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

Friday, March 20, 2009

Poker Affiliate Business - Quick Update + International Reflections

Still working like the proverbial dog on the poker affiliate business.... sign-ups and tools sales holding up just fine, and more projects on the way.

Really is excellent to be breaking into new geos - and doing it in such a way as to make quality content the driver for doing this, and hiring language speakers here at Planet HQ to ensure we do things properly - ad for the next person coming out in the press next week!

Relecting on the competition the other day and I really do have a huge advantage here... not talking about the auto-translating crowd (written about those types before, they are no better than chinese forum spammers, yet they often delude themselves that they are 'proper' business people), really those who are paying though the nose to have their bonus pages translated - and thinking that this is an 'investment'.

Here is are my Friday thoughts on the subject, going to sound a little harsh, but not meant nastily in any way - only to provoke the maximum amount of thinking / reflection:

- Translations: You are being ripped off by translation agencies, paying 22c a word (or whatever) to someone who is paying no more than 7c to 10c... they might tell you differently, but with a tiny bit of effort you can find local pro agencies CHEAPER than this. My thought is that it is only laziness getting you ripped off - wake up and dump the smooth talking translation snake-oil salesmen!

- Updates: What, may I ask, is the plan for all of these reviews and bonus page translations when the sites change their software, add new games or do their bonuses differently?? Will you have the whole thing re-translated? Any affiliate will know that this is a significant task even in your native language - so whats the plan??

- Links: Great news, links are actually easier to come by from many countries - where the cultural generosity outweighs the financial selfishness... but guess what? Nobody is going to link to your out of date bonus page - it adds no value to them or anyone else. What is lacking is not bonus pages but quality content in the newer geos. Again, what is the plan?? Almost every method of getting your site known is open, and in many cases easier... how are you going to unlock this fantastic potential??

- Sites: Why are you pushing sites which do not have software in the language you translated into? Do you think people will not see adverts, not speak to each other, not visit forums and find out for themselves which countries cater for them? Did you know there are small local outfits in many geos... they do not appear on the radar of 'top 20' sites but they are busy exploiting their local niche.

The list could go on, a funny example being that translating SNGs into cyrillic (Russian) letters will see you compete with government type websites as this is the well known acronym for the 'Council of Independant States' (and at least one 22c a word agency has this wrong!!). Local heros vs US poker pros is another area of note.

I welcome competition and wish every affiliate well (they are mostly a great bunch of people!), there is enough pie out there for us all... however, if you are having your bonus pages translated in the hope of 'bringing in the foreign cash' then you are only making the translation agency con-artists rich and yourself poorer... think it through first.

Back to blogging from a players perspective next time.

Gl at the tables, Mark

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Poker Business Latest + (Almost) iPoker Rakeback

Things moving along fast here at the Planet Corp, with more projects underway than you could viably shake a stick at. Read on, there are a couple of excellent offers which I'd like to offer the loyal readers of Plan3t Gong first...

While delays are frustrating us in some projects (PB Club Romania stuck with a horribly slow Hungarian registrar for example) others are moving fast indeed - we even have a press ad coming out for a new employee to join us here at Planet HQ.

Happy to announce the re-vamped Rakeback-Planet (with the dash!) has been uploaded, some final tweaks required along with a graphical pros / cons box etc but the fundamentals are all there.

Here are a couple of offers which seem very good indeed to me, if I was not working 12 hours a day on my mini-empire I'd certainly grab the iPoker one for myself!!

- The Best iPoker Rakeback Deal in the world, ever! Except it is not rakeback, instead an infinite bonus with special bonus clearing percentage cash award and daily rake-race which pays a lot of spots.... add this deal (which is definitely not rakeback of course) together and we are talking 40%-odd for an average recreational player and up to 55% for a cash-game grinder... to my mind that is as good as it gets - and as soon as your bonus runs out you just ask for a new one.

- For my many US-readers I am able to offer some juicy deals too... firstly a deal so nice that I am prohibited by the Ts and Cs from mentioning the 'r-word' at the same time. Instead there is a 30% Bodog loyalty VIP bonus available, re-occuring, cash-out any time, on top of the 110% to $500 bonus... its basically r**** (oops, not allowed to say it). I can also offer the highest rates for all of the usual US-friendly rooms 33% at Cake, 27% at Full Tilt, 30% at UB etc etc along with races and freerolls (it is a partnership with one of the biggest providers - ensuring that my readers get entry into the profitable promos).

