Day 3 – $2,200 Super Bounty

Today was a very relaxing day. First I spent a few morning hours in bed, drinking coffee and studying knockout-spots. After a late breakfast, I went to the gym + spa. Very GTO tournament prep indeed. Mindset and focus, on point! After finishing up at the spa, and stuffing some dinner in my face, it was time to hit the tables. It was time for the $2,200 Super Bounty tournament, which I expected to be one of the most fun tournaments of the trip. It did not disappoint. Our table was the softest I have ever seen in a $2k event. At some point, the average VPIP was probably around 50%, and most flops went 4-ways. The starting stack for this tournament was 20,000, and the bounties were worth $1,000 each. Let’s get into some hands.

Hand 1:
Reg opens UTG to 550 at bb200 off a 8k stack. LJ, HJ and btn (all loose recreationals) call, and I have A8s in the BB. I squeeze to 3,5k, planning to call the UTG shove. He shoves as planned and the others fold. We call and lose vs AQs. We are now down to 13k or whatever. Not the best start, but I reckon it has to be very standard in a bounty. Amirite?

Hand 2:
I don’t remember exact sizings here, but I open As5s from HJ and get 3 calls. We see a flop of KT5ddh. Checks through. Turn is Ah, giving us two pair and bringing two flush draws. Checks to me and I bet almost full pot. Old loose gentleman calls on the button. The river is the 4c, about as bricky as it gets. I shove for a slight overbet (120% pot or whatever) and he calls A8o. We are now up to 30k ish.

Hand 3:
There is one guy at my table, who is opening 72o, flatting 95o, cold-calling 3-bets with 52s etc. He is literally VPIPin 90% and does not enjoy folding post-flop either. He is naturally the chip leader at this point. Anyways, he opens to 1,075 at BB500. I have QQ OTB and 3-bet to 5k. Honestly, I could probably make it 7k and he still would not release. SB (young reg-looking headphone-guy) thinks for quite some time, before cold-calling. Mr 90%VPIP comes along and we go 3-way to 338r. The dream. They check it to me, and I cbet 4,5k into 16k. SB calls and 90%VPIP misclick-folds. HU to the turn, which is a 4, bringing a FD. He checks again and I put him in for 18k or whatever. He tank-calls pocket tens, and we fade the river two-outer. Up to 60k or so and we collect a $1,000 bounty.

I win some other small pots, including one where I bust a guy with A8o vs his A5s, to collect another bounty. I collected a third bounty at some point as well, but I can’t remember how. It’s currently 3.40AM, bare with me. Anyways, to the final hand we go.

Hand 4:
At this point there is one guy sitting at 10k, and the SB in this hand only has about 4k. Average stack in the tournament is 50k and we are sitting comfortably at 80k. 90%VPIP was hunting these bounties very hard and opening relentlessly, off his 130k stack. This hand he opens to 4k UTG, at BB1k. MP shoves for 10k and I look down at AKo OTB with an 80k stack. I was considering flatting, 3betting or just ripping it, but decided on the latter. 90%VPIP is literally VPIPing 90%, and if we flat or 3bet to anything under 40k, there is legit zero % chance of him folding. So I shove all-in and 90%VPIP goes into the tank. He eventually ends up calling TT, and we are in a 3-way all-in for a massive chippie pot. The 10k-dude has AQ fwiw. Board runs out Q74 Q T, and we bust. Gotta win them flips!

Now it’s time to get some much needed sleep before day 2 of the $2,200 main event starts tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Day 2 – $2,200 Main Event day 1A

Today we played “Day 1A” of the $2,200 Main Event here at Merit Poker in Cyprus, a tournament with a staggering $500,000 guaranteed prize pool. It’s getting late and I’m super tired as of writing this, so I’ll cut right to the chase and get into the two biggest hands I played today.

Hand 1:
The first hand of importance happens at lvl 1, with blinds being 100/200, with a 200 BB ante. Starting stack is 50,000 and it’s unlimited re-entry. The table is incredibly soft, with the average age being very high, and average VPIP being even higher. I had already established a fairly aggressive image, having squeezed two times and 3-bet once during the few orbits we had played at this point. We are playing 6-handed, but the SB is AFK so effectively 5-handed for this hand. LJ opens to 600, HJ calls, CO calls and I look down at kings on the button. I make it 3,000 and the BB folds. Original raiser thinks for a while before he pops it up to 13,400. First instinct is yikes. Given my aggressive image though, and that I was the only “young foreigner” at the table, I felt like it was somewhat likely he was making a stand, trying to put me in my place for getting OOL with my “YOUNG INTERNET KID”-3bets. In any case, I think calling is infinitely better than jamming here, as we want to keep his bluffs in. SPR will be low on the flop anyway, and we have position. So I call and we see a flop of 347r. He thinks for a few seconds, before just shoving all-in, for roughly 38k into the pot of 29k or so. I legitimately considered folding for a while, but realized in the end how ridiculous it would be. I mean it’s a lot of big blinds, but there are also dynamics… and we have pocket kings for christ sake. Anyways I call and he makes a sound+facial expression indicating that he has misstepped. I’m thinking “phew, we got him“, until he turns over… AA obv. GG first bullet and to the re-entry desk we go.

