Sunday, 30 December 2012

I'm Supernova!

Hello everyone!

I just finished my last poker session for 2012. I should normally go back home since it's already 2:00 a.m., but I couldn't wait to share the news: I'm Supernova!

I finally reached my goal of 100.000 yearly VPPs. As you probably remember, I was missing something like 47.000 VPPs in the beginning of December so it was a pretty ambitious goal to begin with. I practically had to make in a month as many points I made through the rest of the year. Well I did it, and now it's time to celebrate!

Not only did I do it slightly ahead of pace, but I also got great results. December was by far the best month I've ever had. I think there were a lot of factors that contributed to that. First of all, it's that part of the year where people want to spend time with their families and loved ones. So I guess there were quite a few good players that decided to take some time off. Secondly, some people (like me) where probably chasing the points and possibly had to play higher stakes than what they normally do even though they are not necessarily good at them. Adding to that were the extra tournaments that were running for the upcoming TCOOP which helped increase the traffic. And last but not least, I was running good. :D

But let's not waste more time, here's the graph for the month of December:

I'm so happy for these results like you can't imagine! I've always heard of people having crazy months but it always seemed distant, beyond my reach. I never thought it was possible for me to have results like this. It feels awesome that all the work I've put in until now is finally paying off.

Also, this puts things in a different perspective. Out of all the years I've been working in "traditional" jobs, there wasn't a single year when I earned this amount of money. To think that I made in a month more than I previously earned in a whole year is... I don't know how to explain it. It's beyond words I guess.

And of course I know that not all months are gonna be like this and that this was an exception. I sometimes have some bad thoughts creeping in like "What if I was running crazy good and these results were completely undeserved?" But the thing is, I know I worked hard for it so I'll gladly take any help luck can give me and try to block any negative thoughts.

December has been pretty crazy schedule-wise. The first week I woke up early (around 10 o'clock), and took my time to enjoy my morning coffee. Then I busied myself with the house chores and I'd have lunch with André. I'd only go to the office after lunch, study a bit and then start playing. The thing is, I was playing until later and later every day and as a result I would wake up later on the day after. Slowly, my schedule got converted to what it is today: I wake up around 16.00-17.00. For your reference that is sunset time. There were days where I literally saw no daylight. Vampire style full on! Then I'd have a morning (?) coffee, get ready and go to the office. On my way there I'd grab lunch and dinner that I would later eat whenever I felt hungry. I stayed at the office until 3.00 and sometimes even 5.00. Of course when I got back home I couldn't fall asleep right away, so there have been days when I'd only go to bed at 7.00. At least then I got to see the sun! :P As you can imagine, it's not the best schedule for a human being to have but the truth is all the good poker conditions aside, most of the time I was 3-6tabling. And that's a really really low number of tables if you're trying to reach 47k VPPs in a month. So the only way you can make up for it is to spend sh*tloads of hours in front of the computer. Pardon the expression! Not to mention that I rarely got to see André cause he was obviously living like a normal person so we would only spend like 10 minutes per day together. And we live in the same house!

Anyway, that's all over now. All I need to do is to somehow switch to daytime schedule and enjoy my 2 days left of 2012. Adding January 1rst, I have a total of 3 days to rest! Wow!

Ah, I almost forgot. One of these crazy days (or crazy nights to be more exact) I played another MTT. Did you know that they have a $109 tourney starting at 4:00 a.m.? I sure didn't! That's why I forgot to unregister and had to play it. These people at Pokerstars they really organize tournaments for every taste! Anyway, I was really pissed at myself cause I was finishing my session and was planning to go home when the MTT popped up in my face! And if it starts at 4.00 go figure what time it's gonna finish.... I seriously consider to ignore the $109, turn off the computer and leave. But I'm not that good at wasting money so I decided to play. Fortunately, it paid off cause I made another final table!

Towards the end we were getting short so the game was right up my alley. I called a shove from another player with my pocket Jacks and he showed AJs which puts me ahead but... Unfortunately he hit his flush. Whatever, I still played my best and another final table is something I'm quite happy with! :)

I'll try to not make a habit of playing MTTs all the time. I have a lot of margin to improve in this, but I think I'm getting better...

Before I go and since this is my last post for the year, I'd like to share with you my annual graph of 2012:

2012 was a very different year. Full of ups and downs, as most of them are, but I never expected back in January that I when working in the offices of a big company that I would end the year as a full time poker player. I'm very excited to see what 2013 has in store for us!

I wish you all to enjoy the rest of the holidays and have a great 2013! :D

Saturday, 22 December 2012

My Bestest Day Ever!

I know that in my last post I wished you happy holidays and the truth is I wasn't planning on making another post before Christmas but I think that in this case a post is imperative!

First of all, calm down all you grammar maniacs, I know that "bestest" is incorrect but it sounds nice to me! Especially for today that "best" seemed to not be enough...

I've made quite a few posts before regarding my best and worst days in terms of results and my plan is to keep making them every time I break the record. As you have probably guessed by now, I have a new record for my best day and this time I don't think I'll be able to break it anytime soon. Without further ado, here's today's graph:

This is my prettiest graph so far! You can see that towards the end the road got a little bumpy, but oh well! I can't complain! :D

At the highest point of the graph I was up $7.3k which seems hard to believe. Even the final result of $5.936 is unreal. I keep staring at the graph and try to fit it in my head that it's my own graph I'm looking and not someone else's! Lol! :P

Not only does this break the record of money earned in a day (it's even better than my MTT finish!), but it's also a new record in terms of buy-ins which I actually find a lot more important. So, dividing the profit by the average buy-in we get an upswing of 96 buy-ins! Considering that my bankroll has always been around 100 buy-ins of the stakes I play, it's actually pretty scary to be thinking that I could have a downswing of this kind... I would have to move down at stakes of course, but seriously a downswing of 96 buy-ins would be very hard to take and I hope I won't have to deal with anything like that anytime soon...

Third record broken today is that of VPPs earned in a day: today I got 3205 VPPs which is great! It brings me a little bit closer to my Supernova goal:

The only record I didn't break today was that of tournaments per day. I'm not sure what exactly was the biggest number of tourneys I've played in a day, but it was over 500 so today's 471 doesn't cut it. It's ok, I'll live with that!!! :P

Anyway, I just wanted to make this quick update to share the good news with you guys! I'm not going to make any more posts before the holidays (unless of course something extraordinary happens again!) so I wish you Merry Christmas!!!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Supernova Progress

We have a saying in greek "Η καλή μέρα απ' το πρωί φαίνεται". Very freely translated, that means something like "In the morning you can tell if the day is gonna be good". And when I woke up last Friday morning, it was raining cats and dogs. You know how on a sad rainy day all you want to do is curl up on the couch with a blanket, a hot beverage and a good book and stay there all day? Might not be the case for everyone, but that's what I feel like doing when the weather is like that. I usually say "This would have made a perfect free day", cause if I can stay in the house I actually like that weather. Too bad this time it had to be a Friday.

