Note: welcome to my first post ever. I have read so many blog entries from so many I felt it was time to share, too. Sorry if you find it a bit long – hope you enjoy

Sooo, this past summer I was doin’ my thing, playing poker, grinding out MTTs and feeling pretty good about my play (cue the music…. “bah-pa bah-pa bah, HEY – I’m a good poker player, HEY!”). Then one day I get this message from PokerStars about some new poker school. My first thought was, ‘Poker school?? What do I need that for? My bankroll is growing! Oooh, and look! A $2.20 Badugi starts in 10 mins’……… delete message.

I played that Badugi, and made $$ at the final table - Yea!! But soon after - D’oh! I failed to cash in on my Hold’em tourney. Another all-in out draw on the river. ‘Chin up, off to the next one – CHARGE’ (tail blazing behind me)!

At this point I was making some money playing poker, but mostly in Badugi tourneys. Some small hold’em cashes, but not enough to improve my bankroll without the Badugi wins (biggest Hold‘em cash was $41, average cash was usually less than $15 in $1 or $2 tournys). Whether I wanted to admit it or not, I had reached a crossroads in my
Hold’em game play.

‘To play or not to play……..that is the question!  D’oh, only 3 seconds left before it auto-folds.  But it’s a 5x’s raise and I’m under 10M…..sigh, fold. Oh darn, would’ve won with a flush. Stupid starting hand – shouldn’t have been there anyway’ I decide. ‘Oh gee look, Daniel just won a huge pot on TV with a similar hand…… was it really such a stupid hand to play after all’???

As grinded away at my MTTs and pondered the poker mysteries of the world, I got a call from Bbqbob66. ‘Whoa, calm down Bob, what’s got you so excited?’ I ask.  ‘Well, let me tell you! I just discovered Poker School and took some free poker lessons!!   It’s great, and if you pass this core quiz at the end they give you a UNLIMITED freeroll ticket for game play!!  And that’s not all – at the end of the month you can win a share of a $17,500 pool if you place high in the rankings – that’s $1500 for 1st place!!  I’m already playing my first freeroll…..”  Well, no sweeter words could have been spoken……I raced off to discover the Poker School, took the lessons and passed the core quiz.  Got my ticket, and with my newfound knowledge, I eagerly awaited the start of my first freeroll…….

Tail held high, I galloped my way through the first 4 tournys, amassing 1610 points. Then, out of nowhere, a hurdle appeared on the track, and I found myself falling short of the pack. I was getting knocked out early a lot, especially on early all-in calls with a KK, AA and AK. Kicking up my heels, I mustered up whatever courage I had left to salvage the month of July and ended up scraping my way to 483. Not too bad, but I thought I could do better…..

‘I just got knocked out early again! I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong, Bob’, I brayed. ‘Easy’, he replied, ‘just don’t play so much early on’. ‘Then how am I going to build my stack so I don’t get blinded out before the $$?’ ‘Be patient, wait out the first 30-45 mins or so and then pick your spot and play aggressive then’, he said. Like the stubborn donkey, I had to play more PSO freerolls before I could really appreciate this lesson. I took his advice, and started to analyze how the tournament point structure affected on my game. Then I started re-reviewing lessons and reading the PSO blogs posted by experienced members. It helped curb bad early plays. I learned to be more patient and not to over value my hand. Guess you can teach this old donkey some new tricks. This adjustment in my game helped me to place 45th in August.

‘Ah, now I can try to place higher in September – maybe even top 10’, I boldly pronounced (donkeys are pretty brave). I started out the month playing a lot, getting myself into the top 10 (8th) by week 2……which lasted for about 1 or 2 days. Then I yo-yoed in the top 20 for awhile. Tried a mad dash for a top 10 spot in the last week, but faltered (sigh, nerd rage fails me again). A few bad finishes, and fell down to finish 44th for the month. Still, one spot higher than August, but would have finished better if I had not pushed (or pushed and lost, more accurately).

October has been an interesting month so far. The PSO schedule I played in Aug/Sept was kind of gruelling (as I work full time, so it’s hard to play lots) and I found myself a bit tired from the play time commitment required to finish/maintain 1870+ points and top 50 standing. Plus, I started on a bit of bad run in the first week, so decided to slow down on the freerolls and play more cash MTTs, to test my newfound mettle (do donkeys have mettle?? hmmm).

My recent MTT success actually started in late Sept, when I made the final table of a $3.30 pot limit Omaha, finished 3rd and cashed $120. In the 2nd week of Oct I made the final table of the $11.00 NAPL division 1 nightly tourney and finished 3rd for my biggest cash ever, of $182 (my 1st time playing this tourney). Later that week I made the final table of the NAPL again and made another $60, finishing 7th. I ended up placing 10th in the NAPL weekly standings and made another $30 for that as well. On the whole, I am cashing in more on MTTS than before I started participating in the PSO.

As for my October PSO standings, I am not on the first page at the moment, due to playing fewer tournys and a bit of bad luck/cards/play, but hope to get back there by the end of the month (sitting at 256 last time I checked). Back to the freerolls! (tra la la la la…..TRIP….oh wait, is this a poker lesson I didn’t read??)

I don’t claim to be a great player, just a developing player. I’m learning what some of the remaining holes in my game are, and what I need to do to work on them, largely in part due to through my participation at PSO. I feel I have already benefitted and will continue to benefit greatly from my experiences here. A very big THANK YOU to Bbqbob66, PokerStars, all bloggers and participants who play and share their knowledge and experience of the game, for helping me to become a better poker player (…..and hopefully for your $$, hee hee).