Unexpected turns in April

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Apr 262011

I had planned some fun things to do in April which were great but April also took some unexpected turns. I’ll talk more about poker related things later on in this blog but I would like to start where I left off the last time.

On what we now call Black Friday, I left for Valkenburg for a weekend with the guys. The weather was beautiful and we already arrived in Valkenburg early in the afternoon. I was drinking a couple of beers together with friends and during the evening I heard the news about Black Friday. Sure this wasn’t good news but at that moment there wasn’t much I could do. I kept checking twitter for updates but the party was on and I didn’t want to miss it. Some of the guys did the smart thing and didn’t go out in town during the evening, 5 people were not that smart and after drinking for 12 hours non-stop we got home around 03:00, sleeping around 04:00 and waking up at 08:00.

Saturday, it was time to cycle the Amstel Gold Race. No headache (yet) so that was good news, most others were feeling not that bad either and the weather was perfect again. I wasn’t to afraid since I had cycled the 100km Amstel Gold Race last year and only did 65km this year, but for some it was the first time and with the amount of beers we had the night before it didn’t get easier for them. One already had a flat tire before we even reached the start but still all signs indicated that this would be a fantastic day. The first 15km were pretty smooth but at that moment my hangover kicked in, fun times 🙂 I wanted to do everything you can’t really do when you are on a bike but it cleared after 30/45 minutes or so and at that moment the finale started. Some of my friends had even never cycled 65km flat, so after 40/45 km they could feel the kilometers in their legs. The wachelderberg then the fromberg, over to the long sibbergrubbe and down to the start of the Cauberg. 12 friends and hundreds op people were standing on the Cauberg to cheer for us, some made it pretty easy, others worked their asses off and unfortunately some didn’t make it to the top on their bike but the beer at the end of the day made it all up! A weekend away with friends is fun but doing something like this during the weekend makes it even more special. Next year I won’t drink on the Friday as I’m planning to do the 150km like I mentioned in my previous blog. I hope some of my friends will join me for the 150km but we already booked our stay for next year, so for sure we will head over there again and have some fun!

I’m the big guy in the Blue/Yellow/White shirt 🙂

When I got home I read all I could find about Black Friday. I feel really sorry for all those Americans who earn(ed) a living playing poker. It must feel pretty strange losing your job in this way and I’m not sure what I would do if I were in your shoes. For me moving out of the country would be a huge step, I don’t even want to move out of my town! I just hope it will all clear sooner then later but I can’t really comment on that part as I have no clue if that is even possible. There is of course also impact on my own poker career and at the moment I’m still not sure if it’s for the better or worse. The volume in FR LHE games is down, as Limit is a game played by a lot of Americans. Since I was away for two weeks in April and had planned to play a lot during the last two weeks of April I didn’t had many VPPs yet this month. Because of the decrease in volume I’m now already sure I’m not going to make the 50.000 VPPs this month which I need to retain my SNE status. My FPP Multiplier will go from *5 to *3,5 which is a pity. On the other hand most of the better Limit players were Americans. I can notice the difference, the games itself play a lot softer. Because of this I have even moved up back again to $15/$30 and won $1.500 in only 12.000 hands. I will probably have to adjust my playing hours because I normally grind most of my hours at night. There is now more traffic in Limit games during the day and most people would see this as a good thing being European. I actually liked the fact I played at nights, since during the day I could enjoy the weather or take a ride on my bike. Also during the day I can get distracted really easy by doing some fun stuff with friends while during the night I could grind non-stop since everybody else was sleeping anyway.

