The slow grind

    • The slow grind

      Hi Pokermarket :)

      Marcus, 25 y/o from Sweden here. I've been playing online poker since 2007, vast majority of my volume being 6-max NLHE (with a year of PLO mixed in). I started out playing freerolls some time in 2007 and then managed to get my hands on a free $15 bankroll on Unibet in the beginning of 2008 (which included me calling in to their support line having to fake a female voice, strangely enough). Then I ran super hot and also improved a lot quickly thanks to forums/analysis, and I've been winning consistently since then. My highest winning stake over a reasonable sample was 400NL back in 2009, but since then most of my volume has been at 100NL or below. The main reason for this is that I've historically been very poor at managing the 'business' side of poker (as Paul puts it in his introductory video here). I always do well at the tables when I do play and analyze consistently, but my volume varies a lot; sometimes I play regularly for a few months, and then not at all for another few. And I've practically busted my roll multiple times simply due to not playing and then letting expenses drain it (everyday stuff, but also travels, etc). Due to this I've had to rebuild my roll from a few hundred euros multiple times, grinding back up. But in spite of this, I've managed to mostly support myself playing poker throughout these years.

      Here's a graph of the latest sample I can find on my computer:

      First in BB - pretty steady, as you can see:



      Then in € - you can probably spot the two times I had to move down:



      This is roughly half 50NL, 30% 20NL, 20% 100NL, and a sprinkle of 10NL, 200NL.
      Winning at 5.53 bb (4.65 EV) over ~300k hands.

      So it is clear to me that I could be making a lot playing poker. But I need to let my roll grow in peace, and not get cut so often. (Higher volume would also help, but forcing in hours tend to hurt the quality of my play).

      At the moment my roll is again super low, so the pattern is repeating itself. And I've come to realize that this is not really a fun or profitable way to approach poker, and that having to drop down over longer periods of times is really hurting my potential within the game. Also, having to invest a lot of time with low hourly is not really worth it for me at this point, unless it leads to larger future gain (i.e. bigger roll, higher stakes, higher income).

      The key for succeeding is not having to withdraw from the roll, because I know that I win when I play and I know that a bigger roll equals bigger potential earn. So now I'm considering getting a job and letting that income cover my expenses, and then playing poker on the side and letting the roll grow freely, doing my very best to limit expenses and not withdraw. I'm getting pretty tired of this rebuild process and if this one doesn't work out, I don't really see myself going at it again. But for now, I will.

      So, re-build it is! And I figured it would be more fun in sharing the process with you guys :)

      My current bankroll is €250.

      I'm going to make a new database to track my progress from this point on, and I will post graphs and such in here every now and then. Other than that, I'll try to post fun/interesting hands, write about some lesson/insight, maybe make the occasional video, and so on. I don't really know how this thread will end up but I do feel like starting it.

      I hope you'll enjoy the thread and feel free to write me anything!

      Peace!
    • Got started with a two hour session today. Nothing exciting but the games were super soft (no surprise) and I received quite a few donations, small and large.


      IPoker, $0.05/$0.10, $0.02 ante No Limit Hold'em Cash, 6 Players
      Poker Tools Powered By Holdem Manager - The Ultimate Poker Software Suite.

      Hero (SB): $10.40 (104 bb)
      BB: $9.88 (98.8 bb)
      UTG: $7.61 (76.1 bb)
      MP: $8.75 (87.5 bb)
      CO: $11.30 (113 bb)
      BTN: $13.29 (132.9 bb)

      Preflop: Hero is SB with A Q
      UTG folds, MP calls $0.10, CO raises to $0.30, BTN calls $0.30, Hero raises to $1.52, BB calls $1.42, 3 folds

      Flop: ($3.86) A 9 J (2 players)
      Hero bets $1.93, BB calls $1.93

      Turn: ($7.72) 2 (2 players)
      Hero bets $6.93, BB calls $6.41

      River: ($20.54) Q (2 players)

      Results: $20.54 pot ($1.36 rake)
      Final Board: A 9 J 2 Q
      Hero mucked A Q and won $19.18 ($9.30 net)
      BB showed Q J and lost (-$9.88 net)

      Against a reasonable player this is way too thin, but he just sat down and instantly cold-called a 15bb 3-bet, so his strategy is likely not that reasonable. So I went for value.



