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Poker Blogs

Reading various poker blogs has helped me think about poker in different ways.

I've been trying to increase my subscriptions to poker blogs in my blog reader.

A lot of poker blogs I found are no longer update. Some seem to have been sold to spammers.

I tried to whittle down the list to known good blogs but I know I'm missing a lot. There are many sites I visit regularly from Google search but I forgot to bookmark or add to my reader.

Other blogs I'd like to read regularly don't have feeds, like Phil Galfond's blog, which makes them harder to follow.

If you have any suggestions for good poker blogs that you read please let me know in the comments below.

You can subscribe to my feed with this link: http://blog.microrollers.com/feeds/posts/default

Note: if you can't see the list below click here

Time To Build A MicroStakes MTT Plan

When I first started playing poker I thought I'd be playing mainly multi-table tournaments but I've barely played any lately.

Grinding SnGs and cash games brings a small but steady profit but tournaments have the possibility of delivering a nice big prize for finishing 1st.

Unfortunately I find that SnGs and cash games fit into my schedule better since I can start them whenever I like. But I think I can manage to fit in some more MTTs.

My goal is to try and play at least 30 (hopefully more like 50-60) MTTs a month. I should be able to swing that playing 3-4 tournaments a couple of nights a week. I'm hoping that's enough to get a handful of deep runs and one final table each month. As long as I still remember how to play :) I'll also try and find some time to study some more on MTTs and maybe get some new books.

PokerStars VIP Freerolls iCal Feeds

PokerStars offers a lot of benefits to players as part of it's VIP Program. One of these benefits are free online poker tournaments with prize pools as high as $1 million. The buy-in to these events are either free or through frequent player points (FPPs).

Three $500 tournaments run every day for a 10 FPP buy-in. There are three weekly tournaments with $1,000, $2,000 and $30,000 prize pools, two monthly tournaments with a $2,500 and $100,000 prize pool and 4 times a year the big $1,000,000 quarterly freerolls.

These seem to be a pretty good value for your FPPs. I played one a few months ago and final tabled it. I keep meaning to play more but I lose track of when they are.

To help me keep track of these tournaments I've added them to my calendar.

If you'd like to add them to your calendar (Outlook, Thunderbird w/Lightnight, iPhone, Blackberry or other smartphone) you can use the following links to sync your calendar using either the iCalendar or XML feed.

I've split up the calendars into two groups:

PokerStars Weekly/Monthly/Quarterly VIP Freeroll Calendar

Use this calendar to keep track of the Weekly, Monthly and Quarterly PokerStars VIP Freerolls.


PokerStars Daily VIP Freeroll Calendar

The PokerStars Daily VIP Freerolls run every day at 12:40pm, 7:40pm and 10:40pm ET. I don't plan on playing many of these plus they run every day three times a day so they should be easy to remember. For that reason I've added them to a separate calendar feed if you don't think it will clog up your calendar view.


PokerStars VIP Freeroll Calendar

How To Make A PokerStars Pro Portrait

I've always found the portraits Team PokerStars Pros have as their avatars appealing. They have a very nice muted effect to them.

Some of the PokerStars portraits are nicer than others but they all have the same effect applied to them.

When PokerStars announced they signed Liv Boeree as a Team Pro member they linked her photos to some very high resolution versions. The amount of detail in the photo allowed me to make a good guess at how it was lit.

Since I had PokerStars Pro Portraits on my mind I figured I'd try and reverse engineer the effect.

Not everyone can be a sponsored by PokerStars but if you'd like to look like you are, here's how to do it.

PokerStars Bonuses Clear Instantly Plus Earn VPPs Faster at Microstakes

PokerStars announced that starting on October 1st there will be some new changes to the VIP program. Some pretty great changes in my opinion!

First, VIP Reward Bonuses will now be available in your account instantly. In the past if you purchased a $50 VIP Reward Bonus for 4,500 FPP you'd have to clear that bonus by earning 350 VPPs (7 times the dollar amount) before that amount was added to your account.

Tomorrow, when you purchase a VIP Reward Bonus from the PokerStars VIP Store, the amount will be instantly credited to your account.

I really like this change except I recently purchased a bonus that I'm still working on clearing. Damn my impatience! Update: Thanks to a tweet from @fpppro I found out you could email PokerStars support and request a refund for VIP Reward Bonuses that haven't cleared and then purchase a new VIP Reward Bonus that clears instantly. Sweet!

Micro stakes players will also be earning VPPs faster at NL and PL ring games up to $0.05/$0.10.

This is an extension of the MicroMania promotion they held in July where micro stakes NL and PL games earned 10 VPPs for each $1 collected in rake. What came as a surprise to me was that the 10x multiplier didn't end in July. They continued to run the promotion without making a fuss over it.

I was trying to track my cash game VPP earn rate and I thought something seemed off. Now I know why.

The normal VPP multiplier is 6x for tables with 8 or more seats and 5.5x for tables with 7 or fewer seats.

The new VPP multiplier at each stake are at follows:

$0.01/$0.02: 12x
$0.02/$0.05: 10x
$0.05/$0.10: 8x

6-max players will realize the biggest gain going from 5.5x to either 12x, 10x or 8x depending on the stakes. Heads-up players are unfortunately left out since the smallest heads up tables are $0.10/0.25 which have been excluded from this new change even though they were part of MicroMania.

