Bom dia, amigoz!
First blog entry from Brazil but I don't want to say to much about Brazil yet besides that it is very cool country, with amazing weather, sick hot chicks and maybe 35 people speaking english...
However this blog post will be about some questions I'm getting asked quite frequently, when I got started in poker and why -> my roots... So instead of telling teh same stuff over and over to different people in future I can just crosspost this blog-entry and probably will be fine...
Q: When you started playing, what did you play, where did you play, etc.?
A: I got in contact with poker quite early to be honest but unfortunately didn't realized the massive potential (especially money wise) which was involved there. I can only guess when it was exactly but I assume it was shortly after Chris Moneymaker won the WSOP 2003 and poker got alot moar attention in TV. Since I was frequently watching sportschannel I realized that there was moar and moar poker (texas holdem, where i did not even knew the rules when i saw it for the first time) and in the beginning I tought it is quite boring. However after seeing some commercials I signed up with Europoker (one of the bigger rooms back then) and started playing play money. What can i say? I was instantly hooked by the game. Nevertheless it took me at least 2 or 3 moar month and numerous fights with my conscience until I pulled my visa out of my wallet and deposited 20$ real money on the side. This was probably somewhere around 2004 (the golden days...). I started playing small SNGs and MTTs, won some, lost some, cashed some out, deposited some again. There was not really any bankrollmanagement involved but even with only minor theory sessions I assume I was one of the better players back then bc I knew at least a little bit what I was doing. The biggest succes I had back then was a final table at a 1$ saturday evening MTT and I won a small 33$ SNG for something like 630$ which I still remember as if it was last week and which got me thinking for the first time if there is not maybe away to make serious money with poker. Unfortunately that was still long long before I started getting serious with poker.
A friend of mine told me then about a pokerstrategy site which is giving you 50$ for free on Party Poker when you pass a quiz and even if I had my doubts first I got registered there and started grinding SNGs again. At a certain point I was kind of a semiregular at the 11$ SNGs playing something like 6-8 at the same time. I think I was beating them by a very small margin but had my studies and my job in the meanwhile that there wasn't too much time to invest in playing or learning theory. When I was running bad I sometimes didn't played a hand for weeks and then came back because I could never forget this sweet feeling of winning money and cashing it out bc it still seemed unreal to make money playing a cardgame you love...
This went on for a while but eventually I finished my studies in Business Information Systems and got a job in the company I worked parallel to the studies so I got more money now and less time and so I almost entirely quit playing. The only time I played now was maybe a sunday evening when I was bored and that's about it.
The job I had was something like a junior controller and even if pay was ok it got insanely boring over the time and I needed a change. I wanted to live in a new city, if possible somewhere abroad, and I wanted to switch to marketing&sales. So I told that a bunch of people in the company, told them I'm flexible, can work alot of hours, want to do marketing or sales, could go abroad, etc. All I was getting was a fuck you which sounded like "You cannot work in marketing or sales bc you are a controller" (mindblowing if you ask me that it is so hard to switch the field you work in even if you only worked there for like 12 months) or "even if we are a multinational company we cannot sent you somewhere else".
Anyhu, I was left with two options: Stay in my current job, in my current town, in my current flat and in my current life and continue to post every monday morning at 10 on facebook "god when is the week finally over and i can get shitfaced again" or quit my job and change my life.
After couple if days my decicion was made and I handed in my canccelation. Little did I know back then that this would be the worst decision I ever made shortterm, the best I ever made midterm and about the longterm prospects I will not say anything yet.
So I started writing applications, a shitload of them. In the end I think it was close to 90. I was 24, had a degree and was superflexibel, so what could go wrong? Well, 90% of these 90 applications got denied directly, some didn't even bothered responding and I got some interviews out of them but nothing worked out because there always was somebody who had better grades, studied abroad, was fluent in 4 languages, whatsoever.
But let's go back to octber 2008 where I started writing the applications. I still had some money saved in my bank acc and the support from my parents so I was self-sufficient at least for a while. And unemployed. And when you are unemployed you have a shitload of time bc besides writing of applications and attending interviews you do nothing. Kinda obvious that this brought my attention back to poker so I fired up my Pokerstars account realizing I still had a whooping 500$ lying there. So what to do? Play a little to kill time? Withdraw everything and spent it on booze? OR TAKING SHIT SERIOUS FOR THE FIRST TIME AND MAKE SOME REAL MONEY? About the same time I read in the blog of a german guy called Rennwurm that he switched from SNGs to Cashgame the beginning of the year because "he thinks that there is moar money in cash then in SNGs" and concerning his graphs the kid was right. He was making what was a shitload of money for me back then with 10.000$++ months and rakeback not even included. So next thing I know I was ordering a couple of books and reading reading reading. Especially the Harrington on Cashgame books helped alot back then.
