Tag : online-poker

post image

Back Playing Poker Again

Aside from two small poker tournaments in Sept. 2018 and another in Nov. 2018, the last time I played any form of online poker was back in Oct. 2015, almost four years ago. There was a time when I used to spend every possible spare minute logging cash game hands, grinding sit & gos or firing up multi-table tournaments, although those days seemed to be long gone. Or have they?

One of the reasons I stopped playing poker was because of work. Having picked up more poker-related writing gigs, the last thing I wanted to do with my spare time was sit grinding poker for several hours after spending all day writing about the game.

Another was that I drifted from the poker scene despite being heavily involved in it. I retired from live reporting shortly after the 2014 World Series of Poker (WSOP) so lost an outlet when it came to discussing strategy and watching poker hands unfold in front of me. I’d often come back from live reporting at a major event ready to smash it up online because spending 7-10 days with the game’s elite, bouncing hands off them and watching them in action made playing online in low buy-in tournaments seem so easy.

Why did I stop playing poker?

Thinking about it, perhaps another reason was the fact I had become obsessed with the money side of the game. While I was never going to become a professional poker player, or make bagfuls of cash from this crazy game, I was a profitable player at my stakes and poker had paid for several luxuries during my “career”. The less I played and was involved in the playing side via reporting duties, the more I’d think to myself “what’s the point of grinding this $3 tournament to min-cash after six hours for $7.92 when I could be working or even playing on the PlayStation.”

The money also became a factor when I hit a downswing. I remember towards the end of when I last played poker seriously that I hit two major downswings in quick succession in the $2 and $3.50 rebuy 180-man turbo MTTSNG at PokerStars that cost me a large percentage of my bankroll. After one particularly bad session, I recall having lost something like $250, which isn’t a ton in the grand scheme of things, and doubting the bit of ability I thought I had and visualising what I could have spent that money on.

It is live reporting that has reignited my passion for poker. The 2019 World Series of Poker (WSOP) is drawing to a close and I have spent a decent chunk of time shadow editing the team out in Las Vegas, meaning I have read hundreds of updates from the events taking place. It has been arduous work, but it has also taken me back to a time when I loved playing poker and reading about it 24/7.

Playing poker online

Earlier this month, partypoker announced they were forcing all players to change their aliases as part of some ongoing ecology improvements. $500,000 was being given away in a promotion called Alias Race as a reward for creating a new moniker at the tables. You received a virtual scratch card each time you earned 0.10 loyalty points each hour and some of the prizes were worth up to $10,000 cash.

I’ll be honest, I had visions of banking $10,000 for doing next to fuck all so played some micro-stakes no limit hold’em (NLHE) and pot limit Omaha (PLO) cash games. Of course, the $10,000 and all other cash prizes eluded me, but I won ticket to a freeroll tournament that had a $10,000 prize pool.

A few thousand fellow fish entered the freeroll and I managed to navigate my way to five spots outside of the money places to bubble yet another fucking tournament. While disappointed not to secure some free cash, I really enjoyed playing; it was the first time I could say that in years.

While grinding some massive stakes $0.01/$0.02 PLO cash games, which I am loving BTW, I entered a $0.88 turbo tournament that attracted 131 players. I scraped into the money, finishing 13th for less than a couple of bucks, but the prize didn’t matter because I loved every minute of it. The old heart got pumping again when I was in a big pot. It felt great to act on a read and be correct. It was like the old days again.

I’ve not had much spare time to play any poker since that little tournament but you can rest assured that I’ll be returning to the tables again in the near future and hopefully get back into a routine that allows me to grind some tournaments and hopefully climb up the various stakes. Whether I stay at partypoker to do this remains to be seen, that depends on being able to get access to my hand histories in some form so I can post a few of my fish plays on here!

post image

I’m Forever Bursting Bubbles

Getting back playing poker regularly was one of the goals I set myself for 2019 and yesterday I played my first online poker tournament in as long as I can remember.

