Jump to content
advertisement_alt
  • entries
    30
  • comments
    77
  • views
    720

Entries in this blog

Just this past weekend I was watching my good friend John “BetOnDrew” Gonzalez playing in the $5000 Cage Match in Costa Rica.  In the Twitch chat a viewer in talking about another player (not competing in the Cage) who is also a poker coach said, “I’d never pay $200 for a coach…people who do that are idiots…why would I do that when I can learn myself?”That’s a great question and I at the last minute switched up what I want to talk about this month here in the blog.

 

In another Twitch chat as I was watching “BetOnDrew” or another member of the Thirst Lounge 10 this past month, someone else brought up the “4 Stages of Learning” which I first learned in high school psychology back in the early 1990’s.  This model was first taught in the late 1960’s by management trainer Martin M. Broadwell. 

 

The model says that to be competent at anything in life we go through 4 stages of learning…

1     1. Unconscious Incompetence- You don’t know what you don’t know.

2     2. Conscious Incompetence- You are aware of what you don’t know but you
      don’t know what to do about it.

3     3. Conscious Competence- You know what to do but it takes a lot of thought
     and concentration to do it. An example would be a kid first learning how to tie
     his or her shoes.  They can do it but it takes a lot of concentration to remember
     all the steps and then to actually perform them.

4    4. Unconscious Competence- You have become a master (or at least extremely
     proficient) at a task and can do it without much thought or effort.

 

Every great poker player goes through these stages. At first you don’t even know you have leaks in your game. Then you begin to realize you do but you’re not sure how to fix them.  Then you get educated in how to fix your leak but it’s still something you have to keep reminding yourself of over and over again how to play properly.  Finally, that skill or play becomes a natural part of your game that you don’t even think about anymore.

 

All the above got me to thinking about how most great players that I know went through 5 different stages that helped them get from level 2 (Conscious Competence) to Level 3 (Conscious Competence) and ultimately Level 4 (Unconscious Competence).

 

So here are my 5 Stages of Poker Learning:

1.      Personal Experimenting – As you begin being frustrated that you are losing
    all the time you begin to experiment…”Maybe I should play less/more
    hands…Maybe I should try a different bet size”, etc.  By trying new things you
    also begin to learn what works and what doesn’t. However many people will
    still have a nagging suspicion that there has to be more.  This leads them
    to…

 

2.     The Internet- A quick Google search and all of the sudden you have a wide
    variety of free articles, forums, chats, Youtube videos and now even Twitch
    streamers.  A tremendous amount of high quality advice for your poker
    game is available and it’s all there for FREE!  For many this is where the
    learning stops.  You learn a few tricks and tips and you’re satisfied. 

    However, for most while you might be moderately better it doesn’t mean
    you’re now a winning player, in fact the more you dive into all this free stuff
    the more you realize EVERYBODY has an opinion. It can sometimes be hard
    to separate out what is good advice from bad.  Just because someone has a
    big Twitch channel doesn’t mean they are a great player.  I’ve watched a few
    who are very entertaining but if you model your game after them you will
    learn a lot of bad poker stuff.  So this realization leads then to…

 

3.     Paid Content- The old axiom is true, “To make money you’ve got to be willing
    to spend money”.  At this point in your poker learning you are starting to
    buy books, courses or become a part of a training site.  Does this mean that
    everything you can pay for is worth it?  No, but 99% of it will be legit and
    your game will begin growing exponentially as you begin applying what
    you’re learning. 

    I know that’s what happened for me. I had been a small winning player for
    years but in 2012 as I started taking the game more seriously and began
    studying, my game grew leaps and bounds.  However, even in this you
    realize that books quickly get out-dated and that the courses are a
    somewhat cookie-cutter approach so to really amp up your game you’ll
    need…

 

4.     Personal Coaching- This gets back to the premise of this article…why would
    anyone ever pay for a coach?  The answer is quite simple!  Eventually to take
    your game to an even higher level you are going to want to have someone
    that can take you there.  Michael Jordan?  Yep had a coach.  Tiger Woods?
    Yep has a coach.  In poker a coach is able to help break-down your game and
    then build it back up to and even higher level.

    I’ve been fortunate enough through the years to have John “BetOnDrew
    Gonzalez (nearing 1 million in online cashes), Mike “Gags30Gagliano
    (WSOP bracelet winner and over 5 million in career cashes) and Alex
    “Assassinato” Fitzgerald (4 million in cashes and over 1000 students) all
    coach me.  None of these guys come cheap but I can say that they are worth
    every penny I spent because what they taught me and helped me to discover
    has paid itself back many, many times over.

    Here is another way to think about it, especially if you are a losing player. 
    Long-term what is better?  To keep losing money or to take that same
    amount I would have lost and instead invest it in a coach?  Pride says, “I can
    figure it out on my own”, wisdom says, “I should ask for help”. 

    All that to say that I am proud to announce that starting today I will be
    offering coaching to anyone who would like it for only $500 per hour!
    **Some restrictions apply, see the end of the post for more details. Oh and
    you’re welcome for this!

 

5.     Community- In this final stage (which for some may have come earlier) you
    find a group of poker friends that are on your level or even better and
    together you talk about poker, share hand histories and discuss strategies
    for what is working and what’s not. #BetterTogether

 

 

As for my March 2019, grind it was swingy.  I started out the first half of the month hot and then variance hit me hard the last half.  One of my favorite things to say is, “Sometimes you’re the bug and sometimes you’re the windshield.”  The last 2 Sunday’s of the month killed me, including just yesterday a top full house loss to quads and another full house loss to a straight flush…I definitely got splattered at the end but somehow eeked out a barely profitable month.  In any case, it’s been nice to be on a 4 month in a row win streak so let’s hope it continues in April.

 

Here is March’s breakdown…

 

150..…Tournaments Played
48…....Cashes (32%)
13..…. Final Tables
4.......Top 3 Finishes

0……Wins

$5798.43 in total cashes (2.3% ROI)

 

 

Now onto my Merge up-date. For those not familiar with my blog, Merge stopped allowing Pocket Fives to track scores on September 5th 2016, so what I’m doing here is tracking where I would have been had they not stopped tracking. I do play some on other networks but Merge gets out 95% of my volume so I thought it would be fun and motivating to keep things going as if though it never stopped. I use Poker Dominator to track all tourney’s so these are the most accurate and up-to-date numbers as of the last day of the month.

 

Merge Lifetime Total: $546936.65
Career Lifetime Total: $617684.55
Career number of Cashes: 4821

 

Follow my monthly results in real-time by following me on Twitter: @YourPokerPastor

Thanks for reading...please post a comment with your thoughts or anything you'd like me to address in future blogs.

 

**As for coaching go back and read it again carefully. Take note of the bolded letters.  🙂

 

 

The most often asked question I get about poker is, “Is it ok for you as a pastor/Christian to play”? I’ve answered that in blog posts, articles written about me, and in video interviews so I won’t answer that again right here.  However, there are 4 other questions that I get quite a bit that I thought this month I’d take some time to address…

 

 

Question #1: Why don’t you play more often live? 
This answer is two-fold.  The first is I just don’t have time.  Being a pastor demands a lot of my hours in a week so other than while on vacation, playing live tourney’s is just not a feasible option most of the time.

 

 

Second then is the ROI from my live vs online grind.  I have a casino about 15 minutes from my home but their nightly tourney is $80 and only get a couple dozen people.  It’s been over 3 years since I last played there and I actually won the tourney for something like $750-$800.  However, a few nights before that I had won an online $33 tourney for over $2000.  So the more I thought about it the less sense it made to play live when online I can stay home and enjoy all it’s amenities while also being able to multi-table for a much bigger possible ROI.

 

 

Question #2: Why don’t you play cash games?

 

First, is because I enjoy MTT’s way more than cash but the real reason is because of a personal conviction of mine.  As a Christian I am trying to serve and help people as much as I can and never want to take advantage of someone. In MTT’s I know that most people are playing recreationally and because it’s a fixed buy-in we know going in exactly how much we’re going to invest. 

 

 

If I remember right the 2nd year after New Jersey regulated online poker they released a report that showed that their typical tournament player was in their late 30’s with over 70k per year in income and the average buy-in was just a little over $10.  In other words, a bunch of people playing recreationally with dollars they would have probably spent on some other form of recreation.

 

 

Now you might be asking, “But aren’t the cash stats probably pretty similar?”  And the answer to that is probably yes.  However, in cash games you can usually table select (I saw this week PokerStars is changing that).  What this means is it’s much easier to “prey” on bad players.  I’m not saying that’s wrong for you but for me personally it is.  My goal is never to hurt someone financially and the risk of doing that is much greater in cash games where you can just keep stacking someone over and over again with the hope they just keep re-buying.  For me personally that would be wrong.

 

 

Question #3:  Why don’t you stream?

 

I’m very humbled anytime I’m asked this because it means that people want to watch me play. However, as I’ve examined the pros and cons of it, the cons far outweigh the pros.  In fact, it is this way for most. 

 

 

Ultimately you must decide, do I want to be a good steamer or do I want to be a good poker player?  Are there some who are able to do both…absolutely but for most it seriously hinders their game.  Oh sure some even still eek out some profit but not the kind that could be won if they didn’t have all the other stuff happening.

Now don’t get me wrong I love streamers and have made a lot of great friends that are both streamers and people I’ve met in the chat.  For me personally though knowing that I need the poker money income to supplement my salary from the church, the ROI of streaming (new friends, followers, subscribers, etc) was not as great as just concentrating on my tables. Oh sure there was always the outside shot I’d become the next big thing on Twitch (highly doubtful) but the work needed to do that is just time I don’t have to invest.

 

 

Question #4: Why don’t you play on WPN (ACR/True/BlackChip) very much?

 

While I do play on there from time to time I love what streamer ShipDon’tDie recently asked in a poll. “What would you rather do…play on ACR or die in a grease fire?”  Grease fire won hands down.  I happen to agree.  I despise their software. For whatever reason when I’m multi-tabling it just doesn’t “fit my eye” very well.  I also hate the tremendously long late registrations.  While my preferred site (Merge) also has long late reg, with smaller fields it means that tourney’s can wrap-up in a reasonable amount of time and not require me to be up every night until 2-3am.

 

 

Ok so with all that said, how did my February grind go? Surprisingly, I was able to play way more than I thought I would.  In fact, I played the most MTT’s I’ve been able to do in about 1 ½ years. Guess that’s what happens when you get a lot of things cancelled because of snow and extremely cold temps. 

 

 

So I grinded my way to another profitable month and added in a few more tourney’s on BetOnline. This was the first site I had played post Black Friday.  I then stopped after I found Merge.  From time to time though I’d jump on in the past 2 years and micro grind the little bit I had on there.  Not surprisingly, I couldn’t beat the micro-grinders because while it’s easy to beat just 1, if every hand you have 5 people in a pot no matter how much you raise, it’s just not going to work out.  So I decided to put a deposit on and as soon as I started playing bigger stakes my chart started going up and to the right!

 

 

Here is February’s breakdown…

 

170..…Tournaments Played
67…....Cashes (39.4%)
32..…. Final Tables
15.......Top 3 Finishes

4…...…Wins

 

$8089.62 in total cashes (36.2% ROI)


Now onto my Merge up-date. For those not familiar with my blog, Merge stopped allowing Pocket Fives to track scores on September 5th 2016, so what I’m doing here is tracking where I would have been had they not stopped tracking. I do play some on other networks but Merge gets out 95% of my volume so I thought it would be fun and motivating to keep things going as if though it never stopped. I use Poker Dominator to track all tourney’s so these are the most accurate and up-to-date numbers as of the last day of the month.

Merge Lifetime Total: $541,864.10
Career Lifetime Total: $611,886.12
Career number of Cashes: 4773

 

Follow my monthly results in real-time by following me on Twitter: @YourPokerPastor

Thanks for reading...please post a comment with your thoughts or anything you'd like me to address in future blogs.

 

 

On January 2nd I won the Merge Networks Nightly $33, for almost $1000.  It was nice to get the first win of the year early on but even more importantly, this win pushed me past the $600,000 mark in career cashes. Most of those cashes have taken place over the past 6 years but 2018, wrapped-up my 12th consecutive year of being in profit, so I thought I’d take this time to thank those who have helped me along the way.

