Tuesday, 22 May 2012

It's getting hot in here! (+SCOOP Overview)


So, the SCOOP is officially over. I must say, it was pretty intense for various reasons. First of all, I was planning to make enough points for Platinum before the SCOOP was over. That practically meant 7.500 VPPs until May 20th, which unfortunately did not happen. Here is my current VPPs count: 

It's not too bad and 2.183 VPPs until the end of the month is doable. But I'll get to that later. Right now I'd like to talk about the reasons I didn't make it to 7.500 till May 20th like I had planned.

I was playing the $9.18 tournaments since the beginning of the SCOOP, and that meant that I was getting 0.99 VPPS per tournament. Let's make that 1VPP to make calculations easier. To reach Platinum until May 20th, I would have to play 375 tourneys per day, everyday. I think that's where my plan went wrong. I cannot predict what each day is going to bring and even though I was determined to play every single day, I was pushing myself to the limits. After all, 375 tournaments is not playing a couple of hours, it's a full day's work, for me at least.

I was ready to give up my weekends and free days in the week, but that's when it hit me. You see, our wonderful office is located on the west side of our building. That means that during poker peak time, we are sitting right across the sunset. Even though that may sound romantic at first (awww, two love birds in their own little office working together at sunset, so cuuuute!), I can assure you it is not. For those of you who weren't in Lisbon during this month, it was feeling like summer. Picture this: nice sunny days, people going around in t-shirts and flip-flops and me sweating non-stop, trying to work in front of the sunset. The heat was so strong that one afternoon I felt like the air around me was impossible to breathe!

André seemed kind of immune to all this, which is weird since I'm the greek and I'm used to way more heat overall. But since the whole thing was physically tearing me apart (and after confirming with sharkscope that I was indeed spreading my money at the tables at that point due to lack of concentration), I decided to go home. I pictured myself outside, at my balcony, with the spring wind blowing in my face, a nice cold beverage to help me recover from the hell I was just put through and my laptop to continue my grinding. Here's a photo as proof that I tried it: 

Too bad it didn't work. Shortly after I had everything ready and started playing, I realized that the wireless in our house was pretty unstable. After getting out of Internet connection a couple of times and running around the house like a maniac with the laptop in my hands in order to get better reception, I decided to call it a day. I couldn't play at home and I was not willing to go back to the Sahara desert that my office had recently turned into. I figured the poker gods were sending me a message and went to watch some T.V.

The next day though, I was determined to play in better conditions. I gave André an ultimatum, saying that if he didn't fix the air-conditions in the office I wouldn't go back there before winter time. Oh, yeah, the irony of this is that we DO have air-conditions in the office but they weren't functioning. Plus André does not like air-conditions at all, but hey, tough luck. :P

So for the few days it would take to fix the air-condition situation, I would have to make myself comfortable at home. I connected the laptop to the Internet through a cable this time, got an actual mouse (as you may have noticed in the picture above I was only using the laptop's mouse equivalent which is far less comfortable), and connected an extra screen to have more space for multitabling. It's not that I play that many tables, but I just HAVE to play in tile. The outcome was just beautiful:   :)

Nice, huh? Too bad this didn't work either! I was playing 3-4 bubbles when the Internet suddenly went down. Since it was not a wireless connectivity issue this time but had to do with the actual network, all I could do was to wait patiently until it came back. When it finally did, I had lost all of the bubbles and was barely alive in the rest of the tourneys. Considering that as an individual unfortunate event that was unlikely to repeat, I kept on playing. It happened again. Twice! Not only was my connection bad, I was also being unlucky with the cards. And yeah you guys, I have a new record for my worst day ever: -60 buy-ins. Here's the graph:

As you can see, apart from the obvious fact that this graph is really ugly, I decided to stop after 175 games that day. Far from the 375 games I was supposed to play. There were some other days that I decided to play less as well, which resulted in me not making it to Platinum on the 20th. Lesson learnt: whatever you do, always give some margin to the timeline of your poker planning. If it's too tight you most likely won't make it, simply because you can't predict the unpredictable.

