Archive for January, 2011

Over the past few months there have been numerous incidents involving poker players/rooms/casinos being robbed. To be more specific I’ve heard of a high limit player being mugged in the Bellagio bathroom, taking a brick to the head. Two people I back were in a local game at the SunCoast casino when it’s poker room cashier was robbed at gun point. Shortly after the same person strolled into the Bellagio and stole 1.5 Mil from the craps tables. Finally, a few nights ago a local 2/5 player was followed home from Red Rock and cornered in his garage at gun point. Couple that w/myself being cat burglarized last March and I’m feeling less and less ok about living in this shady desert.

I take the necessary precautions and have had numerous discussions w/my peers only to discover that we are in an extremely exploitable position as professionals. That scares me that there isn’t anything/anyone out there looking out for our best interests. I mean this isn’t the wild west. I don’t want to have to fear for my safety every time I play a big game w/$10k in front of me. Take for instance the Bellagio mugging. Now they openly admit that they relinquish any responsibility for the money that THEIR customers play with. In other words, if you have $10k on the table, be it in chips or cash, and someone walks by while you’re in the bathroom and takes it, the Bellagio considers that on you. Furthermore, if you elect to take the money with you and you are mugged, again we assume all the risk. Now granted it’s not a complete solution, but simply adding bathroom attendants to these casinos would at least deter some of these crimes(I’ve heard of at least 3 incidents of people getting mugged in the Bellagio bathroom over the past year and half). Moreover why isn’t the casino protecting their customers? Are they really that arrogant? I mean they are insured, last I checked there is nothing we can do as individuals that can protect us from these incidents. Maybe I’ve found the business venture I’ve been looking for, insuring pro poker player’s capital against theft…?

Beyond feeling a little vulnerable while playing these big games, it’s very easy to take that insecurity home with you. Imagine the bull’s eye we put on ourselves playing these bigger games. These rooms are packed, the majority of the players being low-limit, lifetime losing players as well as a whole casino full of degenerates that I wouldn’t trust as far as I can throw them. Anyone of them would kill to be in the position to have 5-digit cash amounts in their pocket, and I don’t doubt the capability to do what it takes to make that happen is well within a lot of their personalities. Fact is this town is extremely small and ingrained with the concept of exploitation. It’s no wonder we spend so much time looking over our shoulders.

I never thought part of my career would be protecting myself from scum bags and deviants. This game is hard enough to excel at on its own. So what’s the answer? I can’t foresee me ever giving up playing live cash(unless it becomes unprofitable), so that option is out. Obviously valeting, getting a box and living in a gated community is a solid start(though I was robbed in a guarded community, and I’m certain people have still been followed home despite taking the precaution of valet). I feel that more groups such as the PPA need to be organized. Obviously they deal more w/the legal aspect of protecting us as players, but we as a poker community need to unite and form some sort of protective group in order to pressure these casinos to better serve/protect us as customers. I feel that traveling more will ultimately be the end all be all. When you are staying at a casino, keeping your $ in a box/safe, along with only being in town for a limited time, there is really no opportunity for someone to get the upper hand. That being said I’m finding less and less reason to continue to reside in Las Vegas. I hate that in my mind moving back to Pittsburgh is a financial step backward, otherwise I would have made the move long ago. I’m hoping this year better defines my future in this game and living situation. Until then I’ll continue to take the appropriate steps to ensure that I don’t end up another victim…

Coming into 2011 I’m in unfamiliar territory. I managed to accomplish all of my 2010 goals which when making them I would have considered lofty. I may be setting myself up for failure, but I don’t think I would be doing myself justice if I didn’t continually try to raise the bar.

Poker Goals (’11):

-Profit $500k for the year. Two years ago a couple of people made this their goal and I played devil’s advocate asking them how they planned to meet such a huge number. No one really had an answer aside from bink something huge. I’m going to attempt to find a better way. I plan to travel more this year and in doing so will be playing the biggest cash games I can find. Couple that with a handful of 10k’s and other prelims where first will near/surpass 6-figs. and I think this goal is obtainable.

-Add one or two more horses in live action. Though online is convenient I still feel that live poker is infinitely more profitable. Currently I’m backing two guys in live cash and one in small stakes MTTs online. I hope to gradually move him over into the live venue as well as add one or two more guys in both live cash and mtts. This is a really grey area as finding talented players who are willing to accept coaching all while not over extending my bankroll is a lot to ask for. Just like any other investment I feel it necessary to be both meticulous as well as selective.

-Win a FTOPS, (S/W)COOP, WSOP Bracelet, or WPT. Super lofty and, considering my low volume, very unlikely. However, I’ve gotten a 3rd and 2nd in FTOPS events, an 8th in a WCOOP, and two top 50 finishes at the WSOP. So I’m knocking on the door, probably as good a time as any to cash in.

-Put a big emphasis back on the business end of the game. Toward the tail end of ’10 I got away from doing the things necessary to run a profitable business, and my bottom line suffered because of it. I need to get back to dissecting the game on a regular basis. Spending more time pushing my horses to the next level. Planning out the first quarter of the year’s travel/live MTTs.

-Stay above the 200k life money mark. Once my taxes are paid I’ll have work to do to get back over the hump.

-Embrace the fact that tourneys are a necessary evil. I spend a lot of time hating everything about tournament play, except the big scores. Though my opinions may not change, I’m slowly realizing that in order to have big years tourney scores are a must.

-Play at least 10 sessions of 25/50 NL this year.

-Repeat my approach to the WSOP. Last year I was very organized and as a result had the best series of my short career(even w/o the main event score). I set lofty/achievable goals, maintained a strict schedule, and constantly put myself in high equity situations.

-Continue to act like a professional and make professional decisions. This has always been a strength of mine, but I feel it’s still worth mentioning. The profit that results from a proper approach to this career is like a year-end bonus for doing your job well.

Life Goals(’11):

-Buy a house. This will most likely be in Pittsburgh, and I’ve already begun the process, it’s just a matter of having the guts/confidence to follow through on such a big investment/commitment.

-Buckle down on my money management. Since the WSOP I’ve really been living up to the phrase “You can’t take it with you.” This year I’d like to plug a few leaks and more importantly set myself up for life after poker.

-Spend more time w/people I care the most about. This hasn’t ever been a problem in the past, but you can never spend enough time w/loved ones.

-Stop drinking energy drinks. This should be easy, but those long days at the table make it easy to give in.

-Get health insurance. One of the few goals I didn’t reach last year. I guess educating myself or getting good advice is what has held me back in the past.

-Start hooping again. Working out hasn’t been much of an issue, but I’ve almost totally stopped playing basketball.

-Continue to stay dedicated to baseball. I had two awesome seasons this past year resulting in two Championships. I’m in some of the best shape of my life so there is no reason to slow down now.

-Start enjoying my nephew more. He’s at the perfect age where I can really do a lot of fun stuff with him. I’m so angry at myself for not taking him to the Winter Classic, those big sporting events don’t come around often and being a Pittsburger we’ve been spoiled in our lifetime w/great athletic events.

-Make an effort. I tend to not do this enough, as if I expect the world to come to me.

Of the four years that I’ve done these goals/resolutions this was by far the hardest to compile and likely one of the more lackluster lists. I’m hoping that is a reflection of achieving a large part of what I want in life and not a sign of complacency. My best estimation is that it’s a combination of both. Either way I anticipate revisiting this list shortly down the road and adding/adjusting w/a little more substance.