Still, these are very good changes, especially not having to clear VIP Reward Bonuses!

DoN SnG Challenge Update 12

It's been a while since my last post and update. I've been busy with a few other projects and haven't had as much time. I have been playing my challenges but haven't had time to update my blog.

I really wanted to splurge and play one of the $200 WCOOP events but I just couldn't find the time. :(

Since my last update my Double or Nothing Sit N' Go challenge bankroll is up over $1,000 to $2,584. I'm currently playing the $10 DoNs. My winrate since the last update was only 55.6% giving me a little better than a 3% ROI.

Not a spectacular winrate but it's mainly due to one big downswing.

I started out this update playing the $5.40 DoNs even though my bankroll rules allowed me to play the $10.80 DoNs. There were a couple of reasons why I decided to stick with the $5 DoNs.

First, I just got used to playing a large number of tables and was having fun and showing good results doing so and I didn't want to stop.

The other reason (and this is longer than I wanted but I can't stop talking about new toys)  was I needed to replace the TV in my office and decided to use my FPPs to get a new TV from the PokerStars' VIP store. Sticking with the $5 DoNs I was able to generate FPPs faster since moving to the $10 DoNs would mean I would have to play fewer tables.

I had planned to restrict my FPPs to only cash bonuses but just couldn't resist. I'm the type of person that usually goes nuts looking at specs and comparing models before I make any purchasing decision. I hate wasting money and more importantly I hate getting something and then realizing for only a little bit more I could have gotten something better.

The downside is that I start out looking for something that costs let's say $300 and then realize for $50 bucks more I can get something better, and then for only another $25 I can get something even better. Eventually I say screw it if I'm going to spend $200 above my initial $300 budget why not just get the top of the line model!

Unfortunately (or fortunately) I didn't have time to do that and just blindly bought the 26" 720p Samsung HDTV that PokerStars lists on their store. It was the right size and I could do without 1080p in my office. I'm happy with it. The picture quality is good and it has some nice features. My favorite is that it comes with a USB port and I can connect an external drive to play videos from my computer.

OneCall.com seems to be the company that fulfills electronics orders for PokerStars's VIP Store. The TV was listed for $480 when I ordered it for 32,000 FPPs. If I chose to purchase bonuses with those FPPs I would have only been able to get less than $400 worth so it seemed like a good deal. Amazon put it on sale shortly after I ordered it and it would have been a toss-up. Check out Amazon's current price for the Samsung LN26C450 26-Inch 720p 60 Hz LCD HDTV

Overall I was very happy with the process and service and would buy from OneCall.com again but instead of purchasing something directly from the VIP Store I'll go about it a different way. I noticed that in the VIP Store you can purchase $200 gift certifcates for OneCall and that would allow me to be more selective about what item I purchase.

OK, back to DoNs...

After I earned the FPPs I needed for the TV I finally moved up to the $10 DoNs. I started playing one and then two tables at a time and things were going well. Very well actually.

Since I continued with the $5 DoNs longer than I should have my bankroll could actually support playing more than 2 tables at a time and I quickly moved to about as many as I was playing at the $5 level. That's when the downswing hit and it was a pretty big one. I never hit the point where my bankroll rules told me to move down so I kept at it trying to find my bearings.

Moving up quickly probably wouldn't have been such a big problem but a few weeks went by where I didn't have time to play any poker and I guess I forgot how? I should have eased myself back into it.

At the $10 level players generally make fewer mistakes than they did at the $5 level and I found I needed to focus more to keep myself from making mistakes myself. I dropped back down to 2 tables at a time to pay closer attention and make some adjustments to my game.

I slowly worked my way up to 5 tables at a time and I'm playing them pretty much tiled (with a slight overlap) so I can pay attention to the action easier.

I created a custom layout with 5 tables arranged as shown in the image to the right. There's a little bit of overlap but I can still see what's going on.

More important than seeing what's going on, this layout helps me remember the players. This is helpful when there's a player I'm picking up a read on but I don't have enough hands against them for the HUD stats to be reliable.

I'm not good with remembering names or avatars but I'm good at remembering something like the player in the upper right table in seat 1 raises loose and calls shoves light. Playing with my tables stacked doesn't allow me to remember players in that way.

My next step is to play 6 tables. I have a layout where I moved the center table up and added a 6th one just under it. After that 8 tables with a bigger overlap and then I'll see if I can go back to stacking tables.

The challenge is going much slower than I initially thought it would but as long as that chart keeps moving up I guess I can't complain. :)

SnG Hand Histories from PTR Sale

Received an email today that PokerTableRatings.com is now offering Sit-n-Go hand histories for purchase. For a limited time there is a 30% discount if you use the promo code: SNGLAUNCH.

Plus you'll also get 14 free days of SnG daily hand updates with your order if you use the promo code.

PokerTableRatings has been tracking cash game hands for hold 'em and omaha for Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars, Absolute/Ulitmate Bet, Bodog, iPoker/Titan, Party Poker and recently the Cake Poker.

Like other data mining sites they allow you to size up your competition quickly. Through their website you can review a players playing style, win/loss record and even watch recent sessions. Their new PTR Premium service gives you a more in-depth analysis and even provides typical HUD stats in the PTR replayer.

For months PTR has secretly been data mining SNG hand histories as well and has now made them available for purchase. Like their cash game hand histories these files can be imported into your poker analytics software such as Holdem Manager or Poker Office. This can give you more insight into players than just their win/loss record that other sites such as SharkScope provide.

