The month of June has kicked off and the Summer has officially arrived. The days are getting longer, the weathers improving and poker players from all around the world are flocking to a little town in the Desert to battle hard for shiny gold bracelets. What a fantastic time of year!
Since my last update in April a lot has happened with me on the poker front. The higlight of which being my second live tournament win and also by far my biggest ever score. It came in the FPS-Amneville; a €1100 pokerstars run tournament in East France. After 3 long days battling on the felt I managed to run good enough and maintain focus to come out winning it for €70,000, keeping €54k for myself after a chop heads-up. In hindsight, and hindsight is such a bitch, I do kind of regret doing a chop. My heads-up opponent wasn't great but his willingness to get it in relatively light preflop meant heads-up could be pretty high variance and the €26k jump between 1st and 2nd was and still is pretty huge for me especially as stacks got shallower and the blinds slowly creeped up as the night progressed. The tournament on the whole was incredibly soft though, partly due to being in France and partly because the SCOOP online series was going on at the same time resulting in not many competent players being in the field. Despite that, as the cream normally seems to rise to the top in these events, the final table was by far the toughest table I had played in the tournament thus far. Although saying that, I probably also ran-good on table draws which is another factor many people overlook. We got down to 3-handed and thanks to PokerStars' excellent structure in these events found ourselves all pretty even with 50bb a piece. And I thought the grind was almost over. We entered 3-handed play at 6pm and after many swings and fluctuations in my chip-stack I managed to finally win all the chips by 4:30am. An extremely exhausting but truly gratifying experience.
After the win, my next priority was to get out of France as fast as possible. The sun was shining, the food was delicious, but I had one thing on my mind; grind on the mind! With my new-found bankroll boost and just one more week of SCOOP left to donate/make money in I was surprisingly more motivated than ever to get back online and start grinding hard. I really enjoy grinding hard in these online poker series especially ones with mixed games with good structures.
For me personally I rarely get involved in mixed-game tournaments, usually when I'm grinding for simplicitys sake I like to stick to NLHE only and think that most mixed game tournaments on Stars either have very small fields or the buy-in is just too low to bother with. I could grind the weekly $200s but they're normally on Saturday or Sunday when I'm overloaded with NLHE tournaments and I ideally like to reduce my tables whilst playing other variants of poker and really concentrate more on optimal lines. Whereas I think I can play mixed games in that I know the rules and basic strategies, I'm far from competent in any of the variants but love the challenge and genuinely do enjoy playing them.
So that's what I started to do. In the SCOOP I got deep runs in the $50 LHE 6max, $24 Stud-hi, $27 Razz and the highlight of my SCOOP being a 6th place finish in the $215 NL Omaha hi/lo. I'd not actually played no-limit omaha hi/lo before (other than the satelitte to the event!) but have played a fair amount of cash in FL H/L, pot limit H/L and PLO so I had a fair understanding of what I was doing. I have to say I think it's a really really fun game type and something I'm going to be looking to play more of in the future. It's much more suited in my eyes towards tournament play over cash games but that's fine with me as I prefer a tournament grind any day of the week. I also managed to cash 4/4 times in the Sunday $27 and $215 6max tournaments. I don't play a huge amount of 6max tournaments as they do require a lot more attention than full ring. But with the amazing SCOOP structures I was able to play a relatively solid style and watch people spew stacks left, right and center and was lucky enough to be the reciepient in a lot of cases. My best run in these was 37/5200 in the final $200 6max. All I can say now is bring on WCOOP!
Since SCOOPs winded down I've taken a couple of weeks to relax, get away from poker and catch up with friends. I've just come back from a hiking holiday in the Scottish highlands and I'm currently relaxing on the south coast in Devon stuffing my face with far too many pasties and cream-teas! The tough life ;)
I'll be getting back on the grind as of next weekend. It'll be a week and a half until I leave for Vegas so I'll see it as a good warmup and hopefully run hot enough to get a good run going before the live grind later on this month.
As for Vegas, I'm not 100% sure what I'll be playing yet. I'll be there for just over 2 weeks to grind side-events and then there's the main. I think at the moment that I'll be keeping my own action in the side-events and will put up a package for the main event. Although I'd love to start grinding some of the mixed games at the series, I don't know if I can justify playing them. I'm still not competent enough or put the hours in off the table to be confident enough in my abilities to be playing tournaments at the top of my buy-in range in mixed events. But damn, would they be fun. I might try a couple of punts this Summer but over-all it will just be the No Limit grind. I'll probably be spreading most of my action between the Rio and the Venetian with possible trips downtown or to Caesers. I'm slightly concerned with playing the lower buy-ins on my own roll rather than putting up a bigger package to play larger buyin WSOP events. Whereas the competition will be tougher in the bigger buy-ins (and I'm talking $2ks/$3ks not $5ks or higher) due to the better structures and much lower rake they may in fact be more beatable. I'll have to have a think about this one. I always prefer keeping as much of my own action as possible, but in the past this has led to nasty downswings where I've been playing pretty under-rolled. Regardless, with my new bankroll boost I'm really pumped to get out there and start grinding in Vegas. It's going to be amazing win or lose I'm sure.
