Thursday, March 24, 2011

Grinding Along

Hey all! It's been over a week since I posted, so I decided to write a post about some general topics/news.

First, I did another interview recently over the phone with someone from Cardplayer Magazine. It was a pretty different interview from my earlier one with Pokernews - the Cardplayer chat was definitely much less technical. He asked me about my general background, how I got started in poker, and asked me to give some details of the VIP program at Pokerstars. It seems like the Cardplayer article will be geared more towards the general population who may not necessarily know all the facets of Supernova Elite, and who certainly know less than you guys :) I saw on someone's blog that Pokerstars has really revamped the VIP section of their website and so made a visit myself. It now gives exact numbers on pretty much everything related to Supernova Elite; I am really impressed!

As far as my poker grind goes, I just broke 200k VPPs for the month today!! (jokingly excited) In comparison, I got my 200,000th point on Feb 14 last month, and it only took me the last 7 days of Feb to get 200k. It really makes me think I'm super slacking this month, but I've only taken 6 days off so far. I feel like my VPP count these days (lingering around ~1.1m-1.2m) seems so low compared to what I'm aiming for (3M+), so I'm trying not to think about the total points and instead just focus on making good use of my time day by day. "Good use" can mean playing a decent session (15k+ VPPs), or getting in a good ride on by road bike (40+ miles), or even taking a relaxing day off.

For all SNE grinders out there, there will surely be times where it seems the points are adding up sooooo slowly, which is exactly what I'm going through right now. If you find yourself going through that, I'd suggest keeping your mind focused on the short-term grind (day by day or week by week) instead of looking at your total VPP count and that beastly 1,000,000 figure. Of course, have weekly and monthly goals too as they are crucial, but I feel that the process seems much more manageable and achievable by approaching the task one day at a time.

Want to see me get owned? In the past, I have posted a few hand histories where I outplayed some people, but I came across a hand recently in a 1k SNG (I tend to remember hands in these for obvious reasons) that was too good not to include in this blog haha. Witness me get destroyed...

PokerStars Game #59268597040: Tournament #375361369, $1060+$50 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level IV (50/100) - 2011/03/15 20:27:49 ET
Table '375361369 1' 6-max Seat #2 is the button
Seat 1: poceiro (1735 in chips)
Seat 2: kenny05 (2480 in chips)
Seat 4: azntracker (775 in chips)
Seat 5: CHAMUCO58 (1570 in chips)
Seat 6: KMIK-001 (2440 in chips)
azntracker: posts small blind 50
CHAMUCO58: posts big blind 100
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to azntracker [Td 6d]
KMIK-001: folds
poceiro: calls 100
kenny05: folds
azntracker: calls 50
CHAMUCO58: checks
*** FLOP *** [Ks Tc 2d]
azntracker: bets 133
CHAMUCO58: folds
poceiro: calls 133
*** TURN *** [Ks Tc 2d] [Qh]
azntracker: checks
poceiro: checks
*** RIVER *** [Ks Tc 2d Qh] [Kd]
azntracker: bets 100
poceiro: raises 100 to 200
azntracker: folds
Uncalled bet (100) returned to poceiro
poceiro collected 766 from pot
poceiro: shows [3d 4d] (a pair of Kings)

I mean no words can describe this. I shall try though: He was a complete unknown, as was the BB so I completed with a suited-kinda-connector. I decided to lead since I'm good a lot of the times, just want to take it down, and I don't want to check/call vs the limper and lose initiative. I completely give up the turn as that card smacks his range pretty hard I feel (if I wasn't beat on the flop, I'm way more likely now to be). Plus I'm so poor as it is. When he checks behind, and the board pairs on river, I figure my hand could possibly be good but I don't want to face a large bet. By firing a microbet, I can stop the passive guy from raising as a bluff. Alas, I was wrong! Minimum raise in my face, and I fold getting 8.6 to 1 like a fish to the nut low hand. Why he flatted on the flop with the nut low (literally) with no pair no draw, and didn't fire the turn as a bluff, I shall never know :) I will say that I definitely misplayed this hand in hindsight, and that I only played it strangely because I sensed he was not that strong a player and I might be able to get away with it.

