It was a warm Sunday afternoon on 3 March 2013 when I decided to start keeping track of my progress in the Cowboy Challenge. Entering into it with $3.50, far less than is the required minimum, I thought I'd bust out after a few games. Alternatively, having seen the progress threads by other PSO members, I thought I'd move to Level 2 just as quickly after a win or two.


What I didn't expect is that Level 1 for me would last for three months of nearly everyday playing. I never topped up the challenge money so I never failed, but I also was not moving up; for 43 days, for 159 hours, in 155 games, I was treading water.

I dutifully recorded date, start time, end time, and tournament ID of every game. I calculated time taken, winnings, and running total. I noted down from the PokerStars stats screen how many hands I'd seen, flops seen, pots won, and worked out percentage of flops seen and pots won. I didn't have a HUD when I started the challenge and that was the best stats I could get.

The spreadsheet itself became a nuisance; sometimes I didn't even want to play just because recording all that stuff was putting me on off. 

It was 46 games before I left the 'premmy incubator' territory and had enough ($6.25) to call myself a Level 1 entrant. 

It was 54 days later, on 27 May 2013, when I finally got to $12.50 and jubilantly exclaimed that I could move to Level 2!

My progress graph for the challenge is below.

As you can see, there were a couple of times when losses just seemed neverending. 

All in all, at Level 1, I had 40 cashes (26% ITM, 10% top three), and only one win. My most frequent place finishes were 3rd, 5th, and 7th. 

I also counted some of these games towards half of my Red vs Blue challenge games. I wonder if being encouraged by my team members improved the winnings for those 10 games.

Unfortunately as soon as I qualified for Level 2, I fell back to Level 1. The $12.50 allows for 13 games at Level 2 which are turbos and I lost every single one of them, most frequently in late 30s and 40s! It was embarassing and frustrating. It seems I just don't get turbos - it's not just "twice as fast", the game mentality is completely different. 

So the 13 losses of 50c each are reflected in the May stats below. I should point out that "Most Frequent" finish is always likely to be in the money because there are so many bad finishes that their frequency is spread out. If I had recorded all non-ITM finishes as 0, the  most frequent finish would be 0 for sure.

So now, with June upon us, I am back to Level 1. I hope to get through it faster than 155 games this time, but so far it's looking pretty dire. It seems that turbo games aren't part of the Cowboy Challenge other than Level 2, so on some advice I think I will keep playing the 25c games until I get to Level 3 and move up to the $1 regular 45 man games.

If anything, this challenge so far has taught me perserverance. Kind of like university - even if you never use your biochemistry degree in your office map analysis job, you still know that you can stick at something for three years. 

June also marks the half-way point for the Time Vault challenge. I am on track with all my goals but maybe not progressing as quickly as I had hoped. I am certainly not placing ITM in 80% of games. That was a bit of a pipe dream, wasn't it!

I am regularly playing OSL, and now I got $2.50 for having made 20 VPP. I will probably never get better results than that because I can play only 45 games a month. This month I am also playing 100K Freerolls (got a ticket via the promotion for adding my cellphone number), and I mostly fell out of interest with the Big Game, but may start again this week.

I hope you have found my blogs so far interesting and entertaining. If you want to subscribe (button at the top), the system will inform you by email when the next blog is out. Also, stop by my progress thread and offer me some much-needed encouragement.