GL at the tables guys, unless something huge happens the next update will be in Sunny Las Vegas!
My last blog entry was in January after I was just returning from the PCA and a short Vegas excursion. Since then a lot has happened and I have a lot more planned for 2012. This is definately shaping up to be a fantastic year so far...
So after returning from my American adventures I had three things on my mind; get back on the online grind, get back on the health+fitness grind, my girlfriend. And not necessarily all in that order! I always find that I feel the same way on my return flight every time I take a trip across the pond. Everything always seems to cost so much more on these American trips than I originally budget for. Coming from England where it's pretty clear how much everything costs it can be a slight shock to the naieve Brit to see how much you are actually paying for everything out there. A simple example is going for a meal in a restaurant. You might order a £10 meal in England, after the meal you'll pay the £10 charge and if you were satisfied with the service leave a tip. In America however, the prices are very deceptive indeed. For one, the price never reflects the true cost of the good or service as tax is never included in the advertised price. So a $10 burger can end up costing $12.46 at the cashier. Similarly tipping is more of a compulsary social etiquette where you can really be frowned upon if you don't tip the expected amount despite how you might rate the quality of service. I still remember how shocked I was in my first Summer in Vegas where me and my house mates went for a meal and had some of the worst service I've ever have in a restaurant. The waitor was rude, got our orders wrong, put no effort in and really put no effort in creating an enjoyable experience for our party. However, one of the house-mates from California despite the agreeance amongst us of the bad service felt compelled to pay a full 15% tip just because that is the norm. It's the same for dodgy taxi drivers. It's pretty obvious from my accent I'm not a local in America but I've been often enough to know my way around Vegas pretty well so when a taxi driver takes you on the long-route to bump up the fare why the hell should we tip for that? Ha, enough of the rant. Overall I think service in America really is significantly better than in England which is weird as they expect tips almost all of the time whereas in England you'd expect a greater effort for tips as the expectation isn't always there. Similarly, I admire the corporate hustle. Corporate service-sector America seems to have successfully brain-washed the population into believing that as customers one should be responsible for effectively paying the wages of the employees on top of the price of the service rather than the corporations paying their employees a proper wage themselves.
Also the fatness. It's scary. I love my food. There's not much more that I enjoy in Vegas than digging my teeth into a giant double-double animal style burger from In'N'Out with mountains of cheesy fries on the side and washing it all down with a full-fat milkshake. The difference being that in America, in Vegas in particular, it's far too common a site to see the results of what this kind of diet can lead to. And it is scary. Just take a look at the World Series Of Poker in the Summer at the Rio. The amount of people that rely on over-sized shopmobility scooters to get them around the casinos because they're too big to walk around themselves is just shocking. In Britain walking around you rarely see the kind of obesity that you see over there. Sure, it's fair to say the average 40-50 year old male has a bit of a beer belly and maybe devoured one too many pies in their time but not to the same extent. I think it would be far too easy to slip into a destructive lifestyle with the availabilty of cheap and tasty fast-food out there and it's certainly a route that I'm determined, despite my weakness for all things fatty (except the ladies!), to steer well clear of.
So as I came back, grind was officially back on my mind. I mainly focused on grinding online and was off to a great start in February starting the year off on a nice heater after a slowish start. Unfortunately I hit somewhat of a standard downswing online donating back ~$15k in a 2 week period. With an average buy-in of around $40-$50 you can imagine how those two weeks went!
Stars seems to be somewhat a big factor towards my $15k downswing. Variance on that site can be really nasty and I'm sure I don't help myself out with my game selection. I usually just play the big 109/big162 and then flick it in for some of the late night turbos and of course the Sunday majors. Not exactly the low-variance route I should probably be taking but in playing these select tournaments on a regular basis without much filling them I have to come to the realisation that $20k+ downswings can almost be viewed as 'standard'. Not something I like to think about too much! If you're playing just on Pokerstars like a lot of people do, I would really recommend filling in your schedule with lower-variance tournaments while you play. Be it big-field soft tournaments (like the big11 if you're really over-rolled for it) cap-tournaments and 180man games. Exclusively playing big field tournaments with big guarantees can of course offer the chance of that big 5-figure score, but just be prepared for the variance that comes a long with it!
In terms of live I've played a fair bit, but mainly kept it local at Dusk Til Dawn. I'm really liking the way the clubs shaping up. Recently they had a £500 (re-entry)/£250k gtd that beat the guarantee and last weekend was the mahooosive UKIPT Nottingham with a £1million guarantee on the £770 buyin tournament which again beat it's guarantee. A great sign for UK poker and I'm just so greaful that the clubs right on my door-step. Talking about UKIPT Nottingham, those who follow my twitter might be aware I made a deep day-3 run in the event in the end busting 41st/~1700 people for a £2.7k payday. This was my first day-3 in well over a year which was really refreshing. To be fair, most of the tournaments I play are usually over in 2 days (not that I'd know :p) so I can't really complain. But it was such a big morale boost to actually get a run together in one of these tournaments. I've actually made a suprisingly high number of day 2's this year mainly in DTD deepstacks but haven't had the fortune of turning that into any financial gain so this deep UKIPT run was a real motivational-boost.
