January 26, 2011

Pretentious, moi?

This weekend I took my first real break from the Supernova Elite grind and went to Birmingham to watch the Aston Villa vs. Manchester City football match and have a night out on the town afterwards. It's becoming a bit of an annual tradition, almost an 'office party' for some of us poker players, albeit it's only the second year we've done it. A big thanks to Stuart Rutter for setting up the executive box at the game, it's such a cool way to watch a football match. We were right near the Holte End so you capture all the atmosphere, and I really find myself becoming a temporary Aston Villa fan, even though I support Liverpool.

The whole executive box experience is a bit surreal, eating a three course meal and drinking the free (I use this word loosely!) champagne before the match is hardly like having a beer and pie at half time, and it's quite funny seeing the other kinds of people in the boxes. I think 9 young guys trying to order Jagerbombs isn't quite what they are used to! So although it all does feel a bit pretentious, it is pretty awesome getting your own personal balcony to watch the game.

Last year we all pooled some money to bet on the game finishing 3-2 when Villa played Arsenal, soon after their 6-4 result against Blackburn. Of course it was 0-0. This year we managed to jinx ourselves again, putting the money on a 4-2 win to Man City. That was wildly optimistic. At least we saw a goal this time as Villa won 1-0, with £24m Darren Bent scoring on his debut.

It was a bit of a 'balla' day out in total really (anyone who knows me can vouch for the fact I'm very much not 'balla' generally, so apologies for the sick brags!). Stu had booked a VIP booth in this club called Bambu. This was something I'd never done before, and they essentially have a waitress who brings you bottles of spirits, with jugs of mixers, so it all got a little bit messy. I didn't even make it onto a dance floor, I just drunkenly chatted to Guy (outragous76 on Blonde) about my poker exploits of the last few years, which I'm not entirely sure he appreciated!

I'm not really sure I'm up for this clubbing malarky anymore! I think my getting up early (6am ish) every day routine got the best of me as I was completely zonked by 1am and we stayed out until nearly 4am! When I was 17-22 I used to go out in town 2-3 nights a week, but these days it's more like once every couple of months at most. I think meeting girls was one of the core incentives for going out, even though that virtually never happened! When you are tied up, that incentive disappears, and every morning I'm really hungover (a consequence of being a lightweight these days I think!) I realise how much I like just spending time at home with my son and girlfriend. I think I'm becoming too responsible for my own good! Nevertheless, I had a really good time, and it was nice to 'let my hair down' so to speak for the first time this year.

Well I've done a good job of yabbering on there! Poker-wise things are going okay. With taking the weekend off and my volume tailing off just a little, I'm now barely on pace. I think my general plan is to concentrate on profit for the first 8 or 9 months, and try to stay as close to pace as possible. Then, if I need to, grind more for VPPs in the latter months of the year. This would be fairly easily done by switching to playing evenings instead of during the daytime.

SNE Quest Stats:
Days played/elapsed:
Hours Played:
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VPPs Earned:
SNE Pace (+/- Pace):
(+ 479)

January 18, 2011

5% complete & 1st Battle of the Planets cash...

I think having some sort of target rather than just trying to make money here and there has had some positive effects on my poker play. It actually gives you some sense of achievement. Losing days in poker suck, but are of course inevitable. Whenever I had a losing day I can't help thinking "if I hadn't played at all today, but had done something else that isn't so much hard work, I would be better off." However at the end of each day, whether a winning, losing or break-even day, at least I know I have brought myself closer to my target of making Supernova Elite by the end of the year.

In some ways 5% feels like a really small portion, in other ways it feels pretty good. I'm not sure if having to repeat the last two weeks 19 more times feels reassuringly achievable or particularly daunting.!

One bogus thing is that if I'd played the WSOP Main Event last year, and worn PokerStars attire, I'd be in about the same position VPP-wise as I am now having played my arse off for two and a half weeks. That 50,000 VPP credit might well have been worth the trip to Vegas, even without factoring in the hot strippers weather, drinking plush hotels and the partying nice scenery.

