General/p2: Bond18

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Let's talk strategy

I've turned into a poker geek again. For a long time my focus just wasn't on the game, but lately I've been playing six days a week again and really getting back into concentrating on improving my game. I'm posting regularly in HSMTT again and watching tournament training videos to get a sense of what other guys are doing. I've had a few interesting hands over the last few days so we'll throw those up here and talk strategy for a bit. I'll be copy pasting hands I posted at 2+2 and including reasoning on my thought process as well as input from other posters:

Hand 1: Full Tilt $500 sat. I haven't been too active and haven't played any meaningful pots against the villain. Nothing about his play or our dynamic would suggest something crazy is going on here. Thoughts:

Full Tilt Poker Aussie Millions Qualifier No Limit Hold'em Tournament - t25/t50 Blinds - 8 players
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UTG+1: t5352 M = 71.36
MP1: t6645 M = 88.60
MP2: t6035 M = 80.47
CO: t3215 M = 42.87
Hero (BTN): t4940 M = 65.87
SB: t6178 M = 82.37
BB: t4880 M = 65.07
UTG: t4155 M = 55.40

Pre Flop: (t75) Hero is BTN with K Q
5 folds, Hero raises to t150, 1 fold, BB calls t100

Flop: (t325) 3 K K (2 players)
BB checks, Hero bets t200, BB calls t200

Turn: (t725) 2 (2 players)
BB checks, Hero bets t500, BB calls t500

River: (t1725) 6 (2 players)
BB checks, Hero bets t1175, BB raises to t4030 all in, Hero...

Preflop, flop, turn, and the river bet are all clearly very standard. The river check-shove is a difficult spot. The villain is almost never bluffing (occasionally people will show up with something insane here, but it's very, very unlikely) so the big question is how many hands are in his value shoving range that we beat vs hands that beat us.

The majority of the responses in the thread agreed that you need to call, and the most thorough advice came from my ex-coach NoahSD:
"You lose to like 6 weighted combos (3 of 66 and 3 for the other random boats he shows up with occasionally).

There are probably like 10ish Kx that we beat in his preflop range and he prob plays them this way like 25% of the time for 2.5 combos. Then there's like 1 weighted combo that we chop with. Then there's like 1 combos of him just being a total clueless spewtard with like A-high or 77 or 72 or something.

So that's 6 you lose, 3.5 you beat, and 1 you chop with, so equity of a call is (3.5*6870 - 6*2795 + 2037.5)/10.5 = 886.9"

Hand 2: Full Tilt $100 single rebuy add-on. Haven't played any big pots with villain. I haven't been doing any out of line 3 betting that would make me think his range is anything outside of the usual monsters here.

You giving up on turn or calling and evaluating on river?

Full Tilt Poker $33,000 Guarantee (1r+1a) No Limit Hold'em Tournament - t100/t200 Blinds - 8 players
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BTN: t12830 M = 42.77
SB: t20824 M = 69.41
BB: t5495 M = 18.32
UTG: t6415 M = 21.38
UTG+1: t3892 M = 12.97
MP1: t6261 M = 20.87
Hero (MP2): t10681 M = 35.60
CO: t7277 M = 24.26

Pre Flop: (t300) Hero is MP2 with Q Q
1 fold, UTG+1 raises to t575, 1 fold, Hero raises to t1625, 2 folds, SB calls t1525, 1 fold, UTG+1 requests TIME, UTG+1 calls t1050

Flop: (t5075) K 8 T (3 players)
SB bets t800, UTG+1 requests TIME, UTG+1 folds, Hero calls t800

Turn: (t6675) 7 (2 players)
SB bets t1600, Hero...

The flat call from the SB pre is extremely scary. Against anyone who is competent that is pretty much always a massive hand they are getting cute with (if you are the villain in this hand, and we're both aware the other is a reg, then a 4 bet is mandatory with any big hand because it's a more disguised range than flatting.)

