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An NJ Grinder's Journey as a Pro An NJ Grinder's Journey as a Pro

03-21-2022 , 06:07 PM
I've hit a bit of a funk since my last post. However, there's been a lot of good to take away from it, as I think this is the most productive funk I've ever been in.

I lost somewhat big amounts on 2/7, 2/8, and 2/10. As I had planned earlier in the week, I took Saturday 2/11 off to go to the Meadowlands Beer Expo then back to my buddy Aaren's house to hang out with some friends. He was having a Super Bowl party the next day so we all hung out and drank quite a bit. Kyle, my friend I used to live with, brings his dog when he comes over. I lived with Desmond for 3 years so it's always great to see him and hang out with him again! However by 2am he has typically had enough:



The next day was Valentine's Day and I'd also planned on taking that day off to take Amy to dinner and spend time with her afterwards. I woke up to this on the kitchen table:



She knows the way to my heart is sugar. Speaking of which, I haven't drank soda since January 28. I am not exaggerating when I say I think I have a similar relationship to soda that an alcoholic has to alcohol. I know it's bad for me. I drink a ton of it anyway. I often feel guilty after I do so. And I CANNOT drink it in moderation. It was extremely rare for me to have <2 cans of Coke in a day. One year I gave it up for Lent (40 days) then decided to see how long I could go without it. I went over a full year with no soda, then decided to try to drink it once in a while, and within a week I was having 2+ cans a day again. I think it comes down to impulse control. Without any serious sort of structure in my life I'm often able to do whatever I want whenever I want. More so at least than someone who needs to wake up at 7AM, be at work at 8, have those papers on the boss's desk at 10, take his lunch at noon, leave at 5, home at 6, make dinner at 7, bed by 10, etc. Without that structure I can more or less act on my every whim to do whatever I feel like doing, which is nice and can be a huge benefit, but also leads to bad things if I'm unable to resist the urge to do the negative stuff. So for now I'm going to continue to not drink soda. I want to attempt to have other things in moderation while I do this, like fast food and candy. If I can resist the urge to get McDonald's or Chipotle every time I feel like eating it, then maybe I'll reintroduce soda and only have it in specific instances. But for now, zero soda!

With all this planned time off coming right after some big losing sessions, it was tough to get back into a rhythm. I'm never DYING to play poker the way I did when I was younger. I don't dread it either, but when memories of big losses come up when I go to sit down, it becomes easier to make excuses as to why I shouldn't play. I played Tuesday 2/15 then took off the next 2 days. I did play every day from 2/20 through 3/1 but lost a bunch those days as well. It really came down to 2 big losing days, Thursday 2/24 where I lost a couple buy ins at high stakes, and Sunday 2/27 where I got pretty beat up in a MTT session.

I took off Wednesday 3/2 to go to bar trivia with my friends. We are smart, but not smart enough to avoid going to the bar that doesn't let you use your $20 prize on the $100+ tab you've accumulated that night. "Sorry, you can't use it tonight, have to come back another time."



I played the next day then took Friday and Saturday off. I'm catching myself now when I do this. I've been down-swinging and one of my good qualities is I don't ever force things when I'm not in a good state of mind. I often go too far the other way though where I take too much time off and cost myself that way. I think what I do is better than the guy who fires every day and loses more than he should be, but I want to get closer to that perfect middle ground. So I caught myself slipping a little and have not taken more than 2 days off per week since then. I've been studying mixed games for a few months now and when I struggled to put a NLHE cash session in I'd play some stud8 or watch a razz video. Some nights when cash felt daunting I played a few tournaments. I'm still downswinging but I feel healthy about how I'm thinking about it and I have no doubts about getting out of it. I'm focused on the process and I think I'm making strides in all areas of life. This is always what I aspired to be when I was younger: A good poker player who often wins but acts like a professional when he loses. In the past when I've had this positive mentality in the midst of a downswing, the downswing often ends shortly. I hope that is also the case this time, but if experience has taught me anything, the most important thing to focus on is the process, not the results.
An NJ Grinder's Journey as a Pro Quote
03-21-2022 , 07:18 PM
Don't worry the scam bots kept your thread warm with 30 posts a day for awhile.

I feel you on the soda, I was the exact same way. I haven't had it in a few years now and I rarely actively miss it, it's mostly like it just doesn't even exist as an option. I have very good discipline with all or nothing but bad discipline as well with moderation. It'd be nice if you could just enjoy it in moderation but at the end of the day soda is pure crap and no nutritional value, so if you have to just give it up completely you're better off!

Gl climbing out of the downswing!
An NJ Grinder's Journey as a Pro Quote
03-22-2022 , 12:30 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheTyman9
Don't worry the scam bots kept your thread warm with 30 posts a day for awhile.

I feel you on the soda, I was the exact same way. I haven't had it in a few years now and I rarely actively miss it, it's mostly like it just doesn't even exist as an option. I have very good discipline with all or nothing but bad discipline as well with moderation. It'd be nice if you could just enjoy it in moderation but at the end of the day soda is pure crap and no nutritional value, so if you have to just give it up completely you're better off!

Gl climbing out of the downswing!
Haha I saw that! I think I was planning on making a post one of those days but the thread got locked in an attempt to get rid of them. Then I got a bit lazy with writing when it was unlocked.

Yeah soda definitely doesn't add anything so you're right that it makes the most sense to simply not go back at all.

Thanks!
An NJ Grinder's Journey as a Pro Quote
03-24-2022 , 12:37 PM
How is the leg feeling?
An NJ Grinder's Journey as a Pro Quote
03-24-2022 , 01:25 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by BRm34eva
How is the leg feeling?
I've ran once a week or so over the course of the past month. I run 2-3 miles and feel okay but both calves are extremely tight afterwards. I've done a lot of stretching and when I run the next week I feel alright. I imagine if I ran 3 or more times per week I'd injure myself. I haven't been to a doctor in a while so probably time to get a routine physical and ask for some advice on what to do next. It's sorta awkward since I'm not sure I'm motivated enough to get back to running 5+ times per week anyway. But it'd definitely be nice to at least have the option.
An NJ Grinder's Journey as a Pro Quote
03-31-2022 , 02:48 PM
Lost a bunch last week and after a poor Sunday session I realized I needed to talk to someone about it. I got some great input from my backers and realized some important things on Monday:

1) Priorities Not in Order

Poker was not high enough on my list of things I was putting a lot of time and attention into. The weird thing about this downswing is I've felt like I've been doing everything right. I listed a bunch of these things in my last post. However, for probably the first time ever, I haven't been hard *enough* on myself. I was doing a good job of not being overly self-critical but I went too far the other way. In an attempt to be professional I was shrugging off this downswing as an inevitability. Everyone goes through tough stretches and I've been getting more and more comfortable playing higher and higher stakes. Surely this was simply bound to happen?

