might be looking to start our first casino site this month, but then again I have been saying that for at least 2 months now. At the end of April Erika and I will travel to Amsterdam to our first poker affiliate conference - really looking forward to this one and will post more about preparations closer to the time. Finally I am slowly (but surely) getting my head around all the new fangled Web 2.0 stuff and hope to have a page up on the portal and an annoucement soon!

As usual I am happy to answer any business related questions / comments (either publicly or privately... just say).

GL at those tables, Mark

Monday, April 06, 2009

63% More Profit Project - Idea #9 - A Tilt Contingency Plan

Almost there now, this being idea number 9 of 10 in my series on ways to increase your poker profits by 5% each time... with the wonder of compound interest these could see your weekly or monthly take go up by a healthy 63% if you implement them all!

So, todays tip is all about the enemy of all poker players - Tilt.

I have written at length on Tilt here before (and at SNG Planet too), with the many and often subtle forms this can take and potential damage to your bankroll. Here we will just use a simple definition of getting angry after a bad beat / cold deck or long losing run.

5% improvement in profits should be relatively easy here right, we don't need anything too special - just to have thought about the subject and created a simple plan for what we can do next time that Tilt rears it's ugly head.

This could take several forms depending on the game you play and your individual style. Stopping play completely is often difficult, especially for tournament and SNG players, yet taking even a short break can save you a lot of ev over time. If you really really feel anger then why not load up a play money or penny poker table and vent there - losing $2 rather than $200 could make a big difference... having a different screen name could help separate things even more.

Really the key to grabbing 5% from Tilt really stems from awareness, since this is at its most dangerous when you are suffering the effects and yet not aware of them. Depersonalising any anger towards an individual who bad beat you can be as simple as switching off the chat. Have a think about what you plan on doing now, and next time you feel tilt coming along you can feel good about implementing your plan... and adding yet another 5% to your profits!

Gl at the tables, Mark

Saturday, April 04, 2009

63% More Poker Profit Project - 5% idea #8 - Hand vs Ranges

Onwards with the 8th idea which could improve your poker profits by 5% today, the idea being to implement 10 of them, giving us a compound 63% improvement in poker profits... today back to something a little dry, but actually very important.

Beginning poker players learn about hand matchups fairly early, after what-beats-what, bet sizes and position. After this comes the hand vs draw combinations with 2 and 1 card to come. Next we get to ranges. Now this is not a lecture on how to define and play against different opponent ranges. In fact most of us could grab the 5% required here a lot faster than the work it would take to do this just by making and memorising a chart on how each hand fares against 3 possible opponent ranges... I'll even help you out by naming the 3 you need.

Loose, Average and Tight.

There, easy. Now answer me this, you have a pair of sevens, how does this do against a loose range for an opponent in your particular game at your buy-in level??

Again most of us will have an idea here... but here is the key: Those players who have a much better idea than you have the potential to win a little more here and lose a little less there. In other words they have the edge which you are looking for...

Some good news: there is a free tool which will help you to compile such a chart in no time at all, and doing this (including defining ranges for your main game) will help you a lot more than simply reading a chart which someone else has made. It is called Poker Stove and you can find it via this link:

This is as easy a 5% as you'll find, and one that is freely available.

Number #9 coming up soon - so don't forget to bookmark Plan3t Gong today.

Gl at the tables, Mark

Thursday, April 02, 2009

63% More Poker Profit Project - 5% Idea #7 - Drunk, Tired Or Ugly

We reach number #7 today in what seems to have been an epic number of posts on how to improve your poker results by 5% each time...

For those reading Plan3t Gong for the first time, this is a series of 10 posts on how to improve your profits by 5%, which (due to the fantastic thing which is compounding) will give you a healthy 63% improvement in your profit over time.

Today we cover something which many of us are guilty of... playing poker when drunk, tired or 'ugly' (by which I mean pissed off / depressed / worried about something unrelated and so on). Now, you really do not need me to tell you that this is minus ev, sure we all have stories about how we won a big pot (not proud of it but I have made a final table after half a bottle of JD before now!)... but hey, time to be honest with ourselves - this costs money over time. Possibly a lot of money.

