Archive for the ‘life’ Category


Get health insurance. For the 4th straight year this makes the list of resolutions. I guess I gamble more than I realize considering I never seem to take the appropriate steps to securing some sort of insurance. I’ve said it before, but the reason I don’t have coverage is simply because I don’t want to pay into a policy that I’m uneducated on. However, now that I’m leaving my 20’s behind I think it’s time I bite the bullet and educate myself on the matter, resulting in some peace of mind should something terrible happen.

Get a physical. I know I’m living right and am likely healthy as an ox. However, I haven’t had a simple check up since I was in college (’05). Heart disease and diabetes run rampant through both sides of my family so it seems insane to stay in the dark. The problem is my whole “rub some dirt on it” mentality toward doctors. I trust my body healing itself and have a hard time biting the bullet and getting the tests done. This one may take some outside forces pushing me to accomplish.

Reduce my caffeine consumption. Probably one of my only real vices, aside from my sweet tooth, and I let it get the best of me too often. I’ve actually all but eliminated drinking energy drinks such as monster and red bull, but I still have my pre-workout drink. Which in itself is fine. But I tend to have another before I play, so those two combine are equivalent to 4 cups of coffee/day. There is a lot of room to ween off or at least cut back. The road block is the actual benefits caffeine provides. Maybe I have ADD?

Get under and maintain 10% body fat. A year ago I would have thought this to be somewhat lofty. I’m already taking strides toward it, but I’m certainly fighting against the aging process. They say 30 is a man’s peak so getting under 10% should be no prob. Maintaining it may be a little more difficult, but hopefully once I see that single digit I’ll stay motivated to continue to strive to lower it. 5% would be pretty sick. Lord knows I have enough time on my hands to make it happen. I was 8% in college and that was with a very below avg. diet with the majority of my calories coming from white pasta and fried food. Working with a trainer has been a great experience so far. It really amazes me how much further I push myself when I have someone other than myself and God to answer to. I hope that isn’t the case in all aspects of my life.

Continue to challenge myself mentally and physically. I’m a long way from slowing down, but I do catch myself wasting a lot of time and effort. Always choosing the entertaining outlet over the educational one will catch up with me sooner than later. I want to spend more time educating myself on pressing matters such as finance, economy, world affairs, etc. rather than get lost in facebook for hours on end. Same with my physical health. I want more of a concentrated effort toward improvement rather than just going through the motions. And all things considered that doesn’t mean it has to be torture. I’m ultra competitive and there are a lot of outlets for that aside from Madden and NHL ’12.

WEALTH (Career Goals):

The past 18 months or so was the first time in my life I was dealing w/a 6-figure bankroll and I certainly showed my inexperience. There were a lot of ups and downs, but moreover big mistakes made along the way. Keeping an over inflated ego in check is a daunting task that I clearly wasn’t prepared for. Fortunately it didn’t break me. Chalk it up to an expensive lesson in experience and move on. I’m far more forgiving of aggressive mistakes made out of arrogance and optimism than I am of complacency. Ultimately, I fell short of a few very lofty goals last year. Rather than set the bar lower and appease myself with a sense of accomplishment, I intend to maintain or extend those failed goals.


Profit $500k. I made this goal last year and was actually on pace to accomplish it after my wsop final table. Unfortunately that would end up being the pinnacle of my year as I suffered a major downswing as well as a sizable backing downswing. That’s not to say I think this goal to be too lofty. I was a few spots away from making that in my final table alone. Assuming I can play my way back into the big games I think I can make a sizable chunk of this in cash alone. With no horses to stimulate nor detract from this goal the pressure is solely on my shoulders, which I prefer.

Get back to/surpass my peak of $250k life money. Ended 2011 on a mini upswing recouping a little over half of my downswing. More importantly though it gave me more capital to play with, which ultimately increases my overall earning power. I don’t anticipate being involved with staking this year, but I do plan to play a higher % of tournaments. It’s going to take a 6-fig. score and/or consistently moving up stakes in cash between now and the WSOP to give myself a shot at both reaching and maintaining $250k+. In order to continue to increase my earn I need to increase my bank roll exponentially as well as be in a situation to obtain all of my WSOP action playing as many events as possible. Completely obtainable, to the point of where I would consider it a big failure if I really miss the mark.

Diversify. Investing has been a very grey area these past few years and I’ve chosen to just keep my distance. However, considering this is an all cash business, I’m taking on far too much risk putting all of my stock in the strength of the dollar. Remaining liquid is fine in the short term, but I’m entering my 8th year in this profession, it’s time to take steps to help solidify my future. I’ve already started the process of better educating myself and plan to continue to do so. In the meantime I’ll continue to reinvest most of my worth in myself while further exploring my best options to avoid future financial turmoil.