His post flop betting indicates either a very strong hand that is trying to draw me in (like oh say, top set?) or a mid strength hand that is now just trying to get to showdown cheaply (JJ.) Almost everyone who weighed in said to either fold turn, or min raise the flop and give up if villain put any more chips in after that. I know that if we get to turn this way I like folding, but I'm not quite sure on the min raise idea, though I know that I don't hate it and I could see it's possible effectiveness, especially given how cheap it is here in relation to the pot.

Hand 3: Full Tilt $100 single rebuy add-on. Just started up for the day. No relevant history with the villain, he hasn't been spazzing all over the place or anything and I've been in line through the early stages.

His line confuses the hell out of me. His value range should basically be 44/JT (or maybe an ultra slowplayed AA.) Although he has a super small value range, his bluff range seems just as small. What gets to river this way that takes a bluff shot?

Full Tilt Poker $33,000 Guarantee (1r+1a) No Limit Hold'em Tournament - t15/t30 Blinds - 9 players
The Official 2+2 Hand Converter Powered By

Hero (MP2): t4000 M = 88.89
CO: t2015 M = 44.78
BTN: t4505 M = 100.11
SB: t3940 M = 87.56
BB: t3446 M = 76.58
UTG: t4659 M = 103.53
UTG+1: t3570 M = 79.33
UTG+2: t2000 M = 44.44
MP1: t3865 M = 85.89

Pre Flop: (t45) Hero is MP2 with T K
2 folds, UTG+2 calls t30, 1 fold, Hero raises to t120, 4 folds, UTG+2 calls t90

Flop: (t285) 3 T 4 (2 players)
UTG+2 checks, Hero bets t200, UTG+2 calls t200

Turn: (t685) 3 (2 players)
UTG+2 checks, Hero bets t440, UTG+2 calls t440

River: (t1565) J (2 players)
UTG+2 bets t1240 all in, Hero requests TIME, Hero...

Conversation on the hand focused around two aspects; whether we should be calling river and whether we should be betting turn. When some regulars such as Mement_Mori and NHFunkii suggested checking back the turn I posted the following to address the subject:

"FWIW boys I think you get more value at HSMTT by going bet/bet/check whereas midstakes it should be bet/check/bet because for some reason at midstakes NOBODY believes that meanwhile in HSMTT guys peel mid pairs for two straight streets more since peoples double barreling range is wider.

Had he checked river, I'd be pretty damn tempted to value bet too, but I might not have the image for that. Thoughts?"

Posters Apestyles, Luckychewy, and Billy Bibbit came to say they agree that we should be betting turn in this spot.

Meanwhile, the river spot had people almost totally split. I think this is one of those spots where having a sense of what kind of player you're up against becomes extremely important. If you're against a fairly straight forward TAG, then this is a pretty easy fold. If you're against a pretty creative or bluff spewy LAG, then it's a pretty easy call. But when you're in a vacuum and have no information on the guy at all it gets really tough. I guess I don't hate folding because tournament players are rarely that creative early in the tournament, but given how small his value range is I would never mind a call.

Hand 4: Full Tilt nightly $150. A continuation in our series of facing full potish bets on the river. I've seen villain around before, I feel like he's a reg but not a super well known one or anything.

Not a ton of draws out, but enough that I'm curious as to whether that changes your guys thought process facing bets like these. My guess is that it won't.

Full Tilt Poker $75,000 Guarantee No Limit Hold'em Tournament - t120/t240 Blinds + t25 - 9 players
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Hero (BTN): t6795 M = 11.62
SB: t2465 M = 4.21
BB: t10355 M = 17.70
UTG: t5125 M = 8.76
UTG+1: t6859 M = 11.72
UTG+2: t7001 M = 11.97
MP1: t6254 M = 10.69
MP2: t3771 M = 6.45
CO: t11698 M = 20.00

Pre Flop: (t585) Hero is BTN with A 5
6 folds, Hero raises to t600, 1 fold, BB calls t360

Flop: (t1545) 4 A 7 (2 players)
BB checks, Hero bets t920, BB calls t920

Turn: (t3385) Q (2 players)
BB checks, Hero checks

River: (t3385) 9 (2 players)
BB bets t3120, Hero...