In reality, while I was playing poker 5 days a week as scheduled, there were waaay too many sessions where I sat down, played an hour, lost a few buy ins, got frustrated and quit. There was no professionalism there. Rather than sitting down to grind out a scheduled session I was simply going through the motions. There wasn't an in depth level of concentration. I was basically hoping to win some buy ins early to get momentum and when that didn't happen I gave up on things.

2) Play Tighter

I went into my session Tuesday thinking "I'm going to be a professional and play from 8-12 regardless of how things go. But in an effort to make it easier to put in these hours, I need to play tighter." I've been forcing things for a while now. Convincing myself that folding certain spots is exploitable, that theory would never, that I need to find bluffs in every spot and call down at proper frequencies, etc. In my mind I was playing good poker and running bad. I played tighter on Tuesday and couldn't believe how much more relaxed I felt. This guy's probably bluffing me here and I'm not at the bottom of my range and MDF suggests I continue in some capacity here...nahhhhhh forget all that, I fold, next hand. Continuing in that hand might gain a tiny bit of EV. But the EV I gain by not making some big mistake later in the hand that would lead to be quitting my session far outweighs any equity I'm eeking out by not folding now. When I got back to that baseline it became easier to bluff catch in the more obvious spots. I had a spot where I faced a 1bb cbet in a SRP with AJ on A52, 150% on K turn, and 150% on 6 river. This hand came about 90 minutes into my session. I'd already established this tight baseline where I haven't overly complicated spots earlier in hands. Now that I'm feeling grounded and relaxed in my session, it's easier to look at this hand and make a decision that I'll be comfortable with whether I win or lose. Villain is reg who is capable of using these sizings as a bluff, I'm pretty high in my range, call. Great, regardless of outcome I'm still going to feel good about my session. In past sessions I'd be living and dying on this result and if I lost the pot I'd be completely mentally checked out. The initial 90 minutes of playing tight led to this spot being one where I felt in control of my decision making and ready to keep playing even if I lost this 120bb srp that's gotten huge outta nowhere.
Spoiler:
Villain had JT but I do think I would've felt fine if I clicked call and lost.


There were other things we talked about that were helpful but I think those were the two biggest. I needed to prioritize poker and I needed to simplify my game a bit in order to stay locked in for longer sessions. I'm going to continue working at getting better and really understanding more complex theoretical lines but until then it's fine to click fold a little more often. I think that's why I was as successful as I was last year in my first year of cash. There was some healthy respect for the money I was playing with and that sort of fear of losing a big pot led to me playing tighter than I might have otherwise. As I've gotten more comfortable with the stakes I've been more willing to stack off in certain spots, which in general is good. But it can lead to carelessness and I think that's something I've run into recently without realizing it.

I got on the computer at 7:45 on Tuesday and realized Stars had 3 NJSCOOP tournaments running that awarded trophies to 1st place. They were all listed as event 10 with the high ($500), medium ($100), and low ($30) buy in price points. I'm a sucker for trophies so I hopped in those 3 while playing cash. I committed to not going over 6 total tables so I was 3 tabling cash for the most part while playing the 3 MTTs. As time went on and I felt comfortable with those 6 tables I'd add a 7th or 8th if any of the cash games were good. I realized that the hours I would often play cash and then give up were riddled with a bunch of the tougher regs. By staying on for a full 4 hours there were stretches where games were better than I could remember them being in months. I'd simply not been playing long enough to see the distribution of tough/easy games! Eventually I busted the $100 tournament and now had 4-6 cash tables running alongside the 2 tourneys and felt in a good rhythm. I was experiencing flow for the first time in a long time. I didn't watch any youtube videos on the side or browse reddit or anything, I was locked in. It was sorta sad to realize how long it'd been since I'd been this focused. I felt like I was being a pro this whole time and in reality I wasn't being professional at all. While part of me was disappointed with this realization, a bigger part of me was excited that I'd found a way to get out of the funk I'd been in. I was feeling desperate because I felt helpless. Now I realized there was so much I could do to better control my results.

At midnight I stopped playing cash to focus on the tournaments. Cash had gone very well. I felt good and relaxed while I played, my decision making process was good, I'd played 4 straight hours, and I had a winning session. The $500 event had almost 10k up top, and while I was hoping to win it, I realized that the success of the cash session was what I needed to focus on. MTTs have so much variance and you often don't have a ton of control over the outcomes. The more attentive you are to your games the better your chances are but the reality is you'll need to get quite lucky to actually win. Cash however is the kind of thing that the more effort you put in, the better your results are. I'd realized that on Tuesday and that was what I needed to focus on going forward.



I'd be lying though if I said I wasn't excited about winning NJSCOOP event #10 twice for 2 trophies

An NJ Grinder's Journey as a Pro Quote
04-01-2022 , 01:20 AM
Nice post. Tommy Angelo, wrote someplace that he folds the first hand to get the feel of folding and settling into the session and it always kinda stuck with me. The first hand, you're not quite ready to make huge decisions and they can have downstream effects for the rest of the session. I suppose thats why people do a poker warmup, though I never have.
An NJ Grinder's Journey as a Pro Quote
04-01-2022 , 09:43 AM
Congrats on the score, double trophy for same event may be a new record for NJCOOP [emoji23]