- Finally we have a good few pages of information (which will expand over time - like to keep those sites 'alive') including a rakeback FAQ and a page on Existing Account Rakeback Offers for those tricky situations.

Anyway, bit of a commercial post really - but hey, only do this once a month or so. If you would like to hear more on rakeback then drop me a comment, I will not publish it if it contains an e-mail address. Will do a more detailed business update post soon.

GL at the tables, Mark

Monday, March 16, 2009

5 Ways In Which The Pareto Principle Affects Online Poker

I'm feeling refreshed after a couple of days of deliberately avoiding the poker business (not that I stopped having ideas of course!). Back to the trusty Plan3t Gong notepad for a few potentially thought provoking posts this week...

5 ways in which the Pareto Principle affects online poker...

The Pareto Principle, popularly known as the 80 / 20 rule, has a huge effect on many aspects of our lives. In short this states that 80% of the results come from 20% of the efforts - though it is commonly also used to show results (80% of the wealth is owned by 20% of the population). Once you become familiar with the Pareto principle you will see it again and again in all manner of life situations - the ratio might not always be exactly 80% / 20%, but you will be surprised how often it is close!

Poker And The Pareto Principle #1

80% of the profit is won by 20% of the players... this is actually pretty close, when we surveyed the results of 2 million SNG tournaments on Stars back in late 2007 it was something like 76% / 24% here (banner on the top left for SNG Planet if you want to look at the survey results).

Poker And The Pareto Principle #2

Of the 80% profit that is won by 20% of the players... 80% of that is won my 20% of the profitable players. So, the top 4% (ish) of players are actually sharing around 60% of the total profits.... here we could easily drill down twice or even 3 times more, eventually reaching the tiny percentage of elite winners who are taking the millions.

Poker And The Pareto Principle #3

In a poker tournament we can also drill down using an approximate 80/20 through the prize structure... so 20% win 80% of the money, of the winning players in an individual tournament 80% of the prizes go to the best 20%... and so on. Not exact, but I am sure that you can see the pattern!

Poker And The Pareto Principle #4

You will win 80% of your pots with the top 20% of starting hands. Seems kind of obvious right when it comes to pots... what about total money here though? Personally I think starting hands to cash will be more like 90% comes from 10% - could be huge individual differences here though, a LAG and a Nit having very different results.

Poker And The Pareto Principle #5

Knowledge is my final idea... that 80% of the strategy knowledge you use to win at those tables comes from 20% of what you read. This is partially caused by the fact that there is a lot of poorly written strategy content out there (!). Mostly because, on any individual players learning curve there are some basic building blocks which plug big leaks or spark big profits... and then lots of smaller ideas which just add the slim percentage here and there.

So, anyone have any more ways in which the 80% / 20% rule applies to poker??

Don't forget to bookmark Plan3t Gong, this is the blog that never claims to be right - but loves to make readers think!!

GL at the tables, Mark

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

SNG Training Videos At The Full Tilt Academy + First Thoughts

Figured that Plan3t Gong would be the ideal place for an honest review of the new-fangled 'Full Tilt Poker Academy'...

For those not aware here is an overview of what it is:

- In essence a free poker training site featuring lots of 15ish minute videos from the ever growing stable of Full Tilt pros.
- There are also quizes which are timed, the top answerers get freeroll entries.
- Plus 'Pro challenges' where you put your skills to real use at the Full Tilt tables, you get points for these which can then be spent in a special store...

Lets be honest for a moment, Full Tilt are a savvy business and have created this for a reason. Pure publicity is one of course... as you can see, people are blogging about it! 2nd is that it keeps beginners interested enough to become regular players, and even offers a value-add to intermediate level players too, all designed to funnel more action to the tables.

My first impressions are actually very positive - which is a bit annoying, much easier to write about something when you do not like it!!

