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  • ckb4714
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    Hello RYE (long wall of text coming up – good idea to grab your favorite beverage :) )


    I am CKB,  I am one of the purple  “high stakes MTT crushers” in Discord. (I am mainly mentioning it to grab your attention and hope you stay till the end but I am also genuinely proud of it) and a student of Bencb as of November of last year (proud of that too).

    I have been thinking of starting a blog for many many months.

    On one side, I have a lot of stories to share (funny or not) and love to have a place to come and dump my thoughts and connect with a community. I have always been a lurker everywhere.

    On the other side, I am very conscious of coming out either as bragging or sounding stupid – so apologies in advance :)
    In any case I will try to make this an interesting and useful blog for everyone, including me.


    A few things about me:
    I am 32 years old, I am  Greek (aka Mediterranean aka many emotions, good and bad!) and I live in London with my amazing and supportive girlfriend.
    I play around 150$ ABI MTTs and have had a pretty high ROI for the last few years.  My ROI dropped to 10-15% this past year which really freaked me out but upon introspection is entirely my fault  – more on that later :)

    I have been playing poker for 10 years now but I am certainly not your regular poker pro. In fact I am not even a poker pro. I try to behave like one, have the work ethic of a good one but..

    I have a full time very demanding and stressful day job. I work in a pretty famous consumer company and have – at least in theory – a very very promising career ahead of me.

    Parents and people that don’t really know me well are really impressed/proud of my journey but they are ignoring one key thing:

    I have always done whatever felt right at any given point, I just tried to do it well :)

    For the people that are close me its pretty obvious that I have literally been living two lives and have been following my heart along with whatever variance comes my way!

    The main elements of everything I have done so far is a lot of unwarranted confidence, a lot of ignorance that translated to lack of fear in certain times, some good old luck and at least spikes of hard work & commitment! And always trusting my gut!


    Why would we care about all that?
    Because maybe my stories would motivate you to work more and make you a better player.

    Because you might say shit if this guy can do it while while working or has time for that, then I have no excuse.

    Or you might have a good laugh and good read here and there and maybe you can give me some nice feedback. I would really appreciate that.


    Isn’t your job really cutting down your profits man?
    For me the funniest thing is that when I didn’t have a day-job and was living off poker I was working less than 10% that I work now.  I was also making much much less money than what I have been making while having a day job.

    So for my first tip in this blog: Its astonishing how many things you take for granted when you play poker and how tight a comfort zone you create! So get out of that comfort zone!

    Hear my stories out and try to avoid doing the same mistakes and maybe learn something.

    Unless you are bencb, in case you haven’t noticed yet, bencb is actually a robot that is testing the human ability to push the max out of your comfort zone –  he cannot take anything out of my stories.


    Give me a resume of your life, I think I started to care:
    As I mentioned, I have been playing poker for the last 10 years. During that time I have in no particular order:

    • Studied computer science in Athens, while contemplating dropping out at least 10 times. I was an extremely poor student for 90% of the time. Took me 6 years to graduate, was close to the least motivated student. Thats more than 10 years ago, I am old.
    • Went to the army (its obligatory in Greece) where of all the things one can learn in the army – I became very good at 180 man SNGs.
    • Moved to UK to do a Master’s in Finance & Risk when I was a  full time poker pro that didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life but was making good money. Moving abroad and studying a general non binding topic felt like a good idea. Turned out to be one. I studied really hard there and was the best student of the class. Big turning point in my life and one of the few times actually work with motivation in something that is not sports or games.
    • After graduating and before leaving London I thought I would try to get a job for 4 months spend more time with my girlfriend, see how that life is and have a normal schedule.  I am still here 5 years later in the position of the boss of my former self – The normal schedule thing never worked out obv and I got much much better at MTTs.
    • In general I really embraced the financial freedom the game gave to me, it allowed me to move around the world, to travel A LOT and enjoy a lot of things in life I don’t think I would have any other way.

    If you ask me I really didn’t know why I chose many of the things I chose, why I sticked with finishing my studies(I had failed all semesters in my first 4 years), why I decided to pursue more studies abroad, why I applied to get a job and why I kept fighting day after day for so many years to remain a decent player and a decent human being.

    I have been working a lot to understand most I can of myself, whether that work is mental coaching with Elliot or psychotherapy and consequently why I made many of my decisions. I think I am getting there and its a really enjoyable journey.

    What I can recall for sure is that I was always trying to be good at the things I loved. Good at Counterstrike, good at Starcraft or good at basketball. Whatever “good” meant in each of the periods in my life, certainly my definition of good became more demanding over time.

