Saturday, January 31, 2009

January in the books and goodbye UB

Almost immediately after my last blog I went on a 275 big bet downswing which amounted to about $13,000. I fought my way back all week and actually got ahead in terms of big bets but am still a little off my dollar highs on the year.

I quit my hosting position last Sunday at Ultimate Bet. This was a difficult decision but I believe it was necessary for me to be completely focused on making SNE. Last Sunday I was about 1400 hands short of my 2000 hand hosting requirement and ended up getting in a bunch of bad high limit games just to fulfill the requirement. This was right when my 275 big bet downswing started and it was exacerbated by playing higher limits. It completely changed my frame of mind from feeling great and positive to being disqusted. In a matter of about 3 hours I had lost what it had taken me all week to make. So I decided that was the last time I was going to let that happen and resigned. I left on good terms and my host manager said there would very likely be a position open for me if I ever wanted to return. I believe I was the longest standing host, as least before the merger, and I would guess I generated more rake than any other player in the history of the site.

I feel great about my game right now. I made some pretty big changes and I feel like I'm playing the best poker I've ever played. I feel very comfortable in the Stars 15-30 games and believe I'm in the top 3 as far as regulars go at that limit. I've been playing more and more 30-60 and as my Stars bankroll grows I anticipate this to continue.

As far as the SNE chase goes I'm at 85,610 VPPS which is still only about 700 VPPS ahead of pace. So I didn't pick up any ground but I do anticipate that I'll be able to get at least a few days ahead of pace by the end of February.

January broken down in numbers:

68,304 Hands, 85,610 VPPS earned, 813 Big Bets Won
$31,759 won before rakeback, $11357 earned in rakeback and bonuses
Downswings: 280 big bets, 220 bbs, 250 bbs, and 275 bbs

Looking forward to the Super Bowl tomorrow. I think Arizona might continue to surprise everyone. It should be a good game anyway. Also looking forward to the Nadal-Federer Australian Open final which takes place in about 3 hours. Nadal and Federer played the greatest tennis match I've ever seen at Wimbledon last year.

Enjoy the Super Bowl everyone...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Another Good Week

Still a day to go but it has been a good week. I'm about 700 VPPS ahead of pace now which is about one fourth of one day (~2800 per day needed to keep pace). Nothing to get too excited about but hopefully I can continue to widen the gap and actually take a day or two off. I went through about an 8K upswing playing mostly 15-30 followed immediately by a 8K downswing, again mostly 15-30, followed by a 8K upswing, all in the span of 2 days this week > See Graph Below

I am starting to feel the wear and tear of playing 6-8 hours every day. I had a headache for three days this week which is very unusual for me. Nothing really changed other than playing so much poker so I'm assuming it's poker, perhaps stress related. I actually don't feel too stressed out. More burnt out at times than anything. I've tried to watch videos or read other blogs, anything to keep me motivated and focused during these times.

I've only played about 500 hands on UB this week but am planning on getting 1500 hands in tomorrow. Should be a challenging day since I'll need to get about 2000 in on PokerStars as well. That will be at least 8 hours of 4-5 tabling.

Also of note, I've started to play a little 30-60 on PokerStars and plan on playing more and more as I build my bankroll up on Stars. The games aren't all that different from 15-30 especially with good game selection. Initially I plan on being very selective in choosing games as I did this week. As time goes on, assuming I'm confident I have an edge, I'll loosen up my requirements. There are some extremely good players in the PokerStars 30-60 games along with a lot of average to good players, along with some fish. I will be relying on Rory's method of game selection since it will be very difficult to find a game with less than 2 good players. So, it's going to be important for me to be able to identify fish. I have been color coding every player I've played against this year so that should help.

Here is what my roller-coaster of a week looked like.

After looking at this, I think I know where my headache came from.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Ahead of pace and a great week

I finally got ahead of the SNE pace a few days ago. I've now earned 49607 VPPS which puts me a whopping 292 ahead of the 49315 needed to be on track for one million. I've now played 40,770 hands between Stars and UB this year. I played the bare minimum (2,000 hands) on UB again this week and still managed a 10K freefall and rebound within a few hundred hands. The 10K swing took place in a 100-200 game Phil Hellmuth was playing in. I got in the game partly for entertainment value and partly because it was a good game. It took Phil all of two hands to start berating my play in the chat box which is one more than it normally takes. I ended up leaving the game after getting back to even and I felt great after having been sick to my stomach when I was stuck 10K. Even after all the gambling I've been through in my life, more 50K swings then I can count and even a 500K swing, I will never get used to losing ten thousand at poker.