Feeling defeated and considering whether it would be a good idea to go play in my swimming suit to battle the heat, I went back to the office the following day. Fortunately, the temperature dropped a bit so it made the place more bearable. On my way back to the office after lunch, I passed by a place that was advertising its "Café frappé". To you it may not sound like much, but that iced coffee is a thing that is part of the greek culture and that I personally find it hard to survive without. I have what I need to prepare it at home, but unfortunately I never found a place in Portugal that sells it. So imagine my surprise when I saw that advertisement. I was immediately drawn in. It turned out that what they considered to be "Café frappé" was actually a milkshake with coffee-flavored ice-cream. Oh, whatever! The day that I enjoy iced coffee in Portugal may have not yet come, but I got the beverage and went back to the office.

But that thing was so loaded up with sugar that it was barely drinkable! Yuck! I drank it anyway cause it was cold, but I started to wonder how much bad luck a person can endure within a matter of days... Then my luck changed! I noticed that I was running good at the tables and whenever I checked my balance in between sessions (I'm still good at that, heh!) I watched it go higher and higer each time. The result? A new record of my best day ever, and right on the next day of my worst day ever! Life is funny sometimes... Anyway, I won 52 buy-ins, so I almost recovered all of the money I had lost. Here's the graph:

The rest of the SCOOP days turned out to be pretty good too, even though not that amazing. On Sunday morning André and I woke up rather early for our standards to seize the day and grind until the SCOOP was over. I didn't even bother with breakfast at home in order to not lose time. I brought the essentials to the office instead: 

The following graph is of all the $9.18s I played during the SCOOP. Part of it was back in April, since I was playing the satellites for the SCOOP tournaments that were scheduled to run on April 1rst. But I chose to put it this way cause it gives a better overall idea:

Overall, I'm very, VERY happy with the way things went during the SCOOP. My bankroll got an enormous boost and I am now rolled to play the next level, the $18.77s. The only negative thing in this whole story was that after my $9.18 tourneys were over, I was waiting for André to finish so I decided to play some $13.43s. My bankroll was high enough for me to play those and since I had nothing else to do, I went for it. Unfortunately, I got unlucky and within a matter of 20 minutes I lost around 25 buy-ins. Which is not THAT bad really, but if you spend 20 days grinding at the $9s, then suddenly losing 25 buy-ins at the $13s is kind of hard to take. So not only I did not wait for André that day, but I left with a bitter feeling even though the SCOOP went really well overall.

I was planning to go up to the $18.77s so as to make the remaining of the points I need for Platinum this month. It would be rather easy since I would be getting the VPPs at half the time comparing to before, thanks to the higher buy-in. However, I noticed this afternoon that those were missing from the lobby. After mailing support, I just got a reply that there will be no Sunday Cubed tournaments in the future. Those were the ones that the $18.77 satellites were feeding, so that basically means that we have the following options: the $3.74s, the $7.49s or the $37.07s which is a huge jump (not to mention out of my budget). I did notice some $18s that were feeding the 12K Guaranteed, but those only ran for like half an hour or so (at least that's how long I caught them in my lobby). The $7s would be a good option, but the problem with those is that they run for only 2 hours per day so I'm not going to make Platinum for sure... Hmm... If there are any fellow hyper-turbians out there that have any piece of advice on what I could play or have information about the schedule that I don't, please let me know!

Finally, some good news... André just got of the phone with the person who is coming here tomorrow to fix the air-conditions. We may manage to turn this into a proper working space again...

See you all at the tables!

Friday, 11 May 2012

New record & Trivia


So, two days ago I made a new record of winnings per day: $426, or in this case around 46 buy-ins! :D

Here's my graph:

The only thing I've been doing differently is that I stopped checking my cashier every five seconds. Now I only look at it in between sessions. Which is still pretty often, considering that my sessions are one hour long at the most. Then I need to stop, make a coffee, go to the bathroom or simply sit by the window and look outside. Or check blogs and random stuff (which is my favorite thing among all those above mentioned :P ). I'm not saying that not checking my bankroll constantly is the reason why I'm winning. I've obviously been running good. But I find that it is an improvement in my attitude towards the game overall. For those of you purely interested in poker stuff, you can stop reading here.