    But that’s the only thing that I have always wanted at all times. To work towards being the best version of myself. In games and in life and in everything. A lot of times I failed even for extended periods but I always tried and will keep trying.


    So what’s the deal with your poker now?
    As you can imagine, being an MTT player and trying to be good at your job and having a life means not sleeping a lot and balancing a lot of things!

    I had two really great years in 2014 & 2015 where I had really sick online results imo. But those results made me relax a lot and in 2016 I started slacking a lot and along with a lot of demanding projects in my day job (excuse) I lost my focus a lot.
    Results deteriorated, at least not losing but just not winning as much as I had hoped. In the beginning I was quick to attribute it to variance and tougher games. But in reality, you don’t stick around for many years if you attribute stuff to variance and bad luck…

    I knew inside that I needed to get better and adapt to the needs of the game and the higher stakes I wanted to play. You can adapt without help up to a certain level. I knew that as it was clear to me I had already reached that level, now I needed more help, external help.

    So sometime mid-late 2016 I was literally travelling to US for work and I was in an airport business lounge. I ll never forget that moment, not sure why probably it was another big turning point..

    I was very focused on what I was listening, I am sure people thought I was doing some very serious company work and needed to be undisturbed. Last half was right. I was listening to bencb talking in a twitch stream I think. Funny environment to listen to a poker twitch stream, felt like I was the odd one out.

    But I remember getting a huge smile on my face. Something clicked.

    I immediately realised that this guy really gets some high level stuff about both poker & life. I decided to do something very uncomfortable for me which was to get in touch. I reached out first sending a hand history and when he replied my mouth dropped on the way he understood and explained the game. It really opened my eyes. Now we take this for granted because we see his analysis on the forum but back then its like literally somebody pulled me out of the water.

    I immediately asked him to coach me. Thankfully he agreed and since then I can feel I am getting on a whole different level. He is extremely demanding, he rightfully does not give a shit if I am busy in my life, he treats me like I am a proper pro which is great and has made me push myself to new limits.

    At the same time I am working around 50-60 hours a week at my day job so I am trying to put the hours in whenever I can. Toilet time – discord. Cab/Bus/Plane = Videos. Home chilling alone? HH review or Pull up Icmizer.

    There is no downtime. Even at my office I am having lunch at my desk right now and writing this.
    It can be hard at times but looking at the effort other people more successful than me put, I find the motivation.


    Where are you going with this?
    To close this off as I said am not sure where I will be in couple of years. I am trying to take one step at a time.

    But I know  that right now I want to commit to becoming better. I want to become one of the toughest players at high stakes MTT. I know I cannot become the best but maybe I can become the best part timer :)

    And while I am doing that I will be updating you with my progress.


    You got a specific goal or are we just words here?
    From today I want to make 250K in online and live MTTs by the same time next year.

    That’s the goal I want to set. I will also be as active as I can in discord, this blog and will put a lot of effort in working off the tables.
    This ended up being a bit longer than I expected! If someone is still reading… Talk soon!



    Post count: 87

    Thank you for write this.

    Many good contents.

    I rencognize myself in certains points.

    A blog that i will follow closely.

    Post count: 2

    Hello CKB!
    Very nice history!
    Pushing hard!
    Certainly, have inspired me to work more and become a better player.
    Amazing have a job and still beat high stakes! Congrats e GL in your goal!
    I’m only playing since the end of 2013 low and a few middle stakes and I made something like 17k for each year.
    And you have a job and will be making 250k, amazing!
    I’m pushing harder this year and my goal is to make about 40k/50k.
    For now, I made 18k, Let’s go!
    See you.

    Post count: 570

    Wow very inspiring! You sicko :) GL on your goal, i would say just this, that its prob better to have volume or improving your skills type goals, because if you make your goal in like 8 months, your motivation will fall and if you do not acomplish 250k, you would also not be “happy”.

    Post count: 2

    Do you have a plan how do it or is it a random number you thought it would be cool to hit? Can you post graphs of your results? good luck, i am interested to see your progress

    Post count: 33

    Great introduction mate. Nice piece of writing, very very inspiring, and i will try to emulate some of your patterns, specially those related to the use of the time.  Good luck with your goals,

    Will follow for sure.


    Post count: 5

    Great opening post!Good luck!