To make up for that debacle of a hand by me, this hand a couple days ago heads up in a $565 6max was nice haha. He had A6s, still not sure what the point of this play was. It's great to see bad players floating around all over the place, especially at the highest stakes.

Again good luck to everyone, year is almost 1/4 over, and hopefully everyone is on track. Pace is 224.7k :)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Interview Up

Hey all, just a quick update so far. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Remko Rinkema over at (the Dutch version of Powernews), and my interview with him has now been posted. Check it out! It's a bit long so feel free to skip around. I think I'm a bit rambly in places, but that's just me trying to convey all that I want to in the short amount of time that I got.

In other news, I have continued my shortened sessions and have been table selecting hardcore at the 6mans above $235, perhaps too much so. Because I am passing on so many games, my VPP rate has nosedived to around 2000-2500 an hour, so I have to figure out the fine line between VPP accrual and table profit/losses. I would have have no problem getting only 10k VPPs every day from here on out (what I've been getting lately), if I averaged that many every day for the rest of 2011. That would put me at just above 4M VPPs for the year, a lofty goal in itself. However, I know I'll be traveling later and will be taking random days off like today, so I'll need to pick it up during my playing days.

Finally, *warning cornyness alert* I would like to extend my thoughts and well-wishes to all those affected in Japan by the earthquake and ensuing tsunamis. It's a disaster of epic proportions and I can't even begin to imagine the utter devastation that that country is going through. We can all help in some ways, at the very least by donating. As poker players who don't contribute too much (anything?) to society, this is an opportunity for us to give back, if only by giving some money.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Well it appears as if I've really been taking it easy this month so far, taking 3 full days off at the beginning, then constantly waking up too late (like 2 or 3) to start any meaningful productive session haha. I'm losing my mojo!!! All kidding aside, I'm really enjoying my sessions lately, where I'm not forcing myself to play everything and just chilling for the most part. My last 5 sessions have produced VPP counts of 9,475, 6,260, 12,881, 15,559, and 8,385 just now. It's funny that the VPPs from my first 3 sessions added up to less than 1 of my full February insane-o sessions, oof!

And now here's a hilarious incident that happened to me earlier this afternoon, pretty embarrassing actually but I have no problem laughing at my own expense and you shouldn't either. Before starting my session way late today I went to get a haircut at my local Vietnamese place. The hairdressers there are pretty talkative and inquisitive (middle aged Asian women go figure), so you can imagine their curiosity when I regularly come in on weekday afternoons for a head mowing when people are supposed to be working, etc. Usually the same person cuts my hair, and a few haircuts ago I told her that I played poker for some reason and, yada yada yada, now it's a regular thing where she asks me in broken English, "You make good monies???" and "How's the poker game??" Nowadays I try to say as little as possible, and lie as much as possible haha. Well that's all good and I'm used to that by now, but today, another lady cuts my hair so she doesn't really know my background. She's actually pretty cute/not old so that was sweet. Anyways, mid-way through the haircut, the following dialogue occurs:

Her: Is that your ride, that car in the lot? [something to that effect since I couldn't really understand all that well]
Me: Uhh, yeah. Wait no, my car is that black one at the end.
Her: Ohhhhh, you drove?? When did you get your license? How long been driving?
Me: [slightly confused at this point] Hmm... I got it when I was 16... wait, you know I'm 25 right?
Her: OMG!!! [looks like someone just smacked her silly] You look so young!!!!! I thought that was your ride just leaving from the parking lot.
Me: Waaaaaaaait a minute, let me understand this. You thought I was 16 years old and that my mom just dropped me off for a haircut and left the parking lot?
Her: Yes.