Hand 2:
Second big hand is at a quite tough table compared to our first one. At least towards the mid/end of the day, I would not be surprised if it was one of the tougher tables in the room. Directly to my left, I had 3 regs, as well as one more reg at the opposite side of the table. 4 regs + me at a 9 handed table might not sound very tough, but the average table in this tournament was softer than a bag of marshmallows. Anyways… At this point, I’ve built my stack from 50k to 75k, basically by VPIPing very low, but getting paid off generously the times that I did VPIP. The hand starts by one of the regs opening UTG+1 to 1,200 at BB500. I call 7d7h in the SB and the BB completes. We go 3-way to Kd Jd 7s, giving me bottom set and a BDFD. Everyone checks. Turn is the 8c, making the board even more dynamic. I decide it’s time to put out a bet, fearing it might check through again. I bet 3,300 into 4,100. BB calls and the opener releases. We go HU to the 5h river. Safe. Nice. I’m not gonna go too much in detail on sizing here, but I end up betting 8,000 into 10,700. BB thinks for quite a while, before lamping in six 5k-chips for a total of 30,000. Barf. So what’s going through my head now? First of all, what strong hands do we get here with? With this line and sizing, I think our only value hands are KJs, 9Ts, 77 and 88. We don’t flat call 96s or 9To pre obviously, so the only four straights we can have are 9Ts. BB has a few more straights than me, being able to flat 9To and 96s pre, closing the action and getting a better price. Our likely bluff candidates are some diamond flush draws + some ATs and QTs.

Pros for folding:

  1. It’s a spot where population massively underbluffs in my experience. Potential bluff candidates might be hands like QT, JT, J9, 8T or 89. T8 and 98 might also fold on the turn, given that I bet big into two players, having a fairly strong range after flatting SB vs UTG+1. Good players are also quite unlikely to bluff diamonds on the river, as they are blocking my auto-fold range. At this point I don’t know too much about the guy, and if he is representative of the population, or not. Only thing I know is that he is wearing QC35 headphones, which automatically earns him a reg-tag in my book.
  2. We have a very strong hand in absolute hand strength terms, but without any relevant blockers. We don’t block straights, which is what he is basically representing.
  3. We are uncapped, while he is semi-capped. What I mean by semi-capped is that MOST people would raise a straight on the turn, as the board is very dynamic and we are 3-way. Why do I put this in the “pros for folding”-column? Cause I think people are less likely to find big bluffs like this, in spots where they are perceived to be somewhat capped, while their opponent is not.

Pros for calling:

1. We have a set and… and he might be bluffing.

Clearly there are more pro’s than this, but I think the main point here is that population IMO underbluffs here quite heavily. I did find out later though, that our villain in this hand was actually a reg at 500 spins, which obviously makes him… pretty damn good at the pokers. Had I known this at the time, I would definitely have made the call, thinking that he could be finding those typical blocker-hand bluffs. He DID end up telling me what he had, and we should indeed have called. He had 89o, for a set-blocker and a straight-blocker. Probably one of the better bluffs in his range. I didn’t really expect this hand to get called on the turn, but there we go. No more folding sets for me. Done. Over it.

In the end, we bagged juuust above starting stack after day 1, with the total amount of 54,500 going into the bag. The structure of this tournament is absolutely amazing though. I think I we are going back to BB1200 on Saturday, meaning I’ll have roughly 45 biebers to start. Tomorrow I’ll take it easy, and spend the day at the gym/spa. In the evening we are playing a $2,200 knock-out tourney, which should be a lot of fun. Anyways, time’s up. As always, HMU in the social media streets with your thoughts about the hands above, or the blog in general. All feedback much appreciated! <3

Merit Poker Western Tournament – Day 1

Hello dear blog readers!

I arrived in Cyprus pretty late last night and got checked in to the hotel. I`ve never been to a Merit poker series (or hotel) before, but so far it is looking great. I got to check out their gym and spa this morning, and I`ll surely be spending as much time as I can down there over the next couple of weeks!

GTO sleep secured.

Anyways, over to the pokers. Merit offers a deal for their tournament series, where if you buy in to a bunch of their tournaments as a package (just above $20,000 in total), they will provide the accommodation for free. I took advantage of this option, and as such, I`ll be grinding each and every day for the next two weeks. All tournaments are also re-entry, so potentially two very expensive (I mean, profitable…) weeks coming up here! The plan is to write short summaries here on this blog, as well as discuss interesting hands.

Today we played the first event, $440 Turbo Bounty. It was fast and furious, and they made short work of me, to claim my bounty. I basically played 3 hands, so I guess we can jot them all down here.

Fwiw the tournament plays with BB ante, and 50% of the prize pool are KOs (not progressive).