First and foremost, when I look at this hand the turn seems like a bet. Many posters brought that up and given the draw heavy texture and the fact that he just might peel two streets with pairs worse than aces makes it a pretty clear bet. Some still said they like checking the turn so they could snap any river bet, but I'm pretty sure betting is likely better since we're very rarely getting checkraised off our hand by a worse one.

Again, thoughts on the river were pretty split, though most people seemed to prefer a call. A few mentioned that the bet sizing is scary enough but GeoffRas22 provided some thoughts on why he prefers calling:
"yea not betting the turn is not good- what exactly is your reasoning for checking? i see a lot of ppl think its "best" to check back and call river or bet river if checked to, but so many more worse hands are calling the turn, ur just getting 2 streets so much more of the time- especially if ur not even sure a call is best on this river (granted his sizing is pretty scary)

as played i call as i dont think randos bet this size with 1 pairs and i cant see him not c/r flop with sets/2 pairs"

Thanks to everyone who shared their insight on these hands.

The story of the Bond18 Christmas party

Before my trip I threw a birthday party in my apartment for my friend Lachie. At our high point we had perhaps 40 or 50 people in the place and everyone had a blast. We decided to make it a semi regular thing, and leading up to Christmas we decided that the weekend before the holidays we'd have our bash. I got my friend Tim involved and we set things in motion; Lachie would sort the DJ's and equipment, Tim did the promotion, and I stocked up on booze plus hired two models to work behind the bar for the party.

Lachie invited friends from his music scene, I invited a small amount of guys from poker, and both Tim and I got onto friends in our local pick up community and let them know what was going down. There was only one rule for the pick up boys; they must bring a girl or show up in a group with an equal or above girl to guy ratio. We set our party for Saturday the 19th from 9pm to 4am and got the word out.

The night of the party the boys rocked up early and helped set **** up. The models got there early too so I oriented them with the apartment and what their jobs would be. We had considered setting one of them outside the door, but we quickly realized we would need both to work the bar. We strung up decorations around the flat and then I went upstairs to put signs on the doors to the bedrooms. The apartment is three bedrooms but Jarred and I are the only ones living here, so the middle bedroom was decided as the "designated sex room". I put a "NO ENTRY" sign on our rooms, and then a different sign on the middle room:

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I also placed a few condoms in the top drawer on the side of the bed, because being thoughtful is how I roll.

Lachie had lined up a number of DJ's to play for us, and Tim got on the tracks as well. I decided that although I would drink over the course of the night, I'd make sure not to get totally smashed so I could stay in control of my own apartment. After that we just let the people roll in and the mayhem ensue. I ran around the party for the first three hours greeting people, making introductions, and checking the noise level outside the apartment.

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Our bartenders.

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A very discrete photographer.

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At our high point we must have had 75-100 people in there. Not many pictures reflect that, but this one will give you a sense for it:
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The man himself and our photographer for the evening, Damo.

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Tim gets cozy with one of the models.

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Lachie takes a moment off from party running duties.

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A little after midnight Lachie and Tim told me that they would take over the managing duties for a while so I could knock off and enjoy myself. I grabbed another beer and made my way around the party for some banter. I either knew most of the people I ran into or they came up to introduce themselves, but I'd seen one hot, tall girl in a white dress hanging around that I had no clue about. While chatting to my friend Martin I noticed her sitting over on the stairs by herself looking bored. Given the situation of the party I went up and said the most obvious thing that occurred "Hi, I don't think we've met."
"Oh hi, I'm XXXXXX."
"Nice to meet you, how'd you hear about the party?"
"Oh I came with my friend Liam."
"Ah okay cool."
"I actually know who you are though. I've read your blog. I like what you wrote about pick up."
"Thanks! Wait...what?"
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"Yea, I've read the game and known about that stuff for a few months now."