I got out of bed (which makes me a hero already!), got dressed and made a coffee. There wasn't much time to waste cause I had quite a lot of errands to run before going to work. Of course, the stuff I had to do was in the center of the city, which implied me getting stuck in traffic unless the weather improved. Needless to say, it kept raining all day long. I got traffic jams both on my way in and out of the center. Great. 

That delayed me enough to not get my lunch on time. By the time I arrived at the office, my stomach was growling as if I had swallowed 10 dinosaurs. I parked the car, got my umbrella and headed towards the mall to grab something to eat. As I was walking, I thought how impressive it was that during the whole day it did not stop raining even for a minute. That moment a gust of wind broke my umbrella. It really seemed like somebody was making fun of me.

When I finally got back to the office, my clothes were soaking wet but since I couldn't change I just sat down to eat and opened some tourneys. Thanks to the earlier traffic, I was starting ridiculously late.

After all this introduction, do I need to say what my results were like? I had a -$3k day, which I think qualifies for my worst losing day in terms of money. In terms of buy-ins I'm not sure, but it was pretty impressive anyways. Do I need to go on about my frustration of losing every single all-in? Nah, I'll just skip it to not bore you guys... I should have saved the graph of that day to put it here, but when I closed the last table all I wanted to do was to go back home. Now I can't retrieve the graph of that day alone cause it includes Friday's afternoon and Saturday's wee hours. Maybe that's for the best, cause it was an ugly graph anyways...

It was around 2:30 a.m. when I left the office. And just when you think that your crappy day is over and you'll finally go to bed, destiny finds a way to surprise you. I only made it to the garage door, which of course was closed considering it was so late. All normal so far. I rung the bell, but no one would open. Since I could obviously not get out, I parked the car again and went to the reception. There is someone there 24/7, and I was really curious as to why that person would not do their job and open the door.

When I arrived to the reception nobody was there. I waited and waited, thinking that the guy might have gone to the bathroom or something. Since no one was showing up, I even went to check the bathrooms to see if any were occupied. Guess what, they were empty. I'll skip the creepy part where I was waiting all alone in a dimly lit building where there was total silence. After a while I thought "*@!% it, I'll leave the car here and grab a taxi to go home". I headed towards the main door which is always open and... it was locked. I was officially locked inside the building! AWESOOOOOOOOME!!!!!!!

I kept walking up and down until at some point I noticed a paper "I'll be right back" followed by a mobile number. It was hanging at a place easy to notice for those outside that wanted to come in, but not so easy for those inside that wanted to get OUT. I dialed the number and soon the security was back at the reception. Anyway, I did get home in the end, but it seems like I needed to have that fun little adventure at the end of a long bad day...

Fortunately, the next days went a lot better and I managed to recover. After last Sunday, my bankroll reached the highest amount it has ever been, which is great! (I had a downswing today, but still, I'm good). I keep playing the $37s, $74s and $109 hypers so the points keep coming in at a good pace. Here's my VPPs status right now:

19k points left! If everything goes according to the plan and I don't have any nasty downswings I will make Supernova with one or two days to spare. The only problem is that I haven't fully adjusted to this nightly schedule yet... I wake up around 13:00 so I cannot have lunch or dinner at normal times... But since I'm feeling well enough to play and I'm not sleepy during my sessions I guess it's ok.

That's all for now, I'll try to make another post next week about my Supernova chase.

Until then, I wish you all to enjoy the holidays and have a merry Christmas!!!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

I'm positive at MTTs!!!

So, yesterday was your typical Sunday where I go to the office as early as possible to play as much as I can. This particular Sunday I didn't go super early cause I've been playing until 2:00 a.m. all week long, so waking up before noon is out of the question. Not that I missed that much anyway, all the regulars I know where playing... And I'm not super excited to be the 6th person joining a game with 5 regulars waiting... Not only that, but the god of hyper-turbos jorj95 was playing the $74s so I'd rather stay away from those...

But since I needed the VPPs (let's not forget that I am on the hunt for Supernova), I opened some $37s and started playing. Around 13:45 I stopped opening tables cause the $109 NL Hold'em [$15k Gtd] was starting at 14:00. I removed those satellites from my TableNinja filters, unregistered from the tournament and went on playing my hypers... Of course the inevitable happened. I forgot to unregister from the satellites that TableNinja put me in before 13:45. It seems like one of them took a bit longer to start, so by the time I was done with it, it took me straight to my seat in the main event. *Sighs* Story of my life!

Frustrated that I was going to have to play yet another MTT, one that I had actually been prudent enough to remove from my filters, I put the table in the corner of my screen and focused on my hypers. Early on, however, I got some premium hands in the MTT and doubled up. When I checked the lobby, I saw to my surprise that I was first (!) in the rankings. I still paid little attention to it, cause the tournament had something like 300 players and late registration was still open so more could follow.

I went on playing, and was still hanging on after registration closed. Not only was I hanging on, but I don't think I ever dropped lower than 13th place. Time was going by though and I was starting to feel more and more tired. As you know, I normally do two-hour sessions and then have a 30 minutes break. MTTs only have a five minutes break every hour so... That threw me out of my routine by quite a bit. I was planning to go grab lunch from outside but that was no longer possible. Good thing I had some leftover soup in the fridge!

I didn't know what to do during my five minutes break... Go to the bathroom, make a coffee to keep me awake or close my eyes for a while to get that much desired rest? I was talking with André on gmail chat from time to time... He was going running, then he was back from running and was going to take a shower, then he was going to prepare lunch, then he was having lunch and so on... And aaaaaaaall that time I was there playing. Boy, MTTs are so annoying! Don't even get me started on why I don't like playing MTTs, I've already made a detailed post on the subject!

Anyway, the thing that really bothered me was that I had already spent quite some time on that tournament and I would feel awful to walk away empty handed. Which, considering my past experience in MTTs was a highly probable future. I was constantly checking how many players were left so that I at least make it in the money and it always seemed soooooooo far away! To make matters worse, since I wasn't getting my half-hour breaks I was feeling too tired to play the hypers at some point so I stopped playing them and only left the MTT open, thinking something like "Okay, I'm gonna lose this one, make a break and then go back to the hypers!"

Of course, life has a funny way of messing up our plans. In this case, the amount of good hands I was getting was ridiculous. And no, I'm not overreacting. It seemed like luck was making it up to me for all the previous MTTs I've been in... I remember one where I lost without ever getting a glimpse of a halfway decent hand. And this Sunday it was my payback time. Not only did I double up early on, but just when I was determined to play tight to make it into the money (that's really all I was hoping for), I would get Aces or Kings and be forced to go for all or nothing. Like, to give you an example at some point I was up against another player's all-in. I called with my AQs and felt relieved when he revealed AQo. We would be splitting the pot, so huuuuufffff, I could breathe again for not having to flip with a pair or be up against AK. I didn't even realize what was happening when I saw all the chips coming my way. I had made a flush! You know the expression "Better lucky than good"? They made it for me playing the MTT last Sunday. That crazy!

