Saturday, December 27, 2008

Stick's Pick for Most Powerful Hockey Video

This is video gets me so hyped up when I watch it. The music and the action are just awesome. It must have been one helluva game to watch, but this is over 4 minutes of fighting from the same NHL game including the goaltenders. Man oh man...

EDIT: I just found the box score from that game. Incredible!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Damn Superstitions Creeping In!

I used to have all these stupid superstitions relating to my online poker playing. There was a time when I couldn't mention actual number relating to my poker, both on my blog and in person. Then I had to change my poker table backgrounds when I had bad runs. Then I couldn't look at the payout amounts of an SNG I would be playing. Now it's "bragging".

I was running at 8 PTBB/100 hands for the first 2 1/2 weeks of December until I decided to post my graph in a Cardschat thread. Then I had a bad run for a couple days and I'm still fighting back from it. Of course, my right mind says it's just coincidence. But in the fringes of my mind, I can't help but think that I jinxed myself by bragging about my good run. Pretty frickin stupid, but I can't help it. The same thing happened when I bragged about breaking even in August and then had 3 negative months afterwards. I gotta just do something to bust out of this superstition. I did it with my "numbers mentioning" hangup by just continually posting graphs and numbers here on my blog until that one when away. So I think I'll go about this one the same way by just posting some brag graphs and stats. So here they are:

Still at 6.74 PTBB/100 hands, but 8 was nicer. Oh well. Goin' cold turkey here in posting this. We'll see what happens now. Hope the poker gods don't mind.

I'm still reading "No Limit Hold'em: Theory and Practice" and studying with SteveG1976. We're both gaining a ton out of it. We have a mostly-set study schedule and it helps my motivation and preparedness. Seems we never run out of stuff to talk about. I'll post a review of the book as soon as I'm done.

Also, I will be posting my usual monthly results after New Years and I may even come up with a year-end results post or something. Until then, happy holidays to all.

Friday, December 12, 2008

New FTP Mod: Chicago Bears

Here's another Full Tilt Poker mod I did for a friend who is a Bears fan. Featuring a classic Mike Singletary pose.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Cool FTP Mod: Flaming Red Skull; Plus Stick's Update

I haven't made a new Full Tilt Poker mod in a while and I got a whim when I saw this flaming red skull. Hope you like it.

For installation instructions, click here.

To remove FTP's center felt table, click here.

For more free FTP table mods by Stick, look in the right side margin of the blog.

UPDATE: I'm still reading "NLHE: Theory and Practice". Finding leaks, fixing them, and having a good month so far. The last couple of days have been comebacks from being down early, but still satisfying. I might make a video or 2 for your viewing pleasure since it's been a while since I made one. We'll see.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

November '08 Results, Etc.

November was another negative profit month for me. Ended at -$113 overall. It would have been worse, but I had some success playing some SnG's. Here's my cash graph for November:

As you can see, I had some noticeable runs. Just a couple more bad ones than good ones. I can't say I played my best 100% of the time, but it did seem like I ran into quite a few sticky situations. It seems like I was either losing a my share of 60-75% favorites all-in or I was getting fooled by sets & straights over my big pairs. I have learned that the latter is one sign of being a TAGFish, but I hope I'm not that bad. I think it just comes from running into too many donkeys that I don't respect after I see them shove a 7-high flop with A7 versus my pocket Queens and my hand holds up. Then it seems like the next time it happens, they have a set of Sevens. When they are that donkish, it's pretty much 50/50.

I also learned that I've been getting killed by short stacks in cash games lately. I used to love to play against them because I could put them to a decision for all their chips easier. But I think my style has changed since then and I'm playing more hands. I've been c-betting weaker hands against them too much and getting committed on the turn. I think I really need to heighten my awareness of stack sizes vs. my hand strength and potential. I used to think that most short stackers had a wider range than normal, but I've run into some pretty nitty short stackers lately. I'll either have to experiment with them a bit or try to avoid them altogether.

I'm 1/3 done with "No-Limit Hold'em: Theory and Practice". I'm learning some new concepts and coming to some realizations that I need to make my play more dynamic. I'm also learning that aggression doesn't always win in every situation. There is a sector of players out there who believe in "all aggression, all the time". Steal, squeeze, iso-raise! But this book is telling me what I've known all along. It's that the aggressor only wins when the conditions are in his favor. I know I can be aggressive at any time. I just need to learn to improve my timing. This book is helping me in that respect. I'm hoping to have the book done in a few weeks so I can post a review here.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Am I a TAGFish?

Wow. I just read this article at Poker Player Online about how to tell if you are a "TAGFish" and it got me thinking. I do stack off with big pairs more than I'd like. But I don't have any of the other symptoms of TAGFishiness. I think my reads are well-rounded and I bluff properly for the most part. But I feel like I really should look deeper to see if I'm missing anything that might have me closer to the "fish" side of things.

I also have Tony Guerrera's book. So I think I'll give that a closer look, as well.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Review of Daniel Negeanu's New Book

I found a review of Daniel's newest book "More Hold'em Wisdom for All Players" at PokerNews. After reading the review, I'm somewhat disappointed that Daniel didn't take the next book in his "Wisdom" series a step further. The review says it's pretty much more of the same as the first and seems geared towards the novice player. Though I liked his first book, I did think each of the 50 tips in it seemed oddly short. Now I find out that both of these books are just compilations of articles from his syndicated newspaper/newsweb column. Makes sense now.

Well, I don't need a near rehash of the first book. So I guess I'll steer clear of the new one. I've also read in some forums that his bigger "Power Hold'em Strategy" book has been perceived by some as a "Super System 2" wannabe that doesn't quite live up to the original. But I'll still try to keep an open mind about that one and keep tabs on it as it gets more readers. Gotta give Daniel a full chance to impress me. lol

Monday, November 24, 2008

Running Low & Flat & Confused

This month has been confusing poker-wise. Ups and downs due to numerous reasons are just killing me mentally. It's funny how I can pretty much pinpoint what has happened during nearly every movement in my graph...

... but it seems I can't do much about it. When my blue line plunges, I've been too aggressive at the wrong time. When my red line dips and my blue line launches, I've been too passive. When my thick green line and thin green line widen the gap between each other, I've been hit with some bad beats. Too passive? Too aggressive? Too unlucky? Seems like when I fix one, another pops up. But I'll stay at it.

I even tried a little 10NL last night to get some mojo back. I really felt a good balance in my play. Even though that session was a slight loss, I felt like I played well. It just felt like I was very aware. I had great reads and pulled off some great bluffs and hero calls. I wonder what that means?

At the suggestion of a friend, I've also switched my reading from "Mastering No-Limit Hold'em" by Fox & Harker to "No Limit Hold'em: Theory and Practice" by Sklansky & Miller. My buddy SteveG1976 has been discussing sections of the book with me as I read them and it really, really helps in my motivation and understanding of what I've been reading. We get on Skype and discuss the book. We also use the Mikogo screen sharer to look at hands and try to apply the reading to them. I highly recommend this type of approach for folks like me who have problems with staying motivated while reading a book. Having someone else in the mix really lights the fire.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Forum Icon Retired

The regulars on Cardschat should recognize the familiar sight below. Well say your goodbyes because now I have a good reason to retire it. The poor newbies will no longer have visual aid for finding the answers they seek. But alas, it's time to put this pic to rest.

Farewell, my informative friend. Thanks for your help.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Stick's in the Hall of Fame!!

Well, not me. It's the actual "stick" that was just inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame. But my favorite inductee as a kid was "the box". When the folks would get a new fridge or dryer, instant fort!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Stick's Poker Library v.3

It's been a while since I posted my latest poker book list. I've added quite a few, but I think it's time to cool it on buying more for a while. I have 65 books and I'm reading my 15th, so I have a ways to go to catch up. Since I am an over-concentrating reader who ends up being slow at it, I think it'll be a few years before I can read them all. I think I'll still be on the lookout for used bargains, though. Can never pass up a good deal at the used book store.

EDIT: For poker book reviews by Stick, look in the right side margin of the blog.

I'm still reading "Mastering No-Limit Hold'em" by Fox & Harker, but it is going pretty slowly since I am playing so much. I think I need to get in a routine where a certain hour of the day is dedicated to reading. If I don't do something like that, I'll be 90 before I finish off my library!!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

October 2008 Results

Welp, I finished at a -$185 profit for the month. It looked like I'd finish near even, but I had a horrible -$200 day just before month end. My game has been so up & down lately that it is really hard to pinpoint my leaks. They don't last long enough to nail down. Just long enough to lose some buy-ins. I feel like frickin' Sybil! Check out my October graph:

I've been getting advice on Cardschat about being more aggressive, but it seems like I do much better when I'm passive and pick my spots. I went back for a look at my great month of August and found my stats to be pretty passive overall. I'm back at 25NL for a while, so I can try to fine-tune my aggression. But maybe passivity is not such a bad thing for me. I seem to spew when I am aggro. Kinda confusing.

