How did you get your start playing online?

Today, I want to talk about how it is I got my start playing online poker, in addition to discussing how my online game... and live game, for that matter "evolved." But before I do so... I would like to plug the upcoming Blogger Poker Tour event this Saturday which yours truely is hosting:

Blogger Poker Tour Event #4 Update

The Beer Guy has played host in events such as the "Beer Football Club Drunken Derby," which pitted both of the previously split squads against one another. Also, I've hosted the Beer F.C. Kegstand Invitational (self explainitory title there, I suspect). I've made appearances and/or helped organize things at the local "Celebrity BeerPong Tournament" not too long ago, made a cameo appearance at a local Pub Poker event or two, not to mention brought my favorite arch-villian, SuperDonk, cheering him on to victory in the Pub's $500 freeroll. Essentually, I am somehow finding myself involved in all things Beer, providing they're fun and time well spent. That being said, it was only natural that your's truely... the Beer Guy, accept the offer from Poker.com to host the Blogger Poker Tour's "We're Just Here 4 the Beer" party/tour stop.

Here are the details:

We're throwin' a kegger this weekend at Poker.com - The Beer Guy has been tapped to host the fourth event of the blogger poker tour. This tournament, "We're Just Here 4 the Beer" is slated to be a short handed (six seater) event. This is going to be a fun event. $500 freeroll in the prize pool, plus 4 seats in the Blogger Poker Tour Grand Finals are on the line this Saturday! All bloggers are invited to play, and can register by following the below instructions:

1. Download the Poker.com software here if you do not yet have the software and an account,
2. Sign up at the Blogger Poker Tour site, at which time you'll need to add their link to your blog,
3. Use the password: yourshout for this tournament,
4. Show up and play on Saturday April 29th at 15.30GMT-5 (4.30pm EDT for us east coasters).

While you're registering for this event, you might also want to refer a friend or two who has a blog and is a blogger to join in. The Blogger Poker Tour, via the BPT Grand Finals are sending one blogger to the WSOP. Don't miss out!

Breaking news on the BPT event, hosted by the Beer Guy: This just in, Kris from Poker.com has placed a bounty on the head of your drunken host and hero... He is obviously familliar with the beer guy's lack of social consideration as host of his frequent CheckRayz events - known to take down his own hosted tournaments. The bountry will be an entry into Poker.com's Sunday 10K guaranteed. Despite the bounty, the Beer Guy (screenname imjusthere4thebeer) still vows to drop the hammer at least once in this event and welcomes with open arms the bounty along with all the bounty hunters.

This is going to be a great event. Thanks to Poker.com & the Blogger Poker Tour for both considering me as the host and placing the bounty on my head. I believe this tournament will be a lot of fun and showcase some serious skill. I embrace the opportunity to host and promote this event and the tour with open arms.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled reading:

How the Beer Guy got his Start playing online

There's been a lot of talk recently in our community regarding playing online, freerolling/playing for cash, taking "the next step" and what not. I decided, instead of commenting directly on the topic, which I am prepared to do, but holding back for the time being... I'd prefer to explain how it is I got interested in online poker, how I started out, how my "game" progressed, and what I did to get there, written of course in the traditional third person:

In the beginning, the Beer Guy had no skills what-so-ever. He got his start playing at PokerStars in tournaments. He was a depositer from day one, never made it to the play chips. His first deposit was $50, wanting to just play the game and figuring he was smart enough to "figure out what the hell he was doing" from day 1. The fitty was a small price to pay. Somewhere in his first three tournaments at Stars, he got damn lucky. He was playing in one of the guaranteed tournaments, (can't recall which, as this wasn't "written" in the history books, he was a nobody to the online poker world during this timeframe), and managed to slide his way into the money. He had no concept of endgame tactics or proper play. In fact, he'd not even heard of Sklansky, only knew of "that Moneymaker guy" (believed he had to be a great player, as a matter of fact). Dan Harrington was that "one old guy with the hat and flat bill." The unibomber was the insane genius guy who wrote that one manifesto. Jesus was a biblical person, not a poker player. Truth be told, the Beer Guy never watched poker on the tele. He knew it was on TV. He knew peeps raved about it. But, at this point, he never watched a hand played on TV. For that reason, when seeking advice on how to play, he went to what he believed to be the best source of advice, the Chris Moneymaker/Pokerstars website.