So I started playing at NL25 with like 4 tables in the beginning and was literally making money from day one. Until the end of the year I managed to move up to NL200 and back to NL100 again, probably making around 7500$ this last 3 months of the year and achieving the supernova status at Pokerstars. So far, so good. Definitely good money but not really something you would base your entire future on. Job market didn't looked too good as I already said and my parents got worries more and more.
So in the beginning of 2009 I was playing NL100 with around 15-18 tables at the same time and I had big plans. But my main plan still was finding a job and I was in the final round for one in vienna...
Pokerwise it wasn't going like I wanted it to go - damn variance. So I found myself breakven after the first 100k hands mid january 2009.
I was quite frustrated and thought about the situation. I was convinced that I was able to beat NL200 for a decent amount of money but was only breakeven at NL100 so my best bet is to go right to NL200 where I get the respect I deserve amirite? NO, WRONG, IN FACT VERY WRONG...
Nevertheless this was what I'm doing. I had around 5000$ on Stars back then and decided it is time to play 15 tables NL200 and go big or go busto OR really really focus on my search for a 9to5...
Thankfully the pokergods were on my side and at the end of february I made over 20.000$ and was almost on pace for the highest VIP status on Pokerstars: Supernova Elite.
I was highly motivated and decided to take a look into march and if this month going to be like january or february I will quit searching a job and play poker for a living....
End of march I told my parents I'm not searching for job anymoar and cancelled all outstanding interviews, decided to move to Malta in summer, etc.
That's it for my roots and my way...
Q: Can I make poker as a side job?
A: While a couple of years back I would've said yes I don't really think this is possible today, especially if you are just getting started. If you were a good pro the last 2 years and now got a real job obviously you can make some money on the side. But if you only played with friends and a little play money so far then it is quite likely that you will not make any money playing poker part time. To get started these days (and make a profit) you need shitloads of theory. And talent. Poker is like a program of studies these days and it is barely possible to work and do a study course at the same time and be good in both of them. Ofc you can try but if you think you just do a little theory, play 5 hours a week and end up making decent money this is never going to happen.
Q: What variant should I play?
A: I cannot really tell you this. I play cash and besides the occasional MTT cash only. But I know people who make a shitload of money playing SNGs, or playing MTTs or playing PLO cash. There is basically money in every variant of poker and every variant is a little bit different. The only real advice here that I can give you is that you should start playing as a bigstack. The larger your stack, the greater your skill advantage will be (once you are a good player) and the moar money you can make.
Q: What stakes should I play?
A: Once again, it depends. If you don't want to invest your own money and start with the 50$ you get from somewhere you should obv. start at the very lowest stakes if you don't want to play lotto. If you are fine to invest 750$ you can start at something like NL10 or NL25. Starting at a limit higher then NL25 or above the 10$ buy in level for SNGs I would not recommend because you cannot get this skill limit just by doing some theory and jumping directly in the action there IMO.
Q: I want to play poker for a living, what should I do?
A: First you have to see how long you are in the game.
When you just getting started continue your job, studies, school what so every and try playing poker and doing theory in every free minute you have. Do the for a while and see if you have success. Important is that you really do that for the while. Only because you won some money in your first week doesn't say anything about your abilities because there is still alot of luck involved even if poker is a proven skill game. If you realize after 3 months that you make sustainable money with it, having fun, etc. then you can think about if you really want to quit your job/study and focus on poker exclusively.
When you are already in the game for a while, played decent amount of hands and made some money the decison-process is a little easier. But you should still consider if it is worse quiting a decent job or a study you have 75% finished in order to have more time for poker. This only makes really sense if you invest more time in poker. Alot of guys quitting there studies to play for a living but in the end they putting in the exact time into poker that put in before. And you should never forget that a study is a nice backup if something bad happens. You never know where poker is going. Plus you can easily study and play poker at the same time if you have a good time management.
Q: I always read the games got so hard they are barely beatable anymoar, is this true?
A: While it is true that games got harder over the time there is still alot of money to be made if you are good and putting in alot of time and effort. But is is definitely not like in 2005 where you just started playing with an above average IQ and make money or in 2008 where you read two books and started making money. There is a little moar work involved these days.
The good thing what I would say is that the games atm staying on a pretty constant level for a while and not getting any harder anymoar, at least at the moment...
Q: Which Pokersite is the best?
A: There is not really a best site. Every site has it advantages and disadvantages. While at Pokerstars you get a very good software and your money is pretty much a safe as in a bankaccount you will face the hardest competion you will meet online. Smaller sites might have significantly worse players but you have the risk that the site goes busto in 2 weeks and you lose all the money you had online there. I play only at Pokerstars atm but ofc you have to decide for yourself which factors are important for you and choose a site accordingly.
I leave it like this for now. Please if you have other questions feel free to ask them here or via pm on facebook so that I can expand this little FAQ sooner or later...