Goal Setting – professional and personal

Determination
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With all the reading that I have done, I think it is time to do some goal setting – personal and professional so I will start by listing my goals for April.

Professional:
Work 20/25 hours playing poker weekly.
Document each type of game and session with a summary of number of hands played, profit or or loss for the session and comments about how each session was played. Document these by site.
Continue reading and learning poker from books, blogs, and magazines.

Personal:
Work 15/20 hours weekly around the house; lawn, garden, garage, home
Exercise 30/45 minutes a day minimum; walking or on exercise bike.
Lose weight, 1/4 lb. per week average

Hopefully by setting these goals down, recording the progress and comparing the results, I will start achieving the results that I want.

Do you set goals for your career? How do you record them? Do you adjust your goals or set new ones?

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These are a few of my favorite things – Poker Books

My last couple of posts have been about Poker Books. I currently own 30 or more of these books and have a shopping list for at least 12 more that I would like to own and read. I have read each of these books at least once and have gone back to some of them many times for specific tips to help me with my game.

The following is a list of my Poker Books, in no particular order:
Play Poker Like the Pros by Phil Hellmuth, Jr.
Professional Poker: The Essential Guide to Playing for a Living by Mark Blade
Tournament Poker: 101 Winning Moves: Expert Plays for No-Limit Tournaments by Michael Cogert
Omaha Poker by Bob Ciaffone
Doyle Brunson’s Super System: A Course in Power Poker, 3rd Edition by Doyle Brunson
Doyle Brunson’s Super System 2: A Course in Power Poker by Doyle Brunson
Online Poker: Your Guide to Playing Online Poker Safely & Winning Money by Doyle Brunson
Middle Limit Holdem Poker by Bob Ciaffone
Pot-Limit & No-Limit Poker by Bob Ciaffone
Caro’s Book of Poker Tells by Mike Caro
Caro’s Fundamental Secrets of Winning Poker by Mike Caro
Harrington on Hold ’em Expert Strategy for No Limit Tournaments, Vol. 1: Strategic Play by Dan Harrington
Harrington on Hold ’em Expert Strategy for No Limit Tournaments, Vol. 2: Endgame by Dan Harrington
Cash Games (How to Win at No-Limit Hold’em Money Games) Vol. 1 by Dan Harrington
Harrington on Cash Games, Volume II: How to Play No-Limit Hold ’em Cash Games by Dan Harrington
Farha on Omaha: Expert Strategy for Beating Cash Games and Tournaments by Sam Farha
World Poker Tour(TM): Shuffle Up and Deal by Mike Sexton
Phil Gordon’s Little Green Book: Lessons and Teachings in No Limit Texas Hold’em by Phil Gordon
Winning at Internet Poker For Dummies (For Dummies (Computer/Tech))
Weighing the Odds in Hold’em Poker by King Yao
How to Win at Omaha High-Low Poker by Mike Cappelletti
Ace on the River: An Advanced Poker Guide by Barry Greenstein
Tournament Poker for Advanced Players (Advance Player) by David Sklansky
The Theory of Poker by David Skyansky
The Psychology of Poker by Alan N. Schoonmaker
Poker Essays by Mason Malmuth
Improve Your Poker by Bob Ciaffone
Hold ‘Em Poker by David Sklansky
Small Stakes Hold ’em: Winning Big With Expert Play by Ed Miller, David Sklansky, Mason Malmuth
Annie Duke: How I Raised, Folded, Bluffed, Flirted, Cursed, and Won Millions at the World Series of Poker by Annie Duke

Do poker books help your games? Do you find too many conflicting ideas? Do you have recommendations for books not on my list?

Review: World Poker Tour: Making the Final Table – Erick Lindgren

In my quest for self-improvement in tournament poker, I read the book “World Poker Tour(TM): Making the Final Table“.

Erick Lindgren took me through all the steps of getting to a World Poker Tour event. He explained that you can gain entry to the events by buying into it directly for $10,000 to $25,000 or you can win a satellite game costing as little as $60 or so and advance a stage at a time, providing you win each stage. In fact, his first WPT tourney was through a satellite.

