That State of Mind TM
+ Life. Poker. It's a State of Mind.
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Friday, January 27, 2006 

First Times

It's really amazing how poker has grown so much since last year. Most of what we predicted has eventually become a reality, and now virtually everybody knows how to, or at least is interested in learning to, play the game.

I'm in a bit of a nostalgic mood since I remember learning and starting to regularly play Hold'em around this time last year. once a week, every tuesday, we'd play a P500, 1 table SNG game, winner-take-all. We didnt know better, we just made up the rules like blinds escalation and stuff like that.

Then i met the JGPT guys, and my once a week habit became twice a week, even thrice a week. loose, fun, who-cares-about-odds poker gameplay. This was when ring games sounded like "too much gambling" and all we played was TV style poker. Here i met the likes of Camp hold'em, and of course, Nick and A55.

Then there were the "BIG" tournaments. 40 players! 1500 buy-in! 20K first prize! first time i walked into a Multi-table tournament, i knew this game was for me. Then during the greenhills tournament, there was a small meeting of minds among some people who really love the game. On that day was born the idea of The State of Mind.

Less than 3 weeks after, it was up and running.

Man, that place had a lot of memories, even if it was there for like, 100 days only! Can you believe it was that short? i can remember so many things that happened there. It really IS where it all started. The first drop that started the ripples in the pond, the snowball that started the avalanche.

Nobody even knew what the hell rake was before that. Today, you cant find an unraked game ANYWHERE... Dealers? The best dealers up to this day are the original crew of the state of mind. Where did you first learn about general table etiquette and house rules/ table rules? The first regular ring games, 500 MAX buy-in, 10/20... remember those? The first "BIG" game, the 50/100... The first six-figure pot... The first 20+hour session! The first regular MTT, The Friday 500 and the wall of fame... heck, i had my first Straight-Flush there!(i remember every single detail of that hand till this day.)

i remember the dart board (i'm getting that back soon). The office. The cold beer and the cup noodles. ahhh...

That place was like a second home to some, and it was the home of the best poker in town.

To those new to the game who never got to experience the State of Mind, you guys missed out on a piece of history. I know all the regulars miss that place, i know i do. Yeah there are a LOT of games out there today. Everyone has their own game now. The casino game is rockin' everyday.

But really, can anything beat the feeling of having that huge steel door slide open, and walking down the steps into the cool, smokey hall of the BBC, hearing the chatter of the players, and the shuffling sounds of the chips? I'm sure everybody remembers their first time walking in there. It was almost surreal, the transition from the "real world" and into the BBC. I'm sure everyone has something to share about their experiences there too.

Man, i loved that place.

Thursday, January 19, 2006 

Funny thing happened to me today...

A funny thing happened to me today...

I was playing a 4 table MTT at the regular wednesday game. About 75% of my stack got burned during the first round when i had pocket queens, got called by a K-J-off after i raised 300 in late position on the 10/20 blinds level. Flop was A-J-x. She bet, i raised, she called. Turn was a K. She bet, i folded the queens. ouch.

So i was playing tight the whole time, and i got lucky enough to double up. With the blinds up to 100-200, i see A-K off in the hole. I push my 700+ small stack all-in, and everyone folds except one player, who is trying to think if she'll call or fold. This person also has a small stack, about 500+, and she's thinking maybe it's time to make a move. So she flips over her cards, J-7 of clubs, maybe hoping to get some feedback from the other players about what she should do. While they give their opinions about whether she should call or fold, i flipped over my AK, just to return the favor. At least she has a chance to fold and maybe wait for a better hand.

She decides to call. HA?!?

7 on the flop. And to add insult to injury, J comes on the river. ouch.

I still don't understand it. Maybe it was intuition on her part, or maybe she just wanted to gamble. We will probably never find out, much like we will never know if bigfoot exists, or if aliens really landed in roswell. I had a hard time understanding algebra, but i will probably never understand how some poker players think.

Life sometimes likes to play cruel jokes on us. hehe.


Some info about our player rankings, this 40 player JGPT game will be the first MTT to be used to rank out tourney players. Most of the poker groups were represented, so i think it is fair enought to start off with this game. There will be another tourney, i think 2 of them, this week, and those games will be part of the rankings too.

From now on, any major MTT results will be included in our unofficial rankings. as soon as i get the results for the games, i will start posting them on a separate blog starting next week.

Start playing more tournaments people! circulate yourselves in the poker community, it will only help us grow and become better players.

watch your backs!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 

Luck Beats Me

What a way to start off my poker carreer. On a downswing.

The dreaded variance has hit me on the worst time possible. I don't rely on luck to win in poker games, i use the edge. But it seems that luck beats me. In the last few days, i have gone all in with the best hand (or at least the best hand pre-flop) and raised 5x, 10x, 15x the big blinds only to get called by worse hands and then they beat me. Because of this, i have burned through almost 50% of my bankroll.