 

As I put together this list, some names you will know, others you may not.  Some of the names you know, may be a bit controversial, but for me this list represents how they personally helped me and is not a statement on all their views or actions.  So with all that said, here are my top 10 influencers, in approximately the chronological order that they influenced me.

 

1.      Pat Mehaffie- This 60-something year- old grandmother, at the time, was the one who introduced me to Poker Stars in 2007.  She only played the play money side of it but it was through her influence that I signed up to, also play the play money part.  It was soon thereafter however, that Poker Stars emailed me saying they had credited my account with 2 real dollars.  I took that $2.00 and ran it up…the rest as they say is history.  My 600k in cashes all stems from that original $2.00 freeroll!

 

2.      Phil Gordon (@philnolimits) Phil’s book, Phil Gordon's Little Green Book: Lessons and Teachings in No Limit Texas Hold'em was the first poker book I ever bought.  It was really what cemented in my mind how much of a strategy game poker really is and gave me some initial fundamentals to apply.

 

3.      Vince Olaf (@shnoodolaf)  My wife and I moved to Harrisburg, PA post Black Friday and my online game play had greatly diminished other than playing on BetOnline. It was shortly after moving that I discovered a local game Vince ran in local restaurants.  This game gave me a chance to meet a lot of new people and just for fun play the game we all love.  However, an honorable mention to this list could go to Jon Bratz who asked me if I had ever played on the Merge network. That same night, April 17th 2012, I signed up on Merge and played my first tourney. Since then over 500k of my cashes have come on there.  So thanks Vince for hosting the game and for being a great friend as well.

 

4.      Annie Duke (@AnnieDuke)  Her book, Decide to Play Great Poker: A Strategy Guide to No-Limit Texas Hold-em revolutionized my game at the time. For the first time I was seeing how to see the game through hand ranges, proper bets sizes and a proper balance of bluffs vs value.  And it all came down to then making proper decisions and that those proper decisions over time would always pay off in the long run.  I’m not here to debate whether all her decisions off the felt were always proper but I do know that her book definitely set me on the right path poker wise.

 

5.      Jonathan Little (@JonathanLittle)    After Annie’s book, I had a real thirst to soak up as much poker content as possible.  So I started subscribing to PocketFives, when they were also a training site. At the same time I also came across a lot of stuff from Jonathan. Books, articles, videos, you name it, I wanted to know everything he had to say, especially in relation to tournaments.  Jonathan still puts out a ton of quality content which you can find on his web-site. www.jonathanlittlepoker.com     

 

6.      John Gonzalez (@BetOnDrew) If I were putting these in order of importance here is the #1 guy on the list.  If anyone deserves an entire blog post just about them, it’s this guy! I first became familiar with Drew through one of his PocketFives training videos. Then on July 22, 2013, he became my 1st coach. Wow did he open my eyes to so much more and it was through his influence that poker went from a nice little side income to a second career.  Even greater though is he has become a fellow brother in Christ and my very best friend in the poker community.  We have spent many hours in person and online learning and growing together in the things of life and in the game we both love.  Thanks bro…truly better together!

 

7.        Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) Daniel hasn’t influenced my play as much as my attitude towards the game. The better you become the easier it is to get upset when others make stupid plays.  Our natural tendency is to want to call out how bad they are or call them a fish or donkey or try to teach them the right thing. What I learned from Daniel though, was to make the game fun for people. Don’t chastise them…and for goodness sake don’t teach them…you want them making bad plays so why would you correct that?

 

8.      Mike Gagliano (@Gags30poker)  Gags is another person I became familiar with via the PocketFives training videos.  Then we played a live tournament together in Atlantic City, which eventually led to him becoming my 2nd coach (www.Gags30poker.com).  His big influence?  Convincing me to use a HUD…yep that’s right…up until this point I had refused!  That turned out to be a pretty good decision…thanks Gags!

 

9.      Alex Fitzgerald (@TheAssassinato)   My 3rd coach and yet another one that I met via PocketFives. Alex is the most expensive but is worth every penny.  His knowledge of the math side of things is second to none.  His books, videos and coaching are all worth it but he also puts out a lot of free content for those that can’t afford it!  You can sign-up for all that and more at his web-site www.pokerheadrush.com   Alex is another person that I’ve gotten to know off the felt as well and it’s a real honor to call him a friend.

 

10.   Doug Polk (@DougPolkPoker) For a long while no one was cranking out more high quality and highly entertaining YouTube poker videos than Doug.  Hearing and watching his thought process eventually led me to purchasing a few of his courses through www.upswingpoker.com.  Doug has helped me to clarify some of the more complex parts of poker into much simpler terms and concepts and I’m grateful for his teaching style.

 

I wish I had more time to further thank those above and the many that were not mentioned. My point is this…whether it’s poker or life, none of us are who we are without others.  None of us should ever stop learning.  None of us should think we are self-made.  So surround yourself with people that will make you better…whether that means in person or having mentors from a far.

 

As for my January grind, I was again busy traveling a lot for church related activities so again my volume was about ½ of what I would typically like it to be.  However, even in the limited time, I was able to grind out a profitable month that got 2019 off to a good start.

 

With all that said…here is the January 2019 break-down…

99..…Tournaments Played
41…..Cashes (41.4%)
20..…. Final Tables
7.......Top 3 Finishes
3……Wins

$4605.60 in total cashes (65.40% ROI)


Now onto my Merge up-date. For those not familiar with my blog, Merge stopped allowing Pocket Fives to track scores on September 5th 2016, so what I’m doing here is tracking where I would have been had they not stopped tracking. I do play some on other networks but Merge gets out 95% of my volume so I thought it would be fun and motivating to keep things going as if though it never stopped. I use Poker Dominator to track all tourney’s so these are the most accurate and up-to-date numbers as of the last day of the month.

 

Merge Lifetime Total: $536,846.14
Career Lifetime Total: $603796.50
Career number of Cashes: 4706

 

Follow my monthly results in real-time by following me on Twitter: @YourPokerPastor

 

Thanks for reading...please post a comment with your thoughts or anything you'd like me to address in future blogs.

Sorry for the lack of posts the past few months, there are various reasons. The first is, as many of you know ,I’m a pastor “in real life”. I was asked to be a part of a 25 person co-hort made up of pastors from all over the USA, to meet together for a 10-month period where we are discussing the future of what Christianity and The Church will look like in the U.S. This is requiring a lot of reading, webinars and travel. Add all that on top of my normal pastoral duties , which of course recently included all the extra Christmas season stuff and my time for poker has been very limited.

 

The second reason is poker related. After our early 2018 adventures in moving, the summer saw me back to the normal grind and I was again crushing. I cashed out about $17,000 in profit over about a 10 week period which still left about $5500 in my Merge account. I then proceeded to go on my worst downswing (from an EV side) of my entire poker career. If there was a way to get bad-beated I found it. Day after day, week after week. At one point I went through a couple week stretch where I was running 41bb/100 BELOW expectation. That is insanely high…I didn’t even know it was possible.

 

Now the way I operate my bankroll management is based on the amount I have in my online poker account at any one time, not my overall poker/life roll. So I dropped some of the bigger buy-in tourneys but the bad beats kept coming. This certainly didn’t help with motivation. I was already tired from all my increased pastoral stuff so the last thing I wanted in the evening was to sit down and get bad-beated over and over again. So my volume greatly decreased…and my Merge account balance kept decreasing. Determined to stick with my bankroll management rules, I again dropped down in stakes…but the losing continued. By this point I was back down to micro-stakes…but the bad beats just would not end. Long story short, for the first time since my original $100 deposit on Merge back in 2012, I had to reload.

 

Money wise I’ve had worse downswings through the years but this was the worst EV wise and thankfully things began to turn around after I deposited. December in my limited time playing was a profitable month but didn’t nearly make up for the losses in October and November.

 

For the year though I was still greatly profitable (23.14% ROI) and I’m very thankful. 2018 marked my 12th consecutive year of being in profit. It’s stats like that which keep me somewhat sane when I’m going through those crazy downswing periods…I know that long-term I will be ok. This streak of 12 consecutive years also tells you how important it is to stick to good bankroll management. Had I not sucked it up and dropped down in stakes not just once but twice during this most recent downswing and had the –EV continued at the same rate it could have spelled disaster. However, I personally stick to my 50x buy-in requirement for MTT’s and that has served me well.

 

I’m excited for 2019 even though my early year will still be quite busy with my co-hort activities. I haven’t set my poker goals yet because I’m still trying to wrap my head around how much time I’ll actually have. What about you guys…comment here on the post or on Twitter…what kind of goals have you set for 2019?

 

To put a nice tidy bow on all this, here is a re-cap of October, November and December’s limited grind with disastrous results…

217..…Tournaments Played

82…..Cashes (37.8%)

24..…. Final Tables

9.......Top 3 Finishes

4……Wins

$5294.76 in total cashes (-33.32% ROI)

 

Now onto my Merge up-date. For those not familiar with my blog, Merge stopped allowing Pocket Fives to track scores on September 5th 2016, so what I’m doing here is tracking where I would have been had they not stopped tracking. I do play some on other networks but Merge gets out 95% of my volume so I thought it would be fun and motivating to keep things going as if though it never stopped. I use Poker Dominator to track all tourney’s so these are the most accurate and up-to-date numbers as of the last day of the month.

 

Merge Lifetime Total: $532,745.96

Career Lifetime Total: $599,190.90

Career number of Cashes: 4665

 

Note: In this up-date the 3 above numbers have been adjusted slightly down because I realized that when I’ve been filtering in the past to only include MTT results I was saying a field size 10 or greater. However, I remembered that some 10 man double or nothing sit-n-go’s would thus be included. So in the new report I filtered for field sizes 11 and greater. This should now be entirely accurate and I’ll continue with this new filter going forward.

 

Follow my monthly results in real-time by following me on Twitter: @YourPokerPastor

 

Thanks for reading...please post a comment with your thoughts or anything you'd like me to address in future blogs.

Tiger Woods was in the news this month having won his first golf tournament in 5 years. This particular victory in the PGA Tour Championship event was amazing because it came just 18 months removed from spinal fusion surgery and 1 year after Tiger himself debated whether he’d ever be able to walk again normally, much less play golf. This isn’t the first time however, that Tiger went through a stretch of time where he failed to win a tournament. While this most recent stretch was due to physical ailments, the previous times were self-inflicted…and no I’m not talking about his character flaws…instead I’m talking about when he has overhauled his golf swing.

 

Unless you’re a huge fan of golf or Tiger or both, you may not be aware that Tiger has had 4 different golf swings throughout his career. As this excellent article on GolfChannel.com points out, these swing changes were not minor adjustments but major overhauls. The question though is why? Why when you are the #1 player in the world would you change your swing? And then do it yet again as the #1 player? And then yet one more time as the #1 player?

 

The first time Tiger stated that it was for long-term health reasons. There was no way with the torque he created as a teen and early 20-something would he be able to sustain that as he got older. The other 2 times though had to do with a sense of self-improvement. Yes he was the #1 player, but he knew he could be even better.

Now with each swing overhaul came a time where he at least initially struggled. After all he was used to doing his swing one way and now he was doing something completely different…it wasn’t yet second nature…but once he locked it in, indeed he was always better than before.

 

The reason I bring all this up is, I’ve noticed the same kind of thing happens in my poker game when I’m implementing new strategies. Now before I go any further, l want to make the disclaimer that I’m not saying I’m the Tiger Woods of poker or that I’m anywhere near being the #1 player in the world (my all-time best when P5’s tracked the site I play was #971). However, poker through the years has provided me a nice income to help support my wife and I.

 

Like Tiger though, I’m always striving to get better and so despite making a nice living off of playing a game, there is always that part of me that says, “How can I get better?” Most of the time that leads to just minor tweaks as I go through my daily and weekly study habits. However, sometimes that leads to overhauls of my game. Each time I’ve done that though, I initially struggle. On the back side though I always come out better for it, both as a player and in the results. By my count I have had 4 such overhauls in the past and during September I started my 5th.