We hung out chatting on the stairs for a few minutes before I suggested we go outside where it wasn't so loud. We continued talking mostly about pick up; how most guys treat women, what it's like for her knowing about it on a girls side, how the sexual double standard for men and women is incredibly retarded, how she doesn't give a **** about what anyone thinks of her, how epic I think it is that she knows all this stuff. Perhaps five to ten minutes into our chat she looked me in the eyes and said "It's kind of loud out here, do you have anywhere more private we could chat?"
"Lead the way."

I took her hand and walked her through the party, desperately attempting to avoid eye contact with anyone who might stop me to chat. When we got upstairs we found several people waiting outside for the bathroom in the hall and a couple girls in my room looking to grab things from their purse's (as I'd turned my room into storage for the night.) Seconds later Lachie came up the stairs and told me that security was at the door and needed to talk to me. I was not pleased.

I went downstairs and spoke to security remarkably politely for how bad they had just ****-blocked me. He said there had been a noise complaint and that we'd have to turn the music off. I apologized for the disruption and told him I'd take care of it. I went back inside and told the DJ that we had to cut the music or I risked eviction, prompting him to ask if he could finish his set. They are a proud bunch those DJ's. I told him that wasn't possible, then jumped on the table and started yelling at everyone that we were going to have to shut the music down but the party could go on. Additionally I had surprise for them, that we had arranged a burlesque show! Tim's ex-girlfriend Anita set up a little space and got to work on her show, which I watched briefly before returning upstairs in search of XXXXXX. I found her with a group outside my door, and made a few seconds of banter before I said "Want to see my balcony?" We stepped inside my room. "Smooth" she teased me. "Well all smooth lines aside I actually wouldn't mind going out on the balcony and hanging out for a bit, you seem really interesting." I wasn't bull****ting or anything; I never get to talk to girls who know about pick up before meeting me and I found the whole thing fascinating. We talked for a bit but eventually the tension became a bit too much so I leaned in and started kissing her. A moment later we were inside on the bed, furiously making out and losing clothing. We had just gotten down to our underwear when a girl from outside my room called in begging for her purse. I looked at XXXXXX quizzically; "It's cool" she told me. "Yea! Okay!" I called out. The girl came in apologizing profusely while I stood there in my underwear and XXXXXX lay on the bed in hers. She hustled out and I returned to bed as quickly as possible. Thank God I didn't get too drunk.

We had sex for quite some time. When it was done I got up and my legs were so blown out that I accidentally stumbled and smashed over the wine bottle she'd brought upstairs, soaking my floor in red wine. After I cleaned it up we lay in bed for a moment. "Man I want to see Avatar" I remarked.
"Oh my God I know! I can't wait for that!"
"Sick! Let's go, let's go to Avatar right now!"
"It's like 2am or something."
"****ing details! Well I wish we could just like, fall asleep right this second, wake up instantly, and go to Avatar. Stoned of course."
"Oh absolutely, you have to see it stoned. Do you have some here?"
"Naturally. Want to smoke?"
"I'll go get it."

I went downstairs and found perhaps a couple dozen people left at the party. I was ambushed left and right by drunks while I scrounged about for my weed, simultaneously attempting to make chat that didn't seem overly rushed and rude yet get back to the naked girl longing for pot in my bed. When I returned upstairs I ground up some weed and rolled a joint. We stood by the door to the balcony smoking it and I sized her up for a moment. "How tall are you?"
"About six-two."
"Whoa seriously? Hold on stand next to me for a moment in front of the mirror." We did and I realized she was roughly an inch taller than me, just as she'd said.
"Damn, you're the first girl I've ever slept with that's taller than me."

The remainder of the evening was spent lying in bed talking about this and that, being interrupted by girls begging for their purses who got them given back by me in my underwear, and smoking another joint while discussing how excited we were for Avatar. We fell asleep with me joking about how she was tall enough to be the big spoon. She left sometime early in the morning; I can barely remember.

In the morning I came downstairs to a thoroughly ruined apartment. I called the cleaning guy. With an apartment too trashed to play poker in and a beautiful day outside I decided there was only one responsible thing to do; go out and chat up girls during the day.