I raise 400 with J-J when everyone limped to me, and i get called by Q-T, Q comes on the flop. He checks, i push.

My Q-T against Q-6, Q on the flop. i bet 1000 to scare away any draw, and get called. 6 on the turn.

My K-Q hitting two pair on the turn with a possible flush on the board, i bet 1000. I get called, and the river produces the 4th heart on the board, and i get pushed all-in. of course i folded.

I get J-T suited, hit top pair. Guy checks, i Bet, i get called. A straight draw comes out for me on the turn, guy checks, i bet double my last bet, i get called. River is blank, guy checks, i bet 4x, i get called. Guy flips over Pocket Aces, which he limped in.

i hate bad beat stories and i don't like telling them either. But i just had to let these out of my system. i havent made a flush, a straight, or even just a set in the last several games i have played. This is one of the worst downswings i have ever experienced ever since i have been playing poker. Not only does it suck the life out of my bankroll but it doesnt help my confidence and morale too, especially now that it means so much to me to win the games i play.

But then again, my experience has made me emotionally detached from bad beats and downswings. I come into my next game with the same mindset and the same game strategy. i will always be ahead when i pushing my chips in the middle, and i will not let the bad beats get into my head. But i have to admit, it does take it's toll. It's hard.

i just hope that my next game will be more successful. My poker life hangs in the balance. IF i still lose, i'm facing a tough uphill battle to recover the losses.

Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Stu Ungar, the only 3-time Champion of the WSOP main event, and arguably the best cardplayer to walk the earth.

"It's hard work, gambling, playing poker. Don't let anyone tell you different. Think about what it's like to sit at a poker table with people whose only goal is to cut you throat, take away your money, and leave you out back talking to yourself about what went wrong inside. That probably sounds harsh, but that's the way it is at the poker table. if you dont believe me, then your'e the lamb going off to the slaughter."

Friday, January 13, 2006 

Going pro?

I have officially started off 2006 as a semi-professional poker player/ semi-professional bum. I have to admit, for the past couple of months since the abrupt end of that state of mind, i have been living on poker and poker alone. Yeah of course, i dont pay for house bills of whatever, but i don't ask for anything from my parents too. My everyday existence, eating out, having coffee, going out at night, playing poker, everything is sustained by my meager poker winnings. Most of the time i was playing on my last couple of thousand bucks, but i always manage to eke out a small win enough for a day or two of my indulgences. It also helps that kath has been winning more than i have, so that makes the burden a little bit lighter. (i grind for hours on end only to win double my buy-in or less, and she regularly wins 3,4 or 5 times what she's bought in for!)

This week, i'm starting off my poker career with a new lease on life. I'm now officially a staked player, and in exchange for a bankroll big enough to comfortably play the small stakes ring games, i give up 40% of whatever winnings i book. It's a big sigh of relief on my part, since now i can really play my game and not worry too much about going broke hehe.

I've played only two games since then, and i already ate up about 8% of the bankroll. I usually start off winning early, but end up doing damage control for big hands that wind up going up against bigger hands. I admit, there is a lot of pressure to perform well on my part, but i know i can be consistent in winning if i use proper game selection and just play the edge at all times.

Wish me luck. Or rather, no bad beats! Luck beats me, i don't win with it. hehe.


Update on the Unofficial Philippine Poker Player Rankings:

Several criteria have been chosen for games that will be included in our system of ranking players.

1. 2o players or more MTT sanctioned by any of the regular, recognized poker clubs in manila
2. Minimum buy-in of 500, no maximum buy-in. (with the exception of the JGPT wednesday
games, one of the longest running regular MTT's in our poker community)
3. Any of the BIG poker MTT's that PAGCOR or any recognized poker club or organization will
also be included.
4. Only ITMers are going to be included in the rankings, so rack up those wins!
5. of course, there will also be a "money leaders" board, so all those consistent ITMers will be recignized as well.

Points will be directly proportional to buy-in size and/or number of players. Placing first in a small buy-in, 6 table MTT will probably get you almost the same points as placing first in a 3x bigger buy-in, 2 table tournament, so it balances out.

If you have any suggestions or inputs, they are most welcome.

We'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006 

Who's who in Philippine Poker

I don't know if you guys know this story, but the first world series of poker was played by about 7 people for around 5 days, and they played until they decided to vote on who the "World Champion of Poker" title will be given to. Most of us know it was won by Johnny Moss, but what a lot of people don't know is that each player was asked to vote on who the best player is, and each player voted for himself. Only when they decided to vote who the second best player is were they able to come up with a winner.

I believe it's true that most poker players think this way. The nature of a good poker player is competitiveness and confidence in his or her own ability. Really good poker players probably thinks they are the best among their peers, and i won't blame them. It is part of their nature to have faith in their abilities because in Poker, every single decision is made by you and you alone, and these decisions will translate into wins or losses.