      IPoker, $0.05/$0.10, $0.02 ante No Limit Hold'em Cash, 6 Players
      Poker Tools Powered By Holdem Manager - The Ultimate Poker Software Suite.

      SB: $3.35 (33.5 bb)
      BB: $13.23 (132.3 bb)
      UTG: $9.96 (99.6 bb)
      MP: $9.32 (93.2 bb)
      CO: $10.04 (100.4 bb)
      Hero (BTN): $13.15 (131.5 bb)

      Preflop: Hero is BTN with J A
      UTG folds, MP raises to $0.40, CO folds, Hero raises to $1.20, 2 folds, MP calls $0.80

      Flop: ($2.67) A 9 4 (2 players)
      MP checks, Hero bets $0.80, MP calls $0.80

      Turn: ($4.27) 2 (2 players)
      MP checks, Hero checks

      River: ($4.27) J (2 players)
      MP bets $3.70, Hero calls $3.70

      Results: $11.67 pot ($0.77 rake)
      Final Board: A 9 4 2 J
      MP showed Q K and lost (-$5.72 net)
      Hero mucked J A and won $10.90 ($5.18 net)

      Small bet happened to induce some spew. Not thrilled on the river given his sizing, but random bluffs are very possible.



      IPoker, $0.05/$0.10, $0.02 ante No Limit Hold'em Cash, 6 Players
      Poker Tools Powered By Holdem Manager - The Ultimate Poker Software Suite.

      SB: $12.32 (123.2 bb)
      BB: $9.67 (96.7 bb)
      UTG: $7.23 (72.3 bb)
      Hero (MP): $16.33 (163.3 bb)
      CO: $23.51 (235.1 bb)
      BTN: $11.03 (110.3 bb)

      Preflop: Hero is MP with 4 4
      UTG calls $0.10, Hero raises to $0.40, CO folds, BTN calls $0.40, SB folds, BB calls $0.30, UTG calls $0.30

      Flop: ($1.77) T 9 4 (4 players)
      BB checks, UTG checks, Hero bets $1.23, BTN calls $1.23, 2 folds

      Turn: ($4.23) 6 (2 players)
      Hero bets $2.96, BTN calls $2.96

      River: ($10.15) 7 (2 players)
      Hero bets $7.10, BTN calls $6.42 and is all-in

      Results: $22.99 pot ($1.53 rake)
      Final Board: T 9 4 6 7
      Hero mucked 4 4 and won $21.46 ($10.43 net)
      BTN showed Q Q and lost (-$11.03 net)

      Was pondering between XC or shove on the river. The board is now a 4-straight but he won't have 8x very often so I'm not that concerned about it. Since my holding blocks none of his bluffcatchers (mostly Tx) I figured it was better to shove and hope for a loose call, rather than trying to induce a bluff. Had I held AT this would be a better spot to check. Primarily because I can't value bet and also block many of the worse hands that might call (mostly Tx), making it more likely that he is on a draw (QJ mostly). So I'm glad I didn't make a poor check on the river, allowing him to show down Tx. His call is terrible since he blocks my most likely bluff (QJ).
    • (Had to split my post into two, because there's a 13000 character max apparently).

      IPoker, $0.05/$0.10, $0.02 ante No Limit Hold'em Cash, 6 Players
      Poker Tools Powered By Holdem Manager - The Ultimate Poker Software Suite.

      SB: $10 (100 bb)
      Hero (BB): $10.21 (102.1 bb)
      UTG: $10.32 (103.2 bb)
      MP: $30.92 (309.2 bb)
      CO: $18.78 (187.8 bb)
      BTN: $11.94 (119.4 bb)

      Preflop: Hero is BB with 4 Q
      4 folds, SB raises to $0.35, Hero calls $0.25

      Flop: ($0.82) 2 6 8 (2 players)
      SB checks, Hero bets $0.41, SB calls $0.41

      Turn: ($1.64) 8 (2 players)
      SB checks, Hero checks

      River: ($1.64) 8 (2 players)
      SB checks, Hero checks

      Results: $1.64 pot ($0.10 rake)
      Final Board: 2 6 8 8 8
      SB showed 6 6 and won $1.54 ($0.76 net)
      Hero mucked 4 Q and lost (-$0.78 net)

      A seemingly insignificant hand, but I think it's still worth posting. My flop bet is a clear mistake. This villain had low CB over a small sample, which makes it less likely that he is auto XF. And this hand is so weak that it can only bet if my opponent will fold way too often. So it's not a bet without a read, which I did not have. Betting would be okay if I had two overcards at least, because then I simply have a lot more outs and barreling potential vs his likely XC hands. (I mean, I have a few backdoor straight draws with Q4, but those cards also connect with his XC range and don't hurt the equity of his flop XC range that much, making it unlikely that he will fold the turn, so barreling will not be attractive still).