The most important thing for those people who can still play is to adept to the new situation and look for new opportunities. I might try the 6max LHE tables which still show plenty of volume during European hours but last Sunday I added some tourneys next to my cashgames. I played 10 tourneys and 1 small Sunday Million Qualifier. I busted the $11 Turbo pretty quick and couldn’t win with AK vs KQ in The Big $109. I then shipped the SM ticket and then busted The Big $11 as a shorty with KK vs T8. I couldn’t win the flip in the Turbo Takedown and the Sunday Storm didn’t like me either. I was doing pretty good in the Sunday Warm-up and actually cashed it for the first time ever! Yeah that sounds really bad but I can’t change the fact I never did any good in both the Warm-up and Million. I then finished the Warm-up with JJ vs AK in 223rd just before blinding out in The Big $55. I still really don’t know how that happened as I was playing really focused. I was already playing it for 3,5 hours and 1/5 of the field had already busted but somehow I didn’t notice I was short and blinded out. I was however at that time still going strong in the first tournaments I started which was The Big $22 and the $22, 15k GTD. I busted the Sunday Million in a blind battle in which I called with AT vs Q6 and then busted The Big $22 after I reshipped A9o as shorty. The 22nd place was close, but not close enough of course. Still I had one bullet left in which I reached the final table as shorty. I made a couple of really good plays, was lucky in winning the flips and really got lucky when I won with A2 vs AQ with 3 left. I lost the HU to by far the best player at the FT so I was really happy with the result, finishing 2nd and winning $3.500.

I might keep mixing in these kind of tourneys with my Limit Cashgames. I’m not sure what I prefer but since last Sunday went really well it obviously got my attention. I’m aware of the sick swings in MTT’s but it’s also a good preparation for the SCOOP. The SCOOP will still be held but the start times has changed to a more European friendly time. In case you didn’t notice it might be a good idea to check out the SCOOP Schedule:

Since the start times has changed I probably play as many tournaments in which I know how the game works. Not the High buy-ins unfortunately as those are way above my tourney skill level. PokerStars created some nice SCOOP promo’s which I would recommended to utilise 🙂 The first one is the 50% deposit bonus with a max bonus of $200 (so you have to deposit $400) and the second promo is “The Big xxx”. There are now 4 tourneys called The Big xxx, the $22, $109, $11 and $55. If you play any of the new guaranteed tournaments at least three times before May 7 you’ll be credited with a free SCOOP ticket for an event of the same value.

Next to that for the Dutch among us there is also a VPP Challenge. I was planning to set a goal of getting at least top 5 but since the volume in my games has dropped a lot I’m not sure if I can still commit to that. I think everybody is impacted in one way and I will play a lot in May for sure so I’m curious where I will end up. Since I was posting banners anyway you can click the banner below for more information, I’m currently ranked 7th 🙂

The fact I’m sure I lose my SNE Status, the decrease in LHE tables and the fact I can’t play at night any longer for sure doesn’t help my own volume but also the beautiful weather has had some impact 🙂 I was at the beach all Friday long till 22:00 and played some poker afterward. Saturday I was at the beach again and organised a BBQ with 25 friends, a perfect day at the beach! Sunday I stayed inside watching Luik – Bastenaken – Luik (Liège – Bastogne – Liège) and managed to do good in the tourneys which I already wrote about and win $1.300 at the cashgames. Yesterday I went for a 80km bike ride with the guys and had a BBQ at my girlfriends parents afterward so I skipped my Monday session. Tonight it’s time to play again and I hope to play another session on Thursday as tomorrow I have to go to Brussels for my work. If the weather continues like this I will for sure try to enjoy it, as it often are the most fun days of the year. As soon as the weather turns around I will grind my ass of again until it’s time to go to Las Vegas again 🙂

Last week I also did an interview with Remko Rinkema from Pokernews.nl . I was really happy with the outcome and in case you are Dutch (or want to use google translate) you can read it here.

 Posted by at 12:57 pm

[] Cycling Bucket list

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Apr 122011

I’m a cycling fan, that’s no news. My memories go back to listening to the radio on the beach of my hometown in July 1988. That year the Dutchies scored 7 victories and I was only 5 years old. Of course I don’t really have vivid memories of those times but I do remember the ambiance and the happiness that came after another Dutch victory. Steven Rooks on Alpe d’Huez in 1988, I just remember shots of it, sitting on the couch in our living room in the house my mom still lives in. I remember a lot more of 1989, Erik Breukink winning the prologue but even more so the victory of Gert-Jan Theunisse again on Alpe d’Huez. There are much bigger cycling fans out there but watching or listening to the Tour de France is part of my earliest memories, which makes it special by itself.