The bubble did burst at some point, and I was nowhere near going bust. Actually most of the time I was the chipleader at my table. André started taking more interest in what was happening as the tournament was closing in to the last two tables and he started cheering for me on his facebook page which was a nice twist of events since normally I'm the one that does that kind of stuff... Oh, by the way thanks to everyone who showed their support! I really appreciate it you guys! :D

I made it to the final two tables, and when it looked like they would soon be merged into one I did the unthinkable: I turned my chat on!!! As soon as we got into the final table, I typed "chop?" in the chat box. Nobody replied though... Don't get me wrong, I was actually the chipleader (although you cannot see two players' stacks below, I did have the chiplead at that point). I just wanted to get a deal cause I was super happy to make it in the money and then the final table and I have a very good notion of how far my skills go when MTTs are concerned.

Anyway, since everyone ignored my chop offer we just kept on playing. One player down, then another one, then another one... We were down to four people! Then came the decisive hand of the tournament... I raised with pocket 4s and the player on my left shoved... I called, and he showed 2s. I didn't have time to breathe before the flop came with a 2 in the middle... He hit his set, and even though I was still alive that hand crippled me. On the positive side, I was down to 11BB after that so it was my field all over again... Hyper-turbo style so that I go down in glory! Heheh! At least towards the end I'm 100% confident of my game!

It seems that some people did not take losing quite as nicely though. One of my opponents that I eliminated from the final table wished good luck to two of the other players (he acutally wrote gl X and gl Y) and ignored all the rest of us that were still playing. He also remained silent when I wrote "gg", but whatever! I'm not going to teach people good sportsmanship and I have my chat off most of the times anyway so I never bother with this kind of thing. Plus, I'm very happy with the way I played considering what I know and that MTTs are not by any means my field. I also recognize that I've had a very generous amount of luck which is why I didn't really sweat it with the 44 vs 22 suck-out. All is well that ends well and I got a nice $3024 prize to celebrate!

And I'm sorry if you have seen this kind of thing before, but to the eyes of the sng player this graph is so unreal that I had to share:

Straight line up? Haha, that doesn't happen! It makes the hypers progress look like I was fooling around at the tables or something! Epic! And finally, one last graph we need to take a look at: my lifetime MTTs graph.

Graph for more than 15 players

That's $565 positive! Yeayyyy!!! I think it's important to have it here for the record cause with the bad habit I have of forgetting to unregister from main tournaments I can't say that it will stay positive for long... Oh, and since the above graph is including some small MTTs, I'll also put the lifetime graph of the bigger ones with more than 180 players (that's were I'm doing all the damage these days anyway):

Graph for 180 players and above

In this one I'm $1286 positive which makes me wonder... When exactly have I been playing small MTTs and lost money at them? Must have been in another lifetime or something, or I have completely erased from my memory everything MTT related cause I really don't remember anything about the crime...

Anyway, I think that's enough graphs and numbers for today. Moving on to more serious questions... What to do with the prize money? Talonchick had a great idea of me going shopping (oh, thanx Adrienne for the support at the tourney!). Not that it didn't cross my mind, it did, but eventually I've decided that it's much better to leave the money in my account. I think my bankroll appreciates it more than my wardrobe would. Especially now that I'm going for Supernova and a downswing could mean not making it. Speaking of, this was a good week as far as points are concerned and I'm happy to say I'm on schedule:

After all the MTT craziness I immediately hit the mall to grab dinner. I had been playing for six hours which I'm not at all used to and I felt like eating something more consistent than a soup. And yeah, I did say that I wouldn't spend my prize shopping around like crazy, which we all know I would love to do, but I didn't say I wouldn't buy anything. I am a woman after all! Plus, what I did buy I really needed!

- A pair of the cutest fuzzy socks ever made! Cause I actually didn't have any fuzzy socks and it's cold and the heating at our place has been pulling some tricks on us lately and who wants cold feet in December? Plus did I mention they're super cute?
- A night mask with the eyes of an owl! Because sometimes André is at the office with me and he's working while I want to take a nap. And I can't take a nap with all the lights on! Plus, one can never have too many cute thingies! :P

That's all for now! See you soon with an update about my Supernova chase!

P.S.: I started writing this on Monday night but it turned out to be one of my beloved humongous posts... So I'm posting it after midnight and it will go with a Tuesday date. Just wanted to clear that out so that you don't get confused when I'm referring to Sunday as "yesterday". Cheers!

P.S.2: Now that I said cheers, I remembered, after I won the moneys at the MTT, André showed up at the office with some snacks and Porto wine to celebrate! Which makes me think... Hmm, maybe I should final table more often, this is cooooooool! :D

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Fish, sharks and taking a shot at Supernova

Hello everyone!

I've been kind of absent from the blog during November, but it has been a pretty busy month for me. First of all, I focused on studying poker and improving the way I play. I didn't want to have another bad month like October so I did my best to avoid it. 

Halfway in November, my coaching sessions changed. Instead of sitting in front of the computer with André to review my recorded sessions, he would take the recordings and watch them by himself instead. During that time I would continue playing normally while he was taking notes on my videos and creating a review file for me to study the next day. It takes longer to do that than to make corrections through discussion while we are watching a video together, but I have more time to play like this. Also, the best part is that I have the files to review whenever I want and everything is in full detail so it's much better than me taking quick notes while he's talking.

Anyway, studying has been going pretty well and I feel like I'm significantly improving the way I play. But before I go on, here's the graph for the month of November:

As you can see, I finished with a profit of $3.368 after 5.311 games. Not bad at all I must say. On the negative side, I forgot or didn't have time to unregister from some main events so I had to play them... It was a total of 8 MTTs and I didn't manage to make a cash finish in any of them which took away $1.177 from my profit. Now that I add it all up it's actually quite a bit of difference, I could have finished with $4.5k profit in November but... Oh well, I think my frustration for being obligated to play those MTTs is enough of a punishment.

As you can see in the graph, the month was not missing its ups and downs. Around the 1.5k hands mark I got a good downswing and then between the 4k and the 5k hands you notice a significant upswing and an equally brutal downswing. I think the last two were in the same day (a Sunday) if I'm not mistaken. From that point of view, during the past month I've hit several highs and lows that were new territory (at least for me).

I discovered that when one is taking one bad beat after the other, being extremely unlucky or simply plays bad, Sharkscope has a special "reward" for them. They add a nice little fish next to the player's name when you search them up in their database. You don't believe me? Here, I took a printscreen:

And to be honest, the prinscreen doesn't do it justice... The little fish has animation and all, showing it swimming happily in circles in its fish tank and jumping out of it every now and then. Oh, and just in case you didn't get it already, when you move your mouse over it a label appears reading "Fish".