This is my second UKIPT of the year after making the trip across to Galway in February for the weekend. I didn't have much success over there as I ever have really in Ireland but off the felt I had one of the best poker-weekends I've had. So many people I knew made the trip over for this and despite playing in Dublin a few times my experience in Galway was far superior. Without going into too much detail, as due to the amount of guiness consumed on the weekend my memory is a little hazy, but Irish pubs are the best. I really enjoyed it over clubbing for instance. Socially it was far superior and the atmosphere with live music made for some really great nights out.
Onto the future!
I have a lot planned and many exciting trips for the forthcoming weeks. First off is the Marbella Poker Festival in South Spain this coming week. This plans to be a great festival. About 15 of the guys from the midlands area have rented a couple of villas for the week and we're all pretty pumped to play the WPT-regional which is in effect the main-event of the festival. There is quite a few side-events too from the €200-€700 range which I'll be grinding. I'm sure there will also be a healthy mix of beer/sun/beach/bbq/pool parties mixed into the works to make a quite memorable trip..We shall see!
After that I'm heading off to FPS-Amneville, a €1k tournament in east France. I qualified for €100 so hoping the expenses aren't too high for the trip. I've had a lot of success on pokerstars.fr so far this year, in fact I'm pretty sure it's the site I'm up on the most by a considerable amount, so I feel like I'm quite well adjusted for whatever spewy lines the French throw at me. Also despite somewhat common consensus amongst poker players I really like France. It's the only other language than English which I have any chance of having a conversation in, I love the food and scenically much of the country is quite stunning.
A few more tournaments in and around Nottingham and then it's Vegas time again! This'll be my fourth visit to Sin City as it's effect certainly isn't wearing off on me just yet. Despite only being there in January I can't wait to go back and getting grinding the Summer tournaments. I'm going for 3 weeks this year rather than the 6 weeks I've done the previous two years. I know once the series kicks off and I start reading peoples twitter updates about how they're doing in the side events I'll be longing more than ever to catch the next flight over, but resist I must! I'm really hoping I can get a good, cheap online qualifier to the main event. I'm in for roughly $1k already in qualifiers without any sweats of an early main event package bink. Hopefully it won't take too long or cost too much to qualify this year. Last year I qualified on AP relatively early on in one of the $640 qualifiers. That didn't mean much though as my $10k is still sat on their site with my withdrawl still 'processing' over 12 months later. If I ever saw a penny of that money again I would be a very very happy bunny!
After Vegas, I'll be heading north to Montana for a week in the great outdoors. I'm expecting lot's of hiking, shooting, fishing, quad biking and basically a week to recover in nature after the 3 week Vegas grind. I've always wanted to explore more of America since my first visit but have felt in previous years that after 6 weeks in the desert all I really want to do is just get back home and get back to normality. After that it's home for a week before jetting off again for Turkey for my first non-poker related vacation for a long while with friends from home.
Couple all of this with the upcoming Party Poker poker-fest and Pokerstars SCOOP I have a very busy few months planned. As always I'll be trying to squeeze as many online-grind sessions in in the meanwhile and hopefully I'll get out of this mini-downswing soon and have a sexy upward graph to gloat about in my next blog post!
After my trip to the Bahamas for the PCA I decided to make a slight de-tour before coming home by chilling in Vegas for 8 days. This was my third trip to Vegas. Previously I've just visited Sin City during the WSOP in the Summer for extended 6 week stays primarily with grind-on-the-mind so it was quite refreshing to come to Vegas just to relax and enjoy everything the city has to offer outside of the abundance of card-rooms.
I was staying with one of my American friends, Kenny, who had relocated and moved into a pretty sweet bungalow just south of the strip with a big pool, garden and huge rooms with an impressive looking kitchen. Unfortunately over the "festive" period some local pikeys burgled him when he was back home in Miami seeing family so the house was looking pretty bare. My other good friend Zach made the flight down from Michigan for the week. Our trip was probably quite good timing as it would allow us to give Kenny a good moral boost and have fun Vegas-style.
