In mid-July, RunitOnce launched a new blog with the intriguing title "From NL5k Shots to NL40k Shots".

– My blog will be a little different from others. I'm not going to discuss the strategy – warned the author with the nickname CD9K. – I will share my experience of how I master different poker formats and talk about the pros and cons of different games, as well as share general knowledge (bankroll management, high stakes variance, balance, and so on).

I'll start with the chart. These are my all-time NL1k+ results. Last year over 90% of my load is NL1k-2k.

For the last 1.5 years, I have also played a lot of live games, mostly closed PLO games.

I am 22 years old, I have been playing poker for a little less than four years, I combine it with my studies at the university. I spent a lot of time on near-zero regwars at NL1k, not really thinking about profit. However, it was very helpful to progress in poker, I had a goal of 5bb/100 win rate in regwars. But then my priorities changed a bit, now I'm more focused on profit and trying to gain a foothold in NL5k+. I don't abandon Regwars, I plan to return to them a little later, when I have studied the theory of playing in 40bb stacks enough.

I'll talk about the pros and cons of different formats that I'm familiar with (arbitrary order).

1) NLH online

– Hardest option to earn big money (climb NL1k+)

– Small win rates, hence frequent and big streaks (although the standard deviation is lower than in PLO)

+ Relatively easy to reach a decent level of income (especially for players from Eastern Europe and other countries where the standard of living is not very high) at stakes up to NL200, where it is easy to gain distance and achieve a high win rate due to the ratio of the number of regs and fish.

+ This is the most effective way to develop useful skills for long-term growth (thanks to the big loot and trackers, you can constantly monitor your win rates and results, which develops responsibility. Difficult fields also force you to constantly analyze your game, which leads to progress).

+ You yourself choose a convenient working time (there are also reservations here, because at certain hours the waiting time is higher, but still the schedule is more flexible than offline).

+ In the long run, it is easier to understand which parts of your strategy are not working and correct them. The ability to play many hands reduces the variance in your monthly results/earnings.

+ Playing stable plus online provides excellent basic knowledge that will become the foundation of a long-term career.

2) NLH Live

+ The easiest way to earn big money quickly (lineups are weak, but sometimes it is very difficult to get into the game)

+ Higher win rates – fewer streaks and very low standard deviation

– The stereotypical online reg of 18-30 years old is almost impossible to get into good live games

– Terrible lifestyle (ludomania, alcohol, lack of physical activity – all this is a common thing for offline regs)

– Much less need to work on the game

– Waste of time (very often you have to stand idle in queues or play for days for a good place at the table)

– We'll have to forget about the mode (almost the entire game is played at night and on weekends)

– In closed games, there is always a chance of not getting a win, and such “unplanned” downswings can have an even greater impact on the psychological state

+ Large win rates and low standard deviation allow for extremely aggressive bankroll management (especially when you've already reached the top online and stopped getting action)

+ Sometimes it is useful to change the environment, learning the intricacies of live play can cause additional interest in the game

+ Many people like to travel (I just got back from Macau, I could write a separate post about this, but Avr0ra and brdz perfectly conveyed all my thoughts in one of their videos)

3) PLO5/6 Live

You can repeat everything I said about live NLH. Only here the standard deviation is higher, it is more likely that you will be shoved on and that you will not beat the rake, the line between fish and semi-regs is too blurry, and you can spend a lot of time in vain until you figure it out. In general, a rather bad format, although there are games where the hourly wait is much higher than in NLH.

4) PLO online

Stay away from apps, there are insanely high rake and a lot of stuff. I don't have much experience, but I didn't like it at all. Although there are acquaintances who make decent money on apps.

At the end, I will add a graph of my timid attempts to make a shot at NL5k (GGPoker).

GGPoker is a Hold’em and Omaha focused site on the Good Game Network. Offering a broad range of playing formats such as Randomised Sit & Gos, All-in or Fold, and 6+ Short Deck as well as fast cash games, and a plethora of tournament series including: GGMasters, Multi Millions and Bounty Hunters.

In another post, CD9K slammed the group work on the game:

– I am sure that co-education is a waste of time, of course, if you are able to motivate yourself. There are some social benefits, but often it will be an unfair exchange of information, and a lot of time is spent on all sorts of nonsense when you arrange a call at a certain time or try to convince the speaker of something.

Individual sessions are much more effective, and truly deep analysis is practically impossible in a group.

The most common form of group learning is hand-showing, where you simply agree with someone else's point of view. This is very inefficient compared to deep work in the solver and then testing new ideas in practice.

My former coach had the same point of view, and I really appreciate his opinion. I tried several times to study in a group, but in the end, I came to the same conclusion. He has an academic approach – he shares with the students some solutions of the solver, and then the students have to work with them on their own.

George “you-mad-br0” Froggatt defended group sessions:

– You climbed up on your own, and among my acquaintances, almost everyone became successful by working in groups. It is difficult for us to avoid bias in the conclusions, but to say that "individual / group work is a waste of time" seems to me unnecessarily categorical.

