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“What Brought Me to Poker” by WannabeCoder

July 9, 2018

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We’re thrilled to introduce our latest volunteer blog contributor: WannabeCoder! Read on to discover how he found the game and what makes poker so special.

“I’ve long been interested in mathematics. Growing up, I often participated in math competitions like Mathcounts, AMC, ARML, and of course filling out the daily newspaper’s Sudoku grid. However, I didn’t start playing poker until college. It wasn’t until nearly a decade later that I began digging into the statistical underpinnings of the game in order to become a winning poker player.

About a year and a half ago, I was wasting time online and found a video of poker professional Doug Polk breaking down some of the hands from the movie Rounders. Having watched and enjoyed the film before, particularly John Malkovich’s atrocious attempt at a Russian accent, I was quickly drawn in. Polk’s weekly hand analysis updates became some of my most eagerly anticipated videos.

The first few times I watched the “Polker Hands” clips, many of the things he said were way over my head. However, it didn’t take long for me to pick up some of the concepts in the videos. Betting 5x the 4BB pot on a 6-7-ten rainbow flop is probably not a good idea, since you’re putting a lot at risk to win a relatively small amount, and you’re only going to get called/raised by super strong hands. The same goes for raising 20BB as your open size in the small blind heads-up. Those initial videos opened my eyes to flaws in my game. Soon I was soaking up videos from other poker pros like Daniel Negreanu, Alec Torelli, and Ryan Fee, each of whom have their own playing styles, yet clearly understand the game on a very deep level.

As I incorporated the things I was learning through those videos, my win rate and bankroll dramatically improved. I started consistently landing in the money in the low-stakes tournaments I was entering, then making final tables, and then took first place in a Multi-Table Tournament (MTT) with over a hundred players. I’ve since won a number of MTTs on Replay Poker, one as recently as last week.

It wasn’t until after I put in the time to understand the statistics behind the game that I noticed my results trending consistently upward. Also, even though I now consider myself a generally winning player, that doesn’t mean I’ve perfected my game. I’m constantly picking up new bits of information and incorporating them into my overall strategy. Some of that comes from reading other poker blogs and interacting on the Replay Poker forums, where you’ll often find me reading and commenting on threads in the Poker Strategy category. Just as often, I’ll see an interesting play on the tables that I’ll adopt, like a well-crafted bluff, or an odd bet size that’s revealed to be part of a balanced strategy. Building those into my own game further develops my edge, increasing my win rate and giving me the confidence to jump up in the stakes and play against harder opponents.

Having something at risk is a thrill. What’s more thrilling, at least to me, is winning. There’s certainly truth in the quote from Rounders, “why do you think the same five guys make it to the final table of the World Series of Poker every single year?” Developing strategies that help make those final tables and win tournaments, and overall do consistently well, is what I most love about poker.

What brought you to the game, and what keeps you here? Feel free to leave a comment below.”