An aspiring poker pro writing about his journey to the top.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

It's been a while.. Time to catch up!

It has been a long time since my last post and so much has happened. Personally there has not been any huge scores or big events played but I have been playing some great poker as of late. I have really polished my game based on some of my previous posts on how I should get better. This has allowed me to make the right adjustments to my game and I'm continuing to get better. So far in 2012 I have an ROI of almost 150% and some nice profits to show both online and live. I'm still looking to improve even more and hopefully play some larger tournaments over the summer.

Looking back at 2011 it was overall an alright year for me but was an amazing year for some of my poker friends and fellow players. It was very exciting to watch others having success and wanted to say a big congrats to Xuan Liu for taking down third at the EPT San Remo, Ted Safranko for nice scores at the Seneca Deepstack and Venetian events, Greg Hartwick for taking down a WSOP circuit event and the biggest of all to Kirk Caldwell for winning event #32 of the 2011 WSOP!!

2012 has provided more excitement! Earlier in the year Xuan took down another 3rd at the PCA ME along with Steve Tripp who took down second a smaller PCA event and just last week at the FPC in Niagara, Ashley Cheung took down a nice score in the 2.5k and Steve Tripp reached the ft this years 1k event. It's certainly exciting to watch people you know and play with do so well. We certainly have a very good group of players.

Looking at my piers success and knowing how well I can do is inspiring me to take more risks and really focus on building a bankroll which will allow me to play larger tournaments this year. If I keep playing as well as I am I will be heading to the WSOP and many other tournaments. Hopefully I will see many of you there.

The Ninja.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


My online adventure has turned out to be a grueling one for the last couple months. My new approach to the online game has me primarily playing large MTT tourneys with a couple S&Gs here and there. The majority of these tournaments tend to go very well and after 3-4 hours of playing I reach the money or have been busted from a typical bad beat story. Overall I have been playing well. You would think I would be ecstatic with these results, but alas this is not at all the case.

I have only shipped 1 of 40 or so larger field tournaments and not final tabled any other. Sure I ship the odd 9 player S&G but the majority of the tournaments I have been cashing I have not been able to close. I am finishing in the top 10% but can’t seem to break through a wall that is preventing me from a decent or big score. The tournaments I seem to get sucked out on are the larger buy-ins which tend to be tighter and suit my game but inevitability are costly. As a result my bankroll is a bit of a yo-yo with ups and downs that overall leave me right where I started and after playing hours of tournaments to show little profit I find myself exhausted. So what do I need to do to break through? I will be analyzing my late game play, going through my hand histories and seeing if I need to do something to change my late tournament game to get better results.

It has been a frustrating couple months in this regard but overall I am happy with the amount I have learned and am continuing to learn. I know eventually I will break through and start to rack up the larger cashes. But for now I will grind it out and play on until those days are finally here. Hopefully it is soon because the WCOOP is coming up ;).

The Ninja

Monday, June 20, 2011

Making it online

A little while back I blogged about finding time to play poker and the difficulties there are in being an aspiring pro. From that post I have taken the time to better understand what it is I should be focusing on to allow myself to play in the best games and tournaments for me that suit my availability. I recognized that I needed to constantly continue to get better, perfect my game, close any holes and actually take the time to perfect every skill. A while back I was influenced by a great post by Ed Miller on what makes a great poker player and when a player can know when to move up to bigger stakes. You will find a link to the article below. I quickly realized that if I wanted to actually move up in the poker world and not just be some guy who wins a couple local tournaments every month I needed to play more and allow myself to continue to get better each and every week. So I took the time to sit down and look at when I could play, where and what I would need to do to give myself the best opportunities to better my game.