Note: I messaged XXXXXX about writing this blog entry and whether she wanted anything left out to which she replied "Haha full name and address? (I don't know either) Nothing particular dude, write away."

On that day, seven years ago

I can still remember the first time I played poker with my friends. It was just a little over seven years ago, and I was recently 18. We were at a friends house watching a Monday night football game playing five card draw for what I believe was a 10 dollar buy in, though it might have been five. I know for certain that I lost 20 dollars.

At that point in my life I was strongly considering a stint in the military; I wanted to be a marine. My parents were terrified at the idea, but I had already met with the recruiter twice and was keen to sign the papers. My interest in gambling began in sports betting, and I would run around during class with a sheet with all the games betting lines, offering it to whoever might want action. I had a job I hated at Damon's restaurant, an obsession with bodybuilding, and not much else going for me. I was an average student with no concrete ambitions, awkward with women to the degree of uselessness, and lacking any legitimate talent outside of the motivation to be a huge meat-head. But then I found poker.

I knew it was what I wanted for my life near instantly. I would sit and watch every second of the WPT or WSOP broadcasts and could rattle off hand after hand from each episode. I thought the pros I watched were amazing and I'd have arguments with friends about who was the best. I was a full blown fan-boy. I started playing at every opportunity, and read any book I could get my hands on. I lost all interest in military enlistment. When I told people this was what I wanted for a career they shook their heads and asked if I had a gambling problem. At the time I didn't have words like "equity" or "variance" to explain myself, all I knew was that the game seemed to be the only place I could actually focus my mental energy.

It went on that way for years. In college I'd sit in the back of class with my laptop open, watching the afternoon $100 rebuys on Stars and wishing I too could be playing. Eventually I found out the campus had wireless internet and classes were spent playing instead of watching. I was surrounded by theater students killing themselves trying to get a leg up or land the big part and I couldn't possibly have cared less. When one of my professors told me I should audition for his elite acting program I thought he might have a seizure when I replied with "Ah thanks, but that would be too big a time commitment away from poker."

The game has a quick ostracizing affect. I began falling away from my friends, electing to stay in and play tournaments instead of go get drunk many weekends. By the time I moved to Australia and found myself in a long term relationship I realized I didn't have a single friend outside of the poker world. It stayed that way for over three years. Unless you're careful and proactive to prevent it, the game will separate and isolate you from regular society. You live on different hours and think in different ways. You have to watch the way you talk; not in the risk of vulgarity but that you might be accidentally rude. Poker players talk about money like a tool (which it is for us) and wind up forgetting that we bluntly discuss hands that involve most peoples weekly pay check like they are nothing. It's not unusual for the bulk of a persons social circle to be made up of people from their industry, but in ours it comes with so many consequences. It's an industry rife with liars, cheats, and scumbags, not to mention a guy to girl ratio that makes the military look like the Playboy mansion. I am not complaining though, because this world is what I am now. There's no going back to the real world when a simple Google search will turn up videos of you drunkenly lighting yourself on fire or stories about the time you let that girl stab you during sex. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

The only thing that concerns me is poker's longevity. There are many good signs about the industry; new markets taking off, the WSOP ratings going up in key demographics, growth on most major online networks, the continuing giant fields every summer in Vegas. However, this is an industry that cannibalizes itself, where once money reaches certain hands it's no longer in circulation. It wouldn't shock me if the game remained profitable throughout my lifetime, but it also wouldn't shock me if it became far less lucrative in the next few years. It's why day after day, week after week, for the whole year, you'll find me billion tabling the day away and posting on the strategy forums by night. Seven years ago failure would have sucked, but it would have been easily redeemable. Today it is out of the question.

See you on the tables.

Tiger Woods isn't a sex addict, he's just retarded

I never liked Tiger Woods. I never disliked him either, as far as I was concerned he wasn't interesting enough to feel strongly about. I was always a John Daly fan; a big fat guy who crushed the ball, smoked on the course, drank and gambled all night, dated a Hooters waitress, wrote a tell all book, and despite his flaws was just so lovably human. Sure Woods could win every golf tournament imaginable, but nothing about his personality or style was particularly engaging. As we all know, it turns out Tiger Woods was a lot more interesting than we gave him credit for. Too bad he's a lying, sell out piece of shit.