This tip could be difficult to stop for the same reason as the 'concentration' one before - that part of the fun of playing poker is that it is there whenever you want it to be... however, we can all improve our profits by 5% with this, by stopping when tired once in a while, by doing something else when feeling down once in a while, or by resticting ourselves to freerolls or penny games after coming back home drunk... and hey, it can be fun in those games!

Well, if you implemented all seven ideas you could easily be at a 40% improvement in profits by now... but stay with me #8, #9 and #10 are just around the corner.

Gl at those tables, Mark

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

63% More Poker Profit Project - 5% Idea #6 - Tool Up Your Game

The 6th in this series of 10 improvements which add 5% to your game involves poker software tools, some are free and others cost you money (or at least a sign-up and points-collect). The idea here is that each 5% improvement compounds, adding up to a 63% rise in your profits overall, and the key to this post is a shift in your thinking.

In business we can divide money that leaves our bank accounts into two broad categories, expenses and investments. Expenses are a cost, this is necessary to run the business, but itself provides no return. An investment is money spent today to bring in more money tomorrow, to grow your business or improve your profit margins on those existing projects...

People look at the price tag of poker tools (most are in the $80 to $100 range) and think, 'well my poker bankroll is only a couple of hundred, I can not justify this expense'.

Well, I look at this differently - choose the right tools (not difficult with the amount of information available on forums / blogs / sites today) and you are making an investment, not meeting an expense. If you are a SNG player then buying Wizz (and using it!) will add many more percentage points to your profits than the 5% we are claiming here. If you are a cash game player not keeping a hands database with something like Poker Tracker and using a heads-up stats display then you are almost flushing money down the drain in this day and age.

Some people claim 'purity' of the game is compromised here. My view is that the sites have strict rules as to what is fair and what is not, and serious opponents are using these against you - time to level the playing field folks - the key here is investment and not expense!

For those who would like to test the waters with poker software then Poker Stove is a must have (calculates equity against ranges). Other possibilities include SNG Wiz, Poker Office or Texas Calculatum (calculates odds for cash games and is actually the World's best selling tool). I will not include any affiliate links here - if anybody would like to find out more then we have a section at SNG Planet called Best Poker Tools which reviews many of the leading ones.

Tool yourself up soon and reclaim a lot more than 5%.

Tomorrow I'll continue with another meta-game tip to move even closer to that magic 63% profit.

Gl at the tables, Mark

Monday, March 30, 2009

63% More Poker Profit Project - 5% Idea #5 - Profile Your Opponents

Half way through the Plan3t Gong list of 10 ways to improve your poker profits by a mere 5% each time - so as to get a compound 63% improvement in profits that anybody with a little motivation should be able to achieve.

Todays thought involves doing a little more thinking about your opponents. From my experience it is one of those things that seems banal - until you try it for yourself!

Now, whatever game you play and at whatever stakes you will encounter certain broad categories of opponents at the table. If you are like me then you may well give them notes (will come to that later in the series!) and adjust to the behaviours you see them exibit. Thats great, but with a little planning, a little work specific to your game you will find that many of those you are up against fall into broad categories of play.

To grab this 5% improvement in our profits we do not need to have prefect information on the tendencies of each of the 'crazy' the 'recreational loose passive' or 'multi-table rock / pushbot' players we are up against... what we need is a plan.

This plan can start with the 'average' opponent in your game, and should include what they are most likely to do with strong hands, monsters, draws and weak hands, when they try to bluff, their bet sizes in different scenarios and their starting hand selections. Once you have a rough idea of this kind of information you will start to see clearly how and when to adjust... in fact you'll feel so much more comfortable at the tables that 5% will probably be too small a difference.
Once you have done this for the average player you are free to move on to the minorities at the extremes.

Remember, some of your opponents will have thought about this, some will have a rough idea of your tendencies and be adjusting to expoit them. Retake this easy to grab 5% and you'll be half way to a 63% improvement in your profits.

GL at the tables, Mark

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Misc Ramblings On Poker And Life

Since I am doing the 63% series at the moment a slightly fuzzy headed Sunday afternoon seems like the time to lighten things up a little... with a more free form post (ie, started writing but no plan!).

Lets get the 'Earth Hour' done first. Yesterday at 8:30PM in your timezone the lights went out for an hour - millions joined in including your humble host. The lights alone will not change or rectify the damage we are collectively doing to our planet. What this event does is to get people to think about the topic on a more personal level... not going to rant about it here, but thinking about what you can do to help is much more constructive than blaming 'them' IMO.