 

To explain why, let me re-cap what my year has been like so far. January through June was mostly consumed with making the move to our new house. This meant lower volume than normal but I was still able to grind out a small but respectable profit. July and August then saw me back to normal volume and stakes and in total I profited a little over 12k. Not nearly my best 2 month stretch but decent enough that if you strung those together over the course of a year it’s still more playing a game part-time than most Americans make full-time. Despite this though, the downtime during the first half of the year and then getting back to the grind made me realize that my game had gotten a bit stale.

 

So without going into all the details of what I’m doing or the strategy that I’m implementing, September became an overhaul month…and quite frankly an overhaul still in progress. The month itself started out mostly break even, then I had a couple of nice scores, only to give it all back by the end of the month. In fact I went into the last day down $10 for the month. Sunday the 30th though was a bloodbath but had more to do with running over 70bb/100 below EV than the changes to my game itself.

 

Because of the changes, I played a bit less volume since it means having to consciously think more about the decisions I’m making implementing the new strategy. It always stinks going through these self-imposed down swings, but again speaking from past experience, it always makes the future upswings that much greater. So I’m entering into October confident that in the long-term this will be a good thing but recognize that I still have a bit to go until this is to the level of unconscious competence.

 

I write all this in hopes of inspiring you to not get complacent in your game. Study and work hard to improve…and realize that if you don’t see the results right away that it’s natural…if it happened to Tiger Woods it will certainly happen to you.

In any case, here is what September looked like for me…

139..…Tournaments Played

55…..Cashes (39.6%)

15..…. Final Tables

8.......Top 3 Finishes

4……Wins

$8611.91 in total cashes (-10.11% ROI)

 

Now onto my Merge up-date. For those not familiar with my blog, Merge stopped allowing Pocket Fives to track scores on September 5th 2016, so what I’m doing here is tracking where I would have been had they not stopped tracking. I do play some on other networks but Merge gets out 95% of my volume so I thought it would be fun and motivating to keep things going as if though it never stopped. I use Poker Dominator to track all tourney’s so these are the most accurate and up-to-date numbers as of the last day of the month.

Merge Lifetime Total: $528,593.64

Career Lifetime Total: $594,479.09

Career number of Cashes: 4599

 

Follow my monthly results in real-time by following me on Twitter: @YourPokerPastor

 

Thanks for reading...please post a comment with your thoughts or anything you'd like me to address in future blogs.

Which would you rather have? Run 14.17 bb/100 ABOVE expectation or run 8.18 bb/100 BELOW expectation? Most likely you’re going…”Duh Gilbert who doesn’t want to run better than expectation?”

 

Ok, let me ask you another question. When would you rather have Aces cracked by Pocket Sixes and lose a 30bb pot…the first hand of a tourney when you started with 166bb or on the money bubble for your last 30bb making you the bubble boy?

 

Again you’re going, “Duh, that’s a no brainer. In the first scenario yes a bad beat hurts but I’m still in the tourney. In the second, I’m out of the tourney and worse yet I didn’t make any money”. In the above scenario, your bb/100 of having Aces cracked by Sixes would have the same negative expectation for both cases, yet one seems way worse than the other doesn’t it?

 

I bring all this up because how you run early in a tournament can often greatly overshadow your overall bb/100 number. Let’s say you’re the one with the Pocket Sixes in the first hand of a tourney that cracks Aces. But instead of a 30bb pot, let’s say you stack the person. That is going to hugely inflate your bb/100 showing you running greatly above expectation. Flip the scenario and now you get Aces cracked for say a 10bb stack and your bb/100 below EV takes a hit but not too bad.

 

So let’s go back to the beginning of this post. Those were my numbers for the first 10 days of August and then after a day off, the next 4 days after that. During those first 10 days that I ran +14.17/100bb, I was early in tournaments running hot and building stacks. However, in the late stages of tourney’s I was either getting bad beated right at the money bubble or shortly thereafter. As an example, I played the Nightly $109 on Merge 6 times in those first 10 days and 4 of those times I was either the stone bubble or 1 off the stone bubble. In each of those 4 times I had QQ+ and each time I was ahead pre-flop. Long story short, even though my bb/100 showed I was running hot, in real money I had lost about $1300.

 

After the day off…a mental health day if you will…I was back on the tables and over the next 4 days I ran horrible early but great late. Picked up a win, had a 3rd place in the Big Ticket, then won the Nightly $109 and the next night was set-up for back-to-back wins but finished 4th after a bad beat. All in all, despite running 8.18 bb/100 below EV I had about $7300 in profit.

 

The moral of the story is, while over time your bb/100 will all equal out with you running both good and bad, both early and late, looking at it daily or even monthly doesn’t tell the whole story. In fact, overall for August my bb/100 was below expectation despite the fact I had a very profitable month.

 

Also we tend to remember/dwell on bad things in our lives much more than we do the positive. I once saw a study that showed for every negative thing someone says about us it takes 15 positive things to offset it. I think it’s the same way in poker…we tend to remember the bad beats we take way more than the ones we put on others. Overall this can lead to us having a very negative attitude, which in turn will hinder our play because we’re thinking that the worst is going to happen or we tell ourselves, “I just run so bad” which impacts how we play a hand.

 

So with all that said, keeping making the right decisions pre-flop, and on each street and let the cards falls as they may. Yes, go ahead and check your stats is you want but remember..Not All Variance is Created Equal!

 

In addition to a great month on the tables, it was a great month off as well. It was good to get back into the swing of things at church after my vacation and we’re getting settled into our new home as well. I was also honored to be asked by fellow pastor and poker player Rob Gardner to be on his Twitch Stream (www.Twitch.tv/pokerpastor) for an interview. You can watch the full interview on his Twitch VOD or you can watch it here.

 

In it we covered a wide-range of topics covering poker, life and faith. The feedback we’ve been getting has been very positive. Give it a watch and let me know what you think.

 

As for my actual August stats, let’s take a look…

157..…Tournaments Played

64…..Cashes (40.8%)

22..…. Final Tables

6.......Top 3 Finishes

4……Wins

$14,908.28 in total cashes (47.50% ROI)

 

Now onto my Merge up-date. For those not familiar with my blog, Merge stopped allowing Pocket Fives to track scores on September 5th 2016, so what I’m doing here is tracking where I would have been had they not stopped tracking. I do play some on other networks but Merge gets out 95% of my volume so I thought it would be fun and motivating to keep things going as if though it never stopped. I use Poker Dominator to track all tourney’s so these are the most accurate and up-to-date numbers as of the last day of the month.

Merge Lifetime Total: $520,158.42

Career Lifetime Total: $585,867.18

Career number of Cashes: 4544

 

Follow my monthly results in real-time by following me on Twitter: @YourPokerPastor

 

Thanks for reading...please post a comment with your thoughts or anything you'd like me to address in future blogs.

So our housing situation is finally all resolved! Still unpacking some boxes and doing little projects but was able to get back to a normal poker grind this month. The truth is over the first half of the year, I was wore out…some nights I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to keep my eyes open playing, so in addition to the low volume that I’ve already documented in previous blogs, my average buy-in was way down as well. In fact, it was all the way down to $37.33.

 

Going into July though I knew I’d be able to get back to normal so I started playing my normal games again. For July the ABI was $45.54. Now that may not sound like much of a difference, but that basically meant adding back in the $109’s and the Big Ticket $162 on Sunday’s. Sure enough on July 1st in the Big Ticket I finished 4th and the month just kept getting better from there. Included was a win in the Nightly $109,, two days after I had finished 2nd in it.

 

Overall the month didn’t crack my all-time top 10 but it was by far my best month of this year and it will help with all the new house expenses as well as momentum for the 2nd half of 2018. On a side note, this was also the month where I cracked the half-million mark in cashes just on Merge alone!

 

The picture below was from one of my Sunday grinds sitting out by the pool. Our new neighborhood is super relaxing and every day we see wildlife, mainly deer, wandering through our yard. One of my next steps is putting in a poker table so I can host some home games for friends of mine.

Dh3MVZGWsAAiOxr.jpg:small

As for the online grind, here is a break-down of our July results

153..…Tournaments Played

63…..Cashes (41.2%)

19..…. Final Tables

8.......Top 3 Finishes

2……Wins

$14,829.83 in total cashes (112.82% ROI)

 

Now onto my Merge up-date. For those not familiar with my blog, Merge stopped allowing Pocket Fives to track scores on September 5th 2016, so what I’m doing here is tracking where I would have been had they not stopped tracking. I do play some on other networks but Merge gets out 95% of my volume so I thought it would be fun and motivating to keep things going as if though it never stopped. I use Poker Dominator to track all tourney’s so these are the most accurate and up-to-date numbers as of the last day of the month.

Merge Lifetime Total: $505,294.67

Career Lifetime Total: $570,958.90

Career number of Cashes: 4480

 

Follow my monthly results in real-time by following me on Twitter: @YourPokerPastor

 

Thanks for reading...please post a comment with your thoughts or anything you'd like me to address in future blogs.

In a classic episode of Seinfeld, Jerry explains to Elaine about the time Superman discovered Bizarro World where everything is the opposite of our world. Down is up, right is wrong, you say goodbye when you come and hello when you leave. For me June felt like Bizarro World.

 

If you read my posts each month, you know that my wife and I have been in the process of buying a new house and that there were some speed bumps along the way. In any case, finally June was our month to close on the sale of our old home and close on the purchase of our new one. The first week of June was kind of normal and I was able to play a fairly regular schedule. However, that’s when Bizarro World started…

 

The second week of June I had a “vacation” week to close both houses and actually make the move. However, this vacation consisted of working 12-14 hour days, packing, moving, painting, cleaning, unpacking, etc.

 

The third week of June I was back to work but the entire week was spent traveling to North and South Carolina. I was there first for a conference then for me to visit and encourage about ½ dozen of our denominations pastors/churches in the South. So even though I was “back to work”, this particular week included a lot of sitting around, nice dinners out and chances to sleep in or catch a movie.

DgWcrfpUYAA3EfK.jpg:small

Late one night I also remembered that Mark “1DullGeek” Horn lived nearby where I was staying. I texted him and he jumped in his car to come meet up. We had previously met one year at the WSOP Circuit stop in Cherokee, but this was a nice chance to just sit and get to know each other a bit better. What I find interesting is that in many of these types of interactions I have with players, poker rarely comes up. For Mark and I in over 2 hours of conversation, poker may have been about 15 minutes of it. In any case, we had a great time. If you don’t already follow him, you can do so here. Twitter: https://twitter.com/1dullgeek Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/1dullgeek

 

The last week of June then was “back on vacation”...yep you guessed it…more unpacking, cleaning, painting, etc. All that to say, June was not a month I had much time to play poker. In fact, about 1/3 of all my buy-ins for the month occurred on just 1 Sunday. Unfortunately, even though I ran pretty good that day, my run-bad was in really bad spots (bubbled 3 tourney’s) and so that 1 losing day wiped out what would have been a winning month. Now again granted volume was super low for the month so it didn’t really hurt.

 

So exactly what did the month look like? Here it is…

60..…Tournaments Played

29…..Cashes (48.3%)

7..…. Final Tables

2.......Top 3 Finishes

2……Wins

$2221.61 in total cashes (-8.7% ROI)

 

Now onto my Merge up-date. For those not familiar with my blog, Merge stopped allowing Pocket Fives to track scores on September 5th 2016, so what I’m doing here is tracking where I would have been had they not stopped tracking. I do play some on other networks but Merge gets out 95% of my volume so I thought it would be fun and motivating to keep things going as if though it never stopped. I use Poker Dominator to track all tourney’s so these are the most accurate and up-to-date numbers as of the last day of the month.

Merge Lifetime Total: $490,517.82

Career Lifetime Total: $556,129.07

Career number of Cashes: 4417

 

Follow my monthly results in real-time by following me on Twitter: @YourPokerPastor

 

Thanks for reading...please post a comment with your thoughts or anything you'd like me to address in future blogs.

