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DoN SnG Challenge Update 5

My bankroll for my Double or Nothing Sit-n-Go challenge is now up to $466.40 giving me around 211% return on my initial challenge bankroll of $150.

While I am still profitable, I'm not too thrilled with my performance. My winrate dropped down just under 60% and my ROI is only around 6%.

You can see from the chart that I had a pretty big downswing when I increased the number of simultaneous tables I was playing. I have since reduced the number but while my gains are increasing, they aren't doing so as fast as they were previously.

I'm see-sawing between playing too nitty and being too confident. I don't play the same strategy every time. I adjust based on table dynamics and to specific players. This has helped me stay profitable in these games but I seem to be making some of the wrong moves at the wrong times against the wrong players more than I'd like. I've been making some great reads on players hand strength but still spewing chips thinking I can get them to fold their trash hand in some cases. I've probably reached my monthly quota of being on the wrong end of a set over set situation so I should be good to push any set I hit for the rest of the month. :)

I also need to control my emotions more. Losing a big pot to a bad player seems to get under my skin a lot more than it should.

When I feel I'm playing well I'm going to play more tables, when I feel I'm not I'll drop back down. I really need to step it up to meet my goal of a $1k bankroll by the end of next month.

In a few more games I'll reach my next Stellar Rewards bonus and I'm also close to clearing my $50 VIP Reward Bonus that I picked up when it was on sale for 3,000 FPP. None of the bonuses are being added to the bankroll.

If I can increase my volume I might just barely reach Gold Star VIP status for the first time. That would increase my Frequent Player Points (FPP) multiplier to 2 instead of my current 1.5. Earning FPPs 33% faster would be nice and help me gain my next VIP Reward Bonus faster but I don't want to jeopardize my challenge for one extra star. (You can find out more about PokerStars VIP Program in a previous post about PokerStars Rewards and Bonuses).

Joined Twitter


Seemed like there was some cool stuff happening on Twitter in regards to poker so I decided to sign up. Don't know how much I'll be using it or what for but you can follow me if you'd like.

In my first day I followed a bunch of people, got a few folowers and had some cool exchanges.

The Good:

Able to keep up to date on what's happening with PokerStars, some of the top poker players and general poker happenings.

With the WBCOOP going on it's pretty cool to see live tweets from fellow WBCOOP players during the games.

Getting live tournament updates from @barrygreenstein@Annette_15 and @howardhlederer was pretty neat. Barry Greenstein tweets a lot at tournaments.

I've railed Greenstein a couple of times when he was playing online and he's always willing to chat with us nobodies which I thought was very cool. Seems like a really nice guy. Even though Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) is the current star of Team PokerStars (with good reason), watching Greenstein play and interact with his railers makes playing on PokerStars seem that much cooler. Just for Pete's sake stop asking him if you get his book if you knock him out! :)

Some interesting tweets from @Andy_Bloch and @joesebok. Joe Sebok is getting his new place decorated by Kristan Cunningham (@kcdesign) from HGTV's Design on a Dime. I used to be a big fan of DIY shows so it'll be cool to see how it turns out. She's posted some before pictures of Sebok's beach house.

The @PokerStars_com tweeters are pretty cool and reply quickly if you send them a message.

The Bad:

It didn't take long to get followed by a couple of spammers. Not that big a deal though.

I was very excited to get 3 direct messages from some of the big name poker players I followed; @gus_hansen, @Patrick_Antonius and @Erick_Lindgren. Unfortunately they all turned out to be spam for Full Tilt Poker. Very uncool! You don't want to provide real updates that's fine, but getting DM's like that is such a turn off.

I don't have any money on FTP, I sometimes jump in a freeroll, win a few bucks and then quickly lose it. There's always this thought that I should deposit there and play more but little things like this keep turning me off to the site.

Tilting at Freerolls


Once a year PokerStars sets up a series of freeroll tournaments for poker bloggers. The World Blogger Championship of Online Poker (WBCOOP). This year prizes are tickets into the Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP), which is one of the biggest online poker tournament series with some pretty big prizes.