Explore profitability in ventures outside of playing. Over the past couple of years I’ve actually made some pretty outstanding friends outside of the poker community, more so tied to the business world. Great guys who would like nothing more than to see me prosper. I have a couple ideas I’ve been throwing around, but really did nothing to bring them to fruition. I’d like to see myself take the next step and put myself in a position to sink or swim.

Cash Games:

Play 150 sessions. For normal cash game players this is probably a down year volume wise. My time has always been spread a little thinner. In the past I have always put in a moderate tournament volume as well as online volume. Given the current state of online poker I should be able to make up a few sessions in place of the usual Mon. Wed. Sun. online grind. However, I do plan to travel more and increase my live tournament volume. It’ll be a tricky balance to play often enough to reach this goal, yet take enough time to myself to enjoy the liberties poker provides in order to avoid burnout. I’ve maxed out in the past at 130 sessions and on avg. play about 110 so this will actually be a significant milestone for me to reach.

Earn at least 50% of my yearly profit in cash, or 250k. Obviously if I rip off a 7-figure tournament score I can’t match that in the cash games. Again this is uncharted territory for me far as cash game profit goes, though going into the WSOP this past year I was up $200k in cash games from the $10/$20/$40. Unfortunately, most of that was given back through a downswing in play and backing. Moral of the story, it’s well within reach.

Play less than 75 sessions at 5/10. It’s tough to quantify how many sessions I can play at the higher stakes because the games don’t run regularly enough as well as constant bankroll fluctuations. 5/10 is always around and profitable. I hope to use it as a place to fill in the down times as well as iron out any kinks I may have in my game. I hope to avoid it being the main stake level I play. I assume worst case I will travel a little more to LA this year, than in years past.

Speak softly but carry a big stick. I’m quite confident in my ability, but my results have been less than satisfying. I consistently have wins far larger than the next best player in the game. 50k at 10/20/40, 45k at 10/20, 17k at 5/10. Those are just my biggest wins at each stake this past year, but I seem to string them together at that size. Unfortunately, when variance sets in I lose the max as well. Handful of 30k losses. They hurt and usually lead to me taking time off. My goal is to deal better with the down swings, keep climbing the profit ladder and have a career year that is a reflection of what I believe my skill set to be.


Increase my volume. Last year I played 5 WPT main events (cashing in 3), 14 wsop events (cashing 2, FT 1), and 9 non affiliated (cashing 1) for a total of 28 live buyins. My hopes are to get that number closer to 50. With the re-entries becoming so popular and buyins moving away from $10k’s I hope to increase this volume at a minimal cost. My results in MTT’s have actually been, to my surprise, through the roof for the duration of my career. I plan to travel more, but also to put in a slightly higher WSOP/WPT volume. In order for that to happen I have to win immediately, cushioning my bankroll for the bigger summer volume.

Win an event. Preferably a WSOP/WPT for 7-figures. I’ve chopped a handful of events live and won I believe 2 outright, but they were all for 50k or less. My two biggest scores were far from wins. Lord knows I had some big sweats in ’11. Bubbled final table of LAPC, 27th in both Legends and Bay 101 after holding the CL late in each event. Finally 6th in WSOP $2500 where I was 1/6. Opportunities missed…

Have a 6-figure score. I’ve had one or more the past 3 years as well as a handful of 30-50k scores. Hopefully continuing to put myself in a profitable position will ultimately pay off.

Qualify for EPL. On one hand I could ultimately care less about qualifying. On the other hand it would mean I picked up a million in cashes prior to the end of Aug. and the right to play some juicy events.

Go to WSOPE if it’s feasible. Every year I say, “This will be the year I go to Europe…” and every year I dread the thought of it. I’m not saying it’s worth it if it means over extending myself, but under the right circumstances it can prove to be a great trip during a very down time of the year here.

Win a bracelet or WPT event. Lofty and mostly out of my hands. However, a must to add to the resume sooner than later…

*I can’t help but laugh a little at even making goals for tournaments. The variance is so high. So much needs to go right in those potential life changing pots. It’s so arbitrary to request a 6-fig score or to cash for a mil before Aug. They both just fall under the “Play excellent and hope for the breaks” category. Never the less it does attest to keeping the long term in plain view and avoiding complacency with marginal results.