I'm gonna set a "hands played" goal for November for myself. I tried to hit 1000 the other day and did it quite easily. I started 8- and 9-tabling, so that probably helped. I don't think I ever broke 15K played in a month. So I'll make my goal 20K. That's 666 hands per day. I could probably do 30K, but I'll take it one smaller step at a time.

My purchase of HEM has been a great decision as it has helped me identify my leaks quicker and put things in better prospective for me. I can stare at a report screen for a few minutes and the info just keeps coming to me. So much to interpret. So much to revisit. Such a huge help! I have even been visiting the HEM forum on a regular basis. It's cool to keep up on how others interpret their stats and maybe learn something new that can help me more. I fully recommend HEM for any cash player right now, and for everyone in the near future since they are currently working on better tournament support in the software.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Winning Team Member and Stick's Update

The Cardschat Team Event has concluded and our team won. It makes me especially proud since this is my 4th try at this event over the years and my team has always been in the bottom 2 or 3 out of 8 teams. But not this time. I also feel good in the fact that I contributed about 20% of my team's total points. In the past, I haven't been nearly as good. Plus out of 51 total players in the event, I had the 6th highest individual total points with 131. My teammate, "Alon Ipser" had the most individual points with 154, which means I wasn't far off. I've never had much success in Cardschat events overall and this latest result feels good for a change. Maybe I'll get a little more respect around the forum now. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that our team won a $100 freeroll for our 6 members. But to me, the bragging rights actually mean more.

I still think the team competition got a little out of hand with some overaggressive trash talking and some resulting hard feelings. Heck, I did a little bit too. I've done some trash talking in my life in the past. Once I even had my best friend tell me to tone it down at the pool table while playing him. But I think this event is different. I was called a bit too sensitive during some of the team discussions, but I just think that an event like this should be handled with a bit more respect than I saw. Ribbing is fine, but borderline-ugly trash talking is too much in this situation imo. We are supposed to be friends, albeit online ones.

STICK'S UPDATE: Still working hard on my cash game. Identifying leaks and tuning my aggression. I have run into some tough beats over the last few days, but I think I've played decently. It's tough to increase aggression without spewing and tough to pick your spot without being too nitty/passive. But I'm getting better at it, I think. I've gotten my VPIP/PFR ration up from around 43 to near 50. I've been told I should be around 75, but I'm not sure that suits my style. I went back and looked at my successful month of August and saw that I was somewhat passive. Getting in multiway pots with hands with huge potential or playing passive preflop and aggro postflop. I guess I'm still tinkering a bit. I'm nearing even for the month with 4 days left, but I'm pretty confident at this point that I'll end in the green.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Thunder Valley Gets Poker; Stick's Updates

I had taken my mom to Thunder Valley Casino for her birthday in September. It's an Indian casino about 5 miles from us. It opened in 2000, but we had never gone since we like Reno much, much better. So we tried the buffet (good price, great selection, mediocre food), did a little gambling (smoky, tight machines, not very inviting atmosphere), and tried the neat looking bar in the center (cool atmosphere, somewhat enclosed from the games, expensive drinks). Then I spotted an area under construction. Upon closer inspection, it was POKER! But it was those damned automated poker tables. That sucked, but at least it was poker. I found an article about Thunder Valley's new poker room in the SF Gate. (NOTE: The article refers to Thunder Valley as a "Bay Area establishment", but it is 100 miles from there and some residents of both the Bay and the Sac Valley might even get offended at the incorrect reference.) Being mainly an online player, I thoroughly enjoy handling real cards and playing the game in a traditional way when I play live. But the advantage of automation is lower rake and no tips, so I guess this will have to do for now. They are advertising on my local sports radio station, KHTK, and I thought it was hilarious that the ad never mentioned that the tables were computers and there were no dealers. I guess TVC wants to hide that fact and spring it on all the old timers who get excited and drive out there to play while assuming they will be playing traditional poker with live dealers. Bad move, Thunder Valley!

As far as my poker is concerned, I've been really studying and trying to tweak my game. I just bought Holdem Manager and I'm loving it. The stats reports available with this thing are seemingly endless and it really helps me get down to the nitty gritty. I recently posted some cash game stats and graphs on Cardschat and got some great feedback based on the info that I was able to produce with HEM. With help from my CC buddies, I figured out that my VPIP-to-PFR ratio is too wide and my won money when saw flop is a bit low. I'm hoping that a few tweaks to my aggression will help these areas. With about a week left in the month, I'm running about -$100 profit. So we'll see if some tweaks to my game will help me get even in time.

The Cardschat team competition is heating up and the last 2 events are this weekend. The top 3 teams are within 5 points of each other and the pressure is on. I'm in the Heads-Up event on Saturday, but I'm not feeling the pressure yet. I completely sucked last time, but I think that was due to pressure. I hope being more relaxed will help my result this time. Anyway. The games seem fun and the standings are close, but it just seems a bit too serious this time. I get accused of being too sensitive with these kinds of things and I guess everyone's perception is different, but I just see some things being said that sort of take the joy out of it for me (and I'll bet for some others, also). I agree that some good natured ribbing makes things a bit more fun. But lately losing team members seem to like to hurl around phrases like "chip dumping", "soft playing", and "you're just lucky" like they are just so casual. But little do they realize how bad it makes them look even though they say "I was just kidding". When someone goes at it like "I'll throw out an excuse why we lost and then say I'm kidding", they just end up looking like a poor sport. During one of Tiger's many successful seasons, PGA Tour golfer Rory Sabbatini once said "Tiger Woods seems beatable now", even though Tiger had already won a few events that year. Well not only did that make Rory look foolish and motivate Tiger even more, but that comment has been attached to Rory ever since he made it even though he retracted it later by saying "I wasn't serious". But I guess some people just feel the overwhelming need to spout off before they think.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Team Event Chaos and Mid-month Update

Even though I had previously decided I wouldn't since I didn't have a good time in the last one, I was talked into participating in the Cardschat Team Event at the last minute. I guess a bunch of people dropped out right before it started and they were starved for replacements. I felt like I was doing a good deed while also having a chance to play with some CC buddies. My team seems to have pretty good spirit overall, good skill, and they're good folks, too. But as far as the event itself is concerned, I'm not sure what it is all turning out to be. I thought the purpose of the thing was to get some folks together to play in a slightly different format, get the team spirit going, and have a bit of good natured ribbing between teams. But what I've seen so far is extended in-game trash talk resulting in hard feelings, continuous accusations of soft play and chip dumping to teammates, a crushing team penalty already handed out to one team, and just an overall sense of seriousness and tension. The light-hearted environment seems to have gone away (at least for me and a few others I've heard from), but I guess we'll tough it out. Then to top it off, I have been neglecting my cash game progress a bit more than I should because of the team thing and I'm starting to wonder if it is really worth it.

I've have been working with Bob_Tiger on improving my tourney skills and it seems to be helping. I've played a few 18-, 27-, and 45-man games and cashed in a couple. I still like STT's, but I think I'll be more willing to try more MTT's now (when I have time).

I'm near even for the month profit-wise. Started out badly and came back from it. I still don't feel fully comfortable at 50NL for some reason. I've been switching between 25NL & 50NL for a little while and it seems to help. I'm hoping that the comfort I need will come when I grow a little more cushion in my BR. IceMonkey and I did some ring videos and he posted them on CC. I got some good feedback from the one I played in and I think I can make some tweaks in my game to incorporate those tips. Always learning, it seems.

I've been reading a book called "Mastering No-limit Hold'em" by Fox & Harker. It is geared towards cash games and seems like a good one so far. I'll be posting a review when I finish it. Problem is that I only seem to be reading a few pages a week since I play so much. I'll have to figure out how to read more often.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

In Kentucky, GoDaddy Does a "RollDaddy" With Domains

The fight in Kentucky over seizure of gambling-related domain names rages on. quickly handed over domains such as,, and But Network Solutions has stood tall and has gone to Kentucky to defend the domains they hold. Looks like is gonna lose a bunch more business than they originally thought. I'll bet more than just poker enthusiasts will be steering clear of for fear that they will give up the goods to any little group that threatens them. Read more here:

I had my first golf domain through Network Solutions. While they aren't the cheapest registrar, I think they certainly are the best and this story goes toward proving it.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

September Results: Reality Bites!