One of my favourite things about Vegas is the food. Being a fat bastard this is always pretty much a highlight of the trip. If anyones interested I can recommend a whole host of restaurants/bars/fast food places I could recommend and I'm no way near sampling all the city has to offer. The thing about Vegas food that I think a lot of tourists don't realise is that in my opinion just a short drive off the strip you can get some incredible restaurants/diners/fast food joints and everything is so much cheaper! I won't actually go on too much more about the food as it's literally making me hungry as I type this but here's a photo below. Mmmmm :)
I decided to hire a convertible Ford Mustang for the week which was on offer by Hertz rentals for my stay so inevitably couldn't wait to get out of the city and try this piece of all American Muscle out on the desert roads. Just a side note, after a whole week of doing wheel-spins and bombing around from place to place my fuel bill for the trip was only $40, must be nice to be American! Alas, back to the story. One of the first trips we did was making the 50 minute drive-out to the snow-capped mountains just outside of the city. Our destination was mount Charleston where you can actually go skiing and snow-boarding. How weird is that? Just outside of this incredibly hot desert there are ski resorts within an hours drive. Pretty cool regardless. The hike up to the top of the mountain is incredible. Dark blue skies with the sun shining off the icy snow patches. Really scenically beautiful and most likely the best hike I've ever had. At the end of the walk which took us to a great frozen water-fall which flows in the Summer months there's a huge frozen icicles hanging from the rock face. It didn't take us long to start sliding down the ice until we almost got crushed by some falling ice from the cliff face above. Ooops :p
We also had another great night out seeing the dubstep group 'Skrillex' at Surrender in the Wynn. Lot's of pre-gaming beer pong with hidden shots of various liquors and an awesome atmosphere at the club resorted in an amazing night out. I've not actually had that many nights out in the past on my Vegas trips. I used to do a lot of clubbing as a student at uni, but since graduating other than on holidays I really very rarely go. In Vegas in previous years we've always stuck to the bars rather than the somewhat pricey clubs but after seeing Skrillex I really think I've got to try hitting the clubs again especially on my next Vegas trip in the Summer.
Now to the gambling, what the city's famous for. I did very little pit-gambling just spewing off a couple of $100 messing around having drinks playing video poker. We did manage to get a few sessions in at the poker tables though. In total I played 3 sessions of $1/$2 and predominantly $2/$5 coming out with a $1000 profit on the trip. Unfortunately this could have been a bit more if I didn't lose a $2400 pot spazzing queens into Aces in a $2/$5/$10 game with a missippi straddle but what do you do. I enjoy playing cash in Vegas way way more than in England. I'm not sure why, maybe the lower rake, nicer scenery, efficiency and softness of the games. Who knows. Maybe it's just I like to sub-conciously gamble in Vegas but feel retarded if I spew money at the craps or roulette table. Anyway it was nice to run good over this short sample and book a tidy cash win. Zach and I also decided to flick it in for a couple of $1ks happening at the Red Rock casino a few miles off from the main strip (awesome casino btw I really liked the vibe in there). It was a $1k/$250k gtd re-entry tournament with 3 flights. My day 1a table was hilarious. I was the youngest guy on there by 30-40 years and the play was a joke. I guess it was mainly just old locals as there seemed to be almost no advertising for the tournament series and obviously no online satelittes and I feel that most of the sicko tournament guys that live in Vegas were in Australia or in LA for their respective series. The table talk did get very interesting though and with the addition of Dave Sands (Doc_Sands) I found out that 3 of my 8 table mates had played the PCA $100k super-high roller a week earlier. Sickos! 2 of them were 60+ billionaires that were both planning on playing the $1m WSOP 2012 tournament too and Doc_Sands the very good tournament pro that managed to get 2nd in the PCA $100k. Why he didn't make the trip to Australia I don't know but he certainly made the table tougher. I didn't get much going in either of my entries running AK into Aces and doing my stack off to Doc_Sands with AhTx on KhJh7x flop in a 3bet pot. #OntoTheNextDonation right?
So overall I had an incredible time. It's kind of weird seeing Vegas not in the peak of the Summer, but even in their winter-time it's just like a British Summer. Blue skies and you can get away with a t-shirt/shorts combo in the day and wearing a jumper at night as the temperature drops. Although I'm just at Vegas airport at the moment, I'm already looking forward to my next trip over in the Summer for the world series. I think this upcoming trip will be shorter than previous years. I aim to go up to Montana for a few days prior to the WSOP trip hunting/camping/fishing and enjoying the great natural outdoors before plumetting myself in the Artificial wonderland that is Vegas for a couple of weeks. First priority though is to bink another WSOP package, and hopefully this time get the money for it :)
I'm currently sat in Miami airport waiting for my connection to Vegas from Nassau in the Bahamas where I spent the last 9 days donating in live tournaments, relaxing by the pool and eating mediocre food! It still feels weird for me to be sat in this airport now and to not be allowed to fire up any of my poker skins and play an online session without fear of getting my account frozen. But that's a different matter. Sort it out yanks!
In the end I really enjoyed my time in the Bahamas. Despite what seems to be the ongoing trend in the poker community the Atlantis resort is, in my opinion, a great getaway and a great place to spend a week in the sun especially in January whilst most of Northern Europe is grey, wet and horrible. Sure, the food in the Bahamas is very bland and expensive but what can you really expect? It's an isolated group of Islands in the middle of the sea without any farms or ability to grow fresh crops. On the food front I wish there was more fresh local produce like more fresh-fish and fruit as opposed to lot's of over-priced burgers and pizzas but whatever, no-one comes to the Bahamas for the food anyway! I think people like to complain a lot more than they probably should, so I'm going to focus on the positives and point out the factors that resulted in me having a great week.