Some might think that I might have some sympathy for Woods given my lifestyle choices. And sure, I can understand the desire to sleep around, which would be particularly hard to resist were you a rich and famous sports star. But I have no sympathy for Woods, only scorn and vitriol. Woods is the kind of guy that gives ladies men their often deserved bad name, a liar and cheat who will risk anything and everything to get off. What truly disgusts me about Woods though, is what a colossal fucking sell out he is. They call him the billion dollar sportsman, and we all know he would have never got that kind of money had he been out in the open about his drug use and girl chasing. No, had he been that kind of guy with his golf talent he only would have earned several hundred million dollars, because a sponsorship from Playboy and Trojan doesn't pay quite as well as Buick and Nike. Lord knows you just can't live the appropriate baller lifestyle on nine figures. He could have been himself though, instead of lying to his family, his fans, and all the people that looked up to him.

If Woods had been open (and not married) about how he rolls the guy would have been my hero. A dude who takes drugs, sleeps with loads of women, then rocks up in the morning fresh and proceeds to be crush everyone else would be just so epic. I'd have posters of him on my wall and write him fan mail asking him how it's done, how to balance it all at once. Instead he constructed an elaborate web of lies which covered, as far as we can tell, his entire personal life. Now he's claiming to be a "sex addict", because apparently, he isn't tired of insulting the public's intelligence just yet. With incredibly rare exceptions, "sex addiction" is what men who get caught being men like to claim to gain sympathy when they simply don't have the balls to own up to their horny behavior. Given what I've seen in the poker industry, if every guy who routinely cheated on his wife or girlfriend were a sex addict then the vast majority of the industry is badly in need of professional help.

Fuck Tiger Woods and the Buick that coward rode in on. Daly for the win!
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Success and failure

I've been actively posting on the 2+2 tournament forums since early 2006. In those days Party was the highest volume tournament sight and Paradise poker was thriving. I got myself involved in the community as quickly as possible, and wound up befriending most of the major posters of that time period. I keep sporadic contact with many of them on AIM and MSN, and in the case of the active live players often run into them at major tournaments. Having dropped out of college and spent so much time moving from country to country they became the closest thing I had to a normal social circle for many years.

It's been fascinating for me to watch their evolution in both poker and life. Some guys have faded away never to be heard from again, some have gained success on an enormous scale, and in the case of many they simply burned out and chose to pursue different options in life. It makes me sit back and wonder what causes some guys to fail and some to succeed. It makes me wonder how a Superman like Shaundeeb can crush tournaments the way he does but one day just up and quit (though we all know he'll be back.) It makes me wonder how seven years into this I can't possibly imagine doing anything else for a living while so many around me detest their occupation.

After mulling this all over for a while I've come up with a list for what I think creates success in the poker world. It is not listed in order of significance:

1. Bankroll and money management: Although I'm not putting these in any particular order, if there's one thing I felt comfortable for placing at number one on this list it's definitely bankroll management. When I went back to look at the "Things it took me a while to learn" article I wrote on bankroll management it seemed woefully inadequate and so I'm writing a more complete entry on the subject. There is an endless list of negative consequences to fucking up your bankroll management. It will absolutely ruin your long term equity; if you take a shot in a very soft game where losing means inhibiting you from playing your normal stakes for some duration then you might not even be gaining equity by playing in the game. The emotional devastation of losing all or a major portion of your bankroll can be crippling and wreck your will to grind. Some guys in the poker community are admired for their willingness to go broke; I'll never understand that one (though watching someone like Isildur1 degen it off is certainly entertaining.)