Wow, just wow. I mean I have a very young face for sure, and I know it. I get carded at casinos all the time (standard), and even occasionally R-rated movies (that's fine), but my mom dropping me off at the hair salon because I'm 16 and too young to drive myself? Jesus. Just too funny! I didn't, and still don't know, whether to be flattered with my spectacular age-like-wine face, or be flat out embarrassed to be mistaken for an asian Justin Bieber. #aznbieber ftw? Anyways I just thought I'd share that lovely embarrassing story of mine. Hopefully next time I go in for a haircut, she'll ask me "wanna hit this club up on Friday?" instead of "what time do you have to be home tonight?"

In other news, I'm going to be Skyping with someone from (the Dutch version) in a couple days. I've never interviewed over Skype like this before so I'm definitely looking forward to doing that.

Friday, March 4, 2011

A little R&R

Wow. Just wow at the response of the poker community these last few days - well a very specific portion of it (i.e., people who even know what Supernova Elite means). I want to first say that I cannot express how grateful I am for everyone's kind words, the crazy number of congratulatory posts and comments, and just general support of my achievement. The attention has been unlike anything I've experienced before, and so I'm just taking it all in slowly now. Anyways, on to some business!

In addition to the response on the SNE thread on 2p2, someone created another thread dedicated to my achievement ( In both these threads, as well as in the many comments in my prior post, there were a bunch of questions that people had about my run up to SNE so I'll try to get to all or most of them answered in this post. First and foremost, as this question seems to get asked the most often, I use 100% of my FPPs on the $4k/250k FPP reward bonus. This option offers a decent rate for each FPP, and is the most liquid form of money I can get. I don't have any interest in buying live tournament packages yet, which would be the only other use of FPPs for me. Currently I only have like 63,000 FPPs (not something ridiculous like 5,000,000 that I have earned in 2011) because I convert as soon as I have >250k FPPs.

Another popular question is about my poker setup. Well what you see in that picture on my blog and on the Pokerstarsblog article written by the best blogger in the business ( if you haven't read it) is basically the entirety of my setup. And what is on my screen is usually how my tables are arranged. I only have like 15 tables there, but with 30-40 tables, I have a mass cascade deal going on, with many tables pulled aside for attention purposes. This is an odd quirk of mine, but for some reason I must see the important all-ins as they happen at high stakes, so those tables have to be pulled out of the cascade. In terms of scripts that I use, I use TableNinja and a nifty Table Count AHK script which... counts my tables. I have exactly 3 hotkeys: "End" for registering a game, "PgUp" to recascade my tables when things are really messy looking, and "PgDn" to cycle to the table that needs attention. TN also sets my default raise pf depending on the blinds (usually 2.1x to 3x), and flop/turn/river pot % bets.

People have also been wondering about my swings and how my 2011 has gone so far, "pre-rakeback." All money is the same to me no matter how I earn it, so I try not to pay attention to my "pre-rb" profits/losses but here they are. According to Sharkscope, I was -$7,029 in SNGs in 2011. However, I won a total of $7,750 from the Battle of the Planets Leaderboards, which I suppose puts me into the black for the year pre-rb, yay? The -7k figure is essentially break-even for me since it is a loss of only 40 "average buy-ins," which is $173 so far. I frequently win and lose more than 40 buy-ins in one session. This leads to the 2nd most fun, and depressing, part of this post - my graphs! Most fun part coming up down below :) I have run out of adjectives when describing my largest upswings and downswings so here's a link to a series of 12 graphs which are of my last 12 sessions/days of February (the most ridiculous sessions of my life) - You can see for yourself what some of the swings were, both up and down. From a quick glance, it looks like my worst downswing was -21k, and best uptick was around +12k. Remember, each graph represents a single day. Here is my overall graph for 2011, with the green line representing all profits including rakeback.