    Post count: 1331

    so much <3 for this post <3

    Post count: 58

    Wow such a sicko… Great first post. What does your typical work day look like? And a typical saturday/sunday?  I dont understand how do you do it all.. I hope to read some inspiring stuff here, I’m pretty lazy myself :p

    Post count: 48

    Great post and very inspiring. All the best and I look forward to reading more

    Post count: 16

    Thanks a lot for your kind words guys. They mean a lot!
    Thanks mouggy, thanks davidsutil, thanks tomy, thanks icubleed,thanks hollandor, thanks vvesko, thanks coach, thanks karedog and thanks mcgork!

    Let me try to answer your questions. I think they make very good follow up topics:

    Do you have a plan how do it or is it a random number you thought it would be cool to hit? Can you post graphs of your results? good luck, i am interested to see your progress

    For this particular question, instead of answering each part individually, I think it would be better I gave you my whole thinking around it.

    So… when deciding what number to put I wanted it to meet two criteria:

    1. To be in the realm of theoretically possible, based on past performance, but highly unlikely without an increase in ROI. In short, I would almost certainly need to evolve as a player to achieve it.
    2. To be big enough that it feels very scary. The idea that I can fail spectacularly always scares me, but I always liked the saying that if your dreams don’t scare you they are not big enough.

    I think this meets both.

    I do not consider myself a “250K per year” player right now, but it is what I  aspire to become. I only have one life and since I got this far, why not push it?


    Which brings me to the next question:

    Wow very inspiring! You sicko ? GL on your goal, i would say just this, that its prob better to have volume or improving your skills type goals, because if you make your goal in like 8 months, your motivation will fall and if you do not acomplish 250k, you would also not be “happy”.

    I totally get what you mean and I have done that type of goal setting in the past.  I certainly don’t find it a bad idea at all. In fact you might be right and I might be wrong..

    But right now I feel setting that type of goals would be like..I am protecting my feelings, my “worrying about my image” and ultimately my comfort zone from a potential failure. And I really want to push these things further.

    Furthermore, I don’t think hitting the goal in 8 months would ever stop my desire for progress, on the contrary it will motivate me even more. I really love the game. And if I fail ..I will of course get a bit sad but also I will get super motivated to get better and try harder.

    I have already been extremely lucky in life with a lot of things, like the girl I have, the friends I have or even my job. So I have far too many things to be grateful for, to stay sad for long.

    Also many people have seen it now its too late to change it :) :)

    What does your typical work day look like? And a typical saturday/sunday?

    I will focus on Saturday/ Sunday (or any holiday that is a poker session day) because its more relevant and it will make more sense.

    • I will wake up with my gf usually around 11-12 (which funny enough, nowadays is considered a sleep-in – oh how life changes)
    • We will go outside for breakfast/brunch or meet friends until 2-2:30.
    • After that I will always try to do some light exercise, either walk back home or go to the gym or do some yoga.
    • I will then write down my session goals. Short and simple.
    • Then a quick shower and afterwards  a 10-15 minute meditation. (Headspace on phone or Elliot mp3s).
    • I start playing fro m around 4 to 4:30pm until usually 2-3am or later. To put it in timezone independent context, usually the earliest tournament would be the Bounty Builder 215$ and the latest almost always the Hot 44 on stars. (general note: I am not a heavy “stars guy” its less than 40% of my tournaments just mentioning these for timeframe context)
    • In my breaks I always get up, get some air in the window or get some stretching.
    • I never talk on Skype with friends or anything while I am playing.
    • Sometimes I have something like pokergo or twitch playing if i can’t stay focused.
    • Something key that might be relevant/useful is that I will have also planned all the food/drinks/snacks of the day. If my gf is around I know she will cook something healthy and not heavy. If she is not around I usually get 2-3 portions of Chicken with vegetables/beans) or Sushi to get me through the day.

    During the session I will almost always have:

    • Greek yoghurt with blueberries
    • A Cappuccino when I start playing
    • An espresso if it looks like I will go super deep around 11pm
    • Almonds, dried mango etc
    • Some dark chocolate
    • At least 1,5L of sparkling water and usually some coconut water

    Just to clarify I am not a super fit guy or anything.  I will often have burgers/pizzas and I was notoriously known back in the day for eating tonnes of junk food. I am just like that on poker days.
    Eating well makes a big difference in my ability to play well.

    I am trying to pass some of this poker day discipline around food/exercise to my everyday life but it is hard and slow. I am really in awe of guys being very fit and working out regularly/eating super healthy. I hope I improve more on this soon, as I don’t have many good years ahead of me to get very fit.