Well. After having such a great August and getting all giddy about breaking even for my poker career, September sucked and I ended the month -$370. In the first 7 days of the month, I put myself in a $560 hole mostly playing 50NL. So I alertly dropped back down to 25NL until I could figure out what the heck was going on. During my 2-week stay at 25NL, I learned that I wasn't as much of a hotshot as I thought I was in August due to the fact that I found several leaks in my game that I am still trying to fully understand. I am learning that...

  • AK should be 3-bet preflop in many cash game situations, even though it isn't a pair and might be up against one.
  • Raising preflop doesn't always mean one must always C-bet since opponents DO pick up on that and can snap those off.
  • "Fold Equity" is more than just the likelihood someone will fold.
  • The winners of the Cardschat games are rarely the most skilled players, so one should avoid them unless they can commit to most of them.

The first 3 of those are part of the technical side of poker that I knew I would have to engage sooner or later. I was kidding myself to think I could ignore that part of the game as the words of Mike Matusow would constantly ring in my head. In a reader question article in Poker Pro mag, he once told a reader to "stop reading Sklansky", meaning that he doesn't think a player should over-analyze his game. For a mostly-live player who has been playing for many years like Mike has, I would agree. But for online players who go up against math geeks of all sorts, I think the only way to be successful is to embrace the technical side of poker.

I finally came to realize that 4th leak the other day. There are Cardschat players who have good or even great results in the CC tourneys and are considered good players within the forum. But if one examines the plays that those good players win with and also considers the fact that many of the so-called "good" CC tourney players either rarely win or even play any non-CC tourneys, then that would create a decision for a prospective player considering these CC games. Either commit to most or all of the games and hope that long-term skill will outlast the rampant short-term luck in these OR avoid those games entirely. Doing like I have been doing by just playing a few here and there is not a way to profit with much consistency. Sure, it's fun to play against folks I know. But I need to make money, also. Continuously losing my buy-ins while playing correctly versus the donk luck in these games is a leak I must plug and I can't commit to most of the games while still maintaining my cash game routine.

So I have already begun to plug those first 2 leaks, I'm studying more about the 3rd, and the 4th is easily handled. I still have my confidence because I know what I'm capable of and I know I can handle any problems that can arise. So I'm actually looking forward to a great October!!

It's almost time to dye my hair black like I do nearly every year about this time for the spooky season. LOL

Monday, September 29, 2008

I <3 Wicked Chops

They always have a unique perspective on stuff and they never seem to hold back. Ya gotta love it. Check out their piece on the recent findings involving the UB Scandal and 1994 WSOP Champ, Russ Hamilton:

Wicked Chops Poker - It Was Russ Hamilton

Friday, September 26, 2008

Stick's Random Update

Well. Poker has been OK lately. I have been doing fine at 25NL, but still doing somewhat poorly at 50NL. I didn't know what the problem was until I was on Skype with a buddy last night. We were using the Mikogo screen sharer to look at my PT2 stats and he noticed something. My flop aggression factor at 50NL was double what it was at 25NL. I interpret this to mean that I have been C-betting too much at 50NL and my opponents have been picking them off. I'm not sure exactly how to fix this. I just can't fathom not betting a flop after I have raised PF. A flop check after a PF raise to me seems wimpy, but it is a leak I have to fix. Maybe I'll try raising less often PF or just a few flop check-raises to set up flop checks later. I'll see how it goes.

I'm also getting stoked about the NHL season starting soon. I'm in 2 Yahoo fantasy leagues and I'm a huge San Jose Sharks fan. Jeez, I might even try to make it to a game this year. I think Boyle and Blake will help us tremendously and I think Milan and Clowe-y are ready to bust out this year. I just hope this new rookie coach who came over from the Red Wings knows what he is doing.

The NASCAR season is winding down and my favorite driver, Robby Gordon, is having his struggles on and off the track. It seems like he is not sure how his car will be or where his company is going from week to week. But he's a smart dude. I think he'll figure it out.

The annual/semi-annual/whenever Cardschat Team event is starting soon. While I like being part of a team with all the cool folks I know at Cardschat, I didn't sign up this time because of the poor showing I had last time. I'm not sure if I put too much pressure on myself in those events or what. Besides, I am enjoying the dedication I am putting towards my cash game and I want to keep the flow going. But still, GO ex-Team Sausage !! LOL

End of the month is coming soon and it looks like my profit will be in the red, but I'm gonna try to make it a good run to the end. Wish me luck. Cheers.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Book Review: "52 Tips for No-Limit Texas Hold'em Poker" by Barry Shulman

Here's another book review to add to the good ol' blog archive and I wish it was a good one. Unfortunately, it isn't.

The 135-page "52 Tips for No-Limit Texas Hold'em Poker" book, written by Barry Shulman with Roy Rounder in 2006, touts itself on the back cover as a book for "poker players of any skill level." That statement couldn't be farther from the truth. The only players who might get full use out of this book are brand new players with less than a few months poker experience. Having played for over 3 years, I think I found only about 5 or 6 tips of much use to me. Everything else was very, very basic. From my experience, most of the books I've read or skimmed that spell out the entire name of the game in their title like this one turn out to be beginner books (very few exceptions). The next warning sign that this book wasn't going to be all it was cracked up to be for me was the 2 endorsements on the back cover. They are from Daniel Negreanu and Phil Helmuth. Each contain exactly 3 sentences and the 2nd one in both endorsements are nearly identical sentences. Not a good reflection on the book at all, especially knowing the fact that the main author is the publisher of Card Player magazine.

So as I was reading through the book, I noticed the 52 tips plus 1 "bonus" tip were presented as small chapters with interesting names like "Position Is Crucial" & "Learning Odds The Easy Way" and each presented hope that I'd read something I could really use. But alas, 90% of them were a disappointment in that they were mostly just outlines of basic poker steps. Some even were so short that they wouldn't even take up a page without having a table graphic or chapter separator tossed in.

Though most of the tips in the book can be used in both types of no-limit hold'em games, the author mentions how the tips apply to tournaments quite a bit and barely mentions cash games. I think this actually could give a beginning player the wrong impression. Then to top it off, the book has quite a few typesetting errors in some of the paragraph headings. A bit of a surprise to me coming from a magazine company.

So though this book isn't horrible and I might mildly recommend it to a greenhorn poker beginner, I'll have to NOT recommend it at all to anyone with more than a few months of poker experience under their belt. There are too many other 2nd-level/intermediate poker books out there that a newish player would get more out of reading.

There is actually a similarly written book that is better than this one that I do recommend.

** For more poker book reviews from Stick, check out the right side margin of the blog.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Video Find: Depeche Mode Atop WTC 1990

I was browsing YouTube and stumbled across this video featuring one of my all-time favorite bands, Depeche Mode. It seems to have been shot around the time that "Enjoy the Silence" came out in 1990. Not the best quality, but still amazing. I really liked seeing the World Trade Center up close in the video. So since I haven't posted a tribute to 9/11 yet, let this be mine belatedly.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Answer to the "Robby's Uprising" Question

Welp. I finally found out the answer to my posted question in regards to what happened to off-road legend and NASCAR driver, Robby Gordon's online forum called "Robby's Uprising". Rumor has it that Robby or someone from his company could have been getting weary of all the negative postings on the forum and possibly feared that the postings could jeopardize future deals with sponsors. So since the forum was run by Robby's company, rumor has it that they were the ones who pulled the plug. I think it is all completely understandable. It just would have been nice to have some notice of the site going offline. I wasn't much of a poster there, but I did read the site quite frequently.

But never fear! There is a new forum that many of the old Uprising members have migrated to. It's called Planet Robby and seems to have much of the same flavor as the old site. But this time, it is run by some of Robby's fans who seem to be committed to sticking it out through thick and thin. Go Robby! GAS ON!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Well, It Was Fun While It Lasted

Over the past 5 days, I hit one wicked downswing. I mean WICKED. So wicked that I don't even want to mention any numbers right now since they are so depressing. The only thing I knew I could really do to stop it (besides taking a break, which doesn't sit well with me) was to drop back down to 25NL for a while. Then wouldn't you know, I turned it around today.

I really didn't know what happened until I looked at my PokerTracker position stats. Seems I was hemorrhaging from my blinds. I have been trying to be more aggressive and I guess calling from the blinds has been how I was doing it. Then I'd get in trouble out of position and usually showdown a bad hand or fold out after drawing for a bit. So I think I'll stay at 25NL for a week or 2 and move back up when I get some more practice on my blinds play.

