Fortunate as I am to be able to play poker for a living, new experiences are never all that far away but last weekends RAM Records gig at Ewer St. Car Park in London was definitely one to remember! Had a great team for the night with friends making the trip from Sheffield, Essex, Cambridge, Hull and Bristol to get involved and was well worth the journey!
Aside from the aforementioned jaunt its been mainly just spending time with family for birthdays and with my girlfriend for the last couple of weeks. Usually when I'm staying at home for a bit I play a ton of poker and have tended to do really well. I'm definitely more focused in an almost completely distraction-free environment and since I'm not in contact with many people from my old schools I have no shortage of time on my hands. This time though I actually spent a bit more time with family and less time in front of my laptop so volume wasn't quite as I would have expected. I had a vague goal of playing 40-50 hours and booking somewhere in the region of a 50 buyin winning trip home.
I didn't quite make the volume goals with 33 hours played but my February rungood has followed through into March and I managed to book a 45 buyin win running a few percentage points above EV so I'll definitely take that!
For now its back to Beverley for a couple of weeks of grinding and mourning the loss of DnB gigs. Nothing lined up 'till Brixton in late May since a family wedding in Scotland has fallen on the weekend of (a) the biggest night out of the year so far - a Hospital Records night in Leeds and (b) The £1k Monte Carlo tournamnet at DTD which would have been a great chance to catch up with a ton of people that I haven't seen for a while since I had to take a break from the live tournament circuit grindings late last year.
Some very interesting news appeared last week regarding the ISPT (International Stadiums Poker Tour) with the announcement that DTD were getting behind it, guaranteeing 1st place a €1m and putting on a huge satellite structure. Now that the event actually has some legitimacy behind it in stark contrast to the shambles that it looked a lock to turn into a few weeks ago, I'm definitely going to be grinding the satellite structure pretty hard and hopefully be making a run at Wembley when Day 2 of the event kicks off there at the end of May.
The PokerBet book is still open at Titan to back The Firm players at GUKPT Didsbury in 3 weeks time. The field is looking like being reasonably small in comparison to most live £500 events in the UK these days so if you want to back me or any other Team Titan player and get £35 in free bets with Titan for creating an account, check out the link with all the details here: http://thefirmpoker.com/services/pokerbet/
Playing volume was pretty light at the start of the year but having some time off definitely helped my mindset immensely. There tends to be a bit of a split amongst players coming off a big downswing. People tend to either want to put in huge volume and grind their way out of it, others take some time out and do a bit more studying. Before this year I was firmly in the insane grinding camp, happy to just go into lockdown and put in massive volume until its over. Not so much now though and I'm pretty happy with my decision to chill for a bit and work on my game some more instead. I ended up playing pretty light volume during the week and spending weekends in Sheffield/Leeds/London grinding the DnB gig circuit.
February marked a return to a more reasonable level of poker volume and luckily things started off well and continued in that vein. I'm playing pretty small compared to this time last year but crushing the games is huge for confidence and when I'm feeling good about my play I'm just going to play so much better. Obviously its no secret that fewer tables and greater concentration should lead to higher ROIs but I think its something that I let slip away from me a bit last year so its nice to return to some discipline and its showing in my results. Maybe its a symptom of getting a bit older but I don't so much want to win the world and play as high as I possibly can any more. I'm happy being a bankroll nit and just having a easy life. I've taken some pretty big shots in my poker career but I'm not one of the doom sayers that predict that poker will be unbeatable in a few years and at 23 time is firmly on my side, so for now it'll be slowly slowly catch monkey in terms of moving back up to the levels I was playing a year or so ago.
2013 So Far
Yesterday the new betting service from Titan and The Firm went live. It's called PokerBet and it allows you to bet on Team Titan players through the sportsbook. If the player you bet on final tables the bet returns whatever multiple of the buyin the player cashes for. The first event will be GUKPT Didsbury which is a £500 buyin so for example if you bet on me, I final table and cash for £3,500 the bet returns 7x your stake. The Firm will be doing live updates for all Team Titan players so it should make for a great sweat and hopefully it'll catch on!
