Balance – life is not always simple

An old two pan balance.
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Off topic today. Life is a balancing act. There is family and friends, chores and poker. There are a lot of things that I need to integrate in my life of becoming a poker professional.

I need to tend to my family; my wife Diane, my sons, Chris and Thom and their families. I need to tend to chores around the house. Painting the shed before the deep freeze settles in. Raking the leaves before they freeze to the ground. Grouting the stones on our walk before the snow hits and it becomes impossible to shovel.

I need to exercise on a regular basis. I need to plan my poker playing so that I get a good mix of cash games and tourney like games. I need to continue to take the opportunity to play satellites in the hopes of advancing to a major poker event.

Right now our new kittens, five months old, require more attention as they have just returned back from surgery. They are in-door cats and were de-clawed in order to protect us and allow them more freedom around us. They need to be cuddled and held. They both try to sleep on my lap at the same time. They each weigh over 7 pounds and are growing each day.

How do you coordinate your life style? How does poker fit into your life? Is it a pastime? A hobby? An avocation?

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Thoughts about blogging and poker in general.

Blog Stats
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When I started my blog on January 2nd of this year, little did I know that it was not  always easy to write something, let alone something interesting or informative every day. Also, at the time I started, I was unaware of just how many “poker blogs” were out in the world wide web! It turns out that there are hundreds of blogs, forums and poker sites.

Many of the sites are run by professional poker companies, professional poker players or professional poker instructional sites. The rest of the blogs are written by people like myself, who have a passion for all things poker and like to share their thoughts and ideas.

I am not really sure what is interesting to everyone who reads my blog. Judging by the comments that I get, how I play a hand might draw a comment. What I see at an online or live table might be interesting. I even try to share what books I have read that have been helpful. All in all, getting ideas for blogging daily is both challenging and fun.

When I first started out, I tried to blog 7 days a week but after a couple of months found that did not fit my life style. So now I blog usually five days a week. I have a routine that I use before writing my blogs. I usually read my email to see if there are any questions or issues I might use. I also check my tweets from overnight. Finally, I check out ChrisBrogan.com. Usually he posts at least once a day and sometimes more. I have found inspiration for some of my posts by reading his blog. I also take time to read the blog of my online poker friends and acquaintances, commenting when I find something that strikes a chord with me.

I have noticed that some of the poker professionals only post when they have something they want to share. The online sites usually post every day, sometimes more if there are events they want to keep you updated about. Some of the poker pros talk about non-poker related topics. You get a glimpse into their lives as they share their thoughts and ideas.

Some of what I read, some of what I do and some of what I think about, I use for my blog.

What interests you? What would you like to see? What do want to hear about? What do you want to talk about?

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Can Social Media help a new Poker site grow?

Social Media Landscape
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While this topic is almost completely out of my area of expertise, I am fortunate to have a terrific resource – my son, Chris of ChrisBrogan.com. He has given a lot of help to a lot of people over the years on how to expand one’s presence over the web-o-sphere. In just one post, he gives links to 10 articles he wrote on the subject, entitled “My Best Advice About Social Networking”. I think this would be a valuable starting point for any company looking to grow their customer base.

My question is how would that relate to a fledgling poker site? What could they do to attract more players? The site I am thinking about has a well designed and very friendly-to-use poker interface. They accept US players. Who could ask for anything more? It seems that they need more players so that more games are available to be played in.

I think that they should be announcing the fact that they have many freerolls each day; that they have many guaranteed tournaments each day;  and that they have a variety of games to offer!

How can they go about getting more players and getting the word out?

1. Twitter – they already have a twitter account, but they could use it to announce that a “freeroll” is starting in an hour or that a “guaranteed” tourney is starting in an hour. They could use a twitter hash tag of #poker as many poker players on twitter search for tweets with that tag. They could even create a unique hash tag of their own. (They did start doing that on August 31st, but since then they have only had 23 tweets overall. Even I tweet a little bit more than that.)

2. Blog – they could have a blog where they talk about what up coming games are available and also what promotions are coming up. They could keep it simple and informative.