Gaining entry into the WBCOOP is pretty simple. You just need to have an active poker blog that has been online for over 2 months. You also need to display your registration code on your blog which includes a couple of links to PokerStars.

For no money you get 7 chances to win one of 272 SCOOP tickets totaling over $63k with some additional prizes thrown in for best live blogging and best tweeter.

Seven chances to grab a portion of over $63k worth of SCOOP tickets and all you have to do is post a link? Sounds like a pretty good deal to me, but apparently not to this guy.

I was expecting a better-run series from PokerStars. I'm not going to bother promoting them for the rest of the series, regardless of the extra value I could be giving up. I won't be seriously playing them. They're just too much time invested for not enough return.

I'm more upset at PokerStars for promising an interesting series and then getting us all to promote not only PokerStars, but their upcoming SCOOP... and then not delivering on all of our efforts.

I know this is a freeroll, but my time is not free. Every second I spent and still am spending typing, blogging, tweeting, etc., about this and playing in these is valuable time I'm giving up. My time is much, much more valuable.
One of the problems he has is with the pre-registration. Once you receive your ticket, you can register to all of the events, days in advance in some cases. Because of this, a fair amount of players sit out the whole tourney because they pre-registered and then either forgot or had other things to do.

So you're playing in a MTT freeroll with pretty decent prizes where a good portion of the less than 2k entrants are sitting out and that's a bad thing? Gimme a table full of players with VP$IP of 0 and Fold BB to Steal 100% any day.

He's also been complaining on Twitter, and as usual, PokerStars has been very open to his criticisms; as nuts as they sound to me. One other issue seems to be that one player knocked him and a few others out, then sat out. That's a pretty common thing in freerolls. People build up a stack they think will get them in the money and then move on to more profitable games.

It's true that everyone is helping to promote PokerStars, the WBCOOP and SCOOP but that's a small price to pay. It's not like the majority of blogs (mine is no exception) have so much traffic or such a high Google PageRank that a link is all that valuable.

Seriously dude, relax. Deals this good don't come by that often.

WBCOOP Event 2 2010

Event 2 in the World Blogger Championship of Online Poker is starting shortly.

Event 2 is a Pot Limit Omaha tournament. I don't think I've ever played a PLO MTT and it's been a while since I've played PLO cash games.

I had some free time today which I used to give myself a refresher on PLO strategy, which I hope helps a bit. I don't have huge expectations for this tourney but you never know.

I noticed some of the PokerStars Pros are in these games. In WBCOOP Event 2 I noticed acoimbra, Boku87, Goral and Henrique. P.

First break update:


I made it to the first break which was a bit of a surprise and through sheer luck.  I missed a lot of big draws but I got it all in with the nut flush draw on the flop against 2 pair and an open ended straight draw and managed to hit.

Later on I was holding 2 pair and made a bad call all-in and managed to suck out with a rivered full house against someone that couldn't let go of an over pair. I got really lucky but considering the board he should have slowed down.  Lots of people play Omaha like NLHE which gets them into trouble.

There are a ton of people sitting out. I'm a bit rusty at PLO and short handed PLO doesn't make it any better for me.

I'm in decent shape. About half the field is gone, a good number sitting out and I'm in the top 15%.

Shortly before the 2nd break and I busted out on a pretty crappy draw. I over-adjusted to a short handed table and an aggressive player and wound up picking the wrong spot to tangle with him.

WBCOOP Event 1 2010

The first tournament in the World Blogger Championship of Online Poker has started. It's a no-limit hold'em game with 2,000 starting chips and blinds increasing every minute.

I didn't intend on live-blogging about any of my play in this game but I'm so disgusted with myself I wanted to share.

First thing I did while waiting for the tournament to start was check out the stats of the players at my table. Considering you can only get into these events if you have an approved poker blog, I'm pretty surprised I only found one winning player.

Unfortunately for him, he busted out early when he ran his big pair into a bigger pair.

I made a horrible move myself. Not one that knocked me out but one that should have tripled me up.

I limp in from late position with a medium pair. I know that's my first mistake there. My thinking was if I hit my set on a good board I'm likely to get action from the players in the blinds that are likely to be in the pot with me.