Also, I really noticed some key differences between 50NL and 25NL (at least on Stars). There are far more multi-way pots at 50NL. Seems people love to stick around with mediocre hands and call down 2nd pair. C-betting is much tougher when people won't fold enough to make it worthwhile. At 25NL, it seems like there are more HU or 3-way pots and C-betting works better. There are tons of similarities between the 2 stakes, but I think the points I just mentioned are the 2 biggest differences. I guess I'm a C-bettor and I figured out that I was spewing chips at 50NL by having to fold the turn or river after being called OOP. I don't know if the 50NL players caught on to me or if they just liked chasing mediocre hands. I'll have to change my strategy in that department before I jump back up there.

In a way, I feel kinda stupid for getting all excited about my big milestone I hit last month. But then again, I'm pretty sure I can snap out of it and get back up to where I was. Confidence is key.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Great August Results, But Tough September Start

I had the best month of my career in August. I made $562 profit as I moved up to 50NL ring games. The move seems great so far. It's still pretty swingy, but I seem to keep charging forward. My stats for the month were still a bit concerning, though. 14.9% VP$IP and 5.75% PFR are kinda sad looking stats, but I still made profit. Dunno how that happened. My Postflop Agg. Factor was good at 2.29, so maybe that helped. I have increased those 2 lower figures this month so far, but I've had a bad run. So maybe I have the wrong idea of what ideal stats are.

Speaking of this month, I had a rough couple of days already in September. I lost $275 in 2 days and it seems to be mostly bad luck. I revisited some hands and only found a couple that I thought were poorly played by me. While I don't think I believe in "jinxing" something, I may have gotten a little too excited about going above "career even" last month. Though I am back in career negative, I'm pretty sure I have the confidence to weather the storm and end with another positive month. After having such a stellar month last month and a good past 6 months or so, I know what I'm capable of and I can draw from those triumphs.

Here's a couple of the hands I ran into the last 2 days. Feel free to post any critiques of them in the "comments" section at the bottom of the post.

My unlucky river straight versus his made boat. His turn check really got me.

My KK versus her flopped set of 8's. She was pretty loose, so I wasn't too concerned with Aces or a set. Plus, I had position and a spade draw on the flop.

Typical Aces cracked and crappy position helped me double this guy up all the way down.

I could be wrong, but I don't think I played any of these too badly. Just seems like luck. Oh well. I'll keep pluggin'. No worries.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Stick's HUGE Milestone

I just hit a hugely meaningful milestone in my poker career. But before I reveal what it is, I must give some background history on how I got to this milestone.

I started playing online poker in August of 2005. I joined Ultimate Bet because a CD ROM with Annie Duke's picture on it came in the box to a poker video game I bought at Target. I think I spent only about 2 days at the play money tables before I was itching to deposit some funds. So I hooked up with Neteller and deposited $50. Then I dove into a 1/2 Limit Hold'em table and doubled up in about 2 hours. I thought "Man! This is easy!!" 3 days later, I busted and deposited another $50 so I could keep earning my deposit bonus. So to make the story short, I kept up the bust/deposit/bust routine for a few months while not having a clue about bankroll management or hand strength even. The only thing that didn't destroy me was the fact that I picked Limit Hold'em to tinker with and not NL. At the time, I thought hands like KTs and A6o were the nuts. And I actually didn't know what a "freeroll" was. I literally had NO CLUE about poker except for survival instincts that would kick in when I realized I was spewing cash. I think I was down as much as $1200 in my first 3-4 months.

So in November 2005, I joined Cardschat after just lurking there for 3 months. I got a little education in poker there, bought PokerTracker, and picked up a couple poker books. Then when I found out that I was going about poker all wrong, I did a complete 180 and started playing tighter than Chelsea Clinton on prom night. I mean ULTRA tight. I just got very afraid of losing more and more. I eventually switched to No-Limit Hold'em, but still was way too tight in my play to make any kind of profit. But I still was reading poker books, studying my PT stats, and learning from the forum. I think I stayed that way for about a year and then did another 180 by starting to play too aggressively. I saw a few players on Cardchat growing and winning and I thought I needed a drastic change in my playing style in order to start making a profit. So the roller coaster began and I would have big runs, both up and down, but never really grew my BR.

I actually started this blog in 2006 and began to eat, sleep, and breathe poker in mid-2007. I finally got a handle on some major tilt issues I had from the beginning of my poker venture and things started to click about 6 months ago. I kept very precise records of my poker funds from the beginning in August 2005 onward and my all-time low was in February 2008 when I was down over $1500 for my entire career. Now that might not seem like a lot to some of my readers, but keep in mind that I played mostly 10NL and 25NL for 3 years. I did play 50 NL for a month or so last year and I have played quite a few $5 SNGs in my time, but micro-cash was my game for the most part. There were times when I felt like a failure since I had pretty much made the decision to make this my career in late 2006, but still couldn't make much profit. But 6 months ago, things started to click and I started feeling like I really knew what I was doing. I would anticipate my luck running out, but my bad runs were short and easily withstood.

So my huge milestone happened a few days ago. I didn't want to write about it right away in case it didn't hold up, but it looks like it will. So the HUGE milestone that I just achieved in my poker career is...


I now am showing a small profit for my entire poker career and it means the world to me! I mean, it seems like a huge weight is off my back. It also means I've made over $1500 in the last 6 months, which includes only a month at 50NL. Plus about $500 of that will be just in August. I think I can credit my success to my switch to 95% of my play being cash games and to having read the book "The Poker Mindset" to help me with my tilt issues.

When I saw my career number change from negative to positive on my BR spreadsheet, I actually thought I was going to cry. People have sold me short my whole life and even in poker, but now I have a confidence boost that makes me feel like I can go up against almost anyone. Now, the whiz kids on Cardschat and anywhere else can BRING IT ON! I'm ready now.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

I Used To Be A Fan

I used to be a big Devilfish fan until I saw him act up on ESPN during an Omaha event at last year's WSOP.

Now, let's just say I used to be a Scotty fan.

Scotty has issued an apology, but it's not the greatest IMO.

** Thanks to Wicked Chops Poker for finding all this stuff.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Stick's Update: 50NL Multi-tabling & Mikogo

The move to 50NL FR on Pokerstars is going surprisingly well. I've been doing mostly 5 tables but I've done 6 a few times. I think I will eventually get used to 6, but it could take a few weeks. Another Cardschat member named BW07507 does 10 tables at 50NL FR and made $1224 last week. I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to do 10 tables at a time, but I could try to do as many as I can. I'll have to ask BW how many hours a day he usually plays.

And the serious daily (even hourly) swings at 50NL continue. It's crazy. There have been a few days this month where I've lost $60-70 the first couple of hours of the day and then I've made it all back up in the evening and then some. I don't know for sure what causes these wicked swings. Do I change the way I play between day and night? Is it the difference in the type of players between day and night? (I notice more Euros playing during my day sessions. Are they better?) Or are these swings just normal for my new stakes? Stay tuned as I try to find out.

I've also started talking a lot of poker with my buddy Freakakanus. We started out using Skype to engage in our poker talk. Then I discovered a "Skype extra" called Mikogo. It is a very simple screen-sharing program that that works with Skype and allows us to discuss PokerTracker stats more extensively, sweat each other's play, etc., etc. It worked like a charm the first time we tried it and I'm thinking of making a video of one of our sweat sessions as we use Mikogo. I fully recommend it to anyone who wants to hook up with a buddy and seriously study poker or any other subject.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Official Move to 50NL = Swingy

Well, I finally made my full move from 25NL to 50NL on PokerStars. For a while this month, I was playing 3 50NL tables and 2 25NL. Then it was 4 50NL and 1 25NL for a few days. Then yesterday, I went to 5 50NL tables and felt fine. Overall, I'm doing well. But there have been a few days when the roller coaster was running full speed. I had 2 days in a row where I lost big early and came back for a modest overall profit for the day. I'm having to reinforce my anti-tilt techniques since the beats at 50NL cost more. It was rough for a few days, but I think I have a handle on it now. But a big advantage of multi-tabling 50NL at PokerStars is that achieving and maintaining a Silverstar VIP ranking is a piece of cake.

A buddy of mine asked me a couple days ago about the differences between 25NL and 50NL. After a bit of thought, I said that the bad players at 50NL seem to come up with a good play from time to time and that there are more Euros at that level. I've also noticed more 6-handed flops at full ring and more min-raising on all streets. Seems to be more fear of risk at this level.