I've never actually been to a resort like the Atlantis, but the hotel pretty much occupies this massive island just off the main Island of the Bahamas. The Island the resort's on is called 'Paradise Island' which probably leads back to a lot of peoples criticism of the place. It is pretty artificial in the fact that this Island is custom built for the hotel and the entertainment complex that it holds. But in my opinion, it does it really well. Throughout the Island there is a huge network of pools, hidden coves and river networks all interwined and surrounded by really well kept tropical fauna and palm trees. What's more the beaches on Paradise Island are incredible. Picture white sands and clear warm waters. It really doesn't get much better. Throughout the island there is also some amazing sea-life. Not only are there the very well trained dolphins and sea-lions which do tricks on demand (artificial blah blah blah whatever a dolphin running 20 meters backwards across the water like a Jesus-style Micheal Jackson moonwalk impression is cool enough regardless!) but there are also other bad-asses like hammer-head shark pools which you can view circling below you as you clamber across swaying rope bridges. As well as a range of other sharks, starfish, tropical beasts of various shapes and sizes the animal that most impressed me was the stingrays. Some of them were literally monstorous in size about 4 meters long. I always thought they were pretty small on the whole but a few of these were absolutely massive. They were so elegant swimming past each other too and they look so alien I was pretty amazed. I guess it's the little things that count :)
One of the best times I had on the Island was on the lazy-river. The resort somehow also doubles as a massive water-park intertwined with various slides, shoots and waterways all designed to be accessible by plonking your fat ass on an inflatable tube and just lolling away to wherever the current takes you. It's also pretty awesome how they have massive conveyor belts that once you've looped around to the end hoist you up to the top of another slide so you can start all over again. A perfect way to spend an afternoon in the sunshine.
Now onto the poker. I played the main and had a pretty good table draw. The only recognisable names on my table was one of Moormans horses Chronic420 (pretty aggro, spazzy) but he was to my right and Mike Leah (GoLeafsGoeh online, a very good solid TAG) but he was to my left. Other than that the table just had your typical live setting of button clicking tards and old nits. I played a solid style, picking on the weaker players on the table and chipped up relatively variance-free from the 30k starting stack to 55k.
I got a kind of lucky donation on my way though. At 75/150 a bad older guy from the States who obviously had far too much money and was being super-splashy raised in early position to 450 and I made it 1100 on the button with AKo expecting him to flat almost his entire opening range which for an old guy from his position was pretty wide as far as I had seen so far. He was talking to the guy next to him, pulled in the 250 and chucked 2 5k chips out there making a raise to 10,100. I looked at him and I was almost entirely sure he hadn't meant this which was confirmed by his face going bright red and him looking like he just shit himself really bad. I shoved and he snap folded so that was a nice little chip-up. I think if he hadn't had been chatting to the guy next to him and didn't look like he genuinely just shit himself it could be a closer spot as people definately like to fake mis-click live and everyone falls for it. I guess it's kinda douchy and angle shooting but whatever if it works it works!
My downfall started at 250/500/50. An active player opened from early position to 1500 and got a flat. I flatted behind in the cut-off with JJ. 3-bettings certainly an option but we both had over 100 big blinds and I really didn't want to get it in at that point or get 4bet bluffed so I elected to flat. It folded to the big blind who was a young kid but really wasn't that good. He was from Canada and I'd seen him mess up a few times, not value-betting when he should and just doing stupid stuff. He had 16k to start the hand and 3bet to 4300. I'd seen he was definately capable of squeezing light before and 3betting. I'd got the better of him 3/3 times so far on the day and felt he was getting frustrated being down to half stack. Still I think with that sizing out of position and given the early position of his raise I should fold my jacks if it comes back to me. As happened, it folded back to me, I thought meh he's enough of a spazz and clicked it back/called into his aces. I think for most people it's a clear fold given his sizing pre and that there's a fairly good change he just peels with a hand like 2-8s and probably sizes 9-T's more as my table was pretty hood to 3bets and I expect he wouldn't want to play a pot OOP with a hand like 9's or T's that flops pretty badly with more than a pot sized bet behind in his stack.
In the end I accumulated a little more, made it to the penultimate level of day 1 and got in kings v QTo in a 3bet pot on a TTx board with Chronic420 when I was a little too shallow to be getting away from my hand vs. him specifically.
