Pokerew’s Weblog

The Trials and Tribulations of a Professional Poker Player

Oh, variance…

That’s poker.

~Every poker player’s explanation for all bad things

The timing of the worst streak I’ve ever had in poker is poetically ironic: right in the bud, right in the face of my initial enthusiasm.

The first 5 weeks of 2008 have been simply exasperating. Never have I worked so hard yet run so badly. Relative to expected value, I believe my results are approximately $4,000 behind. Relative to my win rate over most of 2007, I am $2,600 behind. Going from $20+/hour to ~$1/hour has been rough. I won’t bore you with stories of coolers, bad beats, and dry spells; suffice to say they have been torturous and relentless.

And I have never played better. This is what makes poker so analogous to life, much more so, than, say, chess. Sometimes you can do everything right and still get screwed. More on that in an upcoming post.

Any experienced professional poker player would laugh at the notion that the ~5,000 hands that I’ve played somehow constitute a streak, especially considering I’ve approximately broken even. Online, I read about the best players in the world having losing streaks of 20,000 hands and break even streaks of 100,000 hands. In 1993, Jennifer Harmon had a losing year. And they play at stakes a hundred times higher than what I play. I feel reassured knowing that these streaks are an inevitable aspect of poker.

Short-run results really don’t mean a damn thing – in poker or otherwise – and five weeks in poker is the short-run. Good decisions are all that matter. Results are irrelevant.

Ultimately: good play + the law of averages = end of streak + profit

Seeing hands like this make the past 5 weeks seem insignificant. Soon, they will be. On New Year’s Eve. When I have my $100,000. :-)

Oh… and I may be going on a big trip soon… so my next post may not be until May or so. When I get back, I’ll have to adjust my schedule and get ready to play some long, long hours…

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RESULTS FROM JAN. 1, 2008 – FEB. 5, 2008
Profit (Loss): $250
% Of $100,000 Goal: 0.25%
% Of Year Used: 36/366 = 9.8%

February 6, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

The Grand Plan

“… insights become effectiveness only through hard systematic work.”

~ Peter Drucker in The Effective Executive

Poker is a game of skill. To develop a high level of skill, such as the kind that will win $100,000 in the next 11.5 months, one requires the systematic cycle of practice, feedback, self-correction, and improved practice. Here’s mine:

Monday & Wednesday 3pm-Midnight, Friday, 2pm-11:30pm: live play at the casino and one hour of session analysis and discussion on ( is a world-class poker strategy and discussion website.) Monday and Wednesday I’ll play $1/2 and Friday I’ll play $2/5. Workouts will happen on these days, too.

Tuesday, Thursday, and every other Sunday, 2:00pm-11:00pm: Two sessions of 2-tabling for 3 hours each day, each followed by an hour of session analysis and discussion on These days will also include light exercise and cooking with my crockpot.

Each week, this comes to about 3,500 hands and discussion of 5-10 of them. Also, at the end of each week, I’ll “wrap up” my most interesting threads with a “lesson” about poker logic. This should ensure steady improvement in my game. This schedule + seeing my friends on weekends will take care of work, money, health, and my social life. Seems like a good balance to me.

Stay tuned to see how it goes.

P.S.: To force brevity, I will generally restrict my posts to one topic each, plus my results to date.

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RESULTS FROM JAN. 1, 2008 – JAN. 17, 2008
Profit (Loss): $470.68
% Of $100,000 Goal: 0.47%
% Of Year Used: 17/365 = 4.7%

January 18, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

So it begins…

Katie Lindsay: What do you mean by “character”?
Chip Reese: That’s what poker really is about.
~ PokerWorks, Dec. ’07

Welcome to a blog of the trials and tribulations of a professional poker player, of a search for one’s place in the world, various philosophical ramblings, a catharsis of sorts. It may intrigue you; it may bore you. Its form and future are undetermined (although this post will be longer than most). Warning: I’m writing it more for myself than anyone.

My story: Born, raised, and educated through an economics degree with a minor in psychology all in Canada. Music, playing piano, news, going to the gym, friends, and, of course, poker, take up most of my time. My poker journey began around 1998 in play money high school games and then clueless university games. As I finished university in 2006, I made a few hundred dollars through the Party Poker sit’n’go tournaments. Poker was cool… and profitable. An astounding string of bad beats on Party Poker made me paranoid about the integrity of these sites and led me to live games… and cash games at the local casinos. Such paranoia was unjustified.

Fortune led me to the revelatory masterpiece by David Sklansky, “The Theory of Poker.” Aware of poker strategy for the first time, I hit the local $1/2 NL200 tables* a few nights per week through 2007 and earned about $10,000. My average earnings went from less than $5/hour to over $20. With those numbers recorded faithfully in an Excel spreadsheet, my love for the game, its lucrativeness in plain sight, and the certainty I wanted my 20s to be about freedom and adventure… well, here I am having just decided to play full-time.

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My 2008 poker goal is to win $100,000. The goal is as ridiculous as it sounds.

The goal itself, however, does not matter. The character forged in its pursuit does. The opening quote is from an interview with Chip Reese, arguably the best poker player ever, inarguably the most consistent. Reading that quote was my 2nd revelation in poker (the first being The Theory of Poker).

Most people think that poker is a simple game of body language, bluffing, and luck. Through the course of this blog, I hope to share with you reason to believe otherwise. Poker is a game of skill, but it is so much more. It is an infinitely complex game of character: self-control, perseverence, hard work, study and self-correction, logic and probability, observation and objectivity, careful analysis, mental focus, patience, courage and optimality, planning and decisions under uncertainty, situational adjustments, empathy…

John Von Neumann, one of the greatest scientists and mathematicians of the 20th century, considered poker to be a game encompassing all aspects of human intellect. Poker professionals consider the game to be a complete paradigm of life. If such beliefs go too far, it is not by much. As you read about my poker journey to $100,000 you will see why. Your candid comments will be much appreciated.

And so the journey begins…

* For those unfamiliar with poker abbreviations, that means the small blind and big blind are $1 and $2 respectively, with a maximum buy-in of $200.

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RESULTS FROM JAN. 1, 2008 – JAN. 13, 2008
Profit (Loss): $450.48
% Of $100,000 Goal: 0.45%
% Of Year Used: 13/365 = 3.56%

January 13, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments