I think I play pretty well but I know that I can improve my cash game results. I hate saying that I make mistakes because I think there are a lot of different ways to play, but yeah, I probably make some mistakes.
I've been looking at poker training sites for months now trying to decide which one to join. I read different reviews for poker training sites throughout the web, I watched sample videos, I looked at stats of their coaches, etc.
It's such a pain in the ass because I don't like to feel that I wasted time and money so I do a lot of research on important decisions. Not that the cost of a training site is that big but there's a lot of time involved and the implications of choosing the wrong site can really set me back. Plus players constantly evolve and the game changes and it's important to keep up. Watching a few videos is nice but it's better to commit to a long period so that you can keep up with changes and really let what you're seeing soak in without rushing it.
It seems like everyone and their brother has a training site now. For the most part a lot of them are at least okay. Some sites are going to be better than others for certain games, some coaches are better than others, sometimes it's just a matter of what teaching style works for you.
For me, my primary objective was improving my cash game, specifically No Limit Hold'em, because that's where I feel there's the most potential to consistently make good money and keep a flexible schedule.
Of all the videos I saw there was one poker video coach that really clicked with me, Phil Galfond. So as of yesterday I am a member of his poker training site.
ZOMG! It's OMGClayAikenThe way Phil describes the action is very thorough and makes a whole lot of sense to me. There were times when I was watching a video and thought "why did he just do that?" and it's like video Phil read my mind and answered it in a way that I completely understood. That was a little creepy but not enough to dissuade me from continuing.I just make sure to wear my tin-foil hat when I'm thinking about personal things I don't want video Phil to hear.
There were some publicly available videos where Phil reviewed hands from the Durrrr Challenge. During his excellent analysis discussing hand ranges and tendencies and number of possible combinations he stopped and said something like "I'm going too far. People will find this boring." Noooooo! NOOOOOOOOO! I screamed as I grabbed my monitor and tried to shake some sense into him. It was like that time in high school where my girlfriend decided she was ready to go all the way and then her brother came home unexpectedly just as things were getting good.
Tell me how 80% of the time he'll have these 30 combination of hands and 20% of the time he'll have these combinations so we can shove Ace-high for value. Tell me how there's more thin value hands and bluffs in his range than strong value hands and we can check raise bluff shove any two. Tell me how his range looks strong and we have to fold QQ on an 8-high board. It's not boring, it's like music to my ears. Tell me all night long!!!!!
Errrr... Where was I. Oh yeah. So now I have unabridged access to pure poker genius where he doesn't stop because he thinks it might be too in depth. As you've probably guessed, I'm pretty excited.
Here was this quiet looking millionaire kid with a ton of chips in front of him sitting with some big names in poker, casually sipping from a gallon jug of water between hands. He looked like anyone of me or my friends in college late at night working on a project or playing a video game but he was doing something that was so much more incredible than we were..
His affiliation and responsibility in choosing other coaches made me feel more comfortable joining a site that hasn't been around as long as some of the other training sites. He may leave you penniless if you face off with him on the felt, but he doesn't seem the type to be involved in a site that's not going to give you your money's worth. I've never met him but the good guys tend to be easy to spot.
I was also recently contacted by Ryan who works at BluefirePoker. I guess I put a link to their site in a post that I don't remember and he wanted to let me know I was sending them a good bit of traffic and that I should join their affiliate program. I've been doing things online for a long time now and I have never, ever, had someone contact me and tell me I'm sending them free traffic and suggest I monetize it at their expense. That just doesn't happen, and not just because I'm a bit of a whore when it comes to links and trying to get something out of them. :) That's a really stand up thing to do and with the scandals that some of the other training sites have had it's nice to know that the people at BluefirePoker have such integrity.
Good Training for Small and Micro Stakes Players TooThe videos Phil Galfond makes are for mid and high stakes NLHE and PLO, a weeeee bit out of my current bankroll (for now) but I still find a lot of what he says helpful. Even though I know certain things won't work at micro stakes games there's a lot that is applicable and helps me better understand different situations. Just listening to him talk through hands as the game progresses and trying to digest it helps my general understanding of the game and should improve my poker instincts.
What I've been realizing is that learning about advanced poker plays and topics does help at micro stakes but I shouldn't make the mistake of thinking my opponents know and understand those concepts. For example, just because I perfectly represented a hand doesn't mean my opponent understands my line is strong and they should fold top pair no kicker. Check-raise river bluffs don't do so well. There's a big difference between trying to get someone to fold a medium strength hand for $5,000 than there is for $5.
More than Just Phil GalfondWhile Galfond is the main draw to the site there are other great coaches that make videos including micro stakes cash game videos.
I saw some small stakes videos from Martin Fournier Giguère (AKA Dr Giggy) that I thought were very good. He plays like I think I play. (Maybe how I want to play is more accurate.) A bit loose but not a complete maniac. There's a lot I could learn from his videos because they really suit my style. The things he does aren't completely foreign to me and what I've seen so far is really helping to hone my game.
I'm playing full ring NLHE in my cash game challenge and there's not a lot in the way of full ring cash videos on BluefirePoker but that's not a big surprise as 6-max seems to be the dominant choice on most poker training sites. I've always played full ring similar to 6-max so that's not a problem. (Side note: I probably play 6-max more like heads up as a result which is why I've had some difficulty there.)
6-max and full ring strategy. There are certain adjustments you need to make because of the three extra seats and the tendencies and ranges of players at full ring. Watch this video and it's easy to apply what you learn from other 6-max videos to full ring.
There are other good coaches including 2011 WSOP November Niner Jason Senti and Ryan Fees, who wrote a great eBook on 6-max cash games, has done some guest videos for BluefirePoker. There are many more but I haven't had time to check them all out and form an opinion.
Features Accomplished SnG and MTT PlayersI knew for a while now that I wanted to join BluefirePoker. The only thing holding me back was that I didn't want to have to join two different sites. When I first looked at BluefirePoker they only had cash game videos, which meant I'd have to join a second site for MTT and SnG help. Now they've added a bunch of SnG pros to their site that make both SnG and MTT videos so that's not an issue anymore.
One of their new SnG Pros is Brian 'bfizz11' Fite who I talked about in previous posts because I attended a couple of his MTT webinars. When I first contacted Brian I didn't realize he made videos for BluefirePoker so this is a really happy coincidence for me.
I've already watched some videos and downloaded some others to a USB drive that I connect to my TV so I can watch later. I'm already very happy with my decision. The quality of the videos is very good and the instruction is awesome. The videos aren't as flashy as some of the other sites but that doesn't matter to me. I want to learn poker, not watch cartoons.
Even though I'm currently only at 10NL for my Cash Game Challenge the membership rates are reasonable (less than 4 buyins a month) and I'm getting ready to move up to 25NL soon.
Part of it might be the tight bankroll rules that didn't leave me with much room for error but other parts were having to deal with better players at those stakes. Many of whom are members of training sites themselves.
If I want to compete at higher levels I can't be vain and think I just have some raw poker talent and will figure things out on my own. I mean, if I wanted to become a surgeon I'd go to med school, I wouldn't just start hacking into people's bodies until I figured out how to do it right. The videos on BluefirePoker will speed up my progress and save me money.
Maybe my choice in domain name was short-sighted. I never intended to stay a micro stakes player and I feel that joining BluefirePoker is an important step in achieving my long-term poker goals.
BluefirePoker offers a 7-day trial period which gives you free and full access to their poker videos during the trial. Give them a shot. I think you'll be as impressed as I am.