A nice little bonus this week as I made it on to the Battle of the Planets leaderboard. Essentially this requires you to either run-like-God for a period of 20-games, or run-like-God for a period of 100-games. With me playing so many SNGs this year, hopefully I will make a few cashes along the way which will be a nice addition to the effective rakeback I get through being Supernova. $500 for 3rd place in the Uranus Division low-orbit isn't too shabby :)

SNE Quest Stats:
Days played/elapsed:
Hours Played:
Hands Played:
VPPs Earned:
SNE Pace (+/- Pace):
(+ 5,333)

January 15, 2011

___/‾‾‾‾ graph & WBCOOP

I'm struggling a little with the emotional rollercoaster ride that is poker. A few days ago I thought I was King of SNGs, and that I was going to be rich by the end of the year. Now I feel like I've forgotten how to play the damn game! I'd love to know what I'm doing differently now as opposed to on my upswong; whether there's something tangible or if it's simply variance.

epitomised 18-man SNGs $16-60, 2011

I think the problem with going for Supernova Elite is that you are playing so much poker that you pick up leaks, and although I'm trying my hardest to fight them off by fitting in as much study as I have time for, perhaps it isn't working. I'm yet to have a full day off, only two half days so far, and am averaging ~9 hours at the tables a day when I've played. Grinding hard!

A couple of PokerStars related things....

The software recently updated to incorporate a new 'Home Games' feature. I haven't really had a chance to explore this, all I know is I keep getting invited to random games on Facebook, but I don't really have time to fit in any extra poker at the moment! It does sound kinda cool though, will have to check it out soon.

SNE Quest Stats:
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Hours Played:
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VPPs Earned:
SNE Pace (+/- Pace):
(+ 5,173)

January 10, 2011

Play while you're ahead...

I have been guilty of taking the foot off the accelerator a little bit recently. In all that I've read about becoming Supernova Elite, the importance of staying ahead of pace is stressed. Although I am keeping ahead of pace, I feel I should be doing a bit more to make the difference as much as possible. I've only had two half days off so far, and I can't keep that up forever or else I am going to burn out. I'm also getting married in August which is something I have to consider.

The problem I have at the minute is admittedly a nice one. I'm doing very well in the games, but I think there is a gambling mentality that is affecting my volume. I find it harder to go back to playing after having a very good winning session. It's like I know I've run overly good, and don't want to go back for the luck to even itself out or something. I think it ties in with the old "quit while you're ahead" adage. However, this should have no relevance for a professional poker player.

Despite this, I would say it's definitely led to me having undeserved days off in previous years. Also, if things are going quite the opposite, and I'm running really badly, this also discourages me from playing. Sometimes it's really hard to get back in front of the computer when you feel like you're just going to get continuously pummelled and your luck isn't going to turn.

These are two reasons I decided to go for SNE this year, because it would force me to play whether running overly good or overly bad. Theoretically putting more time in at the tables will hopefully mean earning more money.

I remember reading about this kind of thing in "The Poker Mindset" book by Ian Taylor and Matthew Hilger. They emphasize that you must play for the long term, and not care about short-term results such as how one single session went, and concentrate on making good decisions rather than making money. This is great advice. I just have to try and take it as I really don't have a choice!

SNE Quest Stats:
Days played/elapsed:
Hours Played:
Hands Played:
VPPs Earned:
SNE Pace (+/- Pace):
(+ 2,679)

January 07, 2011

That's more like it!

I have had a really good couple of days after that bad start. I feel a lot more confident in my game after doing a bit of study, switching it up a bit, and I seem to be doing well as a result. I also think I was trying to play too many tables the first few days, and pretty much eliminating the $15+1 18-mans over the last couple of days seems like a wise move. For the little bit of rake they add, they command too much attention away from my more important tables. However I'm sure there has been a fair amount of run good as well.

I'm coping with the grind fairly well. I have been putting in 7-10 hour days every day since New Years Day. In doing so I have eeked my way ahead of SNE pace, which is going to be important for when I want to take days off.

Same graph as in last post time only up-to-date

A few people have commented on the Progress Bar I have at the top left hand side of the blog, wanting to use it for their own targets and such. Check out this page if you are interested in one for your blog, that's where I got the info to do mine from...

