Poker

Maidumji's Poker Chronicles: Aussie Bound!

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Hello again, my poker mates!

It’s been a while since I signed in, and what better day to make a comeback, than one after winning a very significant poker tournament? My very first of its kind! I just grabbed a spot in the top 15 in the 9stacks Aussie100#1 tournament! The fact that I am also the only woman  to make it so far on 9stacks, is quite staggering as a thought. Aussie Millions, get ready for maidumji!

Please indulge this billo, as I bask in the glory of winning a package to Australia worth Rs. 2 lakhs.

On October 21st, 9stacks hosted the Aussie100 Tournament, where on offer were 15 packages to Melbourne, Australia, for a buy in of only Rs. 5500.

I tried to win a ticket by playing some satellites but no luck there. Nevertheless, I decided to take my chances and invest the buy in amount for a chance to win such a cool prize.

In the beginning levels of the poker tournament, I played pretty tight and avoided the big pots. This helped me maintain a good stack in the middle, though it’s true what they say, you are as good as your last hand! I lost a significant amount of chips to some bad beats and flips (which in hindsight couldn’t have been avoided) and by the time the bubble phase arrived, found myself on the short end of the stick with a short stack (If this isn’t every tournament player’s nightmare, I don’t know what is!)

This is when I felt in sync with mountain dew because “darr sabko lagta hai, gala sabka sookhta hai” you all, no kidding!

On a serious note, this final phase was when I realized that so much is out of one’s hands. Skill can get you closer to the finish line, but your moves are as good as the table’s reaction to them. I saw so many people get busted on monster hands and bad beats, I honestly knew it could go either way for me as well. Thankfully, I was able to steal some blinds and held on to my insignificant stack and once reached the final 15, went all out on a suited QK losing to an Ace high hand.

It took me a good 15 minutes to wrap my head around the fact that I actually won! I consider myself a newbie as far as competitive online poker goes, so yes, it is a significant win for me. This was probably my best online poker tournament performance till date. The great thing about 9stacks I feel, is that they keep coming up with really cool, very do - able promotions and in my opinion, the best poker offers and tournament formats. Gives all us  amateurs the confidence to really pursue the sport and motivate ourselves to do better each time.

This win has boosted my confidence. I have been working very hard towards improving my game everyday and this win validates the effort  I am putting in. It feels wonderful!

I am gearing up for more poker tournaments where I hope to compete for more packages which I can redeem for cash.

So long story short, you will see Maidumji in Australia, mates!

Love,

maidumji

5 rookie mistakes every poker player makes in the beginning.

Just starting out as a poker player? Know the basics of poker but don’t win as much as you thought you would? Check out a few tips to know what are the few common mistakes every rookie poker player makes in the beginning.

1. Playing All or Most Hands

Are you laughing at this one? We’ve all been in this position when we started out playing poker. We learn the basics and couldn’t wait to start being in the midst of the action. After all, we thought, this is how you learn, how hard could it be?

You over called your low pocket pairs, overbet a mediocre hand on the turn, hoping for fates to ‘Turn’ the river to your advantage. That’s not skill, that’s not the strategy, that’s gambling because you are waiting for luck to turn the tides in your favor, instead of really playing and getting value on a good hand.

2. Marrying a Hand

Everybody has a favorite hand, one that they have always won with, historically and have become attached to it.

Because poker is such a competitive game, we often think, especially in the beginning, that ‘giving up’ or ‘folding’,  when we have in hand our favorite set of hole cards, is a bad thing. We get emotionally attached to a hand because we don’t want to necessarily get bluffed out of the pot, or if we are bluffing, let the other people know that we have a weaker hand with respect to the cards on the table.

Unfortunately, this doesn't work in your favor because by continuously calling bets you are never sure of where you stand in the hand before it is too late. You may have an AceKing up your sleeve, but if the board is not with you, and the others have better hands that respond to the 5 cards laid out on the table, you cant really do anything about it.

3. Improper Bet Sizes

Learning how to correctly size your bets in poker (no limit and pot limit games) to manipulate the table comes with the experience of playing poker regularly. Most newbies either underbet or overbet, always hovering on the extremes and giving away their hands to the more experienced players.

For example, newbies often raise the pot 5x-6x the size of the blinds preflop or when they are out of position.