Recalling this fabled first tournament, the Beer Guy had no concept of endgame play, followed Moneymaker's "keys to success" and got really lucky. When approaching the final two tables, despite significant pot odds (what the hell were they?) he was knocked off a a hand in which he called UTG holding K3s with over half his stack. The board missed him, (though no ace hitting the board), he checked, other player pushed allin (beer guy had him covered) but folded. 1 hand later, and in the unraised big blind, holding the 10-7 offsuit, the flop comes j-9-A. Beer guy checks and makes the call hitting an eight on the turn and an eight on the river, trying to figure out for days how he lost that hand when he had a straight... quite honestly, there had been a few hands that were hard to comprehend, where his substandard kickers were counnterfeited as well. Anyways, he took down a nice payout in this tournament with his donk-like play and felt like a pokah genius.

He'd rack up a few more tournament cashes at pokerstars with his grossly unorganized game, more than quadrupling his initial deposit of $fitty, though he finished out of the money far more than in the money, usually busting out in the first three rounds of the tournament, unless it was a rebuy. However, one weekend of WSOP qualifiers and gross disregard for tournament selection would wipe his winnings out singlehandedly. This brought him back to reality. He did a little online research and came across two significant things. The first was this Sklanksy character seemed to be the expert on poker play. Second, the Shark Poker Tour seemed to be a place where tight agressive players (whatever the hell that was) played. So, the Beer Guy signed up with the SPT and bought the hold'em bible, "Hold em for Advanced Players" by David Sklanksy, et al. He read through that book, really not understanding what the hell this guy was talking about at first and would watch the Shark events from the rail. He wasn't doing a lot of playing.

Then, the Beer Guy came across this site, Poker.com, which was a new site and had a bunch of freerolls, that "seemed" worthwhile to both enter and try out some of these concepts that Sklansky discussed. In exactly one day, the Beer Guy placed second in one of the $200 rolls there and got a nice payout. At the same time, he got quite bored playing the freerolls, seeing peeps go allin on the first hand five deep, and decided that freerolls were not his cup of tea. He additionally got some bux playing the AP $50 freeroll with 2000 peeps, amassed a huge chip lead calling down a preflop raise, cracking aces with four peeps allin with his King nine suited, nailing down a set of nines on the flop. He doubled up a few times more, sat out the rest of the way because quarter drafts were starting, and he'd probably do better "coasting." He took down roughly $2.35 which nearly paid for his first fifteen minutes of quarter drafts that night.

With the boredom of freerolls, the drunken one began playing sit n go's at poker.com, starting out first with the $5 tables, then moving up the ranks as both his bankroll began to grow and his knowledge of the game. He began to see the light and now knew that one unibomber played poker and had nothing to do with a manifesto of any sort. Jesus was a poker icon, Harrington was a great tournament player, Brunson had a signature hand, Moneymaker was a lucky bastard who lacked skill, Sklansky was the guy who named concepts and made them easier to understand, and large freerolls sucked. Eventually, the Beer Guy purchased Ed Miller, et al's Small Stakes Hold'em book, read this and moved to the cash tables of Poker.com to play for the "big money" (read: .10/.25 no limit). He did relatively well for himself on these tables, figuring out that he needed to have standards with starting hands, he needed to not be calling allins unless he had better than the obvious board, and that large freerolls that anyone could join sucked. He did, however, make some regular appearances in the larger freerolls which one needed to "qualify" for at poker.com. He additionally diversified himself by occasionally playing the cash tables of AP. He continued to watch the Sharks in their tournaments play their games, but still failed to join a single tournament.