Cycling is something that every Dutchie does but I never did it as a sport myself. I remember that when I was 8 years old I was really proud cycling 30km alongside my father, I can remember my bike, I can remember his bike. Sometimes I think my love for cycling has more to do with the love for my father, it’s been 4,5 years now and I would just love to sit next to him on the couch, watching the Tour de France coming summer. I know this is never going to happen but I can chase my own cycling dreams and imagine how my father watches me, the same way we watched cycling on TV together.

I’ve never been a gifted sportsmen, I’ve had many physical issues which started from a young age, I’m 2 meters tall and currently over a hundred kilo, not the best setup for cycling up mountains. Last year I cycled Alpe d’Huez myself, a special moment and a lot of memories passed on the climb. My goals in cycling are small compared to most others but I really look forward to achieving them. Yesterday I cycled 80km in one of the most beautiful area’s really close to Amsterdam. Rondje Ringvaart as we would say in Dutch, it’s the area around our airport Schiphol. In 1840 this area was pumped dry by building a 59,5km long dike, in 1852 the water inside the dike was gone and a canal next to the dike remained. The road I cycled yesterday is build on top of this dike, a fantastic ride and even by car I would recommend just riding it once on a sunny day.

So coming weekend I’m cycling the Amstel Gold Race again. Last year I cycled the 100km route but since this year it’s turned into a fun weekend with the guys I’m only doing the 65km route. On Saturday the 7th of May I’m cycling the 110km long Classico Boretti and I want to finish the season with the 145km Dam tot Dam Fietsclassic. Now these are my goals for this year and are not really that special to be honest. I’ve done a 160km flat ride before so that 145km ride in September shouldn’t really be an issue. The idea however is that this winter I’m trying to stay fit so for next year I don’t have to start all over again. The 100km Amstel Gold Race was pretty hard last year but there is a 125, 150, 200 and 250km ride as well! For next year my goal is to at least cycle the 150km one. Then to top it off next year I really want to cycle the Luik-Bastenaken-Luik Classic (Liège – Bastogne – Liège), I have my eyes on the 170km route! I think both goals are really challenging, but also a fantastic experience!

I love setting goals but even when I won’t make it the training alone would be really good for me. I’m 28, love food and love a beer in the weekend. These goals would at least keep me fit and feeling fit is such a great thing. Even today, a day after a good work-out yesterday, I’m feeling so much better then after a weekend lying on the couch. Also chasing these goals would allow me to try to do even more things. I would still love to cycle up some mountains in the Alpes, the Mt Ventoux or the Galibier for example. It doesn’t matter if I’m going to do the exact thing I just wrote down but I do want to feel fit, I would love to cycle the LBL just once and I’m definitely going back to the alp’s one day, probably also to beat my own time on Alpe d’Huez!

 Posted by at 3:22 pm

Venlo VIP Days

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Apr 052011

So last weekend it was finally time again for some Live poker. The last time was at the Bahamas and it’s something I love to do so I was really looking forward to the weekend.

I was driving to Venlo with a buddy (Mick) of mine and we had some issues getting to the hotel. The hotel was at the edge of the forest and we were at the other edge. Google Maps tried to point us via various ways but most were not really suitable for a car. In stead of bringing a 4*4 I brought a Ford Fiesta so these roads were not really an option but after 10 minutes we figured out that we had included “walking” on Google Maps. Unchecking that option helped a lot and the hotel, De Bovenste Molen, was a nice and relaxing place to stay.

The casino in Venlo wasn’t really in the center of town, it was in the middle of the industrial area. We took a cab so we had the option to drink a beer after we busted (or won) the tournament. The €300 Freezout started at 16:00 and after some chit-chat with familiar people it was time to play. When I sat down I noticed I was sitting on the same table as Stijn, someone who I’ve met at the WSOP in 2009. At least I could root for somebody else when I was not in the hand. I never really managed to get something going and after the diner break I lost most chips to Joep van de Bijgaart, fellow PokerStars Pro, who got moved to our table. After that hand I only had a couple of chips left, I did manage to triple up before busting the next hand. Nothing really special so it was time to rail my buddy. He busted in 28th place, 16 got paid (out of 150) so that wasn’t really a good result either.