2. Volume and grinding: Very few guys can get away learning and mastering this game without putting in much volume at it. My roommate Jarred Graham has become one of the best all around players in Australia (in terms of being good at many things, I would personally argue the best) within just a few years of play. He's a smart guy, but not some kind of freakish genius. He mostly became as good as he is because he worked his balls off playing nearly every day of the week during the period he was coming up. My personal mentality on grinding is "If you can fit it,(and it won't substantially cut your equity in other tournaments) play it." You can find me in a $24 freezeout the same time I'm playing a $100 rebuys. I really don't give a shit about only being seen in the high buy in or "pro's" tournaments and grinding the small ones reduces my variance.

One of my favorite authors is Malcolm Gladwell, a common choice amongst poker players. I would recommend everything the man has written but of particular interest for poker players would be his most recent work Outliers. In it, Gladwell discusses that in almost every example of enormous talent or ability the subject had put in at least 10,000 hours to achieve mastery in that field, yet the public often confused them for a natural genius in their specialty. He can elaborate on the concept much better than I can but the message is simple; if you want to be good at this you had better put in the work.

3. Emotional control: At his peak, a poker player should be 100% non reactionary. Nothing should phase him, and his emotional investment or interest in the outcome of a hand should be zero. Guy's like Ivey and Antonius are masters of this trade; they could be shot in the leg or have Scarlett Johansson call begging for sex and the difference between reactions would be non existent. Then again, both those guys have so much money it's not hard for them to be so disinterested. People often wonder why the Scandinavians are often such excellent natural poker players, and while I have no proof on the matter I'm overwhelmingly confident it's because they are a naturally cold and logical people. Meanwhile many of the players from more..."passionate" countries, tend to be pretty fucking awful.

Unfortunately, it seems difficult to practice being detached and disinterested so many hours of the day and not have it spill over into your personality. After seven years in poker I've reached a stage where nothing bothers me in anymore. I took a one outer for almost my whole stack 20 minutes into the WSOP main event this year and shrugged then laughed a little. Conversely, friends and women I date routinely describe me as "cold", "detached" and the ever common "robotic." I'm still looking to find the balance with this one.

4. Taking breaks: For all the practiced and developed emotional control, most people stay fairly human. This means they burn out and get exhausted of the game frequently enough that a break here and there will do them good. Hell, I know for sure that having spent six of the last eight months traveling (and most of that time getting wasted and chasing girls) has done wonders for my mentality; all I ever want to do anymore is grind. I suppose if you feel happy grinding seven days a week 12 months a year with no breaking I wouldn't advise you to stop, but most people seem to need a breather from time to time.

Even small breaks to pursue a passion outside of poker will be beneficial. We've all got external interests, and hopefully with the money you gain from grinding hard at poker you can actively pursue them. For me it's dating, going to the gym, and getting stoned, but it might be any number of different things for you. Need a recommendation? Call of Duty on Xbox360, that shit is awesome. God I wish I had more time to play.

5. Staying in shape: This is so totally underrated amongst poker players. Near everyone knows you function better mentally when staying active physically, and it's nowhere close as hard as most guys make it out to be. Many of us grew up playing a sport and if feasible, I'd recommend picking it up again. Otherwise, for guys who are grinding hard it's really not that expensive to hire a dietitian and personal trainer who will make corrections to your diet and keep you motivated in the gym. Only a few active sessions a week and editing out junk food will make a noticeable change within a few months not only aesthetically, but in varied other positive aspects.

6. Being social with your other poker players: Learning this game alone is very hard. Having other guys to compare thoughts with, calibrate your ranges, swap notes, and motivate each other is invaluable. It's obviously in my best interest to say this, but coaching is a good idea for many guys too. I've paid four different guys for coaching at some point (Adam Junglen, NoahSD, Mike Watson, and SEABEAST) and every time they found ways to make me better. Shit, I ought to hire someone for a session some time soon considering how much grinding I'm going to be doing.

Routinely talking poker with contemporaries will do wonders for your game and social life when you travel to tournaments. Lord knows how much I learned in friendly conversations with Luckychewy, MikeJ, JayPez, Gobboboy, Randallin, Eagles, Jarred Graham, Steve Leonard, and on and on. I discovered little on my own in this game; I am merely a composition of smart peoples thoughts channeled through my own style and discipline.
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