Up till now I had always had the time to play a weekly live game and larger live tournament a month. I had been having issues finding the time for many major tournaments. In response to my last post another aspiring pro, Steve Kerr, posted about how he finds the time to play at . This was great advice on playing in major live tournaments and how to create your schedule around them to allow yourself the time to play. It made me understand how to give myself more time to play the big tournaments but something was still missing. I needed to play more often to be sharp, to stand out from the rest and know that I could sit down with anyone. As I had mentioned about playing online there was always something about it that didn't suit me and I never seemed to make a worth while profit. From these last couple months of reflecting I realized that it was not the fact of playing online that was the issue but rather myself and not adjusting to the type of play and knowledge needed to be successful. I researched the game, read through my histories and watched endless amounts of training videos to take what I needed to understand the game, how to be play it and adjust my game to become successful. A couple months past and I went back to the tables. Immediately I saw a change in results and felt great about the way I was playing. I cashed in 4/8 of the first tournaments I played, winning 2 of them and in the process more than doubled my bankroll. Now I'm not telling you this because I think I am some type of online master now and quite the contrary where I still make mistakes and did so in one of the tournaments I was running deep in, but was happy to have learned from it. As I mentioned earlier in my desire to become better each day, I will need to continue to get better at both the online and live games and learn something to better my game each day. What I am telling you tho is that it takes an understanding of the different type of play online and how you need to fully understand what you need to do to play your game that makes you successful. Take the time to learn, research and experiment. It has taken me 2 years of playing online to finally understand what I needed to do and continue to do. I am only now finally able to play enough games to really grow as a player. Poker like anything one inspires to do in life. It is a lifelong process where we are constantly learning and bettering ourselves. There is one quote from the article I mentioned earlier that I always hold with me,

"The best players, the ones who stick around for life, are humble. They are skilled, but every day they just want more skill, more knowledge. It doesn't matter whether they win today or they lose, as they will play again tomorrow, and the next day, and every day after that. If they do not win this week, they will win next week. If they do not win this month, they will win next month. If they do not win this year, this decade, they will win next year, next decade. They will learn and acquire skill every day until they are unbeatable - and then they'll get beat."

I hope to continue to master my game and feel that I have finally given myself the time to do so. Be sure to follow my progress as I play this year and hopefully I have given you something to reflect upon to better your game as well.

The Ninja.

Referenced Article:

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Finding Time

People frequently ask how to be more productive and find time to do the things that they love. Experts write books, publish articles and give an array of advise on how to make more time for yourself. In the end it is you who must understand what is important, how you balance and spend your time.

For me and most aspiring poker pros, I play poker as a second source of income. This results in many times where I do not have time or the mental energy to play, this rings true for the past few months. My job requires me to take few vacations and be the main producer of work, resulting in my only free time coming on weekends and a few hours after work. So I know what you are thinking, "That's lots of time to play!"... but these are never the only sources of my time. I still have to balance my girlfriend, hobbies, family, health, pets, third sources of income.... the list goes on.

So you would think the best option is the most available to me, online poker. This is a great option and I have tried it many times, but for me I make much more at live tournaments and find it a constant grind online. Sure I win in the end but with the profits/hours spent I may have been working at McDonald's. I have got down all the aspects of the game that make a good poker player but the main thing that takes me over the edge is a natural instinct in reading people. A skill that does not get you much when you are looking at a small avatar.

Before this post becomes some sort of sad sack story. I am looking for some advise.
Should I stick it out online and the results will get better? Use my vacation time to play at the expense of myself? What do you do to play frequently?

What do you think I should do?


The Ninja.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Pushing Through

Every player in any game who has ever played will tell you about the ups and downs that one goes through, it is just a part of the game. Everyone experiences them and it is how you react, learn and move forward that can both define the type of player you really are and how successful you will become.

For me I have been playing seriously for almost 6 years now. In that time I have experienced my share of ups and downs. I remember my first taste of the downside to poker when I first played online. I had built up a bankroll from $50 into over $1000. Cocky I felt I could move into bigger stakes and play with anyone. In a matter of a week I watched my profits dwindle down to nothing, deposit more money just to see it disappear and as you can imagine I was rather unhinged from it all. I started to play differently, take uncalculated risks and play a lot more hands. I was losing ever flip, all draws against me would hit, was getting it in with the worst and thought I was simply outmatched. I took a break from the game to reflect on what had happened and got back to playing after a month or so. I got back to playing my game and my profits reflected it. Looking back I recognized that I needed to always remember this experience and learn everything I could from it.