Watched Aaron Bartley + Lederers SNG vids and did a quick quiz, and you know what - they were nicely produced from an educational as well as technical perspective. Someone has obviously thought through how to make them step-by-step and invented examples of each concept... can we expect to see people folding A-J off in EP at level 1 of a SNG soon?? Not so sure, though the explanation of why was excellent!! Aaron explained some nice concepts for the middle limits, the problem with many of these for the lower limits is that you are less likely to get a fold to a 3-bet - so remember to adjust accordingly.

The quiz I took was basic but will re-enforce the learning, after deliberately choosing the 'stupid answer' to see what would happen we get a patient and patronising explanation of what the real answer was... then again I am experienced enough to spot the 'stupid answer' whereas a beginner might not!

Pro challenges are cool too, the spend 2% of your bankroll in a SNG as one of the SNG Challenged is great IMO... since 90% of beginners do not think that bankroll management applies to them until they go broke (then blame the RMG of course!). Actually making people do this could wake a couple of players out of their denial (maybe!).

So, great first impression - Since I will be adding this to Full Tilt reviews throughout my network the rest of the vids are on my 'to-do' list, will report back to this blog in around a week once I have seen enough to warrant another post.

In the meantime you can check them out for yourself over at Full Tilt Poker use bonus code SNG600 to claim your 100% bonus while you are at it!

Gl at the tables, Mark

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Poker Knowledge vs Poker Discipline

A Potentially interesting debate started over at 2+2 with a poster asking what the respective roles of knowledge and discipline were in ensuring profitable poker play. There were a few thoughtful replies before the inevitable 'Its both so why discuss it, retard' type post appeared.

Well, I for one think debates like this are interesting, While it is obvious from the start that the end answer is 'both', it is the inter-relationships which are the key... imagine the debate on nature vs nurture being prematurely ended by some spotty little oik saying 'its both moron' !!

Consistantly beating online poker games requires many skills - at the highest level we can group skills such as bankroll management, game selection, tilt avoidance and the motivation to analyse your hand histories after playing as 'discipline' based skills. Knowledge can be thought of as approaching the play of a hand (or group of hands --> whole tournament) based on hand-reading, spotting situations, exploiting weaknesses of opponents and so on... Knowledge is what use in-game while discipline is the meta-game.

We can start by saying that knowledge has to be the starting point, right? After all, if you do not have the basic skills to win chips then all discipline will do is stop you from losing them so quickly.

For me this is where the debate starts to get interesting....

I honestly believe that the 'knowledge' to beat the game of poker could be attained in a couple of days in both theory and practice. Not talking about the ability to crush the games here, instead the ability to play ABC poker and pick up enough cash to beat the rake and make your bankroll grow.

What is more, I expect 95% of Plan3t Gong readers will already have this knowledge... and the vast majority of players online to at least have the potential to gain this knowledge very quickly indeed...

Yet we know that the vast majority of players loose money online rather than win it!

Discipline is where it all falls apart, most people assume bankroll management is something rather dull which does not apply to them... table selection means clicking the very first available seat and that moving up levels is a great way to recover from a bad beat. To my mind the poker economy is feuled by players with adequate knowledge - but terrible discipline....

This works for the lower levels quite well... however once we get to a certain level in the game - say $1 / $2 at the sites with a lot of grinders or $2 / $4 to $3 / $6 at the fishier sites we see knowledge regaining some ground. Anyone successfull over an extended period of time at these levels would need to have developed discipline in their game... or they would not have survived! Now that discipline is universal the thing that separates the winners and losers is knowledge...

Long post but an interesting conclusion... that it is only when everyone is playing with discipline that knowledge really starts to become important!

Your thoughts welcome.

GL at those tables, Mark

Thursday, March 05, 2009

SNG Strategy - March Newsletter From SNG Planet

Since I went to all the trouble of writing a SNG strategy article for my SNG Planet subscribers.... we might as well share it with the good readers of Plan3t Gong too.

If anyone is wondering SNG Planet is the biggest and best site dedicated to SNGs, MTTs and Satellites around and I do a monthly newsletter for readers there - you can subscribe, and get hold of the acclaimed SNG strategy e-book 'A Comedy of Errors' at the same time over at the site... millions of links in the newsletter below!

The Great SNG Debate - Play To Win or Play To Cash??


