Saturday 11/29/14 time 8:06 PM
After watching hours of World Series of Poker main event final table and witnessing Martin Jacobson to be the first Swedish to win the championship I'm just so happy for the poker world. Besides the fact that he won the tournament I think he's the perfect ambassador for the game and great role model for beginners like me.
Here are just few things that I really like about his approach to poker.
1. Preparation is the key
If you know that poker is mostly a game of skill then why wouldn't you develop that skill before you enter the world's most prestigious tournament final table?
Martin did just that - not only he played poker during the few months before the final table, he also simulated the exact final table, practiced different forms of play (e.g heads-up, which he felt was his weak side) and involved tens of poker players to get advice and coaching. He talks quite a lot about his preparation in this PokerNews podcast.
I super like his thorough preparation, giving himself the highest chances to be successul that was possible.
2. Persistence and patients take you far
I have personally felt difficult to come out from extreme low stack situations after I have lost big hands. I have even become to think that it is impossible. Martin just proved that you can do it and go from just few bing blind stacks to win the whole tournament.
I really admire his way to push it through, stay patient and being able to stay focused and persistent. I learned a lot from the way he did it and will surely use that inspiration next time I'm sitting with my short stack in a tournament.
3. Control over physical and mental health
Poker is a game that requires a lot of mental toughness and concentration. It's also well known fact that your physical condition influences your mental health a lot.
That's why I admire that Martin showed that he takes his physical and mental preparation seriously. Healthy food, yoga and meditation were part of his routines, which I think eventually had a big role in him making it until the end.
4. Concentrate on what you're good at
I have been slightly worried that I have been playing mostly texas no limit hold'em tournaments. I have played cash games once in a while, but haven't like them as much (as I have stated pretty firmly already before). Also I have never played Omaha or any other form of poker.
What encouraged me is that Martin was called several times as "no limit hold'em tournaments specialist", as that's what he has been concentrating on and he doesn't play anything else. So you can concentrate on one game and become successful in it!
Additionally to those poker related approaches I also liked that he looked for a non poker related sponsor for the final table. That's exactly what I would have done. Poker world is interested also in other things than poker, so that was brilliant move.
So I'm really happen Martin Jacobson won the title and it definitely gave me a push to continue (although it hasn't been going too great lately). Well done Martin!
Monday 4/21/14 time 2:48 PM - PokerHelena
Whoa! Victoria Coren-Mitchell won EPT Sanremo yesterday evening! This makes her the first person to win two EPT main events ever. I didn't have the chance to watch the whole final table, but I saw the few last hands played. And although I watched it through my tiny laptop screen it just felt amazing! Congratulations to Victoria!
During the short period of time I have played poker EPT events have been the times where I have felt the most excitement about the game. So many great players try to give their very best and hope that poker gods give their small extra push to make it to the title.
The only question in my head right now is - what does it take for me to make it there? How many hours of practice? How many live tournaments? How many online games? Would I make it in a year? Or two? Or perhaps never?
I think I have learned quite a lot about the game in just eight months. So I'm excited to see how far I can get within one year from here. Victoria has got me hyped!
Monday 2/17/14 time 8:19 PM - PokerHelena
When I started playing poker I played only tournaments at first. There were few simple reasons for that:
1. As a beginner you know what you will get into. You pay the certain sum of money and it will be the maximum you will lose in the worst case.
2. It has a starting and ending time. While this might not seem as a good thing, as it lacks the flexibility that cash games have, I saw it as a positive thing. With cash games you can easily forget yourself playing, until you get tired or distracted and lose in the end (I'm so positive, right?).
Even worse, when I tried cash games for the first times I just lost everything very fast. So you can understand why I was a bit hesitant to proceed with that. I was wondering what I did wrong, so googled "tournaments vs cash games" to understand the differences better.
Now I'm wondering if I hit some kind of ideological discussion, as I found some pretty heated discussions. So here's the summary of the passionate debate.
- In tournaments you can win more money
- Live tournaments are more exciting
- Tournament players are more skillful, as you have to deal with increasing blinds
Cash games players:
- Tournament players play tournaments only not to lose too much money
- Cash games have more flexibility - come and go whenever you want
- Cash game players are more skillful players, as you have to deal with changing players and manage chips (that you can buy more at any time, hence lose potentially more money)
Now I play both and I've seen the benefits of both. I have stopped losing in online cash games (yippiii!) and can see that it's easiest to play when you don't have several hours of time. Also the chances to win in a tournament are smaller than in a cash game. You make one bad move in a tournament and this might be the end of the game for you.
At the same time I love the feeling in tournaments that you can actually win the game. Perhaps I'm sometimes overly competitive, but winning cash AND winning the game is so much cooler than just winning cash.
Also I would love to play in some big tournaments to get the overwhelming excitment that many people talk about. While poker is a game of money, I have to admit that great atmosphere take the game to the next level.
Sunday 2/16/14 time 12:08 AM - PokerHelena
I started playing poker in a local bar in Espoo, Finland. Apparently it was part of the Finnish bar poker tournament series, kept in bars all over Finland. Winners from all the bars gather together to the finals once in a year and the winner would get a trip to poker players dream destination Las Vegas.
As a beginner I didn't think I could actually win the game in my own bar (yeah, I have also heard stories of the lucky beginners who win them all, but apparently I'm not one of them). But I sure did want to give my very best. So unlike probably any other player there I actually prepared for the game.
I think I actually played pretty well. It might be that it was actually the best I have played since I started with poker. Quite soon after we had started with the final table I took the chip lead and held it until the heads-up.
That's when it started getting difficult. They wanted to close the bar, so dealer decided to increase blinds more aggressively. That's when I started feeling helpless. When blinds take a huge part of your stack and you're in heads-up there's not much you can do. We were close to the end of the game few times because one of us lost most of the stack to the other one. But then you needed to win only one hand to make it back to equal situation.
And then I got the magical 9 pair. According to my humble rookie poker knowledge 9 pair is a pretty good hand to have in a heads-up. I went all in, he called with K3 and (snap!) the King hit the board.
Oh well, you can't always win, can you? But oh boy did it hurt. At the same time I realized more than ever before that poker is a game where you have to get used to experiences like this. You can prepare and play your best, but sometimes it's just not enough.