A straight fate

Ivey-lostI used to play a lot of poker at a little casino in southern California. This was back before poker became ubiquitous. Texas Hold’em was still on the rise back then, and it was the game to play.

The casino, small as it was, had just one Hold’em table (flanked by three blackjack tables and a Pai-Gow table). The game was $2-4 no limit. The other players knew me fairly well because I had a reputation for starting with only $100, while everyone else entered the game with anywhere from $500 to $8,000. I’d figured that by starting with a minimum amount of money, I could always try to maximize a killer hand.

I could wait for, say, a high pocket pair and then go all-in. If I happened to go bust . . . well, it was only 100 bucks, right? Sticking with this philosophy one memorable night, I saw my humble $100 blossom into a hefty $6,200 ? the best run I’d ever had, without a doubt. But then things got a bit out of control as the stakes shot up.

The first fateful hand had me being dealt pocket sevens. I quickly raised to $100 to get the rats out of the pack, but there were three callers. The flop came: 7H-2S-3C. I checked, as did the next two players on my left. The button, naturally, went all-in for about $2,600. Incredibly, everyone called. I couldn’t believe there were four pot-goers, especially with their junk hands. The button was bluffing with 10H-6H.

The other two players both had an ace with a high kicker. To my great astonishment, the button proceeded to catch runner, runner hearts. The lucky flush draw put his chip stack at over $10,000. I had about $12,000, although it should have been more than $20,000.

Anyway, my adversary figured that I was on full tilt and raised $1,000 to me during the next round. I happened to have pocket jacks and called. The button for this round called as well. The flop came: J-8-4. I was seriously thinking about hitting Vegas for a month when the second, and final, fateful moment occurred. I went all-in and the player on my right and the button both called. One of them flipped over Q-Q, while the other had 7, 5. At this point, my hand was favored by about 90 percent. The turn was an ace, and then the river was a six!

That night I decided that no matter how good a poker player I was, or thought I was, there was always somebody with lots of money who liked to gamble (“gamble” as in taking ill-advised, miscalculated risks). My 44-hour session, which could have (and should have, if you ask me) ended up with me winning about $35,000, came crashing down upon me all because of a highly unlikely inside straight.

Since that time I have started to have back pain. I do not know if this is because of such a long session, or because of the stress this bad beat gave me, or both. For now I take turmeric curcumin supplements and it is the only thing that helps me relieve that back pain. I like to use them as they are 100% natural without any chemicals. No other over the counter medicine has worked for me. By the way I did not give up poker, but now I play mostly online.

My story

meI am Paul, an American poker pro. I have created this site to share my knowledge with the poker playing world (and hopefully make a few bucks while I’m at it) and journal my poker related experiences. In the wake of the US government crackdown I have decided to create websites aimed at the parts of the world where the government is happy to let people spend their money freely. While I will continue to play, my focus is going to be on my websites.

My Poker Story

I started playing poker during my high school years for small stakes. We mostly played poorly structured tournaments for five or ten dollars and it was an all around donk fest.  At the time, I was an expert level competitive Scrabble player.  I was very good, and had lots of fun playing, but due to the inherent nature of Scrabble, there is virtually no money in it (career winnings of $1300). When I reached the top 25 in North American Scrabble rankings, I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be sweet to be in the top 25 poker players in North America – I’d be a millionaire!” Well, fast forward 5 years and I am neither a millionaire nor a top 25 poker player, but I have successfully supported myself for over three years as an online poker professional.

Backtracking to the end of high school… I was unsure what I wanted to do after graduating other than I was very sure I didn’t want to go to college. Almost immediately after I turned 18 I began playing on Pokerstars. I made a few fifty dollar deposits and lost them slowly at microstakes. I bought a bunch of books to try to learn how to play better and soon found my way onto TwoPlusTwo. The books didn’t help a lot but the forums did eventually. I hopped around game types from limit to sit’n’go’s to no limit and ended up  deciding to commit to learning poker by depositing about 600 dollars, which was nearly 1/3 of my net worth at the time.

I switched from small stakes limit poker to SNG’s and was slowly losing it all back when I cashed for several hundred dollars (900ish?) in a small tournament. I made this thread on 2p2 at the time, which is sadly now missing the SharkScope graph. Emboldened by my score, I started playing 50nl and miraculously I managed to win at 1.5ptbb over about 150,000 hands. I wasn’t good but I had made it to the key point where you are sure you are a winner at something and there is this great feeling of relief. If you have already read my guide you will see that I did a lot of things that I strongly warn against doing. There is a saying, “A smart man learns from his own mistakes, but a wise man learns from other peoples’ mistakes.” Be wise and learn from me.

I had been taking courses to get a license to sell real estate and I was due to start shortly after I had won 10,000 dollars in a month from playing 100nl HU. As you might guess, the real estate career never happened. I didn’t know at the time that I was running very hot to make that much, but thankfully my skill caught up quickly and my actual monthly EV exceeded 10,000. The money began to bring me independence. After that extraordinary month I stopped playing on the family computer and got my own, and later the same year I signed my first apartment lease. Poker has opened many doors for me, and has enabled me to live my life in a very independent and different way than other people my age. Playing poker for a living is not all rainbows and butterflies. It comes with many drawbacks that I warn everyone about in the corresponding part of the guide.

During my career I have fluctuated from taking shots at fishy 5000NL games to grinding it out at 100nl. I have taken a few sustained breaks from regular play which impacted my game, but I have been able to rebound each time. At times in my career I have made videos for DeucesCracked under the nickname mdm13 and Full Tilt screenname gnomeontilt and offered live coaching sessions over TeamViewer. I have incomplete records, but I have definitely played over 2 million hands of online poker and won hundreds of thousands of dollars from poker. The majority of the profit is from 400nl to 5000nl and the majority of the hand play is definitely 100nl to 400nl. Here are threads I made about my best two months in terms of poker winnings. The first is very old, and the second is much more recent and came after a period of struggling due to taking too long of a break from playing and learning about poker.

Looking to the future…

I am currently figuring out which of the remaining sites that serve the US market will become my new home. While I am definitely not the poker player that I was at my peak, I am definitely a very capable player and given that most of the strategy advice I am offering on the site is for microstakes players I would consider myself a bonafide expert, especially since I have coaching experience to go with my poker knowledge.