As per the requests of many regular readers we have a more strategy
focused newsletter this month - addressing an age old debate in the
world of 1-table SNG tournaments...

** Should You Play For 1st Or Play To Cash? **

Before we get to this some more snippets of news in the world of
poker tournaments, SNGs and satellites...

- Poker Stars have improved their VIP Club further, reducing the
gaps between levels and increasing the weekly tournament prizes,
and with the 'SCOOP' a month away you have a great opportunity to
become a Poker Stars VIP while you qualify!

- Party have introduced a monthly $1 Million tournament, with many
satellites from just a few dollars

- SNG Planet have started coverage of 2-table SNGs with a general
strategy article for this popular format, with many more to follow!

Check out our news blog + articles over at the usual address:


Onto the big debate - Play to win or play to cash - we will start
by looking at the arguments put forward by proponents of each side,
and then give you an alternative view of the same question. We should
note that these arguments are specific to the 1-table 9 or 10 player
SNG tournaments.

Play To Cash View: This is based on the fact that the jump from 4th
to 3rd is 20% of the prize pool - which is equal to the jump from 2nd
to 1st!! Those who favor this argument say that locking up the 20%
brings the best returns over time and so the correct strategy is to
cash first and then go for the top!

Play To Win View: This view is based on the argument that your long
term ROI depends on the number of wins more than the number of cashes.
With 50% of the prize pool for 1st place, the 'folding into 3rd' will
never make up for taking a chance at the bubble and going for 1st every

I think both views are wrong, here is why!

In the late stages of SNG tournaments mathematics - together with the
accuracy with which you assign ranges of hands to opponents - can be
used to work our the correct plays in terms of your equity in the prize

Taking this as a starting point we can treat every situation as an
individual event. Every hand starts with chip stacks, blinds and your
positions in a certain configuration. Add to this your cards and the
calling / pushing ranges of opponents and the 'optimal' decision can
be calculated using the Indendent Chip Model.

So, let us have a look at how making good decisions based on known
facts ties in with the 2 'arguments' we started with.

1) Play To Cash, are you turning down situations in which you will gain
prize pool equity over time in order to cash? If so then your decisions
are costing you money - real money.

2) Play To Win, Are you taking negative expectation decisions at the
bubble in the hope that you can make up for these with a giant chip
stack? Well, your decisions are costing you real hard cash each time
that you make them. While it is certainly possible that your big stack
will create future profitable situations this is by no means certain,
after all opponents will loosen up considerably once the bubble has

I'd like to suggest that you forget about both of these common SNG
approches... and take on board a 3rd and more profitable approach:

"Play to make as many 'mathematically correct' decisions as possible,
and let the results look after themselves"

Once you reach 'expert' level then the meta-game will become important,
for most of us starting with an assumption like 'play to win' will
lead to spewing equity at the bubble.

Want to know more? There are 3 articles to look at, all can be found
in the SNG section over at

- Why All In? Understanding Push-Fold SNG Strategy.

- Introduction To The Independant Chip Model

- Best ICM Calculator (shows you how to quickly profit from ICM +
links to free trial of SNG Wiz).

Good Luck At The Tables, Mark

PS: Romanian Readers Alert - We have now released a 100 pages of SNG
planet in Romanian!! Check it out at

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Poker SEO - Excellent New Site

Mentioned a couple of small things concerning 'Search Engine Optimisation' here in the past but today will hand you over to a real expert. For those not aware SEO is the combined art / science of optimising your search engine rankings... this is a diverse topic with many approaches / opinions (my personal approach has been to kill 'em all with quality content!)

Anyway - I recommend bloggers and webmasters alike check out Randy Ray's Poker SEO site... a great starting point is his '20 questions' post.

GL at the tables, Mark

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

New Poker Blog Up - The Durrrr Challenge

Quick announcement and call for bloggers today - have a new blog up and running which will be following the Tom Dwan Durrrr Challenge. Have put some effort into the pics, layout and content over the last couple of days - and will be posting updates every day + youtube videos / links / news / gossip as things happen.

If you have a blog (a proper blog that is, with content and not spam) then I would be happy to add you to the Durrrr Challenge blogroll... you can leave me a comment either here or there.