Great, just great! I had never seen that before, so I didn't know that Sharkscope did that. To find out this way, with the thing swimming next to my screen name was kind of harsh. As if my downswing was not enough... Anyway, at least the Fish shows up only when you search that specific day and those specific stakes (damn those $18s!) so I didn't get permanently stained with the Fish label. If it showed up in my lifetime winnings it would be worse :P And to make a last comment about this, wow, -27% ROI? I bet most people cannot do that even if they try (unless they sitout all day long, which was not my case). Talking about running bad!

And now the positive side... After discovering about the Fish, and following my tradition of getting excellent results after the really bad ones, I soon found out about the Shark:

At least it's good to know that I'm not just a fish, I can be a shark too sometimes. Lol. The Shark is animated too, moving its tail left and right. When I rolled the mouse over it, it read "Medium Shark", so I guess that unlike the Fish, Sharks actually have levels. Anyway, I got another shark icon yesterday, but that falls into December news so I'll leave that for later.

I took the last week of November off, because there was a big tournament of Magic: The Gathering that André and I wanted to attend. We had people from many different countries staying over at our place and  it was so much fun! Here's a photo from the tournament: 

Good thing I rested and enjoyed myself during a week, cause December is not only the last month of the year but also the hardest one. The situation is like this: 

Basically, if you consider that PlatinumStar is 7.500 VPPs per month and Supernova is 100.000 per year, you only need to make PlatinumStar 1,5x per month to finish the year with the Supernova status. Which, at my current situation is a very reachable goal. The only problem is, when I first started playing the hyper-turbos back in March, I started by playing the $1,5s or the $3s or whatever was the lowest stakes they had at that point. I was moving up and down in levels until July and only in August with André's more intensive coaching I started moving up higher without having to move back down so much.

Therefore, from a VPPs point of view, I lost half a year. The past couple of months the VPPs have been coming in faster since I play higher stakes and have increased the number of tables, but still... Supernova is far away. To be more exact, I'm missing 45.250 VPPs in order to achieve Supernova this year. I calculated the working days that this month has (I'm not really going to work on Christmas and I still need to take some time off every week to rest) and it's 20 days, today included. So I need to make around 2.2k to 2.3k VPPs per day. Which is crazy, and far more than I've ever done so far. Yesterday it was the first day in December that I worked and as you can see in the printscreen above, I only made 1.6k VPPs which is far less than the desired 2.2k.

I'm not saying that I'm going to kill myself at work trying to achieve Supernova. I think it's a far-fetched goal for me at the moment. However, there is a chance that I will make it so I'll give it a shot. There are some factors that I can't control of course, such as not having enough games running or getting a downswing. Currently, I can play up to 12 tables. If I'm obligated to be 2-3tabling because there aren't any games running, then so be it. I have no control over that situation so I'm not going to stress about it. Same thing goes for swings. Up to now my highest stake were the $74s, but yesterday I went up to the $109s.  I will also cut on the $18s for now because they only give 1,93 VPPs each which is rather irrelevant for what I'm trying to achieve. If I get a downswing while playing higher stakes and I'm forced to move down, then I will have to give up Supernova for this year cause I'm not willing to risk my bankroll trying to get a VIP Status. Since there are some important things outside of what I can control and I am extremely pressured by time, I don't know if I should be calling this a goal but... Here goes nothing!

Before I go, I'd like to share with you my graph from yesterday...

It wasn't my best day in terms of buy-ins (even though it was pretty close), but it was my best day in terms of profit. +$3.332! Awesoooome! :D

Anyway, now I need to take it day by day and see if making Supernova is still possible. Wish me luck cause I'll need it...

See you at the tables!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Shopping Spree

Hi everyone!

I don't really have time for one of my normal posts today, but I wanted to share something with you... A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I participated in one of André's videos... If you haven't seen it already, here it is!

P.S.: Thumbs up for my shortest post ever in this blog!!! :P

Monday, 5 November 2012

Things are looking up!

Hi everyone!

I told you that November would be a better month didn't I? And even though we're only at the beginning and therefore far from making any sort of overview, I'm very very happy with the way it's going so far!

On October 1rst and 3rd, André and I went to play some Magic: The Gathering tournaments. For those of you who are not familiar with the game and don't know what's going on in the magic world, Lisbon is hosting a Grand Prix in December. That's a major tournament gathering hundreds of players from all over the world. Since it's taking place near our house and we will have friends coming over from a lot of different countries, André and I are looking forward to it. We have been practicing quite a bit lately, and played some Grand Prix Trials. The trials give a first prize of 3 wins for the GP, which means that at the Grand Prix instead of starting playing at round 1 like everyone else, you start playing at round 4 having 3 wins behind you already!

The trial we played last Saturday went well both for André and me so we both made it into the top8. We were lucky enough to not get paired up against each other and we both kept winning so inevitably we met at the finals. André decided to concede so that I would get to win the trial and get the advantage of 3 wins at the GP. We had been playing the whole day and both of us making the finals was an awesome outcome, but I'm also very excited for starting the Grand Prix with 3 wins. Thanx André! :)

But let's move on to poker stuff, shall we? In between the magic tournaments, on October 2nd, I sat down in front of my computer to play. And guess what? I finally managed to break that losing streak! Here's the graph from that day:

Not anything far too exciting, I was only playing $3s and $7s that day and the profit was $86,38 so around 17 buy-ins, but I felt so relieved to have a winning day again!

And then there was Sunday... As we all know Sundays get extra traffic because of all the Sunday tournaments, so it's the best day for poker grinders to play. André told me to play higher stakes, up to the $37s which was  quite on the borderline for my bankroll, but there were a lot of people playing those so the games were too good to miss. Not only things went well, but I also have a new record of my best day ever! Here's the graph:

That's an amazing upswing of $1571 or to put it in perspective 53,5 buy-ins! My previous record was 52 buy-ins so I did not exceed it by far, but still it was my best day ever! Plus, the previous record was back when I was playing the $7s and the $18s so this Sunday was far better than any other day in terms of money!

And of course we should always think in terms of buy-ins and not money, but after the tremendous hits that my bankroll has taken recently, it just feels nice to see it going significantly up again... When I went back home André congratulated me for the day and rushed to remind me that it's not the result that's important but the learning process. That's his standard thing to say whether I'm having an upswing or a downswing and it's very true. A poker player should always brush off the results, good or bad, and focus on what they can control: playing well and improving. But can you blame me that I slept a lot better last night and finally woke up at the sound of my alarm buzzing, not before? ;)

That's all for now. I hope that November started just as well for you too!