And finally - my plan moving forward. Some of you may find this hard to believe but I actually feel very refreshed and in an excellent mental state. Despite putting in all that volume, I feel pretty much the same as I always do. I didn't get burned out at all from the grind, which is surprising even to me, and could probably continue to play at my February pace for another few months. But that simply isn't my interest now. I specifically decided in February to go for finish SNE by the end of the month because I knew it would be one of the worst/coldest months of the year and I wouldn't miss out too much in life. Now that the weather is getting great again, I'm going to do the fun things that I love like biking, going out with friends, popping bottles in the ice, and generally feeling fly like a G6 (joke). It's also going to start being sweet again driving my M3 around town windows down.

All this means I will be playing fewer days because I'll be taking 2-3 days off every 2 weeks. I will also be reducing my table count back down to the 20-30 range by cutting out the majority of 6mans; my strongest games have always been the 9mans anyways. My game selecting will go into affect again for all 6mans above the $200 stake level, and I won't play the nosebleeds (1k+) unless they are reasonable. Consequently, my VPP rate will drop to around the 2300-2700/hour range (while doing my insane run, I'm pretty sure I was getting 4000-4500 VPP/hour at peak times), and my sessions will return to the 13-18k VPP range.

With this relaxed schedule, I can still easily break the VPP record of 3M set by WizardofAhhs last year, and go for 4-5M VPP. However, I want to take at least a few fun trips back to Asia and Australia this year, or wherever else! so it's way too soon to tell what my eventual goal will be. I will set my sights low for now, and aim for the VPP record only simply because there's no point to push myself right now.

Enough about poker! Here's some ski footage from a short but sweet day trip to the slopes I took with a couple buddies yesterday. It was 55 F (12 C) during the day, so it wasn't exactly ideal skiing conditions lol, but we made the best of it.

We did a total of 25-30 runs (yay for no crowds) on mostly blues and blacks, so I am very happy with my performance considering it's my 3rd time ever skiing. I also lost my car key on the mountain somewhere (facepalm), so we had to get my friend to get my spare key and drive up 2 hours at night. Thank you Andrew for rescuing a tracker from his idiocy. Speaking of idiocy... here's me doing some ski jumping!

Sticks the graceful landing like a champ... or does he?

That's it for now! I'll probably resume playing tomorrow in light session after a 3 day hiatus. I gotta start adding points to my VPP counter up there! Good luck everyone and have a great weekend.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Well, that's it folks, I finally made it! After pretty much nonstop grinding starting right after getting back from the Bahamas on January 14th, I have finally reached SNE for 2011! This is very reminiscent of the feeling I used to get shortly after finishing a huge exam or project back in college - I would characterize it as "subdued elation." I'm not going crazy in jubilation or anything like that, but I am tremendously happy that I was able to accomplish this. I've definitely been more excited about some other poker achievements in the past, such as after MTT wins or my deep run in the WSOP ME in 2009, mostly because I ran so hot in those. However, I believe this is my most impressive poker achievement so far and I am most proud of this. It's been 59 days in the making (including 9 Saturdays, in reference to the picture below), so I've had much time to let this sink in. Still Feels Awesome!

The crazy part of this entire endeavor, as I've said before, is that I really had no intention of getting 1M points anywhere close to this soon. Sure, after I got back from the PCA and started the normal January grind, I had thoughts about getting SNE by March 17, but I didn't make it my mission. After a short ski trip in mid-February, where I was at 560,415 VPPs, a fellow by the name of Isildur1 started to creep up behind me with his 5k heads-up craziness. I realized at this point that I had a serious competitor, and breaking the old record of March 18 might not be good enough. In addition, I didn't even know at this time that "poker_in_pb," whose VPP count is hidden from the list in the SNE thread on Two Plus Two, was ahead of me all along! He must have been getting 18-20k VPP every day, including those PCA days I missed. I only passed him around Feb 18th when I got over 700k VPPs. With these two people in my rear-view mirror, along with a "f*** it, I'm just gonna get it by the end of this damn short month" mentality, I decided to really gun it right after getting back from skiing. In hindsight, I definitely should have skipped PCA and my skiing trip so that I could maintain a more reasonable pace (16,949 VPP per day), instead of the ~20,000 I had to average.