Hand 1: Loose girl (not like that), opens the CO to 200 at bb100, and I 3bet red jacks to 700 from the button. She has about 11k to start the hand and I have about starting stack. She calls and we go heads-up to a flop of 8c5c2s. She quickly checks and I cbet 1,150 into the pot of now 1,550. I definitely think a bigger sizing works better here, for a few reasons. First of all the board is pretty draw heavy, and we have one of the most vulnerable value hands possible here. Secondly, she seems to be playing very loose, and I expect her to not give up very easily post flop. Third, we are playing a bounty tournament as the covering stack, so we should be trying to build the pot sufficiently to get all-in by the river. Anyways, she calls and the dealer turns over the 5h. Pretty safe. I do not expect her to have much 5x except for a couple of combos of 45s, 56s, 57s and A5s. Eight combos in total. These are only assumptions of course, as she could be playing 52o for all I know. I continue betting, now for a size of 2,400 into the pot of 3,850. She calls again. River comes down the 3d. One of the safest cards in the deck (J > 5 > 2 > 3 I guess?). I put her all-in for 7,100 into a pot of 8,650 and she snaps me off with Ah4d, for a rivered gutshot straight. We are now down to 4k chips, which means we do not really have fold equity on preflop shoves anymore (as it is a bounty).

Hand 2: A couple of orbits later the button opens to 350 at bb150. I look down at 55 in the BB and jam for my last 3,500. He snaps me off with K7o and we win a flip to get back to 7,000 ish.

Hand 3: A couple of hands later the girl from hand #1 opens the CO to 450 at bb200, and I look down at JJ on the button again. Déjà fucking vu. I consider my options here. Option one is to 3bet big and call all-in, while option two is to just stick it in ourselves. I decided to just jam it in, as I didn`t expect her to fold much anyways. Also, we avoid the risk of her calling our 3-bet and going to a flop of KQ7 or whatever. I jam and she thinks for a bit before calling me with A6o. Flop AK9, turn K, river 4. GG.

So that was it for the first tourney. I think I will actually flick in another tournament (outside of the package) tonight as well. Andrew Hedley and his girlfriend Monika Zukowicz (aka HeyMonia) are arriving tonight, and they were planning to hop into a satellite for the $2,200 main event which starts tomorrow. I will join them for that, and maybe we`ll get to play the main tomorrow at a discount!

Anyways HMU on any of the social medias if you got any questions or feedback. I got a lot of great feedback on my previous blog post, which is much appreciated!

Cheers and see you back here tomorrow!

2018 past-year-review

Alright, so as 2018 is behind us, I decided I would take some time to reflect over the year that has passed. The wins, the losses, the experiences and the new perspectives gained. It’s been a fast and furious year, with many ups, and some downs. I’m doing this narration mostly for self-reflection, but maybe some of you will also derive some value from it! I’ll divide it up into 4 main categories: poker, investing, health/fitness and relationships.

Upswings and downswings

Pokerwise the year has been good, but not great. I had a very good first few months of the year, where I basically doubled my net worth between January and May. I had 5 tournament finishes in the classic 6th-20th place range, in MTTs with €150,000-€200,000 up top, which was frustrating, but also very motivating. As my bankroll grew, and I also felt I was improving a lot, I decided I was in a good spot to take some shots. As I have no real responsibilities in life (no girlfriend, no kids, no mortgage/loans), I felt like I did not have much to lose by taking these shots. If I lost a substantial amount of my bankroll, I would just move back down and grind it up again. So I started playing some €1k, €2k and €5k cash games, as well as some higher stakes MTTs. The cash games went decently well. We made money, but we did not crush it. The MTTs were a different story. In total, I think I played about 10 MTTs with buy-ins from $5000-$7000 in 2018, and I bricked them all. This is, of course, no anomaly, as you can play quite a few tournaments in a row without cashing, statistically. In all fairness, I was probably not ready to play all of these tournaments either. Most of them were very soft (WCOOP main, Millions Online and some live stuff), but there was a couple that I could have skipped. Combining this with downswinging pretty hard in 500s, 1ks and 2ks – and the year did not end up half as good as it could have been. I am not, however, gonna be too result oriented or regretful, as I knew that this was a risk as I moved up in stakes. I’m super motivated to keep working hard off the tables, to establish ourselves at those stakes in 2019!

RIP Bitcoin

Investment-wise it has been a pretty dull year. I exited the stock market completely in 2017, and I have still not re-entered. The reason I had for exiting in the first place was that the market was at an ATH, with stocks trading at multiples (PE ratios and whatnot) that were… IMO quite scary. The investments that I did do, was mostly buying action from other poker players in big events, aswell as buying a few Bitcoins. Looking back a year, Bitcoin was trading at around $21,000, while as of writing this blog it is at $3,800. Safe to say the bubble bursted, and the crypto streets have been pretty bloody all year. I got in at around $7k though, so it could have been worse. I also had one 5-digit (high-risk high-return) start-up investment that failed, so we lost some money there. All in all, we lost money – but gained some exp. points.

Health, fitness & handstand grind

On the health and fitness front, I had the healthiest year of my adult life to date. For the first few months, I did not eat added sugar. I limited alcohol consumption to 6 units per month, and I went to the gym 4-5 times a week. I was meditating daily or at least regularly. For the last few months I have been eating more crap, I’ve been drinking more alcohol, and I meditate… rarely. Gym grind is on point though, and I am still in better shape than I have ever been. Actually, my health graph looks a lot like my poker graph for the year. Might be a coincidence but I highly doubt it. Currently, my fitness-regime is concentrated around body-weight fitness aka “Calisthenics”, and by the end of 2019, I’ll be doing crazy shit like handstand push-ups, back levers and the planche. I mean, probably not, but we have to aim high, right?

Polyamory and confirmation bias

About two years ago, I was living in Budapest with my ex-girlfriend, whom I was together with for about 4-years. At the beginning of 2017, we decided to split apart, as we had different plans and outlooks on life. After the break-up, I left Budapest and moved in with some other poker players in a grind-house in Malta. I was gonna focus all my energy on studying and grinding poker, and I was determined to be single. This is where the confirmation bias part comes in. I kept telling myself that if I was to find a new girlfriend now, I should have instead just stayed with my ex-girlfriend (who was amazing). Subconsciously, it was like if I found a new girlfriend I would be admitting to myself that I had made a huge mistake. This feeling stayed with me for the next couple of years (to this date). I was convinced that the best option would be to stay single and that entering a new relationship was not really a viable option. First of all because of the aforementioned confirmation bias, but also just because of my lifestyle. I was focusing all my attention on poker, studying and grinding hard, often staying up all night and sleeping all day. I was also traveling a ton, doing about 170 days on the road in 2018.

I did, however, crave intimacy and non-poker relationships in my life, and I found myself getting anxious after spending bouts of time without any meaningful contact with the opposite sex. I had been reading about polyamory and how “biologically we were not meant to be with only one person anyways”. As this open-relationship/polyamory deal sounded pretty perfect given my lifestyle (and lack of staying in one place for long), I decided it would be a good fit. So for every new girl I met in 2018, I basically brought up the topic quite early and explained how I would not be interested in anything “serious” or monogamous. Some were fine with it, while others were not. Some said “let’s just see where it goes”, and then bailed after a few weeks when they saw that I was actually serious about not wanting anything more.

I eventually discovered though, that this approach was not a good fit for me (I should have just listened to my mom). I thought it would be great meeting many new and interesting people, gaining new perspectives and experiences, while still keeping poker as the main priority. What ended up happening (of course?) was that I ended up really liking some of the girls I met, which made it tough to simultaneously see other girls. Also, even though I was being 100% upfront and honest about my intentions with everyone I met, feelings still got hurt. I think it takes a special kind of human being to be able to not get emotionally invested if you spend enough time naked with someone. Personally, I definitely found it very challenging. In the end, I learned a lot about myself (and others) through this experience, but I think it’s a chapter of my book that I am ready to close.

Finishing thoughts

As I am looking back at this last year, I am grateful for the people I have met, the experiences I have had and the perspectives I have gained. The last two weeks of 2018 was spent mostly reading books, reflecting over the year that has passed and also just relaxing with family and good friends. I am still considering how to spend 2019, as I feel like there are multiple viable options going forward. But this post is long enough so I’ll get back to those later. For now, I hope you’ve all had an amazing 2018, and that you got to finish it off with a bang yesterday! I celebrated it in Berlin with some good friends, good food and too much alcohol. I’ve heard that the GTO strat is to drink too much on the last day of the year, so you wake up with a horrible hangover on the first of January. This way you will make a promise to yourself to keep alcohol consumption low for the coming year and keep it to water and green tea.

Anyways time to wrap this up. Hit me up on any social media if you want to drop me any questions or comments. Always much appreciated receiving feedback from you guys!

Cheers and GL for 2019!

Book 10: The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable – by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

“When anyone asks me how I can best describe my experience in nearly forty years at sea, I merely say, uneventful. Of course there have been winter gales, and storms and fog and the like. But in all my experience, I have never been in any accident… or any sort worth speaking about. I have seen but one vessel in distress in all my years at sea. I never saw a wreck and never have been wrecked nor was I ever in any predicament that threatened to end in disaster of any sort.” – E. J. Smith, 1907, Captain, RMS Titanic.

To give context to the quote above, Captain Smith’s ship sank in 1912 and became the most talked about shipwreck in history…

The Black Swan – by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

“The Black Swan” was described by The Sunday Times as one of the twelve most influential books since World War II. The Black Swan’s subtitle pretty accurately describes what the book is about: “The Impact of the Highly Improbable”. Taleb describes “black swan events” as having three main characteristics:

  1. highly improbable
  2. massively impactful
  3. inappropriately rationalized in hindsight as if it could have been expected

Throughout the book, Taleb describes many such historical examples, mostly from the world of finance and economics, but also from global cathastrophies, warfare and terrorism. Taleb explains how “experts” are way too focused on bell-curve distributions and pay too little emphasis on outliers and unexpected events. They are quick, however, to impose us with retrospective wisdom, with 20/20 hindsight and sayings of “how we could/should have seen it coming” after the unexpected has taken place. It’s a long book that brings up many topics and subjects, but I’ll bring up a couple of notes that I found quite common and very relevant amongst poker players.