3. Facebook – they could have a face book presence and seek friends that are interested in poker. (Not really sure how that works? This is where I am getting a little out of my area. I don’t use Facebook enough to know what I am doing with it.)

Again, these are just some random thoughts about how a new poker site could start to build up a presence in an already crowed arena. Sometimes being smaller is better. Hopefully they will continue to grow.

Do you think that social media can help an online poker site expand their presence in an already crowed arena? Is it in the best interest of poker players to have yet another site out there? Should we as players help a site grow?

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Thoughts about posts concerning running bad

Seven day old Donkey_0715
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Some of my posts of the last thirty days have contained statements I have made about running bad. While this certainly does happen, it is really not interesting to others, other  than myself and those who are winning against me.  One of the blogs that I read weekly is DonkFestPokeer.com whose motto is “Can’t Spot the Donkey’s? It’s You!”. His post was about how he was having the worse year ever. In the past, he had posted about “running bad” or losing,  but now,  has decided not to talk about running bad ever again. See his full post here.

I intend to do the same. I will endeavor to keep my post about what is going on in the poker world around me and the the poker community that I follow. I will do this while striving to be a better poker player and blogger.

That is not to say that I won’t post about a losing hand or bad session.  I just won’t whine about it,  I will tell you what I found interesting or what I learned from it. I will share some tips of what worked for me and what did not work.

Do you strive to keep positive? Are you able to maintain that positive attitude to help keep your spirits up? What to you do that motivates you to be a better player?

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Some online poker sites use the same network as others – OMG

An image of a person playing the poker varient...
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In previous posts, I said that one of my original sites for playing poker was DoylesRooms. But they had stopped taking on US players and my cash account was frozen and I had moved on to other sites. At some point, late last year or early this year, DoylesRoom started to allow US players back on thier site. I liked the new software but was reluctant to deposit funds based on what had happened in 2007.

I already had accounts on PokerStars and FullTiltPoker as well as UltimateBet. As a result of being on Twitter, I heard about a poker site called PokerHost.com and gave them a try. They had some Twitter Freerolls as they called them and I was able to cash in on some of them. It was fun. While they had a small number of players, I was able to find some games that I could play. Overall, I liked the site and the interface.

I still had an account with DoylesRoom but had not used the software in months. DoylesRoom sent me an email stating that they had totally changed their site as the result of join up with the Cake Poker Network.  I went ahead and installed the software and low and behold, the interface looked almost exactly like the PokerHost site but with different tournaments being offered.

My user name is slightly different on DoylesRoom as opposed to Pokerhost but I was able to figure out that I was on the same network because the number of active players and tables were almost identical when I logged out from one and logged into the other.  I then checked out CakePokerNetwork.Net and found out that Cake Poker runs the underlying software and each affiliate gets a special look or “skin” that is tailored to their specifications. Some of the tourneys offered are different. Some are the same.  I ran into the same players on both sites while I was using a different screen name.

It was not and is not my intention to fool anyone about this. But there are some tourneys on DoylesRoom and on PokerHost that I lke to play in and they are not available on both sites. So I pick and choose who I want to be and where I want to play. I can only  be logged into one site at a time. This prevents collusion that could occur if I played as two different users at the same table. I am glad to see that their security works.

Because of my membership with a group called Railbirds.Com I also belong to PlayersOnly.com which turns out is also on the Cake Poker Network. While I do have an account, I don’t and probably won’t put any funds there. There is no compelling reason to do so – currently.

Another site that I have an account with is AbsolutePoker and it turns out that they are on the same network with UltimateBet. Again, while the screens are different I can find the same players on either site. But I can only run one site at a time  which is fine by me.

The point of all this?  I would say that before you sign up you should check to see who runs the site. Who the owners? Do what they offer compel you to sign up and play at their site?

How many of you belong to online sites that are owned by the same network? What makes you play one site versus the other? Is there any benefit to being signed up to more that one site on the same poker network?

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Does it matter how many players are on a site at a given time?

Torneio Poker Player
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The short answer may be yes and no. I would say that it all depends on what is happening at a specific day and time.