For cash games, ending the session early after losing a bunch of buy-ins is not a bad strategy. Itís hard to continue to play optimally and the games are more likely than not tougher. Nothing wrong with a 20 min break to reset and start over later.
An NJ Grinder's Journey as a Pro Quote
04-01-2022 , 11:57 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by JasonP530
Nice post. Tommy Angelo, wrote someplace that he folds the first hand to get the feel of folding and settling into the session and it always kinda stuck with me. The first hand, you're not quite ready to make huge decisions and they can have downstream effects for the rest of the session. I suppose thats why people do a poker warmup, though I never have.
I wouldn't ever take it that far but I do like the sentiment. I might fold the bottom of my opening range. Or if I have a hand that 3b's half the time and folds half the time I'll just fold it 100% early in a session. I think most people do the complete opposite. Fired up to play and get in there with ranges they otherwise wouldn't.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fast11375
Congrats on the score, double trophy for same event may be a new record for NJCOOP [emoji23]

For cash games, ending the session early after losing a bunch of buy-ins is not a bad strategy. Itís hard to continue to play optimally and the games are more likely than not tougher. Nothing wrong with a 20 min break to reset and start over later.
Eh not the first time I've done it no trophies for those two though



I agree that it's often good to stop after losing buy ins. However, I was going in with an awful mindset and subconsciously looking for a reason to quit. There were really no sessions where I was mentally tough enough to grind through a little early adversity. I think as a pro you gotta be able to do this at least some of the time.
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05-07-2022 , 06:29 PM
Vegas Trip Report

It's been a while! I'm gonna try to update once a week again throughout May before heading to Vegas for the WSOP in June.

My English buddy Max came to town on April 25 and we spent a week in Hoboken before flying to Las Vegas. He's been an online pro for 10+ years and had yet to see Vegas so it felt like a must. We went to The Edge in NYC, a building I can see from my apartment window. It features the Western Hemisphere's tallest outdoor observatory which includes a section of the floor that is made of glass.

From the bottom:



From the top:



Hoboken from The Edge (foggy conditions):



On Saturday the 30th we flew to Las Vegas. What would normally be a 15 minute car ride from the airport to the Linq pushed up closer to an hour due to this still blocking up traffic:



Side note: I wrote a novel's worth of words about some hands I played on the trip. I'm going to put the hands in spoiler tags so that you can skip over them if you're not interested in getting into the weeds with these spots.

The first couple days we walked around a ton, seeing as many casinos on the strip as we could, drinking and playing some low stakes video poker in each spot we went to. After a while we got bored of that and Max was excited to finally play some Las Vegas poker tournaments, even if there wasn't anything all that big going on. The Venetian had a small series running so we played a $400 there on Monday 5/2, then a $300 KO that night. The next day we went to the Wynn to play their $200 daily at noon, then back to the Venetian for another $300 KO at night. On the 4th we were back to the Wynn for the daily. It was pretty fun playing these tournaments. It reminded me of when I was younger and grinding a bunch of the smaller live stuff except it was way less stressful and I clearly had a much bigger edge. I bricked everything I played with some funny hands mixed in.

Spoiler:
In the Venetian $400 on Monday I shoved 37k at 1500bb with 33 from the BB, after action went MP limp, CO iso to 5k. The CO had been quite active so it seemed like a fine spot until MP announces loudly, "I call!" CO folds, I turn my 33 over, and MP screams, "oh no!!" Welp, guess he has deuces! After he turns them over and starts lamenting the fact that I could've had AK I made sure to let him know that it wasn't over yet. The dealer agreed as she spread the K72 flop and I was off to do something else.

The next day at the Wynn daily I found myself very short after losing a pot right before break. 2 limps to me at 1500bb and I'm all in from the BB with 44 and 11k. UTG shoves his 20k and it appears we've run into the ol aces limp. When he turns his A3s over I once again find myself dominating a hand I assumed must be dominating me with a small pair, and once again I need to go find something else to do after the flop comes ace high. Fortunately Max's luck (and skill probably) was better in this one as he went somewhat deep before finishing 14th with 11 paying. He was determined to get that Vegas cash for the Hendon profile though so we continued on.


We played the $300 KO that night at the Venetian and after busting my 1 bullet I decided it was time to play some live cash. I hadn't planned on this being much of a poker trip but I was glad it was once we started to get in the flow of things. Being walking distance from so many casinos from our room at the Linq was a real convenience, especially since cash is a very real option for me at this point. The only other time I've been on a poker trip since the start of taking cash seriously was last November, and I was preoccupied with the Main Event that trip. Due to the pandemic there hasn't been any other real live poker for me in the 1.5 years or so of me grinding online cash. So this trip ended up proving to be a great way for me to start to get the hang of live cash in a low stress environment.

As Max continued on in the $300 KO I hopped in the 3/5, a $1200 max buy in. I got on the list, bought 2k in chips from the cage, putting 8 blacks in my bag in case I needed to top up, and eventually a new game started. I was really interested to see how many regs there were compared to fish, if there were going to be any whales or if it'd just be a relatively nitty game, etc. I really had no idea what to expect going in.

The game proved to be quite good with 2 players willing to put a lot of money in quite often. I'd argue there were 0 players at the table I'd consider regs. Definitely regs of the room but just way too much limping and other nonsense for me to feel too concerned about anything. I guess near the end of the session a guy came who was clearly better than everyone else but again he was just tight and seemed capable of hand reading a bit against fish.

Spoiler:
One of my first hands of the session I open 54dd to 20 from the HJ, bb defends. 962dd I cb 25 she calls, turn 8h she donks 50. In general I really like raising flop donks against weaker players since they're often trying to "find out where they're at" so I like to promptly tell them it's time to fold. However on turns I'm not sure that's always true, so I decide to take my equity and call. River is a 4, we go check check, she shakes her hand and turns over AJo. This hand really was nice for me to see right off the bat how these games were gonna be. It was going to be important I realize how wide and random ranges can be. After getting used to online where almost every table is 5 regs and a rec, I was going to need to be conscious of the fact that these live tables might be the complete opposite.