Discussing how we often see past events (post-occurrence) as more predictable and less random than they really were, Taleb argues that people often blame themselves too much after unpleasant events. E.g. if you are the driver in a car accident where people got hurt, you’ll feel guilt and remorse, even if you had no blame in the accident. Your brain will most likely go “if I did not oversleep by 5 minutes that morning, the accident would have been avoided” etc. He then goes on to how this applies to a high degree for people working in randomness-driven professions (his example is stock traders, but this clearly applies to poker players as well). Taleb argues that people in these professions should write a daily diary, as this will relieve your brain of the feeling of guilt. If you write the events down, it will become more clear that they were bound to happen, and you are not really to blame. If the event is not rationalized and preferably written down, you could keep second guessing yourself for long periods, and long-term this is likely to lead to burnout effects. My own thoughts in regards to this are how important it is to discuss hands with friends, or doing hand history reviews of important spots. Let’s say that you final table bubble a big tournament, in a spot that you were unsure of. Instead of letting this insecurity linger and torment you in the back of your head, it’s clearly very beneficial to ask someone (whose opinion you respect) about the spot, to get it cleared up. If you played it perfectly, great, now it won’t bother you anymore. If it was indeed a misplay, then at least you know not to make it again, and you’ll learn from it. The worst thing is the insecurity and constant second-guessing that comes with not knowing.

In the chapter “Peer cruelty”, he talks about how many people work hard under the impression that they are doing something good, or that they are on the right path, but that they may not show good results for a long time. His mentions artists and scientists, but poker players definitely also fall under this umbrella. I think it’s very easy to feel “lost” as a poker player at the yearly family Christmas party, when your grandma asks “so how is it going?”, or “how has your year been?”. If you have very little to show for after a year (or a few years) of playing this card game for a living, it can be both embarrassing and demoralizing to explain how poker is a game of variance. “Yeah it’s not great, grandma, but if I just won that chip-lead-pot-flip with 8 left at tournament X, then it would have been a totally different year.” It can also be very tough to keep reinforcing that belief in yourself that “if I keep studying hard and grinding it out, I will eventually get there” when your family or close friends don’t really understand.

The book is written in kind of a smug, condescending way, but to be fair I don’t really mind. He makes some very compelling arguments and good points, and if he needs to do so in a fairly arrogant manner, I’m cool with that. The book takes a deep dive into psychology, business, science and most of all how we can, instead of trying to predict the unpredictable, try to build robustness against it. I also think that a lot of the chapters are highly relevant to people operating in variance-heavy professions like poker. Highly recommended!

Wanna check this book out? Click here: The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable – by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Wanna get a couple of audiobooks for free? Click here: Audible.

PS. I am currently posting daily reviews of my 10 favorite books of 2018. Missed my first reviews? Clicky clicky:
Book 1 – Mastery – by Robert Greene
Book 2 – Thinking Fast and Slow – by David Kahneman
Book 3 – The Mental Game of Poker 2 – by Jared Tendler
Book 4 – Man’s Search for Meaning – by Viktor E. Frankl
Book 5 – Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt – by Michael Lewis
Book 6 – Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind- by Yuval Noah Harari
Book 7 – No-Limit Hold’em For Advanced Players – by Matthew Janda
Book 8 – The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results – by Gary Keller
Book 9 – A Man for All Markets: From Las Vegas to Wall Street, How I Beat the Dealer and the Market – by Edward O. Thorp



Book 9: A Man for All Markets: From Las Vegas to Wall Street, How I Beat the Dealer and the Market – by Edward O. Thorp

Our corporate executives speculate with their shareholders’ assets because they get big personal rewards when they win – and even if they lose, they are often bailed out with public funds by obedient politicians. We privatize profit and socialize risk.” – Edward O. Thorp

A Man for All Markets: From Las Vegas to Wall Street, How I Beat the Dealer and the Market

The author Edward O. Thorp is an American math professor, author, professional gambler and hedge fund manager. He’s got a PhD in math from UCLA and is considered the founding father of the technique of card counting to gain an edge over the casinos at Blackjack. The book starts off giving some background into his personal life. How he was brought up during the great depression, with parents that were usually gone, or sleeping. He describes that from an early age, he did not accept what he was told until he had checked it for himself, a trait he carried with him through life.

The book brings us through the different stages and occupations of Thorp’s life. The book describes how the 26-year-old Thorp, used his PhD in maths and ability to think outside of the box, to invent systems to conquer the casinos in Las Vegas. First and foremost as already mentioned, by using card counting to gain an edge on the house in blackjack. He also managed to beat the game of roulette, by using the worlds first handheld computer, alongside his partner Claude Shannon (the father of information theory). After being banned, cheated, poisoned and threatened by the biggest Las Vegas casinos, Thorp decided it was time to look for new ventures, and moved his attention towards the stock market.