      IPoker, $0.05/$0.10 No Limit Hold'em Cash, 6 Players
      Poker Tools Powered By Holdem Manager - The Ultimate Poker Software Suite.

      SB: $12.82 (128.2 bb)
      BB: $24.31 (243.1 bb)
      UTG: $14 (140 bb)
      MP: $10 (100 bb)
      CO: $11.62 (116.2 bb)
      Hero (BTN): $10.90 (109 bb)

      Preflop: Hero is BTN with 8 K
      3 folds, Hero raises to $0.25, SB calls $0.20, BB folds

      Flop: ($0.60) T 6 K (2 players)
      SB bets $0.60, Hero calls $0.60

      Turn: ($1.80) 2 (2 players)
      SB bets $0.60, Hero raises to $2.40, SB calls $1.80

      River: ($6.60) Q (2 players)
      SB bets $3.30, Hero folds

      Results: $6.60 pot ($0.44 rake)
      Final Board: T 6 K 2 Q
      SB mucked and won $6.16 ($2.91 net)
      Hero mucked 8 K and lost (-$3.25 net)

      This hand annoyed me a little bit, mostly because I don't like getting bluffed. (That thinking often turns to a leak, by the way). In-game I raised the turn because his bet sizing seemed to indicate a draw or weaker made hand. But it's not like my hand is looking for a big pot either, and when so many rivers drastically change the board, it's probably better to keep the pot smaller and just call. If I raise K8 then I also raise almost any king on the turn, making my call/call range pretty weak. Really unsure on the river but I ended up folding, because most of my unsure calls tend to be -EV.



      IPoker, $0.05/$0.10 No Limit Hold'em Cash, 6 Players
      Poker Tools Powered By Holdem Manager - The Ultimate Poker Software Suite.

      SB: $10 (100 bb)
      BB: $11.55 (115.5 bb)
      UTG: $16.75 (167.5 bb)
      Hero (MP): $10.52 (105.2 bb)
      CO: $10.12 (101.2 bb)
      BTN: $10.16 (101.6 bb)

      Preflop: Hero is MP with 6 6
      UTG folds, Hero raises to $0.30, CO raises to $0.90, 3 folds, Hero calls $0.60

      Flop: ($1.95) A 8 7 (2 players)
      Hero checks, CO bets $1.46, Hero raises to $3.16, CO folds

      Results: $4.87 pot ($0.32 rake)
      Final Board: A 8 7
      Hero mucked 6 6 and won $4.55 ($2.19 net)
      CO mucked and lost (-$2.36 net)

      Here I make a questionable bluff, but it worked out. This player was 3-betting a lot over a small sample and I reasoned that he will quite likely CB too much here (maybe not only with bluffs but also middling hands). I can also shove when I turn a OESD.


      Feel free to comment on any of the hands.

      Peace!
    • undisturbed wrote:

      Preflop: Hero is BB with 4 Q
      4 folds, SB raises to $0.35, Hero calls $0.25

      Flop: ($0.82) 2 6 8 (2 players)
      SB checks, Hero bets $0.41, SB calls $0.41

      Turn: ($1.64) 8 (2 players)
      SB checks, Hero checks

      River: ($1.64) 8 (2 players)
      SB checks, Hero checks

      A seemingly insignificant hand, but I think it's still worth posting. My flop bet is a clear mistake. This villain had low CB over a small sample, which makes it less likely that he is auto XF. And this hand is so weak that it can only bet if my opponent will fold way too often. So it's not a bet without a read, which I did not have. Betting would be okay if I had two overcards at least, because then I simply have a lot more outs and barreling potential vs his likely XC hands. (I mean, I have a few backdoor straight draws with Q4, but those cards also connect with his XC range and don't hurt the equity of his flop XC range that much, making it unlikely that he will fold the turn, so barreling will not be attractive still).