Later on EP mins to $10. I'd seen him do this with T9o before, it seems like he simply liked to build pots pre, so I'm not giving him credit for any sort of solid range. I 3b to 35 with QJhh from MP and 3 players call including the opener. This is also something I'm going to need to get used to, although after a few hours of playing live I think I've already adjusted to it. Cold calling 3b's is super common from pretty much everyone in these games, so you need to be conscious of this when choosing 3b sizings. You're not only trying to make it a size that makes the opener indifferent; you have to keep in mind that players behind might peel which can cause a cascade of other players calling. Flop comes 643hh, two checks to me and I decide to check, btn also checks, turn Ac. Checks to me again and I bet 85 into 140, btn folds, bb calls, ep folds. This btn had been playing a ton of hands, lots of cold calling vs 3b, snap calls w/e size you make it vs limp, so I still think he can have a ton of stuff here. Lots of pair plus straight draws and probably some other flush draws as well. River 9s and he checks. In theory bluffing hearts isn't great but I don't think I have too many other hands to choose from here. Add to that that I'm not worried about theory at all given what I think his range looks like. I decide to bet a size that folds out K high flush draws and the occasional 65,54,53,K5 types of hands. I bet 125 into 300. He tanks forever then calls 53. Whoops! Tbh the really long tank makes me think my bet is still fine, but clearly I did not expect him to call with that hand and it's gonna make my bluff a little worse depending on how often he calls there. But I'll have a ton of AK,AQ,AJ,AT,A9 so it's clear his call is losing a lot, just unfortunate for me to have the bluff when he does decide to call. I tried to be quite friendly and tell him what a great call it was and all that. Working hard at my live pro skills!

An hour or so later I open to 20 in CO w 97ss, bb defends, he's also been playing a ton of hands and getting in there. Flop A97cc I bet 30 into 40 hoping to win a big pot against Ax (I never expect this guy to fold a pair of aces at any point for any non-massive size), he calls. Turn 4c I bet 75 into 100. Flush gets there of course but again I still don't think this guy is ever folding an ace and I want to keep getting value from that, from T8,86, possibly like JT with or without a club, I think there's so many hands this guy will call with that are worse. He calls, river Kx, he checks, I bet 125. Part of the reason I was happy to bluff the QJhh is that when it doesn't get through, I'll make sure to turn the hand over and let the table see that I'll bet "big" on rivers with a bluff (125 into 300 isn't big but most people are looking at it as "$125 is a lot of money" as opposed to the size of the pot I think). So after showing my hand down I decide to go 125 exactly into 250. I think betting around half pot is good anyway here but I want to bet the exact same size I bet before when I was bluffing in case this guy wants to read into it. I'm not sure if he did or not but in any case he now makes it 300. Uh oh! Let's break this down a bit.

A check raise on the river is representing a flush. I really don't think he's going to check/raise 2p or a set when I've bet 3 times on this board (though I could be wrong and wouldn't have been shocked if he had that). I think if he had 2 pair before the river he already would've put more money in, and with the river being a K it's less likely he's rivered 2p since AK 3b's pre and I have both a 9 and 7 in my hand, so he probably doesn't have that much 2p anyway. I also think a set would've put more money in on flop or turn but again, not many combos of those. So we're down to flushes for value. There are 2 ways I normally see fish play flushes in this spot. They x/r turn, or they x/c turn and donk river. Neither of those things happened here. So with all of this in mind, combined with the great price I was getting (175 to win 725, better than 4:1), I made the call, hoping to see a hand like T8 or maybe like a Kc7x kind of hand. Instead he turns over ATo for top pair and I scoop the pot. He turned his hand over quickly so I'm very confused as to what his intention was with that river x/r but in any case I win the pot.

The table gets extremely nitty after those 2 guys leave and I'm sitting still waiting for Max to finish his tourney. Another player sits and immediately opens A9o in HJ so I'm hoping he'll generate some action. He opens MP to 15, I 3b TT in SB to 65, he calls, flop KQ4. I decide to just bet range for 45, not sure if this is great live but I don't have any reads on him so I default to theory (I think small with range is fine on this board? Maybe supposed to go bigger idk). He calls, but the way he thinks on flop makes me pretty confident he has a weaker type of hand that wasn't sure if it wanted to call or not. TT is not a hand I'm going to bluff anyway, but I for sure would've tripled off way wider based on this live read with hands like AJ,AT,JT. None of those hands would've been bluffs though after the turn is a T. He only has like 400 back and there's 220 in the pot so I bet 110, he more or less snap shoves, I call, river brick, I show my hand, he says "guess I didn't wanna make 2p on turn" and shows QT. Woah! Case T for the stack. The icing on the cake is my read of his hand strength on flop was correct.


Max managed to take 3rd in the KO for like $1200 plus 5 bounties or so. I headed out from my session with him after he busted around 2:30am. 5 hour session finished up $525 but more importantly felt very comfortable playing live cash.

Spoiler:
Rinse and repeat the next day at the Wynn. I bust the $200 tourney and while Max soldiers on I get into the 2/5 game. This is a $1500 max so I sit with that amount and quickly win a nice pot when I 3b QQ, flop top set, bet flop and turn before shoving river. Villain folds but we got about 300 each in before that. Next hand off the deck I'm dealt KK and open to 20. Short in CO shoves 120, bb cold calls! He's maybe 1500 deep, I make it 380, he calls again! Flop K52hhs good lord. He checks, I bet 250 into the pot of 880 (360 in main 520 in side), he calls. Turn 3s and he open shoves about 1k, I call, river brick, he lets out a loud sigh as the river hits. I show my hand, he flashes me a 5 and mucks. I wish I could remember the suits but the way he reacted to the river really made me think he missed a draw and didn't actually have the set of 5s. In any case, he put 380 in pre with a 5 in his hand in a 2/5 game! That was quite the eye opener for me as to just how good some of these games can be. About 2 hours later Max busted 9th for another cash and I cashed out of the 2/5 for 3250 or so, a $1750 profit.


The next day, Thursday the 5th, we got breakfast then headed to New York New York to ride the roller coaster. We'd tried earlier in the week but it was closed due to high winds. This time we were good to go and it was pretty cool. A bit bumpy especially for a skinny tall guy but I'm glad we did it. We then headed to Fremont Street so Max could see the downtown area. That was a lot of fun walking around there, once again hopping into a few casinos for video poker / roulette and drinks. I somehow only lost $40 on the trip on that stuff which has to be a net profit for the 10-15 drinks we got while playing. Max had to leave for his flight around 7:30pm so we headed back to the Linq, got some In n Out Burger, and then said goodbye. I had the room for that night and my flight wasn't until the next day so back to Venetian I went. I called ahead first and clunkily got my name on the waiting list.