The tournament was never going to make me rich, a small $3.30 progressive knockout mix-max tournament at partypoker. I had a few quid in my partypoker account and thought I’d fire up a quick MTT to have on in the background while I worked.

Playing poker while working isn’t the best way to make money or to bring your A-game to the table because there are too many distractions. I wasn’t even using a HUD because I’ve not got around to setting Poker Tracker 4 up on my machine, so I was essentially flying blind.

Sucking Out On The River

I didn’t enjoy the best of starts. Being card dead is shit but being card dead and not being able to make many moves because you don’t have any reads on opponents is even worse. With my stack having dwindled to 18 big blinds, I three-bet shoved all-in over the top of a button raise with As8d from the small blind and found myself up against the dominating AsKs.

“FFS, Pud. Great timing,” I thought to myself, only to be redeemed by a beautiful snowman on the river.

That hand gave me some breathing room before I managed to improve to the nut flush and got my stack in against a guy holding two pair. They missed their full house and suddenly I’m sat with almost 100 big blinds and cruising along.

Late registration closed with 384-etries processed and, as it was a mix-max tournament, play switched from eight-handed tables to six-handed. Again, it’s not ideal playing six-max poker tournaments when you’re busy doing other shit.

First hand back after the break I found pocket kings. I won the blinds and antes. A pair of aces in the hole resulted in the same blinds and aces being won a few hands later.

Ace-king was then dealt to me and I bet you can guess what happened. That’s right, I won the blinds and antes.

Three powerhouse hands and I won the total of 14.4 big blinds and that included my own fucking raise!

Here Comes the Money Bubble

The bubble was now approaching, and I looked on course to sneak into the to 48 places where the prize money was divided up; I’d not managed to bust anyone so hadn’t picked up any bounty payments. A few hands cost me some chips and the rising blinds were eating into my stack. Something had to give eventually.

My exit hand was pretty straightforward, as they usually are in tournament poker. Down to around 26 big blinds, I opened to 2.3 big blinds with KcQc from middle position and the big stack to my immediate left flat-called. This guy was running hotter than the sun and had made some weird plays – I’d started paying a little more attention with the bubble looming – including isolating an all-in player with jack-four offsuit and getting there.

Anyway, it was heads-up to the 2hQs7d flop, a pretty good set of community cards for my hand. I bet around half-pot to leave myself a shade under 20 big blinds. Dude face to my left then clicked it back before insta-calling when I jammed all-in, as would you if you were sat there with AsAc! No king or queen on the turn or river and my run came to an end in 51st place with 48 spots paid. FFS.

It’s obviously disappointing not to cash when I was flying high for so long, but then again, I can’t be too pissed about it because I had next to no reads on anyone and my game is rustier than a 1970s Lada at the minute. Was good fun though and I still got that buzz of going deep in a tournament, even in a $3.30 bowl comp. I’ll definitely be playing some more tournaments when I get the chance, maybe this time I’ll try doing so without a raft of distractions.

post image

Blogtober Never Really Happened

My plan of penning 25 blog entries during the month of October, known affectionately as Blogtober, fell flat on its arse with me only managing a paltry six posts.

Blogtober started well, dipped in the middle and the less said about the end the better. Three posts in the first four days of October stood me in good stead to achieve my goal, but only three more across the rest of the month saw my fail spectacularly.

Work kind of got in the way on more than one occasion, although that’s not a good excuse because work will, hopefully, always be there. Then there was some private family stuff that I’m not prepared to go into right now, but it took up a solid week and left me a little unmotivated to do anything at all if I am honest.

Shock, horror! Video games get in the way

Mass Effect Andromeda

Mass Effect Andromeda

Just as I was about to jump back in the hotseat and attempt to make up for lost time, I found myself motivated more to piss about on the PlayStation 4. I managed to complete the Far Cry 4 campaign, a game I started four years ago when I first bought my trusty PS4 and decided to install Mass Effect: Andromeda.