Flop comes and I hit middle set on 7 high board. Flop is suited and connected. Not that great but I'm pretty sure I have the best hand.

Small blind checks, big blind bets 2/3rds the pot, I reraise 3x his bet. Now the small blind check raises all-in. Almost 2k chips into pot that's only 300 chips! Big blind has the SB and me covered and shoves as well.

Maybe I've been playing too many double or nothing's lately cause I did the nitty thing and folded. It's very rare that I fold a set. I got my action and then I chickened out. Reason was we were early in the game, I didn't have many chips committed and didn't want to be up against 2 players with so many draws out there.

Big mistake. I fold and small blind shows TPTK (on a 7 high board!) with a backdoor flush draw and BB has bottom two pair.

SB improved and took a big chunk out of the BB and I just stared at the screen with my mouth wide open. Obviously a bad lay down for me but in an unraised pot against blinds that are willing to go broke, I think it wasn't that bad.

A few hands later, the BB had chipped up again and I was in a raised pot with him. He kept playing back at me and all I kept thinking was bluff me once, shame on you, bluff me twice shame on me.

I wasn't very happy with my hand but after watching him play I was pretty sure I had him beat. We got it all in, my hand stood up and he was gone.

Now I'm trying to find a way to get the chips the SB owes me :)

Didn't work out too well... I busted out just before the second break with a couple hundred left till the bubble when I decided to race with the big stack to try and get some chips. I flopped a set but they made a 1 card flush to knock me out. Hopefully the other events go better. I'd like to win some SCOOP tickets.

AJ Is NOT A Monster

What is it about AJ that's so appealing as a starting hand in no-limit Texas Hold'em? I'm convinced it must be like some sort of donkey nip or something.

This should be an easy hand to fold in many situations but time after time people must look down at AJ and think they struck gold and do incredibly stupid things.

In the Double or Nothing SnGs, I am absolutely amazed by how many times I see the following scenario occur in the first level when blinds are only 10/20 and all 10 players pretty much have a full stack (75BB).

UTG raises to 80, UTG+1 folds, UTG+2 calls 80, UTG+3 folds, UTG+4 reraises to 270, HJ folds, CO Calls 270, BTN reraises to 1500 and is all in.

Then one of two things happens. Everybody folds, or there are one or two callers. BTN of course has AJo or AJs. Even when everyone folds, they're kind enough to flash their cards so that everybody can be relieved that they folded to such a powerful hand.

When this happens, I check their stats and it's what I expect, a very negative ROI player. The sad thing (for them, good for us) is that they really think they had the best hand. They're not showing off AJ as a bluff.

This is the type of Level 1 thinking you see frequently at microstakes games. They have no clue what all the action before them might mean. They just look at AJ and must think "Wow, how lucky am I!!?!?!? All this money in the pot and I have the good fortune of being dealt AJ!".

If in the first level of a SnG or tournament, you see all that action in front of you and still want to get involved with AJ, you're probably a horrible poker player. Especially in the early stages of a DoN. AK should usually be a fold there too.

The times when there are one or more callers, AJ is usually in pretty bad shape. Most of the times, AJ loses but once in a while it will suck out to win a big pot.

Lets look at why AJ is such a terrible hand in a raised pot.

With that much action, it's likely someone has a big pair. Against aces, AJ has 9% equity. Against KK, QQ or JJ it only has about 30% equity. You're basically drawing to 3 outs or a miracle straight or flush.

Against hands like AK and AQ, it's dominated, giving AJ only 27% equity against those two possibilities. Shoving into either AK or AQ will mean you'll lose 7 out of 3 times on average if called.

Against any pocket pair TT or less, AJ is still an underdog with about 46% equity. Your classic coin flip situation. This would be one of the better scenarios, but AJ is still behind here.

The best AJ can hope fore is that there was someone other idiot that decided to get it all in with KQ. In that case, AJ has 60% equity. Still not much better than flipping coins.

AJ is a hand I open fold frequently, even out of position in full ring cash games where I play looser, so I'm constantly amazed to see people willing to put their whole buy-in at stake with AJ within the first few hands of a tournament.