One problem though. Data mining and trading/purchasing hand histories violates the terms and conditions of most major poker rooms.

Reader Email About DoNs

A few weeks ago a reader, Rishan, sent me an email with some questions about Double or Nothing Sit-N-Go's.

He had some good questions pertaining to variance, bankroll management and some strategy. With his permission I'm posting his email along with my answers in case others find it helpful.

It took a while to find the time to reply but hopefully it's worth the wait.

Here's the email:

DoN SnG Challenge Update 11

This is my best update so far! No major downswings and I had time to put in a lot of volume. I was finally able to significantly increase the number of simultaneous tables I'm playing too which made a big difference.

Current DoN SnG Challenge Bankroll is at $1,542 a whopping $732 more since my last update. An increase of around 90%. That's almost double!!!! Can you tell I'm excited!?!?!?!? :)

I ran pretty decent too. 58% winrate with a 7.6% ROI. When I first started playing these games (before I started this challenge) my winrate was just over 60% so I'm starting to creep back up closer to that number.

Sundays no longer seem to be a problem. They used to be my worst day but last Sunday was my best. I played a little over 100 SnGs and had a 68% winrate which gave me a 26% ROI netting me $145.

There were a number of things I felt made a difference which I'll discuss in further detail below. Plus what's going to happen next with the challenge.

MTT Bankroll Management Spreadsheet

If you liked my Cash Game Bankroll Management Spreadsheet and DoN SnG Bankroll Management Spreadsheet you might get some good use out of my multi-table tournament (MTT) bankroll management spreadsheet.

It has the same features as the other spreadsheets in that it suggests your buy-in based on your bankroll management rules, keeps track of your progress and provides you with some useful stats, allows you to publish your bankroll chart on the web.

Poor bankroll management practices can result in a winning player going bust so it's important to keep good records and follow a sound strategy to keep your bankroll safe.

There's a lot of variance and there can be some big swings in MTTs so this spreadsheet isn't as straightforward as the previous ones.

Because a big score in an MTT can dramatically increase your bankroll you can be rolled to play in much higher games than you are used to but just because you had a big win doesn't mean your ability has dramatically increased. I tried to tie the recommended buy-in to the average buy-in to keep the spreadsheet from suggesting buy-ins that were too much above the buy-ins you have the most experience in but you'll still want to use your judgement when you move up in stakes. This spreadsheet is still a work in progress.

This spreadsheet can be used for all your MTTs or you can create separate spreadsheets to segregate different types of tournaments. For example you could create three different copies. One for Turbo MTTs, one for 180 SnGs and one for ReBuys tournaments. Since your bankroll management strategy should reflect your winrate and potential variance it makes sense to separate them since different types of games have different variance and you're ability might be different in them.

If you choose to mix tournament types try to adjust the recommended buy-in accordingly. For example if your recommended buy-in is $10 and you normally play regular speed full ring MTTs you might want to buy-in for less in a 6-max turbo MTT. If you're throwing in a rebuy tournament, try to keep your buy-in + rebuys + addon close to your recommended buy-in. This is one area where you're going to need to use your judgment.

Shaun Deeb Toolbox or Female Rights Crusader?

At the 2010 WSOP Ladies No-Limit Holdem Championship about a dozen guys registered and played the event. Some of them did so because they believe the field to be softer but Shaun Deeb, who started the event in drag, claimed he did it for female poker player rights.

He feels that the special Ladies tournament shouldn't be a part of the World Series of Poker. In his view, women poker players are intelligent and competitive enough to battle it out in the open events and should do so.

DoN SnG Challenge Update 10

Unfortunately my good run didn't last. After my last DoN SnG Challenge Update things continued to go well and then disaster struck. I experienced my worst downswing ever in these games. Over 30 buy-ins.

The current DoN Challenge bankroll stands at $810. It was up to $883.61 at it's peak before the downswing. I was looking forward to moving up to the $10 DoNs by now but that is going to take a little more time.

Since the last update the bankroll has increased $25 and my win rate and ROI has been 55% and 0.5% respectively. Nothing to get too excited over.

In addition to winnings from the games I also earned a $50 VIP Stellar Reward  as well as a $50 VIP Reward Bonus so things aren't so bad.

New Mouse Arrived - Logitech M500 Mouse Review

After only 2 days my new Logitech M500 Mouse arrived from Newegg.com even using their standard 3-day ground shipping. Ever since I've discovered them I don't think I've ever bought any computer hardware from anywhere else.

My old mouse, a Logitech MX-310 was tilting the crap out of me. It seems the cord had developed a short and was cutting in and out and buttons where being pressed when I didn't press any.

That's a recipe for disaster when you have multiple poker tables open. I had timed out a few instances with big hands while I was wiggling the cord trying to get the mouse to come back. I also had some unfortunate misclicks.

PokerStars The Big Game Sneak Peek

PokerStars' new TV high stakes cash game show, "The Big Game" will start airing June 14th on FOX. The show will run 5 nights a week at 1:00 am.

It's a 6-handed holdem cash game with $200/$400 blinds and $100 ante. The minimum buy-in is $100,000. It looks like it's going to be pot-limit preflop, no-limit post-flop.

Along with the poker pros every week one seat will be filled by a Loose Cannon. A player that wins a $100k buy-in for The Big Game. Anything they win above $100k they get to keep.