When I got to Venetian I asked the guy if I needed to check in and he kinda laughed at me and said yes, otherwise my name would be removed after 2 hours. Makes sense. He asked if I wanted to play 1/3 or 2/4(?) while waiting for the 3/5 so I said yes, put my card on the table, and went to get chips. While on line for chips they called me for the 3/5. This is something I'll have to figure out going forward! Guess I shoulda just yelled out to lock it up or w/e but instead I just kept waiting in line for chips. By the time I got them they had taken me off the list so I sat at the 2/4 table. Interesting setup Venetian has. 1/3 is 300 max, 2/4 is 600 max, 3/5 is 1200 max. I was kinda tired so didn't mind playing lower stakes and the table looked pretty good anyway. It's funny to me that the 2/4 did indeed feel like it was playing about half as big as the 3/5 despite the stakes being very similar. Blind level doesn't seem to matter much in live games as far as determining how big the game is actually going to play. This was all the kinda stuff I wanted to learn before getting there for the summer.

Spoiler:
I buy in for 600 and HJ opens to 15, CO calls but I don't see it and 3b to 55 in the SB with AKs. Think I should probably go a little bigger, maybe 65, when HU. I convinced myself to go a little smaller since there hadn't been many 3b's at this tables and a lot of the pots were smaller. The opener also only had 400 or so. Still think I should just go 65. Sizings are something I'll have to feel out. 2/5 online if someone opens to a standard about I normally go 4.2x, 2.5bb to 10.5bb when oop. But people are 100bb deep most of the time online and there isn't an insane amount of limping and flatting behind. This open is to 15 at 2/4, which is a standard size to deter every flop from going 6 ways. Do I still go my 4x+ when 3b'ing? Go smaller bc the open is bigger relative to the blinds? Go bigger since stacks are often well over 100bb deep? Bigger since people behind cold call a lot? Bigger since people never fold to 3b? Smaller so I can 3b a wider range in an effort to isolate weaker players? These are the things I'll need to continue to feel out as I adjust from online play to live. In any case, it was VERY sloppy to not see the button called, something I haven't done in quite some time. I think it was a product of me being tired. But I was really glad I got out of bed to go play because I'd often use tiredness as an excuse to stay in. And I'm clearly very profitable in this game, so making a few small mistakes when I'm tired is definitely better than not playing at all. Again, this is all stuff I'm gonna have to feel out and learn as I go! This was just a 2/4 so I was pretty relaxed about it but the hope is to get more comfortable playing much higher stakes in the future, especially given I'm playing bigger online somewhat often.

Annnnyway, back to the hand. Both players call and we go 3 ways to the 975hh flop. I check my AKhh and it checks through. Turn 8h and I bet 110 into 165. Opener folds, button calls covering me. River 8x. Definitely not what I wanted to see but I think he can still have JT and worse flushes. I've got 400 back with 400 in the pot. I'm not x/f'ing so if he has me beat he's getting it either way. I wanna make sure I don't let him check back a hand that might call a shove so I shove myself and get snapped by 98s. Reach into my back and pull out another 6 black chips.

I pretty steadily spin the 600 back to 1k. There are 2 really friendly people there drinking quite a bit and having a blast. They're giving a ton of action and I'm doing my best to make it more fun for them. The guy is making a ton of goofy jokes and not taking things too seriously, reacting well both when he wins and loses. The woman who's drinking with him is cracking up at every joke and starting to play very slowly but we clearly want her there so I'm glad no one says anything. Two limps to me and I make it 25 with JJ in MP and get 5 calls lol. This size was normally doing well to get it to HU or 3w but not this time. Flop is T85r and the woman leads 25 from SB. 2 calls to me including the drunk guy and I decide to make it 125. I think there's a lot of value in cleaning up this equity a bit. The woman tanks forever then folds before the guy makes it 225?! Next player folds. The 3b'er has 225 back and while he could have a set, I think he's almost always raising vs the original bet when he does. I really don't know what he has now but this is like the 3rd time I've been the preflop raiser, had a donk and a call in front of me on flop, and raised lol. These games are wild. So it's possible he has something random and is just kinda tired of me. So I'm not folding. I could hear arguments for calling but I don't really think he's gonna fold too much when he raises like this now. Think he'll have some Tx, some straight draws, and the occasional nonsense hand that folds, but if I get AK,AQ,KQ to fold I'm fine with that. I shove, he calls and turns over 76hh. Turn is 5h adding a flush draw, river is a 9, l8r me.

This drops me to 500 so I grab another black chip to top up to 600. At this point it's 1:30am and I need to walk back to the Linq at some point with my checkout being at 11am. I decide 3am will be my hard stop time even though the game is great. The drunk guy who just doubled through me opens to 15, 4 of us call including me with A3cc on button. Flop AJ7ss and he cb's with a large pile of $1 and $2 chips that total $17. I call and the woman calls behind. Turn 8s, he bets $26 or something I call again and the woman folds. River 7x and he bets $90 into $175 or so. He's been caught bluffing with some very random hands already. The small sizes on flop and turn seemed like nonsense at the time, and now he's only betting half pot. Think I have to call getting the price. Flop cb was small but he did bet flop in a 5 way pot. I didn't expect to win a ton but getting 3:1 think we just have to flick it in. I call and beat 4s2h.


I slowly chip up a bit more before cashing out for $850 for a total loss of $450. I really don't see how I could've done any better than that. Walking back to my room I felt great that I'd gotten up out of bed to go play and that I handled myself so well when I ran pretty bad in the 2 big pots I played. My composure was great too, no real frustration or anxiety after losing either of the big pots. I checked out of my room at 11am and walked around a bit before getting an uber to the airport at 1pm. Got on my flight home at 3pm PST, landed at 11pm EST, got an uber from the airport and was very happy to be home with Amy.
An NJ Grinder's Journey as a Pro Quote
05-07-2022 , 09:09 PM
Great writeup! Glad to know that Vegas games are still beatable and not full of grinders. Will be there memorial day weekend. See you back at the tables!
An NJ Grinder's Journey as a Pro Quote
05-10-2022 , 05:37 AM
Great write up. Personally I love your hand breakdowns, especially in live games
An NJ Grinder's Journey as a Pro Quote
05-11-2022 , 03:49 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by fast11375
Great writeup! Glad to know that Vegas games are still beatable and not full of grinders. Will be there memorial day weekend. See you back at the tables!
Thanks, yeah the games were a lot of fun too! I played at Parx yesterday and there was a pretty noticeable difference in the average player's ability. I was playing higher stakes at Parx though so it's possible that's all it was.