Then, just as any good third person documentary would have it... tragedy struck. Something changed... a ruleset of some sort in the Beer Guy's firewall, that blocked him from accessing the poker.com software. This had been the Beer Man's steady stream of income suppliment, the poker.com .10/.25 cent tables were. He knew not what to do... Couldn't hit the "fish" as he knew them fresh off the freeroll wins. He couldn't even play in the larger rolls there that were looking better and better the more he tried and failed to access their server. The poker.com staff spent nearly all day trying to help the drunk one get back onto the server (read: top notch highly dedicated support staff + beer guy being "computer dumb" still equals no success). Additionally, as fate would have it, the Beer Guy gets an email from the Shark to his entire army announcing several things, of which is a rakeback program at Caribbean Sun and also hinting to the beginning/birth of the shark forum. Beer Guy takes this as a sign, and emails the Shark asking if he has a new room to reccommend. The two exachange info and the Beer Guy begins playing at the Sun. Additionally (fast forwarding just a bit here, the Beer Guy sees a post in the forum discussing an opportunity to get onboard with the business end of this online poker thing). Summary: Beer has technical issues with favorite poker room of his, emails sharky, sharky hooks a brotha up with a new poker room, a sweet rakeback deal, and they begin to "talk shop" on what would become CheckRayz).

Beer's first month at the Sun wasn't too bad. He had just busted out at AP on the micro stakes no limit tables, and was en route to doing so on his Sun account. By "not too bad" we're meaning that for a new site and increasing stakes slightly, still having money in the account without reloading "wasn't too bad." He discussed what was going on with his game, and Sharky made two suggestions that changed the Beer Man's game completely. He first suggested downloading pokertracker, blindly paying $55 to get the activated version - DONE. He also suggested blindly having faith and moving to the limit tables - DONE. One should fairly note, it is very rare that the beer guy does anything on blind faith. Usually, its show me now and I'll do it later - a drunken skeptic by nature, the beer guy is. So off to the limit tables, with pokertracker in tow, combined with the "ideal stats cheatsheet." It was during this timeframe that the Beer Guy purchased the Harrington series of books and began reading.

Additionally, the Beer Guy finally began dragging his drunken donk arse into the Shark events, now confident he could swim with the sharks with a better working knowledge of how this poker game worked. While playing the events, and participating in the forum, in addition to reading his books, looking at his statistics and tweaking his game, and some other reading (shark's and other's poker blogs), he saw what he failed to see before. The Shark events were a great place to learn the game and evolve one's game. Sitting out of these shark events - SPECIFICALLY THE BUYINS probably stunted his poker game evolution by about 1 year, perhaps even more.

(switching to first person commentary): Fast forwarding to today, I can honestly say that it takes an nothing short of an act of God to catch me in a "non private" freeroll. I flat out refuse to play a large field freeroll. No one has a dime invested, thus nothing to lose. Time means nothing to them, whereas time, not money, is often quoted as being the most valued commodity in my life (though one should note that it takes some money to conquer the "problem" of time). The biggest thing that the Shark buyins gave me was in fact time. I went a month or so of religious playing before cashing in one of them, however, the experience I accumulated by playing in these games gave me the experience I'd not have obtained playing a year, perhaps even two of poker the way I was used to. Was I intimidated when I first "took the leaps" of faith that I took, playing the shark events, taking sharky's word when he said I won't regret buying PT and playing limit, buying into the shark games? You bet your ass I was. However, I fully recognize that successful people consistantly take themselves out of their comfort zone to strive for success in achieving a goal. My goal was to become a better poker player. If that was the case, I needed to read books written by poker players, I needed to begin thinking like a poker player, and finally, I needed to get myself into events with "poker players." The best place for me to do this was in the Shark buyins.

Moving along here, we now have more than just the shark buyins to help evolve our game. We now have more than the Shark blog to read and discuss strategy. The tools we now have at our disposal are as follows:

First, we have the Poker Pub Blog, which if you're still with me here, you'd know that this blog is in fact the Poker Pub. Quite often I talk beginner poker strategy. I bring to the table ideas one can utilize RIGHT NOW to improve their game and solidify their play. This blog, combined with the Shark's blog and in addition to the blogs that he and I take time to list down the left of our blogs are in fact poker blogs worth reading. All the blogs I advertise are ones in which I read regularly. I take my linkage very seriously. I do not ask for a link in return. These are people who for one reason or another, I enjoy/gain value of some sort from reading. I suggest reading some, if not all of them regularly, in addition to your regular poker pub readings.

