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Quick Bio

After many years of going to school and saying no to drugs I graduated with a degree!  Little did I know it would lead me to being beaten into the ground at the hands of a soulless corporation.  After 3 years I quit to play poker professionally.  I've now been full-time over 7 years, yet revenge is still in the air.  It's crazy to look back and realize I started this blog as I was simply 'pumping myself up' to quit the real world and go full time.  Now I also do some writing for fun as a 'day job' (some freelance and paid, but an insignificant sum compared to 5/10 live) and airbnb my place when I don't feel like playing as much.


MTT Online Concept (small buy ins...)

Just a very quick concept I thought of while playing:

 the smaller buy-in the MTT is online the more you should choose to late reg it. 

A $5 satty  might be very profitable, but you should late reg it an hour in if possible; or show up as 'late as possible'. 


I'M BACK! (2/6/2016)

During the past few years I have pretty much neglected this site.

During that time I have still played poker full time the entire time. I was just in a phase of my life where I was focusing on a few other projects and saw no point in remaining actively public. I also had no desire to remain public or even update the site.

Now in 2016 I can say my focus has completely shifted. I plan to post here at least once per month whether it be strategy or just random nonsense.

I still play live occasionally, but I'm currently putting most of my volume online in NJ. Mostly in the MTT scene right now. 

I play on the three major sites in NJ under these names:

WSOP: Defender

Party/Borgata: Defender85

888 NJ:  Axelife

I'm currently ranked in the top 100 for all MTT players in NJ (source pocketfives). During the next ranking release I should be in the top 50. So I'm not playing completely horrible all of the time.

It's been a strange transition from mid/high stakes live cash to online MTTs. About a year and a half ago I almost completely quit poker and decided to give online one more shot full time since it has recently become legal in NJ.  But that wasn't enough, I NEEDED TO LEARN A NEW FORMAT to keep things interesting. So I did just that with the MTTs and I'm feeling a 2nd wind, or I guess 4th wind in my case!

Even cooler news, I'm planning to release some training videos publically on youtube where I record my sessions in real time. I'm doing this in an attempt to help other people interested in getting into poker for free without being fleeced by coaches or poker training sites that charge too much. I also think this is a way to keep poker interesting to me. 

I've already done a lot of the hard work and have created many training videos. I've just been procrastinating with some of the easier steps such as working on the youtube channel, etc, etc. 

At the end of the day procrastination is a success barrier. However, I don't look at it as a source of shame. I think as I gradually and strategically expand my landscape I will be able to tolerate more as a person. The procrastination is the result of emotional truama from doing so many new things at once. I embrace this trauma. The struggle is improvement.

After many years of senseless struggles on and off the tables I now see emotional trauma as a clear indicator that I'm on the right path. This means I am challenging myself to eventually achieve a vision of an 'ideal existence.' I am truly disgusted by comfort. To embrace pain is life itself.

Looking forward to the best year yet, hope everyone is fantastic!


(aka: Defender/Axelife)


Update and Hand Review with Jamie Kerstetter! (5/22/2015)

I’ve decided to put up a quick post here.

About me, I’ve currently been grinding 100% online MTTs and Heads-up formats.

I’ve been in a writing mood a lot more recently, so I’m hoping I can start to get some poker stories flowing again.  This time around I want to get back to keeping things a little lighter.  Besides I might only be full time another year, so might as well make the best of it.

Anyways, last night I happened to be playing a $100 freeze out MTT on the New Jersey online Party/Borgata site.  I was playing a bunch of other tables at the time as always.

Soon out of the shadows emerged a rather mythical hand.  Out of all the hands I encountered this month, I think this one best displays the pain that is my current poker existence. 

Not only that, the villain happened to be Jamie Kersetter!

How do I know, well her screen name is ‘Jamie Kersetter’.

So unless she has some sort of large cult following I was completely unaware of, this is 100% her.  I know of Jamie, but I’ve never actually played a hand three streets with her.  This makes sense because I’ve played mostly cash games during my poker existence.

Despite the fact that I pay attention to almost zero poker media I still know of Jamie.  I’ve heard her name at least a hundred times whether I like it or not.  She seems to go out of her way to get attention for whatever reason.  I've heard her name more than 'Phil Galfond' during the past fucking year.  Come to think of it, the only poker names I've heard more which I have no association with are probably 'Phil Ivey' and 'Doyle Brunson'.  What does this mean?  I'd assume she's a winning pro who gets a ton of attention for whatever reason.  Also, she was hired as a 'pro' on the Borgata online site I play on, so I have to be force fed seeing her name a good amount I suppose.     

Anyways let’s start with the hand.  Why not?

I mean what is a good poker blog without a hand review once every five years!

So let’s break the hand down by street (if you want a spoiler alert you can just scroll down to the raw hand history that I posted below my quick review.  But what fun are spoilers?