Good luck and see you at the tables!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Going crazy + October overview


Okay, I'll admit, it finally got to me. I've had a losing streak of 14 days in a row, which to me is a bit too much. I don't even remember if I've ever had a similar incident before in my poker career in terms of time, cause I'm sure that in terms of money it's a first. It's not just about the money lost (surprisingly that's not my biggest concern). It's mostly about the awful feeling of constantly losing. You have probably felt it too so until a certain degree I'm pretty sure you know what I'm talking about. It's exhausting! Who would say that losing is far more tiring than winning, right? I think I snapped around the last couple of days of October, which is pretty good considering I took over two weeks of losing until I came to this point.

What is this point like? Not very pretty I must say. My morale is way below zero and the only way to get it back up is to start winning some. Which unfortunately to me sounds as hard right now as the sky turning green. I've literally forgotten what if feels like to win. It seems like something I'm no longer capable of. And yes, of course I know and understand that what I'm saying doesn't make any sense and that I'm not going to keep losing for the rest of my life, but... I guess I've hit an emotional low. This is what losing does to people, in all its glory! It's like your brain is thinking in a logical way but your emotions are countering every logical thought that comes to you. It's the ultimate internal battle between me and myself, if that makes any sense, and it's totally tiring.

To make matters worse, the vertigo is back. Not as bad as the first time it appeared, but still there to remind me of its presence whenever I turn my head around a bit too much. According to my doctor the change of weather from autumn to winter has a lot to do with it, but I think stress also plays an important part. This time however it feels totally undeserved because I've been doing my exercise, sitting properly at my chair, eating healthy and sleeping well. Oh, talking of sleep, I think now we can kiss that goodbye too. Just to add to my overall frustration lately I've been waking up before the alarm goes off, which is unheard of. No matter how late I go to sleep, it seems like I have to wake up 1-2 hours earlier than what I planned on the night before when I went to bed. I suppose my mind these days is not fully at ease even when I'm sleeping and that's why this is happening. 

In terms of stakes and bankroll, I think it goes unsaid that I'm moving further and further down at stakes. Right now I'm at the point where the $37s are no longer allowed, so I'm playing a mix of $18s, $7s and $3.75s depending on the time of the day and the traffic. Okay, let's get this over with, here's my graph for the month of October (my ugliest graph ever so far!):

Total damage: -$4.880 and that's a wrap!

And after reading this, I suppose you think that the title of this post was referring to me going crazy. No, that was actually for André who decided earlier this week that I've had enough of 6-tabling and I should move to...9!!! Yeah, you read it right, that's a nice nine over there! I've never 9-tabled the hyper-turbos. Even back when I was playing the normal speed sngs, the highest number of tables I've ever reached was 12. So when I hear 9, I freaked out a little. That said, it's rare for me to go against André's opinion in poker, so I did what he asked anyway. The first session only lasted an hour, I was playing the $3s and it went bad, naturally. The second session was longer, close to two hours and even though it was a losing one, I was feeling like I could pay enough attention to all the tables so I actually managed. At this point I can't say I'm comfortable with 9-tabling, cause I'm obviously not, but at least I'm doing ok at it and only occasionally sit out.

Increasing the number of tables had two immediate benefits:

1) We suddenly got a lot more material to review during coaching time. Coaching throughout the month of October has not been very exiting, but now it got interesting all over again. André says he sees improvements in the way I play from one day to the next, so that's a good thing.

2) Okay, I've not been playing well during October but I've been getting a generous dose of negative variance. Increasing the volume of tournaments brings "the long run" a bit closer, so I have some hope to get out of the bad luck a bit sooner.

Coaching is now towards the end of the day after I play and we review the session from that day. That's really good because I have everything fresh in my mind so every correction sticks better in my memory. Also, it's comforting to hear an expert confirm that you are running bad. During our last coaching session two days ago, André went through 40 minutes of the video of me playing and was mostly quiet while he was watching it. Yeah, there were misplays and I did get a couple of notes of things I do wrong and need to try to improve in my next session, but it's always nice to have someone telling you that you did okay and it's not because of your awful way of playing that you lost 29 buy-ins. I think it's very important to find something positive to hold on to while being in a downswing. So yeah, I can 9-table and play ok while at it, so there was some kind of  improvement during last month after all.

Of course we wouldn't stop to 9 tables now, would we? André's initial idea was to let me 9-table all through this week and then have me increase to 12 during the next one. It seems like that is not going to happen because number 9 seems to be the borderline for me at this point, so 12-tabling has been postponed for the second week of November. Which is still not that far anyway so I am kind of dreading the moment it comes, but then again I was thinking the same way about 9-tabling and it turned out to be fine anyway. I guess I'll just have to wait and see how things go, like always!

Anyway, that's all for now. October is in the books and I have high hopes that November is going to be a much better month

Good luck to you all and see you at the tables! :)

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Disaster mode

Hi everyone!

By the title of this post you can guess that things are not going great poker-wise. Unfortunately for me (fortunately for my opponents), yesterday I had my worst day in terms of money loss and a pretty bad one if you look at it from a buy-ins point of view. I lost around 35 buy-ins (calculating with the average stake cause I was mixing up $37s and $74s) which is better than my worst day ever (-60 buy-ins), but still... Pretty bad! Here's the graph:

The outcome? A devastating score of -$1942. Ouch and ouch again. In the past I think I've talked about how playing in dollars puts a bit of a distance between me and the money. And that's a good thing, really. Since the currency I've been using  most of my life is the euro (okay, I was also using greek drachmas before that but that's soooooo far back in the past!), dollars do not immediately translate into money in my head. I mean, I know it's money, but knowing that it's not the same amount in euros makes me see it more as chips that I can convert into euros and therefore money. Until that translation is made and specifically calculated down to the very last cent, I feel like I have a veil of protection around me that shields me from the truth. Since one euro is worth more than one dollar (at least right now it is!), when I see myself losing I always have the semi-comforting thought of "Ok, calm down, it's not as bad in euros as it seems". 

So yesterday, when I was playing and felt that I was losing quite a bit, I sharkscoped my results before finishing my session so that I know how big the damage was. And good thing I did that, cause I still had one more hour to go for that session and if I hadn't stopped things could have been far worse. I stopped opening tables and when I got the final result of -$1942 I felt an urge to convert it and see how much it is in euros. Stupid me, I know. With the current conversion rates, that's 1493 euros. And then it hit me. After I saw the number, the next couple of breaths were hard to take in. Have you heard of the expression "breathless"? That's exactly what I'm talking about! I don't know about you, but that is quite a bit more than what my monthly salary has ever been in any non-poker related job I've ever had. 

There's really no use in crying over spilt milk, so I tried to calm myself down and go on with my day. I informed André over the phone about my "accomplishment" and let him know that I wouldn't be playing the last hour of my session. Instead, I opened youtube and watched some of those time-spending and mostly pointless videos that do, however, make me feel good cause I don't think about my problems or my life in general. When the time came, I closed everything, locked the office and got into my car to drive to my school of dance. It's a 30 minute drive, during which I put the music louder than usual and forced myself to sing along even though I didn't particularly feel like singing. I also enjoy driving so that helped too. By the time I got to the school, I was feeling significantly better. I caught myself thinking about poker while dancing, which normally doesn't happen, but my thoughts were more like "Wow, I lost in one day more than I used to make per month and now I'm here dancing and being sort of cool about it. Is there something wrong with me?"

