Monthly Archives: July 2008

I turned $20 into $31,000 through online poker and then quit

(See the end of the article for an explanation of the abbreviations used.)

This is the story of my poker career.

I started playing online poker in March 2006, 2 months after my 17th birthday. My 1st deposit was $20. I doubled it up quickly. I then cashed out $20. I then lost the $20 in my account and redeposited $20. I doubled this money up, cashed out $20 and by the end of the week I had $588. $300 of that money came from a 3rd place finish in an MTT (I think it was a $10 buyin event).
I was playing only NLHE, but I played cash games, MTTs and SNGs. There was no structure to the games I was playing. I just chose whatever I felt like on the day.

I knew how to play poker, but I wasn’t great. I had played with friends in the past and played on play money sites. I was clearly very lucky to turn $20 into $600 in a week.

Anyway, $588 was my peak and over the next 4 months I slowly lost all the money in my account. Back to square one.

It’s now around August 2006. Up till now, I had been playing at PokerRoom. I thought I might have better luck at a different site. I joined ParadisePoker and deposited either $50 or $100 – I don’t remember exactly how much. I focused on 10-man SNGs. I played $11 and $5.5 SNGs to start off with and then moved to $22 SNGs after some success at the lower levels. My bankroll reaches a couple of hundred dollars.

Time goes on and I continue to play. In around November 2006 I run out of money on all my online accounts. I still had a profit in my bank account, but none on the internet. For various reasons I couldn’t redeposit for another week, so I started using the player points that I had amassed to buy tournament tickets. I bought a few $5.50 and $11 tickets and entered into 6-man and 10-man SNGs. In my 4th SNG, I finally cash for $17.50. With this money, I entered into a $11 SNG and lost. With the remaining $6.5 I joined a $0.25/0.15 10-man NLHE cashgame ($.25/.15 was the cheapest table at the site). I played very tight. Got lucky and ended the session with $32 in my account. By Jan 2007 I had managed to turn my $32 into $650. I was 4-tabling every day and I gradually made the switch to the 5-handed cash game tables.

In Feb 2007 I go on a down swing. My bankroll falls to $230. $200 of that I tilted away in a $200 cash game. What was I doing playing in that game? No idea. It was tilt.

I then started playing 5 handed $400NL looking for tables with short stacks on them (that I assumed were noobs bankrolled for $15NL $25NL at best and had put there entire bankroll in a high stakes game. A bit similar to me.) I ended up turning my BR into $1050 after playing on a few tables short-stacked and doing a hit and run when I made a nice profit. There was no grinding. I made the big profit in about 2 weeks.

At this point I join the $50NL cash games. I grind my way up to a BR of $1700. In March 2007 I take a shot at the $100NL tables. I get to $1900. I then lose and hit $1600. I now start tilting a bit and hit $1200.

I decide I need a change of site. I join TowerGaming. I deposit $100. Lose it. I deposit another $200. I fall down to $20. I double it up with my A7o allin vs TT preflop at $100NL table. I end the session with $80 at TG. $750 at PokerRoom. $200 in my bank account.

I go on PR and again start playing $400 games looking for players buying in for $97.34 (probably their entire BR). I make $300 doing that. I then switch back to TG and play $50 and $100 cash games and turn my $80 into $660 over a period of a few weeks. Total BR of $1900 now.

I do some bonus whoring at online casinos and make a bit of extra cash.

I decide to start playing $200NL instead of $100NL because I just couldn’t beat $100NL. In April 2007 I have a BR of $4k.

Somewhere around now I started watching CardRunners videos. They are incredible. After reading many books and posting on forums, everything suddenly became so simple with CR. It was sort of disappointing to see how easy poker was, and how you could just watch some videos and get years of effort for free.

In May 2007 I have a BR of $8.5k. I was killing the $200 games. I was playing well, but also on a great run. In the middle of May I decided to go on a 6 week poker break because I had my final school exams approaching. I think the break lasted about a week or two. I continued playing.

In June 2007 I bought PokerTracker and joined PartyPoker. June 25th I finished my exams. I took a break of about 3 weeks from poker in June. My BR is now $12k and I have a 6 week summer break. My plan was to play 40hours of poker a week and make a lot of money. My unrealistic, but possible, goal for the summer was to reach a BR of $50k.