After ChuckTs talked some sense into me about buying in for the full amount at a cash table, I seem to have gotten over that problem. I think my issue was wanting less risk while multi-tabling, but no I've determined that I may have missed some profit when playing for stacks. Problem solved, I guess.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Robby's Uprising Forum: What Happened?

This is a call for anyone who knows what happened to the forum for fans of NASCAR driver and legendary off-road racer Robby Gordon called "Robby's Uprising". I was a member and read posts on it every day until it just went down a few weeks ago. No warning, no explanation, and it never came back up. I've googled and searched the 'net for info, but nothing so far. Before I start emailing his website or his fanshop, I figured I'd put out the question here on my blog. If anyone knows what happened or knows someone who knows, please comment here. I bet I'm not the only one who is wondering about it and if there might be another forum coming up like it. Thanks and cheers.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Great July Results, a Silverstar, and a Possible Move Up

I'm very happy with my July. I ended up with a $284 profit for the month and 95% of that was from cash games. Even though I still enjoy SnG's and an occasional MTT, I think I am best at ring games. I think my reads on cash players are best and being able to treat each hand like a new situation helps. I've read about a few good players on Cardschat dedicating themselves exclusively to cash games and I think I'll go right along with them. Even though the poker world recognizes successful tournament players more, I don't mind. I'll take the money over the fame.

Anyway. I think I have quite a ways to go before I have to worry about anything like fame. Even though I had a successful month, I feel like my game needs vast improving. I recently made a video of me 4-tabling 25NL on Stars . Not only did I post the link in Cardschat's Poker Videos section for critique, but I also took a good look at it myself. Seems I am back to playing nitty and in the grips of passiveness. My PFR% for the month was still 6.32 and my Postflop AF was 1.83. I would like them up to 8 & 2 respectively. I did notice something about game conditions at 25NL that I didn't notice before. I noticed that 4-, 5-, and 6-way limped pots were more common this month. I'm not sure if that was a new thing or just that I finally noticed it. I did take to occasionally putting in a hefty PF raise in position when I saw a limpy pot developing. But I also would limp right along with hands that I thought were too weak to confidently raise like AJ or KQ suited. I'm not sure if that is the correct move, but I often perceived my pot odds as good enough to try for a big flop. Again, not sure if I should do that.

I did take a 24-hand stab at 50NL in July. After having my KK outflopped by a set of 7's and blindly pushing that flop with my overpair to lose my stack, I thought better of the move and went back to 25NL. I did take to 5-tabling well and I believe that it is what helped me earn SilverStar status on PokerStars. They did have a few days of double FPP's, but I still think playing one more table helped to a greater extent. Now I do have the bankroll to move up to 50NL, but I think I'm going to ease myself into it. Last night, I multi-tabled 2 25NL tables with 2 50NL table and it seemed to work fine. I'll probably stay that way for a while until I get more comfortable with 50NL.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Another Great 80's Video Find

This video had limited release on MTV in 1988 and the only place I ever saw the song was on the "B" side of one of Love and Rockets' vinyl singles. The video was included in one of their compilation VHS', but here it is for your viewing pleasure. One of the coolest videos I've seen for a rare song, here's "The Bubblemen Are Coming":

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Reno Report: Pokery Stuff - Part 2: Sunday 6/29

OK. In Part 1 of the Reno poker play report, I described an exciting Saturday evening 6/28. So now, by popular demand, I will attempt to report on Sunday's poker activities in Reno for us Cardschat folks.

After breakfast, some of the folks played in a timed shootout tourney at Circus Circus. I'm not sure of the buy-in, but basically you play for an hour and the one with the most chips wins. I think it was winner-take-all, also. I was a late riser, so I missed it. Some of the CC folks played but none won.

Then we played some 1/2 NL again. I did well again and more than doubled up after buying in for $60. Can't remember my big hand, but it was typical to the previous night's play. Plus, the table started to break up about 30 minutes after I sat down. However, the buzz hand of that session involved JD on my right. I think I had colored out, but was still watching from my seat next to him. I think it was 5-handed and JD raised standard from pre-buttonish position with KK. I think the one player who called was in the blinds, not sure. Flop comes TJK. Player bets out and JD shoves his set since the pot was big enough. Player calls. Turn comes a blank and river is a Q. JD flips over his set of Kings and the other player turns over AT for the straight. Needless to say, JD was not a happy camper for a while after that. But the bright side was that JuiceeQ stayed for a while 3 or 4 handed and took back a bunch of that player's chips. I'm not a short-handed fan, but she really thrived that session and all weekend in fact.

After some other activities and meals, we came back to the Circus Circus poker room to play some 10-player sit-n-go's. $25 buy-in gets you 1200 chips and a $5 "dealer add-on" gets you 300 more. Pay was $100 1st, $60 2nd, $40 3rd. Freak noted that it was 33.33% rake since only $200 out of $300 was in the prize pool. Not sure if that is typical, but it didn't seem pleasant. 15 minute blinds may sound slow, but in live play it was more like a turbo. The first round or 2 were normal play, but then the blinds got so high that you had to make shove plays that you wouldn't normally make. I was pretty much card dead in both and took 6th in each of the 2 SnG's we played. In each one, I got in a position where I had to shove AJs and a pair of 3's to a raise and busted with each. There weren't really any exciting hands that I saw in either game. But in winning the first game, Gesshoo had to fend off a guy who was down to 200 chips and came back by winning 5 or 6 all-in hands until Gesshoo finished him off with pocket rockets. Lady T took 3rd in that one. In the second game, it came down to a heads-up battle between Freakakanus and Amador Ed. Freak pulled out the win and Ed completed the CC domination of the games. CC players cashed in 4 of the 6 possible placings. Very nice!

That's about it. It was so fun playing live poker with the folks I've gotten to know online. The brews, buffalo burgers, and rum bars just topped it all off. Next year... Vegas!!

I'm not sure yet, but I'm thinking of posting reviews of the Circus Circus Reno hotel and the poker room. Both are worth a try while in Reno.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Stick's Video: 4-tabling 25NL Rings on Stars, 7/22/08

It's great to be able to make poker videos again. It's so easy on my new computer and I will be making tons more.

This one is of me 4-tabling 25NL rings on PokerStars. 48 minutes, 271 MB AVI. (Looks good in full-screen mode on a 17-inch monitor.)

Please feel free to post a critique of my play either on the forum or here in the comments area of this post.

Also, trust me when I say to download MegaUpload's free "Mega Manager". It makes downloading videos from there so much faster and easier. And there is absolutely NO spam, pop ups, viruses, or adware involved. Not even email spam. Trust me!!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Jac Mac & Rad Boy... GO!

Here's a vintage piece of 80's pop culture I found on YouTube. Before Beavis & Butthead, there was "Jac Mac & Rad Boy" breaking the rules of morality and always looking for a party. Enjoy this short cartoon from 1985.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

An FTP Mod for the Ladies

A young lady on the forum was having a problem getting just the right FTP background of the dreamy Johnny Depp. So I thought I'd help her (and all my lady readers) out.

Install instructions and other cool FTP mods are in the right margin of the blog.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Cardschat Poker Forum Adopts New Policies Regarding Freerolls

Freeroll whores, password thieves, and post-count spammers beware!! Things won't be so easy for you at Cardschat beginning August 1st, 2008. That is because the esteemed poker forum known for its friendly, beginner-oriented atmosphere, as well as its full schedule of generous freerolls, has tightened the screws on folks who would rather not contribute and not give something back to the nearly 43,000-member site.

As password sharing and registering but not ever posting has become rampant at Cardschat, as well as many other poker forums, owner Nick Kisberg has decided to change the status quo. Starting 8/1/08, members will A) have to post their poker site IDs in their Cardschat user profile and B) have to have 50 quality posts in the forum before having access to the freeroll passwords. Mr. Kisberg said in the announcing post that Cardschat staff will immediately adopt a "zero tolerance" policy towards "post-count spammers", IE: those who make a bunch of short posts like "I agree" and "way cool" in order to quickly rack up the 50 required posts. Those who try to circumvent the rules have been promised to be banned swiftly.

As of this writing, only 785 of the nearly 43,000 registered Cardschat members have 50 or more posts and only a fraction of those members are active. In addition, they must now add their poker site IDs to their CC profiles. So IMO, one should expect a huge increase of quality posting activity at one of the most popular poker forums on the Internet. What happens next should be very exciting. Stay tuned!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Reno Report: Pokery Stuff - Part 1

Well, of course, we had a great time during our Cardschat Brewfest Meetup in Reno on June 27-30. Met some great folks, had some good beers, found a great rum bar, had some great sushi, etc., etc., etc. But this post is mainly about the poker happenings on our trip.