The chapters on the stock markets are widely varied. From anecdotal little tidbits about how he met and befriended the legendary Warren Buffett, or how he already in 1991 discovered that Bernie Madoff’s trades were a scam – to actual investment strategies, how to avoid some of the most regular fallacies (like anchoring) and general investment advice to small individual investors.

The book finishes off discussing some of the most famous historical financial crisis’ we’ve seen. From The Great Depression during his childhood, to the more recent financial crisis of 2007-2008. He discusses what we have learned (or not learned), and if some of these bubbles/crashes could have been predicted and avoided, or if they were so-called “black swan events”.

For people who have no interest in gambling or the stock market, this book will probably not be of much value or interest. For myself, being fairly interested in both, this book was pretty much the nuts. The book is a good mix of storytelling and funny anecdotes, but it is also packed with knowledge. Thorp also explains most concepts briefly, so people with no background knowledge can understand what he is talking about (e.g. explaining the basic rules of blackjack, or explaining how short-selling a stock works).

Wanna check this book out? Click here: A Man for All Markets: From Las Vegas to Wall Street, How I Beat the Dealer and the Market
Wanna get a couple of audiobooks for free? Click here: Audible.

PS. I am currently posting daily reviews of my 10 favorite books of 2018. Missed my first reviews? Clicky clicky:
Book 1 – Mastery – by Robert Greene
Book 2 – Thinking Fast and Slow – by David Kahneman
Book 3 – The Mental Game of Poker 2 – by Jared Tendler
Book 4 – Man’s Search for Meaning – by Viktor E. Frankl
Book 5 – Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt – by Michael Lewis
Book 6 – Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind- by Yuval Noah Harari
Book 7 – No-Limit Hold ’em For Advanced Players – by Matthew Janda
Book 8 – The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results – by Gary Keller



Book 8: The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results – by Gary Keller

People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.” – F. M. Alexander

The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results – by Gary Keller

Type-A personality? High performer? Ambitious goal setter? Future crusher at the nosebleeds? This book is for you.

Some key take-aways:

Multitasking:
Don’t do it. Multitasking is a lie. Merely the opportunity to screw up multiple things at once. Contrary to popular belief, multitasking is actually just task switching. Studies have shown that task switching can increase work time by 25% or so for simple tasks, and over 100% for complicated tasks. It also increases mistakes, and multitaskers generally make poorer decisions. It increases stress, which alone brings a whole host of negative side effects. Long story short: do ONE thing at a time.

Willpower:
Willpower is described as a limited but renewable source. I already discussed willpower and the concept of “decision fatigue” in this book review: “Thinking Fast and Slow“, and a lot of the same key points are mentioned.

Time blocking:
The author describes time blocking as productivity’s greatest power tool. During this time everything else has to wait. Phone calls, emails, meetings or whatever it is, can wait.

First, start by time blocking your time off.
Second, time block your ONE thing.
Third, time block your planning time.

By following this scheme, you’ll make sure that you not only have time each day spaced out for your ONE thing, but that you also find time to recharge and relax, while also staying organized and in control.

Discipline:
Discipline is according to the author, not some magical power that some people inherit and some people don’t. He claims that discipline is only needed for a certain period of time until a habit is formed. Once a habit to perform a certain task is formed, very little discipline is actually needed to perform the given task.

Throughout the book, the author also keeps referring to “the focusing question”: What’s the one thing I can do that will make all other things easier or unneccesary. He gives a bunch of examples of how you can ask this question basically no matter what task you have at hand, and thereby improve productivity by not working harder, just smarter.

The main takeaway of the book is as the name suggests: Do ONE thing and forget about the rest. Both short-term (f*ck multitasking) and long-term (don’t try to excel at everything). You can either be a total endboss at ONE thing, or you be decent at many things. Reading this book really opened my eyes in some ways, and made me realize that what I am doing now is not gonna bring me to where I wanna go. It’s time to choose. Do I want to go hard on the study grind, and become a crusher? Or do I want to be more active on Twitch, grow my social media channels, etc? This year has been a good mix of both, and it has resulted in two things: I have not been streaming as much as I was planning to on Twitch, and I have not reached the poker skill level I wanted to reach. I believe it’s time to pick ONE thing and to go hard on that ONE thing.

Wanna check this book out? Click here: The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results.
Wanna get a couple of audiobooks for free? Click here: Audible.

PS. I am currently posting daily reviews of my 10 favorite books of 2018. Missed my first reviews? Clicky clicky:
Book 1 – Mastery – by Robert Greene
Book 2 – Thinking Fast and Slow – by David Kahneman
Book 3 – The Mental Game of Poker 2 – by Jared Tendler
Book 4 – Man’s Search for Meaning – by Viktor E. Frankl
Book 5 – Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt – by Michael Lewis
Book 6 – Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind- by Yuval Noah Harari
Book 7 – No-Limit Hold ’em For Advanced Players – by Matthew Janda

Book 7: No-Limit Hold ’em For Advanced Players – by Matthew Janda

No-Limit Hold ’em For Advanced Players – by Matthew Janda

I have to admit that most of the poker books out there on the market today, are very outdated. With the rise in popularity of very powerful solver software, most of the poker books out there on the shelves have become superfluous. I did, however, read a couple of poker books this year, from which I derived some value. The first one was “Mental Game of Poker 2” which I already reviewed here, and the second was this one. MGOP2 naturally focuses on the mental game aspect, and how to improve mindset, learning, dealing with downswings, tilt etc. This book focuses more on strategy and the game of poker itself. It is also worth mentioning that this book also uses many examples from the aforementioned solver software (Snowie and PioSOLVER), and therefore stays more relevant than many of its contenders. Many of the points made in this book might sound obvious, but I found it quite helpful to actually put words to some of the concepts that we use daily.