The book is divided into nine chapters; each one showing the progression from just considering a WPT event, to the winning concepts needed overall. It covers the start of the tourney, Day 1. Erick discusses his methods of playing after the flop. His takes us through the middle stages of a tourney; getting past the bubble and making money; the final table, heads up play, and if you are successful, living the life of a pro.

The appendix contains a wealth of World Poker Tour History; poker math and poker bluffing tips by Matt Matros.

If you are interested in winning tournaments and learning from one of the best tourney players, I recommend this book to you.

Do you have goals to play in a large tourney such as the WPT or WSOP? How have you prepared your self for that goal? Can you imagine playing in a event requiring you to play up to 12 hours per day for at least five days?

Playing with a wild man at Limit Hold Em

Poker Texas Hold'em : Shuffling Cards On The Board
Image by brtsergio via Flickr

Last Wednesday night, I was playing poker, Limit Texas Hold ‘Em, online at a $1/2 table. I started off playing shorthanded, actually, one on one or heads up until the table attracted more players. I was more than holding my own when we were joined by a couple more players. One of the new ones, I will call JJ, was pretty aggressive, always raising, which is what you are supposed to do, except that he liked to bluff.

Now, this is Limit Hold ‘Em and bluffing does not work too well when you can look someone up, see what his hand is, for just a couple of big bets. It did not take long and he eventually lost his entire stack of chips or about $35 dollars and then he left.

There were five of us left at the table and we continued playing. There was not any chatting going on, just serious play. All of a sudden the madman, JJ, was back, at a different seating position and starting with $35 in chips again. He continued his very aggressive action similar to the last time. This time half of the hands he played were not bluffs and he started to make a profit. By the time I had called it quits for the evening, he had more than doubled up, and had a chip stack of $80.00. I left the table, $8.00 ahead and was thankful for that. It was a very interesting session. About five of the six of us had seen our profits reduced by the “madman”.

Have you ever had that happen? Had someone at the table taken over the action and you could never tell if they had a hand or were bluffing? How did you combat that or did you just leave the table?

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Review: Caro's Fundamental Secrets of Winning Poker.

I have just recently purchased and read Caro’s Fundamental Secrets of Winning Poker written by Mike Caro, the “Mad Genius of Poker”.  The book contained only 158 pages but there was a lot of meat to be gleaned for both the amateur and the professional poker player. Mike’s writing style is interesting in that he likes to use blackboards to highlight his main talking points and he has a lot of them.

This book contained tips and thinking points and sayings. Some of the tips pertained to seven-card stud, seven-card stud high-low, Hold ‘Em, and draw poker. He had tips about why you can really win at poker, how to play poker, general winning advice, money management tips, and much much more.

For example, one of the tips pertaining to bankroll management said “Protect your bankroll! Money you don’t lose is the same as money you win”. He talked about not going on tilt and just throwing your money in the pot, trying to get even after you had a series of bad beats.

There is a lot that can be learned or re-learned just from reading this book. If nothing else, you get to catch a glimpse of what is in the mind of Mike Caro. I highly recommend you read this book.

Have you read any of the other Mike Caro books? How has that helped your game?

Seeking a level playing ground

Gambling man
Image by waffler via Flickr

Lately I have been playing various styles of poker at different sites and trying to find my level at those sites and games. I have been playing Limit Hold ‘Em, No Limit Hold ‘Em and 2-7 Triple Draw. I have been playing in the .10/.20 games mostly for 2-7 triple draw, .25/.50 for No Limit Hold ‘Em, and .50/1.00 1.00/2.00 for Limit Hold ‘Em.

So far these are my most profitable limits as I learn the sites, the players and the games.

Recently I have had good success at 2-7 triple draw at the .10/.20 limits. The table buy-in is $4.00 and at most sessions I have been able to double up within an hour. Over the last two weeks at this level, I have made about $32 in profit. So with that in mind, I thought that I would move up to the next level, which  is .25/.50.

Of course when I wanted to play, no one was playing at those levels. But there were three 1.00/2.00 tables playing so I thought that would be close enough and joined a waiting list while playing on the .10/.20 table. After about 20 minutes, a seat opened up and I joined the table and bought in with $40.00. It only took about a half hour, but I found this table to be very tough for me to play at. My card runs were similar to those at the lower limit tables but the players were more aggressive. It did not take long for me to go from my starting $40 down to $10 before I left the table.I was not comfortable and did not wish to risk more at this level.

