Review by Instructor Ray Mannion

I'd like to thank my Taekwon-Do colleague, Instructor Ray Mannion for writing an excellent review of Way of the Poker Warrior on his website Aside from being a great instructor, practitioner, and writer himself, Ray can do backflips! I have a good number of talents, but that's something I never had the guts to learn. Read the review here.

Hand of the Week 1

This one took over 12 months from inception to execution, but I'm happy to finally give you Hand of the Week 1. This is the first installment in a series of free poker videos. Each week I'll pick one interesting hand and give it a thorough analysis. If you'd like to see me do even more in-depth analysis, check out my Hand of the Day series on DragTheBar.

Paperback Writer

I received a package slip from UPS two days ago. "Could it be my book?" I wondered. As I hustled downstairs, I employed a tilt-avoidance technique described in Way of the Poker Warrior. (I developed it for poker and martial arts to prepare for the full range of possibilities, but it's just as effective for avoiding wrong-package tilt.) There was a decent chance that this was not my book. In fact, I had three separate packages, and not one of them was my book.

It was six weeks ago that Way of the Poker Warrior was officially published, but the hard copies were not printed until last Wednesday. The ebooks went out immediately, but there were delays at the printing house. Still, in the publishing business, 4 months from inception to production is outstanding. I can't complain. Today I can finally hold one in my hands.

If you ordered the printed version, I hope you have your own copy by now. I apologize for the delay, and if you send an email to, we'll more than make up for it.

So I've got a stack of 20 books ready to be distributed among my friends, family, and teachers. All I have left to do is figure out which page I'm supposed to sign, what pen to use, and what to say. There was a Seinfeld episode about this.

Nothing makes you feel like a writer so much as holding a book with your name on the cover. And now I feel like a writer.

Insomnia and Projection

Throughout my life, I've suffered from various forms of insomnia. When I was young, I had nightmares of witches flying through my bedroom window. More recently, my dreams tend to focus on alien invasions and zombie-mashing. I've always felt like sleeping was a massive waste of time. There's so much to do! Sure, when I'm depressed, I can sleep all day. But when I hit my manic phases, I can't sleep a wink. It's just go-go-go.

My father used to help me with peaceful visualizations. I would play along and pretend to fall asleep, because I knew how hard he was trying. Sometimes I'd actually trick myself into slumber. But most of the time I'd just lie there and picture cozy trees on a hill.

A few years ago, I found a magic sleeping tonic: The Golden Girls. Yes, I own all seven seasons. Technically, my girlfriend owns them, since I got them for her as a Christmas gift. But if we broke up, I'd have to buy my own set. Put them on and I drift right off. I can't sleep without my Golden Girls.

Last night as I went to bed, I had Frasier on instead. Of course, this prevented me from becoming unconscious. But along with a recent forum post I read, this show about shrinks reminded me of a very common poker error: projection.

Projection is a term for perceiving your own thoughts and feelings in another person, instead of recognizing their true home: you. In poker, a sort of projection can be a useful way to read hands. If your opponent plays like you, simply put yourself in their shoes, and you'll know how they'll play different hands. But not all opponents play like you. And when your opponent's style and thought process differs from yours, projection is a dangerous thing. You need to think how your opponent is likely to play their hand, not how you would play it. In fact, you're never going to make any money off of someone who plays all of their hands exactly the way you would.

I'm not too worried about projection myself, as I tend to assume that most people don't think quite the way I do. I am worried about insomnia, though. In fact, I'm going back to my Golden Girls tonight to see if I can catch some shut-eye.


Lately I've been dragging the bar a lot, working on my No Limit game in conjunction with writing a strategy book with Dusty Schmidt. It's been fun, educational, and a little bit frustrating. While my NL game is improving by leaps and bounds, I'm still weak at the actual mechanics of bet sizing. For instance, I recently bet $51 into a $30 pot when I meant to bet $15. I tried the slider bar and wound up with some similarly oversized (but less dyslexic) bets. I've also timed out more than once while trying to get a raise exactly right. I know these issues will go away with a little practice, but sometimes a man just wants to click the button.

It was less than six months ago that I recorded the first Limit Holdem video at DragTheBar. You can tell by the name that DTB wasn't conceived with limit poker in mind. Nonetheless, we've already got over 50 videos, 3 coaches, and a great community in the forums. Not bad for less than half a year's work.

As we move into the second half of our first year, I'm particularly excited to have a well-rounded coaching staff. The addition of Dustin "La Peste" Cook provides a great perspective into beating smaller-stakes Limit Holdem for a living. One of my pet peeves is higher limit players making sweeping generalizations about how the lower limits play, when they haven't played those limits in years. Games change over time, so having a coach that's currently beating up on those games is a huge asset.

Also debuting this month is Emil "darkhorse" Jonsson's series on Game Theory. I highly recommend this series not only to Limit Holdem players, but players of all poker variants. His presentation of the material is the best I've seen. It also provides a great counterbalance to my more typically exploitative style.

I'll be wrapping up The Sixth Star, Buddha's Dojang, and The Sauna before the year is done. I've also got a few dual commentary videos/series up my sleeve that may debut in the next couple months as well. My video plans for 2011 include some much more advanced material along with some absolut beginner material. (No, that's not a typo.)

I've got a lot of book left to write, but I'm still gunning for Supernova Elite this year. I'm pretty far behind, so look for some crazy grinding/prop bet action down the stretch.

When Opportunity Knocks This Hard, I'll Answer The Door In My Underwear

It's no secret to anyone that knows me that I have a tendency to overextend myself. For instance, my plans for August included:
  • Promoting my book Way of the Poker Warrior
  • Making about a dozen videos for DragTheBar
  • Catching up on my Supernova Elite grind
  • Moving into a bigger apartment
  • Recording a single with Villain's Lament
  • Starting a record company
  • Doing some light writing for my next book
That's a fairly ambitious list and fails to include stuff like forum posting, martial arts practice, band practice, and having fun. Throw those things in and my schedule's looking pretty full.

Despite all of these commitments and plans, when I got a call from Dusty Schmidt asking if I wanted to work with him on his new book, my decision was a snap call.

I can't divulge the details of the project, but it's going to be a strategy book for No Limit Holdem. Dusty supplies the expertise, and I drop it on the page as eloquently as I can, throwing in a student's perspective and maybe some combo analysis here and there.

Penning a book with such an illustrious co-author is obviously huge for my writing career. I mean, who's not going to buy a strategy guide written by a guy who's crushed the everliving hell out of mid and high stakes No Limit for four years? It's also huge for my poker career.

In my quest to become a more well-rounded poker player (and someday to play $4k/$8k in Bobby's Room), I've been working hard on my No Limit game. The best part of working on this book is that I get to talk NL strategy for two or three hours a day with a world class player. I feel like I've learned more about big bet poker in the last three days than I had in the previous three years. And if I'm learning, that means the reader will, too. I guarantee that this book will make you rethink some things that you previously took for granted.

Don't worry, though. Limit Holdem will always be my home. Sauna 10 has just been posted on DragTheBar, and Sauna 11 is recorded and on its way. Sixth Star IV and Buddha's Dojang V are on their way as well, along with some super exciting news that I can't tell you all about yet.

Stay tuned!