PokerTableRatings Premium Is Online


PokerTableRatings is a service that data mines no-limit holdem and Omaha cash games across various online poker rooms.

You can review your own hands and stats as well as those of other players. From their website you can access basic statistics for free or you could purchase hand histories to import into your poker stat software such as Holdem Manager, PokerOffice or PokerTracker.

PokerTableRatings today has launched a new PTR Premium service which expands on the stats you can find on their website.

Bodog courts Tiger Woods Disses Poker Players?

What a joke! Bodog is offering Tiger Woods a 5 year $100 million sponsorship deal with a "no moral judgement" clause.
With divorce an increasingly likely outcome and speculation about a multitude of other ‘sins’, BodogBrand feel they are the only ones who can extend a deal that will be totally unaffected by any non-golf related activity but in fact actively encourages endorsees, employees and customers alike to 'Play Hard.'
This is their 3rd offer to Woods, the first two were apparently declined and I wouldn't be surprised if this third one is rejected as well.

Woods has been losing some of his endorsement deals after his affairs came to light. I don't think that's necessarily fair. While I don't condone what he did, he worked hard to get where he is. His endorsement deals were mutually beneficial relationships where corporate sponsors were able to benefit from his accomplishments in exchange for cash. Now that he's facing losing his family some of these backers want to distance themselves. When someone that has done so much for you is in a difficult situation you don't dump more crap on them. At least that's what I think decent people should do.

My First PokerStars Knockout Sit-n-Go

Last month PokerStars announced a new type of Sit-n-Go tournament, the Knockout SnG.

I didn't notice them until recently. They seem pretty cool. They are structured like normal 9-man single table tournaments with 10 minute blind levels and 1500 starting chips.

Buy-ins match their non knockout counterparts but their is an added 25% fee that counts as your bounty. Whenever a player knocks you out of the tournament, they get your bounty. Whenever you knock someone else out you get theirs.

Jean-Robert Bellande goes Busto!

Photo courtesy: lasvegasvegas.com
Jean-Robert Bellande (@BrokeLivingJRB) poker pro and former Survivor: China contestant has been tweeting his bankroll updates since he started his $0 to $1million run. His last bankroll update simply read:
Cash 0 Stars 0 FTP 0 I feel sleepy.
Sun May 09 02:31
Starting from nothing he got up to around $100k playing a variety of cash games and tournaments.

Some staking deals and credit lines got him going. Following his tweets poor table selection and bankroll management really did him in.

Update on PPC Advertising for Poker Blogs

About a month ago I wrote about PPC Advertising For Poker Blogs after noticing a lot of Poker Bloggers were using Google Adsense. Since it is against Google's policies to post AdSense ads on sites containing casino or gambling related content I thought I'd point out some alternatives to Adsense that allow poker and gambling sites.

The two main AdSense alternatives are AdBrite and Bidvertiser. Both offer PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising and both allow poker related sites. They even have a special category for poker sites so advertisers can easily target them.

I gave both AdBrite and Bidvertiser a short run on this blog. Traffic to my site is pretty good for it's age and size but I'm not getting thousands of visitors per day so it's just a limited sample but enough to come to some better conclusions than I did in my last post.

For each ad network I used a large rectangular ad slot that I inserted above the fold. I chose the large rectangle because it is one of the better performing ad formats. I let each ad run until it had a few thousand impressions.

DoN SnG Challenge Update 9

What a relief! It looks like the Double or Nothing Sit-n-Gos on PokerStars are profitable again!

For a while I was thinking it was going to be impossible to get anywhere with this challenge so I'm very happy that things have been going well for my last two updates.

Right after I last posted on my DoN Challenge progress I had a nice little run of almost 20 straight wins and I was feeling great (initial spike in Update 9 portion of graph). Unfortunately it was followed by a big downswing that had me tilting again. I tried to regain my composure and rode it out.

Double or Nothing SnG Bankroll Management Spreadsheet

My Cash Game Bankroll Management Spreadsheet got some good feedback so I thought I'd start releasing some of the other spreadsheets I use. It takes some time to clean up and make them a little more user friendly.

Today I'm sharing my Double or Nothing SnG Bankroll Management Spreadsheet. It's the spreadsheet I use to keep track of my DoN SnG Challenge progress and it allows me to easily post charts on my site. This spreadsheet will work with both standard and turbo DoN

DoNs are a great way to build up a bankroll because they are relatively low variance games and pretty easy to beat. Using this spreadsheet can help you build a nice sized roll from a relatively small deposit on PokerStars. Just enter a few parameters and start playing. The spreadsheet will let suggest when you should move up (or down) in stakes. If you don't have PokerStars, you can download it and create an account free here.

Free Poker Bankrolls

I ran across a site recently that is willing to get you started playing poker on a number of different sites without having to deposit any of your own money.

All you need to do is verify your identity and phone number and that's it.

It seems too good to be true but apparently it's legit. I did some searching and the company has been around for a number of years and I haven't run across any complaints.

PokerStars Simple-Slick Theme

A while ago I analyzed a few different PokerStars table themes. It was my long drawn-out thought process figuring out what I liked about different themes and why. My goal was to try to come up with a table theme that I like as much as Hyper-Simple that was more visually appealing.

The result is my PokerStars Simple-Slick Theme. Instructions for downloading and installing it follow some of the reasons I made the decisions I did.