AJ is not a hand you should generally 3-bet with, definitely not 4 bet, and usually never call a raise with (especially out of position). But people do it over and over. Which I think is awesome! :) Except for those 3 times out of 10.

PokerStars Haiti Relief Fund Surpasses $1 Million

There haven't been any official numbers released announcing this yet, but I just looked at the tournament lobby and realized that the PokerStars Haiti Relief Appeal is going to bring in over $1 million that will be donated to the Red Cross to help out those affected by the Haiti earthquake.

PokerStars players have generously donated money from their bankrolls. Over $115k (probably quite a bit more now) through transfers to the 'Haiti Relief' account and almost 27,000 players signed up for one of the Haiti Earthquake Relief tournaments raising  $432k.

That' brings the total of player donations to over $547k. PokerStars.com will be matching player donations dollar for dollar which brings the total to over $1 million dollars.

This surpasses the amount of money PokerStars and it's players raised ($400k) in their Tsunami Relief Effort, which was the largest PokerStars charity drive before now. PokerStars also donated $50k to UNICEF in Alyssa Milano's Tweet Challenge.

Nice job everyone!

$50 Cash Game Challenge Update 1


I've been focused mainly on my DoN SnG Challenge, but with the recent downswing I needed a break and decided to throw in some sessions for my $50 Cash Game Challenge for a change of pace.

The DoNs can be brutal. The best strategy is to play those games super tight and playing that tight is no fun at all.

In cash games I play a bit looser, maybe too loose. I enjoy them so much more. I get to play more hands, I get to play position more, I get to play the players more. This is what playing poker should feel like.

Unfortunately things have been up and down in this challenge. It's been a while since I've played for this challenge and when I first posted it on this blog, I was almost back down to my starting bankroll of $50. The one good thing is I've never fallen below it.

I hit a few tables today and wound up increasing my bankroll to almost $69.

I hit some big hands and some bigger flops and was able to felt 4 people when my hand didn't get outdrawn or when I outdrew them. Too bad they were mostly short-stackers but I did manage to felt two in the same hand which was like being up against a real stack.

My winnings would have been a bit higher but I got in a tough spot with an over pair vs a flopped set. Luckily I gave up on the hand when I didn't improve to a set on the turn, but it cost me all my previous winnings at that table (and then some) to see one more card. Big pairs are so tough to lay down.

I didn't play as loose as I normally do, mainly because I wasn't getting much in the way of playable cards. The few times I did get some good holdings I was able to get paid off and the times I was behind I was able to figure it out before losing too much.

It's so refreshing to play these after the mind numbing DoNs, so I'll make sure to throw some sessions in when I get a chance and hopefully I can get this chart moving up in the right direction.

DoN SnG Challenge Update 4

In my last Double or Nothing Sit-N-Go Challenge update I mentioned that my bankroll was almost $400 and I would be increasing the number of tables I play at a time to 6, up from 4.

Things were going really well with 6 tables and I managed to get my challenge bankroll up to $439.

Then things got a little rocky as you can see from the chart. I went on a bit of a losing streak all the way down to around $350 where I switched back to 4 tables until I could re-evaluate what was going on.

I have an idea. I was playing bad. A combination of bad decisions, bad luck and stupid mistakes. I mean really stupid. A lot of misclicks.

As you can see from the chart, around session 120 I went on a tear. It felt like any time I threw chips in the pot, I got back 2-3x as many without any effort. This type of over confidence coupled with playing more tables really did me in. Once I wasn't winning every pot I played I had to play better, but I didn't.

There were also some bad beats along the way which didn't help.

I also give some players too much credit. At these micro limits, a lot of players don't think of anything other than what their cards are. They don't think of what your range might be. It's nearly impossible at times to steal and re-steal. I can fold for 6 orbits in a row, not even completing my small blind and the only hands they've seen me show are group I hands then they keep stealing my blind, I finally take a stand and they decide K2o, AJo, Arag or some other garbage is a good enough hand to call off 75% of their stack. If I'm restealing, I don't get lucky, if I have a hand they get lucky. At least that's how it's felt lately. Or whenever I'm shortstacked and find a hand I can push, someone wakes up with aces.