Now that I've finished with this mega grind as I call it, I will most definitely relish many things I took for granted in the past. I will relish not having to play every single game that goes off. I will relish not having to play as soon as I wake up pretty much and not ending until after normal people's dinnertimes. I will relish not having to constantly maintain 25+ tables, and sometimes accidentally creeping into the 40s. The most tables I was in during my session one time was something like 47, which is simply way too much for me to handle (considering probably close to 1/3 of them were 6mans and I was heads up or on the bubble in several!) I will relish taking days off and not thinking about my VPP pace or "Gee, I need to get in a double session today to get to 30k VPP!" And finally, perhaps the most important one to me, I will relish not having 10-15k upswings and downswings literally EVERY session. It's enough to make most people and sometimes even me go a bit berserk.

That last point was the most traumatic and stressful aspect of what I had to go through, particularly for the last 400k VPPs aka 2 weeks. No matter how bad you think the variance can be, it can always go at least one more level above your head. Never before had I played 300+ SNGs in a day and close to 500. That amount of volume is equivalent to probably 3 or 4 of my "old" sessions, which were already pretty long sessions in themselves. I went through the ups and downs of that many sessions in just one, and as such, I also went through the variance of multiple sessions every day. I did not know it was possible to just flat out lose 80-90% of games for hundreds of games, but I sure found out haha. Prior to this mega grind, I always thought -10k days were immeasurably brutal, but with these new sessions I was putting in, I was losing more than that every day (and going on a few upswings of course). I had to learn to suck it up and just keep focused on playing well. Keeping myself on an even keel is something I pride myself on being able to do well, and I sincerely believe I was able to do that through even the toughest of days.

I made this whole record attempt as a test for myself, just to see if I could do it and handle all of its most miserable and trying hardships. Of course I knew the attention that it would garner, and I am very very appreciative of ALL of you who comment on my posts and post kind words on the SNE thread. I wanted to show all of you, but myself first and foremost, that it IS possible to grind through the nastiest of the nasty. Believe me, some parts of my grind were downright carnal in their brutality. The 30+ tabling high stakes part combined with almost no game selection is a true recipe for disaster. The edges are so small in most games, so when I played hundreds of them in a day, there was a statistically high likelihood of variance either up or down many many buy-ins, but most likely down due to the rake.

Here are some interesting stats from my SNE run according to my spreadsheet:

SNGs played: 14,183, Avg ROI: 0%
# of days played: 50 out of 59 (84.75%)
# of days >25,000 VPP: 13
# of days >10,000 VPP: 48

VPPs in Jan (including 50k WSOP bonus): 398,682
VPPs in Feb: 602,086
VPP Milestones achieved in February: 6
Lowest VPP session: 7,326 on Jan 1st (lol lazy)
Highest VPP session: 35,167 on Feb 18th
VPPs in last 15 days: 425,954 (28,397/day)
Top 3 profit days: +12,732, +9,880, +8,444
Top 3 loss days: -17,511, -12,860, -9,414
Left-mouse clicks in 2011:  1,172,167

I will make some follow-up posts in the days to come. Just wanted to put this main one out there for now. I'll be happy to answer any questions you have, just post them in the comments and I'll get to them in future posts. As for now, I'm going to take at least tomorrow off, get some errands done and just RELAX! It's been a fun ride! But don't tune out yet, I'll be grinding a lot all year and will be blogging as I go. Again I appreciate everyone who has been supportive in the SNE thread, in this blog, and even at my tables; you guys are all the best!

(I was sweating that green bar hardcore lemme tell ya)

azntracker out.