Archive for October, 2011

I haven’t felt this accomplished since college, and it’s merely the beginning. For the first time since playing serious college ball I found myself working out with a purpose, and doing so efficiently. I researched sprint training and found a great program that progressively intensifies as I continue to get in better shape. So far I’m extremely pleased with my results. I’ve noticed a significant increase in energy. Also, I’m down 8 lbs in 15 days. Last Monday I added weight training, plyos and yoga into the mix. I don’t anticipate my weight fluctuating a lot in the next few weeks as I’ll be adding lean muscle, however, I do foresee my body fat % dropping at a steady rate. Unfortunately I’ll be going at this solo. Dan, for the 3rd time, shredded his ACL. Thankfully he can still pursue his true passion in life, Star Craft. I personally would explore suicide if I were sidelined for life by shoddy body parts, or if I had an undeniable craving for virtual alien warfare.

This past Sunday I got back on the hill, for merely the 2nd time in the past 2 months, to throw in our league’s championship game. We were the #2 seed coming in, playing the #1, and facing a pitcher who stood about 6’6 and pumped ched. No surprise it was a pitcher’s duel, which was a great reminder why I still show up every Sunday. Despite 20 k’s we scraped together 3 runs in the 3rd to take a 3-2 lead. It held until the bottom of the 5th. With one on and 2 outs a lazy fly ball hit down the right field line was mishandled by our RF, however in foul territory. The ump didn’t see it that way calling the ball fair and allowing the run to score. In the bottom of the 6th errors plagued us again as 2 more score w/2 outs. We had one shot at tying the game when our #3 hitter smashed a ball down the left field line w/a runner on in the top of the 9th. Despite his best Fisk like effort the ball hooked foul. My final line: CG 14ks, 2 earned runs, 3 walks and 9 hits and the loss. One of the most frustrating losses I’ve suffered since college ball, but one of the most enjoyable games I’ve played as well.

I considered ending this entry on a positive note, ignoring all things shitty, for sanity’s sake. I’m not one to coddle or be coddled, so I feel it’s best to put myself under the microscope. Poker has been tortuous these past few months. I mentioned in my previous blog that I’m experiencing a downswing of epic proportions. In my few sessions since, I’ve continued to get mashed. Of course mistakes were made, but I believe I’m running quite under par. My past two sessions I’ve tracked every hand played over 80bbs. Of the 30 hands I’ve tracked, I won 8.5. Of the 5 largest pots I’ve played I’ve won 1/2 of a pot. I definitely have a couple spots I need to clean up and I think tracking these hands are a huge leap forward in doing so. I took another analytic step by breaking down my profit margin, year by year as well as over my career, for live cash play. Turns out the area I’ve considered my bread and butter has accounted for a mere 20% of my lifetime earnings. Moreover, my hourly at 5/10+ is less than 3bbs/hr. By my standards this is abysmal. Year in and year out I trend toward a massive downswing at whatever stake I’m playing. Last year it was a 20 buy-in downswing at 5/10 right after the series. This year it’s a 15 buy-in downswing at the 10/20 – 10/20/40 level, again in the months following the series. Both have accounted for half my yearly profits which go unnoticed due to big tourney scores cushioning the blow. In my opinion I have the skill set of a top 5% cash game player w/the return of someone trending toward the avg. winner. My focus moving forward will be to get my win rate up to par. I have no certainty that my tournament scores are reflective of anything shy of positive variance, I am however, certain that my cash win rate is an embarrassment given my ability.

I made some very lofty short term goals in my last blog. I’m quickly realizing those are out of reach, so my adjustment will be to put myself into a position where those goals become obtainable. First and foremost, my volume will be increased. If it takes grinding smaller stakes, so be it. This year I would take days off before I would drop down to a profitable 5/10 game. I owe it to my career to get off my ass and collect a pay check every chance I get. I avg about 110 sessions/yr over the past 6 years. 150-180 is much more reasonable/necessary. I think there is a fine line between putting in a healthy volume and obsessively playing just to play. Anyone putting in 200+ sessions a year likely lacks, drastically, other important aspects and balances in life. In order to be efficient over that duration I need to continue to keep a focus on studying the game. Most of my downswings have come after my 50th+ session for the year, a time where the series has past and complacency/over confidence has settled in. There is no excuse to harm my bottom line due to an issue of focus and lack of fundamental application. Finally, I need to keep the finish line in view. In other words, where I need to continually press the envelope and set lofty goals, I also need to allow myself to succeed. Continually creating new, lofty, short-term goals will allow me to both achieve and adjust on the fly. It’ll keep the long-term in plain view and still allow for me to take calculated shots in tournaments that I’ve proven to maintain a high return.

