new website

February 15, 2014

Hi subscribers and readers! From now on my blog will be hosted at http://www.bennskender.com; unfortunately the subscriber database doesn’t carry over so I trust if this blog interests you that you will sign up at the new address – the link is in the sidebar on the left of the page.

Cheers
Benn

New pad

January 28, 2014

sup :) It has been a pretty exciting and full-on start to the new year here. Mell and I are slowly getting settled into our new pad, we moved in mid-January. We were unfortunate enough to have timed our move smack bang in the middle of the Melbourne heatwave, which saw four days of 41C+ weather in a row. The airconditioner at our old place was broken and I spent quite a few nights soaked in sweat packing boxes, then having a shower to cool off and sitting at the PC with a beer watching Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee until it felt cool enough to sleep. The heat was really brutal; one of the removalists got heatstroke and threw up in our new bathroom, and I really noticed the toll it took on my body getting poor sleep and spending days on end packing and unpacking boxes.

Other than that it has been a relatively smooth transition; the Man Cave is officially set up and ready for business, though I am on a 4G USB connection until Telstra come and set up my cable internet this week (fingers crossed). I have a huge room so I have my guitars, amp and pedals, books, Playstation and all my other man-paraphernalia laid out how I like it; it really is the perfect room to sit and dabble :) I finally buckled and bought a Kobo too, I have a really tall bookshelf that I couldn’t fit another book on anyway but I still feel a bit nostalgic about going electronic. Regardless I have been ploughing through books on it since I’ve usually been too tired to do much else, other than watch the first few episodes of True Detective which have been brilliant.

I have been really busy doing everything involved with moving into a new place and trying to make it feel comfortable, so I haven’t played many poker sessions and have opted not to play any Aussie Millions events so far. I might go in for some of the 1k’s toward the end but there is every likelihood I don’t bother. As for online I have put a couple of cash game sessions in between domestic duties, but not too much to report there either. This week things should start to get back into a proper routine which I am really looking forward to.

 

 

New year

January 8, 2014

sup guys, happy new year and I hope 2014 is a great one for all of us :) I snuck back home about ten days before Mell did; the games are typically really good at this time of year, and I felt I’d caught up with family and taken enough time off poker in the months prior that I didn’t need to just chill out in Perth for weeks on end this time. I still had a great time in Perth; I hung out with my cousins a bunch and played some poker, pool and video games with my best mate over there, spent a bit of time at the beach when the weather was good, and had a big Xmas lunch up at Dad’s farm with the family. We are all of Croatian descent so this typically involves ridiculous amounts of spit-roasted animals, shellfish, vegies and traditional desserts.

Hanging with my nana

Hanging with my nana

Cottesloe Beach on Boxing Day

Cottesloe Beach on Boxing Day

Croatian [i]fritule[/i]

Croatian ‘fritule’ dessert

I grinded a bunch of HUNL and sixmax once I got home and got absolutely slaughtered for the most part; effectively I blew more on New Year’s Eve without leaving the house than I ever could’ve partying! I ruled off the year about 40bi below EV at cash, pretty much entirely in the last 50k hands, actual winrate for the year was a little over 5bb/100 before rakeback. Thankfully 2014 has gotten off to a great start, I have clawed back a bit at HUNL and I won the Brawl on Monday for 34k which is really pleasing as tourneys were a huge curse last year.