I only managed to play 20 hours of poker a week in my holiday. I made $18k in the 6 weeks. My peak BR was $34.5k. My final BR was $29.5k. I was playing $1000NL and $600NL at the end of the summer.

I then went to Jewish seminary (yeshiva) in Israel for a year. I played a bit in Israel but barely. I finished with a profit of $31,000 from my poker career. I decided to give up poker at yeshiva due to religious reasons.

You can see a graph for a part of my earnings here. You can see the statistics for how I play here.

I did also play some live poker. I finished with back to back victories in tournaments at a poker room for profits of around $1300.

I made about $700 from my poker blog from affiliate links.

I gave about 15% of my total poker winnings to charity.

It was extremely hard to give up the game. I wish I could have gone pro. I did very well in my exams and I have a place to study Maths at a top English University.

I was incredibly lucky throughout my entire poker career. I didn’t ever realize how lucky I was. I was never the one sucking out on everyone, I had my fair share of bad beats and lucky hits. Over the long run though I see that I was extremely lucky to last so long in the poker world. I was never at a loss at any point in my poker career.

Good bye

Key to the abbreviations used in the article:

MTT – multi table tournament, SNG – sit and go, PR – PokerRoom, TG – TowerGaming, BR – bankroll, NLHE – no-limit holdem, NL – no-limit, CR – CardRunners, $100NL – cash game with a max buy-in of $100 and blinds of $1/$0.50 (Similarly for $200NL, $400NL, etc. with the big-blind always being 1% of the max buy-in).

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WSOP Update: World Series Of Poker 2008 Final Table: We’re down to 9!

It’s disappointing that there are no superstars left in the event, nonetheless it should be a great final table.

The most notable name at the table is David “Chino” Rheem. Rheem had many professionals supporting him on his way to the final table including J.C. Tran, Nam and Tommy Le, Greg Mueller, Quinn Do, Tommy Hang, Michael and Robert Mizrachi, and Mark Newhouse. This had to do with the fact that many of them had traded for percentages with Rheem or bought a piece of him in the tournament to diversify their chances of making some money, but they were also there to cheer on one of their own. Rheem had a very up and down day. He started off short-stacked. He then went on to become one of the chip leaders and finished the day short-stacked again.

Tiffany Michelle, the last woman in the tournament was knocked out in 17th place for a win of $334,535.

Here is the final table line-up:

Seat 1: Dennis Phillips — 26,295,000 (St, Louis, Missouri) — Account Manager
Seat 2: Craig Marquis — 10,210,000 (Arlington, Texas) — College Student
Seat 3: Ylon Schwartz — 12,525,000 (Brooklyn, NY) — Professional Poker Player
Seat 4: Scott Montgomery — 19,690,000 (Perth, Ontario) — Professional Poker Player
Seat 5: Darus Suharto — 12,520,000 (Toronto, Ontario) — Accountant
Seat 6: David “Chino” Rheem — 10,230,000 (Los Angeles, California) — Professional Poker Player
Seat 7: Ivan Demidov — 24,400,000 (Moscow, Russia) — Professional Poker Player
Seat 8: Kelly Kim — 2,620,000 (Whittier, California) — Professional Poker Player
Seat 9: Peter Eastgate — 18,375,000 (Odense, Denmark) — Professional Poker Player

It’s very surprising to see how many professional poker players are at the final table. None of the players are famous though.

Here is the prize structure:

1st: $9,119,338
2nd: $5,790,024
3rd: $4,503,352
4th: $3,763,516
5th: $3,088,013
6th: $2,412,510
7th: $1,769,177
8th: $1,286,672
9th: $900,670

Read more at Full Tilt Poker.

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How to Win at Poker and at Business

I just read an interesting article at BusinessWeek entilted How to Win at Poker and at Business. The title is much better than the actual article. Hopefully, I’ll do a better job of the article.

The main point BusinessWeek addresses is that you improve people skills while playing poker.

