My Poker Story: From Micro to High Stakes and Back

I am playing online poker since 2006 with moderate success. I may have not made it to the high stakes games as a regular player and you won’t see me on TV, but at least I have not lost money. And while that is not something to brag about, I’m happy as things turned out.

I used to play a lot. A LOT. I’m talking about 10K+ hours per day! For weeks. By multitabling up to 12 tables that wasn’t as much as it sounds. Besides, when you are playing good and running hot, there is really nothing to stop you from playing even more.

Well, in fact, there is and it’s called variance.

Let me share my short poker story with you and how I’ve gone from being a $25NL player to becoming an almost regular at 10/20 and 25/50 NL tables, sitting down with $5,000 stacks, and going back all the way back to $25NL!

Fasten your seatbelts; it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

poker-setup

Coin flipping for thousands of dollars in online poker

Back in 2006 poker was relatively easy, compared to today’s conditions. The opposition wasn’t that tough and poker tracking software or HUDs weren’t that popular. Yet, it wasn’t until 2008 that I began spending serious time on poker tables on a daily basis.

I was still playing at micro stakes up to $50NL with the occasional try-my-luck jump to $100NL tables for a couple hundred of hands. I still remember the hard time I had, failing to increase my poker bankroll past the $3,000 mark. At that time, I had moved from Partypoker to PokerStars, despite hating Stars’ interface. I couldn’t miss the opportunity though, as most players were playing there.

I quit a non-poker related project I was working on with some friends in 2008 and suddenly I had a lot of ‘free time’ in my hands. I literally decided to try going full-time in poker overnight! That was in October 2008.

Unbelievably, in 2 months’ time I was up to $1,000NL! That’s $5/10 blinds. Now, the try-my-luck jump was done at 2K no-limit tables! I was competing with some of the most famous online pros out there!

poker-pros-villains

Mind you, that was all done from a mere deposit of $500.

No, I am afraid you’re wrong. It wasn’t luck. It was about studying, doing my homework and managing my money correctly.

Luck has almost absolutely nothing to do with gambling.

So, I even tried 5K tables when things started going wild. That’s when I had my best ever month in poker as well, having days of winning or losing thousands of dollars!

Days? Try hands.

The poker hand that will haunt me forever was a bad beat at 5K NL, when my Aces lost to AK. We were 200BB deep, thus the preflop pot rose to more than $20,000 (too bad I spent the last hour searching for the hand history unsuccessfully)! I believe my poker ‘hotness’ dried up then. Someone had just turned the doom-switch on.

Going back to square one

From that moment on, I ran really bad. Really, really bad. This is when luck DOES influence gambling, but just a little. My real winnings were dropping fast, while my expected winnings were supposed to climb. The deck was colder than North Pole.

variance-graph

Variance had been costing me almost $100,000 in 2010!

Inevitably, I moved down as money management dictates. I dropped to 1K, $600 and eventually to $400NL before I started withdrawing my money.

I was that disappointed. I felt I could not win anymore.

And that was the truth! I couldn’t!

I admit I wasn’t proud of my game beforehand. Running hot certainly boosted my confidence and didn’t let me see some serious leaks in my game, as I was moving up levels. But now, it was not just that I was running bad. I was playing really bad! Really, really bad. My game had seriously been affected by the variance. By giving up a lot of pots and becoming over-aggressive, I was spewing money all over the place. Combined with being ‘unlucky’, my bankroll was depleting fast.

jim-makos-gsop-poker-tournament

I even played live poker tournaments (GSOP Greece, EPT7 Madrid) with no luck. (Photo: Pokerland.gr)

Fortunately, taking my money away from the tables while I was still ahead, was probably the wisest choice I ever did in online poker. What followed though, was one the dumbest things I ever did and involves online trading. Nevertheless, that’s another story – to be written.

My poker accounts remained empty for quite a long time. Years maybe. News also didn’t let a glimmer of hope for my return, as discussions of countries introducing gambling taxes were constantly gaining momentum. Eventually, rumors became reality here in Greece and Greeks are now obliged to have tax deducted from their DAILY winnings up to 20%! Read here how this gambling tax might make you quit poker, despite being a winner.

Thus, an even wiser choice of mine was to avoid spending any more time with online poker all this time.

The comeback to online poker

If you’ve played online poker, you know of the love-hate relationship. You win? You are in love with poker, can’t stop playing. You lose? Ok, that was the last hand you played, enough is enough.

In general though, if you like playing card games, ignoring the online poker world is out of the question. Getting dealt of a hand is just 2 clicks away, not to mention the challenges that await you. It’s not just the thrill of making or losing money, it’s the thought process and skills you have to develop, in order to solve the poker puzzle.

By solving that puzzle, you not only make money to live off, but you also gain popularity and land jobs. Writing jobs about online poker like the ones, I am taking on. Take a look at my work here.

Apparently, I cannot write about online poker without actually playing the damn game! Unless I keep a nostalgic tone in my posts and talk about the ‘old days’ of poker, I need to stay up-to-date with poker happenings, new technologies and trends that develop in the online poker industry. Yes, sure Jim, the game used to be easy, continuation-betting was enough to make you money, yada yada yada, let’s move on; what can I do NOW to win in poker? See my point?

That was probably the main reason I came back to poker. To write and create videos about online poker. Yet, but doing so, the love for the game is growing back inside me. So, who knows. Maybe one day I will make it back to the high stakes. Until then, you will find me at micro stakes of popular poker sites.

Where can you watch my poker videos?

That would be my Poker TV channel at Vimeo and my Youtube poker playlist.

Recommended resources for online poker

Through the years of flopping monsters, turning gutshots and rivering 2-outers, I have used a lot of poker-related products and services. Below you will find poker resources that I have personally tried and strongly recommend you give a shot.

By clicking on the affiliate links, you not only help me pay this blog’s bills, but you also show your appreciation towards any helpful tip you read in my website. Besides, you don’t have to use the links if you don’t like. The price is the same whether you use the link or not.

pokerstars-logo

My favorite poker site is PokerStars. It has all the bells and whistles you’ve heard of online poker, like multitabling tools and hotkeys that guarantee fast action. There are also enough ways to customize your poker table to your exact needs. I never had an issue with deposits or withdrawals and support is top notch. Their loyalty program is one of the best in the poker industry, while you can order some cool stuff from their VIP store.

Holdem-Manager-2-logo

To track of my performance, review my stats and do hand analysis, I use Holdem Manager. Currently in its second version, Holdem Manager is an award winning poker software that increases win-rates while providing players the fundamental edge needed to move up in limits.

As an alternative to Holdem Manager, you can track, analyze and help improve your online poker game with PokerTracker. I have been a happy PokerTracker3 customer before converting into a HM2 user. It doesn’t make much sense to have both, but you can’t go wrong using either of them.

leak-buster

Developed by a team of winning professional poker players, for poker players at all stake levels, Leak Buster expertly guides you to fixing your most costly poker leaks. I keep checking for leaks today, although I first used it in 2011 to find my leaks back then.

notecaddy-logo

NoteCaddy takes notes for you. Not just any notes, relevant notes based on actual hands – not stats. NoteCaddy reads hand histories, understands what happens, and takes notes on behaviors that are significant. NoteCaddy can identify patterns and frequencies that will help you understand the way your enemies play.

notecaddy-edge

NoteCaddy EDGE utilizes HoldemManager and NoteCaddy to the max in order provide you with tons of useful information that will increase your edge at the tables. Use badges and professional popups to exploit your opponents and analyze your own hands to find leaks in your game.