For the rest of the week I am slowly packing up boxes in anticipation of our move next week. We’re shifting into a slightly bigger place another ten minutes out of the city, we will save a fair bit of money while availing ourselves of more space for Mell’s piano students and for me to reclaim a Man Cave. For the last nine months or so I’ve holed up in the corner of our living room which is not particularly appealing. I keep things nice and clean but it’s a poor location for Man Cave reflection and even though Mell is typically great at letting me work uninterrupted, there are always the times she’ll burst out with something excitedly when I’m focused and deep in thought, especially deep in a tourney (or worse) playing HUNL, and we will both immediately feel bad (me for having to say I can’t talk right now and her for forgetting). I am not a grumpy bear at all but I get so absorbed in thought when I am playing that I respond to normal conversation like a mad scientist who is trying to diffuse a bomb before it explodes, and my inability to focus on anything else becomes painfully apparent to those attempting to converse. This is also horrible when there are guests over since they are all used to me being jovial and extroverted and suddenly I sound curt and not interested in talking. There are also piano students wandering past and so my desktop picture has had to change from [insert female celebrity] to a peeling A-frame beachbreak at Hossegor. I also can’t leave warm 2am clothing lying around for ease of locating because I’m in a temporary camp in the lounge room. And I absolutely detest most of the rubbish that comes out of the television set (particularly tabloid journalism and weak sitcom scripts) and can’t help but wailing about them which makes Mell feel picked on for an otherwise perfectly justifiable creature comfort. All of these factors make having a Man Cave a necessity, everyone wins.

Within a week of getting settled in, Aussie Millions will kick off at Crown, a time of the year when I will feel really thankful for barely following any poker players on Twitter but equally as thankful for the opportunity to catch up with friends that don’t live in Melbourne.

There is an abundance of decent tourneys to play but I am limiting myself to all the $1100 events (opener, accumulator, terminator, full ring and sixmax freezouts) and most probably the Main Event; I am selling chunks to everything so hit me up on Skype if you want to discuss buying pieces. I will end up playing at least six events in a three week timeframe and I feel like that is the right balance of trying to get as much value as possible while avoiding burnout or disinterest.

2013 wrap up

December 12, 2013

sup guys :) Well it’s been a while since I posted, ever since my last trip down south I just haven’t really felt like blogging away..as you’ll read things haven’t gone that great since then but it does feel like my mushroom trip had me questioning a lot about why I do the various things I do heh. It feels like the blog is losing a bit of relevance for me and I had toyed with the idea of closing it, but I have done that a couple times in the last four years and always restarted so I figure at worst I just let it lay dormant when I want to and then still feel like I can update it as needed.

It’s mid-December so it’s around that time I reflect on how the year has gone. It has been one of the most challenging years for me in recent memory. Last month both my dad and my cousin had (non-fatal) heart attacks; my dad while visiting some trade shows in the US, and my cousin while in Melbourne for an interstate work job. Dad has had a pretty poor run with his health over the last year and so that was another real shake up, I felt pretty helpless getting phonecall updates at 3am when his condition was critical, and didn’t feel like I could sit down at the tables for quite some time. My cousin, who is effectively like a brother to me, was apparently the victim of randomness as the doctor’s tend to think his health was good and there was nothing he could do about it; sometimes a bit of plaque/fat/whatever gets knocked off the walls of your arteries and wreaks havoc even if you’re not some unhealthy fat dude with high blood pressure. One of the main things that sets humans apart from animals is our ability to think and use our wits, but it’s also a curse at times as we tend to feel uneasy about anything that we can’t rationalise or make meaning of. So being abruptly faced with the concept of your own mortality without being able to come up with a good reason why was probably not an easy thing for him to handle to begin with, but he is a smart dude and will get through it I reckon, thankfully the doctors think his chance of a future attack are really low. He crashed with me for a week or so until he was allowed to fly back to Perth, and we just hung out doing the things we do; philosophising about life down at the beach, watching documentaries, and killing everything in sight on Grand Theft Auto V ;) I guess in that sense I’ve had quite a few interruptions to poker in the last few months, and poker has not gone particularly well so I’ve felt a bit helpless in that respect too since I either haven’t been able to or haven’t felt like playing depending on what’s being going on.

So a recap on 2013..

I started off the year almost exclusively playing HUNL, and felt like I learnt a lot in a really short period of time. I dabbled a little with HUSNGs but immensely enjoyed HUNL; on the one hand it has broken me out of a formulaic tourney style of poker, taught me how to properly adjust and made me feel more comfortable in marginal spots, but it’s also given me a rewarding reason for doing all the math/strategy work I like to do away from the tables. I had some help from a few guys that play high stakes HUNL and 6m which was invaluable as well. I can still get heaps better but I feel like I have a good framework for achieving that over time.