April and May were once again limited in the amount of time I had to play poker. We finally have a closing date for selling our old house and then buying the new one but there were still plenty of things that needed to be done in the meantime. My hope now is to get back to a normal schedule by July. However, so as to not keep belaboring my lack of time to grind month after month, let’s switch topics to something you guys asked about…

 

The question was, “How do you have such a high “In The Money” percentage?” I think the answer to that is multi-faceted so let’s break it down. First, I would say, is the ability to gain a healthy stack in the early stage of a tourney which then helps propel me to being in the money and then further. On Merge I have a definite skill edge over 90+% of the field so if I’m playing well then just making it to the money is not too hard.

 

Now obviously there are times I’m either not playing well or running well and this leads to my second point, which is I have a large bankroll for this site which allows me to fire multiple bullets. 2 years ago I was in Las Vegas playing a WSOP $1500 event when Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi got moved to my table. To me a $1500 buy-in is big…to him it was no big deal. His attitude was if I bust I bust and I’ll just re-buy back in during the next flight. It was then that I realized, that it’s the same way for me on Merge. The buy-ins I play range from $5.50-$162. With my bankroll, I can fire each of these tournaments multiple times. In fact, using Poker Dominator to track everything, I can tell you that personally I can fire 5 times in the $5.50 and still be profitable. 4 times in the $11, 3 times in the $33 and 2 times in both the $109 and $162. So the ability to fire multiple times and still not only be ITM but also be profitable is a huge advantage.

 

Now when the question was originally asked, one of the people also made the comment that not only are you cashing but you’re also making deep runs so it’s not like you’re just holding on to get into the money. While that is true, I also sort of have this innate ability to know when I should play for the win and when it’s better to just hang on for the min cash. In other words, sometimes the EV play is to fold when short stacked because the value of a double up isn’t as great as the odds are of making it to the money if you just fold another orbit. This is of course a form of ICM. Even then though there are times when I’m totally playing exploitatively against others. If I think I can get a steal through I will, even if it means I bust as the bubble boy. Again, this one is tough to explain but it’s something I’ve just seemed to naturally have a good feel for even before push/fold charts and ICM calculators and such came into popularity.

 

So there you have it…skill, firing multiple bullets and being a short stack ninja, in my mind are the 3 biggest reasons I consistently cash 40-45% of all the tourneys I play. Of course it always helps to run good as well in key spots but like you guys I have both heaters and downswings to contend with. So what do you guys think…any other reasons you can think of for why either myself or others that cash a large percentage of the time do so? Leave your comments here on the blog or Tweet a comment on my post.

 

Ok as for April and May let’s take a look at the once again limited grind… was fortunate enough to have a couple of nice wins to somewhat make up for the limited amount of action…

143…Tournaments Played

68…..Cashes (47.6%)

16.…. Final Tables

6.......Top 3 Finishes

4……Wins

$7401.78 in total cashes (77.85% ROI)

 

Now onto my Merge up-date. For those not familiar with my blog, Merge stopped allowing Pocket Fives to track scores on September 5th 2016, so what I’m doing here is tracking where I would have been had they not stopped tracking. I do play some on other networks but Merge gets out 95% of my volume so I thought it would be fun and motivating to keep things going as if though it never stopped. I use Poker Dominator to track all tourney’s so these are the most accurate and up-to-date numbers as of the last day of the month.

Merge Lifetime Total: $488,309.21

Career Lifetime Total: $553,907.46

Career number of Cashes: 4388

 

Follow my monthly results in real-time by following me on Twitter: @YourPokerPastor

 

Thanks for reading...please post a comment with your thoughts or anything you'd like me to address in future blogs.

Wow talk about a crazy last 2 months and it’s still not quite done. In total I only played 100 tournaments the last 2 months. February saw me play the lowest number of tournaments in a month in the last 6 years. March then saw me break that “record” by 50%.

 

So what was the cause of all this? Well 2 major factors were my house and the country of Haiti. Let me explain. When Lisa and I moved to Harrisburg, PA in 2010 to start a new church, we originally weren’t able to sell our house in our previous city so we had to settle for a smaller house than what we really need. Once that house sold 2 years later, we decided to still wait to purchase something new until we knew exactly where in Harrisburg the church would find a permanent location (we met in a movie theater for the first 5 ½ years).

 

Now that we’re in a permanent location, we decided to start “looking” and started the process of decluttering and getting the house in show condition. This took quite a bit of our time and much to our surprise when we listed the house it only took a few days for it to be under contract. This meant then taking most of our evenings to go look at houses to potentially purchase. Once we found one and were under contract, everything looked good to go. Well that is until the buyer of our home backed out of the contract at the last minute. The good news was we got to pocket his deposit money…the bad news of course was we had to start the process all over again.

 

Add into all of this that I spent a week in Orlando for a convention, had my normal church responsibilities including the extra prep for Easter week and Lisa hurt her foot. Oh and we haven’t even got to Haiti yet. For the second year in a row I was able to spend 8 days in Haiti serving people in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

 

As I said, last year, “There are some things you see which simply aren’t right”. Let me give you one example. We took a really rough ride in an off-road vehicle to the top of a mountain to visit a remote mountain church. Once there the pastor wanted to know if we wanted to hike to their water source. We said yes and down the backside of the mountain we went. It was 100 degrees, there is no shade and very dusty and rocky. I’m expecting when we get to the bottom (about 1.5 miles) that there will be a stream. Instead what we find is a pit in the ground. Down in that pit there is a hole big enough that someone can reach down in and ladle out a bit of water.

 

So here is the scene. 20-25 people standing in line waiting their turn to ladle out water 1 scoop at a time into a 5 gallon bucket. Once filled, the 5 gallon bucket weighs about 40lbs. Now it’s time to walk back up the mountain. Did I mention the heat? Did I mention the rocky, steep, uneven terrain? Yeah I did, what I haven’t mentioned is that most of this water hauling was being done by kids! In bare feet or poorly soled shoes. Oh and once at the top, they pour it out, then head back down the mountain to stand in line and do it all over again. In total they will make 3 trips in a day to provide water. This particular source serves 5 villages from 2 mountains. In the picture below, you can see the hole they reach into just behind the blue cup.

DZ5SChEX4AEIi53.jpg:small

This story is just 1 afternoon amongst 8 days in the country. Each time I go, I try to do my small part to help while I’m there. The biggest thing trips like this do though is change you. It’s hard to come back to the USA and complain about anything. I mean think about it…right now you can walk to your refrigerator and you have options of what to eat. If you don’t like those options you can always go out to eat at the dozens of restaurants right near you. Or think about this morning as you got dressed…again you had options. Most people in Haiti have no options…and although they are the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere they are “only” the 20th poorest country in the world. So next time you take a bad beat in a hand or tournament and think “this is the worst possible thing”, please realize that it’s really not. In fact, stop and thank God that you have the time and money to play a game you love.AF1QipPzMSdgVcSwaxwFyWYOfVCfhc3gHjahNQG7H7Jk

 

Once back from Haiti, it was time for Easter week at the church which is always busy and then thankfully a new offer came in for our house which we accepted. Also thankfully, the sellers of the house we’re purchasing held it off the market while we found a new buyer. So again we’re in the midst of house inspections and hopefully soon packing. All that to say, it looks like I’m still a month or so away from getting back to the grind like I’ve been in the past. However, this unscheduled break has been good. After 10 years of playing, 6 of them seriously grinding, an extended break has been just what I needed.

 

Ok let’s get going with the breakdown of February and March’s very limited grind…

100…Tournaments Played

40….Cashes (40.0%)

9.…. Final Tables

3.......Top 3 Finishes

1……Wins

$3605.87 in total cashes (-4.98% ROI)

 

Now onto my Merge up-date. For those not familiar with my blog, Merge stopped allowing Pocket Fives to track scores on September 5th 2016, so what I’m doing here is tracking where I would have been had they not stopped tracking. I do play some on other networks but Merge gets out 95% of my volume so I thought it would be fun and motivating to keep things going as if though it never stopped. I use Poker Dominator to track all tourney’s so these are the most accurate and up-to-date numbers as of the last day of the month.

Merge Lifetime Total: $481,345.68

Career Lifetime Total: $546,505.68

Career number of Cashes: 4320

 

Follow my monthly results in real-time by following me on Twitter: @YourPokerPastor

 

Thanks for reading...please post a comment with your thoughts or anything you'd like me to address in future blogs.

The year started off great! Picked-up a win the 3rd day in and then another in the Nightly $33 around mid-month. Add on top of that a bunch of other good scores and by the middle of the month I had a few thousands in profit and was virtually guaranteed that I’d have a winning month.

 

And that’s where the problem occurred. I have a bad habit when I’m guaranteed a winning month like that to start to playing a bit looser than normal…not necessarily pre-flop but post-flop I’ll start floating too many hands or looking someone up on the river wider than I should. I guess in my mind I think “Not a big deal you can afford it”. The problem with that though is the strategy that got me to a winning month up to that point gets thrown out the window.

 

This doesn’t happen all the time but it definitely did in January. Add on top of that a case of the run-bads and all of the sudden what was going to be a great month only becomes ok. During this 2 week or so period I had one point where I failed to cash in 10 consecutive tournaments. If you follow my blog, you know that’s unheard of since I normally cash in the 45% range (some have asked how that is, especially since I make so many deep runs. I have a note to make that a topic for a future blog post).

 

In any case, I was fascinated by this streak of non-cashes and decided to look up my career history of streaks in Poker Dominator. Unfortunately, I purged all my results from PokerStars from back in the day so my database begins with the start of playing on Merge (April 17, 2012) but then includes all the WPN skins, Boavada, Ignition, regulated sites in NJ & NV, as well as Bet Online, Intertops and Global.

Here is a breakdown of my various tournament streaks…

Winning Days: 8 (August 20, 2015-August 27, 2015)

Losing Days: 18 (May 16, 2016-June 3, 2016)

Winning Months: 7 (July 2015-January 2016)

Losing Months: 5 (November 2012-March 2013)

Consecutive Tourney’s Cashed: 9 (February 14, 2015-February 17, 2015)

Consecutive Tourney’s without a Cash 23 (January 3 2013- January 6, 2013)

Consecutive Years in Profit 6 (2012-current) (11 years if I had all my old data)

 

Couple of take-away’s from this. The consecutive days winning and losing and the streaks of cashing or not cashing I have no recollection of at all. The 5 consecutive months of losing I do remember and it was the motivator to get a Pocket Fives subscription back when they were still a training site as well as doing tracking. It was through them that I found DrewPeacoq8 or as many of you know him today, @BetOnDrew and we started coaching and ultimately became close friends. Later, I would help lead him into a relationship with Jesus. The following year I had the privilege of officiating his wedding in both NC and PA (yeah he’s a wedding baller like that) and today we remain super close. So even in the midst of something that at the time seemed incredibly bad, this streak of losing months changed my poker career and ultimately John’s eternity.

 

I also vividly remember the streak of winning months. It started in July of 2015 right after my wife and I had gotten back from Costa Rica for 2 weeks celebrating our 20th anniversary. I contracted some sort of virus down there and when we returned I was sick in bed for a few weeks. The first Sunday of July I decided to play the Merge High Roller but was still so sick I didn’t have the energy for any other tables that day. I ended up taking 3rd for almost 9k and that was the start to my first 30k month. I would follow July up with a 6 more consecutive months of major scores. Other than November which was “only” 10.6k for the month all the other months were at least 17k+ and included my 2nd ever 30k+ month.

 

In total those 7 months yielded over 140k in cashes. Now for the “bad beat” part of this story. I couldn’t withdraw fast enough from Merge at the time since 2.5k checks were the only option and the cash-out times were extremely slow. My roll on Merge kept growing and growing…it was way more than I’d ever want to keep online.

 

Finally they started letting me do 5k withdraws and they sped things up. Then they switched to Bitcoin. Here comes the bad beat part…the last 40k or so was when Bitcoin was a hair under 1k. I immediately then withdrew it all to my bank. Had I held it, even with the recent drop in BTC, it would have grown to anywhere from 300k (at today’s price) all the way up to 800k had I cashed it out in December. Talk about a coulda shoulda woulda! Oh well, I did what I thought was wise at the time.