Saw Slumdog Millionaire this weekend to (i know, behind the times as always)... very good film indeed.

On the poker front I've not played much of late, had a small SNG rush a week or so ago, thinking it was time to build a bankroll - worked for a while, $$ went upwards then I got so sick of them that the idea was abandonded... it was this and a specific cash game hand which really showed me that improving my own game (at least on a detail leved) is not going to happen for a while...

Now, this might seem contradictory to readers following my 'how to improve our profits' series, but to me it is not. This blog only ever had one goal, to provoke thinking in those who read - my own position is clear, poker is for liesure and profit... if either the fun or the $ go then I don't play!

Here was the hand... just a vauge outline since the principle is the focus, not the details.

I have q-10 suited in a big blind and a predicatable but aggressive opponent opens 4x from the button... small blind calls (he seems to call about 60%!!) and I complete - aware that button is raising a huge range here.

Flop comes raggy and check-check- 2/3rds of pot bet from button, small blind folds and I raise the pot - expecting a fold a good enough percentage of the time... and get one.

Boring huh?? Well, not quite... sure it was a standard combination of observing my opponents bet sizes and flop texture that lead me to make the decisions I did. Also having only overcards meant I was not giving up that much equity if he then comes over the top...

However it got me thinking that a better player than me, someone who was more dedicated to improving their game and win-rate would not have looked at this as 'based on what I have seen, there is a good chance he folds to a flop check-raise here'. Instead they would have assessed his opening range in terms of hands not just the word 'wide', they would have compared that range to the flop, they would have assesed his post-flop aggression to see how often this was a bluff, they would have an idea of how often this player would go to showdown when he missed and so on... the flop check-raise would have been based on math and expectation... not some vauge feeling (even if it turned out to be correct).

Back to me... I have decided to dedicate my time to growing my business and to focus recreation away from poker (to an extent at least). I'm not going to put in the time to fine tune the details in ways as described.

The thing is there are a lot of people out there who are convinced that somehow they are going to be the next poker success without putting in the work on the situational / detail level... my question is are they being realistic?

Longer post than expected... back to the 63% project series tomorrow!

GL at the tables, Mark

Friday, March 27, 2009

63% More Poker Profit Project - 5% Idea #4 - General Concentration

Are you reading Plan3t Gong while playing poker?? If so we'll have a chuckle together by the end of this post!

This is idea #4 of 10 in my series on improving your poker profits. The idea is that we could all use some extra cash, and just 10 easy to implement steps which each add just 5% to your profit will (thanks to the wonder of compound interest!) make you 63% better off if you implement them all... sticky with all the ideas together will follow.

Now for some low-hanging fruit, I'd be willing to bet that most of us (yep, me included) could improve in the area of concentrating on our games... surfing, IMing, watching TV, phones (or texting), checking stats or even railing your friends - all of these things reduce our edge, in the worst case making us into 'level zero thinkers' who are simply reacting to cards and not playing against other people at all.

It should be very easy to see how we could reclaim 5% here.

Now, when I listed this one in the trusty Plan3t Gong notepad I realised that there was a compromise here. People like surfing / IMing / TVing etc etc and playing poker at the same time is bundled together in the category of 'having fun'... so, to set the record straight, I am not advocating that you sit in a lead-lined room focusing only on the tables with no other human or computer connection for as long as you are playing!

Instead I'd like to get readers to have a think about concentration, to stop playing when their focus goes, to switch off 1 (or 2) distractions... and to reclaim the easy 5% improvement in profits which will come with this.

If you have followed all 4 tips then we should be up to a 21.5% improvement already... come back soon for number #5 (though reserving the right to post something else for a break this coming weekend!!)

GL at the tables, Mark

Thursday, March 26, 2009

63% More Poker Profit Project - 5% Idea #3 - Learn Those All-In Percentages

Here is the 3rd or 10 simple ideas which together could improve your poker winnings by a cool 63%, for new readers this is a series of posts each with one idea to improve your take by a mere 5%... together that equals 63% thanks to the wonders of compound interest.