Sign up to Titan using Promo Code: PokerBet and deposit £35 and you get another £35 in free bets
Full details and FAQ available here: http://thefirmpoker.com/services/pokerbet/
What suddenly bought all this on? Well the going has been pretty tough especially online so far in 2012. Started the year shot taking at the $500 games on ipoker again and for the third time around it went hilariously badly. I'm $12k under EV in the 180 games I've played lifetime at the $500 level so not much is going my way but I still maintain that those games are softer than the lower buyins which are more reg-infested. This is course promotes pretty aggressive bankroll management which obviously has the potential to backfire but hey ho, it was fun and I was back down to the $100s and $200s with a mission to get back to the $500s as soon as possible!
Since then its been pretty much breakeven before rakeback though which sucks but I noticed myself auto-piloting and not making optimal decisions fairly often in the period from January-March this year which is far more irritating than not making much money before rakeback. I've been getting involved with 2p2 again, posting on the HUSNG board and talking over hands with other regs on Skype which I never used to do.
Live poker this year however has been much more encouraging. I played a £150 freezeout at Gala in Leeds which made over 200 runners which was a pleasant suprise. Ended up coming 5th for ~£1.5k, AK < A6 for all the chips 4 handed but still a nice start to the year. Since Dusk Till Dawn decided to go ballistic and put huge guarantees on everything I've been playing a few more tournaments than usual there. Had two bullets in both of the £500 re-entries but bricks all round.
With morale not in great shape and online going badly it was time for a trip to Ireland and UKIPT Galway didn't disappoint. I went over with the guys from Main Event Travel who did a great job of sorting everything and generally making life easy on the trip so would definitely recommend. The setup in Galway is perfect - its at a hotel and the distance between the poker tables and the bar is no more than 50 feet. They also don't really like to close bars in Ireland so the drinks were flowing and aside from playing and bricking the main it was wall to wall drinking. The band hired for the welcome party weren't really sure what to make of our decision to cancel their set and make it a karakoe night but the undisputed star of the show had to be Dan Edler with a heart warming rendition of Sweet Child O' Mine. Unfortunately video evidence still exists somewhere of the butchery of Baggy Trousers by myself, Luke Fields, Sammy Mac and Rob Russell.
UKIPT Nottingham was a bit of a write off. I was pretty tilted from the start because I snap bought in for day 1c because I didn't really want to spend on hotels when Leeds is only a couple of hours away on the train but I ended up pinging a seat in the only sat I played on stars (run better) but despite having a seat for 1c already I had to unreg and play 1b so it was a 9am train for a midday start in Nottingham. I'm far from a natural at this waking up at 8am lark so was not a happy bunny joining the rat race at Leeds station. The only saving grace was that I managed to bust before the last train back so the trip was over in 10 hours and I'm left to remind myself of rule number one: Never Leave Leeds!
Not much longer left before a militant member of the cabin crew will no doubt tell me that I'm endangering the lives of everyone on board by displaying such insolence as to use a laptop AND and ipod at the SAME TIME. So tilting. Who knew that wanting to listen to a bit of Bob Marley during landing would put everyone else in such mortal danger that it has to be banned. The hostesses have a sixth sense for it too! Like when you were chewing gum at school (I know you were) and despite your best efforts you'd always have a manky bin put in front of your face and be told to spit it out. You even get a haunting episode from my childhood to to break up all the poker talk - can't say this blog isn't legit value! If anyone knows a good shrink PM me I guess. I'm pretty sure that when you walk onto the plane wearing headphones they clock you as being a troublemaker; living life on the edge checking the weather forecast on the runway.
Moving in went without a hitch, absolutely loving the location right in the centre of Leeds, less than a minutes walk from the train station. The apartment is on the top floor of what used to be a hotel which is pretty cool on the soundproofing front. I always have to be listening to music while I'm playing and having a subwoofer on the floor has caused complaints from neighbours below before now but still nothing after 5 days so looking good. After disastrous relations with the neighbours in Barca it'd be nice to get along this time around. At least we speak the same language.
I've decided to take it easy on the live trips in the first half of this year to consolidate before Vegas so the plan is to grind a ton online and in complete contrast to lildaves goal of playing 25 live tournaments this year I'm probably going to play less than 10 after playing a good 50+ in 2011. On both the Summer 2011 and Oct/Nov 2011 trips to Vegas I worked a ton on my live cash tekkers and I never really felt like I wasn't crushing those games playing 5/10 so during any extended stay in Vegas this year I'm definitely going to want to move up and grind some 10/20+. I'm not really a big fan of selling action in cash games so I'm just gunna try and take $100k to Vegas and grind 10/20 with some 25/50 shots. Still, June is a very long way away...