Since we liked it so much when we played there during last year's meetup, we again played all our poker at the Circus Circus poker room (room review to come in another post). We started out at 6 pm Saturday evening after the brewfest and a big meal at a cool sushi & barbecue place. I was actually late for meet back at the poker room since I took a nap and had some difficulty getting fired up. No, not from too much brew. I think it was a touch of dehydration. Reno has a very dry climate at high altitude combined with the alcohol as a diuretic made for a dried out Mr. Stick. I had some trouble getting up the energy to get moving after my nap, so I showed up 20 minutes late.

So I got there and all the CC folks are at a new 1/2 NL cash table that was full with a couple other folks. I got on the wait list and was hoping to get to play with my friends, but instead the staff opened another table since the list was full enough and they had another dealer ready. So they put me on the newest table and I knew no one. But it turned out to be a stroke of great luck...

So on about the 4th or 5th hand, I pick up JJ in the BB. 4 limpers and I raise to 20. I did this for 2 reasons. First, I only bought in for $60 since it was my first live poker in a few months and I lacked a bit of confidence combined with not feeling the greatest. I wanted to put a portion of my stack in so I would feel more compelled to shove the flop with an overpair. Secondly, there was 10 in already. So I wanted to pretty much play tight-minded and buy the pot instead of deal with a flop so early. Winning that pot would allow me more chips to test the waters here while getting a read on the folks. So back to the hand... 3 limpers fold and the SB calls. The flop comes 459 (I forgot the suits). The SB checks and I shove my stack of about $37. He calls. It's a cash game, so we don't flip until after the river and can muck without showing, if desired. So the rest are 8J to make the board 4598J. He flips over 45 diamonds proudly and I show my set of Jacks for the win. He slaps the table and says "Good hand". He's a jittery, kind of skinny guy who looks like he is keyed up to gamble and he sure did with that 45d.

So a few hands later, I pick up KQ in early position. It seems like $10 is the standard raise at this table and there has been a lot of caller who fold the flop. So I limp, a guy in MP limps and the button raises to 10. I decide to flat call, and so does MP guy. The flop is all low cards so I check and so does MP. The kid on the button weakly tosses 10 out there again. I read him as having nothing and call. Turn is another blank. I check, he bets $10 and I call again. The river is a Queen, so I value bet $10. He makes a crying call and flips over KJ. I show my KQ, he says "Yep" like he knew I hit my Queen but just paid to see it, and I take the pot. During the hand, I was really confident that he was just on a button steal and I could tell he had nothing through the river. I was pretty proud because I normally wouldn't call down against odds like that online.

So then a few hands later and 1 dealer change, I see some folks win pots and correctly tipping the dealer. Then it dawned on me that I forgot to tip the last dealer. I played in February in Reno, but never had to tip since it was a tournament. Plus I was barely feeling up to snuff and all my energy was into my poker thinking. I typically also forget to tip the cocktail waitresses when I get like this, but I usually remember later and double them up the next round. So I start to feel a little badly for forgetting the last dealer.

So a few hands later, I get Aces in the CO I think. By this time, the jittery gambler guy on my right has recovered from my first hit on him and has about $65 from being down to about $20. He's been playing really aggro by raising in position and betting the flop and turn to induce folds. I think he's only shown down once or twice more since my hand with him. So there were a couple of limpers and Mr. Gamble raises to $15. I guess he realized he was starting to get too many callers by raising to only 10. So I want him heads up and I know he'll call me, so I put him all in. The blinds fold, the limpers fold, and he calls. Then the dealer puts out 4 cards after the burn card. Something like TT42. So he calls over the floor and the floor says to re-shuffle the non-dealt cards and re-deal the flop board. I said something like "That board is fine with me" and the old man on my right barks at me "You might get a better board!" in a "you dumbass" type of tone. I said "Uh, I don't think so." So the new board comes out K8K and I was gonna bitch so hard if this guy had a King. But the rest of the cards came out correctly, I flipped over my AA, and he said he had nothing and mucked. Oh man! Those Kings worried me! Then I remembered to tip the dealer.

So after another few hands, I colored out from the table because I started feeling worse. But I realized I more than tripled up, so I wasn't feeling too badly. So then I walked over to the CC table where our old dealer was. I was going to slip him a $5 chip and apologize for forgetting him earlier (the average tip per pot there looked like $2). So I stood behind him a ways to wait for him to finish the current hand. But I had over $200 in red chips and a bunch of players at the table started staring at them. So as the dealer finished the hand, he turned around, saw me with my chips and said "Sir, your going to have to go sign up for the waiting list." I said "But I was just going to..." and he interrupted and said "I know what you were going to do. You need to go sign up." He sounded really mean, so I must have really pissed him off by not tipping him. So he then accuses me of trying to do something that I wasn't going to do and he missed out on his tip because of it. I mean, how could anyone try to sneak a chair at a table with floor people around and a full waiting list? Yep, he was really pissed. So I whispered to one of the CC guys that I had to go back to my room and I went to cash out my chips.

Jeez! This is a long one. That was just Saturday night the 28th. I'll post about Sunday soon. Cheers.

Friday, July 11, 2008

New Computer = More Poker Content Here

I set up my new computer yesterday. This means great things for Stick's Poker Blog. Some of these upcoming cool things could include:

- Videos of my online play for demonstration and critique.

- More indepth poker stats since I will now be able to run PokerTracker 3.

- More FTP mods since they'll be quicker for me to complete.

My new computer will also allow me to multi-table a bit more efficiently, which could mean more profit for me. It's a good thing because I'll need some more profit to pay this sucker off.

Stay tuned for some great stuff here. Up next: the latest Reno poker experience.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

June Results: Good SNGs, Poor Rings

June has been quite the mixed bag for me. There's been good news, good news, and bad news. I'll share them in that order.

GOOD NEWS #1: I ended the month at +$169 profit. It's OK that $159 of that was profit from Reno cash games (report to come next post). My online performance was only +$10 overall, but that's better than being in the negative. I had a bad swing mid month that had me running negative, but I came out of it later.

GOOD NEWS #2: My SNG game remains good. I thought my recent good progress might have been a fluke given my long term SNG mediocrity. But it seems I am holding steady. Not great, but steady. I ended my June online SNG play with an ROI% of about 14. For me, anything over 10 is good. But I'd like to see it eventually stay over 20. We'll see.

BAD NEWS: My online cash game play has dipped to a point of slight worry. It seems my previous belief in passivity at 25NL being OK at times might be hurting my results. All my stats seem to be OK, except for my PFR% being at only 6.3. I seem to have developed the habit of not wanting to raise hands like AJ or 99 in position for fear that the blinds will still call with Ace-rag and hit the flop better than I will. I'm confident that I can play against donkey chasers, but lately I have been avoiding putting chips in preflop in order to keep it low-risk. My VP$IP% is just over 18, so maybe I can step it up with hands like KT and 78s. I guess I'll have to work on fine-tuning my aggression for a while. I thought I had fixed that a while back, though. Hmmmm.

Anyway. I played 2 $30 SNGs in Reno and placed 6th in both, no cash. But I played some 1/2 NL cash games and came out +$219 in them. I did get a bit lucky a couple of times, but I still think I played very well in them overall. Full report of the pokery stuff in Reno to come. I may even post a review of the poker room and our hotel. That's a "maybe". So stay tuned.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Heading to Smoky Reno

Leaving tomorrow for Reno for the 3rd Annual Reno Brewfest Cardschat Meetup. Gonna be with some great people while having some great brews and playing poker. I really hope at least some of the smoke from the wildfires in the region goes away in time for Saturday. That stuff gives me a headache if I stay outside too long. You can see what it looks like in downtown Reno right now in this webcam view. Even at my house 2 hours away, the smoke is so thick that I don't even like to open my front door.

Anyway, I'm gonna try to rock 'n roll at the poker table. Last year, I was really serious but was a bit quiet and not too much fun at the table. This year, I'm gonna try to stay just as serious while trying to appear to be more loose and fun at the table. I like to win but I don't want to seem like a jerk to all my buddies.

Gotta get back to packing. I'll post a report upon our return. Cheers.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Finally! A Downswing That Isn't My Fault!