      It's a very loose flop bet, likely slightly losing move, but it's fine. Can never be too bad to 1/2 stab in position.





      Preflop: Hero is BTN with 8 K
      3 folds, Hero raises to $0.25, SB calls $0.20, BB folds

      Flop: ($0.60) T 6 K (2 players)
      SB bets $0.60, Hero calls $0.60

      Turn: ($1.80) 2 (2 players)
      SB bets $0.60, Hero raises to $2.40, SB calls $1.80

      River: ($6.60) Q (2 players)
      SB bets $3.30, Hero folds

      his hand annoyed me a little bit, mostly because I don't like getting bluffed. (That thinking often turns to a leak, by the way). In-game I raised the turn because his bet sizing seemed to indicate a draw or weaker made hand. But it's not like my hand is looking for a big pot either, and when so many rivers drastically change the board, it's probably better to keep the pot smaller and just call. If I raise K8 then I also raise almost any king on the turn, making my call/call range pretty weak. Really unsure on the river but I ended up folding, because most of my unsure calls tend to be -EV.

      Turn raise is a good idea but a bit optimistic with K8. But not bad at all. River is good.




      Preflop: Hero is MP with 6 6
      UTG folds, Hero raises to $0.30, CO raises to $0.90, 3 folds, Hero calls $0.60

      Flop: ($1.95) A 8 7 (2 players)
      Hero checks, CO bets $1.46, Hero raises to $3.16, CO folds

      Here I make a questionable bluff, but it worked out. This player was 3-betting a lot over a small sample and I reasoned that he will quite likely CB too much here (maybe not only with bluffs but also middling hands). I can also shove when I turn a OESD.

      This is bad. When he's 3betting more that absolutely does not mean he misses this flop. He 3bets hands like T9, clubs, Axs. And most importantly, he might not cbet hands which miss, like KQ, here.
      You still lay yourself a nice price and have the full backdoor, so it's not horrific. But I don't think this is good.

    • Thanks for the comments :)

      A few questions come up, you can answer if you like. (Don't want to discourage advice by replying with a barrage of questions )


      K8 hand: I'm often thrown off by fun player's random lines and donks, usually responding based on absolute hand strength while still trying to not allow random lead bluffs.

      1. Do you have any idea what kind of range we can expect to be facing the river lead with?

      2. Would you be concerned with not allowing random bluff leads like JT or QJ to be profitable?

      3. What would be the bottom of your river calling range here?

      I guess two pair simply calls, because he could have a random QT or Qs6s or something like that. But I don't have that many two pair. K2s I always play this way. KQ I likely also play this way if not raising the flop. I could have a few flushes as well. I don't have that many bluff raises on the turn so K8 is likely towards the lower end of my range (and maybe shouldn't be there in the first place), allowing me to fold. (Although I do block Kh).


      66 hand: I agree with your advice. But I will admit I felt this was closer to a ~whatever play (not especially good, not especially bad) rather than clearly bad.

      I failed to mention that this player's CB stats were also very high, 76% (25) in SRP over 25 samples and 75% (4) in 3B. This lead me to believe that he may be the type to indiscriminately CB this type of board with all his bluffs. And maybe even with hands like JJ-KK as well (even though that seems less likely). Coupled with his high 3-bet % (11) I expected him to have a fair few offsuit broadways here that may bet. Which kind of tipped it over the edge and lead me to raise. (Although mostly I just didn't want to fold, I guess). But on the other end of that, if he also 3-bets a lot of Ax stuff and indiscriminately CB with that, maybe it cancels out. I should also mention that I knew he was a regular as we were on several tables together - I would never attempt this vs a potential fun player.

      Would a high CB frequency change your view on the play at all?

      Thanks!
    • The slow grind is going very slowly. ^^ Since the start of the thread I've played very little, although running good:



      (RB includes a bonus from play before this period, that's why it's so big). Bankroll is now €355.17.

      I might be cooking up some goals, yes. It seems that I simply don't get to playing unless I consciously prioritize it, either with goals or due to some necessity (future expenses for example).

      And it also seems that I always fall back into my old leaks whenever I don't play regularly. Which combined makes for no progress. And continuing like that is kind of pointless.