Quote:
Originally Posted by skillz_2106
Great write up. Personally I love your hand breakdowns, especially in live games
Thanks man that's a nice compliment. I love writing them so I'm glad to hear someone enjoys reading them!
An NJ Grinder's Journey as a Pro Quote
05-17-2022 , 10:45 AM
Had a very successful few sessions throughout the entirety of Saturday the 7th. Played from 1:30-4:00 in the afternoon, lost almost a full buy in at my highest stake (the highest stake offered on the NJ sites), but persevered and got it all back. I'd been struggling to stick with sessions that started off bad for a few months now but something about the Vegas trip renewed the fire in me. Took my time getting ready for my night session and eventually started at 11:30, winning about 3 buy ins at the stake I put the most volume in at. By 3am I was finally ready to go to bed, and as I went to log off one of the biggest whales on the site sat in at the 2nd highest stake. Most of the time I would be happy with the amount of hours I'd put in and not want to lose that good feeling of being up after a long day's work. But there's a fire in me again that has me waaay less concerned with any of that. I've been playing poker more lately because I enjoy it and I'm good at it and I haven't felt that longing to win and feel good about winning. I'm feeling good about putting the hours in and learning. So I played and pretty quickly lost 2 buy ins 3 handed to erase all my profits on the day.

The fire was still there somehow though and I continued playing, winning 4 buy ins back and booking my biggest winning cash day ever. I played 7 hours and 40 minutes which is also a record for me for a day.

Went to Parx on Tuesday and played in the 10/10. Think I'm gonna do that once a week leading up to the WSOP to keep the live poker feeling fresh in my head. Played a hand where EP opens 30 I call btn 33 sb calls. A97r checks through, turn 3x. SB checks, opener bets 50, I call, SB 270, opener folds I call. River Q completes the rare "a set is the nuts" board and SB bets 630 into 690. This is a spot where whether I raise or not was gonna be pretty much completely dependent on his sizing. When he goes this big I'm not sure he even has AQ or A9. I think these hands often bet turn themselves instead of check/raising. As played I think folding would be criminal so I called, but if you have a good enough read on someone *maybe* you could make an insane fold here?? He had 77.

It was nice to continue getting used to how live poker works. Understanding must move games vs main games, how to call in before you get to the room so you don't have to wait 2 hours to get in a game, which chips to buy to make topping up easier, etc. I got moved several times while there which has led to me wanting to get there earlier this week. I'll be hopping on an 11:30 train to get home to Hamilton by 1:00 where I'll pick up my car from my parents' place and drive to Parx, planning to start around 2:30. The hope is to get in the main game earlier so I get more of a feel for what's going on. Maybe I'll even ask for a table change too! I'm pretty much a live pro at this point.

The other hand of note I played in the 5.5 hours I was at Parx came when I'd finally made it to the main game. They'd been playing an unofficial mandatory straddle at this table so I joined them, and 10/10/20 with a 3k stack felt more natural to me than playing 300bbs deep anyway. I open QQ to 60 in the HJ and bb calls. Flop 872hh I cb 80 (thought I was going 60-70%, turns out I was tired and did the straddle math wrong and only bet 80 into 150), he calls. Turn Kx I bet 180 into 300. Think I can continue going for value here. Villain is an older guy who I don't expect to fold many pairs or draws at all. He calls and the river is an offsuit A. He leads 350 pretty quickly into 660. I think if I was less tired I would've talked to him more here but it was almost 1am and I wasn't firing on all cylinders. I do think I need to call here unless I have some specific reads though. Every obvious draw misses and a lot of people like to try to win hands rather than simply giving up when they know that means losing the pot. There's very little value that plays the hand this way as well. Aces up probably makes the most sense but I wouldn't be shocked if that checks river anyway. I call and lose to A2. Lost 2k on the session but the 2 hands I listed here account for about 1600 of that so I'm not too bothered by it. Back at it again today!

The rest of the week I sprinkled in some tourneys with my cash since they started another online circuit on WSOP on Friday. Friday's was a $215 freezeout in which I finished 15th/276 for $717. Saturday was my friend's bday/housewarming party so I took that day off. Sunday I played almost exclusively tournaments. I had a lot of chips in the $525 ring event before losing a big flip near the bubble. Snuck into the money anyway and finished 40th/259 (including re-entries) for $750. Stars was having some bounty builder series and I saw the word "trophy" on one of the events so I hopped in and won that for $3200+$3200 in bounties ($6400 total). Stars now owes me 3 trophies! When I finished that tourney I thought about how annoying it was to win so many of those but still be ringless so I decided that whenever I play this week I'm going to try to get into the ring events on time and give myself the best chance to win one.

That plan didn't go accordingly last night as I started the $215 turbo at 8:45. With a 7:00 start time and late reg closing at 8:55 this was not ideal. Fortunately I sun ran and had heaps throughout, getting to the final table 3/9. Unfortunately that's where I'd stay, finishing 3rd/368 for $7500. With 18 left I closed out all my cash tables and focused somewhat intensely on each hand, taking as many notes as I could. For whatever reason I think I always do this in the Stars tourneys with trophies up top, but I have trouble focusing in any other tournaments. I went from 5 years ago having my heart beating out of my chest at every FT to almost being too laxed about them recently. It's almost like there was a subconscious feeling I had that being a pro meant not needing to try too hard to win certain tournaments. Like I should be able to coast and still win most of the final tables I play, which is of course nonsense. When I really lock down and focus I notice things that may seem insignificant but are huge.