Second, we have the Shark Network Forum. This is where the minds of the Shark Network get together and discuss any and all aspects of our collective games. I suggest not only reading there, but posting regularly. Have a hand or a bad beat you wish to discuss? Post it, as I assure you that you'll get constructive play by play commentary from many a playa. Be active in the community, as we have a lot to offer and you do too! Read my past discussions both in the forum and on the blog regarding endgame strategy, starting hand selection, and other topics strategery oriented, which I will soon have links for so that you may read them in order and have a convienant way to go through them.

Third, we have shark event via both the Shark Poker Tour and Online Shark; and we have the CheckRayz poker tour events. It seems like one of us has a tourney of sorts every day. I highly suggest playing every event you're able to participate in, both freeroll AND buyin. Use the buyins to experience poker the way it should be played. Get on the poker tables with the "killas." Ask questions while playing. Make it a point to meet the Clayshooters, the sharkys, the beerguys, the gary812's, the texasdans, the cardluvrs, the Bob's (BC5457), the royalty (Prince Sheba) and all the regular knowledgable friendly peeps of the respective tours. Get to know everyone. Don't be afraid to ask me or any of them why they played a hand the way they did, either at the table or in the forum or via instant messenger. Learn from their play, and take what you've learned and incorporate it to a style that makes sense and you're comfortable with. Take these learned skillsets and participate in the private freerolls we put together. Let these events reinforce your newly learned skills and table vision. Then bring it home and come back to the buyins... learning, implementing and applying along the way continuously. Dedication, an open mind, and "on the job training" are the quickest path to success in this game.

Fourth, step out there and play the cash games. I started out playing .10/.25 tables and killin the game, once I made the jump to playing ring. If ring games aren't your style, take on the $5 or $10 sit n gos. Small field to fight through there. These games will help you improve, as you can further reinforce your skills obtained via checkrayz/shark events to kill the competition. Move up the ladder as your skills develop and bankroll supports it. As I said, I started playing .10/.25 ring, now I'm playing $2/4 and $3/$6, and open to moving up from there even. When I play sit n go's, I'm not buying in for less than $25, unless I'm keeping someone else company from one of our tours. And while you're at it, please download the poker rooms from one of the links present here on the poker pub blog, the shark blog, the shark forum, the rayz and/or shark sites, or via our regular poker tour newsletters. This helps us continue to bring you free poker tournaments and money added buy-in poker tournaments.

When playing multi table poker tournaments, I avoid freerolls open to the general public at all costs. I mentioned this before, and I will mention this again, I gain nothing, in terms of value by playing these events. Fields are too big, play is too donk, and I'm wasting my time, as I have only my MVC (most valuable commodity) invested... my time. No one has money invested here, and the overall play reflects that. Why bother, I ask? I cannot come up with one legitimate reason, so I avoid em... nuff said. I am selective about the public buyins I play. I look for money added overlays, giving me a bigger prize pool with a lesser field in terms of number of people entered to fight through. I got out of the habbit of posting tournaments I am watching, considering entering, but promise I will get back into that habbit.

Finally, read read read... read your poker books. I've listed several times my favorites. I always have a book on poker strategy that I am reading/rereading. Ask me what I'm reading now... or what I'm reading next. Take measures to improve your game!

The bottom line is this... We have several resources available to everyone who enjoys playing poker. If you're serious about your game, don't do just the minimum "on the bus" effort in playing only freerolls. Read the blogs, participate in the forums, do play the freerolls we put together, but also hop into the buyins looking to learn something. Buy or borrow the books we discuss. Step out there play for cash, perhaps even download pokertracker. Just like in society, become a valuable, participating, productive member of your community. Embrace the resources we have to offer, and give back to your group. Learn a little, then teach someone else as your knowledge grows. Understand what you're doing and why you're doing it, ask questions, think it over, reflect, reinforce. Learn, practice, particpate, wash, rince, repeat... Help us help you to get the most out of our events and resources. Do play our freerolls, but also play in our cash games as well, as they are the best place to learn your "trade."

CheckRayz rewards tournament is slated for tonight, at River Belle Poker. Mailbag is tommorrow on the pub. Stay tuned.