Now when talking to people everybody seemed to really dislike Venlo itself. There was nothing to do and most people were either playing cashgames or went directly to the hotel. My buddy and I knew some pub owners in Helmond which was nearby enough to head over there. On the way over we paid 2 guys €50 to drop us off, which seemed cheaper then taking a cab. From 23:00 till 02:30 we made sure we kept hydrating ourselves and at least we had a fun night out in a place I had never been to. The cab back was €115 so the deal we made with the two guys was pretty good 🙂 I woke up without a headache the next day which was a nice surprise and we chilled a bit outside in the sun since the €1.000 freezout started at 16:00 as well. I would rather start a little earlier and play some extra levels but at least it was a 2-Day event.

I started out losing 5k pretty early which was half of what we started with. There wasn’t really much I could do about those hands but I still was happy to get moved to another table as the gameflow wasn’t really going my way. My buddy was sitting on that table as well and some other people who like to chit-chat while playing so it was a bit more fun. Also I managed to win some pots and since the structure was a bit deeper then the €300 there was plenty of room left to play after the diner break. The table then broke, I moved back to my old table but rather quick I got moved again and was sitting next to Joep again. At that moment a lot of people had a shove stack so there wasn’t a lot of post-flop play left. I won some, lost some, shoved 3 times to pick up the blinds and when I shoved the 4th time with AK I lost vs 99. My buddy was still in so I was supporting him which ment bringing him enough beer. After he reached the last 27 players the tournament was stopped and we had a couple of beers in the Casino.

When arriving in the hotel we all still wanted to play some cards so we convinced the concierge to give us a deck of cards and we were allowed to sit in one of the conference rooms. Since the Hotel Bar was closed most of us went over to their hotel room to trash the mini-bar. Everybody had 2 bottle’s of beer, 2 small bottle’s of Bacardi, Whiskey, Jenever and maybe some other stuff as well. We decided to play a Sit & Go but only then found out we of course didn’t had any chips. One guy had an idea and after 3 minutes he came back with sweeteners, sugar and milk. So we divided those among the 6 of us and played some poker, it went like this: I raise your 2 sweeteners, with 1 sugar and a milk…. We had a good laugh, played some “slowroll” Omaha Flips after the Sit & Go and went to bed around 06:00.

Next morning when we checked out the lady asked if Mick had used something out of the mini-bar. When he replied: “Everything but the red wine” she was pretty confused 🙂 Mick had to play again at 17:00 but since some friends would pick him up to drive to Austria I didn’t need to stay around. Sure I wanted to see him winning the tournament but it would also be possible that I had waited all day and then he bust in the first hand so I drove home and watched him live on the internet, since Pokercity.nl did live coverage of the tournament. He busted in 10th place, winning €3.375, first price was $42.000 so unfortunate but still some extra money in his pockets. It was a fun weekend for sure and would love to do it more often but I won’t be able to play any other Holland Casino Series before I go to the WSOP. The MCOP in Amsterdam is for sure on my list as well.

 Posted by at 2:22 pm
Apr 012011

It’s already the end of March which has been a great month but not considering poker 😉 It was great because of the beautiful weather we’ve had for at least 2,5 weeks now and that’s something that doesn’t happen very much in March over here. I’ve blogged about my ups and downs this month, about my lack of motivation and the need for goals. This blog will be about that and my final results for the month which were not that bad until last week.

I must say that my mindset has changed as I also predicted/hoped in my last blog. I’ve found goals for both poker and cycling and I could already notice the difference in both poker and “real life”. The goal I basically found for poker is a monetary one, maybe not the best sort of goal but at least it gives me plenty of reasons to try and do the best I can . Since I was young I’ve always been busy in various ways to earn money, my first job was spreading newspapers I then moved to buying and selling Magic the Gathering cards and already started to work for my current employer (I still work part-time for those who don’t know) since I was 16. When I was a kid I did all kinds of stuff when it was busy season in my hometown to try and make some money from all the tourists that visited the beach over here and I started trading stocks when I was 13/14. All in all I loved to have money in my pockets. Yeah earning money was probably the main reason for doing most stuff but I never did stuff I didn’t like to do. I always liked playing cardgames as well and from my 15th till 17th we played a homegame every Friday. Poker was back then already sort of my 2nd incoming, but way different from what it is now.