One of the insights we poker players have gained from the solvers over the past few years (well, 50% from solvers and 50% from Isildur1, I guess) is the importance of betting more than the size of the pot in certain situations. In one of the chapters, Janda was discussing overbet frequencies on different cards, and this is something that I think many low/mid stakes players get wrong. Often the best bluffing cards on the turn are not the typical “scare cards”, say an ace or a king. It’s rather the cards that change nothing at all. Imagine the following scenario. CO opens and the BB calls. Now the CO automatically has a range advantage, given the odds that the BB gets to call preflop. Flop comes J96 with two spades. The CO cbets 1/3 pot and BB calls. So what happens here when the flop gets bet and called? The preflop aggressor retains a strong and polarised range, while the caller retains a fairly weak and capped range. So what are the best turn cards to overbet here in CO’s shoes? Ace, king or a spade? No. An ace would improve A6, A9 and potentially AJ. A king would improve K6s, K9, KJ and QT. The flush card obviously improves his flush draws to flushes, duh. The best cards to overbet here are the cards that change nothing at all. Offsuit deuces, threes and fours. These cards let the preflop aggressor retain his range advantage while keeping the BBs range capped.

Another nifty little tidbit Janda illustrated in his book, is that often the worst turn bluffs will make the best river bluffs. Let’s say you bet small on the turn and your opponent just calls. Your best turn bluffs will usually be the ones with the most equity, e.g. strongest draws (flush draws and open enders). On the river, it switches though, and your best bluffs will now be the ones that unblock these draws since this gives your opponent more auto folds.

He also goes through a lot of basic maths examples, that are good to brush up on now and then. For example how many value combos for each bluff should you have on the river with a pot size bet? What about half pot size? What about 2x pot size? What is your minimum defence frequency vs different sizes?

The book didn’t really revolutionize my game in any way, but I loved how he broke down fairly complex strategies and explained them in a simple way. The book also has a bunch of hand examples, layed out in a “hand history quiz” format. Janda delivers a hand history and asks the reader relevant questions. “Would you like to bet here? If so, what size and why?”. He then uses a good mix of his own understanding of the game and solver strategies, to explain what he thinks are the best plays. I’m sure that this book will be of immense help to someone that has not yet ventured into the world of solvers. Into the beautiful world of 25% PSB flop, 150% PSB turn and 270% PSB river.

Wanna check this book out? Click here: No-Limit Hold ’em For Advanced Players – by Matthew Janda
Wanna get a couple of audiobooks for free? Click here: Audible.

PS. I am currently posting daily reviews of my 10 favorite books of 2018. Missed my first reviews? Clicky clicky:
Book 1 – Mastery – by Robert Greene
Book 2 – Thinking Fast and Slow – by David Kahneman
Book 3 – The Mental Game of Poker 2 – by Jared Tendler
Book 4 – Man’s Search for Meaning – by Viktor E. Frankl
Book 5 – Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt – by Michael Lewis
Book 6 – Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind- by Yuval Noah Harari

Book 6: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind – by Yuval Noah Harari


Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind- by Yuval Noah Harari

This was actually a re-read as a first read it a few years ago, but I’ll mention here as it’s one of my all time favorites. 

The book starts off in a very Cpt. Obvious-like manner, with the following observations: “About 13,5 billion years ago, matter, energy, time and space came into being, in what is known as the big bang. The story of these fundamental features of our universe is called physics. About 300,000 years after their appearance, matter and energy started to coalesce into complex structures, called atoms, which then combined into molecules. The story of atoms, molecules and their interactions, is called chemistry. About 3.8 billion years ago, on a planet called earth, certain molecules combined to form particularly large and intricate structures called organisms. The story of organisms is called biology. About 70,000 years ago, organisms belonging to the species Homo Sapiens, started to form even more elaborate structures, called cultures. The subsequent development of these human cultures is called history.”

The books main focus is evolutionary biology. Harari uses three important revolutions to explain how we got to where we are today:

  1. 70,000 years ago: The cognitive revolution.
  2. 12,000 years ago: The agricultural revolution.
  3. 500 years ago: The scientific revolution.