Acting persuasively, reading opponents’ motives, and handling the subtleties of a monetary transaction are skills the poker greats work tirelessly to hone. These same skills are essential for negotiating a business deal.

I agree, but seeing as I was mainly an online player, I wouldn’t say that people skills are the only similarity between poker and business.

I read a great post by David Sklansky (pro player and author) a few months ago called Poker Is Good For You.

Here’s a summary:

  • Poker improves your study habits.
  • Poker develops your maths skills.
  • Poker develops your logical thinking.
  • Poker develops your concentration.
  • Poker develops your patience.
  • Poker develops your discipline.
  • Poker teaches you to focus on the long term.
  • Poker teaches you that forgoing a profit equals taking a loss (and vice versa).
  • Poker develops your realism.
  • Poker teaches you how to adjust to changing situations.
  • Poker teaches you to adjust to diverse people.
  • Poker teaches you to avoid racial, sexual and other prejudices.
  • Poker teaches you to handle losses.
  • Poker teaches you to depersonalize conflict.
  • Poker teaches you how to plan.
  • Poker teaches you how to handle deceptive people.
  • Poker teaches you how to choose the “best” games.
  • Poker teaches you the benefits of acting last.
  • Poker teaches you how to concentrate on the important subjects.
  • Poker teaches you how to apply probability theory.
  • Poker teaches you how to conduct risk-reward analyses.
  • Poker teaches you how to put things in context and evaluate all variables.
  • Poker teaches you “how to get into people’s heads”.

I think I gained many of these skills in my poker career. However, many people don’t. Only successful players will gain many of these skills and many of these skills you would have gained at some point in life anyway if you gain them at poker.

Beware! There are many downsides to poker. That’s why I quit although I was making a lot of money.

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More WSOP 2008 Main Event Updates. Hellmuth and Matusow out

Day 6 is over and we’re down to the last 3 tables with only 27 players left.

All the big names left in the tournament were knocked out today. Here are the eliminations:

  • 64th place: Victor Ramdin — $96,500
  • 45th place: Phil Hellmuth — $154,401
  • 30th place: Mike “The Mouth” Matusow — $193,000

I really wanted to see either Hellmuth or Matusow make the final table. Sadly, it isn’t too be.

Phil Hellmuth caused some controversy at the tables today. In the last hand of play last night, he was given a one-orbit ban for losing his temper. He lost his temper in a hand with Christian Dragomir when Dragomir cracked Phil’s Ace-King with Ten-Four suited.

This morning when play continued, Phil was at the tables playing his cards. The ban had been overruled. “Warnings and penalties are intended to correct inappropriate behavior and our rulings should be as fair as possible, given the circumstances,” said Jeffrey Pollack, Commissioner of the WSOP. “In this instance, the punishment did not fit the crime.”

It is a bit harsh to give a player a ban for the next day of play, seeing as he would definitely have calmed down for the next day’s play. However, I wonder if the ban would have been lifted had it been an unknown player. Did Phil get special treatment for being an 11 time WSOP bracelet winner?

Phil got knocked out when his Ace-Queen offsuit lost to Andrew Rosskamm’s pocket Jacks. The two players were allin preflop. Hellmuth earned $154,400 for his 45th-place finish, bringing his WSOP career total earnings to $6,008,145. After politely shaking the hands of his tablemates, Hellmuth exited the tournament area with a storm of obscenities, cursing his inability to “catch a break.”

Matusow Takes a Wrong Turn, Eliminated in 30th Place ($193,000)

Right before the players went on break, Paul Snead raised to 200,000 and Mike Matusow repopped it to 660,000 from the big blind. Snead made the call and the flop came A A 5. Both players checked and the turn brought the 9, the card of death as far as Matusow was concerned. He bet 500,000 and Snead shoved all in. Matusow made the call and showed down A J for a set. Unfortunately for “The Mouth,” Snead turned over A 9 for a full house on the turn. Matusow needed a jack to survive, but the K fell on the river and the biggest name left in the main event took a sick beat and made his exit in 30th place.

Bad luck Mike, better luck next year.