When I usually hit a downswing, I see a few hands that are my fault when I go back and analyze my losses. But this time, it's 100% luck. I've been on a pretty hard 2-day cash game downswing at 25NL. I went back to look at my 8 biggest losing hands over those 2 days and they were all suckouts or outkicks. I think I can safely say that I played them all correctly. Perfectly? No. But correctly. Here's an example:

POKERSTARS GAME #18229731743: HOLD'EM NO LIMIT ($0.10/$0.25) - 2008/06/18 - 20:55:30 (ET)
Table 'Ueta' 9-max Seat #8 is the button
Seat 1: MrSticker66 ($20 in chips)
Seat 2: chris2745 ($24.50 in chips)
Seat 3: glimppie1987 ($10.60 in chips)
Seat 4: bromsgrove ($22.55 in chips)
Seat 5: llludda ($18.55 in chips)
Seat 6: oakraiderfan ($32.65 in chips)
Seat 7: AmokTr ($6.15 in chips)
Seat 8: Freakakanus ($23.25 in chips)
Seat 9: BDC1911 ($15.15 in chips)
BDC1911: posts small blind $0.10
MrSticker66: posts big blind $0.25
AmokTr: posts small & big blinds $0.35
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to MrSticker66 [Js Ac]
chris2745: folds
glimppie1987: calls $0.25
bromsgrove: raises $0.50 to $0.75
llludda: folds
oakraiderfan: folds
AmokTr: folds
Freakakanus: folds
BDC1911: folds
MrSticker66: calls $0.50
glimppie1987: calls $0.50
*** FLOP *** [5c Jc Td]
MrSticker66: checks
glimppie1987: bets $3
bromsgrove: calls $3
MrSticker66: raises $7 to $10
glimppie1987: folds
bromsgrove: calls $7
*** TURN *** [5c Jc Td] [Qd]
MrSticker66: bets $9.25 and is all-in
bromsgrove: calls $9.25
*** RIVER *** [5c Jc Td Qd] [Th]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
MrSticker66: shows [Js Ac] (two pair, Jacks and Tens)
bromsgrove: shows [Tc Ad] (three of a kind, Tens)
bromsgrove collected $42.10 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $44.20 Rake $2.10
Board [5c Jc Td Qd Th]
Seat 1: MrSticker66 (big blind) showed [Js Ac] and lost with two pair, Jacks and Tens
Seat 2: chris2745 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 3: glimppie1987 folded on the Flop
Seat 4: bromsgrove showed [Tc Ad] and won ($42.10) with three of a kind, Tens
Seat 5: llludda folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 6: oakraiderfan folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 7: AmokTr folded before Flop
Seat 8: Freakakanus (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 9: BDC1911 (small blind) folded before Flop

I know it's not such a good idea to check-raise TPTK against 2 players. But I knew the villain was loose and that the c-bettor had nothing. My read was perfect, imo. Again, the play wasn't perfect but I think it was still correct with my great read. Then just bad luck happened. I had 8 big hands like this over 2 days. At first, I did tilt a bit while 4-tabling and 3-bet pushed my AJo PF vs a tight player's KK and hit T89QT for the straight. That guy was pretty pissed and I don't blame him. As soon as I made that play, I realized what was happening and I quit for the night.

I'm pretty proud of not finding any horrible plays during this swing and for not letting my tilt get out of control. I'm still holding my own in SNG's for the month, also. About 20% ROI% so far. $5 6-player games are my thing right now. Always good to fall back on when things go bad at the cash tables.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Book Review: "How to Turn Your Poker Playing Into a Business" by Ann-Margaret Johnston

Finally, the book review I promised. I think I have a good one in me now, so here goes:

When many people start reading book reviews, they may just skim the first paragraph and decide if they want to continue reading the review based on if they think the book applies to them or not. So let me hurry up and mention right away that I recommend this book to EVERY POKER PLAYER who files a tax return in the US. Whether you play once a year or 10 hours a day, this book has tax tips and info that I think is definitely useful to any poker player. You don't necessarily have to make poker your business for this book to be useful. So everyone read on.

This 122-page book from 2005 might at first seem like it could be too short and outdated to be any good. That couldn't be further from the truth. All the info packed in this little book is very useful, quite functional, and it should remain that way for a long time. The author is a poker-playing CPA who knows her stuff and has made this book poker-specific. She gives insight and helpful tips regarding tracking play and claiming items in a way that every poker player needs to know about. It really opened my eyes to what I was doing with my tracking and I learned many things regarding poker and taxes that I had no clue about.

The author describes the detail needed in tracking poker play and what can be claimed and what cannot. She also helps the reader decide whether he wants to claim as a "professional" or as a "hobbyist" and the differences in each one. One issue I found interesting is the type of detail a poker player should keep of his play in order to be taken seriously by the IRS. It boils down to keeping a record of poker play in sensible intervals. Not per hand or such but maybe per table session during live play but maybe less often during online play. It's somewhat of a gray area, but one that a player must get right if he wants to avoid an audit by the IRS. I have gone back to recording my online play per day and have separated my winning days from my losing days. That brings up another interesting fact that I read in this book. You can only claim losses up to the amount of your wins. So if you win $800 but lose $1000, you can only claim $800 in losses to match your $800 in winnings. And you can't make the total zero since the losses and winnings match up. You must claim winnings and losses separately. That is why tracking play a little more often than usual comes into play.

Some other interesting things in the book are the fact that other expenses like the cost of travel, your computer, and your Internet service can only be claimed if you are claiming to play poker for a living AKA you are a "professional". If you are only a "hobbyist", you must still claim your winnings and losses but can't claim other expenses. Plus there are certain interesting characteristics to your poker playing that you must have in order to be considered professional.

So as you can see, this book applies to all US poker players. After reading this book, I'm so excited about the advantages I will have when I file my next tax return. Since I rely on updated tax software to help me figure my tax return, I have full confidence that I can file an accurate return and everyone who reads this book should gain that same confidence, also.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Stick's Poker Library v.2

I acquired a few more poker books for my library recently and added them to the bottom of this list:

Still getting great deals on them and I found a used book store that takes trade-ins.

Again, I promise that a review on a "poker & taxes" book is coming soon. I just want to make sure I write the review as well as I possibly can and I've had too many distractions lately to be able to put forth my best effort. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

May Results Mixed

I ended May with a profit of about $68, but a disturbing development has occurred. While my STT/MTT results have improved dramatically, my cash game results took a tumble. The disturbing part is that I have been concentrating most of my effort over the past few months on improving my cash game skills. I have made some good progress in those months until May. I'm not quite sure what happened. I do remember a few bad calls along the way, but not too many.

I was -$45 over 5600 hands in cash games, but it was my post-flop aggression factor that I have noticed. It was only 1.75 and I think it is due to being lulled by the passive style I have fallen into at the 25NL level. I have had some success with it in the past by flat calling PF raises with semi-strong hands and trying to hit a big flop, but now that seems like "swinging for the fences". Now at 25NL, my pre-flop raise % has dropped to 6.5. I know that is way too passive to be profitable and I have had success when it was around 7.5 or 8. My c-betting has suffered, as well. It seems I've become a bit too weak in cash games and I need to snap out of it.

But the good news is that my tourney game has improved immensely (hope I don't jinx myself by saying this). My ROI% was 31.6 over 68 tournaments. I even had some players comment on my good run after they looked up my latest Sharkscope or Top Shark stats. I'm not completely sure what the key has been to my latest success. It might be that I have been mixing up my play quite well between patience and bluffing. It also could be that I have been getting great reads on my opponents and have been really tuning in to the flow of play. Concentration has been an issue for me in the past.

With these new developments in my progress, I feel like playing more SNG's. But I am afraid my cash game will suffer if I get lax in my efforts to improve it. I think I am at a crossroads between developing my overall game OR trying to make larger profits in a way that is easiest for me. Lately, I have read very little of the current book I am on since I have been playing so much. I haven't even taken the time to post the latest book review I have been promising here for a few weeks (it's coming, I promise). Time to choose a path, I guess.

I would also like to lose about 10 pounds before the brewfest on the 28th, but that's a different story...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Steps in the Right Direction for Ultimate Bet

In a statement released by Ultimate Bet, they admit to finding evidence of former employees who had an "unfair advantage" while playing on the site. They also go on to say that they have fixed the possibility of the same kind of cheating from happening again and have closed all the accounts involved. They say they will be refunding customers who may have been affected by the cheating. Read more here:

It took them a few months to investigate, but it looks as though they have appropriately handled the issue IMO.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Another Alleged Cheating Scandal Quietly Brewing

I find it very odd that there has not been as much media coverage of the current Ultimate Bet cheating allegations as there was with the Absolute Poker scandal. It appears to be a near duplicate. Read more here:

I think it is great that this article mentions the fact that these 2 situations are isolated to just one parent company and should not reflect on the online poker industry as a whole.