So I was always busy making money in a fun way and when I got older my dreams got bigger. In stead of having plenty of money to buy myself a new computer or scooter my dream was to by a house, create the opportunity to do whatever I want, whenever I want and now I’m 28 I could say I achieved most of this. I achieved this at trough my normal job since I started really young but when I started with playing poker serious in 2008 my saving account has only become bigger.  I’m not filthy rich, I don’t even have a car for example but I have plenty of money to buy whatever I want or to go on holiday wherever I want. It’s luxury, it’s something I’m very proud of as well and something I sometimes like to show off just a little to much. I love the fact that I’m a self made man, I do however have to praise one of me best friends which have always been a motivator to me. My current problem is that I don’t have enough money to invest it and to live comfortable for the rest of my life but I do have enough money to not worry about the next 5 years or so. The thing that has been bothering me the most lately is the fact that earning an extra $100 doesn’t really make a difference, so why putting in the extra effort to get it? There are of course different motivators in poker like being the best, beating your opponents and getting respect from your peers. I’ve explained in previous blogs before that I don’t think my skill lies in poker itself, it lies in discipline. I’m not cut out of the right wood to be the best in what I do, but I make most up in discipline and will work hard in anything I do to make it to the top 10 or 5%. I will still continue to improve my game, still expect to gain a net result this year at the tables but I do think having a goal to earn that extra $100 again is important. It will both help me to motivate myself to improve my game, but also to keep grinding when I feel less motivated to do so.

When I  was young the idea has always been to earn money with money. The better you invest your money the more you can make out of it and you need money to make even more money. Owning houses is one way to do it and since I bought my current house 5 years ago I’ve always had a plan in the back of my mind. I’ve bought probably something typically dutch and I don’t even think there is an English translation for it so I will try to explain it. I live in a pretty typical dutch house but don’t own the whole building. On the ground floor there lives an older woman who owns the ground floor and the back and frond yard. I live at the 1st & 2nd floor so got more square meters but in stead of a yard I got a small balcony. You won’t really call it an apartment, as from the outside it could just be 1 house. It’s was originally build this way somewhere in the 1930’s, sure there are people who had one big house and divided it in two which is basically not very different but it’s still a slight difference. Since I bought my house I always had the idea to buy the ground floor as soon as it gets out on the market but for that I need a lot of money. The most important thing is that I would gain full control of anything I would like to do with the whole building and I have plans to make some improvements that would make my living part better and more valuable as well. My idea is then to rent out the ground floor and to make some money out of it, which w0uld be the start of getting income from different methods then labor. It’s always been an idea but as said I would need a lot of money. I mortgage is not really an option as I already have one on my current house and getting one based on a poker income isn’t really an option unfortunately. I estimate I need about €250.000 in hard cash, to both buy the house and renovate it. I’m of course dependent on when the current owner wants to sell it but since she is pretty old 75+ it could be any moment, but who knows. I would be really bummed if I would miss out on this opportunity so my goal is that get that money together as soon as possible. I rather work hard for the money and have it then regret the fact that I was to spoiled to keep working hard to earn money since I had “plenty” already. Plenty is actually a strange word as some people might think that owning less then €250.000 isn’t really plenty, others consider owning more then €10.000 rich. It’s something that really motivates me now and basically it was already in my mind for years. The goal isn’t that easy but it should be a reason to keep doing what I do best, grinding! The goal actually isn’t really a monetary one by itself, the goals is to live my dream and trying to achieve a dream is what lives is often about!