The more I play poker, the more I'm convinced that success here is largely dependent on the ability to play a lot over the years. Long distances at medium and high stakes, even with a relatively low win rate, provide financial stability. And in the short run, the result is very much dependent on variance, which is huge in poker.

It may be a placebo effect, but working in a group has made my poker path easier and more fun. Friends support you in difficult periods, share the joy of upstreaks, motivate you to play, and work harder by their example. In a group, bad ideas are found and rejected much faster, and in individual work, the ego can be affected, and you will spend a lot of time looking for an obvious mistake.

Working a little worse, but for a long time is always better than working as efficiently as possible but in a hurry. Consistency beats intensity.

I often see posts where the authors say they have found the secret of success. But in reality, poker is a game of gray areas, with many effective strategies and learning methods. After learning something new, you sit down at the table, gain distance, and win money that can change your life. First of all, I respect the players for this, and not for the way they went to the top. Naturally, among the successful players, there are many who reached everything on their own.

However, 350k hands is not such a big distance to make such categorical statements. I think it's always better to be able to listen to other people's opinions.

“I agree with you on a lot of things,” CD9K replied. “Especially with regard to variance. I am personally familiar with strong high-stakes regs, whose results can be diametrically opposite in different rooms. In the long run, even 2-3bb/100 is very decent money. Most of the regs out there have win rates in the 4bb/100 region with the exception of a couple of people, but they're probably going crazy and haven't played enough hands yet.

Perhaps I underestimate the fact that in a group it is easier to discard obviously failed concepts. But it seems to me that it is difficult to keep such a group of like-minded people for a long time. Therefore, it is better to master the psychology of the game yourself. I mean resistance to streaks, awareness of variance, and the desire to work on the game during upstreaks. My secret is that I still enjoy playing poker. For four years, I have never felt a burnout, although during this time I had almost no days off. I continued to work even when I was sick (although lately, I have slightly revised my attitude towards this).

All my friends regulars who quit poker have two things in common – lack of distance and attitude to poker as a job. The game did not bring them pleasure. Even those who worked in groups left for these reasons.

With your remark that friends help to survive difficult periods, I also agree. But I just realized that I receive this support in full from my girlfriend. But maybe I should think a little more about the benefits of group learning. My former coach here is more like a white crow. As far as I know, all top high-stakes regs work in small teams (Linus and makeboifin, Nacho and Davy, and so on).

“Marcus, on the other hand, works on his own most of the time,” George corrected. – He has a unique ability – he can completely immerse himself in theory at any time and not be distracted by anything else for days on end.

True, there comes a moment when he begins to send hands to everyone on Skype and Discord with his comments and questions. Even players who play much worse suffer. At some point, I banned him altogether, it became simply unbearable. All the new coaches are initially ecstatic that Markus wants to discuss hands with them, but they only last a couple of weeks at the most :D

Again, there are examples of successful players who almost always work on their own. The effectiveness of group work is highly dependent on the composition of the team or group. But poker is a very multi-faceted game, so having at least some mechanism to exchange ideas with other players can be very helpful, even if the bulk of the work is done alone.

One of the last posts by CD9K devoted to the question of what is better – aggressive bankroll management or playing with a select:

– Recently, I thought about what is closer to me – shots for high stakes or a calm grind with a bum hunt. Perhaps, for psychological peace of mind, high-stakes shots, where it is difficult to gain distance, are best done by backers in general.

Right now I have the following options for the future:

– If I want, I can completely switch to NL2k-5k, there are enough games there.

I've been working on some new ideas lately and have probably made enough progress to get back to regwars and show a decent win rate there.

– Potentially I could play backer at Triton, it seems like a good opportunity.

– I am also considering the option of mastering heads-up to play NL2k-5k with regs. But you need to study the issues of rake and potential win rates better.

It seems that Stefan said somewhere that he sees no point in playing more than NL5k at a distance. He explained this by the fact that going down from the high stakes, he loses the motivation to play his main limit. I understand him perfectly. It's pretty stupid to grind NL2k-5k and then play 1/10th of the distance at NL10k and depend on this insignificant segment for the result for the whole year. If I'm not mistaken, Stefan never sells shares.

Over the past few years, all my streaks (both positive and negative) have been associated with high-risk shots. So it's hard to say if they were beneficial compared to the NL500-1k bum hunt. But those shots definitely helped me get better and taught me how to take big streaks calmly.

I also need to learn financial literacy. I win a lot, but the bankroll hardly grows. I don't spend much on myself either, but I do make a lot of risky investments in random projects.

And the last. Another advantage of playing at the highest stakes is that there is less danger of encountering cheaters. At high stakes, everyone knows each other, and fraud will be immediately noticeable. And on NL1k, there is a lot of space for using hints with some kind of noun.

Over the past two weeks, I have won and lost $40k a few times. These are impressive streaks, but for me, they were not as painful as losing much smaller amounts six months ago. I am very glad that I did not fall into a depressive state. So I'll work on theory and keep shooting high stakes.