Heading into the WSOP months MTTs were looking insanely soft, and I decided it was time to take a bunch of shots in anything soft/with overlay and really belted out a ton of volume over a two month span. I was feeling really fresh from not playing MTTs for hours on end, and really sharp from playing lots of focused HUNL. Unfortunately I ended up bricking almost every meaningful spot during that patch and lost a bunch of money, one of those true horror patches where every time you’re top 3 on the F2T in a big tourney something happens and you bust 8th or worse. Everyone has those, they’re effectively what forms the basis of a downswing for a grinder, so I was trying to be philosophical about it and take it in my stride, since poker doesn’t really owe me anything and taking calculated shots is exactly what it is, a higher financial risk with the prospect of higher than usual financial gain. I figured I would brush it off and get back grinding up the roll again at HUNL; there really is no merit to hanging on to any ‘what ifs’ and MTTs present you with those plenty of times.

The last couple months I am running about 35-40 buyins below EV at HUNL, much of which has been at the higher end of limits I play or taking shots vs fish, so in an absolute $ sense the amount of buyins I’ve dropped is a lot more than that relative to my bread and butter stakes. It feels counterintuitive to not be rewarded for how much work you’re putting in/how well you feel you’re playing, but again it’s just one of those things in poker where it’s important to focus on what you can control (study, volume, mindset, bankroll management) and forget about the other stuff. That said I definitely had a few nights standing around in the kitchen at 3am after getting binned that I was like OMGCANONEOFTHESESHOTSPAYOFFGUHHHHHHH…and then there was the night I ran 98 into KQdd on 9x9x9dTdJd 200bb effective – probably haven’t stared at the screen without saying anything for that long since those nude selfies of Blake Lively got leaked.

On the positive side, I have probably improved more at poker this year than any other single year I’ve been playing. While I’m proud of that I also think it’s testament to the value of studying effectively (a lot of people study things that are rarely going to be useful or don’t critically assess their weaknesses and actively tackle them) and playing less tables when you play. I even do this in MTTs; gone are the days I’d be pushbotting and reshoving over 35 tables not really thinking about anything. This has obviously helped my coaching as well and a lot of the guys I worked with this year are infinitely better than they were at the start of the year as well.

My health is slowly improving too. I have always been a little bit fat and even though I still am I have been extremely diligent about eating well/working out and not letting things slip up for too long. Being 34, sleeping poorly/sporadically and working in a stressful profession in a chair puts you a little bit behind the eight ball when it comes to physical shape but I have given it a good nudge and don’t intend to let that slide in 2014.

Matilda: When I was in the 7th grade…I was the fat kid in my class.

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The other good point is that I feel I’ve emotionally handled this year better than I would’ve at any other time. It has been a tough year at times but I have managed to bounce back from every setback quicker than the last time, and I feel like I have a good framework and network for handling tough spots. I would very much like to have less of them in 2014 however :) The plan is to grind a bunch, keep getting fitter and get married early in 2015.

Well that’s about it for now; I’m off to Perth for ten days next week for some Xmas celebrating and catching up with family and mates, then I will be back playing pretty much immediately afterward so I can start the New Year on the front foot. I will be doing some more MTT coaching next year as well and if you haven’t seen the coaching link on this blog, I also have one on 2p2 now.

Enjoy your holidays :)

Tripping

October 25, 2013

sup guys :) This week was my first week back on home turf after almost a month wandering up and down the WA countryside. After my last post I went for my first surf in ages, surprisingly for a sunny mid-twenties day in October the swell was too big for Mandurah Wedge so my cousin and I ended up surfing Secret Harbour. The surf was still fairly decent for Perth standards and the paddle out was unfortunately pretty taxing and showed up how poor my cardio is. Having good cardio fitness is pretty important in the surf as it adds to your confidence when things get a bit hairy, not that this was particularly big but I still came in exhausted after a 60 minute surf and realised the swell would have to be pretty small on my planned camping trip to Margaret River if I was to have much hope of getting waves.