Also open to any suggestions - the whole idea of this blog is to get everything in one place - so if there is anything on the Durrrr / Dwan challenge you'd like to see then please feel free to let me know.

The address again =

GL at the tables, Mark

Monday, March 02, 2009

Too Much Poker? Too Much TV? Or Maybe Too Much Hypocrisy?

A combo-post today - hopefully something to think about! This was triggered by a seemingly large uptick in the number of "My friends / family have abandoned me" whinging poker player posts popping up all over the web... and some long-standing personal thoughts about the utter pervasiveness of TV in the lives of so many people.

So, those posts.

The kind of people who write them have just turned their first profits at the poker tables and are (say 4 to 6 months in) now obsessing about the possibilities, learning skills at a rapid rate and have probably just started to multi-table.

They give up social lives, girl / boyfriends, college, friends, family, sport, health and a balanced lifestyle in the pursuit of poker stardom. When people who genuinely care ask questions whether their poker 'career' is the right choice then they are usually demonised and assumed to be stupid / not understanding that poker is a game of skill / some loser who works for others* etc etc

Of course this picture is an extreme - yet plenty of people exactly like this exist out there - mostly in a somewhat less severe form... but with the damage to their lives occuring none the less.

If you are spending all of your time either playing, reading or thinking about poker to the detriment of real relationships and balanced fun life then stop and think now. If you have fallen out with one person due to poker then it is already having a negative impact on your life - let me say it again your life.

The usual counter is that it will all be worth it 'when I become a big name pro who is simply swimming in cash'.

Haha, good luck to you - and I genuinely mean it.

Facts suggest that for every success there are 10,000 who fail - maybe not completely, many will make small but liveable money 'grinding' for a couple of years before getting sick of it and moving on. The set back in life that their poker obsession gave them may linger for many years... though many get will back on track.

Is this you? Plan3t Gong never preaches - only asks questions to provoke thinking... step back, take a look at how poker balances with life and correct that balance... 2 to 3 evenings a week should be enough for even the most dedicated poker fan right??

Too Much TV??

Ah yes, the methodone metronome sucking the lives away from 100's of millions every day and every night. I have always had an issue with TVs, unfortunately there have not been many times in life when I lived alone to exist without one (though most of those times when I did live alone mostly proudly dispensed of them!).

Now the thing that gets me most about TV is not that it goes on as soon as the house is occupied, not that someone can plan to watch something and then flick for the 'least bad' alternative once it is over, it is not the fact that those who watch TV actually feel that they are doing something when actually they are just sitting there staring at moving pictures, it is not the (generally mid-IQ but socially inept) who proclaim that 'documentaries are the best' and provide great education, it is not the masses who believe every statistic, news story and 'report' without questioning the sources.... nope it is.... wait for it:

The fact that you are seen as somehow 'unreasonable' or even 'odd' if you ask (just once) for the TV to be switched off.

I mean, what kind of wierdo asks for the TV to go off? What kind of social freak does not understand that it is everyones right to stare open mouthed at yet another advert break?

You would like to talk instead??!?!


You get the picture by now...

Too Much Hypocrisy??

So, time to bring these two themes together.

Those very people who proclaim that poker is a 'problem' are the ones glued to their TV sets. Its not fair huh? You can not critisize their passtime but they get to critisize yours all they like? If you ask them to turn off the TV you are being 'difficult for no reason', if they ask you to play less poker they are ' trying to help you overcome your terrible addiction'.

Well I have set my stall out, I am (very much) pro poker and (very very much) anti-TV (though I will watch films these days!). Yet I actually think that the poker players who lose friends / family relationships / their health etc are the ones with the problem here.

At the end of the day what is socially acceptable to the masses becomes what we can loosely call 'societies rules'... if we want to step outside of those rules then it is up to us as poker players to make enough allowances, enough adjustments to our interactions with significant others and enough balance in life as a whole to show people that our game is recreation (yeah, and profit) and not some terrible affliction.

While there are those forum posters who fall out with everyone over poker, get fat and drop out of college the image of poker will be that of a destructive force... now would it not be great if having a game of poker online became just as mild and harmless as turning on the TV!!

GL at the tables, Mark