    Monday is usually my rest day because of lack of sleep… unless when I am super tilted of the way I played last night and I force myself to study a bit on the evening or jot some notes down on what to improve.
    For the rest of the days my job responsibilities will really drive the schedule. Sometimes I have work commitments or life commitments so I will work my study/playing around them. In general I want to go out at least one more day except Friday for a nice dinner or cinema/theatre.
    One thing that really works well for me and I did not do younger, is that I will always skip a session where I know I can’t play my A game, in order to spend some quality time with my girlfriend or study. Works much better for both my life & my results.

    Hope this post was useful and covered most of the questions! I will definitely be posting progress updates & poker content down the road.

    Talk soon!


    Post count: 2

    Hello all,

    As CKB is a brother in law for me in real life I try to be impartial.

    For me personally, he is a mentor, friend, brother and the best motivational and inspiring guy I have met in my entire life. He has helped me a lot in my personal life (psychologically and practically) and regarding poker he is the reason that I stopped “randoming” and take the game seriously so as to work hard and study more. I owe you everything I know for this game. :)

    Regarding this post, I can say that it is a small summary of his entire life.
    I really hope you would achieve your goals and I also will be here for anything you may need me. Keep on your hard work and you can really achieve everything.

    Rise and Grind!
    Wish you the best!
    Much love and respect!  :) <3

    Post count: 835

    Hey lestath, welcome on board :)

    @ckb Sushi always makes me tired ^^

    Good luck for today, I hope you don’t have a tilt day tomorrow ;)

    Post count: 7

    You just blew my mind with this opening post. You seems like such an inspiring person. So much respect for you dedication and work effort.

    Everyone wants to be a succesfull person, be rich, etc. But aren’t willing to make big sacrifices. I will closely follow this blog and learn a lot from your point of view. Already thanks for sharing your knowledge with us. Much appreciated.

    You mentioned that just 40% of your tourneys are played on stars. Do you mind telling which sites you also like. And are these musts for any serious mtt player? Are you only playing regspeed or also turbo/hypers, since I have heard that hypers are not really worth in anymore? And what is your view on turbos?

    Hopefully you will get a big score today! GL

    Post count: 16

    Hello Guys

    We got our First Results update!

    But before that, some context first  (or you can skip straight to the middle for the results – spoiler: they are pretty good!)

    [Rant on]

    When starting Saturday’s session I was feeling a lot of pressure. Felt like the exposure I created through the blog, putting both myself and my targets out there, was something I was definitely not used to.

    Especially thinking about the reaction some people would have to the goal I set or to my attitude in general.. These thoughts added so much pressure that eventually made me question my own confidence and feel insecure.

    Thinking about it with a clear head though, it seems very normal that despite the fact many people will get motivated or inspired and be happy for you.. some other people will not. No matter what you do. Thats just how life is.

    There will always be somebody who will  point out any flaw they can find to try to lessen your effort or call your motivations/goals stupid/impossible. Or someone who especially in case of success, will call you out as uniquely hard-working/crazy –  anything to take the responsibility of their own success as far off their own hands as possible.

    I guess it is what it is and I shouldn’t worry too much…Realising it and putting it in words feels drastically less scary. [Rant off]


    But as I try to do most of the time when I feel like that I decided to focus on playing my best-  despite fear. I opted to use the positivity I received, the support from my close friends and the great working atmosphere we have with many RYE/Discord as my fuel.


    At the end of the day putting a lot of effort, feeling good and running ridiculously ridiculously good can indeed bring home some great results.


    In short..


    The Actual results:

    I played both Saturday and Sunday, for a total of 56 MTTs with an average buy in of 167$. My total Buy ins were 9383$ .


    We had a ….modest ROI of 292% for 27,5K in profit :)


    Most notable deep runs:

    2nd in the 215$ Mega Deep at 888 for 14,681$

    6th in the Sunday Supersonic for 3,731$

    2nd in Sunday Drago 109$ in Party for 5740$

    3rd in Saturday Uppercut 109$ in Party for 4300$

    3rd in Saturday Hot 215$ for 4036$

    12th in Saturday 320$ KO in Stars for 1893$

    6th in Saturday Tornado for 598$

    15th (or something) in Sunday’s Double Deuce for 430$



    I of course understand how much luck was involved but a great start is a great start.


    Writing this feels really great and I am really proud with the start but..


    Dude really?

    to be completely honest I also really felt again how poker is such a weird game and it can really mess up your mind. I won so much and I caught myself struggling on Sunday night with how I lost the MegaDeep heads up and how I lost 6th in Supersonic. I couldn’t release myself and feel happy – I was constantly running many many spots in my head.


    I feel if I don’t work how to shut this off and enjoy the success, I might struggle a lot in the future with many aspects of life, so working on that will be one of my priorities.


