Newbie here too but fast learner.
Smoker temp control is an art. Catch the movements up or down when they start and make small adjustments on air flow to counter.
Everything I've read says to calculate 1.5 to 2 hours per pound on a BB as a rough estimate. Probe the thickest part of the meat at least 1/2" away from the bone. My et-732 meat probe reads high by 2 degrees so I figure that in when reading the temp.
My first BB was a small one at 4 lbs, bone in. I was counting on 6-8 hours. I also tracked the rise in temperature. With my smoker solidly between 225 and 235, the meat probe crossed the magic 170 temp at 5 hours. At 170 the fat and connective tissue begins melting and breaking down. My target was 195 to 203. At 8 hours it was only at 176. I cranked the temp up on the smoker to 250-255 and the meat temp rose to 185 and stalled again. At 9 hours I poked at the roast and gave the bone a little twist and it was obviously done. Pulled it off, didn't let it rest all (people were hungry), and it was tender, juicy, and pulled beautifully.
The lesson I took away from that first attempt was to keep track of the time above 170. 4 hours above 170 was plenty for fat/connective tissue breakdown even though I was still 10 degrees below my target.
BTW, kudos to the folks at Maverick. My smoker temp probe failed after only 4 uses. (I know about not kinking and how to wash correctly from my Maverick OT-3BBQ). I sent a nice e-mail to the folks at Maverick customer service along with my online receipt. They responded the next day and a new probe is already on the way. THAT my friends is customer service!
Edited by Noboundaries - 9/14/13 at 7:09am