Here are the remaining players in the event:

Table 1

Seat 1: Joe Bishop — 4,855,000
Seat 2: Peter Eastgate — 9,325,000
Seat 3: Gert Andersen — 6,740,000
Seat 4: Kelly Kim — 8,840,000
Seat 5: Brandon Cantu — 4,740,000
Seat 6: Dean Hamrick — 2,375,000
Seat 7: Ivan Demidov — 4,965,000
Seat 8: Niklas Flisberg — 1,330,000
Seat 9: Michael Carroll — 1,015,000

Table 2

Seat 1: Scott Montgomery — 4,320,000
Seat 2: Tim Loecke — 2,280,000
Seat 3: Anthony Scherer — 2,385,000
Seat 4: Owen Crowe — 3,800,000
Seat 5: Craig Marquis — 11,460,000
Seat 6: Ylon Schwartz — 3,655,000
Seat 7: Paul Snead — 6,600,000
Seat 8: Tiffany Michelle — 9,755,000
Seat 9: Phi Nguyen — 1,020,000

Table 3

Seat 1: Jason Riesenberg — 3,405,000
Seat 2: Darus Suharto — 4,510,000
Seat 3: Chris Klodnicki — 6,245,000
Seat 4: Toni Judet — 5,000,000
Seat 5: Nicholas Sliwinski — 4,925,000
Seat 6: David Rheem — 8,280,000
Seat 7: Dennis Phillips — 11,910,000
Seat 8: Albert Kim — 3,675,000
Seat 9: Aaron Gordon — 1,790,000

Read more at CardPlayer.

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WSOP 2008 Main Event Update

The $10,000 WSOP Main Event started off with 6,844 players, a prize pool of $64,333,600 and a first place prize of $9,119,338.

We’re now down to the final 79 players. Play has finished for the day.

Some of the notable players still left in the event are: Phil Hellmuth, Mike Matusow, Victor Ramdin and Matt Matros.

Here are the current chip leaders:

  1. Mark Ketteringham: 5,700,000
  2. Andrew Brokos: 4,100,000
  3. Tiffany Michelle: 3,800,000
  4. Jamal Kunbuz: 3,500,000
  5. Albert Kim: 3,400,000
  6. Nikolay Losev: 3,400,000
  7. Alfred Fernandez: 3,100,000
  8. Steve Lade: 3,000,000
  9. Judet Cristian: 2,900,000
  10. Aaron Gordon: 2,900,000

Mark Vos, Gus Hansen and Alexander Kostritsyn are among the big players to have been knocked out in today’s play.

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The big players do lose a lot of money! But they also win it back

Gus Hansen explains in this video how he lost $1.1 million in a period of 2 months over many short sessions. He then goes and wins back $1 million in 50 hours of online poker at Full Tilt Poker. Legendary!

Note: Gus Hansen is a big poker star, but has gone bankrupt many times due to poor bankroll management. Some people are just born gamblers. He’s still my hero.

I wrote a small bit on bankroll management here. The idea is not to risk more than you can afford to lose. Never enter into a cash game with more than 5% of your poker bankroll. Never enter a large tournament with more than 2% of your bankroll.

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High Stakes Poker has really up the Antes

I’ve missed a year of HSP and there has been a lot of action. Although I’ve quit playing I’ve got a lot of watching to catch up on.

On YouTube there loads of videos of the big pots. They’ve really raised the stakes.

So far I’ve watched:

  • $363k pot between Brian Townsend and Patrick Antonio
  • $807k pot between Phil Ivey and Patrick Antonio
  • $1.2m pot between David Benyamine and Guy Laliberte

The hand with Guy Laliberte is great. Guy is a billionaire and owner of Cirque Du Soleil. In his hand with David, they get allin for $600k each on the flop and Guy has a 65% chance of winning with 2-pair versus David’s flush draw. Guy and David end up making a very friendly agreement. Guy takes the money in the pot ($168k) and they don’t run the hand till the end. David had only committed about $50k to the pot. David gets away very lucky. It must be great playing with somebody so rich. He’s just donating these pro poker players a lot of money. If they lose, they don’t even have to pay every time.

Let me play in that game!

Guy also has big pot with Doyle Brunson that I’m going to watch tomorrow. Good night.

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