Posted on Jul 07, 2009 by Gugel.


About a week ago, I made a mistake at $200NL HU vs. Smokin Mokin (a breakeven reg).  Heres the hand in question.

Hero (BB) ($200)
Button ($245)

Preflop: Hero is BB with 8, 6
Button bets $6, Hero calls $4

Flop: ($12) Q, 6♠, 9 (2 players)
Hero checks, Button bets $8, Hero raises to $30, Button calls

Turn: ($72) J♠ (2 players)
Hero checks, Button bets $55.55, Hero calls

River: ($183.1) 5♣ (2 players)
Hero bets $108.45 (all-in)

My line makes no sense.  In retrospect, there are 2 ways I couldve played this hand.  With a gutshot, flush draw, and a pair on the turn I could lead and call a shove or checkfold the river if I didnt improve.  I messed up pretty bad, but we all make mistakes at the poker table. Winners learn from their mistakes. Losers dont.

Its really important to acknowledge your mistakes, but not dwell on the them.  Dwelling on mistakes makes you lose confidence in your game, go on tilt, etc.  I try to hold my head up high when I mess up.  Im not ashamed or embarrassed.  As Emmitt Smith once said, I may win and may lose, but I will never be defeated.

Learn to fail successfully.

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Vegas Baby, Vegas

Posted on Jun 22, 2009 by Gugel.


Just booked my tickets to Vegas today.  Im leaving this Friday and coming back on Tuesday.  My flight leaves at like 5:50AM Tuesday so that pretty much guarantees Im staying up all night.  Im so pumped!

Best part is that Im staying with Ansky at the Two Months, Two Million house.  Plan is to go to Lake Mead, do some dune buggy racing, and party like its 1999.  Its gonna be pretty sick.

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The 7 Cs of Mental Toughness

Posted on Jun 19, 2009 by Gugel.


Poker mental toughness

Practice the seven Cs (Competitive, Confident, Control, Committed, Composure, Courage, Consistency) of mental toughness.

That quote is from a book called Mind Gym that HokieGreg was raving about on Twitter yesterday.  A lot of players (myself included) put mental toughness on the backburner.  But recently, Ive begun to realize how thats a huge mistake.  Jack Nicklaus, one of the best golfers of all time, was famously quoted as saying that golf is 90% mental.  Is poker 90% mental?  Maybe not, but mental toughness is definitely a big factor that separates great poker players from mediocre ones.

So lets go over the seven Cs to help you stay off tilt and keep you on your A-game.

Most successful poker players are motivated less by money and more by a desire to crush their opponents.  Challenging situations are what really help you improve.

When you run bad, you play bad.  When you run good, you play good.  The difference?  Confidence.

Tilt is your worst enemy.
Dont play the match by your opponents rules make him try to adjust to you.

There are going to be times (probably many, many times) when you feel like quitting.  You have be strong enough to power through it.

Dont give off any tells.  Take your time before making a decision.

Have the courage to follow through on your reads.

I went through quite a few cycles of playing for a couple of months and then quitting for a couple months.  You need to play consistently to build your skills.  No sense taking 2 steps forward and 1 step back.

Bonus Quote

The more you hurry the later you get. When you find yourself rushing you are no longer in the present. Pace instead of race.

I see this all the time at the poker table.  A donk stacks you (maybe multiple times) and you want to win your money back before he decides to leave.  The more you rush it, the more likely you are to make a mistake.  Pace instead of race.

So pick up your copy of Mind Gym (another great book is Finding Your Zone).  Its worth the 12 bucks.

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Bing Blang Blaow Lyrics A Hilarious Poker Video

Posted on Jun 10, 2009 by Gugel.


This is the new victory song of heads up.  It started as a thread on 2+2 by ch3ckraise and snowballed from there
Itll probably be the funniest thing youve seen all day.

Here are the lyrics.