** Thanks to Wicked Chops Poker for finding this story.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Video: The Mint 400... Mesmerizing, IMO

I stumbled upon this video posted by "Wardy", who is a fellow member of "Robby's Uprising", the Robby Gordon (NASCAR driver) forum I belong to. The video is about 5 minutes long and shows some edited in-car camera shots of Wardy's ride in the Mint 400. I just found it extremely hypnotizing to watch. I think the music tops it off and I just thought I'd share it here. But non-racing fans will probably think it's boring.

The Mint 400 is an annual 400-mile off-road race that has taken place on the outskirts of Las Vegas since 1968. Originally meant to promote the Mint Hotel & Casino, the race has steadily grown over the years to become known worldwide.

One interesting fact: I found out that TV's "Wonder Woman" Lynda Carter was a "Mint 400 Girl" in the 1970's and "Wheel of Fortune" hostess Vanna White was also one in the early 1980's (pictured here in a Mint 400 promo pic).

Monday, May 12, 2008

Book Review: "How to Keep More of What You Win: A Gambler's Guide to Taxes" by Walter L. Lewis

This is the first of 2 "gambling & taxes" books I read consecutively. They were both such short, easy reads for me that I decided to finish them both before posting reviews.

The first book I read is actually the 1997 edition of the more popular 2003 book with the name reversed and published by Lyle Stuart. I guess they found that "Gambler's Guide to Taxes" is better to lead with now. Although I haven't read the 2003 book, I'm going to assume it has been expanded and updated since it is 159 pages compared to my 85 page 1997 version. But I don't mind because I got mine dirt cheap at a thrift store last year.

The author is a CPA and I think his book gives any US gambler, including poker players, a nice and basic understanding of how to address their tax situation in regards to winnings and losses. Claiming "professional" or "hobby", keeping accurate records, and discussion of key US laws that affect gambling claims are just a few of the topics that should enlighten anyone who is just starting to realize that taxes are something that all gamblers should pay attention to. Though the book is 11 years old, the majority of the material seems relevant and can easily be verified with a software tax program (which is the way I do it).

It should be a very easy 1-day read for any average or above-average reader (took me a few days...LOL). The 85 pages read much like an appliance manual and has a good amount of pages taken up by sample forms. I'm glad I got a killer deal on this book since it helped me to better understand the next tax book I read, which was poker-specific. However, I wouldn't recommend paying full price for this 1997 book due to its simplicity and upcoming obsolescence. But like I said, it did help me for the price I paid. Also, I don't plan on buying or reading the 2003 version since I have a poker-specific book that will suffice. Review on that one coming next...

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Great Results in April

With an overall profit of $189, April was pretty nice poker-wise for me:

In ring play, my start of the month was just mediocre (as opposed to bad usually). Then the month got better and leveled off calmly. Then things took off in my last 1000 hands (as opposed to my last 400-500 usually). Did I have some luck and some heater runs? Sure. But I could also feel my game improving this month. I could bounce back from being down at a table more easily. I had more patience. At the stakes I play, being passive can sometimes pay off, IMO. So this month, I felt like my timing was better with knowing when to just call & draw and when to get aggro. I'm surprised at how many of my "hero calls" were correct this month. That could be lucky, but I also think taking more time to think over the river helped. I have been too quick to act in the past.

My SNG/MTT results were pretty stale this month. I was running just below even for most of the month until I took 4th for $48 in the Cardschat Young VS Old Winners Freeroll near the end of the month. That gave me a +$5 for the month in tourney play. Looking back on my notes, I think I made a few bad bluffs at key times that hurt my results. I play against some pretty bad regulars and I sometimes forget this late in tourneys against them. Sometimes I give them too much credit since they made it to the final table and I mistakenly assume they might be playing with more purpose. But then when I try to bluff steal PF with a bad hand and they call me with some junk like QT offsuit, I then come back to reality and realize they haven't changed. My fault. I should know better than to bluff them. I know there are times QT could be a good hand to do that with, depending on stack sizes, player reads, etc. But trust me, the folks in question have no clue of that and I should remember this. Ah well. That's poker. I can still feel good in the fact that I know I'm the better player even though they cashed and I didn't. Blind luck can only take someone so far. No envy here.

Stay tuned for reviews of 2 books about gambling and US taxes. They are both short, so I figured I'd finish them both and post reviews at the same time for comparison.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

New FTP Mod ... Why Do I Love Making These?

In honor of her 1st IRL win, here's my latest Full Tilt Poker mod creation featuring that hottie, Danica Patrick:

For more of my cool and free FTP mods, check the right margin of the blog. That section also includes installation instructions.

I just finished a book on gambling and taxes, so look for a review to come soon.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Video: Uh, Just "Wow"

I stumbled across this video and I think it kind of connects with the concept of "projection" that I mentioned in the review of "The Poker Mindset". My family wouldn't ever consider the practice featured in this video, but "not everyone thinks like me".

It's a non-poker-related video. Not pornographic (to me). Not gory or grotesque. It's a 4-minute news/doc feature on a somewhat controversial subject. I don't even want to embed it in the blog, but I think it is worth presenting. Not a joke, I promise. Just "Wow":

Friday, April 18, 2008

Book Review: "The Poker Mindset" by Ian Taylor & Matthew Hilger

I’ll save you the trouble of having to scroll to the bottom of this review to see if I recommend this book or not and just tell you now - I love this book!! It is truly amazing in what it did to my attitude towards the game of poker. This is not a technical book that shows you how to make better plays and directly improve your game. It is a psychological book that puts poker in perspective and should indirectly improve anyone’s game.

The “indirect” part comes in that this book has the capability of lessening or even eliminating tilt from the game of all but the most stubborn poker players. Therefore, less tilt means better decision making, which breeds more success. The authors, Ian Taylor and Matthew Hilger, have come up with a complete concept that they call “The Poker Mindset”. The elements of this concept include certain thoughts and attitudes that must be followed to benefit from the concept as a whole. The first such concept element is understanding and accepting the realities of poker. It basically says that one must realize that even pocket Aces lose 20% of the time. As with life, there is almost nothing in poker that can’t happen. As I like to say, “Even condoms are only 99% effective.”

Other elements of the Poker Mindset include playing for the long term, desensitizing yourself to money, leaving your ego at the door, and others that I will save for the reader to discover. The authors layout the entire concept and its elements in such a way that left me saying to myself “I never thought of it that way.” and “Now I understand where my tilt comes from.” I’ve read other sources on combating tilt and how tilt comes to be, but I’ve never fully grasped how to handle the whole thing until reading this book.

One point from the book that I found particularly interesting is how we as humans often make the mistake of “projection”. In poker, this means we sometimes assume that our opponents think the way we think. Doing this can not only cause a player to lose the hand by making the wrong decision, but most likely will cause them to tilt and affect their next, and possibly future play. “How can he call my PF raise with 97 offsuit?” is a perfect example of mistaken projection and, from what I read in the forums, is quite common. It made me think of how this also applies to everyday life and how I am guilty of it. “How can they do something like that?” is something we’ve all said to ourselves without thinking about how people don’t all think like we do.

I also like the section of the book about downswings. The book points out that the common belief among many poker players that a downswing is some mystical occurrence that magically appears and disappears is false. A downswing is just a period in which a player loses at a faster rate that normal. A downswing has no definite beginning or end and can be caused by luck, tilt, or bad technique. The book says that a player should combat a downswing by analyzing his play to make sure the downswing is not caused by those latter 2 factors.

The only thing that didn’t please me about the book is that I don’t recall it mentioning much if anything about tilt during a tournament or how to handle it. To me, tournaments have the extra element of the time a player has to invest to win or cash in an event. This book has helped me better handle bad beats and bad players getting lucky, but bubbling a tournament after investing 3 or more hours of my life to playing solid poker is something I’d like to be able to handle a bit better. I guess one can try to apply the same concepts to tournament time in that a player has to accept that they won’t win or even cash in every tournament they play and that they need to emphasize their good decisions over any “waste of time” they may feel after busting out.

In conclusion, I think this is one of the best books an intermediate poker player can buy. Whether a calm player or a tilty one, I guarantee this book will help anyone with the psychological part of the game of poker if they buy into the concept of the Poker Mindset. A beginner may want to develop his understanding of the game a little bit more before picking this one up, but even an expert player could benefit from the structure that the Poker Mindset concept can bring to someone who has “lost their edge” or wants to maintain it. This book has completely changed the way I look at poker and has introduced me to ideas that I have never ran into anywhere else. I will definitely recommend this book to EVERY poker player I know.