The book uses these three revolutions to explain how human beings went from being “an animal of no significance” to walking on the moon, splitting the atom and mapping the genomic code. It talks about how we went from through the different stages of the Homo genus. From Homo habilis around 2.8 million years ago to some of our more close relatives Homo neanderthalensis and Homo floresiensis. I enjoyed the parts about H. floresiensis, aka the hobbits. The hobbits got their nickname for their short height and hobbit-like features, but the scientific community is debating if this was at all a separate species or just H. sapiens with pathological dwarfism. Harari argues that these archaic humans travelled to the Indonesian island of Flores when the sea level was exceptionally low. As the sea level rose again, these people were stuck on the island, which was scarce in resources. He further argues that the people stuck on Flores underwent the process of dwarfism through generations of malnutrition, in a process called insular dwarfism. Big people, who needed a lot of food, died first. Smaller people who needed less food had greater chances of surviving and passing on gene-material to the next generation. There has also been found fossils of dwarf elephants (Stegodon florensis insularis) on Flores, which supports this theory.

The books last chapter is called “The End of Homo Sapiens”. It’s really more a tale of another step in evolution, rather than a tale of extinction. He discusses experiments that have been done, are being done, and that will be done – in the world of AI and cybernetics. His conclusion is that it is likely that we will soon become superhumans. And if this happens, will this be an option available for everyone, or will there be a superhuman elite? He talks about how throughout history, the upper class always viewed themselves as smarter, stronger, and generally better than the underclass. Genetically speaking this was nonsense, as a baby born by a poor peasant was likely to be just as clever as the crown prince. However, with the help of new medical technology, the pretensions of the upper class might soon become reality. The book is full of these small philosophical questions and ideas, and it’s one of my all-time favourite books.

If you are interested at all in how we got here, I recommend checking this book out. If you are more interested in where we are going next, his latest book “Homo Deus” might be better suited for you. 

Wanna check this book out? Click here:
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind- by Yuval Noah Harari
Wanna get a couple of audiobooks for free? Click here: Audible.

PS. I am currently posting daily reviews of my 10 favorite books of 2018. Missed my first reviews? Clicky clicky:
Book 1 – Mastery – by Robert Greene
Book 2 – Thinking Fast and Slow – by David Kahneman
Book 3 – The Mental Game of Poker 2 – by Jared Tendler
Book 4 – Man’s Search for Meaning – by Viktor E. Frankl
Book 5 – Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt – by Michael Lewis

Book 5: Flash boys: A Wall Street Revolt – by Michael Lewis

Flash boys: A Wall Street Revolt – by Michael Lewis

From 2016-2018, I mostly read books from 3 different categories. Self-development, business/start-ups and finally investing. The investment books I was reading, was mostly from authors like Benjamin Graham, Warren Buffett, Joel Greenblatt and the like. This was simply because I found that typical “value investing” was an investment style more suited to my personality than trading.

Although this book is all about trading, it is not your typical “how to” book, full of strategies, tips and tricks. The book rather tells a (quite disturbing) story, about how the US stock market works, and how high-frequency trading (HFT) was being used as a method to “front run” orders placed by unknowing investors. Stock trading is no longer done by slick-haired, suit wearing, cocaine snorting men in their thirties as depicted in The Wolf of Wall Street. The computer age is upon us, and programmers are the new kings of this game. More than half of the volume traded is now being done by computer programs who have no idea what the underlying companies really do. A good piece of computer code can execute a trade thousands of times faster than any human being. If an investor’s trade is executed at 15 milliseconds, an HFT firm with a 9 millisecond capacity could swoop in, intercept the signal and manipulate the price to their advantage. It’s basically a story about big institutions (the bad guys) ripping off the “mom and pop investors” (the good guys).

In order to increase their edge, the company “Spread Networks” actually built an 1170 km long fibre optic cable, stretching from Chicago to New Jersey, to reduce the journey of data from 17 to 13 milliseconds. This way they would receive information even faster than their competitors, thus making more money. The project was super secret, and the construction crews had no idea what they were building, as the line didn’t really connect anyone. Its sole purpose was to be as straight as possible, to shorten the distance as much as possible, to make trades go through as fast as possible. The project had a $300 million price tag, but after completion, this line was “rented out” to other HFTs, and the first 200 that signed up made about $2,8 billion between them.

The hero of the story is Brad Katsuyama, a New-York based trader, who realized that something funny was going on. Every time he placed a trade it was like the market “already knew” what he was about to do, and therefore he kept getting undercut. After investigating this and realizing what the stock market had become, Katsuyama left his multi-million-dollar salary in 2012 to start “Investors Exchange” (IEX). This exchange would negate the speed advantages that the HFTs were enjoying, and making it a more fair playing ground.

All in all a very fascinating story, and I would definitely recommend reading it to anyone who has any interest in the stock market and how it works.

Wanna check this book out? Click here: Flash boys: A Wall Street Revolt.
Wanna get a couple of audiobooks for free? Click here: Audible.

PS. I am currently posting daily reviews of my 10 favorite books of 2018. Missed my first reviews? Clicky clicky:
Book 1 – Mastery – by Robert Greene
Book 2 – Thinking Fast and Slow – by David Kahneman
Book 3 – The Mental Game of Poker 2 – by Jared Tendler
Book 4 – Man’s Search for Meaning – by Viktor E. Frankl