Until then I'm going to be grinding the HUsngs a ton as per on iPoker. Had a really rocky December running ~$7k under EV and never really feeling like I was playing great. January started in much the same vain but I've been doing some hand history reviews, had a couple of hours of coaching with HokieGreg (highly reccomended as a heads up sng coach) and discussed some things with other regs and I think I've got my mindset back in the right place so despite being a small loser (~$2k) over the first 300 games of 2012 I've pulled it back and am well on course to book a good month to kick off the year.
After doing some calculations in December it works out that if I put the hours in its pretty easy for me to make a ton in rakeback and even if I'm only a small winner in the games, $100k profit in the first 5 months of the year is ambitious but very attainable. If I can play 5,000 games at stakes from $100 to $500 this splits as follows:
Thats $30,750 in rakeback before we've even started doing some winning. Average ROI of 4.9% to hit the goal. I could definitely end up playing more volume than that though, got 357 games in alredy on the 7th of Jan!
I've seen a lot of posts on various blogs and forums about how setting monetary goals isn't a good idea and everyone wants to have these wishy washy achievements but at the end of the day no matter how many times you went to the gym a week or whether you managed to keep the pet hamster alive for 52 weeks of the year, if you didn't make money, you had a shit year. So there it is, rather than doing what everyone else is doing and giving a list of bullshit stuff and keeping a number in their head for how much they wanna make I'm just gunna let you know that $200k is the marker for the year. I'm don't plan on doing any high variance stuff like playing tons of live tourneys or going on big road trips this year, although Vegas in November I was adament I wasn't going then lildave managed to convince me in 10 minutes so theres definitely potential for impluse travelling. The only things definitely on the horizon are the Irish Open and WSOP 2012 right now.
Congrats to LFmagic and Marcin Milde for their respective Sunday Million binks in the last few weeks. Congrats also to Sam Grafton (SamSquid on stars) on crushing the start of 2012, been some good rails already so far this year!
After leaving Vegas and heading back to Barcelona there was the ridiculously tilting experience of having to wire money back from the Bellagio to the UK. My bank being Nationwide this was a massive stumbling block - basically Nationwide isn't a real bank so they can't handle international wires. Many phone calls later and now being on first name terms with most of the staff at the Bellagio cage it shook down that the only way to get my bankroll back to a bank would be to open a new bank account which meant flying back to the UK to do just that.
As most people can probably imagine, banks aren't really suited to dealing with poker players. Bank like to know whats going on and they like to call the shots so when you stroll in to open an account and the answers to the questions 'will your salary be paid into this account?', 'do you have any proof of income?' and 'do you actually have a job?' are no, no and no they don't really warm to you. The next problem is the word 'poker' and this is gunna be the game changer. At this point it depends who you're dealing with. It becomes clear pretty quickly that whoever is sitting on the other side of the desk can sort you out if they want to, so a little profiling is useful.
If you're up against the 40-odd year old woman in HSBC then once you throw in that you're a professional poker player she is probably gunna look at you like you just crawled in through the sewage pipe and should probably return because her honourable and reputable establishment doesn't deal with 'people like me'. She didn't offer me an HSBC account.
On to Barcalays then and the manager there fit exactly the same profile as the gatekeeper at HSBC so I didn't even bother. Absolutely struck gold at Santander though, the manager on duty was a 20-odd year old guy that found the poker thing all very interesting so 20 minutes later I have a bank account that actually works. Now I've just got to wait for an avalanche of paper to come through the mail to be able to use it. How they surmise that posting 10 separate letters with cards and security numbers in them would be more secure than just giving them to be at the bank I don't know but the charade continues for about a week until its all up and running. For the pennies they give you in interest it'd probably be far less hassle to just keep it all hidden around the house Rounders style.
I'm moving into a new place in Leeds with Ben Martin and Luke Fields on the 2nd so if all goes well my next post will come from there and it'll be some goals for 2012. Renting an apartment is another ridiculously irritating encounter with the real world but thats a story for another time. The first of my goals I think will be to keep accurate records so that I can actually do a decent yearly review starting with 2012!
Hope you all had a good christmas and the best of luck for 2012