Overall my initial profit at this game was reduced from $32 down to $2.

The lesson I learned was that I was not ready for this limit. I was not prepared for the variances of the game at this higher level of the blinds. I should point out that my results at the .10/.20 tables were similar. Some days I started with $4.00 and left with $0.50, but most days I left with $2, $3, $4 or even $5 more than I started with. So over the course of 10 sessions at this level, I had built up a profit.

The second lesson I learned was to only play at a level that I am comfortable and profitable with. When you are ready, test the next level. Plan how much you want to risk and how long you want to test that level. If you are unsuccessful, don’t be afraid to go back to the previous level. By all means, do not risk a significant portion of your bankroll in making those moves, thereby avoiding even more pressure on yourself.

Do you play better at one blind level versus another? Is the pressusre due to the amount at risk or the better players found at the higher level?  Do you ever move down a level when you are not winning as well as you would like at  your current level?

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Following @realAnnieDuke on Twitter and Railing AnnieDuke on UltimateBet.Com

Annie Duke in 2005 World Series of Poker (WSOP...
Image via Wikipedia

In between blogging and playing poker, I assist my wife, Diane, with setting up and selling wire sculptured gifts and jewelry she creates for sale at Arts and Craft shows and on line at WWW.Brogan-Arts.Com. I also receive and send tweets on my cell phone while at these shows as there are some slow times, meaning no customers are at our booth. Because I don’t have unlimited text, I only follow a select few tweeple on my cell phone, occasionally turning those updates off as I approach my 5,000 text message limit for the month. I received a tweet from one of my fellow poker players that mentioned the “@realannieduke“.

Being a fan of Annie Duke, I was intrigued so I started following her and started receiving her tweet updates. I found out she was going to a yard sale with her daughters who were going to be selling lemonade. Later I found out that Annie Duke was going to be playing at the UltimateBet Sunday Night $200K Guaranteed Tourney which started at 5:30pm Sunday night.

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The following are some of the tweets leading up to, during, and after the tourney written by @realannieduke (Annie Duke).

Playing the Sunday $200K on Ultimatebet.com. Then doing my weekly radio show with p0kerH0 on roundersradio.com. Listen in at 5pm pacific.(about 12 hours ago from web )

Came late to the Sunday $200K. Limped in with 33, flopped a set, won a huge pot. Glad I waited to play. (about 12 hours ago from web)

You are all welcome to rail me on UB today, btw. Come say hi!  (about 12 hours ago from web)

Bad news: I accidentally called an all in on an AXX boad with 86 no pair no draw. Disabled hit enter to bet option after that obviously  (about 10 hours ago from web)

Good news: Doubled up with 88 vs AQ when the board flopped T8X. Back up close to 6K. (about 10 hours ago from web)

radio show starts in 1 minute…http://www.roundersradio.com/ (about 10 hours ago from web)

Just doubled up while doing a radio show. Ha! Life is sweet.  (about 9 hours ago from web)

Joe Navarro is always the best guest! (about 9 hours ago from web)

Just got kocked out of the UB Sunday $200K AQ vs AK. Fair enough. Now I can focus on the radio show.  (about 8 hours ago from web)

@joshsuth Bubbled.  (about 8 hours ago from web in reply to joshsuth)

Will be tweeting from @CelebApprentice tonight. Follow me there during the west coast feed of the show starting at 9pm pacific.  (about 6 hours ago from web)

Check out my Dad, Richard Lederer, in this clip. I can only say I love him unconditionally http://tinyurl.com/d8jzwc (about 6 hours ago from web)

Just finished tweeting for @CelebApprentice. Going to write my blog now on http://www.annieduke.com/ (about 4 hours ago from web)

Blog is done. http://tinyurl.com/c5gd9f  (about 2 hours ago from web)

Annie finished in 129th place in the tourney, just 30 places shy of getting in the money. First place payed out $44,660.00 and 99th place payed out $280.00. The buy-in was $215.00 and there were 997 entrants.

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When I got home, I logged onto the UltimateBet Poker site and started watching Annie play at her assigned table. The practice of watching a game you are not involved in is called “railing”, being on the viewing rails outside of a tourney playing area, looking in at the players from a distance.