The Mass Effect series of games are up there with my favourite video games of all time. I bought the original Mass Effect for the Xbox 360 probably around 10 years ago when I found it in the bargain bin of GAME for a few quid. It was a game I instantly fell in love with and spent an age completing.

Mass Effect 2 released in January 2010 and is to this day one of the all-time classics; it is a masterpiece. Again, I spent upwards of 30 hours exploring various galaxies and being immersed in a wonderful story that I didn’t want to end.

BioWare released Mass Effect 3 in March 2012 and it was one of the few games that I didn’t mind paying full price for; I usually wait for the price to come down unless the game looks set to become a classic. The game itself was decent, although the ending was total dogshit especially when you consider fans of the series had put in more than 100-120 hours into the Mass Effect trilogy. I won’t post spoilers, but it was bitterly disappointing, so much so that the developers had to release new endings after a backlash from the nerdiest of fans.

I wasn’t holding out too much hope for Mass Effect: Andromeda because various reviews of the game said it felt rushed, unfinished and had more than its fair share of bugs, some of them game-breaking in how bad they were.

Thankfully, with me waiting forever to get around to playing this game, several patches had been deployed and most of the bugs squashed. I probably logged 10 hours in the game, which could have been 10 or more blog entries, I know, before some kind-hearted person bought me the Red Dead Redemption 2.

I’ll probably write a separate entry about Red Dead Redemption 2 because I am nowhere near finished with it despite piling 20 or more hours into it so far. Yes, I am almost 38-years-old investing time into video games, but it’s so damned addictive.

Two poker freerolls

Plans to jump back into the poker world also took a back seat, as I am sure you have already figured out. No Monster Series tournaments were played at partypoker, not even one. I did find the time to play in another £1,000 freeroll at Grosvenor Poker and a £3,000 freeroll too.

The £1,000 freeroll saw me fail to get above starting stack at any stage. By the time the blinds had increased to 125/250/25a, I was armed with a 4,447 stack, or slightly more than 17 big blind. One guy min-raised from middle position and both the button and small blind called. I opted to jam all-in with 9h9s only to see the original raise re-shove plus the other two players call off their stacks!

A board reading 8dJc2hQcAd didn’t look too good for my lowly pocket nines, so it was not surprising when I busted in 41st place with 18 spots paid. The original raise has AcAh, the button had 8c7c and the small blind QhJh meaning I got my chips in with less than 15 percent equity. Nice one, Pud.

Cowboys shot down

Pocket kings

Pocket kings

Things went a little better in the £3,000 freeroll even though I failed to cash. I managed to hover around the average stack before a short spell of being card dead and not being in the right spots to steal or re-steal reduced my stack somewhat.

Again, it was the 125/250/25a level that saw me come unstuck and I was in the big blind for this hand like my exit hand in the £1,000 game. A player jammed all-in for 3,075 from the hijack and I had a simple call to make in the big blind with KsKh. Villain showed Ac9d so I am a decent favourite to almost double my stack and make a run towards the money; I think a min-cash was like £80 so not too shabby.

My kings stayed ahead on the TsQs4c flop and the Th turn only to be cracked by the motherfucking Ad on the river. This left me with 1,458 chips and they went into the middle when the action folded to me in the small blind. My jam with Jd9c was snapped off by the big blind’s KdKh and I busted despite flopping a nine, meh.

I quite enjoyed playing on Grosvenor Poker so I may see if I can somehow spin up the massive £15 bankroll I have on there from the first £1,000 freeroll. The only thing that pisses me off with the site is how some split pots result in you have fractions of chips. I’ve just seen a tournament taking place now where the chip leader had 10,762.54 chips. I mean, how the fuck can that happen?

Needless to say, I’m going to attempt to post more frequently and play more poker between now and the end of the year, that is if I can tear myself away from being a cowboy / outlaw whenever I get a little bit of downtime from work!

post image

Happy Meals Are On Me!