I am in the Big blind, Jamie is in the Button.  Jamie and I are both about 31bbs deep.  We are approaching the bubble, but still a little ways off:    


Blinds:  150/300 (ante 30)

Casual (UTG+1):  10,406 chips

Jamie (BTN):  9,378

Hero (BB):  9,630

We have a soft casual who limped UTG+1 here.  I have his stats around 52/9.  The 52 represents VPIP and the 9 represents the % of hands he brought in for a raise.

Next, we have Jamie coming in on the button with a limp behind.

I check my option in the BB with T9o.

I’m a little confused by Jamie’s limp here.  However, I do have her stats at 16/9 over 140 hands, which is in itself a little puzzling for a professional player.  It’s puzzling because you almost never see a VPIP/PFR gap this high, this indicates oddly passive play preflop at times.   I’d expect her to still pretty much correctly auto raise pre-flop with AT+, 66+, most broadways, and most high suited connectors. 

I think she could feasibly have a low pocket pair here, which would make sense.  Perhaps a passively played low suited connector.  Anyways on the the flop!


BOARD:  Js Kd 3c

Pot:  1,590

The flop comes out Js Kd 3c rainbow.  I randomly pick up a gut-shot, but decide not to stab here.  Everyone checks!  Friendly table!



Board:  Js Kd 3c Qh

I pick up basically the nut straight here with T9o, unless the passive casual limped early with AT.

I lead out $900 into $1590, casual folds, Jamie calls rather quickly. 

We are now heads up.  Now I definitely have the nuts.  Jamie should be auto raising the button here with AT.  I know this despite the fact I have almost no experience playing with her.  She has been a pro for well over 7 years.

Her call is a little odd on KJ3 Q.  I would expect all of the broadway hands to be raised pre-flop here.  I’m ranging Jamie on something like a unicorn bottom set or perhaps a pair + straight draw.  These seem to be the most logical to me.


Brick 6d

Board:   Js Kd 3c Qh 6d

The river totally bricks and I now lead $1200 into $3390.  I kept my sizing pretty small here because I was ranging her with a lot of weak pair + straight draw hands that didn’t improve.  Therefore, sizing big should pretty much get her to fold everything out here which I don’t want.

Did she call?  Did she fold?

Nope, magic was in the air on this particular evening.

The party poker mega pro then decides to raise back from 1,200 to 3,000

I call…..

Drum roll………..

Kersetter turns over ATs for the nut straight….




Before I go on, I would like to say that I should have shoved the river.  For some reason I instinctively called because I remember her reputation from my inner circle as being ‘a really soft basically scared player’.  However, she’s never supposed to have AT here.  However, life goes on.

Hand break-down by street:

I’m going to say this as nicely as possible. 

The way Jamie played this hand on every street was an absolute disgrace. 

She could quite possibly be the only professional player in the year 2015 actually limping the button here with ATs pre-flop.  But you know what, let’s call it a random mistake that’s fine.  Fuck it for fun let’s even say she misclicked here pre-flop and actually meant to hit 'raise'.

Flash forward to the turn.  How is this not getting raised for value again?  Why am I just getting flatted here with the mortal nuts?  Raising the nuts here for value is a basic concept that is known by every professional player on earth with the exception of apparently PartyPoker Pro Jamie Kerstetter.   

Flatting serves literally no purpose.   If anything the river will bring out a bad card that could kill her action.

Anyways, it’s fine.  We’ve all misplayed a few streets here and there.

So on the river, she decides to nearly min-raise me back.  Instead of 100% shoving where I am always calling.

This is again a basic concept to shove on me river.  She has to hope I’m strong and decide to call off here the way this hand played out.

You know what, three strikes in one hand and you’re fucking out in my book.

So here we have every street butchered as badly as humanly possible by this attention whore joke ass pro.  This one was a real gem.  I could have graduated from med school with the time I committed to poker by now, but fuck then I wouldn’t have this hand to laugh at.  Isn’t this really what playing poker is all about?

I would normally never write someone’s actual name out in a hand review on my blog (check my previous hundreds of posts).  However, this felt justified.  This is a specific attention whore pro who never deserved to be a pro in the first place.  She was simply given free money and publicity because she is a female who happens to play poker.  Her story is a complete bitch-slap in the face to every decent winning poker player who works hard on improving their game weekly, would love to be more known, but never gets attention (much less sponsorships for no reason).  But don’t worry she will continue to survive and stupidly play on without ever improving.  It’s hard to lose when you’re given free money every month.           

