I've been interested in poker since I was a kid. Back then I didn't know much about the Internet and I was too lazy to read books. So I played occasionaly with friends, a game we called poker, which actually was some 5-card draw home card game, where we set up our own rules, as we would saw fit. The game changed from group to group, from play to play, from hand to hand. But one thing always remained firm in my mind: poker is not about luck. I mean, sure, luck helps a lot, but the one to have the most number of victories or the highest stack (of candies, rocks or toothpicks) was always the one that knew what to play and when to play. Sometimes that was me, other times it wasn't.

Nevertheless, about 12 years after first getting interested in poker I decided to try and start playing some real poker, more precisely: Texas Hold'em. So I used the Google a bit, found PokerStars.com, downloaded the client, registered and then went to PokerSchool, which led me to here: PokerSchoolOnline. I was very pleased with the content and I immediately started reading the Basic Course. After finishing it, I took the test and pased with 82%. Soon, I continued with the Core Course and after going through it all, with the Core Quiz, which I scored with 93%. I'll admit, I was quite proud of myself, but I wanted to see where did I make a mistakes on the quizzes, and I still do.

I used a notebook to write down some important things through the courses, things like hand rank list, different groups of hole cards based on their strength, table positions, poker terms and conclusions on pot odds and outs odds.

During the learning and after completing the two quizzes I watched a lot of YouTube videos on poker, and played many hands by myself (I'd deal out 9 hands and go through each one to see if it was wise to play it based on the position of the player). For example, I had to travel 2,5h with a train, because I was going on a concert (Those whom the gods detest tour part 2 in Zagreb), and during the whole trip I played Texas Hold'em by myself, with myself. Sounds silly, and probably is a little bit, but it helps, not as much as real play, obviously, but it's still better than nothing.

Now, an important thing to note here is that I'm not looking forward to becoming a pro or even trying myself at tournaments or whatever, I just wanna play it. That's because I already know what job I want to have in the future, and it doesn't have anything to do with the cards.

Anyway, I'll recommend some YouTube videos in another post and continue my story now. The next course that PSO offers is SNG course. At first I didn't even know what SNG is, but I learned quickly. At the time I had two difficult exams coming up so I couldn't spend as much time with the course as I wanted, so when I finally tried the quiz, I failed, with a little over 60% correct answers. (At the time of writing this, I still do not know if I failed the 2 exams, but I'm hoping to pass at least one.)

The Sit & Go Course provided me with some very important and very useful information, so I had to fill up my notes with categories of pre-flop hand, hand strength categories for post-flop play and tables on playing in different phases of an SNG. Since I still only play with Play Money (even though I somehow have a bronze star, I'm sorry but I honestly do not know how I got it, since I never played in a cash game, and have only entered a few cash game rooms to observe the players and try to figure out the betting patterns; I'm gonna send an e-mail to support about this issue), I was quite dissapointed how people on the site easily throw away their chips simply because it's not real money. That was the main reason I decided to test myself out in Play Money SNG.

My first SNG tour was in low buy-in 45-player tour. I mostly tried to follow the lessons learned in SNG Course and after some playing I finished on the final table. I was stunned. I continued to play, but a bad call made me push all-in and lose, so I ended up on 4th place. Not bad for a start, is it? I went on to some other tours and I started experimenting different plays: being loose aggressive in the start as opposed to super-tight recommendation, trying to bluff by over-raising and stuff like that. Sadly, most of it didn't work, partially because it's only a Play Money tour, and partially because my timing and my judgement of other players was poor. My following results were 6th out of 9, 20th out of 45, 303rd out of 360 and 13th out of 45. Then I decided to try myself in PSO Skill League tour. I finished up on 419th place out of 1714 participants, and I was pleased with the result. On the next PSO tour I finished up 403rd out of 1780 participants; even better than the previous one. Since I live in Croatia, it was already late here when I finished that last PSO, and the next PSO was in 11:30 am, there was still some time before it. So I went on another 45-players tour, ended up 10th, and then tried the 10-player tour where I got in heads-up for the first time, but I lost and ended up 2nd, which was still a very good result for me. Back at another PSO tour, I lost quite early by a bad beat (if I recall correctly) and ended up 1402th out of 1753 participants.

The following day was the day of my first big exam and I was very nervous. Since the exam was scheduled at 1 pm, I studied a bit more about it in the morning, and then went on to poker to try and relax and get my mind of the exam for a bit. 24th out of 45 and then a bad beat that made me be 6th out of 6 didn't help my nervousness; if anything, it made it worse. Fortunately, the exam was much easier than I expected, so when I got home I continued to play poker, because I knew that the day after there was another exam and I still needed a lot of learning to do; but first some poker-relaxation. 10th out of 27 was nice, but then a bad beat at PSO that got me up only to 1378th out of 1472 made me quit poker for the day and study some more. I did go back to play another 45-player tour again, and ending up 9th relaxed me a bit.

It's the day of the final exam, and it's in 4 pm, still plenty of time to study and play some poker. A failed bluff got me 5th place out of 45. The exam was a disaster, a catastrophe, a massacre! I couldn't bring myself to playing poker anymore so I just watched some of Daniel Negreanu's videos on YouTube to relax (I really like the way he talks and explains things). After a while, I played some more, got 13th out of 45 and then went into PSO tour again. Now, this one was the most interesting one up until now. I decided to follow my gut a little bit more, play a little more diverse and play in the position much more often. I started to talk to some other players at the table and one of them, whom I've met on the table that I finally got kicked out, didn't believe I was a beginner, partially because of the Bronze Star. Anyway, I went on making the right decisions for most of the time, and after a while I found myself in the money. Now that was a shock! But I knew I can't go tilting now and should keep my cool and continue playing the way that brought me there (Chris Fergusson said so in one YouTube video). I finally got kicked out by a set of Kings and I finished up 37th out of 1477 participants. I was very pleased and very hyper about the result. That is among the top 2,51% of the tour, and was my best score yet (I keep a graph of all the tournaments I've been in, and the only one I'm not counting there is one heads-up tour of 2 players where I went all-in on the first hand, because I wanted out).

So, that's my story up so far. Nothing much, and I do not know yet if I'll write more texts like this, but I do know what I am going to write right now, in another post: where and when to learn, tips I've picked up, maybe style I use to play and possibly the results I'm getting. Also, there'll be a poker skill breakdown, for which I have no idea if it's correct, but that's the way I see things for now.

Anyway, so long and thanks for reading this!

Good luck (so you don't get a bad beat)!