Ok let’s get going with the breakdown of January…

140…Tournaments Played

57….Cashes (40.7%)

14.…. Final Tables

6.......Top 3 Finishes

3……Wins

$6403.98 in total cashes (22.32% ROI)

 

Now onto my Merge up-date. For those not familiar with my blog, Merge stopped allowing Pocket Fives to track scores on September 5th 2016, so what I’m doing here is tracking where I would have been had they not stopped tracking. I do play some on other networks but Merge gets out 95% of my volume so I thought it would be fun and motivating to keep things going as if though it never stopped. I use Poker Dominator to track all tourney’s so these are the most accurate and up-to-date numbers as of the last day of the month.

Merge Lifetime Total: $478,147.03

Career Lifetime Total: $542,899.81

Career number of Cashes: 4280

 

Follow my monthly results in real-time by following me on Twitter: @YourPokerPastor

 

Thanks for reading...please post a comment with your thoughts or anything you'd like me to address in future blogs.

After my Father-in-laws death my wife and I spent about a week with my Mother-in-law at the beginning of the month and then of course as a pastor the month of December is pretty busy. All that to say I only got to play 16 of the 31 days but happy to say the little I did play, I had some really nice results and showed a decent profit yet again this month.

 

However, with that being said I left a lot on the table. Three times during the last half of the month I final tabled Merge’s biggest tourney of the day. In all 3 I entered the final table as chip leader but only managed a 3rd and two 8th place finishes. In both of the 8th’s I suffered horrible run-outs to get short-stacked and then ironically enough QQ<1010 in both to bust. Amazing that just a couple of ladders would have doubled my profit for the month and of course winning each would have made for yet another 10k+ profit month. Oh well…will just have to be content with what we got…but man oh man would have been a nice way to finish the year.

In other news, Adam Small, the owner of PocketFives contacted me towards the beginning of the month to see if he could interview me for an article he was writing about Pennsylvania getting regulated for online poker. I of course said yes and I thought he did a great job with the interview of myself and 2 other players from here in PA. You can read the article here. https://www.paonlinegambling.com/how-legal-online-poker-affects-players/

 

Ok onto December’s breakdown. I’ll do a year-end re-cap in the coming week or so…

99…Tournaments Played

44….Cashes (44.4%)

9.…. Final Tables

5.......Top 3 Finishes

0……Wins

$6796.91 in total cashes (36.20% ROI)

 

Now onto my Merge up-date. For those not familiar with my blog, Merge stopped allowing Pocket Fives to track scores on September 5th 2016, so what I’m doing here is tracking where I would have been had they not stopped tracking. I do play some on other networks but Merge gets out 95% of my volume so I thought it would be fun and motivating to keep things going as if though it never stopped. I use Poker Dominator to track all tourney’s so these are the most accurate and up-to-date numbers as of the last day of the month.

Merge Lifetime Total: $472005.64

Career Lifetime Total: $536495.83

Career number of Cashes: 4223

 

Follow my monthly results in real-time by following me on Twitter: @YourPokerPastor

 

Thanks for reading...please post a comment with your thoughts or anything you'd like me to address in future blogs.

This past Tuesday night I was doing my typical late-night grind, multi-tabling various MTT’s. Then the phone rang with the call you dread getting. “You need to come right away your father-in-law is not going to make it through the night”. It’s in those moments that you realize tough decisions on the river are pretty minuscule in the grand scheme of things. So we quickly packed a bag and raced down the highway for an hour in hopes of being able to spend a bit more time with Lisa’s dad. Thankfully we did and were able to be there for the last 4 or so hours he was alive here on this planet.

 

Someone once said, “You can always get back money but once you’ve spent time it’s gone forever”. Thankfully, I’ve learned pretty good time balance through the years, but I hear of so many poker players who just endless grind hour after hour, day after day, month after month, year after year. To you I’d like to encourage you to remember that grinding like that is -EV. Oh sure financially it may be +EV for you but what about Life EV, Relational EV, etc. When you get to the end of your days here on this planet not one of you is going to say, “I wish I had played more MTT’s”. No, your regrets will be over not spending enough time with your loved ones, or going out and experiencing all that life has to offer. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing poker and will continue to do so but I just want to make sure that all of us when we get that dreaded phone call don’t have regrets because we spent too much time alone playing on the computer.

 

As for my father-in-law he was one of the most Godly men I have ever known. In just a few hours from now I’ll be preaching a part of his funeral and I already know that there will not be enough time or words to express how great of a person and role-model he was for myself and so many others. My hope and prayer is that all of us would have deep, personal relationships like dad and I experienced.

 

As for poker, November turned out to be quite the interesting month. The first 2 weeks started out horribly. At one point I looked at my report and of the 18 times I had AA pre-flop and we got the chips all-in pre I had only won 5 of those hands. It truly looked like it was going to be a disastrous, losing month. But then it all turned around…suddenly variance was on my side. Not only did I end up re-gaining the money I had lost but was able to show a nice profit as well. In addition to my 5 wins for the month, the highlight had to be the 3rd Sunday of the month. Of Merge’s 6 Major tourney’s of the day, I final tabled 2 of them, had an 11th in another, cashed 2 more and the only one I didn’t cash in I fell short of the money by 2 spots when QQ<44.

 

Here is how it all broke down…

133…Tournaments Played

63…. Cashes (47.3%)

20…. Final Tables

11....…Top 3 Finishes

5……Wins

 

$7891.93 in total cashes (36.99% ROI)

 

Now onto my Merge up-date. For those not familiar with my blog, Merge stopped allowing Pocket Fives to track scores on September 5th 2016, so what I’m doing here is tracking where I would have been had they not stopped tracking. I do play some on other networks but Merge gets out 95% of my volume so I thought it would be fun and motivating to keep things going as if though it never stopped. I use Poker Dominator to track all tourney’s so these are the most accurate and up-to-date numbers as of the last day of the month.

Merge Lifetime Total: $465208.73

Career Lifetime Total: $529698.92

Career number of Cashes: 4179

 

Follow my monthly results in real-time by following me on Twitter: @YourPokerPastor

 

Thanks for reading...please post a comment with your thoughts or anything you'd like me to address in future blogs.

A Big Poker Month in 3 Ways

October turned about to be a great month poker wise for me in 3 ways. First, and it had been awhile, I had my first 10k+ month since back in May. That’s the longest streak of not having any since I recorded my first ever 10k month back in October of 2014. In fact I hadn’t gone more than 2 months in a row without one during that entire time. As an FYI, my longest consecutive streak was 7 months in a row which included two different 30k+ months.

 

As I mentioned last month, a new goal is to take a little more time off from playing poker than I had been previously doing. So my 2nd reason for it being a great month is I accomplished that as well. In October I only played 23 of the 31 days. 8 days off represents twice what I normally had been taking off. So to go back again above 10k but in less time than normal is very gratifying.

 

Now obviously to get back again above 10k meant I had to get deep in some tourneys and that I did. Unfortunately, I didn’t win any for the month but in the 5 Sunday’s of the month I showed profit all 5 Sunday’s including a top 27 or better 4 of the 5 weeks in the Merge 40k. This included a 4th place finish the first Sunday of the month. I also finished 3rd in the Nightly $109 twice in a 4 day period during the last week of the month. Not too bad considering I only played that tourney 7 times.

 

The final thing that made it a great poker month was on Monday the 30th, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolff signed into law a bill regulating online poker in PA. Ever since Black Friday, we’ve had to, like many others in other states, play on the unregulated sites. This was scary at times…as I’ve shared before, once during a Merge slow down in cash-outs I had a ridiculous amount of money “stuck” on the site and didn’t know if I’d ever see it all.

 

Now we won’t have to worry about that. By mid-to-late 2018 we should be playing and hopefully from day 1 in a combined player pool with NJ, NV and DE. Even if we’re not, we will still have a very large player pool which should make for great guarantees. Many people don’t realize that PA trails only NV in live gaming revenue per year. Pennsylvanians love to gamble so once we’re regulated online, tournaments should be ripe with players.

 

Of course the other thing I’m excited about is the regulated sites will be tracked by PocketFives. As you’ll read more below in my monthly Merge up-date, I was extremely disappointed when they stopped allowing tracking by P5’s 14 months ago. By the time we actually start playing, my P5’s profile will “officially” only show about ½ of my total career earnings. Also, my ranking in PA after having been #1 for almost 2 consecutive years has now fallen all the way down to #20 at the time of this writing. So I’m looking forward to climbing back up the ranks and trying to eclipse my personal best of #11 in the US and #971 in the world.

Alright so let’s break down October…

117…Tournaments Played

53…. Cashes (45.3%)

14…. Final Tables

6....…Top 3 Finishes

0……Wins

$10373.94 in total cashes (108.94% ROI)

 

Now onto my Merge up-date. For those not familiar with my blog, Merge stopped allowing Pocket Fives to track scores on September 5th 2016, so what I’m doing here is tracking where I would have been had they not stopped tracking. I do play some on other networks but Merge gets out 95% of my volume so I thought it would be fun and motivating to keep things going as if though it never stopped. I use Poker Dominator to track all tourney’s so these are the most accurate and up-to-date numbers as of the last day of the month.

Merge Lifetime Total: $457512.35

Career Lifetime Total: $521806.99

Career number of Cashes: 4116

 

Follow my monthly results in real-time by following me on Twitter: @YourPokerPastor

 

Thanks for reading...please post a comment with your thoughts or anything you'd like me to address in future blogs.

One of the interesting reports I get from Poker Dominator is how many days I’ve played poker out of the total number of days possible. From April 17, 2012 when I started grinding the Merge Network through August 31, 2017, I played poker in some form 1709 out of a possible 1961 days. That’s 87% of all days in a 5+ year period. That’s about 1 day off from playing every 8 days or on average about 4 days off per month.

 

To be honest, I take more time off than that from my job being a pastor. Every Friday is my day off for a day of rest and then I’m also given 4 weeks of vacation per year. So that means in the same time period I had about 400 days off from the church but I only took 252 days off from poker. Looking back on it, that’s a very unhealthy pace in so many ways. However, I never really minded it because poker is such a fun game for me and the fact I’ve crushed for the most part also helped it to feel more like a game and less like working.

 

However, if you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that 2017 has not been my best year. I’m in profit for the year but nothing like I’ve been the last few years where my profit has been near or greater than my church salary each year. The first part of this year I attributed a lot of it to running bad…which I was. However, as the year progressed the run bad wasn’t quite as bad but the big scores weren’t there either. That and the times I was running bad made for not a great attitude. In many ways I began to not look forward to the nightly grind. In my mind I was wondering each night in what ridiculous way was somebody going to suck out on me when it really counted. Mentally and emotionally I was in a bad place. Little did I realize how much the constant grinding was wearing on me.

 

Finally, in September I decided to take a break. I was reminded of one of the habits from, one of my all-time favorite books, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People which is You Need to Sharpen the Saw. Basically it’s a reminder that if you’re sawing down a tree, ultimately you’ll get done faster if you periodically stop to sharpen the saw. Life or in this case poker, is the same way…unless you stop to occasionally rest and sharpen the saw you’ll burn out and not be effective.

 

So in September I scaled way way back. I didn’t play nearly as many tourneys and overall I only played 17 of the 30 days in the month. Now that may still sound like a lot but remember my average was 4 days off in a month, whereas in this particular month I got 13 days off. I hadn’t had that many off in a month since June of 2015 when I basically had the entire month off, first from 2 weeks in Costa Rica and then the 2 weeks after that fighting the stomach bug I picked up while down there.

 

The funny thing about that particular time was, after all that time off, I came back fresh and had one of my best months ever with over $31,000 in cashes. That then led to a few more months of an epic heater. So I should have known better and took time off sooner. I bring all this up because sure enough during the last week of September when I began grinding again (although smaller stakes), I began having deep run after deep run. I won’t spoil next months blog but I’m writing this in the early morning hours of October 2nd after having just wrapped-up my Sunday grind. For the day, I cashed 6 of 7 tourneys for about 3.5k. So you might say the time off has again cleared my head and I’m hoping for another heater to close out the year.