My first foray into the world of online poker tournaments resulted in a minor cash meaning I can afford to buy the kids a Happy Meal with the money of somebody else.

I wrote a promotional article for UK & Ireland PokerNews highlighting three freerolls at Grosvenor Poker last week that highlighted two £1,000 and one £3,000 freerolls. As I created my Grosvenor Poker account via UK & Ireland PokerNews and had the password for the Oct. 21 £1,000 freeroll, I thought fuck it, I’ll play that.

The preparation for the freeroll wasn’t the best. My youngest was picked up by his mum and I had to drop my eldest off with his mum, but our journey time was extended by a couple of routes home being blocked due to an accident involving a motorcycle and a car. I’ve not heard anything on the news about what happened, but I do hope the biker is OK.

Firing up a freeroll

This freeroll kicked off at 1900 and I didn’t get to the eldest’s house until 18:50 and it’s a 20-25-minute journey home. A completely clear run on the way home meant I didn’t miss too many hands, thankfully.

A few hands after logging onto my laptop saw me call off a decent chunk of my stack. At 10/20, a player in late position on our seven-handed table opened to 60 and for some reason I flatted in the small blind with AcKd. I check-called a 120 bet on the 5h7sAh flop and did the same for 240 chips on the Qh turn. Like a donk, I check-called a 900 bet on the 4d river and was shown 6h4h for my troubles.

After losing a couple more pots, I managed to win a decent pot with Jc9c when I backed into a straight.

I was treading water despite this decent pot because the blinds increased every five minutes and in significant jumps. My 12 big blind shove from the small blind with AhTc cracked a pair or queens, but then everything reverted to finding spots to get my stack in and steal some blinds.

Short stacked ninja

Some breathing room was mine when the cutoff jammed five bigs with what turned out to be KsQc and I took the coinflip with a 5h5d and held.

A few more timely shoves and three-bet shoves helped me keep afloat until I picked up AsAc and got my massive 10 big blinds into the middle against QdTh to double up on the bubble. The bubble burst as my AhJs shove was called by KsQs and they spiked a queen.

It was game over a few hands later when I was forced to push a micro stack into the middle with 9d4h and lost to Ac9s.

Balling out of control with my £15 bankroll!

Balling out of control with my £15 bankroll!

Recapping the action

This meant I had finished 14/75 and picked up a free £15. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a brag or anything like it, after all, it’s only a £15 score from a free tournament, but it did show me a lot of areas that I need to improve.

I’m very rusty, having not really played anything for three years and a couple of things stood out that I am going to need to work on if I am to get back into the game.

  • Stop being a calling station even against donkeys
  • Stop overvaluing suited one and two gappers, particularly against fishes

Overall, I was quite pleased with my short stack game – I’ve had plenty of practice over the years, obviously – and how I read some of the situations. Yes it was only a freeroll but free cash is free cash and now the Happy Meals are on me!

Not sure if I’ll get to play any of the Monster Series events at partypoker from Sunday as I can’t really afford to stick any money online at the moment as it’s been a very expensive month. There is another £1,000 freeroll at Grosvenor Poker on Sunday evening though, so perhaps I’ll crush that instead.

post image

Tempted to Get Back Into Online Poker

There was a time that I harboured dreams of becoming a professional poker player, either sitting behind my computer screen playing online poker or travelling around the UK and maybe the world playing in poker tournaments.

I soon realised – I say soon but it took three or four years – that this was never going to be the case. Why? One reason was that I was not dedicated enough to putting in the hours away from the table to study the game. Another was my inability to log a significant number of tournaments or cash game hands to make some semi-serious money.

Missing the boat

My chance to realise the dream probably came around 10-years ago when I split with my then girlfriend and moved into the pub my mate was running. We struck a deal where I would work a few shifts behind the bar when I finished my day job in exchange for renting the room. This meant my outgoings were very low (I wasn’t earning much but the ratio of income to outgoings was decent) and I saw my little lad on Saturdays so I had plenty of spare time.