I just stacked that dude
Man, thats another 50 bucks today
Bing blang blaow
You know for now
Bing blang blaow
Is in the house, yea yea yea yea
Checkraise is in the house
Just won 50 dollars from you
I got your money now
So much for buying food
And Im gonna cash it out
Rooo roo rooo rooo rooo
And rub it on my titties
Rub it on my titties
Rub it on my titties
Rub it on my titties
Rub it on my titties
Rub it on my titties
Cash out on my titties

Im gonna start this out with bing blang blaow
Checkraise, 3 in the house
I just won 50 dollars from you
That you couldve used to buy some food
But you cant now
Cause im gonna cash it out
And rub it on my titties
so pretty
Like the feeling of the crisp new bill press against my tit
That I just won from Annette
Im heads up master and Im dropping this rhyme
But you haters know
That Ill take you on
And Ill kick your ass
And take your blinds
At any stake at any site at any time
So when I hit my boomswitch so i can stack a fish and Im a huge bitch
Cause i know hit that youll pay me off because I called your river bet with nothing but a flush draw

Gimme some of that bing blang blaow
Bing blang blaow
Cash cash cash it out
I got your money now
I just won all your money
Gonna cash it out
Rub it on my tittes
Rub it on my tittes

You know your a donkey right
Youve just been running hot all night
Whats wrong with you, give me an answer
I hope your mom gets cancer
Your a joke and no doubt youll lose that money plus more before you ever cash out
Oh yea, well you can kiss my ass Ill let you know whats gonna happen to your cash
I aint a donk, Ive been around for a while
And i got the proof documents on file
Im gonna cash it out through the bankwire
I can see it now, I got a bankwire
Let it build up my payment requests
Just a matter of time before I rub it on my chest
You wanna rematch, you wanna lose again?
You call, gonna be all over baby
Second wonderful time, with the bing blang blaow
Bing blang blaow
Masters in the house
I got your money now
Just won 50 dollars from you
Im gonna cash it out
Im gonna use it to buy some food
Im gonna rub it on my titties
Im gonna rub rub rub rub rub rub rub
Rub it on my titties
Rub it on my titties
Rub it on my titties
Rub it on my titties
Cash out on my titties

Dear checkraise, we are pleased to inform you that all the necessary documentation is on file and your withdrawal request for 100 dollar has been approved.
Your payment will be processed as a bankwirte to checking account number (beep) 87.  Please allow 7 days for processing.

50 dollars

Update: Ch3ckraise and Drybes are working on a new version of Bing Blang Blaow with some witty poker innuendos, 2+2 memes, etc. Check out the 30-second preview at PokerTableRatings.

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100k-Hand Variance Simulator

Posted on Jun 03, 2009 by Gugel.


Ever wonder what your graph will look like over the next 100,000 hands you play?

Poker Variance Simulator

Poker Variance Simulator

Head over to the Tools section and check out the Variance Simulator (requires Excel).  Just enter your winrate and standard deviation and keep pressing F9.  It will automatically generate what your next 100,000 hands might look like.  You might be very surprised how much variance youre likely to experience, even over a pretty significant sample size.

With a 3PTBB/100 winrate and a standard deviation of 60, I got the following results over ten 100,000-hand samples:

1: +40 buyins
2: -20 buyins
3: +80 buyins
4: 0 buyins
5: +40 buyins
6: -5 buyins
7: +60 buyins
8: +85 buyins
9: +20 buyins
10: +40 buyins

How to Find Your Standard Deviation in Poker Tracker 3

Just open up PT3 and click on More Detail in the Session Notes tab.  As an alternative, refer to this 2+2 post.

How to Find Your Standard Deviation in Hold Em Manager

Open HEM then go to the Reports tab.  On the left, click on the + sign.  Add Standard Deviation in BB (not bb).  Click save, refresh, and youre done!

Note: I actually posted this on 2+2 a while a back but I forgot to post it here.  Whoops.  Also, Id like to give credit to the person that actually developed this spreadsheet but unfortunately, I have no idea who it is.

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Final Table of the WSOP 40K

Posted on May 30, 2009 by Gugel.


Ansky made the final table of the WSOP 40k (bout time).  There are 9 players left and Dani is 7th in the chip count.  For the latest chip counts, go here.

WSOP 40k 2009 Final Table - WickedChops

WSOP 40k 2009 Final Table - WickedChops

Heres the payout structure:
1 $1,891,012
2 $1,168,566
3- $774,927
4 $548,315
5 $413,166
6 $329,730
7 $277,940
8 $246,834
9 $230,317

Run good Dani!

Update: Ansky finished in 4th place for $548,315.

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3 Things You Need to Master

Posted on May 29, 2009 by Gugel.


There are three things you need to master to be a great poker player.  Thats right, just three things.