Still with me? Good. As I was saying, it's not easy to change. I still have the urge to hit that red button saying "Cashier" all the time. But I don't. I try to focus on the game only. There are of course other distractions, like André, that make it even harder. The other day, while I was playing and resisting temptation to check my results he comes next to me and asks how I'm doing. "I don't know", I replied, "I'm not checking". "Oh, ok", he says and goes to sit down in front of his computer. Then I hear him typing something on the keyboard and I know for a fact that he is looking me up on sharkscope. And then after a couple of minutes he says out loud: "Okay, you're up today!". Like, what part of I don't want to know don't you understand? Now I know that next time he asks me how I'm doing and I don't give him an answer he's going to check my results and if he doesn't say anything I'll think that I'm losing and he doesn't want to upset me... Otherwise he'd make a comment about me winning, wouldn't he? Do you see the problem here? Does that even make sense?!?!?

Women. Complicated beings. But then again, I have to give André some credit for being in the same working environment as me, even though he is messing up my effort to not check my results. You see, another thing I found out recently is that I tend to get better results when listening to music. I can't say for sure if the music helps me play better or if it just has soothing effects on my psychology and I am less affected by losing. In any case, I feel much better when combining poker with music.

Now, you may think there's absolutely no problem with that. Wrong. For starters, I have a terrible, awful voice. Just to give you an idea, I don't listen to my own voice when I sing. I don't think I could take it. I just put my headsets and hear nothing from the world outside. Apart from that, when I really like a song, I tend to put it on repeat and listen to it for the entire day. Sometimes, many days in a row. And of course, I sing it out loud. I was recently obsessed with a french song, listening to it non-stop. Imagine my surprise when one day on our way back home, André starting humming the tune almost from the beginning to the end! He has never listened to the actual song, only my version of it... At that moment, I thought I might be causing some serious damage on a subconscious level... Poor André! If he actually started singing it too, I'd be terrified! (He doesn't speak French at all, the only two words he knows are "Bonjour" and "Fromage"). Another bad habit I have is that sometimes I reminisce about my school years and start listening to boy bands from the 90's. I'm talking about the heavy stuff like Westlife and the like. And even though it's been years and years since the last time I heard those songs, I remember all the lyrics so I have no problem singing along. It got to the point where I even asked myself out loud "Gosh, how cheesy can these lyrics get?". "Yep", André said from next to me, "They're really bad!". However, I kept singing and checking how he was reacting, it took him more than an hour to put his own headsets on to block me out. If the situation was inversed, I don't think I would have lasted nearly as long. A big round of applause for André being able to work under these circumstances. I'd run away as fast as possible.

Anyway, apart from that, the rest of our daily routine has been pretty quiet. I've been playing until late recently and on Wednesday I left the office at 3:30 a.m. That basically meant sleeping util late on Thursday and when I finally did wake up I was feeling too trashed to play. Today, Friday, I haven't played at all yet and it's already 9:00 p.m. I don't feel much like playing today for some reason...

But some music will fix that! :) I'll go chose a playlist and see you at the tables!

Monday, 7 May 2012

Crazy Day!

Hi everyone!

So, as most of you already know, yesterday was the first day of the SCOOP. Same as every other online player I was prepared for some serious grinding, yet I was not prepared for what was about to come. Andre and I woke up early to go to the office and when I sat down in front of my computer I hadn't even had breakfast yet. I prepared a coffee, opened 8 tables and started playing.

Unfortunately, the day didn't start very well. I was losing a ton, and at some point I felt like I wasn't winning any tournaments at all. I didn't even need to check the cashier to know I was going down fast. When your tableninja says that you played 90 tables in one hour, you just know it can't be good. Just to give you an idea, when 8tabling, I play more or less 60 tournaments per hour. 90 is just too many within that time frame and the only explanation is losing. To make things worse, I pulled up my graph from sharkscope and was surprised to find out that I had only won 4 out of the last 40something tournaments I had played. That's just tragic. Really. And of course, I was losing like $250 which is a serious hit for my bankroll.