I have gone through many similar bad streaks in my poker career which I took as just more valuable experience. My losses were always less then the last streak and I came back to the tables faster every time. I have never again let it get to me or affect how I play. Every time the cards run bad and I feel that the world is against me I am not down but excited to learn from it to get better.

Recently I have gone through a similar steak that had lasted about 3 weeks. It all came to a head in a cash game where I was up over $400 and gotten into a pot with the other chip leader. I had his number and this was the hand that I had been waiting for. After a couple of steals I had AQ suited and again raised it up, got two callers and the other chip leader. The flop came 4 J Q with 2 hearts. I bet out half the pot, it folded around to the other chip leader and he pushed into a pot of about $75, a large over bet. I knew I had him and I did. But as any poker player knows having someone dominated does not guarantee a sure thing. It went runner runner hearts for him to catch a flush and all my profits and then some were lost. This experience only showed me that I was indeed a better player than him and knew I would get that money back and more when we meet again and was back at the tables the next weekend winning back what I had lost over those weeks.

In the end it is what you take from the days that you lose and become better. I see players every game who are experiencing a bad streak, feel the cards never go well for them and look hopeless. I understand how it feels, how hard it can get but never let it change you. It is the days I am most profitable when it is these players who change their game, take too many chances and lose focus that I see across the table. For me I no longer get upset about the bad beats and the bad days but always refine my game to see what exactly I could have done and will never do again. Do not look at how much you win and lose but realize that in the end the better players always will be successful.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Just getting started

For as long as I remember I have always been playing with cards. My father loved to play card games with me as a child and would never take it easy, he enjoyed winning regardless of who he was facing and as I grew the competitive nature grew with me. For the most part we played Crazy Eights, Draw Poker and Euchre. I continued playing into my teens during lunch at high school, but it didn't take me long to become good and beat anyone at any game. It came from experience... I learned the skills behind the cards, the math, the reads, the percentages. I payed close attention to everyone I would play with. Reactions, type of plays, bets, emotions all taught me what to look for, what they meant and how to out play them to win. I played these games for fun, little did I know that I was training myself to become successful playing cards for more than just pride.

I discovered holdem before it's big boom in 2000 when it exploded over television networks and major online sites were born. Everyone loved to play poker, my friends especially. My first games were home games that I had no idea what to expect going into. My first game I easily walked away a winner and made a nice profit, I didn't think much of it until the next week when I did exactly the same. It was then that I realized their way something here more than just entertainment. Playing with friends was fun but not nearly the challenge I was looking for.

During University I took a summer job at a local casino dealing and supervising table games. The job was demanding and long hours but it was not just the work that I was interested in. I watched first hand people of all types playing the games I had come to love. Professionals, amateurs, celebrities and addicts all came to play at my tables. Dealing so many hands and seeing so many faces gave me a first hand view of the real game. I saw everything the game had to offer and what it did to the players; the ups and downs, issues of addiction the regulars went through everyday, excitement of winning, sadness of losing, but overall how to play the right way to become successful. While working at the casino I had taken an interest to one of my co-workers who told me that she played in a poker league herself. She invited me to join her at a league game which I was very happy to say yes to. It was first experience playing with a large group and I was nervous as I had ever been. The game lasted many hours, I met many new friends and in the end walked away the victor, I was ecstatic.

I continued to play in the league and do so to this day, I have many good friends there and always enjoy it. The people I met turned out to be my gateway to bigger tournaments and cash games. A couple of them invited me to my first ever major tournament being held at a local casino, a $300 buy-in with about 90 runners. I ended up winning the tournament! The greatest accomplishment at the time of my young career.

Today I continue to play live games, bigger tournaments and have started to play online as I work my way to become a professional poker player. I have begun to understand the different play that is involved online but in the end tho I am at my best live where I have won most tournaments.

Aside from everything else I want to thank you for taking an interest in my blog and hope to inform and entertain you along the way. I will be writing about my experiences, knowledge of the game and my journey to becoming a professional.

Thanks again.