      So I will probably post some goals in the next few days. Although I think that shorter term goals work best for me, so maybe it will be monthly goals to start. We'll see.

      How about you? :) (I don't see any blog of yours).
    • Hi there! Figured it's time to set some goals here to hopefully get things going. I won't set yearly goals because I think that's too long term actually. But more like "current" goals, and then smaller monthly or weekly goals that support the current main goals. So here goes.

      Current main goal

      - Move up to and establish myself at 100NL

      Which means a few things. a) Grinding up a bankroll that is big enough to play 100NL. b) Playing 100NL as my main game with profit. c) Building the bankroll to the point where I won't have to consider moving down again. (In terms of numbers, I think a) might be around €3k at minimum, c) at €10k or more.) Which leads to 100NL being my profitable main game, with a bankroll that supports it. This seems like the most reasonable goal to me, given that I'm a proven winner at 100NL and it's the highest game where I've been winning and playing somewhat consistently for a while now. So making base there seems like a good priority. There I can make a good income and also make way for moving up higher.

      Current bankroll is €355.17.

      So it's a grind from the bottom once again! Making this goal will require a few things. I'll try to structure them up and make some January goals as well, either by updating this post or making a new one.

      Edit one: Firstly, I need to start playing regularly, analyzing regularly and improving play quality.

      To improve play quality I will do the following:

      - Play few tables (4 at the most).
      - Be acutely aware of my thought process.
      - Allow no instinctive decisions, only solid reasoning allowed.
      - Question the initial reasoning and make sure it's solid, before decisions.
      - If solid reasoning is lacking, note the spot and develop reasoning through analysis.

      By doing this I will identify areas which need work. By noting:

      - Leaks in my thought process, both mental and technical.
      - Spots where my understanding is lacking.
      - Spots where I need to construct ranges.
      - Spots where my intuition should be checked through analysis.
      - And so on.

      Then I will compile this and figure out which areas are most important to actively work on, i.e. those that are most important for playing fundamentally solid poker, and those that give the highest return of investment on the time spent analyzing them. Then do it.

      This will lead to fewer hands but I have no doubt that it's the best way for me. If I play more tables I often end up making fast decisions without solid reasoning, which may very well devastate the winrate. A few spewy hands here and there pretty quickly add up in terms of bb/100. So playing fewer tables likely lead to higher bb/100, hourly and also faster overall improvement. But I need to be pretty strict on it. Because sometimes I keep adding tables when I feel I'm playing well and/or they are very fishy (which is often), not realizing that I'm in fact not winning more because I play more tables, but probably winning less. More fishy tables isn't necessarily better, if play quality suffers because of the increased volume.

      Maybe I will post my list of leaks / areas that need improvement here, and also a plan to work through them.

      In any case, I'm well aware of a lot of pre-flop spots where I need to construct ranges. These situations need to be noted and then worked through. For post-flop it's even more so, and I'm aware that my default game needs a whole lot of work to be sustainable and competitive at 200NL+.

      Best of luck with your own goals and more importantly, may you be happy overall! Peace!

      The post was edited 1 time, last by undisturbed ().

    • January goals

      Main goal:

      - Move up to 20NL (and make way for moving up to 50NL next month).

      What this means is basically getting the bankroll to the point where I won't have to play 10NL anymore (unless a big downswing came), which would be something like €800-1k. Were the roll to reach €1k-1.25k or more I could start playing some 50NL. The idea is to have moved up to 50NL before the end of February or so.

      Specific goals:

      - Minimum 60 hours of play.

      - Minimum 40 hours of analysis.

      - Make a list of areas to work on.

      - Structure up a way to work through them, and get started.

      - Make a clear improvement of my game.

      These combined simply mean that I need to start putting in some volume (although the volume goals are definitely modest). Then I need to get to action when it comes to improving my game, and at the end of the month be able to concisely say which areas of my game and understanding have improved. I should be able to say "X has improved", and to look back at hands which I misplayed and/or were unsure of and then know that I have learned something new and will not repeat the same mistake. Making a list of areas where I clearly need improvement, and then getting in focused work on those areas, has to help this very much.

      If I make these goals then I know I'm in action to make an income and get back to 100NL. But honestly, I'd like to see myself crush these goals and get even more done. But we'll see.

      Best of luck with your month guys. :) Peace!