Lets take a trip back in time to the late 1950's and The Cincinnati Kid... before he met with 'The Man' to play 5 card stud Steve McQueen was seen memorising a table of the percent equity for different hands - and he was supposedly the 2nd best player in the country!

My 5% question / idea today is those hand matchups, those draws vs made hand combos, those all-in precentages (both ICM and Sklansky-Chubakov types) are the building blocks of the game of poker.

Now, be honest with yourselves once again, you 'sort of know' right? have a pretty good idea, if I asked you to write them down you'd be within a few percent most of the time... yet the people who really know this stuff have an edge on you - they are taking +ev situations and avoiding -ev situations, they are taking a little % here and a little % there from you with each confrontation.

The great thing about this material is that it is freely available on many websites (recommend the wikipedia as a good starting point) and books.

No excuses here folks, I know that mathematical reading material is a little dull, but this is an easily attainable 5% without a doubt... you do want to improve those profits by 63% right??

Number #4 follows tomorrow (so don't forget to bookmark Plan3t Gong today!)

Gl at the tables, Mark

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

63% More Poker Profit Project - 5% Idea #2 - Never Ever Give Up

Idea number #2 in my 63% series today (10 incremental ways of improving your poker profits by 5% which together can make you 63% richer!).

Again this will seem obvious. Again I will ask you to be honest with yourself about whether you actually do this... not honest with me, I'm not your coach (!) honest with your self.

So, you take a beat in a tournament and get down to 1.5BBs in the mid-stages and just call (or even bet) junk the next hand since you are 'dead' anyway (same could apply to a SNG). You lose a big hand in a cash game and decide to call it a night... your last 4 blinds go into the pot next time you see a picture card or an ace regardless of the situation.... we have all been there right??

Now, if you were to committ right now never to give up in these situations I'd be willing to bet that your overall profits could improve by 5%, the number of times I have come back in SNGs, even making a final table once in an MTT when I carefully nursed 2 blinds for a few hands after being on the wrong end of an all in... in cash games too.

Giving up is a form of tilt and is bad for your bankroll - write it on your monitor now, and remember to write to me next time you win a SNG or cash in an MTT that you could have given up on, this is an easy 5% and not one to be sniffed at either!

Tune in again tomorrow for number #3

Gl at the tables, Mark

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

63% More Poker Profit Project - 5% Idea #1 - Actively Avoid Winners

As promised, here is the first of 10 easy improvements which together will make you 63% more profit. For those who missed the start-off post the idea is simple... 10 * 5% improvements which anybody should be able to implement can see your profit jump, for every $100 you were earning from the tables I think you should be making $163!

Idea number #1 is, like all the ideas to follow, going to sound blindingly obvious.

I challenge readers here to be honest - not with me - with yourselves... sure you'll recognise these ideas (at least if you have taken some time to think about your game!) but have you actually acted upon them?? really?

So, avoiding other winners, those regulars who are decent for the level they play in whatever game you are playing. Even if you can beat them they are taking money from the other losing players. Even if you can then extract the money from them you are winning less than you would if all of your opponents were mostly losing players.

In SNGs and cash games this is easy simply observe and check stats - then avoid tables with multiple winners already registered / seated, in tournaments you might need to try a little harder - actively searching for a better MTT on a different site for example (and if you play exclusively on Tilt and / or Stars you'll be amazed at the difference elsewhere!), or getting up earlier to catch the late night crowd on whichever side of the pond you come from.

The thing about this is that anyone can see how a little effort could improve your profits - but so few do anything about it. Taking notes, looking up stats and creating an 'avoid' list could make you more than 5% extra over time.

Here you have it, idea number #1 of 10.

Tune in again tomorrow for number #2!

GL at the tables, Mark

Sunday, March 22, 2009

New Series - Looking After The Poker Profit Percentages

Not had a linked series of posts here for a while... yeah, I know, I promise to keep them all together and make a sticky link in the side, and then somehow forget. Oh well, hopefully each post will stand on its own - and just maybe I'll go through this blog and sort it all out one day.

(Looking for the links to the 10 posts?? Scroll Down!)

Anyway - this is supposed to be a motivational series as well as a thought-provoking one. The idea is simple... lets find as many ways as possible to improve profits by a small percentage... here is what I mean, imagine you make $100 per week playing the beautiful game - and can add ways to improve that profit over time - now lets imagine that each mini-idea adds just 5% to your take and look at what is possible after 10 small ideas.