 

So the lesson going forward is I need to be more intentional about scheduling some poker breaks so I don’t go through a couple month stretch like I recently did. I appreciate your holding me accountable to this in the months and years to come.

Alright so how did September’s limited grind go? Well because of the playing smaller stakes and the limited volume it was one of my smallest months ever. But again that’s ok because I feel it will be made up for in the near future.

75…Tournaments Played

39…. Cashes (52%)

5…. Final Tables

2....…Top 3 Finishes

1……Wins

$2672.40 in total cashes (7.88% ROI)

 

Now onto my Merge up-date. For those not familiar with my blog, Merge stopped allowing Pocket Fives to track scores on September 5th 2016, so what I’m doing here is tracking where I would have been had they not stopped tracking. I do play some on other networks but Merge gets out 95% of my volume so I thought it would be fun and motivating to keep things going as if though it never stopped. I use Poker Dominator to track all tourney’s so these are the most accurate and up-to-date numbers as of the last day of the month.

Merge Lifetime Total: $ 447138.41

Career Lifetime Total:$511433.05

Career number of Cashes:4063

 

Follow my monthly results in real-time by following me on Twitter: @YourPokerPastor

 

Thanks for reading...please post a comment with your thoughts or anything you'd like me to address in future blogs.

Typically we vacation in June since it’s our anniversary and birthday’s but this year my grandmothers memorial service was scheduled for the beginning of the month and then my niece had her senior recital and graduation which we wanted to be a part of. So we decided we’d do July but then my wife got called for jury duty for the entire month. So by the time August rolled around I was really, really ready for vacation!

 

As most of you know my full-time job is being a pastor which in some ways can be a 24/7 job. However, my typical day has me doing church work from 9-5 or 6 and then I start my poker grind usually around 7 and wrap-up anywhere between 1-3 depending on how deep I get in tourneys. Basically it’s like having 2 full-time jobs. So the plan for August was to take 3 weeks off from my church work and limit my poker playing to smaller MTT’s like I did last month so regardless of whether running good or bad the results wouldn’t impact my mood in any way while we were vacationing.

 

We had a great 3 weeks! Some highlights included doing a 9 mile hike which included 21 waterfalls, getting to meet and have lunch with PA grinder Brkwng3, doing a day-trip into New York City, touring Longwood Gardens, and spending a week in Atlantic City which included some great meals and the Air Show featuring The Thunderbirds.

DIvoQZpW0AAZZRr.jpg:small

Also, while in AC, I was able to play 2 live tourneys. The first was on the day of the eclipse which was a $120 deepstack 10k GTD. 203 people entered with 27 paying…unfortunately I busted 33rd. I felt I played well the entire day with the only mistake really being a hand about 20 or so before my bust-out hand where I made Cbet that I probably shouldn’t have.

 

The other tourney was a small daily, but deep-stacked tourney at The Golden Nugget. The level of play there was so bad it was funny. In one hand early in the tourney I flopped a set on a very wet board. After a donk bet and a caller I raised to charge draws. Only the caller guy called. The turn brought 4 to a straight on the board plus a possible flush. The tourist guy immediately and very excitedly says I’m all in. The whole table burst out laughing. The bet was for almost 5x the pot so I sigh folded. It was just that kind of day…every hand I made was just slightly beat or got outdrawn. Then towards the end in these pot where 3 to 4 limpers was quite common, I ended up not having good enough hands to shove. Needless to say I didn’t cash in this one either.

 

Also, while in AC, I was able to play on PokerStars NJ. This was my first time on PS since Black Friday and was very exciting. I put $100 on with the intention of playing some $10 and less tourney’s and either running it up and cashing out before going home or making sure to bust the entire $100 by the last day. I had been told how soft NJ sites are and oh boy the NJ grinders weren’t kidding. I haven’t seen that bad of play since pre-Black Friday. My biggest problem was an extreme amount of run-bad. I ran 27bb/100 below expectation for the week.

 

Regardless though, I had a ton of fun playing the software again and the bounty builder tourney’s are awesome. They essentially kept me rolled the entire week because I was making the money back in bounties but then would have bad beats just short of getting in the money. I also played the Spin and Go’s to stay rolled for the week…again the level of play was terrible. At the end of the week I was slightly short of break even so I played some larger events but failed to cash. More so than usual though, I’m hoping and praying Pennsylvania gets regulated soon so we can have the superior software and bad player pool like NJ, DE and NV do.

 

As for the rest of my online grind, I played a lot during the beginning of the month and then a lot less as we started to actually be on the road towards the end. Thankfully it was overall another good month even with intentionally punting the PokerStars bankroll.

155…Tournaments Played

64…. Cashes (41%)

14…. Final Tables

6....…Top 3 Finishes

3……Wins

$5180.32 in total cashes (15.95% ROI)

 

Now onto my Merge up-date. For those not familiar with my blog, Merge stopped allowing Pocket Fives to track scores on September 5th 2016, so what I’m doing here is tracking where I would have been had they not stopped tracking. I do play some on other networks but Merge gets out 95% of my volume so I thought it would be fun and motivating to keep things going as if though it never stopped. I use Poker Dominator to track all tourney’s so these are the most accurate and up-to-date numbers as of the last day of the month.

Merge Lifetime Total: $ 444473.21

Career Lifetime Total: $508760.65

Career number of Cashes: 4024

 

Follow my monthly results in real-time by following me on Twitter: @YourPokerPastor

 

Thanks for reading...please post a comment with your thoughts or anything you'd like me to address in future blogs.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog posts you know the whole reason I started blogging on PocketFives is because on September 5th, 2016, Merge stopped allowing PocketFives to track results. So I started the blog to keep track of where I’d have been had they never stopped. At the time I was sitting on $309,255 in tracked tourneys on just Merge alone plus the little bit I had on other networks.

 

As dumb as this may sound, I was really bummed out about the decision. I had used the PocketFives rankings and badges as motivation and goals. I remember when I first signed up for PocketFives I was ranked in the 20’s in the state of Pennsylvania. But slowly and surely I began to rise through the ranks. Finally, in February of 2015 I was ranked #1 in PA and held that for all but 2 weeks until tracking stopped. At one point I climbed up to #11 in the USA and #971 in the world. In August of 2015 I became the state of PA’s all-time leader in number tourney’s cashed (this has since been eclipsed). So again all these things were a part of what helped keep me motivated on what we affectionately call “The Grind”.

 

So with all that said, on July 2nd I hit the 500k mark in career tourneys cashed. This is where I’d have earned my next badge on P5’s but alas it’s not to be…unless I start playing a lot more on other networks and earn it there. That’s doubtful though since about 90-95% of my volume is on Merge. So yea me I guess…but it’s still not quite the same.

 

As for July, it was a profitable month but not in the typical sense. If you read last month’s post, you know that I had been going through a bit of a downswing and one of my coaches, Alex Fitzgerald suggested I needed to find a way to make poker fun again. So for July, with the exception of 4 tourneys, I basically played what to me is now micro stakes tourneys. My usual average buy-in per month is in the $60’s, whereas this month I was down closer to $10. This also meant my amount of cashes was way, way down. Instead of the typical 10-30k, I was all the way down to only about 4.6k.

 

This reminded me a lot though of when I first started grinding Merge 5 years ago. I had started with an initial deposit of $100 and ran that up to 5k, did a 2.5k withdraw and would go on to keep repeating that pattern for about 2 years…run it up to 5k, withdraw 2.5k then run it back up. Because of this and my desire to exercise good bankroll management, this meant that my top buy-ins were the $33 tourneys.

 

Now in my mind, I had a feeling I could hang with the guys playing the $60, $109, $162, $265 and $540’s that Merge offered, I never played them though because they would have been outside my bankroll management rules. That all changed however when Merge went through their back-log of withdraws a few years back. I had run-up my roll to 5k as usual but the check for 2.5k took 5 months to get to me. In the meantime, I was running my roll up…and since I now had more to play with, it meant I was able to play the larger stakes. And sure enough, I started crushing them. At one point I had over 80k stuck on the site with the only option of 2.5k checks coming once in a blue moon.

 

Now thankfully Merge ultimately got that straightened out and I got all my money plus a whole lot more since then, but in the midst of it I developed a bad habit. It was nothing to fire multiple bullets at the $109 and $265’s because it all seemed like play money anyway. Once I got paid though, I kept firing like this forgetting the good bankroll management principles that had got me there.

 

When you then have an extended period of run-bad, the stress of it all really starts to eat at you. So July was a great opportunity to re-calibrate and just have fun playing for stakes that really aren’t life-changing in any way. So now the question becomes, what now? I can continue at these smaller stakes and grind out perhaps an extra 1k profit per month and be stress free…or I can go back to the bigger buy-in events where I’ve made over $100k profit in just the last 2 years alone but know the pressure will be back on.

 

Obviously for me as a pastor there are spiritual implications to all the above as well. It’s nice that poker has taken financial pressure off my wife to have to earn money but at the same time, I need to stay mentally, emotionally and spiritually balanced. So I think for August I’ll work on finding a mix of lower and higher buy-ins to play as well get back into good bankroll management practices.

Here is what July looked like…

169…Tournaments Played

76…. Cashes (45%)

21…. Final Tables

8....…Top 3 Finishes

3……Wins

 

$4567.64 in total cashes (22.35% ROI)

 

Note: The following paragraph is a part of every month’s blog so please excuse the redundancy from above:

 

Now onto my Merge up-date. For those not familiar with my blog, Merge stopped allowing Pocket Fives to track scores on September 5th 2016, so what I’m doing here is tracking where I would have been had they not stopped tracking. I do play some on other networks but Merge gets out 95% of my volume so I thought it would be fun and motivating to keep things going as if though it never stopped. I use Poker Dominator to track all tourney’s so these are the most accurate and up-to-date numbers as of the last day of the month.

Merge Lifetime Total: $ 439649.00

Career Lifetime Total: $503580.33

Career number of Cashes: 3960

 

Follow my monthly results in real-time by following me on Twitter: @YourPokerPastor

 

Thanks for reading...please post a comment with your thoughts or anything you'd like me to address in future blogs.

For those not familiar with me, here is an article that was written about me a few years back that talks about my odd combination of being a pastor and poker player. To expand on that a bit, when I started playing play money Zygna and then PokerStars for real money back in 2007, I was just a rec player looking to have fun and that I made a few thousand dollars in profit was a nice bonus.

 

After Black Friday my goal was still the same when I stumbled across the for real money site, Bet Online. I remember being so excited to find something and deposited $100 and again was able to run it up to a few thousand. When I then found the Merge Network in 2012, things began to change. I cashed out of my Bet Online account and deposited on Merge and each year since have seen increasing amounts of cashes and profits.

 

The “success” and money have been nice but it has made poker more of a legit grind. It’s now a job and there are legit pressures to continue to have winning months. So when you’re going through downswings like I have this year where it’s not bad play but variance kicking your butt over and over and over again it can lead to having this great game we love being something you kind of dread doing. Every night and every tournament you’re constantly on the look-out for where the next bad beat is going to come from.

 

Now as I mentioned in a recent blog post, I realized that the above attitude could start to leading to playing bad as well so I was going to take action to make sure my game was in tip-top shape. Through the years I’ve used a variety of paid poker coaches and training programs but I know if it’s fundamentals/mathematical oversight that I need then I’ve got to go with my man “The Assassinato”, Alex Fitzgerald.

 

Alex is super busy so even though we began communicating in May about doing some coaching, it wasn’t until about a 3rd of the way through June that it actually happened. In the meantime, June got off to a great start on the tables, I booked a win for the first-time in a long time and after a profitable May, was feeling great going into my session with Alex. Alex and I went through my database on June 9th covering all my hands in 2017 to that point and at the end he said, “Fundamentally you’re playing great but you’re just running super bad”. That was a relief to hear and he gave me a few minor things to work on. At the end though he said he wanted to do another call because something just doesn’t seem right.

 

From there the month went crazy wrong. If I thought the run bad was bad before, it got to the point of ridiculousness. As an example, my EVbb/100 from the button was 11.34. My actual bb/100 from the button was -19.44. I actually had a better bb/100 from the SB for the month than I did from the button. Again that’s crazy…if you can’t run well from the button when you have position on others then your month is probably bound to be doomed.