How to Be a Good Poker Player

How to Be a Good Poker Player

If you master just one or two, youll probably be mediocre at best (probably still bad).  Some people have excellent emotional control, but bad hand reading skills.  Others have great strategy, but bad emotional control.  Identify your weakness and strengths.  Eliminate your weakness and build on your strengths.  Thats the way to become great.

Emotional Control
You have to prevent your emotions from getting in the way of rational decisions.  When youre on tilt, you are simply not capable of making well-thought out decisions.  The logical part of your brain literally shuts off.  For some, emotional control means means setting a stop-loss.  Other avoid playing regulars and stick to bumhunting.

Hand Reading
Think deeply about what hands your opponent can have and what hands your opponent thinks you have.  Heads up is a great way to improve your hand reading abilities because it puts you in a lot of tough situations that really make you think.

Some players are naturally very good at making the most +EV decision.  Someone can be a bad hand reader, but have good strategy.  He might assign a bad hand range to an opponent, but his decisions are good for the hand range he puts the villain on.

So where are you weak?  Where are you strong?

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CardRunners Review

Posted on May 21, 2009 by Gugel.


Cardrunners is largest online poker training site. I usually get a free membership to Cardrunners for a week or two out of the month and that gives me more than enough time to download the videos Im interested in and watch them at my leisure.

The Good

1. Cardrunners probably has the biggest selection of HU videos 94 videos in all.  You can get to the HU video section by clicking on the Advanced Search Options link.

Cardrunners Search

CardRunners Search

2.  CardRunners has a killer lineup of heads up instructors including CTS, Green Plastic, INTERNET POKERS, sbrugby, Stinger, and MasterLJ.

The Bad

1. You cant sort the search results.  It would be really nice to be able to sort the videos by the average rating.

2.  You cant see how many people rated a video.  Id rather watch a video whose average rating is 9.2 with 100 votes than a video whose average rating 9.3 with 2 votes.

3.  You cant put the videos on your iPhone (damn DRM protection).

The Ugly

1.  Its a bit hard to stay motivated to watch an hour long video when I want to get in there and start playing.  Im not quite sure why an hour long video is the industry standard.

2.  The $99 setup fee sucks.

3.  Doesnt really make sense to pay $27.99 every single month.  Theres just not a whole lot of new HU videos being released monthly.

What do you think about CardRunners?  What are your favorite videos?

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Your Brain on Tilt

Posted on May 18, 2009 by Gugel.


This is tilt. This is your brain on tilt. Questions?

Emotional control is what makes good poker players great. Heres an amazing 2+2 post about tilt by mental game coach Jared Tendler. And just in case you missed it, heres my writeup from a while back about controlling tilt.

The Only Reason Tilt Happens
Republished with permission from Jared Tendler

Tilt is a consequence of the brain’s response to a threat. This response has developed over the past 300+ million years and at this point in evolution, a threat does not have to be real physical danger; psychological threats are treated in the exact same way. This part of your brain is so old it doesn’t know the difference. The hundred’s of reasons poker players use to explain why Tilt happens are all examples of psychological threats and are not the cause. Calling a bad beat or being bluffed off the best hand a threat may sound a bit extreme, but the brain’s emotional system doesn’t view it as rationally as we can right now; although neither do you when it happens.

The brain responds to a threat by increasing emotion in proportion to the perceived significance of that threat. When emotions rise to your threshold, which is the point when the brain takes direct action against the threat, higher brain functions are systematically reduced in proportion to the level of emotion. The loss of higher brain functions like: self control, rational thought, logic, perception of self and other, organization, planning, strategy, mental manipulation of information, and others are the hallmark characteristics of Tilt. If the brain didn’t respond to a threat by shutting down these functions, your emotions could be completely out of control and you would still play great; Tilt would not exist.

The sobering reality is that you have absolutely no control over this process. When emotions rise to threshold, the response taken by the brain happen every time, guaranteed (assuming there isn’t actual brain damage). Knowing the brain has limitations is important, because just like in poker, information determines course of action.

Implications at the Poker Table
Some of you will immediately reduce the incidence of Tilt just by knowing what you can and cannot expect to be able to do on Tilt or during the emotional build up to Tilt. Since there is no more ambiguity, there is no reason to fight against it by trying to think rationally when it is neurologically impossible.