Truly timeless stuff here:   

  partypoker - $100+$0|150/300 NL - Holdem - 8 players
Hand converted by PokerTracker 4

BTN (BTN): 9,378 (VPIP: 17.07, PFR: 9.76, 3Bet Preflop: 4.55, Hands: 83)
SB (SB): 16,267 (VPIP: 14.46, PFR: 5.36, 3Bet Preflop: 2.38, Hands: 246)
Hero (BB): 9,630
UTG (UTG): 19,785 (VPIP: 38.10, PFR: 19.05, 3Bet Preflop: 5.88, Hands: 42)
UTG+1 (UTG+1): 10,406 (VPIP: 52.72, PFR: 9.27, 3Bet Preflop: 4.44, Hands: 313)
MP (MP): 11,087 (VPIP: 25.41, PFR: 12.30, 3Bet Preflop: 0.00, Hands: 123)
MP+1 (MP+1): 10,870 (VPIP: 15.73, PFR: 8.05, 3Bet Preflop: 5.41, Hands: 89)
CO (CO): 7,297 (VPIP: 35.90, PFR: 20.51, 3Bet Preflop: 6.67, Hands: 40)

8 players post ante of 30, SB posts SB 150, Hero posts BB 300

Dealt to Hero:

fold, UTG+1 calls 300, fold, fold, CO calls 300, BTN calls 300, fold, Hero checks

Flop (1,590, 4 players):

Hero checks, UTG+1 checks, CO checks, BTN checks

Turn (1,590, 4 players):

Hero bets 900, fold, fold, BTN calls 900

River (3,390, 2 players):

Hero bets 1,200, BTN raises to 3,000, Hero calls 1,800

BTN shows:

(Straight, Ace High)
(Pre 73%, Flop 87%, Turn 97%)

Hero mucks:

(Straight, King High)
(Pre 27%, Flop 13%, Turn 3%)

BTN wins 9,390


Nightmare October Ends and Ramblings (11/3/2013)

October ended for me almost exactly the way it started; a complete nightmare.  I finished the month up +$705 in 149 hours.  So far only June was a bigger nightmare, the only month I actually ended up down net playing live this year.

October was my highest volume live month of the year.  Unfortunately I look back on all the hard work and only remember a blur of confusion, rage, and pain.

I’m not going to get into the grueling details about how something like this can happen right now so I’ll just leave it at that; whatever…

Right now I feel like I’m not in a great place.  My bankroll is quite low for what I’ve been used to throughout most of my poker career.  Also, grinding mid-stakes isn’t really enjoyable to me.  Additionally, the transition to becoming a successful online player has been incredibly slow to say the least.  For the first time (since maybe the first 6 months I started grinding full-time) I’ve justified that there is a distinct possibility that poker may not work out for me.  And you know what?  That’s fine.

I have a solid career path that I can take if it comes to that.  Also, as long as I give it my best shot I can’t be too angry if things don’t work out.  Life will go on.  And fuck I’ll have more than I started with.  Not only more assets, but some really cool experiences I wouldn’t trade anything for.  And if I ever do leave for good I’m cutting down at least one tree from each casino that forced me through the hell of having to walk through their shit poker room.

Anyways, one thing that has plagued much of my year has been scheduling, it’s been a constant leak.  My body goes through periods where it no longer responds well to a grave-yard shift.  When I was younger it didn't bother me, but now it really does.  For example, recently I’ve been suffering with insomnia, half the time I have to take melatonin to force myself into a “normal sleep”.  Additionally, I’m not nearly productive enough because of my sleep schedule.  I’ll barely put in 8 hours live, but finish past 4a.m and my entire next day is screwed up.  Another huge problem is my schedule does not allow me to be productive enough to improve at the pace I need too online.

I’ve thought about things a lot and decided it’s either get on an earlier schedule, or completely stop putting time in online all-together.  I stayed on the late schedule because the live games are better late, but I still think it’s the right play to get on an earlier schedule to put myself in the best position to truly succeed.  Besides, what did my committment to the night shift give me this year?  Honestly almost nothing.  If I'm going to get my nuts kicked in constanly I might as well be on an earlier healthier schedule.  Sure live poker will still suck earlier, but at least the rest of my life won't be fucked (including body/mind).  Besides if I'm having a good day (haha that's funny) I can always push it into the later night if I really need too for some reason.

Starting November (now) I’m back on an earlier shift.  When I play live I’m going to start early to late afternoon-ish.  I think the earlier shift will also allow my mind to be much clearer especially for online days.  Online days are a waste if I’m not ready to rapidly absorb information.  Here has been my typical online day the past two months:

A)  Be in a state of complete brain-fog because I went to bed the previous night past 4a.m like an idiot.

B)  Possibly decide to pay $50 for a hour lesson where I absorb maybe 40% of the information.

C)  Play multiple tables at C-game because my mind is too fucked to do any better.  Shame my C-game online isn’t good enough to win, this isn’t live.

D)  Not work-out hard enough or nearly often enough

E)  No study outside of an hour or two coaching.  Even if I did it wouldn’t matter, my mind is in no state to learn.