I spent the rest of the week up at dad’s farm just kicking around with him, his partner and his dogs. I took the dogs down to the back of the property which backs onto Moore River and one of them let loose chasing kangaroos through the bush and came back pretty excited from the chase.

From there I headed down to Margaret River to go on a camping trip with my cousin, which turned out to be one of the highlights of the year. We rocked up to the area where we planned to camp (the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park near Boranup) really late in the day. The 4WD tracks were really sketchy and we were struggling to find a decent camping spot near the surf..the kangaroos were getting busy as sunset approached and we knew if we didn’t find something soon we might have to leg it back to the official ‘camping site’ near the main road which was full of families and ages away from the ocean. Right as it was starting to get dark we hit a dead end along this track, where the path started leading down a steep slope to the ocean. We decided to walk down and check it out, figuring that we might be able to get down to the beach, and then found a really secluded nook right on the face of the coastal cliff and set up camp right in front of a pretty hefty reefbreak for three days. Thanks to some electrical skills and plenty of time spent camping around Australia, my cousin’s setup was first class; it was like setting up an outdoor house with plenty of lighting, furniture and utensils that we really had every creature comfort that you would want when you’re setting up on a windy cliff. It’s a little hard to tell from the dusk photo but there is a pretty decent drop about six feet in front of the 4WD in order to get down to the beach, we definitely couldn’t have driven down there.

So for three days we kicked around with the stereo blaring; waking up with the sun, having bacon and eggs and coffee, exploring the coastline in the day, cooking up scotch fillets and drinking scotch in the evening, miles from any other people. I did my first batch of magic mushrooms on day two, just a moderate little dose which I had really been looking forward to and turned out to be super fun over six hours or so. Right as we were dropping into the trip around midday, a whole pod of whales started firing up out the back of the surf, the perfect setting for a great afternoon. I think for all the time and money spent chasing stimulating experiences, I have rarely been as fully engaged and mesmerised as I was sitting on rocks on the shoreline gazing up at the clouds, exploring little holes in the reef and gazing at fish and shells and the surf, thinking about life and chatting about all its nuances. As we were coming down the stars started lighting up in the sky and we kicked back over a bottle of red. It really was the perfect day.

I hung around Perth for another week or so, catching up with friends and family and doing a little coaching and playing while I was there, then headed back to Melbourne on the weekend. I took the weekend off to hang with Mell and then got straight back into the grind. We also got out and saw Ari Shaffir at the Comic’s Lounge in North Melbourne on Tuesday which was really funny.

I am hopeful that with some good games leading up to the end of the year I can really give my yearly results another good nudge upwards, so I will be spending a fair bit of time playing MTTs and HUNL over the next few months. I will still be doing coaching on Wednesdays (and some overflow into Thursdays) for people that are interested; it has been great to see so many guys really lift their game over the year as well as bring the right mindset to their sessions. There are a few nice things to look forward to away from the online grind; my dad is visiting en route to Vegas this month, I am off to country NSW for a wedding next month, there are a bunch of live tourneys (Shane Warne Deepstack, Aussie Millions, ANZPT Perth) which I plan to get along to, and we’ll be heading back over to Perth for Xmas as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perth

October 2, 2013

‘sup guys :) Back in Perth again. This time we are here because Mell’s brother is getting married in Dwellingup, a country town a couple hours south of Perth. While she helps the bride and groom with final preparations during the week before I am crashing at a friends place in Mandurah and getting some sunny coastal walks in between coaching and playing. I am staying at a place across the road from the water and am reminded again how much I miss being right near the ocean. When I was marching along my corporate career path I just kind of accepted that I would have to say goodbye to ocean living for some time, but now that I’m playing poker it makes way less sense to not be living exactly where I feel the most comfortable. That isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy Melbourne; I love going to the footy, eating out, hanging with my friends, and being to able to indulge in any interest that has taken my fancy at the moment. But while I used to scoff at how cringeworthy aspects of Perth living are (no daylight saving, restricted trading hours, absurdly expensive and horrible coffee/food, general lack of culture and explosion of tacky mining-generated wealth), I feel like I could successfully dodge that while fully availing myself of some fucking amazing weather and abundance of beaches. It is a really close call to be honest. At the moment we try and make the best of both worlds by getting over here for the summer and that works pretty well too. I think I would also settle for living somewhere a bit more coastal in Melbourne as well. Mostly I need to get off my ass and surf more in Melbourne; I have friends on both sides of the bay that surf  regularly and haven’t been for a wave with either of them.