I have different strategies for different table types and players but I'm probably not using the right one at the right time.

Right now the challenge bankroll is at $386 and I've been getting my game back. It sucks to see almost 20% of your bankroll disappear, but these things happen, which is why it's important to follow good bankroll management practices.

Since my last update I also received my second Stellar Rewards Bonus, which is not being added to the bankroll. 

Time to continue making up the losses. I'll move back up to 6 tables at around $425-450. That will give me enough time to review those games and see how I might improve.

Spade Design Hoodie Backordered

I decided I was going to try and keep my FPPs reserved for bonuses, satellites and tournament tickets but I really wanted the new Spade Design Hooded sweatshirt. Especially since it was going to be on sale.

There was a lot of talk about this particular item on different forums so I made sure I got up early and ordered it shortly after it went on sale.

It turns out that a lot of people did indeed order it during the sale and some orders may be delayed.

Orders from the VIP store usually take a few weeks so I'm not sure what a delay may mean.

This is the email I received this morning.
Due to the huge number of orders for the Spade Design Hooded Sweatshirt during the January Sale, there may be a delay in sending out all the items.

We anticipated that this would be a popular item, but we were taken by surprise at just how popular. Due to the unprecedented demand we cannot meet all requests from our existing stock.

Rest assured all orders will be fulfilled, and many of them within the usual timeframe. For those that experience a delay, we are extremely sorry.

Thank you for your understanding and patience in this matter.
Sucks, but hopefully because I got my order in so early mine will ship on time.

Unfortunately the new sale page doesn't list the day the items will be on sale any more, just what the current sale item for the day is. I have some of the VIP Reward Bonus sale dates listed in a previous entry.

Update 1/30/10:  Just received an email that my spade design hoodie has shipped :)

Hyper Simple Way To Increase Poker Profits

Maybe this is just a coincidence, but one of the things that helped me improve my online poker game was changing the PokerStars table theme I used.

I'll be discussing some of the PokerStars Themes I've tried, giving the reasons why I use the one I settled with.  I'll be making references to the Wikipedia article on Color Symbolism and Psychology here and there. I don't know how much faith I put in Color Psychology but it's pretty interesting and seems like it might have some merit.

Update: After writing all this and thinking about what makes a good table theme I decided to try and make my own custom PokerStars table theme.

Alyssa Milano on PokerStars? Haiti Relief

In response to the devastating Haiti earthquake, PokerStars set up their Haiti Earthquake Appeal. Using your funds on PokerStars, you can make a donation to help Haitians that have been effected by this tragedy.

Every dollar that PokerStars players donate will be matched by PokerStars. You can donate by transferring funds to the account 'Haiti Fund' or you can sign up for a dummy tournament. And now you can even make a donation using your FPPs.

Stellar Rewards Tracker

With PokerStars new Stellar Reward Program  comes a new feature in the latest version of the PokerStars software to help you keep track of your progress in earning your next Stellar Rewards Bonus.

In the PokerStars cashier window there is a progress bar that lets you know how much your next bonus is and how close you are to reaching it. Clicking on the VIP Stellar Rewards button brings up another window showing you exactly how many more VIP Player Points (VPPs) you need until you reach the bonus.


I like this new feature because you don't have to remember when your Stellar Rewards Bonuses are due. Unlike VIP Reward Bonuses that you can purchase any time you have enough Frequent Player Points (FPPs), Stellar Reward Bonuses need to be purchased when you reach your VPP milestone and this progress bar will let you know how close you are every time you open the cashier window.

Whenever you attain a new VIP level, you get a congratulatory email from PokerStars but there is no email reminder that you are eligible for your Stellar Rewards Bonus. It would be nice if there was. Update: I was playing a set of DoN SnGs and as one of them finished, there was a pop-up window that congratulated me for attaining the next Stellar Rewards Bonus.

DoN SnG Challenge Update 3

Just a quick update on my DoN SnG Challenge.

I'm doing pretty well. My BR is up to $398.00 and I'll be adding two more tables bringing me to 6 tables at a time.