DoN SnG Challenge Update 8

It's been a while since I've posted an update on my Double or Nothing Sit-n-Go Challenge.

I had a bit of a down turn. My last two updates were me reporting I was break even. It was a bit demoralizing and I wasn't putting in the volume I needed to meet my goal.

Instead I was taking a look at my stats and hand histories in working on figuring out what adjustments I need to make. It seems to have helped.

Since my last update my win rate has been ~ 58% and my ROI around 8% with a $120 profit bringing my challenge bankroll up to $627.

PokerTableRatings New Replayer

I noticed Daniel Negreanu tweeted that he was going to hit the 100/200 NLHE tables on Pokerstars after busting out of the EPT main event in Monte Carlo. I missed the live action so I turned to PokerTableRatings to check out the replay.

PokerTableRatings.com (PTR) is a site where you can check both your own and other players cash game stats (NLHE and Omaha only). You can even download hand histories to import into PokerTracker, PokerOffice or Holdem Manager to give your database a boost.

PTR provides a lot of information as well as the ability to replay hands and sessions. The PTR hand replayer was recently overhauled but I just noticed that there was another change that looks like it came online today.

PokerStars Taking On Short Stackers

PokerStars announced some upcoming changes to their NL/PL Cash Game tables.
Many USD currency Hold’em and Omaha games with No-Limit or Pot-Limit betting will be offered with new and different minimum, maximum, and default buy-in amounts. Most stakes of NL Hold’em and PL Omaha will be offered as follows:

20-50 bb, with default buy-in of 40bb
40-100 bb, with default buy-in of 80bb
100-250 bb, with default buy-in of 200bb and ante equal to 20% of the Big Blind
I'm not too sure this is the best way to deal with the problem. I'll go into details further down.

The reason for the change is to help deal with the large number of players that have been buying in at the minimum.

A lot of poker players have been complaining about short-stackers ruining the game. At first I didn't think it much of it. One or two at a table didn't seem like a big deal and they were pretty easy to beat but it's getting harder and harder to find a table that isn't just full of short stackers. So many of the tables look the like the one pictured.

Short stackers are a nuisance because there is very little post flop play when they're in the hand. They're either pushing all in pre-flop or on the flop. When you get involved in a pot with a short-stacker, you're flipping for 20BB in most cases.

PokerStars had previously set up 50BB min tables but the problem is that the competition at those tables seems to be tougher. The recreational players usually sit at the "normal" tables. You identify a weak player limping in, you raise to isolate them and short-stacker pushes all in. While you had a hand that you were comfortable playing on the flop, it's not a hand you want to put 20BBs in preflop.

There are strategies to deal with shortstackers but you're essentially adopting a short-stacking mentality yourself, which isn't a lot of fun and not very profitable. If players wanted to play a push/fold strategy they would just stick to sit-n-gos.

The way most shortstackers make money is through volume and rakeback/bonuses. PokerStars doesn't offer rakeback. Rewards and bonuses are awarded based on VPPs which are accumulated based on rake. All players that are dealt into the hand get a share of the VPP regardless if they put any money into the pot or not.

Not only are short stackers taking the play out of the game, when they sit at 24 tables with single digit VPIPs they are earning as many VPPs as the players that are putting their money on the line. This seems to be an abuse of the PokerStars VIP Reward Program and unfair to other players.

A Better Way To Deal With Short Stackers

My initial reaction to PokerStars' changes isn't enthusiastic. I like the additon of the 100BB-2500BB tables. Deep stacked poker is a much different game but I don't like the change of the 40BB-100BB and additionof the 20BB-50BB tables.

The 50BB-100BB tables should have been left as is in my opinion. I don't see any reason to lower the min buy-in at that level. The 20-40BB tables might have been better off being just a straight 20BB table.

I don't think the changes will really have much of an effect. Good short stackers will move up to the 40BB-100BB tables and just do the same thing there. Players that like to play very deep can play at the 100-250BB tables.

Players getting screwed are ones that like to play 50-100BB deep. We're either going to have to get better at playing deeper or deal with the new generation of 40BB short stackers.

A better solution in my opinion would be to put limitations on short-stacking. Since most short stackers play very tight and don't contribute much in terms of rake, especially when compared to the amount of VPPs they receive, PokerStars could limit players to a maximum of 2 tables where they bought in for less than 50BBs and no more than 1 or 2 short stackers per table. They can play as many of the special 20BB tables as they want though.

This would really make a difference in terms of short stacking. Without being able to put in the volume, they wouldn't have incentive to play that way. If they were gone from the site I don't think it would have much of an impact for PokerStars' revenue, in fact it might increase it.

It seems that much of the money short-stackers win is by stealing pots pre-flop with their shoves. Pots won before a flop do not generate rake. The ratio of VPPs earned to actual rake paid is probably very high for short stackers. PokerStars is paying out a lot in bonuses and getting little in return on top of making the site unpleasant for many.

PokerStars made the announcement in a thread on twoplustwo.

Ferguson and Negreanu Think the Micros are Hard!

When I first started this blog it was to document some of my progress as a poker player and some of my micro stakes bankroll building challenges. Some big names in poker have also done bankroll challenges and I've wound up writing articles about their strategies and progress.

I figured it might be a good idea to take this journalistic approach even further by creating WSJesque hedcut portraits of them. Pretty slick huh?