 

In any case, as Alex and I had our follow-up call on the 28th. He again went through my database and a recent tournament and said, “Fundamentally you’re in the top 1% of players, I can’t figure out what’s happening other than your running bad”. He wouldn’t let it go though…he knew that something just didn’t seem right and then it hit him as we were discussing a hand. I was pushing too hard to justify some of my plays…I was trying to “force” my way out of the run-bad. It was then that he exclaimed, “You’re not having fun anymore”. This led to a 15-20 minute well deserved lecture on why we play the game.

 

“Gilbert you just need to have fun again” said Alex. “Why don’t you take a week or so and drop down to some stakes where the money means nothing and just play for the love of the game”. Not exactly what I wanted to hear but I don’t pay money for coaching to then just completely ignore my coaches advice.

 

After that call with Alex, I immediately had a Skype call with another good friend and coach, John Gonzalez. John without knowing all the details about the above conversation with Alex said, “Hey why don’t you check out Bet Online”. I shared with him that I previously had played and that I would.

 

Later that night I fired up the client. To my surprise, I still had a balance of 37 cents. Now for someone like me who has an average buy-in in the $50-$60 range, the thought of doing something with 37 cents didn’t seem all that appealing but I thought, “Hey why not”.

 

The only thing I could reg was a heads-up SNG. I needed about 4 minutes to win that then immediately used that money to reg a 6-handed cash game. 9 minutes later my bankroll had grown from the original 37 cents to $5.04. Not really caring about bankroll management with this money I then used that money to buy-in to a $1.32 R/A…essentially putting the entire bankroll on the site into this one tournament. Next thing you know it’s 3 hours later and I won the tourney for $118. In total took the 37 cents to a little over $120 in about 3 hours.

 

I have 65, 4-figure plus scores in my life but honestly this little feat is one of my favorite memories…and I had fun doing it! Still have a few days left of “micro-grinding” and even that hasn’t been all rosy but rediscovering the love of the game has been a fun process. Also, for perspective, as I mentioned last month, I had a stretch like this last year as well but yet ended up the year way up. Currently, I’m actually ahead of last year’s pace for profit so I keep holding onto the hope that soon the run-good will come back my way.

Here is how June turned out…

157…Tournaments Played

62…. Cashes (39%)

15…. Final Tables

6....…Top 3 Finishes

2……Wins

$6390.46 in total cashes (-24.27% ROI)

 

Now onto my Merge up-date. For those not familiar with my blog, Merge stopped allowing Pocket Fives to track scores on September 5th 2016, so what I’m doing here is tracking where I would have been had they not stopped tracking. I do play some on other networks but Merge gets out 95% of my volume so I thought it would be fun and motivating to keep things going as if though it never stopped. I use Poker Dominator to track all tourney’s so these are the most accurate and up-to-date numbers as of the last day of the month.

Merge Lifetime Total: $ 435,124.43

Career Lifetime Total: $499,012.69

Career number of Cashes: 3884

 

Follow my monthly results in real-time by following me on Twitter: @YourPokerPastor

 

Thanks for reading...please post a comment with your thoughts or anything you'd like me to address in future blogs.

Gilbert

I spent the first 2 weeks of the month doing travelling for church related stuff so I didn’t get in much volume. However, despite getting in few tournaments for the month, I was able to get some deep runs going, including a 2nd in the Merge Big Ticket the second weekend of the month for $5400. Altogether I ended up with over $13,000 in cashes, so it was nice to get things rolling again after a somewhat slow start to the year.

 

For the first time this year I actually ran better than expectation so that helped as well. However, in the few tourney’s I played on WPN, I continued to run extremely bad. Not sure what’s up right now on there but it seems everyone I know or follow on Twitch or Twitter that plays on any of the skins is in massive downswings there. Thankfully since I don’t play a lot there it’s not a huge deal to me but man it sure would be nice to catch a break for once on there.

 

Happy though with the overall results. Still on a bit of a winless streak but the number of Final Tables and top 3’s got back to a respectable number so binks are just a matter of time. In any case, here’s what the month looked like…

121…Tournaments Played

54…. Cashes (45%)

14…. Final Tables

5....…Top 3 Finishes

0……Wins

$13,065.77 in total cashes (48.5% ROI)

 

Unfortunately I’m not going to be able to get out to the WSOP at all this summer. Have all kinds of family obligations in June so I thought maybe July would be a possibility. However, my wife got notice that she’s on call for jury duty for all of July so just going to have to sweat my friends from a far. Good luck to everyone, hope you bring home a bracelet!

 

Now onto my Merge up-date. For those not familiar with my blog, Merge stopped allowing Pocket Fives to track scores on September 5th 2016, so what I’m doing here is tracking where I would have been had they not stopped tracking. I do play some on other networks but Merge gets out 95% of my volume so I thought it would be fun and motivating to keep things going as if though it never stopped. I use Poker Dominator to track all tourney’s so these are the most accurate and up-to-date numbers as of the last day of the month.

Merge Lifetime Total: $ 429,482.07

Career Lifetime Total: $492,622.23

Career number of Cashes: 3822

 

Follow my monthly results in real-time by following me on Twitter: @YourPokerPastor

 

Thanks for reading...please post a comment with your thoughts or anything you'd like me to address in future blogs.

Gilbert

The good news is my 2016 poker year was awesome!!! The bad news was the tax bill. I came home the Wednesday night before taxes were due and in my mailbox was a package with my completed taxes from my accountant. I knew I was going to owe some money due to having another great poker year but I was stunned to see a bill for nearly $11,000! Unfortunately, because of some of the write-offs I can take as a pastor, I couldn’t “double-dip” so my poker income had almost nothing to off-set as write-offs. In other years this has been partially compensated for because of my wife’s business, but poker has been going so well that basically she has not had to work (or at least has been able to be more selective in taking on new business).

 

Again it was a bit of a shock but thankfully we intentionally live off of only 60% of our income anyway so we had plenty of money saved up for emergencies and rainy days. So Uncle Sam got way more than I thought he would but even in that I’m thankful. The last results I saw showed that only about 7% of poker players even show $1 profit per year. So to have enough profit to have a tax bill of 11k on it means I’m truly blessed to be able to play a game I love in my spare time and make enough to give my wife and I a lot of freedom we wouldn’t have with strictly my pastoral income.

 

As for my play in April, I again continued in the midst of some serious run-bad. It wasn’t quite as bad in April and would have been basically a break-even month had I not fired 2 bullet’s in the Million Dollar Guarantee on WPN the last day of the month. However, the run bad has lasted for a few months now and I’m sure is impacting my game in other ways so I’m in the midst of taking some steps to remedy that so if the run bad continues, I’ll at least minimize it as much as possible.

 

Funny thing is as I look back at last year, I did ok the first few months then had a similar streak of run-bad through the summer then turned it around at the end of the year to be able to have a huge tax bill. 2015, had a similar stretch as well. So I’m not too worried about it but I do want to make sure I’m not making it any worse than it needs to be.

 

April was a light volume month due to some church obligations and some travel. It also marked the first time in years that I had 0 wins in a month. In fact, I had 0 top 3’s so thus my comments from above about how I think the run-bad is now also resulting in some play-bad.

 

April also marked my 5th year on the Merge Network. Very grateful to have been in profit all 5 years with each year increasingly being better than the previous. Hoping to keep the streak going. In any case, here are April’s results….

132…Tournaments Played

48…. Cashes (36%)

5…. Final Tables

0....…Top 3 Finishes

0……Wins

$7734.97 in total cashes (-13.72% ROI)

 

Now onto my Merge up-date. For those not familiar with my blog, Merge stopped allowing Pocket Fives to track scores on September 5th 2016, so what I’m doing here is tracking where I would have been had they not stopped tracking. I do play some on other networks but Merge gets out 95% of my volume so I thought it would be fun and motivating to keep things going as if though it never stopped. I use Poker Dominator to track all tourney’s so these are the most accurate and up-to-date numbers as of the last day of the month.

Merge Lifetime Total: $ 416941.99

Career Lifetime Total: $479556.46

Career number of Cashes: 3768

 

Follow my monthly results in real-time by following me on Twitter: @YourPokerPastor

 

Thanks for reading...please post a comment with your thoughts or anything you'd like me to address in future blogs.

Gilbert

March Results- Haiti Hiatus

My March volume was way down and for good reason…I spent a week serving down in Haiti. I have been to other 3rd world countries but nothing like Haiti. It is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and the sights, sounds and smells are something that I’m still trying to process now 2 weeks after having returned.

MDG-Haiti-and-poverty-A-008.jpg

There are many stories I could share but I guess the thing that keeps coming back to me is how fortunate we are as American’s or other 1st world nations. Even though the language of Haiti is Creole, almost every native child we met knew how to say in perfect English, “Will you please give me a dollar”. The poverty there is so extreme that in the market we saw “mud cookies” for sale. Imagine that…being so hungry that you’d resort to eating dirt that someone was “kind enough” to try to make flavorful for you.

 

Since returning, everything I see I do the instant math in my head to compare it what it’s like for the average Haitian. I’ve now counted 8 items in my home that I own that cost more than what a Haitian makes in an entire year. And this has applied to poker as well…since returning I’ve had 2 online cashes for the equivalent of what a Haitian makes. My largest score ever would take a Haitian about 7 years to make.

 

Also I’ve found it a lot harder to complain about bad beats since I’ve returned. Sort of hard to complain about the 2-outer someone hit, on the river, at a final table, against you, for a massive pot when you know 75%+ of an entire nation is just trying to figure out how to get their next meal. As a side note, while Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, they “only” rank #20 on the list of poorest countries in the entire world.

 

So with all that said, there are personal changes that I’m making as well as my church that I pastor to try to do our part. From a spiritual standpoint, we “adopted” a sister church down there and will be paying their entire budget for the year, plus sending 2 more teams down in the next year to help with various projects around the church and around their community.

 

Also, we want to help with access to clean drinking water. We were able to visit a facility which provides sand filters for homes that river and stream water can be poured into and made safe. It cost the company $50 to make them and then they sell them to the Haitians for $3. Yep you read that right! They lose $47 every time that they sell one. I made the old joke to them…”Yeah but you make it up in volume”. In all seriousness, they are dependent on contributions to make up the difference. Thankfully a church in the U.S. pays their salary to live so all donated funds then can go to make up the $47 in lost cost. If you are interested in helping give towards this project, please click the following link... http://exponential.church/give/give-now When prompted choose the "Missions" fund and then the sub-fund "Haiti". BKvPhmkCQAEzdIk.jpg

As for poker in March, I once again was on the wrong side of variance. Incredibly for March I ran 13bb/100 below expectation and I’m about 7bb/100 below for the year so far. I’ve been through these spells before and keep telling myself that eventually it always turns around but it’s obviously never any fun in the midst of it. Like I said though the Haiti trip is helping me keep proper perspective about it all.

Here are March’s results…

116…Tournaments Played

45…. Cashes (39%)

8…. Final Tables

3....…Top 3 Finishes

1……Wins

$4918.74 in total cashes (-16.04% ROI)

 

Now onto my Merge up-date. For those not familiar with my blog, Merge stopped allowing Pocket Fives to track scores on September 5th 2016, so what I’m doing here is tracking where I would have been had they not stopped tracking. I do play some on other networks but Merge gets out 95% of my volume so I thought it would be fun and motivating to keep things going as if though it never stopped. I use Poker Dominator to track all tourney’s so these are the most accurate and up-to-date numbers as of the last day of the month. NOTE: I just realized I had not sorted SNG’s out of these tourney results in previous posts. I don’t play a ton of them but this post now has the accurate numbers with those filtered out. So career cashes will go down in this post by about 100 and money will drop about 1.5k.

Merge Lifetime Total: $ 411976.85

Career Lifetime Total: $471821.49

Career number of Cashes: 3720

 

Follow my monthly results in real-time by following me on Twitter: @YourPokerPastor

 

Thanks for reading...please post a comment with your thoughts or anything you'd like me to address in future blogs.