In my first update I discussed adding more tables when the bankroll gets to around $350-$400. The reason I chose this range is that 6 $5.40 tables totals $32.40. With a bankroll over $350 I don't have more than 10% of my bankroll at risk at any one time. For other types of games that might be cutting it thin but these games have little variance and I do well in them.

Currently, 6 games represents 8.14% of my challenge bankroll which gives me around 12 sessions. Some DoN regulars play for a set amount of time keeping a certain number of tables open at a time. When one game finishes, they open up another one. I prefer to open up all the tables when I start and then take a small break when they are all completed. It makes it easier for me to play when I'm at roughly the same stage at all the tables. The small break afterwards gives me time to decompress before starting a new set. For me, there is such a big difference between the first level and bubble that I need a few minutes to calm down.

Even in these low variance games bankroll management is very important as downswings do occur. For me Sundays continue to be just bad. I'm probably going to skip playing these on Sundays from now on. If I had skipped the last 2 Sundays my ROI would be substantially higher and I'd be almost half way to my first goal of $1,000. :( I've complained about playing DoNs on Sunday before so I won't vent here again.

During this challenge I've earned enough VIP Player Points (VPPs) to get my first $10 Stellar Rewards Bonus and close to getting my second. On the 25th I'll be purchasing getting a bonus when the $50 VIP Reward Bonus is on sale. I got some junk from the VIP Store last month and don't think I'll be able to get enough FPPs for a higher bonus. I wish I knew about the sale beforehand. I was happy I got the Pokerstars Scarf and Beanie but some of the other stuff I could have done without.

I've decided not to add the bonuses or rewards to this challenges' bankroll so the results are purely based on game play.

Overall things look to be on track for completing my first goal of $1,000 well before the 2 months I planned for it. Even with the crappy Sundays my stats aren't horrible and my chart continues to move up. With 2 more concurrent tables it should move up even faster if everything continues to go well.

Great Time To Purchase Pokerstars Bonuses!


Pokerstars is having a sale in their VIP Store between January 12-31. Some of the items include some of the VIP Rewards Bonuses. I previously discussed how to use the VIP Reward Bonuses as a way to get Pokerstars Rakeback.

Each day, a different item will be on sale. The sale price will be updated in the VIP Store between 5:00-7:00 AM ET and will be available at that price for 24 hours.

Below is a summary of the discounts on rewards including the date they will be on sale. The best deal for us small stake players is the $50 VIP Rewards Bonus.

Bonus
Original FPPs
Discounted FPPs
PCT Discount
$/FPP
Sale Date
$50
5,000
3,000
40%
$0.017
1/25/2010
$285
25,000
20,000
20%
$0.014
1/26/2010
$650
50,000
40,000
20%
$0.016
1/31/2010
$1,500
100,000
85,000
15%
$0.018
1/15/2010

Schedule your play to make sure you get enough FPPs by the day your desired bonus is on sale to take advantage of this great deal on VIP Bonuses. There is a restriction of one item per person which means you can only purchase one bonus at the sale price. 6,000 FPPs won't get you 2 $10 bonuses.


Some other nice items for sale are the Pokerstars Scarf and Beanie. Original FPP price was 1,700 and it will have a 50% discount on 1/12/2010 (today!) making it 850 FPP. I picked up the Pokerstars Scarf and Beanie as soon as it came out and I have to say that I'm very happy with it. Both are nice quality and helped keep me warm this winter. I like that it just has the Pokerstars Spade Logo instead of the text Pokerstars.com on it.

I had decided to use my FPPs for bonuses and tournament tickets but the new Spade Design Hoodie looks very cool. Normal price is 2,650 FPP but it's on sale for 1,800 FPP on the 16th. The sale price is cheaper than the standard Pokerstars Hoodie with the words PokerStars.com on it.

I was planning thinking of getting the hoodie anyway and I prefer the spade logo over the text.

Tournament tickets and Step Tickets are also reduced which make them a great value. Check the January Sale site for more items and details.

Why Do Donkeys Multi Table?

So I'm playing a few games for my Double or Nothing Sit-n-Go Challenge and I notice a few of the same players at all of my tables.

Some of them I recognize as solid DoN regulars but one I know is a losing player and after checking the stats of another I see he has poor stats as well.