I messed up and didn't make the hedcut big enough so needing to fill up space I emailed a few questions to Chris Ferguson and Daniel Negreanu hoping one of them would reply. Much to my surprise, they both did!!

Crush the Micros? ORLY?

Every once in a while I get someone new following me on Twitter. A lot of times it's some person that just signed up with Twitter and joins hundreds of people trying to spam links or promote something.

The other day the author of No Limit Hold'em - Beating the Micro Stakes: Crushing Micro Stakes & Small Stakes Poker started following me. I didn't really look into it much but I thought it was pretty cool. So far I have 2 poker authors following me and a poker pro Scotty Nguyen. (That's right baby!)

This morning I got a pretty interesting email about the author.  I wasn't going to say anything but with the recent controversies related to poker instruction (Jason Ho, Nick Grudzien aka StoxTrader, Cardrunners vs Isuldur1) I'm getting sick of people trying to take advantage of people trying to learn the game.

So let's see what type of poker player Thomas Mitchell really is. Lucky for us, PokerTableRatings exists and we can lookup player's cash game stats to see just how good they are.

Mitchell doesn't reveal his screen name. He even blocks it out on the videos he posts of his sessions but he did leave enough information to figure it out. So without further ado, here's his PTR Graph.


He's only been playing a short while and it's only the last few months that he's been winning. A 1.74 BB/100 winrate over 140,000 hands isn't exactly what I would consider crushing.

Below are his results broken down by stake:


Again, nothing to write home about. These aren't horrible stats, if you're playing much higher stakes that is. For these small stake NLHE games they should be much higher, especially from someone that you're going to pay money to learn from.

So you can verify it's him, these are some hands from one of his videos. herehereherehere and here.

In my opinion he clearly doesn't have the experience or the results to be receiving money for his knowledge. I was wondering how he even managed to get published but then realized it's done through Amazon's self publishing system.

While I haven't read the book, I did check out a couple of the sample pages. It's probably not bad advice but it's not anything you can't get free from reading the internet and poker forums. Probably where he got that knowledge from himself.

I tried Googling his screen name, wolfmmiii, and found some interesting post of his on blackhatworld.com. With such a unique name, I can only assume it's the same person. BlackHatWorld is a forum where "internet marketers" share information on how to make money online by scamming people and finding holes in systems to make money. Trying to find some crafty way to get visitors to websites and click ad links or buy some garbage e-book.

One of the claims from that poster were that they managed to make a few grand a month by creating bogus eBay auctions, including a link to a webpage that contained eBay affiliate links and when users would click back on to eBay he would earn referral fees. Basically making money off of eBay's existing traffic. They have since closed this loophole.

This doesn't seem to be much different. With so many good books out there, and free resources available online, why put money in the hands of this scammer?

A good place to start learning how to beat micro stakes full ring no limit holdem games online is by reading this thread on twoplustwo forums A Complete Guide to Beating The Micros and kee up with the Concept of the Week threads there. They are very informative and best of all FREE!

Daniel Negreanu Getting Serious About Online Poker

It's been fun following Negreanu's microstakes bankroll challenge but he's really stepped it up, playing high limit NLHE on PokerStars.com.

This month, Negreanu's put in over 3,000 hands at $100/$200 NLH 6-max. He started off really strong, KidPoker's first $100/$200 session after his renewed interest in online cash games netted him almost $60k. By his 6th session he was up almost $200k after a huge $100k win (replay session).

After that, he suffered some losses but overall he's still up over $40k at $100/$200 NLH 6-max.

He's also put in some time in $25/$50 heads up and $25/$50 PLO Full Ring.

The chart to the left shows his recent performance on PokerStars.com cash tables. I'll try to keep it updated but I can't claim it's 100% accurate.

Does Daniel Negreanu Multi-Table?

Mostly, no. For someone that's played one table live most of his life, learning to focus on 4 tables online can be a difficult adjustment but he seems to really have been working hard at improving his online game. He's even using Holdem Manager now.

This morning Daniel Negreanu tried multitabling. He played 4 tables of $5/$10 NLH (6-max). After about an hour (369 hands), he was up almost $3k (1.5BB/100). Not bad. As he gets more comfortable online and makes further adjustments to his game I think he'll start multi-tabling more at lower limits.

If you missed the action, you can replay Negreanu's Multi-Tabling Session.

Update: Today 3/29/2010, Negreanu is playing two $100/$200 6-max NLHE tables! These are the new $100/$200 tables with a 100BB min/200BB max buy-in.

Micro Stakes Challenge Not Over

Negreanu has been working on a bankroll challenge, trying to run $10 into $100k. He started at $0.01/$0.02 NLH Full Ring and has worked his way up to $0.25/$0.50 NLH. He managed to get up his challenge bankroll up to $272.18 but he hit a rough spot at $0.25/$0.50 NLH and dropped down to $80.38. He played a couple of more sessions recently and Negreanu's microstakes bankroll challenge is now up to $113.23.

Even though he's been having fun at higher limits, he's stated on a the twoplustwo.com forums that he's still committed to this challenge.
I have been doing the micro limit challenge grind for a while and I still plan on continuing with it, but I'm not really going to learn much playing at those levels and I wanted to expedite the process.
Whether he keeps it up remains to be seen. Now that he's playing higher limits it may be hard to start grinding for pocket change. I know I'd have a hard time doing it. Lucky for me I don't have to roll to play much higher :) If he does I'd be very impressed with his determination.