Instead of knuckling down and putting in the hours, I kind of went off the rails a little bit and spent most of my spare time chasing birds, getting pissed up and taking various substances, as you do when you’re a bit of a dickhead.

Another opportunity reared its head around 2012 when I had got my act together and had fallen back in love with the game. I was working in the poker industry by now, although not to the extent of the present, and enjoyed some decent results.

Staking opportunity

I was writing some articles for Betfair, including an ongoing series called Pud’s Poker Progress where I’d document my progress, or lack of it, in the online poker world. Betfair agreed to stake me in their GSOP series if I wrote a daily recap of what had gone on during the previous day.

A handful of min-cashes by yours truly were followed up by some decent scores, even better that I hadn’t had to buy into any of the tournaments. I finished 50/600 in a $108 buy-in rebuy for a then career-best $520.82; the best was yet to come.

One of the latter events of the series was a $22 buy-in Deepstack with $30,000 guaranteed. Cutting a long story short, I took down the tournament for $4,844.32 in cash and a $525 seat to the mini-Grand Slam, or Main Event as most people would call it these days. That is still my largest-ever online score.

online poker biggest win

My biggest online poker win

Great start to the year

A couple of months later, I finished 3/2994 players in the PokerStars $3.30 rebuy for $2,483.37. I used to love that tournament and the 2R1A events. On Jan. 1, 2014, I finished 4th in a $5.50 2R1A for $980.92 then towards the end of the month I finished sixth in the $3r for $821.38 and five days later finished fourth in it for $1,459.38.

Despite this impressive start, I hardly played again that year, opting to try grind the 180-man games.

I recently fired up my old PocketFives account and added my screen names into my profile so any poker I played would be tracked. Sadly, my Betfair Poker scores from the Ongame days (remember those) are missing.

Three years since my last tournament

One thing that struck me was my last tournament cash was in Oct. 2015, three fucking years ago! Well, that’s not entirely true because I cashed in a couple of small POWERFEST events at partypoker this Sept. because I won some free tickets in a promotion. But still, three years I’ve not played poker tournament for.

Something else that stood out was my profile is showing a mere 264 cashes, going to show how little I used to play even when I was in love with online poker.

Working away in the PokerNews Live Reporting team didn’t help as I was away for days at a time, weeks when it came to the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. Neither did getting the roles I have now where I spend half my life writing about poker and people winning ludicrous sums of money, meaning I don’t have the motivation to play online poker when I throw in the towel for the day. Yet I am being drawn back to the game.

It was probably the handful of tournaments I played with my free tickets from partypoker. I only managed to scrape a couple of min-cashes and one or two bounties while playing on my phone, in the pub where the Mrs works, while I was waiting for her to finish.

But I really enjoyed playing. The buzz of being all-in. The excitement of reading your opponent and being able to bluff them off a pot. It all came flooding back and I liked what I felt.

Where to play online poker?
Online poker or live poker

When I turned $200 into almost $1,000 in Las Vegas cash games

I’m still not going to be able to log a lot of volume if I am honest because of work and family commitments, although I am determined to get involved in some online poker tournaments in the next week or so, money permitting as I haven’t had a bankroll for three years!

PokerStars isn’t an option for me as I am banned from playing there. I’ve not done anything dodgy, but The Stars Group owns a majority shareholding in iBus Media, which is the parent company of PokerNews, which in turn loosely makes me an employee of Stars and therefore not allowed to play at their online poker site.

This means I will likely play at partypoker because I like the direction they are going in with the continual improvements to their software, promotions and games offered, plus the iPoker Network and 888 put me on life tilt.

The Monster Series is coming up at partypoker from Oct. 28, a series of 144 tournaments with buy-ins of between $2.20 and $33 yet with combined guaranteed prize pools of $3.4 million. Perhaps this could be the perfect time to jump back on the horse, brush off the rust and see if I can still remember what hand beats what or if I am an even bigger fish as I was back in 2015.