You see, part of me still thinks like my old self back to when I had only heard of poker but didn't even know how to play or have any notion of the money involved in it. To that part of me, it makes no sense to be losing  1,5k euros in a day and be cool about it. The logical reaction would be to freak out. And then there's the other part of me, that comprehends swings and plays and variance and skill (or the lack of it) and sees the loss of that amount of money as something not only acceptable, but a necessary part of the process

Last night, sleep didn't come as easily, I'm not gonna lie about it. But I woke up feeling fine today and most importantly I'm ready to go back to the tables immediately. For someone whose worst fear in poker is to not be able to deal with the emotional part it involves, I think I'm doing a pretty good job actually. If someone told me back in February that I was starting to play the hypers, that I would lose such an amount of money and be ok with it, I'd call them a liar and a pretty bad one. Today, I put it behind me and move on. So there's some sort of progress in it I suppose...

Anyway, moving on to what happens now... I obviously can't go on playing the $74s cause I am not rolled for them anymore, so... Bye-bye $74s for now and see you again soon (I hope)! I can play up to the $37s though, where apart from yesterday's bad day I have been doing ok. André says that I'm still not at the level I was before I left for Greece in September and since I haven't been able to 6-table much lately (oh, I miss the traffic of the WCOOP!), coaching has been progressing a looooot slower than usual. For today, the plan is to play $3s and $7s not because I can't or shouldn't play higher, but because there's more traffic at those stakes and I'll get more material to review after. André says that he has spotted what I do wrong, so let's see if he can help me get back to my A game soon.

Apart from that... After a couple of weeks of the schedule I described in my previous post, it became crystal clear that I cannot keep going on a regular basis with only one free day per week. Not because my weekdays were too busy, they were softer than what I'm used to overall, but because one free day per week is simply not enough. No, I'm not a party animal and I don't want all the free time of the world for myself. It's just that out of the two free days that most people have, I believe one goes to running errands, cleaning the house, going to the supermarket, and organizing your life (whether it's backing up the files on your computer or something else you need to do, the point is it's not necessarily a fun activity and you don't have time to do during the week). The other day is spent with family and friends. It doesn't have to be as linear and that, people obviously do the laundry and go out for a dinner in the same day, but everyone has some time attributed to both of those sort of things. So with one day only... What do I do? Spent some quality time with my boyfriend? Go out with some friends? Or tidy around the house? And then, every now and then, don't we all need a day were we do nothing at all?

No, no, two free days need to be a standard thing in my life no matter what. I talked with André about it, told him that if he couldn't figure out a way to improve my schedule I would probably go insane and being the great problem-solver that he is, he came up with a solution. It's as simple as not really having time for breakfast, but getting my breakfast while doing our morning coaching. Which, starts at 9:00 a.m. now. I have to wake up a bit earlier compared to my previous schedule, but whatever. It really doesn't bother me to wake up earlier and it makes a world of difference to get an extra day for me. So, I still work/study 40 hours per week, do my exercise and everyone's happy! :)

Oh, I have one last piece of news for you guys... André asks me from time to time to participate in his videos. My typical reply is "no" cause I'm not particularly fond of being in front of the cameras  (I get nervous) and he's the Pokerstars sponsored player and therefore the one that people want to see, not me. I broke the rule of participating in his videos only twice. The first one was when they were making a team Online video about him and they needed short interviews from friends. It doesn't make much sense for friends to appear in the video but the girlfriend that lives with him to be absent, so I went with it. Plus, they had a crew fly to Portugal all the way from the United States, so I felt bad playing it a diva (which I'm not) and refusing to participate.
The second occasion was during the Micro-Millions challenge that he did. I made a post about what I was going through during that time and he had the idea of me making a video of it. Again, I was not very keen on doing it and refused several times before agreeing (if you were watching the challenge you know that André was not in great physical shape back then due to lack of sleep so it was harder for me to keep saying no to him about anything).

When a couple of weeks ago he came to me saying that he had an idea about a video that would promote the new Pokerstars mobile application, my first reaction was "Forget it, enough is enough already!". He went straight to counterattack saying "There's a shopping budget for you involved". Not losing time to think I said "Okay, what's the plan and when do we start?" :D I am a girl after all, and the word "shopping" brings a sweet melody to my ears. Especially if he's the one offering to go shopping with me (I usually have to drag him along).

This video I actually kind of enjoyed doing. Yeah, there was the usual awkward nervousness in front of the camera, plus tons of people staring at us cause we were filming in some of the busiest streets of Lisbon, but apart from that it was fun. And more importantly, I brought back home some goodies:

The video is not uploaded yet, but it will be soon so look out for it. For those of you that will be feeling bad for André after you watch it, let me remind you what I've been through during the Micro-Millions and let's just call this payback time! Heheh! :P

See you guys at the tables!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

WCOOP recap and plans for October

Hello again!

I know this post comes a bit late , but I haven't really said anything about my poker progress lately so I thought I'd update you guys.

As I wrote in my previous post, I only played the first two weeks of the WCOOP. But even those two weeks were enough to give a nice boost to my bankroll. Actually, I've never had that much money in my Pokerstars account before. Here is my graph for the month of September:

My total profit was $4,827 which makes September 2012 my best month so far. Somewhere along the way I think I also broke my record per day in terms of buy-ins but I was too busy playing at the tables to stop and make a post about it...

Now here comes the best part. In a previous post I talked about my current bankroll management. When the WCOOP started, I was playing the $7s and the $18s. However, since I was on a good run and improving I reached the next "step" of my bankroll plan pretty fast. And that included playing $35s. André let me mix in some $55s cause they seemed to get more traffic, but suddenly the $7s were history! I quickly made Platinum for the next month and got some of the VIP bonuses along the way. You just cannot beat free money, there's no deal better than that! 

Since the VPPs were flowing into my account a lot faster than before and my bankroll was continuing to grow (almost reaching the next step of my bankroll management), André put me playing some FPPs hypers that are equivalent to the $74s. Since you only pay with FPPs and not real money, those tournaments get less traffic than the regular ones. The good thing about them though is that they are also a lot softer than the regular $74s. I'll admit that the first time I started playing stakes that were so high, I was very intimidated. And I'm not just talking about the regular nervousness of moving up a level. I mean, I've always been a micro-stakes player so far. It's hard to put in my head that I went up to play the $74s...