Aside from the 200 hand super swing on UB, things went incredibly smooth this week and I won big almost every day. I have been 4-5 tabling the 15-30 games on PokerStars and have been absolutely crushing them. Ironically, I've been doing very little game selecting at 15-30 since there aren't typically more than 5-6 tables going at any given time. I have been running extremely well of course but I also feel like I'm playing very good poker. I have been working a lot on my game, watching videos and making adjustments. I made a fairly significant change to my pre-flop strategy about ten days ago that is paying dividends. It is contrary to what most players do at my limits but something that several successful high limit players are doing so I feel confident about it.

So as of today, I'm up 562 big bets on the year which translates to $24097 and adding in rakeback and bonuses I'm on pace for about 55K month. If I can get there, it will be my third best month since I started about 5 years ago. I just went through the worst two month stretch of my career so it couldn't have come at a better time.

My plan is to continue playing about 10% more hands than I need to per day in the hopes of getting several days ahead of pace since I know there will be a lot of days this year where I can't spend 6 hours playing. Hopefully my good fortune continues. Poker can turn on a dime so I'm always prepared for the worst. I haven't been challenged in that respect yet - it's easy to put the hands in when I'm winning but the days where I'm losing 100 bets will be very difficult. I will very likely come back to this post when that day comes and try to focus on the bigger picture.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Solid but Swingy Start

It's been a roller coaster of a month so far, to be expected with the number of hands I'm putting in. I've now played over 24,000 hands on the year with 21K of them at PokerStars. I did manage to meet my 2000 hand requirement on Ultimate Bet this week and also closed the gap in the SNE chase. I've earned 29,413 VPPs to this point and to be on pace to earn 1 million, I need 30,120 by the end of today. I was almost 3,000 behind going into the week so I'm happy to be so close.

I'm pretty exhausted so I'll just leave you with my graphs and hopefully I can do another update this week.

You can see I've had close to a 300 big bet downswing and a 200+ bet downswing already. This is why the saying, "Poker is a hard way to make an easy living" rings so true.

And my swings in terms of money have been even more severe, caused by the higher limits I'm required to play on Ultimate Bet.

Almost all of my Ultimate Bet hands are the 30-60 and higher hands.

Off to get some rest...

Monday, January 5, 2009

New Year, Slow Start

Jamena, Evon (Jamena's Mom), and I spent New Years at the Pallazo in Las Vegas. I ended up getting sick almost the moment we left San Francisco which put a damper on the trip. Fortunately, I didn't get really sick until New Year's day so I was at least able to have some fun. We went to Lavo on New Year's eve which is the Venetian's new nightclub. Things didn't start out so well as they told us they weren't seating anybody on their terrace due to the weather. It was 50 degrees and clear, downright balmy if you're from Boston. We paid $2,000 for terrace seats in the hopes of having a good view of the fireworks so we were understandably pissed off. Jamena ended up talking to the manager of the club and adeptly negotiated a free bottle of Dom Perignon as well as an escort to a private section of the terrace ten minutes before midnight. Everything worked out well, maybe even better, since there weren't any great views of the fireworks from Lavo (they're on the first floor of the hotel).

Here are some pictures from Lavo. The last picture is Las Vegas Boulevard a few minutes before midnight. The picture doesn't do justice to the number of people that were outside, it was literally a sea of people.

Aside from New Years eve, most of my trip was spent laying in bed sick where I tried to play as much poker as my body would allow (see profile picture). I was able to get some blackjack in each day and ended up losing about 7K on the trip. That felt like breaking even after my last four blackjack adventures in which I went through several fifty thousand dollar swings.

On the poker front, I've fallen behind with my SNE chase. As of today, I've earned 8,091 VPPS behind the 10,958 VPPS needed to keep pace. It hasn't been for lack of effort, I've pushed myself about as hard as possible the last four days. I've just been too sick to play. New Years days was spent playing 1 hour sessions followed by two hour naps. To exacerbate matters, I learned that my hand requirement on Ultimate Bet is 2000 hands per week and not 1000 as I originally thought. So, that's an extra 1000 hands a week I hadn't counted on. I did manage to fulfill the UB requirement this past week. I also finished the week 213 big bets to the plus side. I went through the worst losing streak of my career last month - about 550 big bets, so winning 200+ big bets in the last week has done a lot for my psyche.

I intended to comment some more on game selection since I've had some time to think about Rory's advice but I think I'll leave that for another post. Off to play some poker....