WCOOP came and went with not much to show for it. I got things humming in one of the Thursday night 320s and had a top five stack from the money all the way to the final three tables, but then had to let go of a couple spots and ended up getting it in with TT < QQ for a ~70bb pot and busting just shy of the FT. I really appreciated the structures more than ever, there is so much room to move and people make some fucking atrocious mistakes in 50bb+ pots which you don’t get to capitalise on as often in the normal schedule. I also got back into HUNL and won a bunch at 200nl against some regs which felt good; I had been planning to get some more practice at HUSNGs by playing some low stakes ones but when you scoop a heap of buyins playing HUNL in a good session there’s really nothing better!

Next week I am headed up to Dad’s property where I will do some more playing and coaching. I have bought a really sweet laptop to grind on; it’s a 17-inch Acer but it’s that wide I haven’t been able to find a suitable laptop case for it yet. I bought one of those Telstra 4G sticks and it was really reliable earlier in the week when I was grinding a bunch of sites but seems to buckle a bit when screensharing on Skype which kinda sucks. After that my cousin and I are planning a camping/surfing trip and if I pester him hard enough he will hopefully locate some mushrooms for our trip. I have never done them before but have been really keen to; I was going to do them on our last day in Amsterdam but it was super stormy and overcast and I didn’t feel like tripping out in cold and wet weather, I figured that would affect my enjoyment of it. To be continued!

Heading for my first surf here tomorrow morning; for some reason the surf is on the rise even though it’s going to be 30C tomorrow, perfect combo really. My cousin bodyboards too and there is a sick little break called Mandurah Wedge about ten minutes from where I’m saying, it throws up some great wedges off a rock wall so hopefully we sneak into a few.

WCOOP

September 20, 2013

‘sup guys. It’s been about a month since I blogged last, and the majority of that time has been consumed with WCOOP, particularly after the Pies finished their 2013 finals campaign a little earlier than I’d hoped. WCOOP has been fairly uneventful for me in terms of big scores, but I’ve had a few reasonable runs and binked off some other tourneys and a bunch of satellites so it has been a mildly successful month thus far. As usual by this stage in the series my sleep patterns have copped a bit of a battering; it is a weird life when you’re sitting there planning out sleep schedules days in advance, trying to make sure that you have the best chance of being sharp at the end of every session since any of them could go for 15 hours or more. I have been squeezing in a bunch of coaching and even a little bit of HUNL which has been nice for a change, pretty much any day there isn’t a good event on I have taken it pretty slowly. Gym has been a non-event though.

I also turned a year older this week! I caught up with a bunch of mates at Whiskey and Alement then had a little Chinese dinner afterwards, it was good. I am feeling really great about life; lots of things are coming together nicely for me, I am happy about the way I’m approaching the major things in my life, I am in pretty good health and a good state of mind. Mell took one of my old guitars to a luthier and gave it a complete overhaul which was really special; since she has been teaching music so much at home we have both been playing music every day which has made for a pretty nice vibe in the house. I also picked up a new laptop specifically for poker; the Macbook I have is that old you can’t even plug an iPhone into it as iTunes doesn’t work on the operating system. I spent the afternoon loading up all the poker sites and importing hands into PT4 as well as battling away to get Windows 8 looking how I want it (a couple nice cheap programs that help in this regard). It will immediately come in handy as we’re off to Perth next Friday for Mell’s brother’s wedding, we are heading over early so I will have a couple of weeks of downtime to get some games and coaching in. Also going to catch up with Dad for a week and head down to Margaret River to go surfing/camping with my cousin.

WCOOP and a BBQ at a mates house is the plan for the weekend, pz.