At the FT yesterday a player call an MP open from the SB off 8bb then folded post. If I'm not paying attention I don't see that hand. Then when the same player opens for min back to back hands, first off 6bb from HJ then off 8bb utg with 6 left, I might not have the confidence to shove my 10bb w KQo from btn. "Ah minraise off a short stack probably nutted, I most likely don't have fold equity, just fold and keep trying to ladder." Nah man I wanna get a ring and this person is treating 8bb like it's 25! I shove the KQ, she tanks forever before calling off QJs, and I hold (barely) to win an absolutely massive pot that moves me 2/5 and gives me a real shot at the win. Dan of the past is probably folding down to the nub at that FT; focused Dan is putting himself in a good position to win the tournament.

Plan for this week is Parx today, online Wednesday, wedding Friday. Still trying to decide if I'm gonna take Thursday or Saturday off but I'll take one off while playing the other. Then Sunday session. Gonna stay on that Stars trophy and WSOP ring hunt!
An NJ Grinder's Journey as a Pro Quote
05-18-2022 , 02:55 PM
Are you excited for the Nevada merge? Some are skeptical because it may mean no more huds + more vegas pros on partypoker/stars
An NJ Grinder's Journey as a Pro Quote
05-19-2022 , 10:18 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by fast11375
Are you excited for the Nevada merge? Some are skeptical because it may mean no more huds + more vegas pros on partypoker/stars
Whatever happens I think I'll figure it out and adjust properly. I played cash online while I was in Vegas and the lack of huds was almost refreshing. It forced me to pay more attention and take more detailed notes in an effort to make better decisions; I felt more locked in.

I've heard rumors of all types of merges but haven't heard any concrete news on those fronts. Is there a timeline on Nevada merging with Party/Stars that you're aware of?
An NJ Grinder's Journey as a Pro Quote
05-19-2022 , 12:49 PM
I chatted with the director of Poker for Betmgm and know itís a priority for them. Theyíve also been hiring a poker manager in Nevada + recent promos on Aria live events make me believe the merge is close. Pokerstars I am not sure of, its my least favorite site [emoji38]
An NJ Grinder's Journey as a Pro Quote
05-26-2022 , 10:43 AM
Some General MTT Thoughts

In the past 3 years my mental game has slowly improved in terms of how I look at tournaments. It's mostly the result of learning cash and improving the technical side of my game. How can the way I view and think about tournaments be influenced by what some would consider the opposite of MTTs in the poker world?

Cash is a purer form of poker in terms of how "fair" it is. Oftentimes in cash the more work you put in, the better your results are. Downswings exist but they pale in comparison to the swings experienced in MTTs. Typically in cash if you are truly playing your A game for an extended period of time and studying the game the way you should be, downswings will not last very long. The same of course can not be said for MTTs.

As an example of this, I struggled with cash from February through April. I was not making money but I felt like I was doing things right. "This is just part of being a pro, sometimes you deal with extended downswings" is what I kept telling myself. It took some real reflection to realize I was not working nearly as hard as I should be and I was often running from the challenges involved with putting in long sessions when your head is not in the right place. However, when I identified what I was doing wrong, I began to put the work in, and before I knew it I was winning and feeling confident again.

So what does this have to do with MTTs??

Before I began playing cash, MTTs were the only form of poker I knew. In my mind, if I beat MTTs I was good and if I didn't I was bad. I used to attach the idea of how good I actually was to how each and every MTT ended for me. I'd even go as far to attach my self worth to a month's/week's/day's results of tournaments. "I'm a poker player, that's my job. If I'm unable to win then I must just be a failure." Whether or not I consciously had these ideas on my mind, they were floating around in my head somewhere and driving me insane when tournament variance took it's toll.

Cash has alleviated this pressure. When I'm deep in a tournament I no longer feel that pressure to win it. That anxiety is replaced with a focus on doing everything I can to play every hand well and to think up a general strategy for how I'm going to win the whole thing. But there are also some other thoughts that go through my mind. "Man, tournaments are pretty dumb. If I get in a flip for the chip lead with 8 left, a win is going to lead to me having a huge winning day, while a loss will see me book a big losing session. I can't believe I used to feel like I had any sort of control over short term wins and losses."

That's not to say I don't focus my hardest on the things I can control. It's simply that I now put very little stock into how the tournament actually ends. Because whether I win this thing for $16k or bust 7th and bubble, cash will always be there for me tomorrow, and I'll be able to easily prove to myself that I've still got it. I still have that fire of wanting to win every time I play a tournament, but that desire is extremely lessened compared to a few years ago. I'm not living and dying on every flip of a coin.

On Sunday I was 2/7 in the Stars Bounty Builder 1K with 5 paying. At the same time I was something like 4/12 in the Bounty Builder $300 Main and 20/40 in the WSOP circuit $525 Main Event. I proceeded to lose 4 big pots in the next 5 hands of the high roller to bust 7th, sputter out in the $300 to finish day 1 in 9th with 10 left (I'd go on to finish 8th the next day), and lost a flip for 600k at 5k/10k in the circuit main with 24 left (was for a 3rd place stack with $45k and a ring up top). And it really didn't bother me. Of course there was some slight frustration, but I don't think it'd be an exaggeration to say I was less than 5% as frustrated as I would've been a few years ago.

The lack of pressure I feel when playing tournaments is immensely important and shows in my MTT results. In my first full year of focusing on cash as my main source of volume I had my biggest winning MTT year by a wide margin. The lack of pressure and confidence I feel is a big part of the reason I ran deep in the Main Event last year. And it'll hopefully be a big part of my success in Vegas this summer. I'm leaving June 6th to spend 3 weeks in the desert. It'll be nice to have the option to play cash if MTTs are getting to me in any way. I've gone to Parx to play the 10/10 each of the last 3 Tuesdays as a primer to getting used to the ins and outs of live cash. It'll be an option for me now if I want a little break from tournaments during the 3 weeks I'm there. But no matter what happens in Las Vegas, cash will always be waiting for me back in New Jersey.
An NJ Grinder's Journey as a Pro Quote
05-26-2022 , 04:22 PM
Well written and well said, If you play more hours(short of burnout obv), you will win more days, and feel even better about the whole thing.
An NJ Grinder's Journey as a Pro Quote
05-26-2022 , 05:21 PM
Always love reading your updates. GL at the series.
An NJ Grinder's Journey as a Pro Quote
05-26-2022 , 06:42 PM
Great write up! Gl in vegas
An NJ Grinder's Journey as a Pro Quote
05-26-2022 , 08:08 PM
Long time reader - gl man. Been a long journey since 2015.