Other than that, I played a few of the side events in the later part of the week as the weather turned a little more sour. I felt like I played well and had deep runs in 4 out of the 6 tournaments I played. Unfortunately that didn't mean a whole lot as I only cashed for $640 mincashing a $300 turbo. I came 10 off the money in the $1k side getting coolered near the bubble. I got deep runs in 2/3 of the ridiculously soft $300 turbos I played and came 9th with 5 paid in the 2p2 HORSE event. On the plus side, I played 4 live sit'n'go's on the trip. 2x$220 and 2x$430. I managed to win one of both buyins for $1k and $2k respectively and had a $400 bonus in the $430 after 5 of us got involved in a $100 last longer at the table. So it wasn't all fail :)
I'll just explain the 2p2 HORSE event now as it was honestly the funnest tournament I've probably ever played live. I would love it so much if the UKIPT could spread it on their stops. The basic rules are that every player gets dealt 3 cards face down. THe button then looks at his hand and chooses which variety of HORSE he wants to play. The games that those don't know are all limit: holdem, Omaha 8 or better, Razz, Stud Hi and Stud 8 or better. So for instance if the dealer chooses holdem, the blinds are placed and every player discards one card. Similarly if it's omaha every player gets another card. The limit games were really fun and the mix was great. Most people chose razz/omaha/holdem which are by far the funnest games in the rotation. In the stud games when they were chosen there was also the added strategy of choosing which card you want to put face-up. For instance in razz, the highest card has to bring in so based on what cards other people show affects your decision for what card you should show. Not only due to blockers but also due to your position on 3rd street betting and not wanting to bring-in if you've got a bad hand! I'm not very good at mixed games but after playing that really really wish there was more low-buyin mixed games on the poker tour. It was such a fun change to just grinding NLH full ring which can get so so boring. There was a really fun atmosphere at the tournament and everyone had a great time. Please stars, more of this at your future tournament stops!
So that was my week! I had a great time and enjoyed seeing the sun again. Now it's onto Vegas. I'm going to probably chill a few days doing the usual vegas stuff of eating out, a bit of pit gambling and just enjoying life. And then later in the week there are a few $350 side events for the WSOPc at Caesers and a $1100/$250k gtd tournament at the red rock casino which I might donate in. Should be fun!
2011 was a big year for me. For starters, it was my first full calender year playing MTTs professionally and it was a great year. According to sharkscope I played around 6,000 tournaments online and managed to come out with $119k profit for the year which I'm very happy with. My best scores for the year came in a WCOOP final table coming 6th in one of the $320 tournaments, winning a Sunday $50r for $14k and on the live front getting a majority chop in a $500 venetian deepstack for just over $25k :)
On the non-poker front the year has been absolutely amazing, and quite possibly the most exciting year so far to date of my life.
I kicked off the year partying hard in Goa in India and in the end extending my 2 week holiday to over 6 weeks. India really is an amazing country and I'd love to try and take another trip over there this year at some point. It's honestly not for everyone. In fact I think a lot of people I know probably wouldn't like it all. It's dirty, there's obvious poverty and you're almost guaranteed to get the shits if you are over there. But for those that enjoy travelling, especially more adventurous do-it-yourself kind of travelling it's probably hard to rival. It's like a different world, the weather's amazing, the food is incredible, culturally it's so different and the people are really kind and helpful. Memories for life :)
Me, Pillow100 in Seville, Spain.
After Goa I came back to England for a few weeks and got back on the grind rebuilding pretty quickly. Always nice to start the year off on a heater (repeat please!). One massive motivation for the grind was to build up a roll for Vegas in the summer. I played a few live tournaments in England and a trip to Seville, Spain for a GSOP with little financial success but plenty of good times off the felt.
Luckboxing at the Venetian, Las Vegas, USA.
Then came Vegas. Another 6 weeks in the Sun in Sin City. This year I hired a car, stayed in a house off the strip with some of my best mates in Poker and had the time of my life. I just love Vegas!! I had a rough start to the trip pretty much bricking everything I played but finally got something going in a Venetian side event putting my first official win on the hendon mob page. More of that to come in 2012 I hope! I feel like I had a great balance in Vegas this year. A good mix of grinding tournaments, chilling, eating out, going to shows and having a great time. It was an amazing trip.
Home again and despite the bink I was hardly up for the series (getting sucked out on in $10ks for the lose!). I kind of got screwed over a little after winning a main event package on AP pre-black friday which never materialised after the site went broke. Just like a business, you've got to write these off as bad-debts and move on. Shame tho as that extra $10k I put up for the main event really bit into the profits of the trip despite selling action. Regardless of that, I'm definately giving the WSOP Main Event another shot next summer hopefully satelitting in again and this time hopefully actually getting the seat I won :p (oh and then binking the tourn obv!)
The Online Grind in Nottingham, England.
After spending far too much money in Vegas it was back to the online grind for the rebuild. I'd just moved into my new flat in Nottingham which I'm really happy about. A little more money that my previous place but a lot nicer in a much nicer location. I was living in a highrise block of flats right in the city center. I'm now living in a much smaller building and can even see trees from my windows! I also bought a car after my Summer trip, a big shiny VW Passat 2.0 estate. A curious purchase perhaps, but I love it. After spending 3 months in the past couple of years in Vegas and seeing the massive cars people drive over there I just couldn't bring myself to buy some a small hatchback and didn't have near enough the roll to buy a massive land-rover or sports car. So estate it is!