Why?

I know this blog is only a few days old and only a few other people besides myself have visited it but maybe one day someone will land here and be able to answer the question?

The whole point of playing multiple tables is to capitalize on your win rate to multiply your hourly profit.

If you play one game at a time and average $3 per game and each game takes an hour, you're making $3/hr. If you were to play 6 games at a time your win rate will probably go down but lets say your average is still $2/game, you're now making $12/hr.

If you're average tells you you're losing money each game, playing more tables means you're just multiplying your loses.

I understand that most people play online poker for fun, and don't really care about winning any money and by all means keep it up! It doesn't cost a lot and it is entertaining. Does it make it 4x as much fun to play 4 tables?

Making the Hero Call Preflop

You're pretty far into a no limit hold'em tournament and at a critical point. Maybe right on or near the money/final table bubble or at one of Dan Harrington's inflection points. The short stack pushes the last of his chips into the pot and it gets folded around to you in the big blind. Eliminating this player and winning this pot would really benefit you. You peek at your hole cards hoping for aces but all you see are two rags. Do you still make the call?

The official definition of a hero call is calling a big bet with a marginal hand when you think your opponent might be bluffing with a weaker hand than yours. So maybe this should be referred to as a fearless call, where you make a call with a possibly weaker hand hoping to suck out on your opponent. You know your opponent could have a monster hand pre-flop but you say "screw you, I have plenty of chips and at least a 10% chance of winning. You want the pot you have to fight for it!"

This situation comes up a lot and sometimes you have to find the guts to make the fearless call.

Pokerstars Rakeback through Rewards and Bonuses

In 2010 there are some new changes at PokerStars that are especially nice to micro stakes poker players.

There are a lot of great things about PokerStars which helped it become the largest online poker room. One thing it lacks though, that other sites offer, is a PokerStars rakeback program. By signing up through a rakeback program you would receive a certain percentage of the rake you paid back each month on other sites. Around 30% is common.

You can use the VIP Program to help you get some of your rake back as cash at a rate similar to what other poker sites' rakeback programs offer. I'll explain how below in enough detail that new players can hopefully understand.

DoN SnG Challenge Update 2

Just a quick update on my Double or Nothing Sit-n-Go Challenge since I passed a sort of milestone.

I just doubled my working bankroll of $150 for this challenge and my bankroll is currently at around $310.

After 276 games I'm a bit disappointed with my win rate of only 60%.  In the past my win rate was closer 70% and I'm still trying to figure out how to get it back up there.

My ROI is almost 11% which is decent but if I can just bring my win rate up to 65% my ROI will almost double.

Looking around at the stats of some of the other DoN SnG regulars, it seems like maybe DoNs aren't as easy as they used to be.

In a while I'll start adding 2 more tables to my sets as my bankroll allows. That should help the graph move up faster.

I don't want to sound like I'm down on my results. These are pretty good. To put this in perspective, If I was a new player and made a $150 first time deposit, in addition to my $160 in winnings, I would have also cleared $30 in bonuses to bring my bankroll up to $340. In another 200 games or so my game winnings should be around $270 and I would have earned enough VPP to clear another $20 in bonuses and earned enough yearly VPP to get a $10 Stellar Rewards bonus to bring the bankroll up to around $480. In this hypothetical situation, by the time I cleared the total $150 bonus, my bankroll would be around $1,000.

You can see how starting with these DoN SnGs you can quickly build up a reasonable bankroll fairly quickly from a small deposit.

DoN SnG Challenge Update 1

I'm only 4 days into my Double or Nothing Sit-N-Go Challenge and I'm off to a decent start after 144 games. I have an $82.40 profit which brings my challenge bankroll up to $232.40. Not once did I dip below my starting bankroll of $150.

With $150 as a simulated deposit, I have played $777.60 worth of games.

First 3 days weren't great but they were profitable. My win rate was just over 60% and I had a $58 profit.

Then came Sunday. Sunday was just a horrible day. I'm not sure what it is but weekends aren't very good for me. I was surprised Friday and Saturday were as profitable as they were.

On weekends, you get a lot of fish, and that's supposed to be a good thing but it never seems to work out that way for me. I seem to lose many 80/20 and 70/30 situations.

