Thursday, August 13, 2015

Cash Game Challenge-2nl to 1000nl on Twitch

 If you’ve seen me playing at the micro-stakes at PokerStars lately, it’s not because I’m busto (well, not yet anyways!) but because I’m in the middle of doing a cash game challenge and am streaming part of the action on twitch! Depending on how things go at the tables, you may not see me at the micro-stakes for very long because the idea of the challenge is to start at the smallest stakes and finish at the higher end of the mid-stakes relatively quickly. Allow me to go into the full details of the challenge, explain why I’m doing it, how it’s gone in the early stages and why you might care enough to even try it for yourself. 

The rules of the challenge are quite simple and straightforward: Starting at the lowest cash game level offered at PokerStars, 2nl, win 4 buy-ins of the next highest level (5nl) and move up! Once at 5nl, win 4 buy-ins of the next highest level (10nl) and move up again. Keep repeating the process of winning 4 buy-ins of the next highest level and moving up until reaching 1000nl. The buy-ins that have already been won carry forward and count towards the next level. There is no moving down levels at any point of the challenge…if you reach a certain level and then lose 1-3 buy-ins, you remain at that level until you either win the necessary 4-buyins of the next level or lose 4 buy-ins total of the current one. When you lose 4 buy-ins of the current level, the challenge is over (initially, if you lose 4 buy-ins at 2nl you may restart the challenge).

                I’ll give you an example of a possible challenge scenario to help illustrate the rules if they aren’t crystal clear: I start at 2nl and win $20 (4 buy-ins of the next level-5nl) so I move up to 5nl. I win $20 more at 5nl, bringing my challenge total to $40 (4 buy-ins of the next level-10nl) so I move up to 10nl. I initially lose $30 at 10nl, bringing my challenge total down to $10 but I do not move down…I then win $52 remaining at 10nl and my total becomes $62, which is now enough to move up to 16nl. I continue this process until I reach 1000nl and the challenge is completed!
So, why did I decide to create this challenge for myself? I created the challenge for a few reasons: First, I think that it will be something fun to stream on twitch and it should really be an inclusive adventure for everyone. I got the idea for the challenge after doing my “Cash Game Ladder” streams, where the goal was to go from 2nl-200nl by moving up after winning only 1 buy-in of the next level. After doing the ladder successfully multiple times, I decided that it could be fun and entertaining to expand that concept and set my sights on a higher end point that could potentially bring much more rewards financially! Second, I personally want to use this challenge as a vehicle to play higher stakes than I’m normally accustomed to. My regular limit is 100nl and although I’ve played mid-stakes games in the past, I’d like to make more of an effort to include a higher percentage of mid-stakes tables in my game selection. Third, by successfully completing this challenge, maybe I can help motivate some other people that followed my journey to do their own challenge or put forth a greater effort to advance their poker career.

If you’re like me, you don’t exactly love risk. That might sound a bit strange coming from a poker player but I’ve always been someone that practices strict bankroll management and good monetary habits. As a result, my downswings are relatively small but my ceiling is also capped by the limits that I play. I’m excited by this challenge because although there will be a lot of variance that comes with a 4 buy-in stop-loss, the risk that comes along with it is very small as well and the rewards are potentially huge! Think about it, if you make it to say 100nl and then lose, you’ve invested your time but have lost $0 in terms of money…in that respect it’s low risk. On the other hand, if you make it to 1000nl (or whatever end point you’d be happy with) and instead of losing the 4 buy-ins, you end up staying on an upswing then you’ve just catapulted yourself through the limits and have now stuck at a level where you’re likely earning way more VPPs and overall money. It all sounds pretty good in theory at least but we’ll see if I’m still singing the same tune after I’ve had to restart 47 times :)

Speaking of restarting the challenge, I’ve already got my feet a bit wet in it and have some early progress reports. I ended up making it as high as 50nl before losing the 4 buy-ins at that level and had to restart so I’m currently at the bottom of the ladder again. If I remember correctly, I was down to my last buy-in at 25nl before making a solid comeback at that level and before that, everything below 25nl was fairly smooth sailing. I’ve learned quickly that the variance in this challenge is certainly going to be high but I’m not that discouraged by having to do a quick restart. It seems as though there’s going to be a lot of progress and regress throughout this challenge so I’ll need to be mentally prepared for it! I will be doing this challenge throughout August so once again, you can follow the action at and we’ll see how it goes…

Gl at the tables!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

A Team Online Wedding

Pic 1.jpgNaoya, Ike, Alex, Tyler, Greg

When you're an online poker player, it's not often that you find yourself in a situation that lends itself to formal attire (or pants, for that matter). But on this day Naoya, Ike, Alex, Greg and I were dressed to the nines - the occasion was that big.