Fortunately for me, things kept going well. Shortly, I was not only playing the 4.500 FPPS but the regular $74s as well. Winning money at the $74s was a huge confidence boost apart from everything else. At that point, I had my trip to Greece so I did not fully benefit from the extra traffic due to the WCOOP tourneys, but oh well! I'm very happy with how it went! The only misfortune was that what I had planned to be a 10 days trip ended up lasting until the end of the month because I got sick. That took me back quite a bit, not only because I lost one week where I could be playing, but because staying more time away from the tables made me forget certain things and be out of poker shape.

Now I'm back, batteries fully charged and feeling much better physically than when I left! Last weekend André and I attended some Magic: The Gathering tournaments and that was fun, but from Monday we got back to business. Since the doctor made it crystal-clear that staying in front of the computer more than two hours straight is a no-no, we had to readjust my schedule. The final version is something like this:

9.30-10.00: Wake up
10.00-11.00:  Breakfast/ Getting ready
11.00-13.00: Work
13.00-13.30: Lunch
13.30-15.00: Work
15.00-15.30: Break
16.00-18.00: Work
18.30-20.30: Dancing lessons
21.30: Dinner

What is mentioned as work refers to either playing or having coaching with André. It depends on where his and my schedule combine but the general idea is that I get 2-4 hours of coaching per day. You may think this is a rather soft schedule right? Hold on a bit cause there's a catch: I only get one free day per week. That's right. No more weekends (or in my case Friday-Saturdays cause I always had to play on a Sunday). From now one it's one day off only. I'm not crazy about that and I don't know for how long I can take it, but I couldn't come up with a better schedule that satisfies all of the following parameters: working around 40h/week, doing exercise on a daily basis, sleeping 8-9 hours, getting one hour of massage per week. Combining all the above and getting two days off on a weekly basis seems impossible. If you come up with a better idea, please let me know cause I couldn't think of anything. I just can't have it all and the only thing that I can afford to sacrifice right now is my time off. Not my work and definitely not my exercise that contributes a lot to my good health. Oh, I forgot to mention that Sundays deviate from this schedule, it's practically play two hours, have a half hour break, play two hours, have a half hour break... And so on until I've played 8-10 hours total.

I'm already following the new diet that my nutritionist gave me and today is the first day that I'll be going back to doing exercise. I'm not fully used to the change of lifestyle yet, but I think that will come with time. If only I could figure out a way to have 2 days off per week... My life would be perfect! :P

Anyway, as far as poker is concerned I'm doing ok although I'm still quite rusty. During the first week after I came back from Greece André put me playing the $3s and the $7s again. This week I moved back to my "normal" stakes, or at least the ones that my bankroll dictates that I should be playing... Which is from the $18s all the way up to the $74s. 

Now that it's not a SCOOP or WCOOP month, I'm working with the regular Pokerstars schedule. They have tons of tournaments, which on one hand is good cause there's almost always something that you can play but on the other hand... Planning a two-hour session can be a nightmare. Especially if you are playing multiple stakes. You basically need to keep track of when every tournament that you win entries to is starting so that you can unregister on time. Which is no easy task, you can take my word for it. So far I've been trying this out for 3 days and I already played 2 MTTs that I wasn't planning to... Not to mention my super blunder of registering to a $357 tournament! Yeah, you read that one right! Three digits tourney (not only that, but also the highest one you can play on a regular basis on Stars!). How did that happen? 

Let me explain this to you so you can learn from my mistake and not do the same. So, there I was in the middle of my session having disabled the $37.50s from TableNinja cause the tourney they were feeding was about to start. I unregistered from the MMT and a bit latter when I assumed that the tourney had already started, I wanted to check if there were more $37.50s running. So while TableNinja was running (attention, this is the key phrase here!), I typed the numbers 3 and 7 in the PokerStars filter. Surely, the first tourney that appeared containing those numbers was a $357 (and not the $37 that I had in mind). Good old TableNinja registered me to it and before I had time to blink, the tourney started and popped up in front of me. You see, not only was I ignorant enough to not fully understand how TableNinja works, but I was also unlucky enough to be the 6th and last person registering at the $357. Lesson learnt: TableNinja does not control what it registers you to, it only controls the filters. If you mess with the filters while it's running a session, then you will be registered to whatever appears first in the Pokerstars lobby. And good luck with that.

Fortunately, my luck was good for two reasons: Jorj95 was not playing (he's only the best player in the world at the hypers, duh!) and when I reached the bubble I was up against an opponent that I recognized from the $74s. After a lot of all-ins and tossing chips back and forth which, may I add, is not very good for your blood pressure, I ended up winning the thing. Which was great cause otherwise I don't know how I could forgive myself the stupidity of throwing $357 out the window. Really.

Anyway, all is well that ends well. Hm, ok, maybe it hasn't exactly ended cause I still haven't got the hang of it and I'm struggling a ton with what I play, what I don't play, where to unregister, what filters to disable, which ones to enable and so on... I think that I should make a written plan of what tourney starts when, otherwise I may keep struggling forever... But before I go, I want to show you guys the graph of the last three days that I've been playing the $18s+. Here it is:

I'm losing $462, which if you consider that my average buy-in is like $28 (always according to sharkscope) it's like 16 buy-ins negative. I just got to keep things in perspective cause $426 sounds like a lot of money to lose in 3 days and I don't want to go crazy! 16 buy-ins is fine, can't even be called a downswing and I know that I'm not playing as well as I was a month ago. So, for the rest of October I need to get used to my new schedule and work a lot on improving!

If you have any thoughts you would like to share with me or you can figure out a way for me to get 2 days off per week, I'll be glad to read it in the comments below! :)

Until the next time... See you at the tables!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012


I know, I know. It's been one month since I last wrote a post and considering that September was the month of the WCOOP it's rather strange that I gave you guys no news. But I have a good excuse this time.

It all started around three weeks ago, on September 12th. The WCOOP had been going awesome until that point, much better than I could have hoped for. I wouldn't be playing until the end of the WCOOP because I had a trip planned to Greece on the 13th, but I was very satisfied with my progress that far.

I woke up that Wednesday having everything planned. I had to run some errands and make some final preparations before my trip, write a blog post about my progress at the WCOOP and then I'd be ready to leave the next day! Greece, here I come!

Lisbon view from above!

However, sometimes things go in a different way than what we had planned. As soon as I got my feet on the floor to get off the bed, I realized that the whole room around me was spinning. I don't know if you guys have ever experienced vertigo, but for me that was definitely a first. Unlike what some people think, vertigo is not the same as being dizzy. Dizziness is something very common and I'm pretty sure all of us know what it feels like. My best description would be the feeling you have after being on a merry-go-round. You feel a bit disoriented, but that's it and it goes away fast. Vertigo has nothing to do with that. Later on I found out that there are different kinds of vertigo, but the one I was experiencing was the one where you feel like your body is perfectly still and everything else is moving fast around you. You try to look straight ahead and focus on something but it's impossible. Naturally, you lose your balance and walking or standing suddenly gets hard.