DoN SnG Challenge

I've played quite a few of the $5 and $10 Double or Nothing Sit-n-Gos on Pokerstars and have done quite well in them so I decided to play them more formally, along with my $50 Cash Game Challenge.

What are Double or Nothing Sit and Gos?

Double or Nothing Sit-n-Gos (DoNs) are a type of single table tournament with 10 players. If you outlast 5 other players you win double your buy-in. So for example, in a $5 DoN you pay $5 + $0.40 in rake and if you win, you win $10.

You need to have a win rate of at least 55% just to break even but these games are fairly easy with the right strategy. They are also fairly low variance. A little over 60% win rate will give you about an 11% ROI, 75% win rate will achieve a 30% ROI and a 75% win rate will give you close to a 40% ROI.

My DoN SnG Plan

My plan is to start playing the $5.40 DoNs 4 tables at a time with a starting bankroll of $150. That's enough to cover almost 28 games or almost 7 4 table sessions. Since these are low variance games that should be plenty since historically my win rate is about 70%. It was higher at one point but either the players have changed or I have and part of this challenge is to get me playing these games better to increase my win rate.

If my starting bankroll dips down too far I'll reduce the number of tables I play at a time.

My first goal is to reach $1,000 within 2 months.

Once my working bankroll for this challenge reaches $1,000 I will start moving up my buy-in. When I move up a level, I'll start playing one table at a time, then two and 4 as I feel more comfortable. If I determine that the new buy-in level isn't as profitable as the previous one, I'll move back down, possibly increasing the number of tables I play at a time.

One other issue with moving up in buy-ins is that the tables don't fill up as fast above $10 and that may cause me to stick to my current level. Right now, looking at the Pokerstars lobby, There is only one $108 DoN upcoming and nobody has registered. There are 4 $54 DoNs and 8 $21.60 DoNs but they are taking a long time to fill up.

Below is a table showing how I plan to move up in buy-ins as my bankroll increases. As you increase in levels, the players are a bit better and my win rate might drop and there might be higher variance. To account for that I'm allowing for more buy-ins for the higher levels.
Buy-In Bankroll Num Buy-Ins
$5.40 $150 27.78
$10.80 $1,000 92.59
$21.60 $4,000 185.19
$54.00 $12,000 222.22
$108.00 $25,000 231.48

As I mentioned, I'm going to start playing 4 tables at a time in the $5.40 level but as my bankroll increases I'll increase the number of concurrent tables I play as long as the total number of tables I play at one time is less than 10% of my bankroll. As I move up in levels I'll probably give myself a bigger cushion. To give you an idea of what that might look like the following table shows what the maximum simultaneous tables I'm allowed to play based on my bankroll.
Max tables at $5.40
BankrollMax Tables
$501
$1002
$2004
$3506
$5008
$75010

Since I've played many of these before, I'm comfortable starting at 4 tables even though it's below my requirements. If you're reading this and want to try this challenge I advice you start with 1 table at a time until you get the hang of it, then 2 then 4. If you aren't making as much with more tables, move down to fewer.

My goal here isn't to play as many tables as I can at a time, it's to hopefully move up in levels and still play well.

I'll be keeping a chart of my progress on the sidebar of this blog (as well as the top of this post) so you can track my results. Click the following link to see all DoN SnG Challenge Updates.

$50 Cash Game Challenge

I've mainly been plaing sit-n-go's (SnGs) and multi-table tournaments (MTTs) but I want to focus more on my cash game play. Having been inspired reading how Chris Ferguson had turned $0 into $10,000 and that Tom Dwan (durrr) started with only a single deposit of $50 and now has won millions in online poker, I thought I would give myself a similar challenge.

My goal is to start out with an initial bankroll of $50 playing no-limit texas hold'em full ring (9 player) cash games and work my way through the limits. I'm hoping that I can move up a limit every 6 months or so.

It's really going to depend on how often I can fit in sessions as I'm playing other games as well for other challenges. A few hours a week shouldn't be to hard though.

Below I'll discuss the bankroll management strategy to help me get through this challenge.

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