David Vamplew, Jon Spinks, Me in San Remo, Italy.
I decided to play my first ever EPT in Autumn heading over to Italy for San Remo. I bricked the whole series and was still taking a pretty big % of myself which hurt a little but the trip itself was incredible. Being the fat shit I am, I literally went on calorie-overload. Every meal was amazing and I had a great time socially meeting up with a lot of people on the EPT stop. Everyone was friendly and there was a really good vibe about the whole scene. Definately big motivation to start binking and playing satelittes again to EPTs in 2012.
So that was my year scrawled out in a few paragraphs. It was certainly action-packed and I'm hoping 2012 is just as prosperous and exciting.
1) [x] Ship a major - I'm kind of half ticking this box. I did in fact manage to ship a major, being the Everest Poker weekly $50r big tournament. I managed to bink it later on in the year for $14k. Hardly a "major" bink but seeing as it is the weekly big tournament on the site I think it counts. I had a few other close calls in other majors throughout the year. I managed to get an 8th in the iPoker major, a 6th in a $320 WCOOP on Stars and 6 seperate final table bubbles of majors.
2) [x] Health and Fitness -Pretty happy on this one. I'm not quite at the stage of being a Men's Health cover model just yet but I'm heading in the right direction. I've had a gym membership at Virgin Active for a few months now and seeing improvements in my fitness and lifting. I also got into a really good habit this year of cooking a lot more and I don't think I ordered a single takeaway when grinding by myself throughout the year. My diet is still kind of an issue as I do love my food and in large quantities but I've learnt a lot more about food and the do's and don'ts so hoping I can apply that a little more in 2012 and keep striving towards a well balanced healthy lifestyle.
3) [ ] Improving my game -My games moved forward a lot this year but I still feel like I could have put more effort into the theoretical side of the grind. I still try to note interesting hands down mid-session to review later but have been doing this less in the past few months and watching less training videos too. It's so important to keep ahead of the curve playing professional poker and far too easy to fall back and watch the game pass you by. More effort needed in 2012!
4) [x] Grinding hard live -Again I'm half ticking this box. I've played a good amount live this year and I'm down a fair chunk despite a small bink in the Summer. Luckily I've not been too degenerate and have either been satelitting in a fair bit or selling action but still. As I've mentioned in previous blog entries, I seem to be on a constant pattern of building up a good roll online and then playing live, having crap results, spending too much and having to drop down in stakes again. Rinse and repeat! Less buying into live tournaments and more satelitting in. I guess I just need to get it into my head that missing certain live tournaments won't be the end of the world and I shouldn't feel guilty for missing out on so called "value" tournaments.
5) [x] Travel less, save more -I've calmed down my travel a little but it is a big hobby. Other than my Indian trip at the start of the year most of my trips had some sort of poker orientation to them. I'm always happy to take a little time off while travelling on poker trips to enjoy life wherever I end up so I'm happy with this. I'm also happy with not always ballin out and roughing it up a bit too to save money. More of this to come :)
6) [x] Vegas. Had a great trip, played a big schedule, rented a car and had a great time. Not a tough goal to achieve but it was one anyway!
1) Less Live Shot Taking -Travelling to play live is expensive, holds a big opportunity cost and going off past records not as profitable as it seems. I need to get out of the cycle of building a big roll online and spunking it off taking shots in live tournaments. More satelittes and then selling action if I get in.
2) $400k in online buyins for the year. -This year I had about $340k in online buy-ins for the year whilst taking off the whole of January while in India, 6 weeks whilst in Vegas and most of December. I'd also like to try for a 50% ROI over this sample. Much much easier said than done though.
3) Bink a major -Has to be done. I don't plan on taking many Sundays off this year. Let's go heater!
4) Improving my game -More hand analysis, more watching training videos, more talking strat with fellow grinders! Time is the only issue. It is boring but it's an investment. Got to be done.
5) Pursuing other business opportunities -I'm pretty lazy when it comes to doing "work" outside of Poker. I put in long hours and often feel like I can't be bothered to research in my spare time. But I think it'd be great if in a years time I could have other forms of income coming in besides poker. After all, you can get rich from poker, but can only really earn true wealth from business.
6) Health and Fitness -Keep at the gym, keeping eating healthily and keep learning more about health and fitness. I'm a firm believer that leading a healthy life outside of poker helps to keep focus and give results on the felt.
So that about sums up this epicly long blog post. For those that made it to the end, congrats and best of luck in 2012.
So the year's coming to a close and I've pretty much finished the poker-grind for the year. And I'm happy to report it's been a good one :) I'll go into more detailed specifics in a blog post nearer the new year reviewing my goals of 2011 and collaborating some New Years resolutions and goals for 2012. A little more thought is needed on that front in the meanwhile.