    To add insult to injury instead of chilling/relaxing/celebrating on Monday afternoon I went and played a live tournament that runs once a month in London.

    It’s a 1000£ reentry tournament in the Vic (with a relatively small field around 40-50 people) that I had played once two months ago and felt very good value. (probably helped that last time I played it I ended up chopping it, lol)

    As you can guess I was on 2,5 hours of sleep (plus a 40 minute power nap after work) and I was struggling to play my A game. Soon after the initial reg & sit down adrenaline wore off, I started slipping hard. In retrospect its obvious I  should have skipped it and I just overestimated my capabilities.

    On the positive side, thinking about my suboptimal play, I can notice which/what were the “bad plays” I do nowadays.

    Several months ago, when I would play my B game, I would have terrible pre-flop ranges. It seemed this now had registered in my unconscious competence and for the most part I was very disciplined with my ranges, my hand would just go fold some shit I used to play, on its own.

    Unfortunately I still wasn’t able to avoid my other major leak when in my B or C game which was to fold on the river (especially to very bad players).. Looking back I ended up not making two folds that were realistically super easy.

    They ended up costing me the tournament and they were an expensive lesson.

    At least better to acknowledge my leaks now before I play anything bigger (which will happen probably soon – see later below)

    Playing bad last night also kinda messed up my mood a bit, ridiculous isn’t it?

    In a very solid counter move, I just went and bought a pair of shoes to truly condition myself that playing focused yields nice sneakers.

    At least now that I am writing this, it really puts things back in perspective and I genuinely feel much happier – so we got that going!


    Future  plans/updates:

    You can argue that my timing might be pretty off but I am going into an extensive off from poker (at least certainly on the weekends).

    I have a wedding coming up in Athens this weekend, another wedding in North Greece the weekend after and after that  I am flying to California for work. My gf will fly over too and after work is done I will get some vacation including a road-trip from SFO to LA.

    So no poker for sure for the next 5 weekends.

    While I am still in Europe, I will certainly try to play some weekdays to keep my touch with the game.  I will also use the quiet travel time to put some work around the course & my homework, so it might not be that bad.

    But its not all gloomy news for poker. I have purposefully arranged to fly back from Vegas on 15th of July,  in order to try to make it there right on time for the Main Event. So we might get a sweet rail there.


    That’s all for this update but before I wrap up, let me answer the open questions since my last post (and maybe add some actual value to this post):

    What sites am I playing and what I think of Turbos/Hypers:


    Spinelli, firstly thanks for your kind words and glad you liked the blog.


    Now on to the questions :


    You mentioned that just 40% of your tourneys are played on stars. Do you mind telling which sites you also like. And are these musts for any serious mtt player? Are you only playing regspeed or also turbo/hypers, since I have heard that hypers are not really worth in anymore? And what is your view on turbos?



    My other main site is 888 poker and I also play in Partypoker and ACR. I used to play a tonne on Winamax and Pokerstars-fr (and had almost completely dropped Stars apart from Sunday Majors) but unfortunately these are not allowed in London anymore.

    Generally speaking I am always trying to find a golden balance between buy in $ value with a good enough ROI. As of recently, I am playing a max of 6 tables (down from 9 or 10) so I am very picky on which tournaments will make the cut. As you would expect  on Sunday I am struggling to choose :)

    I feel a good tournament selection is key to a good win-rate and essential to get the most out of your session. You should always try to optimise it. Playing only on stars is very restrictive and also I think the variance of the large fields would personally drive me crazy.

    In terms of hyper and turbos, I have a SNG background so I always felt comfortable playing both. I play them mostly as fillers. In the beginning or the end of session, when I have 1-2 tournaments, I always add a couple of turbos. Very rarely will a turbo have priority over a freeze out tournament, with the exception of maybe something like Hot 162 or 109$ Bubble rush. Similar logic for Hypers-  only fillers except Supersonic  :)

    My view is you have inherently less ROI in turbo than a freeze-out (and even less ROI in Hypers) so you make less out of your occupied pixel space on your screen. Time is always a constraint therefore you should be careful how to prioritise them. But you should use them in quiet/dead periods to increase your total buy ins and consequently your win-rate.

    BUT – You should make sure to always check that you are winning them, else this works completely opposite and you end up decreasing your win rate + paying less attention to your freeze-out tournaments which is a disaster.

    So in tour selection- same as in life – constantly reflect what you are doing, be conscious of your strengths and optimise accordingly!



    That’s all for now, looking forward to comments/questions etc!

    Talk soon and take care!


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