Gilbert

Ah February the month where love is in the air. I don’t know about you but I have a love hate relationship with poker. I love the game…the competition…the strategy…the friends I’ve made. But man oh man when the cards aren’t falling your way even when you made the right decision it can be tough to want to “date her” night after night.

 

February actually was a profitable month but not by a lot. In looking through my reports, my run-bad in key spots continues to happen. Literally the difference between a slightly profitable month and yet another 10k+ profit month can be traced back to suck-outs when it really counted.

 

February also saw me play more tourney’s on WPN than I ever have in a month. I was able to do well on there so I’ll continue to play it and see if I can run up a roll. While technically I could just deposit enough on there to be able to play all the buy-ins, I’d rather try to run it up. That’s what I’ve always done in the past on other sites so going to see how this goes.

 

Read an interesting book this past month called, “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman. He won a Nobel Prize in Economics and while this is not a poker book per se he does mention poker a few times. It’s essentially a book on how our minds work and what part if any intuition plays. Basically, he destroys the notion of so called “feel players” in poker and explains exactly what is really going on. Here is a review and an excerpt from chapter 1 if you’re interested.

 

Now onto February’s results…

187…Tournaments Played

83…. Cashes (44%)

17…. Final Tables

7....…Top 3 Finishes

3……Wins

$9680.66 in total cashes (13.16% ROI)

 

Now onto my Merge up-date. For those not familiar with my blog, Merge stopped allowing Pocket Fives to track scores on September 5th 2016, so what I’m doing here is tracking where I would have been had they not stopped tracking. I do play some on other networks but Merge gets out 95% of my volume so I thought it would be fun and motivating to keep things going as if though it never stopped. I use Poker Dominator to track all tourney’s so these are the most accurate and up-to-date numbers as of the last day of the month.

Merge Lifetime Total: $ 410582.83

Career Lifetime Total: $469936.98

Career number of Cashes: 3772

 

Follow my monthly results in real-time by following me on Twitter: @YourPokerPastor

 

Thanks for reading...please post a comment with your thoughts or anything you'd like me to address in future blogs.

Gilbert

I realized something as I played on the last Sunday of January about how important Sunday’s are in the grand scheme of having a profitable month. On that particular day I was dealt AA and KK 14 times only to lose 11 of those hands. Poker is hard enough as it is…but when variance is kicking your butt on premium hands it can make for not only a frustrating but also very expensive day.

 

It was also in the midst of this last Sunday session of the month I realized that my worst variance for the month seemed to be happening on Sunday’s. Sure enough when I ran my final reports of the month, my losses for the month can all be attributed to the 5 Sunday’s. Had I just never fired up the computer those 5 days I’d have had a very profitable month…but since I did I showed a loss instead.

 

Now that’s not to complain but it does show the importance of playing and running well especially on Sunday’s when the buy-ins are larger and the prize pools are massive. When I look back at my monster months, they are always anchored by one or 2 huge Sunday scores that make up for any negative variance I might face at other times in the month. Not sure if there is anything practical that can done other than maybe limit the amount of bullets fired on Sunday’s. Would love to hear any thoughts you may have about this topic.

 

Another thing that was different about this month was that 40% of my volume was on WPN. Usually it only gets about 5% of my volume with Merge getting the other 95%. If you’ve been reading my blog you know that I haven’t been happy with Merge’s decision to no longer allow results to be tracked by Pocket Fives (my normal up-date is below), so I decided to give a bit more volume to WPN at least for a bit.

 

Also, the high stakes Merge tourney’s are basically 100 regs with the occasional rec player. While I do feel I have an edge over many of the regs, when you start amassing over 10k+ hands on individual players, the edge is probably not as great as it once was. With that said, my personal opinion is that the low stakes are much easier on WPN since the fish are much more prevalent. I have friends who will swear that WPN is the tougher field but I’m sticking with my opinion.

 

However with all that said, I don’t have a large roll on WPN so for now my average buy-in will be between $10-$20 as compared to the $70+ I play on Merge so it will keep my total amount of cashes somewhat smaller unless I bink something soon that allows me to move up.

 

Now onto January’s results…

170…Tournaments Played

76…. Cashes (45%)

12…. Final Tables

3....…Top 3 Finishes

2……Wins

$9174.86 in total cashes (-14.82% ROI)

 

Looking at these numbers it’s obvious I didn’t close well once at Final Tables. I’m usually about 60% to be top 3 once I make one. In this particular month it was only 25%. Obviously those top 3 spots are where the money is really at so this is another area where variance really hit me hard and was the difference between a winning and losing month.

 

Now onto my Merge up-date. For those not familiar with my blog, Merge stopped allowing Pocket Fives to track scores on September 5th 2016, so what I’m doing here is tracking where I would have been had they not stopped tracking. I do play some on other networks but Merge gets out 95% of my volume so I thought it would be fun and motivating to keep things going as if though it never stopped. I use Poker Dominator to track all tourney’s so these are the most accurate and up-to-date numbers as of the last day of the month.

Merge Lifetime Total: $ 404863.51

Career Lifetime Total: $460256.32

Career number of Cashes: 3689

 

Follow my monthly results in real-time by following me on Twitter: @YourPokerPastor

 

Thanks for reading...please post a comment with your thoughts or anything you'd like me to address in future blogs.

Gilbert

2016 Recap

2016 turned out to be another incredible year for me in poker. The year started out really strong before having a 2 ½ month rough period in the summer. It then closed out with an even stronger finish even with December being a down month. When the year started I had 6 goals I had set for myself which I’ll recap here with some commentary.

 

1. $120,000 in cashes- This is down from the $175k in 2015 because I anticipate the church will take more time this year. SUCCESS

The church that I pastor at bought a new building at the end of 2015 that was in need of desperate renovation. So I set the above goal with that in mind. Happy to report that I did way better than I thought! Here’s a breakdown:

2004…Tournaments Played

744…. Cashes (37%)

340…. Final Tables

139... …Top 3 Finishes

63……Wins

$152795.35 in total cashes (38.7% ROI)

 

2. 1000 WPN Tourneys- With the slow Merge cash out times I need to put more volume in on WPN. This is an increase over the 499 on WPN I played in 2015. FAIL

At the end of 2015, Merge was just beginning to pay-out again in a reasonable time period although I didn’t know it at the time that they would be able to keep it up. To be honest I had 15x the amount of bankroll stuck on Merge that I like to have at any one time. So I thought I’d give more volume to WPN.

 

However, Merge gave me early in the year an option to get 5k bank wires. Miraculously they started processing for me about every 8-10 days. It took a few months but eventually I was able to get my roll down to a reasonable size.

 

Once I realized I’d be able to get my money off Merge, I just kept playing on there and gave up on this goal. In fact I only ended up playing 362 tourney’s WPN which was even less than the previous year.

 

3. Obtain a top 10 USA Ranking on Pocket Fives at least once- I ended 2015 at 13th and have previously been ranked as high as 11th. FAIL (Sort of)

For the 1st half of the year I hung around in the top 20 and again at one point got as high as #11. Then in the summer I went through a bad downswing which dropped my ranking to in the top 25. Through late summer things started turning back around and I again climbed into the top 20.

 

Then on September 5th, Merge decided to stop allowing Pocket Fives to track their tourneys. This was super bad timing because I proceeded to go on an epic heater that would see me get over $52,000 in cashes in just over a 7 week period. The points I’d have accumulated on P5’s would have been massive and I’d have easily gotten into the top 10. Instead, without the results counting, I continue to plummet week after week in the rankings.

 

However, it was because of the Merge decision that I started this blog so if you’re enjoying what you’re reading, you can put Merge on your Christmas card list. 😉

 

4. Have at least 1 live score that qualifies for Hendon Mob- I have only played 5 that have qualified in the past but have yet to cash in any. SUCCESS

Being a pastor means I don’t get a lot of opportunity to travel to play live tourneys. I have cashed and won a number of tourneys through the years live but none that actually counted in the Hendon Mob results.

 

This summer for the 2nd time I was able to play at the WSOP and ended up cashing in 2 of the 5 events I played. Then went 0 for 2 this December at the WSOPc tour stop at Cherokee. So 2 for 7 live this year…not bad, not great but at least I met my goal.

 

5. Write a poker article that gets published- FAIL

Don’t know that I have a lot to offer on the strategy side of things but as a pastor and player, I think I have a lot to say about life and balance in general that could be helpful to players. To be honest I just didn’t put any time into this particular goal. However, I did write quite a few emails to players helping them with a variety of issues that could be adapted into an article(s) for the future.

 

About as close as I got to this goal was answering numerous questions from players on how to respond to people who ask if it’s ok for Christians to be playing poker/gambling. I believe sometime in 2017, the Bet On Drew web-site is planning on adapting my answer for an article so that will have to do for now.

 

6. Spend at least 3 hours a week in study/review- SUCCESS

 I got into a nice rhythm for the year where on the days I could wrap-up my church work by 5-5:30, I would then spend the next hour reading, studying, reviewing, watching training videos, etc. Also Friday’s are my day off from church so I usually get some time on Friday mornings for more study. I probably got closer to 5-6 hours a week towards this goal so happy I blew it away.

 

So there you have it. Only 3 of 6 goals met but I still feel pretty good about the year. At this point I’m behind on getting my 2017 goals set but will be getting to it soon. Still amazed that something that is essentially a hobby in my “free time” makes me so much money and gives me relaxation and enjoyment all at the same time. Hope and pray you have a great year…as always please don’t hesitate to contact me if there is ever anything I can do for you.

Gilbert

 

P.S. Follow my monthly results in real-time by following me on Twitter: @YourPokerPastor

 

P.P.S Here is a repeat of the end of the December blog in case you missed the most up-to-date numbers as of the end of 2016:

 

Now onto my Merge up-date. For those not familiar with my blog, Merge stopped allowing Pocket Fives to track scores on September 5th 2016, so what I’m doing here is tracking where I would have been had they not stopped tracking. I do play some on other networks but Merge gets out 95% of my volume so I thought it would be fun and motivating to keep things going as if though it never stopped. I use Poker Dominator to track all tourney’s so these are the most accurate and up-to-date numbers as of the last day of the month.

Merge Lifetime Total: $ 397023.41

Career Lifetime Total: $451081.46

Career number of Cashes: 3613

As anticipated I didn’t really have a lot of time to play in December. Being a pastor means that December is a busier time of the year, so poker definitely takes a backseat. Our church though had a great Christmas season and to me one of the highlights was our band covering TSO on Christmas Eve...

As for poker, in the little I was able to play it was a rough month. I remember one night losing set over set 4 times within about a 90 minute period…every time you thought it couldn’t get worse, it did. However, that’s the nature of variance and you just keep reminding yourself to make good decisions and that it will all even out.

 

Actually coming off a few great months leading into December, this was it evening out on the negative side so I really couldn’t be too bummed about it. What made it hard though was with such low volume, it made it seems worse than it was because every day seemed like a loser.

 

I also added a new screen name on WPN on the True Poker skin so I could play the Million Dollar Guarantee. I made a decent run in the tourney but ended up outside the money. However, I did do well on True for the remainder of the month and may give WPN some more volume in 2017. In the coming days I’ll be sharing my 2016 goals and a recap on how I did with them. There was a similar vow to play WPN more last year but I didn’t so we’ll see how this new year goes.

 

With all that said, here are the December results…

131…Tournaments Played

49…. Cashes (37%)

17…. Final Tables

6... …Top 3 Finishes

3……Wins

$6879.31 in total cashes (-17.78% ROI)

 

Now onto my Merge up-date. For those not familiar with my blog, Merge stopped allowing Pocket Fives to track scores on September 5th 2016, so what I’m doing here is tracking where I would have been had they not stopped tracking. I do play some on other networks but Merge gets out 95% of my volume so I thought it would be fun and motivating to keep things going as if though it never stopped. I use Poker Dominator to track all tourney’s so these are the most accurate and up-to-date numbers as of the last day of the month.

Merge Lifetime Total: $ 397023.41

Career Lifetime Total: $451081.46

Career number of Cashes: 3613

 

Follow my monthly results in real-time by following me on Twitter: @YourPokerPastor

×

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.