My only question / comment for you is poker ambitions these days - what's your goals look like lately? I feel like you already play all the biggest MTTs + mid-stakes cash on US regulated sites, what's next for Dan?

Net net - I feel like you've made it to "decent income" level in poker, where you are making something like 150-300k in expectation, which is ofc good, but you have to make a decision at some point if you want to reach for the next level (1M++ in expectation), and dimension what you'd have to do to get there.

For online MTTs, probably would have to get in 5-7M+ in volume minimum/year, which is simply not gonna happen in US markets, unless you add in a ton of high stakes live which doesn't seem like the lifestyle you want. Potentially possible in high-stakes online cash, but you'd likely have to branch out to non-holdem games (PLO) and consider networking into private online games. Then of course the last route is to network into hs private live game, but idk if you want that life..
An NJ Grinder's Journey as a Pro Quote
05-27-2022 , 10:17 AM
Good luck this summer! Impressed by the solid mindset you've been evidencing in here for a long time now. Adding cash to your career was definitely the right move.
An NJ Grinder's Journey as a Pro Quote
06-03-2022 , 11:43 PM
Best of luck this summer, look forward to reading your reports!
An NJ Grinder's Journey as a Pro Quote
06-06-2022 , 01:21 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by JasonP530
Well written and well said, If you play more hours(short of burnout obv), you will win more days, and feel even better about the whole thing.
Quote:
Originally Posted by BobbyPeru
Always love reading your updates. GL at the series.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheTyman9
Great write up! Gl in vegas
Quote:
Originally Posted by karamazonk
Good luck this summer! Impressed by the solid mindset you've been evidencing in here for a long time now. Adding cash to your career was definitely the right move.
Quote:
Originally Posted by skillz_2106
Best of luck this summer, look forward to reading your reports!
Really appreciate all these responses, it's great getting feedback after making these posts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ravager 102
Long time reader - gl man. Been a long journey since 2015.

My only question / comment for you is poker ambitions these days - what's your goals look like lately? I feel like you already play all the biggest MTTs + mid-stakes cash on US regulated sites, what's next for Dan? :)

Net net - I feel like you've made it to "decent income" level in poker, where you are making something like 150-300k in expectation, which is ofc good, but you have to make a decision at some point if you want to reach for the next level (1M++ in expectation), and dimension what you'd have to do to get there.

For online MTTs, probably would have to get in 5-7M+ in volume minimum/year, which is simply not gonna happen in US markets, unless you add in a ton of high stakes live which doesn't seem like the lifestyle you want. Potentially possible in high-stakes online cash, but you'd likely have to branch out to non-holdem games (PLO) and consider networking into private online games. Then of course the last route is to network into hs private live game, but idk if you want that life..
There are a lot of good questions and suggestions in this post. I've given some thought to this stuff but it's hasn't been too long since I've experienced the kind of success I have in the past year or two. For a long time money was a stressor and my goal was to simply get comfortable financially. Now that I've achieved that you're certainly correct that I need to start looking to the future. However, I think the first step to all of this is to put a few years together of doing what I did last year. I think the next few years will be committed to improving my craft (specifically online cash games) and improving on volume and mindset. Now that money isn't as much of a concern it should be easier to focus on these things. After I put a few years in a row of consistent volume / work ethic / profit then it will be time to consider some of the things you said a bit more. But I think for now I'm just going to keep my nose down to the grind and do my best to excel at this format.

That all is subject to change of course. I leave for Las Vegas tonight. If I have some sort of life changing score then maybe I reevaluate all the things I just said. At that point maybe it would be more prudent to seek out bigger live cash games and try to adjust my game for that format, rather than grinding online and becoming the best poker player I can from a technical proficiency standpoint. Maybe that financial freedom would lead to me doing a lot more traveling and playing bigger MTTs across the country/world. But as we all know, a big bink like that is unlikely, so the previous paragraph is what I'm planning for. Never say never though! I feel confident leaving for Vegas today. I'm going to do my best to plan well, maximize volume, minimize stress levels, and take care of myself while I'm out there. I won a package last night for a $3500 Aria Main Event seat and a 5 night stay at the Aria from June 21-26 so that'll be a nice way to end the trip. I'll do my best to update this thread while I'm out there but if I can't find the time, I'll do a big update when I come back.

My NJSCOOP trophies came in the mail the other day. Stars still owes me one for the Bounty Builder series they just had but here's the collection for now:



I went through and looked at my results from Stars series in the last 3 years. This year in the 1k NJSCOOP event I had a big lead going to HU and managed to go 0/5 in preflop all ins to finish 2nd...we were that close to winning 3 SCOOPs/year in 3 consecutive years! I'm very proud of these results. When Stars series come around there's often more incentives for me to put some volume in or to at least put my best foot forward in certain events. I was involved in contests for a few of these series and that level of competition had me very focused each day. Even when I'm not grinding the contests, if I see an event has a trophy attached to it I fire away. I think these results give some insight into what someone can do in smaller fields when they exploit properly. There aren't many opponents in these tournaments that I'm looking to play theoretically correctly against; instead, I'm pushing things as hard as I can until someone does something about it. The structures of these tournaments are also quite good. Here are my first place finishes in PokerStars NJ series tournaments in the last 3 years:



In contrast to WSOP, where fields are bigger, players are tougher, and structures are worse, on Stars it feels like I have way more control over whether or not I win the MTT I'm playing. I still have 0 bracelets and 0 rings. But I have 3rd,4th,4th,5th,6th,6th, and 8th place finishes in WSOP ring events. Unsurprisingly 2 of these finishes came in main events where the structures were much better. A lot of these FTs saw me bring a chip lead to them before losing a bunch of all ins. Such is the nature of MTTs, especially ones with worse structures and tougher competition. But as long as I keep putting myself in these spots I know that the win will eventually come.
An NJ Grinder's Journey as a Pro Quote

      
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