So, i know most of us are really wondering, who are the best players on our shores today? Well, to make it easier for all of us to find out, we have decided to make 2006 the year where every serious poker player who excels will be recognized according to how consistent they are in winning, and how much cash they are raking in from the tournaments that they join.

We have decided to create the unofficial guide to who are the Philippines' best poker players! Based on the and system of ranking professional poker players, we will create the rankings on a point system where the tournament buy-in, number of participants, and the players' tournament results (ITM) will be computed accordingly and translated into points. The bigger the number of participants or amount of buy-in, the more points a player gets.

There will be a criteria on which a tournament can be considered in this ranking system, like a minimum number of participants, etc. All major tournaments will of course be considered, and even regular tournaments run by some of our friends will have to be included too. As soon as we have it all fine-tuned, we will start immediatley with the rankings on a new website that will be announced here of course. We hope to start this as soon as possible, hopefully by the beginning of the 3rd week of january.

Sorry to our ring game specialists, but tournament poker is the best way to gauge poker skill. We cannot include how much you win in ring games into this ranking system, much the same way that Doyle Brunson isn't that high up in the poker player rankings, but probably wins in one hand of a $4000-$8000 hold'em ring game what most players will win by placing 1st in a tough tournament.

We hope that this new player ranking system will get players off their butts and start playing more poker! Everytime you play in a tournament, just bear in mind that how well you will do will determine your place in the Unofficial Guide to Who's Who in Philippine Poker.

Shuffle up and Deal!

Sunday, January 08, 2006 

One of those days

played a small 7 player SNG at JGPT last night. small buy-in, turbo game for fun. decided to go kamikaze and call any raise and see every flop, turn, and river.

i hit everything i played. Trips, two pair, top pair, flsuh, straights, everything.

i called a 200 pre-flop raise with 3-4 off, flop comes 2-5-6 rainbow.

When it came down to heads up, i went all in and got a runner runner flush.

how i wish i had a game like that in one of the BIG games or tourneys hehe.

On another topic, there are games EVERYWHERE now! It seems that everyone has his or her own game. Poker clubs (and rooms?) sprouting like mushrooms. This is a poker players' dream come true. Game selection is now a reality. I know this will ultimately be good for the poker community. The only drawback is some unscrupulous characters might want to take advantage. I know it's unlikely but it is not impossible to see colluders or even cheaters and hustlers. Even the authorities might want to use the poker craze as a scapegoat in the "fight" against illegal gambling. but it comes with the territory, so let's just be ready for those things.

Till the next game.

Thursday, January 05, 2006 

Poker Parties

Played at the ACF again two days ago. One of those days... i seem to hit everything i folded and then lose pots with my premium hands. Called it quits after losing my first buy-in. Another hit to the in-the-red bankroll.

Then there was Mida's birthday poker game. Nice little 2 table SNG with a 500 buy-in. Busted in the final table with A-Q off, got called by KJ and King came out. That's life... Then Dropped by Jaz's birthday game at JGPT, got there late and just decided to chill out with a few drinks, thinking i had enough poker for the night. Decided to finally play about an hour before we were going to leave, and played real tight against some tired and drunk players hehe. it was fun. I just bought in 500, was down to 300, won an all-in and got back to 600+. Kath wanted to go home so i kept on saying "last hand", but then i decided after several hands, OK, LAST HAND for real. i see A-3 in the hole and just call the blinds. someone goes all in with a tiny stack not even enought to raise double so everyone calls too.

Flop came A-A-A.

ooohhhs and aaaahhs from everyone. including me. i'm putting up the best act i can to conceal my monster hand, quad aces on the flop. i checked, someone bet minimum, i call. turn is an 8. bet, call, call, i call. River is a 6. i go all in with an act, saying im sure the pot is mine since i have a full house.

two guys fold before franco calls with a full house aces-sixes. the guy who went all in shows full house too, aces-eights. I flipped over my quads and everyone couldnt believe it. we were laughing about it though, and it was all in good fun.

I found it interesting that i didnt even feel the slightest bit of the familiar heart-thumping, hand-shaking, or mind-numbing effects of flopping a monster hand. My heart didnt even skip a beat. I remember my first quad aces and my hands were shaking uncontrollably, my heart wanting to burst out of my chest. I guess i've grown enough as a player to eliminate those reactions and focus on the hand i'm playing. or maybe, it was because the pot was only 1,500 and if it was a 100,000 pot i would have probably had a seizure, or a heart attack, hehe.

i even split a 100 peso one-handed all-in pot of 1000 with jaz the birthday girl, as we both hit the straight. nice one jaz!

Happy birthday to Mida and Jaz again, it was a blast!