Shortly after that, we went to a restaurant nearby to have lunch. The break couldn't have come at a better time. Andre was checking his phone and showed me a tweet from a guy who said that the first day of the SCOOP was to him what Christmas was when he was a kid. "Yeah, right", I thought. Exactly like it. I finished my lunch and went back to playing. I was already feeling bad about losing, so I stopped checking the cashier and sharkscope. After playing a bit, I felt tired so I decided to take a nap. I set the timer for one hour and when it went off, I disabled it and went back to sleep. 

Another hour later, I woke up and went back to the tables. It was a loooooong afternoon, but I started recovering the money I had lost. At some point, I checked my graph again and saw that around lunch time I had touched the magnificent point of -$350. That's like 38 buy-ins negative. Crazy! On the bright side, I only realized what had happened after the damaged was kind of repaired. Had I known at that moment that I was -$350, it would have messed with my psychology so badly, that I would have probably stopped playing.

Since I'm going for Platinum this month, I set a limit to myself to play at least 350 games per day. However, when I reached 350 games I was close to breaking even and I was feeling fine (which is expected after a two-hour nap), so I went on playing. And then I started winning more and more. The weird part is, that the opponents didn't change. I was playing with the same random people I was playing all day. The games were soft, apart from me there were one or two other regulars at each of my tables. Maybe the opponents I was playing against were regulars at different stakes or different games, but for all I know I did not have statistics on anyone. I was running so good, that I completely forgot to have dinner and whenever the time I had set on tableninja would finish I would put another half hour, and another half hour, and another...

It's the first time that I could not get away from the computer. I said to myself that I would either stop when I started feeling really tired or when I would have a $100 downswing. They kind of happened at the same time and I stopped playing around 1:00. Without further ado, here is the craziest graph I got since I started playing poker:

As you can see, I ended up +$336 and played 581 tournaments which is my record both of winnings per day and tourneys per day. Andre told me that I only needed to play 19 more to make it a nice round 600, but I was starting to get a bad headache so I didn't go for it. What makes the graph super crazy though, is that from the lowest point to the highest, there is a difference of around $840 or to put it in perspective, an upswing of 91 buy-ins!!! I've heard people say that you get crazy swings at the hypers, but this is the first time I truly feel what they mean.

So, all is well that ends well. The only negative thing is that with this and that I only slept 4 hours last night, so I don't know how capable I am of playing 350 tournaments today. And I can't help but wonder when exactly I should check my account balance. I've heard of players that don't check it until the end of the month, but I find it extreme and nerve-wracking, not to mention that you need to have a much bigger bankroll than 100 buy-ins to make sure that you won't have to drop down on stakes. With the swings you get at the hyper turbos, especially in my case that my bankroll is around 100 buy-ins of the stakes I'm playing, you can be forced to move down in just a matter of days. On the other extreme, I find that sometimes I tend to leave the cashier's open and hit the refresh button every 5 seconds, which can't be good either. So how often is it optimal (and sane) to check your progress? I'd like to hear your thoughts on that...

Also, I'm on the hunt for blogs of other hyper-turbo players (preferably in english). If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Oh, and if you have a blog and would like me to add it to my blogroll, just add mine to your list and then leave me a comment with your link!

Thanx and... see you at the tables! :)

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Collusion, Server Breakdown and Goals for May

Hello everyone!

April was a rather busy month for me, so I have not been blogging as much as I would have liked to. I went to Greece for about a week, and that changed my daily routine a lot. I tried to play the $7s while I was there cause I really needed the VPPs since I was going for GoldStar, and for the first couple of days I succeeded, but then catching up with friends filled up my schedule. I knew that upon my return to Portugal I would have to play poker like crazy to make it up for the vacation time, but fortunately PokerStars had special satellites running for the upcoming SCOOP events. There were hyper sats of $9.18 running all day long and since those were within my bankroll I played them for the rest of the month of April. I made it to Goldstar on time, and even though I had to do some planning to keep me on track I can't say it was too difficult. Here's April's graph:

I finished the month with a $221 profit, which is not bad, but there was definitely something wrong with my last 1000 games... That's a $500 downswing more or less... I don't know if it's because of bad luck or bad play... The truth is during the whole month I don't think I got a single hour of coaching from André. Sure there were the occasional tips here and there, but for the most I've been improvising and self-improving (or self-deteriorating, not sure! :P ). I'll start bugging him to give me some coaching during May, but since it's a SCOOP month, I don't know if I'll be having much luck with it. Anyway, I am now 8tabling, I made it to GoldStar and got some profit so I guess it is safe to say it was a good month overall.