He's commented on his online cash game play on his latest blog entry. One thing that still leaves me feeling doubtful about his commitment to the micros is this statement.
People always have an opinion, and may believe I'm going about this the wrong way and should instead be multi-tabling the $5-$10 games. While they are entitled to their opinion, I couldn't disagree more. If you can afford to play against the best players on the site, then you can learn the fundamentals from them. I want to play against the best and while there are certainly great lower limit players online, I'm not interested in beating those games. My goal is to compete at the higher levels. I don't think playing smaller would hurt, but I just don't think it's necessary at all since the stakes I'm currently playing at are very comfortable for me.
The only thing that might keep him building his micro stakes bankroll is his commitment to challenge himself. I don't disagree with he's saying at all but it would suck. It's not often people with small bankrolls get to play with such big names. Every once in a while Humberto Brenes jumps into small stakes cash games while he's waiting for the big Sunday tournaments on PokerStars.com to start and attracts a lot of railers.

Negreanu Seeking Advice From Online Regs

KidPoker acknowledges there are leaks in his NLH cash games but he seems to be seeking help to try and plug them.

Based on his forum posts, it looks like he's getting advice from some of his poker buddies that have more experience in online cash games and he's even posting on twoplustwo.com asking for advice on specific hands. You can check them out here and here.

Even the posters that are knocking him are inadvertently helping him by giving him very detailed reasons why he "sucks".

Can Negreanu Become a Top Online Pro?

Lots of forum posters have been criticizing his cash game based on his recent sessions and his performance on televised cash games. They don't have much hope for him improving.

I disagree. Negreanu is one of the top live tournament players who also knows his way around cash games. He's been playing poker for many years and has been very successful. He's even had a chance to play with some of the top cash game players. He obviously understands the game.

More importantly he's acknowledged he needs to improve his cash game skills and now he's working on doing just that. You can't solve a problem without first recognizing there is one, and identifying what the problem is. He's done that and is working on fixing it. Even though people are ragging on him, he's not letting that stop him.

I still have doubts about his micro-stakes bankroll challenge (Analysis of Daniel Negreanu's Bankroll Challenge) but that's mostly due to the bankroll management strategy he's using. I think he'll be a winning player at high stakes online games.

The key differences are he's playing 6-max and he's reloading when he drops below the max buy-in so he's always playing deep stacked. He's even gotten PokerStars to create some deepstack $100/$200 NLHE tables that have a min buy-in of $20,000 and a max buyin of $40,000.

His looser style of play is more suited to 6-Max than Full Ring and his small ball poker strategy does better when deep stacked.

Success is never guaranteed, but he's doing everything right to be successful.

PPC Advertising for Poker Blogs

There are a lot of poker bloggers out there using Google AdSense. There's a problem with using AdSense on poker sites and I wanted to create this post to point it out and present an alternative.

PPC stands for Pay-Per-Click. If you run PPC ads on your site and someone clicks on one of the ads, you earn some money. Your site's visitor doesn't have to buy or sign up for anything. It's a great form of advertising and one of the best for smaller sites that don't get thousands of visitors a day.

I've been using AdSense successfully on a number of sites for a few of years and have a good understanding of the program as well as issues people have had.

Google AdSense is the leader in the PPC advertising sector and if you host your poker blog on Blogger.com, adding AdSense ads couldn't be simpler. You just click a few checkboxes and you're done.

Google's policies for AdSense however prohibit AdSense ads running on sites that include or link to "Gambling or casino-related content".

That's a pretty vague statement and how Google chooses to interpret that policy can vary. In the past poker related sites could run AdSense as long as they didn't link to any poker sites and focused primarily on poker strategy. That doesn't seem to be the case anymore.

Google adds a ton new AdSense publishers every day and they can't have a real life person inspect each site for compliance. At first it may seem like everything is going fine, ads are running, you're making a few cents here and there so you think nothing of it.

Then one day you notice the ads on your site are different. They're all for charities or Google's services. These ads are known as Public Service Ads (PSAs). You don't get paid when a PSA is clicked.

Google has crawlers that inspect pages where AdSense ads run. They also seem to inspect sites when it's time to issue the first payment. Google doesn't pay publishers until they've earned at least $100. For small blogs that could take months or even years to earn. In the Google AdSense Help Forum, many posts about being dropped by AdSense start out with "I was just about to get my first check and then..."

Once you get an email from Google that your site is in violation, it may tell you the pages you need to correct or it may just tell you not to use AdSense on your site. Depending on the violation Google may even refund the advertisers all the money earned from clicks on your site and you get nothing. I don't know if this is the case with gambling/casino content.

Sometimes a violation may get your whole AdSense account dropped. If you have other websites that run AdSense, this could be a big problem. An AdSense account is great to have if you publish online. It's easy to get, but once it's gone, it's almost impossible to get back.

There are some big poker sites and poker blogs displaying AdSense ads as well as linking to poker sites. Publishers that generate a large amount of traffic have the ability to become premier members and negotiate different deals. I'm guessing that's the case. Most poker bloggers don't fall into that category.

Alternatives to AdSense for Poker Bloggers

There are two other ad networks that offer PPC ads with formats similar to AdSense but allow poker related sites.

BidVertiser





BidVertiser's Program is the one most similar to AdSense. The allow sites with gambling content. You can even categorize your site as a poker site so advertisers with relevant ads can target your site.