The reason I found this interesting is that she appears to be just like every other poker player I know. Really human. She showed up late for an online tourney. I have done that and I know others that have as well. She was multitasking; twittering, conducting a Rounders Radio Interview, playing in a tourney, typing the occasional  “tyty” while winning a pot and being told “nh”  for nice hand. With so many distractions, she appeared to have made some bad decisions during her play of certain hands and before she knew it she was out in 129th place. I am just guessing about the bad plays, I am sure she may have had a very good reason for everything she did. Based on the fact she was doing both a tourney and a radio show I would guess this could lead to distractions.

Have you ever been in a tourney but was not giving it a 100%?   Were you reading blogs, typing blogs, answering emails, leaving comments while playing a tourney or a game?   Were you disappointed at your results, but not sure what happened?   Could you have lost your focus while dancing, chewing gum, playing cards, whistling, and drinking beer at the same time? (I’d like a video clip if you did that last one, please).

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No Patience – leads to a bad finish!

Flop
Image by bananeman via Flickr

Last night I finished 24th out of 25 players in the TPT: Tilt Event #11, sponsored by the TwitterPokerTour. After having two first place finishes in my previous two tourney events, this was not a good showing. This happened with my poker backer right beside me to watch my lack of patience and judgment. Good thing she is my partner for life. Diane was very supportive but probably still wondered what had happened to my previous patient playing style.

I ended up seeing just 26 hands last night. I did not wait for premium hands. My first hand was an AQ of clubs in the cutoff position and I raised an unraised pot to 90 or three times the big blind and everyone folded.

My next hands which were folded prior to taking action again were: 46 o, 4J o, 87 o, 48 s, 63 s, 72 o until I was dealt my next AQ suited.  I was on the button and called a raise of 90 and saw the flop of 9 8 7 of hearts. Not exactly helpful. I called one small bet of 30 to see the turn which was a K of clubs. I folded to a bet 450. Not even sure why I wanted to see one more card with a possible flush already out there, but I did.

My next series of hands were: Q5 s, 74 s, J4 o, J6 o, Q9 s, 67 s, 68 s, 35 o, 6T o, Q6 o, K4 o, Q6 o, 3 6 o before catching Ac Qd off suit while being in the big blind. The flop was 7 8 T of diamonds giving me a four flush Q high. I lead off with 160 and was called. A Js came off at the turn giving me both a flush and a straight draw. I bet 480 at the turn and was called. The river was a 10 making a pair of tens on the board. I checked, my opponent checked. I showed my AQ giving me a pair of 10’s and my opponent showed 96 of clubs giving him a straight Jack high for the pot. This left me with 620 in chips or enough for about 10 more rounds of play.

My next few hands were: 47 o, 35 s, 76 s, before catching a pair of 5’s. I called the blinds, and one opponent raised all-in and I called. He turned over AJ off suit to my pocket 5’s and the race was on. The flop was 4 4 A, giving him the lead. I needed a 5 to win. The turn was a 10 of clubs, no help to me. The river was a three of hearts and I was finished in 24th place about 18 minutes after the tourney had started.

AQ hands have always been problematical, and many pro players will tell you they should be folded due to all the trouble they cause you. Of course, some of these same players also call with these and lose big pots just as I did.

Have you every played AQ and wished you had not? Do you have hands you try to avoid playing regardless of position?

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Limit Stud High/Low at the Cowboy Poker League Tourney

Modern Texas cowboys.
Image via Wikipedia

Last night I played in a Seven Card Stud High/Low Poker tourney being hosted by the Cowboy’s Poker League played on FullTiltPoker.  Scott (twitter name is ffcowboy76) and Jeremy (twitter name is IBGPN) are the hosts and contact persons. Tweet or follow them on their exploits as well as follow their league twitter name – @CowboyPoker.

I have played very little Stud H/L and it showed last night. The two days prior to the game, I had been reading about Stud poker strategy in the book, The Full Tilt Poker Strategy Guide: Tournament Edition. There are three chapters devoted to Stud poker tourneys and I had read the first two which dealt with Stud High. I had not gotten to the section on Stud High/Low prior to playing in last nights tourney and I could not remember some of the basics, like the fact that the low hand must contain five cards no higher than an eight and must not be paired. So the best low hand would be A 2 3 4  5 and the worse low hand would be 4 5 6 7 8.