Could be renamed the “Things I take for granted” or “Things I need to give more priority”

Enjoy the little things. I get so overly involved in the daily grind that I often forget just how lucky I have it. Usually it takes a trip home and a week with just family and friends to remind me just how blessed I am. I often forget what it’s like to get excited over the little things; playing in a big game, anticipating a visit or vacation, meeting someone new, actually allowing myself to ride the highs rather than attempting to always remain neutral to avoid being dragged down by the lows of this career choice.

At least consider a plan B. I’ve been very fortunate to this point in my life in that whatever it was I set out to accomplish I either found success or fell into something else. Poker has been all I could ask and more from a career standpoint. However, the uncertainty of how long it will remain profitable as well as my financial situation when I get out of the game makes me nervous of things to come. In all honesty I have no idea what I would do if I woke up tomorrow and was forced to make a career change. I’m more than capable to succeed in multiple careers, but as is I’m likely under qualified and lost as to what path I would choose. I always thought having my degree would at least point me in the right direction, but I’m 6 years removed from a degree in a technological field that turns over every few years. Not to mention I have very little interest in programming or anything of that nature. Most importantly when it comes to the point of leaving the game I want to do so with money in the bank and on my own terms. Few people leave this game in any other manner than broke, I hold myself to a higher standard…

Look into being a Pitching coach or conditioning coach at least part time. This may fall a little more under wishful thinking. I don’t exactly have a ton of structure in my life and considering my travel schedule early in the year and my heavy volume during the summer it leaves very little room for coaching. However, my winter months are slow and I would love to maybe get my foot in the door now and then come winter help with conditioning and the mental aspect of the game.

Throw 100+ innings. It’s a tough goal to meet just because I’m out of town so often, but I did it in ’10 and fell just short last year. Considering there’s no Sunday online grind I’ll pick up a few more starts.

Take a poker free vacation to somewhere other than PA. I need to go to the beach or Tahoe, wherever, with a crew of friends and just hang out for a week. Everyone needs their batteries recharged.

Continue to provide for my family. My gram is a rock, she’s been what has kept our family together for as long as I can remember. She has the weight of the world on her shoulders and at some point it’s going to break her. The more I can alleviate that for her the happier I’ll be.

Shine a spotlight on the relationships in my life. Too often family, friends, etc. take a backseat to whatever shiny object has caught my attention at the time. I need the reminder to keep them in the forefront and realize the rest is just detail.

Here’s to a healthy and prosperous 2012. And to the Mayan’s getting the date wrong…


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.

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.

It is very odd how difficult it is to enjoy without over indulging. To relax without becoming complacent. To maintain perspective while my head is in the clouds. To find a solid balance on shaky ground. However, those fine lines encompass what it is to lead a healthy, balanced life. In an effort to allocate my focus, I’ve decided I need to expand upon and create new goals.

Short Term Business:
– Profit $150k for FTOPS/miniFTOPS+WCOOP(between playing/backing)
– Profit $75k live (Aug. – Dec.)
– Really dissect my live cash game play
– Rededicate some time toward MTT strategy
– Put in a solid Sunday volume during non event times
– Play 10 live events (Aug. – Dec.)
– Be diligent with improving the guys I invest in
– Find a better outlet to iron out leaks; Stop relying so heavily on myself

Long Term Business:
– Diversify: Examine long term investments outside of poker; Develop a retirement plan
– Really examine the value in where my money goes
– Be careful not to fall into the lure of Tourney poker or jumping stakes too soon. Play what is profitable
– Profit $1 Million over 12 months
– Embrace the traveling
– Determine if Vegas needs to be home and if so for how long

– Lose 10 lbs or 8% body fat (by Nov.)
– Make sure time is well spent(i.e. work, play, gym, etc. put in quality hours.)
– Stay hungry
– Upgrade house
– Trade in car
– Closely examine having a place in/around Pitt even if just something small to go home to a few weeks/yr
– Make more trips to Tahoe
– Stay dedicated to Baseball
– Spend more time outside

8/13 – 8/18: Friends in town (Skipping FTOPS MAIN :( )
8/18 – 8/20: L.A. w/said friends
8/20 – 8/30: More friends in twn
9/1 – 9/13: Home, Lake House in Erie(Labor day), Home
9-14 – 9/22: Borgata WPT
10/14 – 10/17: Georgia; wedding
10/17 – 10/29: Foxwoods
10/30 – 10/31: State College PSU vs Mich (if not in Foxwoods main)
11/24 – 11/29: Home Thanksgiving/H.S. Reunion
12/24 – 1/4: Home Christmas/NYE/Winter Classic