Once you start up your BidVertiser, create your ads and publish the ad code on your site. Ads will start appearing. A cool feature of BidVertiser is that you can view the ads that will display on your page and the max bid they are willing to pay. You can even approve and decline ads that are listed to show on your site.

I'm testing it out here for a while and the ads appear to be relevant and the max bid prices look favorable.

By default BidVertiser ads have pop-unders enabled. While I'm not against advertising on websites, I think pop-ups and pop-unders are a little too much. I chose to disable them, you might want to do the same.

I'll follow up this post after I've run their ads here for a while but I'm not expecting much since this site is still fairly new.

AdBrite

Another alternative to AdSense for poker blogs is AdBrite. AdBrite allows ads on gambling related sites and accepts gambling related advertisers. You can safeily run AdBrite ads and know you'll have advertisers supplying ads that should appeal to your readers. Which means they might be more inclined to click. They also have some other options besides just text link ads such as keyword ads which will link words within the content of your posts. When a visitor hovers their mouse over one of the links they'll get an ad.

AdBrite has been in business for a long time and are known to pay their publishers on time. With AdBrite advertisers. The one drawback is that advertisers need to specifically target your site, unlike AdSense and Bidvertiser.

Table Selection For Micro Limit Cash Games

There are many things you can do to influence your success at the poker table before you even sit down. One of these is choosing the right table.

Unlike most live casinos you can choose which table to sit at when playing online poker. You can try and find soft tables with lots of fish and avoid tables full of good regulars.

But how important is table selection at low and micro stakes games? That's one thing I'm still trying to figure out but I've tried a few different things and have some opinions.

Holdem Manager vs PokerOffice Part I

I recently decided it was time to take some of my poker winings and invest in a poker software package that would allow me to review my sessions, analyze my game and provide me with more information on my opponents.

There are three software options that can do all that. Holdem ManagerPokerOffice and PokerTracker. I had played around with PokerOffice and PokerTracker in the past. Of the two I preferred PokerOffice. Searching through forums I saw a lot of people raving about Holdem Manager so I decided to try and find out more about each.

I Googled around for "Holdem Manager vs PokerOffice" and ready many forum posts and blogs. Unfortunately there wasn't much useful information. It felt like 90% of what I read was of the "ABC is the suxxor! Use XYZ!" type.

I knew exactly what I needed poker analytic software to do for me but I was having a hard time finding out if PokerOffice or Holdem Manager could do those things. So I decided to use both and take notes of my experience.

Figured others might be having as hard a time as I was deciding so I put my notes and a whole bunch of screen shots together to make a review of Holdem Manager and PokerOffice.


I bought one and wind up getting and enhanced trial version of the other so I could really look at both in depth. This is a long post with a lot of details to try and help you make the right purchase decision but I still recommend you also download and try each one at a time. Reading these posts will give you a head start so you can make the most of the limited trials

PokerOffice Free Trial - Exclusive 2 Week Free Trial for my readers! Must use this link.
Holdem Manager - Free Trial

In the first part of this review I'm going to cover importing hand histories, heads up displays, other live action windows and the replayers of both programs.

Increase Holdem Manager Performance - Sale on SSDs

If you use poker tracking software such as Holdem Manager, PokerTracker or PokerOffice, you might have noticed that some features, such as reports run slower as you accumulate more hands.

The computations they perform aren't all that difficult. The issue comes down to the sheer amount of data they need read and write from the disk. If you ever run a program that monitors your CPU usage, you might have noticed that even though the program is running slow, the CPU is barely being used, but the hard drive is trashing around like crazy.

The best way to increase performance for these programs is to use a faster hard drive. The fastest drives by far on the market now are Solid State Drives (SSD). Newegg is currently running some sales with some SSD manufacturers offering big mail-in rebates. If you're not familiar with Newegg (you must live under a rock) they are one of the largest and best online computer retailers. I've purchased a ton of items from them for desktops and servers. They also make it very easy for you to claim your rebates.

OCZ Vertex Series OCZSSD2-1VTX30GXXX 2.5The OCZ Vertex Series OCZSSD2-1VTX30GXXX 2.5" MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) normally sells for $164.00.

Newegg is currently has it on sale for $119.99 and on top of that there is a $30 mail-in rebate and free shipping bringing the price down to $89.99 after rebate.



OCZ Vertex Series OCZSSD2-1VTX60G 2.5The OCZ Vertex Series OCZSSD2-1VTX60G 2.5" MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) normally sells for $259.00.

It's on sale for $60 off, free shipping, free 4GB flash memory card and a $30 mail-in rebate.

Final price after rebate is only $169.00

If you need a little more disk space, (but chances are you don't unless you're buying a ton of hand histories from places like PokerTableRatings) there's a 120GB Model.

OCZ Vertex Series OCZSSD2-1VTX120G 2.5The OCZ Vertex Series OCZSSD2-1VTX120G 2.5" MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) normally sells for $499.00.

Current promotion is $170 off, free 4GB flash card, free shipping and a $40 mail-in rebate.

Final price comes down to $289.00 after rebate.

If you're using Holdem Manager or PokerTracker, both of them use the PostgreSQL database and it's pretty easy to setup PostgreSQL to look for the data in a different location.

PokerOffice uses an embeded database so you'll need to reinstall it on the new SSD as far as I can tell. But check with the support people at PokerOffice to confirm.

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