To help stop the vertigo I closed my eyes (they could not focus on a single object anyway), and then put both of my hands over them. Complete darkness seemed to be making things better and after some seconds the vertigo went away. Unfortunately, my adventures were far from being over. Simple things like going to the kitchen or sitting on a chair would trigger a vertigo. André, who woke up the same time as me told me to just lay down until I felt a bit better. Even that was no easy task, because when I switched from one side to the other, the whole room came spinning after me. André has had some similar issues in the past (only a couple of times though), and it always seemed to go away after a day. I cancelled everything I had to do that day and decided that I'd stay in bed in order to get better.

The next day I woke up really early. André was still asleep. Momentarily, and since I wasn't fully awake, I forgot about my condition and tried to get out of bed. Vertigo again. When I realized that it was the second day that was happening and there was no improvement whatsoever, I started panicking. I slowly got out of bed and went to the guest room. I found some books to keep myself busy, laid on the sofa being perfectly still and waited for André to wake up. When I heard him going to the kitchen, I stood up to go meet him but I lost my balance and had to hold on to the wall to not fall on the floor. I remember that moment very vividly and I was very very scared cause I had no idea what was wrong with me.

André took me to the nearest hospital. There after seeing a general doctor, I was sent to an otolaryngologist (ENT for short). He barely examined me and then decided that the problem was with my inner ear, which is the part of our bodies that controls balance and hearing. He said it was nothing to worry about and it's not anything serious (as in life-threatening), it only has impact on the everyday life of the person. What was that supposed to mean? That I would have to put up with vertigo forever? Apart from all the rest, I was worried about getting on a plane. What if it triggered the vertigo and I had no control over it since it wouldn't be up to me to stay still? The doctor assured me that there was no problem and gave me two pills to take before going on board. He also gave me another set of pills to control the vertigo, that I was supposed to take every 8 hours during my entire stay in Greece. And last, but not least, he gave me a list of exams that I was supposed to do immediately after coming back.

Needless to say, I left the hospital feeling more confused than when I went in. I took all the pills like I was told to, and eventually I got on the plane even though I was scared sh**less of what might happen. Fortunately all went well and I arrived in Athens without any more episodes. By that time, I was more familiar with my condition so I was moving more slowly and avoiding any abrupt moves of the head that could cause vertigo.

I was supposed to stay in Athens for little over a week. More than half of that time I spent visiting doctors, doing medical exams or staying in my house cause I couldn't really go out. Apart from the vertigo that was very persistent and still there a week after it first appeared, my psychology was, uum, let's just say not great.

If there's one thing I can't complain about, that's lack of medication.

To cut a long story short, the ENT (the new one I visited in Greece), the ophthalmologist, the orthopedist, and all my exams were pointing to the same direction: my problem was my neck! What caused it? The simplest thing you can imagine: bad position when sitting on a chair for many hours. Basically, if your spine is not at the optimal position for a long time, things start going bad. What happened to me specifically was that the muscles located at the back of my neck and my upper back started being sore and developed an inflammation. Somewhere among all that, the blood vessels could not transfer blood to the brain the same way they do under normal conditions, so my inner ear was not getting enough oxygen, started malfunctioning and caused the vertigo. At least that's the explanation that doctors gave me. 

My medication got changed to muscle relaxants and I slowly (but steadily) started improving. The orthopedist also gave me stretching exercises that I need to do 1-2 minutes per day or when I sit in front of a computer and feel like I need to move. I extended my stay in Greece for one more week. I had barely spent any quality time with my family and I was not going to get back to work if I went back to Portugal anyway. The follow-up visit to my ENT went well and when I finally got that plane to come back last Saturday I was almost completely cured. I think Sunday was my first day without a vertigo episode. Overall, it lasted 2,5 weeks. Now I'm feeling great. I only get slightly dizzy when I tilt my head back, but I'm pretty sure that will also go away until the end of the week. My doctor said that I can go back to doing physical exercise after October 10th, so things are finally going back to normal.

What is most interesting about this story is that I never felt any pain. My neck and muscles (that were the source of the problem) felt completely normal and did not hurt at all. I had no headaches of any kind, no dizziness, nothing that would indicate that something was wrong. I went to bed feeling perfectly fine on one day and woke up a mess on the next. I never saw it coming.

This experience was a wake up call. Working hard is fine as long as it does not endanger our health. I know for a fact that lately I have been working so much on improving at poker, that 8-10 hours in front of the computer seemed like a natural thing to me. It's not. I had to learn the hard way that even if your brain is resting when you stop opening tables and go to facebook or send some mails, your body is not. And now it's time for changes.

The first thing to change is my chair. The one I was using was not cheap and André got into a lot of trouble to get it for me. I had been using it at my previous job that involved a lot of typing and found it comfortable. Turns out, if you are playing poker and mostly use the mouse you tend to get a more relaxed position on the chair and the one I had is simply not good for that. After all that happened, I'm never going to place my butt on that chair again. I'm currently trying out one of André's old chairs, but I'm also on the hunt for a new one. If you have any suggestions, I'll be very happy to hear them.

As you can see, we take chair-testing very seriously... Let me introduce you from left to right: Chair I'm currently testing, chair that caused the vertigo, ok-ish chair, André's current chair.

Secondly, I need to change my schedule. According to the doctors, more than one or two consecutive hours in front of the computer is not acceptable. End of story. There's no excuse for anyone, not MTT players who get a 5 minute break every hour, let alone for SNG grinders who can stop opening tables whenever they feel like it. The ideal thing is to have 2-hour sessions with 30 minutes break in between. Half an hour may sound like a lot to some of you, but considering what happened, I'd rather be generous with time for my breaks. Also, I need to include exercise in my life. Last year, I was going to the gym. Guess what, I hate the gym. I find it extremely boring, which is why I ended up not going most of the time. I cancelled my subscription last month. Last Easter I found a nice dancing school to which I registered, but with poker and all I never really had time to go even though it's something I enjoy doing. When you spend 8-10 hours playing poker, you don't really have the strength to go dancing on top of it, right? Well, I obviously need a change of attitude. André made a schedule for me where I work 6 hours per day and then have time for some physical activity. That sounds nice, but the catch is that I work 6 days per week and only get 1 free day. I'm trying to figure out a way to change that, so that I have 2 free days like most people do, while including physical exercise in my everyday routine. Once I have it figured out, I'll make a post about it.

And lastly, I will start including massages in my weekly schedule. If you think the same way I was a month ago, you probably find this a luxury. I assure you it's not. I had a massage yesterday and unlike what you might imagine, there was little relaxing and a lot of shouting involved. Today though, I woke up feeling a lot better! I also have an appointment with my nutritionist tomorrow. It's been months since the last time I paid her a visit, and since I started getting my health back on track I might as well go all the way, right?

That's all for now... I'll be back soon to let you know about my progress in September and how October is going.

Good luck at the tables!


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