We chat to one of our biggest ever Bankroll Challengers about winning €30k at PLO, not being a pro and his number one mental game advice.
Congrats on completing your challenge. As one of our biggest winners let’s get straight to the point – why do you win at poker?
SeagalSteven: Hey and thanks, it has been quite a ride! I’m so glad Pokerstrategy brought the Bankroll Challenge back with force, it gave me big boost in motivation during this past autumn. Looking back at my blog this is second time I have completed the challenge, this time I started with 6k when last time 2018 my goal was 5k bankroll. I also had a campaign back in 2015, but I did not reach my goal then.
Firstly I would like to say that I think myself at least currently more recreational type of player than hardcore poker-grinder. I haven’t studied with solvers which have become available lately in omaha too. But I would say I have strong basic understanding of PLO as a game, I’ve been playing for years and groundwork has been laid. So for example opening ranges in PLO come from my backbone more than a solver approved chart. I’m sure there are theory wise more knowledgeable and hardworking players at this forum.
Our hero posted all his biggest pots on his blog
In the bankroll challenge I would like to point out former SNG-coach Ghaleon who I believe has done some studying with solverz lately – I was worried he would crush me at the tables as we play at the same site. He has had some terrible run at the tables at times and I believe we haven’t played much against each other. I think that at lower stakes the game might be even more variance heavy as there are more players involved in preflop every hand and multiway you need to hit those flops.
I think what clicked this time was me paying more focus especially to the game selection. I’m playing PLO which is not too rare of a game not to have any players at the tables, but a little bit more exotic than NLHE. Then for this challenge I started playing on Unibet, a site that doesn’t support HUDs and has somewhat slower traffic. I think playing low volume no-HUD-game gives me an edge to most players. Such non-HUD slow traffic environment also means that there really aren’t that many good regulars playing, but many recs and some crazy players gambling very aggressively.
Also a little thing I changed during this challenge is that I switched bet sizings in cash games from euros to BB’s. I think this has been good thing for my mental game, as calling a river bluff for €400 aka half of my month’s rent feels quite terrifying, but calling 100bbs is more just making a strategy decision – I don’t really care if I win or lose 100bb if it was right decision in the game, if I lose money worth of 100 beers that’s a devastation! I think using BB’s negates scared money effect when moving up stakes and result-orienting thinking quite nicely.
Focus on BBs not cash amounts
“Go where the regulars are not”
What do you think are the biggest issues preventing other players from being winners – and what are easy fixes to implement?
SeagalSteven: Based on my first answer I would guess maybe they’re playing wrong games. I haven’t played cash NLHE seriously ever and last time I played on Pokerstars was years ago so I don’t really know if there has been changes, but I guess that beating NLHE 25 Zoom on Stars can be harder than beating a soft PLO 400 table on my site. There are just so many more regulars and more regulars means less mistakes for opponents and less value to me.
Another thing I think is the rake. I think smaller stakes are usually quite rake-heavy and a big part of winnings from other players goes to the poker site via the rake. So I would try to find fairly raked games and avoid completely the smallest stakes that suffer the most from high rake.
Looking at your first posts in the forum, you were playing some MTTs together with PLO. Why do you love a game so much that treats it players with so many coinflips each day?
SeagalSteven: I guess there is just something in PLO that appeals to us Finns, it fits our mentality! The great game of PLO has more action and more complexity than NLHE, while it is mainline game with many players. Some of whom don’t always no the rules of the game!
I think tournaments also have nice value even these days, especially PLO tournaments seem very fishy. I like the flexibility in cash games though, I can play as many hands as I feel I have time and energy for.
“I take a break when I’m on a downswing”
Speaking of PLO and its swings – what was your worst downswing how did you overcome it?
SeagalSteven: Oh man there must have been some crazy swings back at the days when I played at Pokerstars. I remember I played long time at PLO25 level and when trying to move up to PLO50 I got squashed there. I don’t unfortunately have old databases anymore as I don’t need tracking software currently at least.
During this challenge according to data I got from the support I had couple of 10 buy-in downswings – now you can easily have such swings doubled in a single day or even few hours playing PLO obviously, but when you consider that 1,000 bb is €4,000 in “real” money and I had aggressive bankroll management it started to feel like a downswing already.
I think that when I get in a downswing I easily start to play worse than normally, it affects my mental game for sure. What works for me is that when I feel my game is starting to slip, I’ll call it a day and come back with fresh mindset. I know that in long run I’m able to win at my games, and therefore I should not pay too much attention on short term results.
“I’m not a professional”
You made €30k in the first challenge, what is the next challenge? €30k is boring now, so maybe €300k?
SeagalSteven: I’m not living so action packed a life that 30k would be boring to me! There is couple of problems moving to higher stakes. First and foremost I don’t consider myself professional player, so moving up to higher stakes would require quite a lot more studying and investing free time when the opposition gets more tougher. And when the game becomes professional I’m afraid it loses some of it’s fascination at least to me – it starts to feel like a job and as such there will be more pressure to get results.
Also there is the practical limit that I would need to find a new site that has same value I feel Unibet has, since they have PLO games only up to PLO400.
I would say I’m quite at my sweet spot in my poker career right now. Money I made during this challenge is a lot for me outside of poker, but I could still play confidently at the tables and there are many “good customers” still at this level. Maybe I will try similar challenge again next year at some point!
The final challenge graph
What do you do in your life outside of poker to relax from all the poker-stress?
SeagalSteven: I’m happy it’s another way around, poker IS my way to relax from stress quite often. But what comes to another hobbies mine have been affected much by COVID same as everyone else’s, hopefully we’re on our way to more normal future. In November I re-joined the closest fitness-club again. Also last summer I picked up a new sport called padel with couple of my friends. It’s a game that is basically a mix between tennis (similar court and ball) and squash (glass box around it) played with four players and it’s great fun! I actually got my current nick (you can change aliases in Unibet) from this, I was first padelpro but my sister pointed out I’m not actually very good at the sport, so I became padelbro. I also have a cat who likes to take me out for walks.
Thanks and good luck to you and all our challengers in 2022!
What is the Bankroll Challenge?
In the Bankroll Challenge we encourage our members to get better by blogging about their poker journey and setting some ambitious goals.
Our members found that having a blog kept them accountable to their goals and it’s a great way to help them get to know their fellow PokerStrategists. As the saying goes ‘what gets measured, gets managed’ and simply having a blog keeps you on your A-Game.
To help you on your journey and with a little bit of luck you can win $100 that we will raffle once a month among our active bloggers, regardless of where they play, accompanied by a special badge for their forum avatar for anyone succeeding in their first Bankroll Challenge.
How to join the Bankroll Challenge
The challenge is open to all PokerStrategists and you do not need to be tracked to us to participate. All you need to do is:
Start a blog in our forum.
State your starting bankroll, your regular stakes/games and your poker room in the first post.
Set a long term bankroll goal of at least $500 and/or a minimum of five times your starting bankroll.
Sign-up to the Bankroll Challenge in our registration thread, with a link to your personal blog, your initial bankroll and your goal.
Post at least once a week in your blog.
Once a month we will raffle $100 among all eligble PokerStrategists participating in the Bankroll Challenge regardless of where you play.