For many of you good information isn’t enough, and if you are serious about preventing or eliminating Tilt from your game, there are only two legitimate options. (1) Prevent emotions from crossing threshold and you never experience Tilt again; (2) Train poker skills to such a habitual or instinctual level that emotions cannot affect them. To a certain extent all of you have trained some skills to that level and seasoned pros have trained most of them, which is one reason why they Tilt infrequently. This option is complex and requires either years of experience or use of high performance training. The first option follows.

Prevention Strategy #1: Short-term
Preventing Tilt requires that you have accurate and specific information about how you Tilt. Thankfully, like any neurological pattern it happens in predictable ways and for predictable reasons. Some know these reasons immediately, others will have to gather some information first. Here is what’s important when organizing this information into a preventative strategy.

Step 1
List the things, actions, situations, etc that cause your emotions to rise; essentially what puts you on Tilt or get you close. These are called Triggers. They can be caused by you, other players, and by factors outside of poker. Be specific and list as many as you can. Analyze the list of Triggers by emphasizing the 3 or 4 that, (1) happen most often, and (2) cause the greatest emotional response.

Step 2
List the things that you do, think or feel in response to a trigger. These are called Tendencies and they are another way to know emotions are on the rise or that you’re on Tilt. Tendencies can be anything from, increased breathing and heart rate, shoving chips without thinking, aggressive calls, feeling shell shocked, heating up inside, convincing yourself everything is fine, making quick decisions, mind going completely blank, and many others. When analyzing the list of Tendencies, identify your threshold. Threshold is the amount of emotion you can manage while maintaining the higher brain functions listed earlier. Identifying threshold takes a bit of work, but the idea is to know the specific tendencies that show up when you’re getting close to it and when you’ve crossed it.

Step 3
Develop a strategy to prevent crossing your threshold. To do this you take direct immediate action when emotions increase close to threshold. The consequences are too severe to ignore, so do whatever you can to stop your emotions from increasing further. There are many effective methods that players and authors have written about, and you may already have some that work well. Two ways that I often recommend, are (1) taking three slow deep breaths into your stomach (not chest), which is a great option because it is unlikely anyone at the table will know; (2) create a positive trigger with something like a piece of gum, or most anything that carries the intent of calming down. What you do to stop your emotions matters less than you actually stopping them. Whatever your strategy, write it on a note card and bring it with you every time you play. Rehearse the strategy so you know it well enough that when emotions start to block thinking, you know what to do.

A preventative strategy is a work in progress. Don’t bog yourself down by trying to make it perfect the first time, nor should you be too relaxed about rehearsing it. Make a good first attempt and update the strategy after you see how well it works or when you identify new Triggers or Tendencies. It’s important to keep in mind that this is not a quick fix, it is challenging and takes effort. You also will likely falter several times before you find a preventative strategy that works.

Prevention Strategy #2: Long-term
It is quite common that preventing Tilt using strategy #1 is too difficult for a couple reasons. First, emotions build up over a period of time, dropping the threshold and making relatively small increases in emotion enough to Tilt. This is true both within a session and over sustained periods of running poorly. The second reason is that at this point in your poker career, some threats may be so significant that they hit without notice and put you on Tilt immediately. There are a few psychological techniques that reduce the amount of emotion generated by a single trigger and reduce accumulated emotion from multiple triggers.

The first technique is called Systematic Desensitization (SD). SD has been around for years and can be self administered; it just takes a bit of training. I’ll be releasing a video on Stoxpoker.com that trains you to do it. The other technique is called EMDR (eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing) and requires that you see a therapist that is trained in EMDR. EMDR can be very successful for those with severe Tilt. There is plenty of information available on the web if you want to know more, but it bears mentioning so you know the options is available

Tilt is a hardwired pattern and it isn’t going away without a fight. With sustained effort the preventive strategies outlined here are highly effective in preventing and perhaps even eliminating Tilt altogether.

Jared Tendler, MS, LMHC, is the newest member of the StoxPoker.com coaching staff. You can contact him at jared@jaredtendlergolf.com.

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The Biggest Mistake of All

Posted on May 15, 2009 by Gugel.


To avoid situations in which you might make mistakes may be the biggest mistake of all.
- Peter McWilliams

Youll never be a great poker player if you avoid difficult situations.  The more you get challenged, the more youll think and adjust, and the better player youll become.  The great thing about heads up is that it puts you in tough spots way more often than 6max or full ring games.

Youre first priority should not be making money.  It should be becoming a better player.  The money will come eventually.

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