December's been a pretty low-volume month on the whole. What with a lot of visiting of family and friends, drinking and pretty much enjoying life I've hardly played any sessions. I'm fine with that after a really heavy volume month in November. I've been playing on the new modern warfare game on the PS3 this month which I'm loving grinding online, especially in domination mode. I've also been catching up and finishing off some really good TV series lately. I would thoroughly recommend people that haven't tried the following series to give them a try, TV really is amazing these days.
-Board Walk Empire
In terms of actual poker in the few online sessions I did play I (finally) binked a seat to UKIPT Galway. It's a €770 seat and I'm sure I'm in for about €600-€900 in the sats so it's not really a massive discount but it'll be a fun tournament. I love the UKIPTs. I think they're great tournaments with great value and it's really fun meeting up with all the UK circuit regs on these stops. Drunken times ahead I'm sure.
Other than that I had a few smaller final tables and a second in a $100/$25k gtd for just over $4k which was nice and pretty much saved the month :)
Oh, and then I had a little Sunday bink!
I logged in as usual to Pokerstars on Sunday and for whatever reason I decided not to auto-click close to the welcome message that pops up. This past weekend it was a big PCA qualifier promotions on Stars. I decided to flick in my last 25k FPPs on Stars into a qualifier to a 125k FPP qualifier to the PCA in January. Without also realising that 125k FPP is ~$2k I managed to bink one of the 10 packages guaranteed. There was a nice little overlay in the sat and a massive sweat on my side when I was sitting 11/11 with 10 packages available. Got to love Zackattack for running like god and getting there versus another shorty. Gonna have to find that guy and buy him a beer I reckon.
So new year's looking pretty epic! I have 9 days accomodation at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas, $1000 food expenditures and a $10,300 tournament to win! I decided to sell 50% of my action to the tournament which will give me a little pocket-money for some side events if I fancy playing them. I then decided, well now I'm over this side of the world I might as well flick in a trip to Vegas to catch up with my US mates that I stayed with over the Summer. I'm hiring a Ford Mustang for the 8 days I'm out there and cannot wait. I genuinely love Vegas. No idea what I'm going to do out there but expect it will be something a long the lines of drinking lots, eating at some amazing restaurants and possibly playing a bit of Poker! I don't think I'll be treating this short trip to Vegas as a "business" holiday but I'll probably grind a little in cash games when I'm there. Caesers is also hosting a WSOP circuit event while I'm there so I might donate to the prizepool of an event or two.
After that I've got to dash back to the UK so I can play the latter part of the TCOOP which is going to be very fun. Thanks Stars for listening to what your customers want! Then a big family meet-up party for my Granddads 90th birthday rounding off the month with watching the Scotland v England rugby match in Edinburgh later on in the month.
I'm not sure if this will leave much time for online grinding but it certainly looks like 2012 is going to start off in an awesome way :)
GL at the tables all
ps. I've found this awesome blog the last few days. It's pretty much the ultimate degeneracy story of some guy trying to grind it out in Vegas in the small stake cash games whilst borderline being homeless and living off comped rooms and comped food. An entertaining read nonetheless, check it out here.
Since my last post when I was just leaving San Remo after a somewhat disappointing stretch of live poker I've been back and on the online grind. And I'm very pleased to report that I had a great month in November.
I managed to play over 1000 games this month, which for me playing across multiple sites, is a lot. In fact I think it's the most I've ever played in a month. I normally end up averaging around 600 games. And with great thanks to a $50r bink and a $50 cubed final table I can report a solid +$24k month :)
After coming back from my Italy/Ireland trip I was a little pissed with myself. I felt that I played some spots live really quite sub-optimally and wanted to go over some spots. I've worked on my game a fair bit this month a long side the pretty heavy volume and feel like I've ironed some leaks and feel a bit more comfortable in a few spots I might have been struggling in before.
As far as live poker goes. I've not really played at all this month. I've just been cutting out expenses, grinding hard and hitting the gym. December though I'll try my hand at a couple more tournaments but just local ones. I seem to get into a bit of a habit of building a pretty solid roll online, taking some shots at some bigger live events, bricking, spending too much money IRL then having to drop down stakes again and rebuild online. It seems to be a bit of a pattern forming, so there's certainly something I'll be putting on my new years resolutions this year.
To bring that resolution forward a little, I've managed to blag 2 seats to the DTD £300 freezeout this coming weekend and 2 seats to the DTD £1k monte carlo in 3 weeks time. Both tournaments are re-entry tournaments where if you bust day 1a, you can re-enter and try your luck again on day 1b. I fully intend to fire every bullet I have to make a run in either of these comps!
As for the rest of December, I'll be heading back down South to spend christmas and the preceding days leading to it with friends from home in Dorset. I'll then be spending the xmas->new year period visiting various family members around the country. Oh and I'm sure I'll be able to squeeze in a session or two of online pokers at some point as well :)