We had arrived at the wedding of fellow Team Onliners Andre "Acoimbra" Coimbra and Katerina "Katerina289" Malasidou in style. Each of us had journeyed from all around the world to Sintra, Portugal, and it felt good to be reunited for a common cause.

The wedding was an amazing event and the festivities that unfolded after this photograph was taken will remain vivid - long term memories. However, before I get too far ahead of myself, let me go back and explain exactly how my journey unfolded, because it almost never happened in the first place.

Three months prior to my departure I received the official wedding invitation from Kat and Andre. I was honoured that the engaged couple would think of me as someone that they would like to have as a part of their special day, but given the geographical distance between us I was initially reluctant to go.Whenever you're travelling to another continent there are obviously a lot of travel costs involved as well as big time commitments. I was on the fence about going but as soon as I told my girlfriend the news, and saw her eyes light up at the opportunity to travel with me, I knew that I was going to Portugal.

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My girlfriend and I travelled around The Algarve (stayed in Lagos), Lisbon, and Sintra over the course of our stay in Portugal. Each place we visited was fun and interesting in its own right, but our favorite destination was Lagos. It's hard to beat the stunning beaches and relaxed atmosphere of The Algarve.

To access some of the world-renowned beaches that we visited, you had to walk down some massive staircases because they were at the base of tall sandstone cliffs. I joked that if you weren't in beach shape when you first arrived, you would be once you got done with those stairs!

pic 3.jpgTeam Online... online

In Lagos we stayed in a quaint apartment complex that featured very large rooms, a kitchen and an oasis-like pool. The apartment was in-between the town of Lagos and the beaches, so it was ideal for us in terms of where we wanted to spend our time. It even came with free Wi-Fi and I was able to play the Team Online Freeroll from my iPad! I think I bubbled...

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The next stop was in the city of Lisbon for a few nights. We'd been getting by fine with our minimal Portuguese vocabulary, but during our first breakfast in the city something was definitely lost in translation!

After we'd had some food I went back inside to order two pieces of watermelon. I pointed to the fruit inside the case and thought that I had successfully explained what I wanted to our server... it wasn't until she came out and dropped two massive watermelon displays on our table that I realised I might have not been as clear as I thought. Bon App├ętit!

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One cool experience that we had in Lisbon was tracking down a highly-rated cocktail bar that operated as if there was still prohibition in effect. For example, the entrance of the bar was subtle and you had to ring a doorbell to be let inside. Once you entered, you had to walk down some stairs and the bartenders were all dressed in old-fashioned attire and the place had a really exclusive vibe to it. My girlfriend and I actually met up with fellow Team Onliner DaWarsaw earlier that night and the three of us were able to enjoy some of the more creative cocktails. One of my drinks came covered by a glass of smoke and one that Greg ordered had a flame underneath it and came in a paper bag!

Pic 6.jpgThe happy couple

The last leg of our journey was to Sintra- the location of the wedding. The day had finally arrived and my girlfriend and I had accompanied Greg to the ceremony, where we were greeted by Andre and then reunited with Alex and Ike, as well as their significant others. Naoya and his wife were running late but ended up arriving just on time before the ceremony started!

The ceremony was very touching and although nobody spoke any English I didn't feel out of place. Two things that I thought were a really nice touch, including having a live choir for the music and tossing flower pedals to the bride and groom as they exited the church! It really did seem like a fairy tale.

Soon after the ceremony everyone migrated over to the reception venue (where the "Team Online Wedding Crashers" picture was taken). It was a little tricky to actually get to the garden for cocktails, especially for women in high heels, as everyone had to walk down a dirt trail carved into the side of a mountain...there were some tumbles but no serious injuries.

Drinks led to dinner and then dinner led to more drinks, dancing, and even more food later on (including soup randomly at 11pm, apparently that's a thing!). I tried my hand (feet?) at Greek dancing and didn't do too well, although most people looked like they were making it up on the fly just like me anyway.

I had a lot of great conversations throughout the night and learned a couple of new things about my teammates. Such as Alex is apparently a rock-paper-scissors strategist, but Ike not so much.
Some people were playing a "RPS" drinking game. Let's just say that I said goodbye to both Alex and Ike at the end of the night but I'm pretty sure only one of them remembers!

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After a great experience in Portugal, I'm very thankful to Kat and Andre for the invite and for also showing us around Lisbon. Even with only a couple of days before their wedding, they still insisted on meeting up with my girlfriend and I...I think that says enough about them being truly great people and now they make one amazing couple.