I actually also found some new goals for my cycling hobby which has been going great lately because of the beautiful weather but more on that in my next blog, now I first would like to discuss my March results 😉

Let’s first look at some numbers and graphs:

Now this is a lot different then last months results. Last month I managed to get all the different stakes in the green while this month you could say they are all in the red. The month wasn’t actually that bad till the last week in which I lost over $2k. I got a pretty hard beating on the $10/$20 and lost minimal at the other limits. The last week of March we had the 60th Billion hand promo running on PokerStars, normally a great time to grind because of a lot of fish starts playing cashgames and some of those think, you can’t lose much in Limit so let’s give that a try! I was really eager to play as much as possible during this period and played almost 40k hands this last week. I really had the motivation back to grind grind grind, the first day I even hit a milestone hand and won $1.800 but I just couldn’t win any money at the tables. A damn pity but it should also be something to worry about. I had my grind back but not my focus. I was clicking but not making the best decisions. Since I didn’t really put the effort in to make the best decisions and really tried to grind as long as possible the grinding went pretty easy and each time I saw I was down I didn’t care to much, I was happy I was grinding. So I’ve changed my mindset around a bit but it’s not 100% to what it should be and that’s something I should try and fix in April, as you might notice there is always work to do 😉

I really loved the 60th Billion Milestone Promotion as it also kept me playing longer then normal. Hitting one myself wasn’t bad either of course and on Tuesday when the 60th Billion hand hit I was playing as well. The hand was dealt on a $5/$10 6-max LHE table and when I clicked to see what table the milestone had hit I saw some familiar avatars and went looking for mine, about 2 seconds I thought, maybe it’s FR LHE, I was playing at that moment with some of those avatars as well but I soon figured out it was 6-max 🙁 It’s a bit the same as missing the jackpot in a lottery by 1 number, you are basically as far away from the big prize as any other but you have that rush for a moment. Pogo650 was the happy winner of $102.090!

One guy even folded preflop as you could see! Now that is something that has happened with many milestone hands before and I think it says a lot about the current state of poker. People might be a lot better then years ago but as long as you make sure you know all the angle’s in the game there will always be players like that who make sure you will remain to have an edge.

Last weekend I also played a couple of tournaments but skipped the majors on Sunday because I wanted to focus on playing cashgames. On Saturday I played the $215 Weekly Fixed Limit tournament for the 3th time and made the final table for the 2nd time. I think I played really well there and after losing a big pot, 5-handed with KQ on a Q high board vs Aces I finished 5th. Sure I would have loved to finish top3 but making another Final Table really boosted my confidence again. WSOP LHE events here I come 😉

I also shipped our 10th weekly HomeGame after finished 2nd last week. Nothing major of course but winning a tournament always feels good. The first 8 HomeGame tournaments I didn’t even finish in the money but now I’m even up, so not complaining here 😉 I also played the Turbo Takedown and managed to finish ITM and go out with a beat and the same counts for the monthly freeroll on Saturday in which I called a guy who open-shoved for his whole top20 stack on the cutoff and I called with pocket 8’s as I saw him doing that two rounds before as well with a really bad hand. This time he had T5s but managed to flop and turn a T so I could wave goodbye to a top10 stack. The difference however with last time when I was playing tournaments is that this weekend I felt really good about my tournament play. I played well in all of the tournaments, got beats but picked it up really good and moved on.

In a couple of hours I’m heading to Venlo to play some live poker again. I haven’t done that since January and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m playing a €300 NL Tournament today and tomorrow a €1.000 NL Tournament. Besides that it will probably fun to meet some people whom I have talked with via forums or twitter and probably head out for a beer as well, something I allowed myself for this weekend 😉 Since last week I’m down 2kg so I should try to not drink it all back this weekend. I’m back on Sunday but I’m not yet sure what I’m going to do, if I’m feeling good about my tournament play I might just do a tournament only Sunday but my girlfriend might want some love as well 😉

Q1 is now over and I’ve reached my VPP Goal of the first quarter. I started the year with my trip to the Bahamas and since then I’ve grinded out 163K VPPs. Nice on schedule for a 700K VPPs finish. I am however again down $1.260 for the year something which I’m really not happy with. In February it looked like I was doing fine but I’m now heading the wrong way. $1.260 could be easily won in one session so it’s all pretty minimal but with renewed energy and goals I will work hard in April to get myself in the green again.

 Posted by at 9:50 am