I understand there is a leap in logic for me to so strongly pursue conquering ring games as opposed to tournaments, which up to this point have accounted for the bulk of my yearly earn. It’s possible I’m way off base, missing my mark on maximizing my earn. However, I feel very strongly, that over the long-term, the variance of tournament play will catch up with the vast majority of the field. Of course the top 3-5% will always show a significant profit, but I have done little to show that I belong in such an elite group. Call it arrogance or disillusion, but I feel that despite my numbers I do fall in that elite class of live cash players. Here’s to putting my money where my mouth is…

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Let’s get right to the meat and potatoes, I’m writing again flat out because I see a direct correlation between dumping my brain onto paper and achieving the goals I set for myself. I took a break from writing when donkeyfishpoker was absorbed by Deepstack University.  Donkeyfish was a fairly private community I was comfortable with and rarely, if ever, did I play with anyone who had read any of my entries. However, Deepstack is a business that seems to only be growing with the introduction of their tournament tour in ’12, and will likely draw more attention of those serious about improving their game at higher stake levels. My writing is purely self serving and never do I intend to draw a road map for my peers to find a way to exploit me. That being said if you are reading this you are likely a good friend or a non poker player. Hopefully you take something away from these scattered thoughts; if not, I’m sorry, I’m not sorry.

Sticking to the self improvement theme, today is day 1 of what I will refer to as the “Things I want to achieve before 30” challenge:

First up is a gentleman’s bet I have with my roommate Dan in which we are going to hit it hard til Thanksgiving, % of body fat lost will be the deciding factor. That’s merely the mid way point though, my 30th birthday, Jan 29th will be the final weigh in and measurement. The stakes are a handful of house chores, including cleaning up dog shit for a month, as well as a few bucks. We agreed to keep it friendly in hopes of actually pushing one another for once. We both weighed in at 205 lbs with my body fat being 15.75% and his 19%. I’m going to set the bar high for myself hoping to achieve 10.5% by Thanksgiving and 8% or less by my birthday.  It’s going to take a level of dedication I’m not sure I still possess to get back to my college playing shape. However, with age comes wisdom so hopefully a more precise diet and workout regiment will lead to similar results. Stay tuned for weekly installments of my shin splints, sprains, breaks, and bruised ego.

On deck we have career improvements, but first let me go into a little detail as to what happens when you neglect your profession. I was quietly on pace to meet my yearly goal through the end of the world series, then came the downswing. I lost a chunk in bad games the following month, then I just decided to wait it out and enjoy the summer. I didn’t have nearly enough fun, making the ensuing downswing even tougher to swallow. All toll between backing and my current downswing I have the yearly win rate of a moderate 2/5 grinder. The worst aspect of career missteps is the reflection of the mistake in my net worth, consequently the restrictions that follow due to bankroll adjustments. In my case I lost over a third of my net worth, forcing me to scale back one horse to strictly cash while cutting the other. It pains me to give away equity and to see a friend in a bad spot, but mistakes were made by all parties involved and I certainly let them compound.

From a business perspective disaster was eminent. I was playing the biggest stakes at any given time along with a moderate tournament schedule. Throw in expenses and I was in a comfortable, at best, situation for myself. However, I arrogantly chose to over extended myself. Fine, no gamble no future. Problem with backing is you can only control one real variable: amount invested. Unfortunately the concept of getting a horse to the long term clouds judgment, leading to biting off more than I could chew. Online going down really crushed things as well forcing our hand at more expensive live buyins. Ultimately it came down to taking the reigns of an opportunity rather than wishing in one hand and shitting in the other, needless to say my hand stinks.

Onward and upward. Adjustments need to be made. I likely won’t drop stakes in cash as the 10-20-40 is rarely running these days, which I can easily game select when it goes. I do plan on spending some hours at 5/10 working on some new concepts and patching up a few areas I feel I’ve neglected. I will scale back my tournament buyins indefinitely, which I’m not exactly shedding a tear over. I don’t foresee me playing any big buy in events until Jan. at the earliest. I expect to be in a position to play PCA along with LAPC. I have very lofty expectations of myself over the ensuing months leading up to PCA and my birthday. There are 105 available days to play, I expect to play 75 of them. My goal is to triple my net worth in that allotted time, which barring a big tourney score, would be an upswing of epic proportion. Both of these would be career achievements for myself and the tip of the iceberg. I lack those bullet point achievements that separate the elite and it’s a long time coming for me bolster my resume.

The arbitrary deadline of my 30th birthday only serves the purpose of a wake up call. I recognize the opportunities that youth, freedom and intelligence provide, yet ignore how limited life can become when squandering any/or all of the above. In kissing my 20’s goodbye I hope to tread lightly, paying a little more attention to the here and now. And currently I want to be accomplished. I have a lot to prove to myself and want to raise the bar to an unreachable level. If I fail, great so long as I don’t walk away with a gap between my effort and capabilities.