Monday, January 02, 2006 


Well, it's been a while... i havent written anything for so long that i'm starting to think i'm running out of things to write about. The lack of games during the last few weeks of the year might have had something to do with it. That won't be the case anymore now, what with the opening of the Poker Room at the Airport Casino. LOTS of action there, lots. Fresh new players from all over, most of them new to the game and some a bit more knowledgable than the others. Oh, and there's also the that state of mind to visit. 2006 is going to be the year of Poker for the good old RP.

And since it is the start of the new year, of course, some resolutions have to be made. I'm going to be listing down ones that i think most poker players should have to start the year right, and of course turn those thin bankrolls into fat and heavy ones. But most of these will be MY resolutions, so feel free to take what might be useful for you and just ignore some useless or silly ones.

Resolutions for 2006

1. I will not limp in from out of position (or do any other bad plays like that.) -
it is pretty obvious why i'm saying this. Bad plays cost money. limping-in premium hands, slow playing, playing "favorite hands" (six and nine...), and the like. Yeah i'll mix it up sometimes but in general i'll be sticking to solid fundamentals.

2. I will not play games above my bankroll. - This will deplete your bankroll faster than you can say "all-in".

3. I will exercise more!- I can't really blame anyone but myself but since i started playing poker, i found that i have gained more wieght than i have ever had in my life! Ungodly hours, a diet of fast food, instand noodles, softdrinks, beer, and lack of time to exercise has put me in the worst physical shape of my life. Time to get back to the gym or at least get more involved in sports.

4. I will not tap the aquarium!- It is time to emotionally detach myself completely from bad beats by novice players, simply because i now know that those situations is precisely why i'm playing the game. Putting my chips in when i have the best of it. And bad beats simply mean that i'm a victim of a lucky draw. I'd rather be a victim of luck than to win with it. There is no need to get mad at the "fish" for dealing out bad beats, because we WANT them to think that they are doing the right thing.

5. I will not play BACKWARDS POKER.- There is an epidemic out there affecting hundreds of poker players. It's called BACKWARDS POKER. Victims of this disease will NOT bet their good hands and BET when they have nothing. They will try to be "cute" and overbet pots, thinking it looks very skillful to "bluff" opponents regularly. i refuse to do that anymore, since betting when i have the best of it will give me good value for my money.

6. I will not put too much faith in TOP PAIR.- Top pair on the flop is a good hand to bet with, but if you encounter a raise or a re-raise, and your hand does not improve throughout the betting rounds, you will surely get in trouble. I've fallen in love too many times with my top pair top kicker only to find out my opponent has two pair or something.

7. I will try to limit checking or calling.- Betting and Raising is the way to go. Aggressive poker is winning poker.

8. I will not try to bluff the unbluffable calling stations.- It is like trying to move the unmovable and stop the unstoppable. It is a waste of time. i'll just value bet my hands when playing these kinds of players.

9. I will not underestimate new faces at the table.- Just because we dont see them play a lot, it doesn't mean they haven't. Yes there are a lot of new players out there, but new faces doesnt have to mean they are new to the game.

10. I will stop trying to be a WINNING player, and just aim to be an EXCELLENT player.- Most of us concentrate too much on winning that once we get comfortable at certain games and limits, we tend to stagnate as players. Some will even treat it as a contest against other players, thinking it's about who's better, who's the "best". It's not all about winning, because if that is what keeps you going, you are bound to be disappointed at a certain point since you simply can't win all the time. I believe that you can be a winning poker player, but not be an excellent poker player. If you play in a certain comfort zone where you win all the time, there is no room for improvement. Someone once said "If you keep hitting your target all the time, then it is either your target is too big or you are too close to it." On the other hand, being an excellent player will assure you that you will win most of the time. Self improvement and a critical analysis of your own game will do wonders. Poker is not about winning, but rather about making the right decisions, and making the right decisions consistently requires extensive commitment to improving oneself all the time.

There are many more things i can think of but these are the one just off the top of my head. We have the whole year ahead of us, and it's gonna be one helluva year for poker in this country!

Watch your back! hehe.

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Quote of the Day

  • The best poker I've ever played has always entailed peace. A relaxed comfort. Eyes open, ears open, radar up. Absorbing my opponent's every message. Taking them as they come. Not mixing what those messages are with what I want them to be. It's like an aerial view. A view from above the myriad luck-dependent reactions of those many people who never gain such a peace. And when you gain that view, that peace - when you'd rather have the truth, no matter how disappointing, over a false hope, no matter how desirable - then you're a player. The hand you're on slips into a stream of thousands of other hands, no one of which, because of your lofty view, seems unduly important, no false fearful emotions rise within you. When you gain the peace of lofty perspective, you're a player, and when you're a player, you're free.- from "King of a Small World" by Rick Benett
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