Miss sizing bets also happen after the flop where newbies with big hands under bet even though there are many hands in the game, allowing them to cheaply draw to a better hand. Sometimes overbetting is done to ‘Protect’ the hand, In most cases, this behavior on the table is incorrect as ideally, you would want to bet an amount that maximizes how much one can win and minimize the loss.

4. Buckling under Table Talk

Table talk is an art that of course, the poor poker noob takes time to get used to. The more experienced player applies various subtle techniques to intimidate his opponent and get to know more about their hand by just, talking and creating a certain kind of pressure. Most noobs buckle under the pressure and either fold their hand or over call/ wrongly bet to reveal their hand to the rest of the table.

5. Playing on Scared Money

Scared Money in poker is the amount /chips that a poker player is reluctant to use even though it is part of his bankroll because he is nervous about losing it while playing.

In the beginning, all newbies are scared money, and that can be because they haven’t played the game too much, don’t understand the strength of their hand or haven’t planned their bankroll funding properly and are unsure of how to curb their loss while playing the game.

What one needs to understand is that the amount you have kept aside as bankroll, cannot be expected to be recovered each time and the beauty of the game is in remaining in the present and playing the hand dealt to you, as skillfully as possible. Scared money never really gets you anywhere. You will not be able to focus on reading the table or plan your next move against the player next to you.

What Stakes To Play

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A short answer to this topic would be -  'Whatever your heart desires.' After all, it is your money. You can decide whether you want to take shots at a bigger stake, or you prefer building slowly and gradually at lower stakes.

High Risk - High Reward vs Low Risk vs Low Reward. But if you want an informed advice based on years of experience, read on.

When I first started playing, I was at the lowest stakes, grinding it out. Occasionally, I would take shots at higher ones, but usually that didn't go well and I came back to basics. 

The simple rule of thumb:

Your Bankroll should be at least 50 times the full buyin at that level. 

For e.g. if you are playing at 5/10 with a 1k buyin, having a 50k bankroll is recommended. Ideally, 100 buyins is much preferred especially if you multi-table, but 50 buyins is a decent place to start at.

Let's say you want to take shots at a higher level, but you don't have that much money. Does this mean you cannot play until you have 50 buyins? If we are talking specifically about shot taking, you could take a shortcut. Here's the rule:

Shot Taking is OK if your bankroll is 50 CURRENT buyins + 10 times the buyin of next level.

For e.g. if you are playing at 5/10 and want to take a shot at 10/20, then the minimum BR according to our rule of thumb you need is 100k. But by our shortcut, you need 70k instead. (50 buyins of the lower level + 10 buyins of the higher level).

Point to note: You need to have the discipline to drop down at the lower stake if you lose the 10 buyin of the higher level.

Why this conservative approach?

Poker is a game of variance. Like most sports, it involves an element of luck, perhaps more so. But the difference is that unlike other sports, this factor of luck directly translates into money earned. 

For e.g. last year, Paul Pogba of Manchester United hit the frame of the goal more than any other player in the league (somewhere around 14-16 times), which is very unlucky. If any of those shots were a few inches to the left or right, they would have been goals. It would have made a big difference in the eventual final standings of the club. But it didn't directly affect the income of the club.

Now a poker example, say you have AA pre flop. And your opponent has KK. If you do the maths (check our basic maths article), you will win this hand 81% of the time when all the money goes in pre-flop. So, 4 out of 5 times. or 40/50 times. or 4000/5000 times. You get the gist right? But here's the twist:

It is a statistical possibility that your opponent hits his, 19% times in a row. He might win with kings against your aces 10 times in a row. Of course it is unlikely, but still possible. And it is against this situation that we protect ourselves against by having a conservative approach towards bankroll management.

Running bad, Variance, Downswing, Bad Beats - whatever you prefer calling it, is a real phenomenon in Poker. And when it happens, it not only erodes our bankroll, but also our confidence. We start questioning our poker knowledge, and we wonder if we've forgotten how to play.

Trust us, we've been there.

Managing your bankroll properly, and staying strong during downswings can often mean the difference between a great and a good player. More on that in some other post.

Good luck on the tables. Leave your comments and questions below.

Cheers,

Mayank

Mayank Jain is a writer who plays poker for a living. He writes at http://mayankja.in/ on mindfulness, travel and art, among other things.