Idea #1 - easy, we add something small and our profit is $105
Idea #2 - Now we are adding 5% to $105m so $110.25
Idea #3 - And so on... next $115.76
#4 $121.55 (hang in there, the wonders of compounding start to show now!)
#5 $127.63
#6 $134
#7 $140.71
#8 $147.74 (see what I mean - only 8 and almost 50% up!!)
#9 $155.13
#10 - Our final mini improvement brings us to $162.89c... a nice 63% improvement in cash in the hand (allowing for varience of course!) each and every week.

You think that finding 10 small ideas which could add 5% to your profits over time is all that hard?? Of course not, and to prove it this series of posts will be all about ways in which your profits can be improved - whatever the poker variation or stakes you play at.

Going to start tomorrow - and will have 1 each day this week.... so don't forget to bookmark Plan3t Gong today! In the meantime have a think about how you might improve your profits incrementally...

Idea #1 Actively Avoid Winning Players

Idea #2 Never Ever Give Up

Idea #3 Learn Those All-In Percentages

Idea #4 Concentrate On Concentration

Idea #5 Profile Your Opponents

Idea #6 Tool Up Your Game

Idea #7 Drunk, Tired or Ugly?

Idea #8 Hands vs Ranges

Idea #9 Tilt Contingency Plan

Idea #10 One Format At A Time

Ok, hopefully this did the trick... of course there is still some money on the tables for many readers. Those of you playing without rakeback really need to stop what ever you are doing for just a moment and draw a deep, long breath... you fight like a dog over a $10 pot, yet leave $1000's per year in the hands of the poker sites, why!!?!? The trusted Planet Brand has the solution... and the Best Rakeback Deals available, if you do one thing to improve your profits today - take action to liberate some of your hard-won cash from the greedy poker sites at the very least!!

Gl at the tables, Mark

Poker Chat Box Psychology - A Vaugely Recalled 2-7 TD Hand

Going to post about a hand today... astute readers may recall that this blog moved away from such trivialities as my own poker play some months back - however, I thought that this one was thought-provoking enough to make the cut.

Here is the background... short (4) handed in a Stars 8-game MTT in the late stages (i donked out before the money btw!!). Folded to me in the small blind and seeing 4 to a rough 8... thats 4 cards 8 and below, but not the best ones (smooth would be babies with an 8).

Now, the hand before the player who is now in the BB got upset... very upset.

In fact as I was acting he was still berating an opponent, the theme was 'u call a raise pre and draw 2, IMAO you f donkey' and stuff like that (standard these days, though poker was once actually quite friendly believe it or not!!).

I'm raising any 4-card 8 BVB anyway but here is the interesting part... even with junk I had an easy steal here. Since our 'angry professor' could not call my raise and draw 2 cards without 'losing face'.

He calls and draws 1 - in fact we both do.

I feel this is unlikely to represent a real low, my main logic was that 4 card lows are hard to come by before the first draw and (importantly) you would raise 80% of them - especially blind vs blind. I just felt the chances were that he drew 1 when he would really liked to have drawn 2 (or even 3).

So, I pair (doh - pairs ruin a 2-7 triple draw hand) but bet anyway. He raises, I call and draw 1 - hitting a 9 low. My opponent stands Pat.

Following the logic above this makes no sense at all, what hand could he have not raised pre-draw, drawn 1 and then re-raised with?? Back to the chat, he was representing strength by re-raising when he really wanted to draw 2 initially... therefore he was now highly unlikely to have a strong hand.

I check after the 2nd draw with my 9. He raises - now I can find out if my logic is correct... and put in the check-raise for an extra couple of big bets. He pauses, calls and then starts typing obsenties in the chat box again (which shows me I was right). I stand pat for the last draw and he breaks, drawing one.

Bet - call on the end and my 9 holds up to beat.... a worse 9 (phew). The message: be careful how you berate people - it might come back to haunt you!

Anyway, finally busted in a 7 stud high round when an opponent called all the way to the river with split 3's when I paired my ace door card, yes he could see he was beaten all the way to the end but called anyway!! No worries though I welcome this and wish more opponents would do it.

GL at the tables, Mark