As a rule you should be playing a hand when you are reasonably sure you have a chance to win both the high hand and the low hand portion of the pot or at least the high hand. This is not easy as the cards you get on each street might not be what you need and then you are putting too many chips in the pot, hoping to draw out or catch the cards that you need.

After the game had finished, I went back to my book and finished the final chapter on Stud High/Low. From what I had read, I played most of my hands incorrectly last night. Good thing I did not know that during the game. I think?

There were only 6 people entered in the tourney. The following is the summary:
Full Tilt Poker Tournament Summary CPL Game #4 (83234589) Stud H/L Limit
Total Prize Pool: $30
Tournament started: 2009/03/18 21:01:00 ET
Tournament finished: 2009/03/18 22:39:17 ET

1: StevieTrips
2: IBGPN
3: panndyra (received the bounty for knocking out ffcowboy76)
4: ffcowboy76
5: fleapid
6: mysticslayer

Over three hundred hands were dealt during the tourney and the lead changed many times. It seemed we all took a turn at being in first place and in last place. Chips flew from one player to another during the hectic playing. It was both exciting and exhausting. The tourney only lasted an hour and 40 minutes but really tired me out. I was fortunate to win despite all the mistakes I had made. The river was very forgiving. Sorry guys and gals, yes I did luck out on some of those hands.

Have you every played in a game that you were not that familiar with? How did you manage your chips? Was it more stressful not knowing exactly what you should be doing?

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Strange times at online cash games – maybe not so strange?

Texas Hold'em Royal Humble
Image by brtsergio via Flickr

Recently, I have been increasing my online cash game play of Texas Hold Em Limit and No Limit Games at low stakes of .25/.50 blinds while preparing myself for the task of playing up to 4/5 hours per day of poker.

During this time, I have started to notice that some players are doing things that, at first, did not make a lot of sense to me. I did not catch on initially because I was more concerned with what I had for cards and did not pay attention to what was happening after I folded.  As I gained more experience, I started watching hands I was not involved in and took notes about what certain players were doing so that I could play better against them when I was actively playing a hand.

What I started to notice was the tendency for some players to go all-in with any pocket pair prior to the flop. This seemed like risky behavior and I could not understand why they would do this! It seemed as though they were playing a game of poker bingo and basically just gambling that they would win. Without even being asked, one player said “pocket tens are my favorite hand, I always win with them”. And he did; he was up against pocket Aces and caught a 10 on the river to double up. It was not long after he won that he left the table.

I started asking some of my twitter poker friends about this kind of action and they said they see this happen all the time. Someone comes to the table with a small buy-in amount, the minimum allowed at .25/.50 is $10, and waits until they get a pocket pair, then they go all-in and leave if they win or lose. Personally, I had seen bad plays like this in low buy-in tourneys but not at cash games, at least not until now.

But then I noticed that my twitter friends were also pointed out that they had lost hands or games when they held good hands like KK or AK and were beaten by players having 87 off suit or T9 suited. This reminded me of something that I recently read in the book, The Full Tilt Poker Strategy Guide: Tournament Edition.

Andy Bloch wrote in Chapter 6 about “No Limit Hold ‘Em: Play before the Flop”, and detailed starting hand requirements for each of the positions. He had many charts showing how certain hands won a certain percentage of the time against random hands, against the top 10% of hands, etc. These tables were meant to show that a player could sometimes call an all in bet made by another player, even with a hand such as 3 2 off suit because of the pot odds and chip stacks. This was not meant to be a guide on how to bet any pocket pair pre-flop by going all in. But I think that some players have read it this way and decided that if AA-KK-QQ-JJ-TT-99-88-77-66-55-44-33-22 are winning more that 50% of the time, going all in was a great idea. Of course it did work from time to time, so now some of these players have decided to make it a standard play in their poker play book. This might work in the early stages or late stages of a tourney but in a tight cash game, this could be a path to disaster.

Have you seen this happening at cash games you have been involved in? How do you combat it? Do you fight back with worse hands and then get the worst of it? What has been your experience?

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