While playing some bubbles, I noticed some weird plays from certain opponents. When I checked the countries, I noticed that both of my opponents were from the same country so for all I know, they could be best friends playing together. I showed the plays to André (we are talking about 2 different occasions) and both of the times he told me that I should report it. I sent a mail to Pokerstars support with the number of the tournament and waited for their reply. I was very positively surprised that they took my mail pretty seriously. I mean, the buy-in of the games I reported was $3.74 which is insignificant to the amount of money PokerStars deals with. Nor am I one of their best clients that they give extra attention to. But still, they investigated into the situation, running checks on the players involved and sending me detailed emails about the results of their investigation. Turns out, there was no collusion in either of the two cases but the point is PokerStars takes this matter very seriously. I guess they are doing their best to keep the play as clean as possible.

Another incident during the previous month was their server breakdown. One afternoon, as I was playing, all of the games froze. Like no hands being dealt, nothing. At first I thought I lost my internet connection but I soon discovered that it was not the case. People were still able to use the chat, and everyone was wondering what was going on. We got some messages like "We have server issues, we are trying to fix them and apologize for the inconvenience" in the chat box, but what was funny was that even though the games were frozen, the blinds kept going up. Now, in a hyper-turbo you can imagine that by the time they fixed the problem and the games resumed (which took around 45 minutes), all players were obligatorily all-in! 

I took a note of the number of all the tournaments I was playing and sent a mail to support to ask for a refund. In case some of the players did not think of doing that by themselves, PokerStars sent out a mail informing about the server problem and saying that anyone affected should send a mail and ask for their money back, which I think says a lot. The reply I got was kind of funny:

"We appreciate your patience whilst we dealt with your refund request.

You actually won a seat to SCOOP events from 5 out of the 6 tourneys you referenced, as such we don't feel you are due any further compensation for those events.

For tourney 550997265 you were massively affected by the blinds being huge due to our server issues. We feel this warrants a refund as your ability to play the game you signed up for was completely hindered. I have credited $9.18 to your account for this game.

Please let us know if there is anything else we can do for you."
Lol! Without really noticing, I randomly won 5 out of 6 tournaments I was playing. They could have taken that money back and just refund me the buy-in of those, but the let me (and everyone else for that matter) keep the winnings. Now, for the 6th tournament where I lost, they could have told me to forget about it since I was obviously positively affected by the server issue (what are the chances of winning 5 out of 6 tournaments you're in?). Instead, they refunded me that 6th game. Seems like a win-win situation for us players, lose-lose situation for PokerStars. Overall, they must have lost tons of money during those 45 minutes, but they made sure that the players would not feel like they lost something. I suppose it is a company that truly cares about satisfying the clients. And that in the poker world, post-Black Friday, is very important. Good work PokerStars!

So... Plans for May... I've decided to go for Platinum! SCOOP months are the busiest of the year for online players, so I shouldn't have any problems with the traffic. The only "problem" is that the SCOOP ends on May 20th, which gives me less that a month to benefit from the $9.18s. I get 0.99 VPPs per game and Platinum is at 7K points, which practically means I'll have to play 7K games until May 20th... It's gonna be tough, but let's see...

Before I go, here are a couple of pics so that you get a taste of Greece...

Profiterol from Kosmikon. One of the best chocolate sweets in the world!

Typical greek meal: Souvlaki, french fries and tzatziki!

View of the Acropolis from a cafeteria at Thisio...

...cause that's how we drink our coffee in Athens!

See you at the tables!


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