SNE Quest Stats:
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January 05, 2011

Ridonkulous start

I feel like I couldn't have had a much worse start to my Supernova Elite Quest. Currently I am break even after rakeback, so have effectively worked my arse off for nothing so far. Obviously it could be worse, I could be losing even more. But it still sucks rather a lot!

It feels like I am being punished for working hard for once, as opposed to my usual semi-laziness!

It's possible that a ~3 week break away from the tables has had a negative impact on my game. But I have been trying to fit in as much study as possible inbetween playing. It's possible that I started out with some leaks but I feel like I've fixed them, and now my only reassurance is the 'reports' tab on HEM that shows me I am running ridiculously below EV. It's difficult to interpret how much this means in 18-man SNGs, but when the 'Winnings' column is -$6578436450896 (slight exaggeration) and the '$ EV adjusted'  is +$BillGatesMoney then I think it's fair to assume you're at least running a little bad.

I've cut down on my number of tables to see if that helps, but looking at my 18-mans-last-6-months graph (below) one would be forgiven for thinking I've been doomswitched or have simply forgotten how to play!

On the positive side, at least I'm managing to stay around SNE Pace, and am coping with the heavy schedule I am keeping fairly well, I think it's just about sustainable without going too insane. 

I also binked a $109 Turbo MTT for ~$4.5k. It ranks as my biggest ever win on PokerStars. If it wasn't for this downswing I'd be very pleased about it, but I'm being staked for these games so I won't see any of the money until the end of the month, which seems a long way away. Happy to make a very good start to the staking though :)

Thanks for all the comments and good luck wishes, hopefully that good luck will come into effect soon!

SNE Quest Stats:
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January 03, 2011

Going for Supernova Elite in 2011...

I have decided to take a shot at making Supernova Elite status on PokerStars this year. This means I must make 1 million VPPs (which equates to raking a total of $181,181) this calendar year. This is a pretty hefty jump from the 100,000 VPPs I managed in 2010, but this year I will be playing exclusively on PokerStars, playing games that rake more than I played for the majority of last year, and also taking a lot less days off.

I have made myself a fancy spreadsheet to help me track my progress. I am currently working on the premise of playing 300 days of the year, giving me a day off per week, and an extra fortnight on top. This means I have to earn 3333 VPPs (or rake about $600) per day. To reach this amount playing the games I will be playing (18-man SNGs) means putting in 9-10 hours a day at the tables, roughly 20-tabling, so it will be an epic grind!

I have been thinking about doing this for the last five months, so I owe it to myself to at least give it a go. I'm not sure how many people start the year aiming for Supernova Elite and drop out at some point during the year, but in 2010 there were 342 people that managed this feat (up from 209 in 2009). I'm hoping come this time next year I will be one of the latter as opposed to the former.

Making Supernova Elite is worth in excess of $100,000 so the financial incentive is there to encourage me to keep grinding away. This is presuming you break-even in the games you are playing, and I'm really hoping playing as much as I will be doing won't frazzle my brain so much that I become a break-even player!

I'm not sure if anyone else is going for it playing 18-man SNGs as their main game, but I do know that 'imcastleman', 'simakos' and 'RunningAlone' all made SNE last year and I see them in my games quite a lot, so it definitely seems like it is achievable.

I will be posting updates on my progress throughout. Hopefully my next post won't be 'My eyes hurt, I quit' but more along the lines of 'I'm on pace and doing okay'.

If you haven't seen the blog before, here's a bit about me. I am 25 years old (nearly 26) and live in Lincoln, England with my fiancé (who I'm marrying later this year) and our one year old son. I play as epitomised on PokerStars and have been grinding MTTSNGs for the last 18-months with a fair amount of success, having played poker professionally for the last 4 or 5 years.

SNE Links:
Supernova Elite Pursuit Thread 2011
FPP PRO.com - Supernova Elite
"So you wanna go for Supernova Elite..."

SNE Blogs
I am trying to create a definitive list of bloggers who are shooting for Supernova Elite this year. Leave a comment or tweet me @Atkinator if you'd like me to add you to the list on the left hand sidebar.