For US players, the largest amount of players may be found at PokerStars (PS) and FullTilitPoker (FT) with PS having almost a two to one count.

This week PS is running the World Championship of Online Poker series of Tourneys. Buy-ins range from $109 to $25,500 with the bulk being at least $215 per event.

This event is geared to the professional or semi-pro or those wanting to take a shot at the largest prizes available. Because of this event, there are more people logged in at PokerStars than usual. This can have an effect on the other sites. The effect might depend:  smaller sites might gain some followers due to the slowing effect of large volumes on the bigger sites. The larger sites can siphon off some players who find games going on the larger sites that don’t normally have any tables available but do now because of the greater number of players at the site.

During the Spring Championship of Online Poker, I noticed a larger amount of players than usual. At that time I was playing a 2 to 7 triple draw game and usually had to wait for a seat. During the SCOOP, more tables were open and seats were readily available. Once the events had completed, the tables emptied and the waiting list lines grew again to pre-event levels.. I believe that FT had less players than usual as many players like myself have accounts at more than one site and go where the action is at the time.

I frequent many different sites, looking for the best and most profitable site to play at. I am still looking. I know I need to improve my skills in both playing and table selection.  I have just started to record the number of players at these sites. For about two weeks I will track the number of players at seven of the eleven sites that I have accounts with. I will record those numbers about every two hours.  I generally don’t play from 10 pm to 7am, but I will record those when I wake up during the night. Perhaps I will keep my netbook under my pillow?

For example, this morning at about 7am ET, I recorded the following:

8,337 players at Absolute Poker (Ultimate Bet), same poker network, different lobby
N/A at Bodog (they said they are working on adding this feature)
1,819 players at Carbon Poker
1,688 players at Dolyes Room (Players Only, PokerHost), same poker network, different lobby
291 players at Full Rush Poker
34,191 players at Full Tilt Poker
91, 595 players at Poker Stars
413 players at True Poker

I am not really sure what the data will tell me?  I do not know how I will use this information. Hopefully, it will be useful.

Do you have any thoughts on what the data might mean? Does it really matter? Do sites with less players have better or worse than average players? Do better players avoid the larger sites?

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Poker – Gambling addiction is a serious issue

Gambing Addict
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The following is a brief discussion on problem gambling. I bring it up because I know that it exists and want others to know as well. There are many avenues of help for the troubled gambler. Check your state to see what resources are available to help some one you know who has a gambling problem.

I play poker and while that might be considered gambling by some, I consider it a game of skill. Were it just a game of chance, I would not be able to win pots and hands playing with the worst hand. I have almost 60 books about poker strategy. I can compare the game to chess in that you attempt to make the best move and also try to figure out what move your opponent is making and why. The way I play it is not a game of chance.

According to the National Council on Problem Gambling “Problem gambling is gambling behavior which causes disruptions in any major area of life: psychological, physical, social or vocational. The term “Problem Gambling” includes, but is not limited to, the condition known as “Pathological”, or “Compulsive” Gambling, a progressive addiction characterized by increasing preoccupation with gambling, a need to bet more money more frequently, restlessness or irritability when attempting to stop, “chasing” losses, and loss of control manifested by continuation of the gambling behavior in spite of mounting, serious, negative consequences.”

I have played online games where observers will come to the virtual table and beg the other players at the table for funds. They will ask for money in order to play in a tourney that they know they can win or they will ask for money to play in a cash game. They know they can win enough playing to clear the bonus due them from playing. They will offer a 60 percent stake in their winnings if only you will help them out. That seems to me to be a problem gambler.

If you need your bankroll in order to pay the rent, buy food, clothing and other necessities then you may have a gambling problem and should seek help.

If your bankroll is separate from your day to day financial needs and your poker playing is not disrupting your personal life, you are on the right tract. There is nothing wrong with thinking and planning and discussing poker on a daily basis, especially if you are making a career out it.

If you or someone you know needs help, there are resources that can help. Besides the National Council on Problem Gambling there is also Gamblers Anonymous and their resources.

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