And my new online days:

A)  Have a completely clear mind ready to study hard and rapidly absorb new information.

B)  If I use one of my lessons, I’ll be completely ready to absorb the information and make it worth-while. 

C)  Work out hard and often.

D)  Play no less than B-game at any given time while multi-tabling.

E)  Study a mandatory two hours before playing.



Updates: Life, Running Bad; Playing Average (10/11/2013)

For the month of October I now find myself running really bad, while playing average.  I’m about break even so far. 

Looking at my session for Thursday I lost -$185 in 6 hours.  I had very little chance to make money, but I didn’t play to the best of my ability.  I had four spots where I could have taken squeeze spots to fight for dead money pre-flop, I only took one, which of course failed.  I could have at least taken one out of the other three.

I also missed a very easy bluff spot against a regular multi-way which would have resulted in +$200 over 80% of the time.  I actually recognized each spot while they came up, I just failed to pull the trigger.  Sometimes I recognize the correct play, but don’t take it because it’s still somewhat out of my comfort zone.  Also, having a bad month makes it even harder to play optimally, you naturally miss more spots.  Your instinct becomes to tighten up and just wait for value, that’s what got me to where I am.  But that doesn’t always work anymore, it’s not that easy anymore, I feel I’m running out of time in general.  I’m not trying to grind mid-stakes for the rest of my life. 

I have to keep my foot on the gas-pedal.  I don’t get enough value spots, that’s not me, I have to go to absolute war to earn anything .  I’ll sit there for 8 hours and not get dealt QQ+ or hit a set, that’ fine my life sucks, I’m used to that.  But I’m going to go down kicking and screaming, I won’t go easy.  I have to push my game to it’s limits right now.  I don’t have time to wait for value spots, I don’t want to play live poker 180 hours per month.  That's not in my blood, I'm not passionate about playing poker like that anymore.   I’ll go to war to jack my win-rate up by any means possible.  If that means I lose this month fine, but I’m not taking my foot off the pedal, that shit is not happening.

Since it’s been such a horrendous week I’m trying to look at leaks in my game which prevent my win-rate from being as high as it could be.  Instead of sitting there in misery waiting for live hell variance to turn around I’m trying to proactively improve.  At least I’m trying to improve in certain areas, I think that’s the only way I can stay sane playing live going forward.  Proactively try to improve my game weekly; that has to be the goal, not the money.

In addition to trying to improve, I recognize I’ve had some off the table leaks as well.  My schedule is chronically messed up, so I’m not sleeping enough, which leads to me not playing well enough.  Also I haven’t worked out enough the past few weeks because I’ve been so busy.  That has to change going forward.  I need to have a more normal sleep schedule, and I need to work out twice per week minimum.  That was screwed up at first because moving took up so much time.  But now time to sign up for the gyms again, getting cold outside.

I’m planning to play sessions Fri-Sun, so plenty of work ahead of me the next few nights.

I want to start updating this site again some for myself because I have a lot of hard work ahead of me, maybe it can help keep me on track; writing is powerful.  My life has been really crazy during the past few months. 

Some highlights to catch you up:

1)  I just moved to a different state.  I’d prefer not mentioning where I am on this blog.  I’m really not here to tip off grinders on where I think games are more profitable, it’s really for my self improvement and tracking my progress.  That may sound selfish, but I don’t really care.

2)  I purchased a new car a few months ago.  That’s right, I didn’t go back up to high stakes only to get smashed again and repeat.  I may never get back to high stakes because I bought a car, it was completely irresponsible, but I’m fine with that.  I think at the time I really just needed some justification that I earned something playing poker.  The past three years, so many crazy ups and downs, at least I have something to show for it now.  And no one can take that from me.  Also, playing higher wasn’t important to me at the time.  For some reason I wanted to gravitate towards a less stressful existence at the time.  I’m just now getting my real competitive nature back.

3)  I recently broke off a 5 month relationship.  It’s tough, but I feel like this is my only chance to get to where I want to be in the poker world.  However, the main reason honestly was that I couldn’t see myself ever moving in with the girl or wanting to marry her.  Therefore, I justified it as a waste of time in my mind.  It was great sex even at the end, but just not enough to cancel out all the negatives.  Also, I felt I didn’t have the time for a relationship anymore.  The 2 days wasted per week need to now be used to play and sometimes improve.  And when I do take a break I’d rather just spend the time with friends, not deal with her bull-shit.  Maybe I’m not capable of being in a relationship with anyone right now, and I’m fine with that for the time being.  I worked too hard to get myself in a position to be self-sustaining working for myself, I can’t throw that away yet; it’s all I have.  I have to fight on.

I think I'm back, I enjoyed writing this post.  Aiming to update after my sessions this weekend.  I'll be fighting.

Going forward I want to be playing 130 hours live per month, and 50 online minimum.  I expect to hit those numbers this October.