I was playing a tournament home game the other evening where an old friend of mine kept on needling me about me losing money online. This comment really got under my skin. Was it because there was an element of truth behind it? Was it because I expect my friends to show love and support nowadays rather than harsh criticism? Was it because I was playing in a setting that I was not at all comfortable with? I mean, how on earth do you properly play a 50bb stack when one of the players literally calls down with J high?
Regardless of the real reasons behind why this comment annoyed me so much, I decided to look into it. And came away pleasantly surprised.
As many of you know I have been plugging away at this for a number of years now. Better men than me would have smashed their goals in 1/10 of the time it would take me. But sometimes you have to remember who you are, and I am not other men. I am plain old me. During the time someone would have reached my goal and far beyond, I have travelled the world for 3 years, cycled to Italy and back again and gone to far too many gigs and festivals to count, not to mention the countless hours at the boardgame table.
That is how I have always done things. And when things seem like they will never progress forward, I have to put things into perspective and realise that I have no way worked hard enough to get where I want to be.
But I have certainly made progress.
2017 can be easily divided into 3 main camps. Early Pokerstars 2017, mid Italian 2017 and the late newcomer PartyPoker 2017.
Early Pokerstars 2017
The graph below accounts for my entire sessions of play from January to May. It may all seem like just one horizontal line but, as always, that doesn’t show the true story behind the numbers. First things first is that my actual winnings were far below expected value when the money went it. Instead of profiting close to $400 I actually only made $65, not including the ever important rakeback. That doesn’t always help with confidence. Being a wannabe professional poker player, I have obviously come to learn about the swings and roundabouts of the wonderful game but big downswings still have a dramatic effect on my mental state and confidence.
The second point to mention is the fact that I spent the first 2 months of the year ‘chasing loses’. Now put yourself in the shoes of me for a minute. It’s the start of the brand new year, where resolutions are getting made and confidence is on a high, and then you spend the next 2 months in the red. I can’t remember it now but I can safely assure you that it was probably a really testing time for me. What I probably failed to realise then was that because I was playing 10nl,16nl and 25nl that of course the swings were going to be massive. Infact a 10 buy in downswing at 25nl costing you $250 certainly wouldn’t be out of the norm.
Now another thing to look at is the amount of hands, closing in on 170,000. I have to proud in the fact that after a huge amount of hands I am now coming out on top. Most players lose at poker in the long run, and I can totally see why. The swings can be unbearable, the edges are getting even smaller and sadly, simple ‘ABC’ poker just doesn’t cut it anymore.
Mid Italian 2017
Now I don’t want to go into too much detail here because time is short and I mainly want to focus on my poker progress. But Italy happened! I still can’t quite believe it now that we cycled close to 3000 miles (I think?) and even though it was tough tough work, I would happily go on another adventure like it again.
I managed to fit in a fair amount of poker strategy work on the way but certainly not enough to make a real difference. I tried to focus on the maths side of it but I can safely say that most of it went in one ear and out the other. It’s funny how your brain doesn’t want to inject any new information when you cycled 50 miles carrying your life.
PartyPoker Late 2017
What I did on my return to poker after my trip is a lesson on what not to do if you ever want to succeed. Don’t start too many things at once, take your time, and slowly progress.
I did none of these things.
Switching from 9man to 6max and to switch to zoom poker will ultimately be the right decision, especially when i venture out to India later in the year and I only have my laptop to work from. But so far it has been a pretty tough ride in this new, to me, format of poker.
But these last 5 months since returning home have probably been the times where I have improved the most as a poker player, and as always, I know that all I can do it keep striving forward and the results will turn around. You can see below the difference in my red line to the one on Pokerstars above.
A couple of things to point out is my massively improved red line which I spoke about last month, and the fact that this month I have been trying to improve my calling/betting range on the river, to disastrous effect.
See the thing is I want to become one of the best micro stakes players online (funny right?) and to do that I have to start doing things that make me feel uncomfortable, and can ultimately cost me money due to the fact that I will be making mistakes in my logic. But I have to learn how to do things these (for example the best combos to use to triple barrel bluff vs an opponent or calling a river shove with only a 1 pair hand because the villains range of hands is so wide)
All the things above will make me a better player in the long run, but for now I have to improve my play whilst also dealing with the impact of making costly mistakes.
It’s all part of fun and it’s all part of growing as a player.
What I have realised and what I have to put right going forward is my level of work away from the tables, it simply has to improve.
2018 and beyond
So what does this year hold for me. The big answer is…
I am getting the fuck out of here. Finally.
All my effort and energy for the next few months will be to save up around £2000, at least, so I can venture out to India and work out there for 6 months or so. Staying in Norwich is just not an option anymore and I need to get out for the sake of my own sanity.
Another big move I want to try and make is do get some poker coaching. When I look back on it the one big reason I have failed so far is the fact that I have tried to do this completely on my own, and that just doesn’t work in poker. I need someone to help me with the gaps in my knowledge and logic when it comes to the game and I think now is the right time to go out and find a coach that can project me into the next faze of my career.
Because what I really want is to head off to India and not have to come back. Of course I will, that’s a given. But I want to not have to. Finally being able to live out in the world with just my laptop.
And of course I have America and Vegas coming up! All good fun and I look forward to hitting some of the poker tables, albeit with a very limited role, and hope to come out on top!
Happy 2018 everyone!