September 22, 2011


After an enforced 6 week break from poker (I moved house, and it took me this long for somebody to provide me with broadband, 3rd company lucky), I came back from my honeymoon (where me, my new wife and our son went on our first holiday away as a family to Salou in Spain) super-motivated and ready to get back to grinding on PokerStars.

I planned to start with good habits not check my results until two days after they had happened, wake up nice and early and put in a solid two sessions a day. I tend to find it much harder to not check results when I can tell it's going particularly badly, and somewhere in the middle of day three I gave in and had a look. I wished I hadn't, it was going terribly!

The most surprising thing to me was how badly 18-man SNGs were going. Prior to this month I had played 22,000 of them and always sustained a solid graph, and had been fortunate to suffer no worse than an 80 buy-in downswing in that time.

By the end of my 7th day of play since I got back, I was an unbelievable 130 buy-ins down. I had bubbled more times than I thought possible, and finished 1st less times than I'd finished in any other final table position, which seemed unfathomable!

Of course to be doing this badly (I had a -16.4% ROI over 600 games) I had to be running like death, and I was. But the problem with poker is that running like death can make you think that luck is solely to blame for your downswing, when in reality you might be playing poorly as well. A fish who repeatedly limps QJ offsuit UTG, gets repeatedly jammed on for 15 big blinds, and calls only to always be up against pocket tens and repeatedly lose will likely blame rotten luck for him losing all the time, when in reality his bad play is largely to blame.

I did a couple of review sessions within my downswing, and checked some trouble hands each day. There were definitely a couple of things I was doing wrong, which I blame on being 'rusty', and I think I am gradually playing better each day. Jared Tendler wrote an interesting article which explains that:
"One of the unknown problems you face after a break is remembering all the new things you had learned prior to the break, those aspects of your game which you hadn't mastered yet"
In retrospect I think I dived headfirst into playing too many tables, and playing too big a variety of format (6-max, 18-mans, 45-mans, 180-mans etc) than I was able to cope with.

The last two weeks has been the toughest spell I have had since I started playing MTT-SNGs in mid-2009. I worked really hard every day, putting in 9-10 hours at the tables, only to be continuously anally raped. Putting in that amount of time is hard enough when you're making good money, but when you're losing it, it's quite soul destroying!

As you may have guessed from the fact I am writing a blog post on it (something which is so much easier to do when things are going well as opposed to badly!), things have started to go better, and after 2 weeks and 90 hours at the tables, I am just about break-even before rakeback in my SNGs, and have reduced my 18-man buy-in downswing to 40 buy-ins.

So I'm feeling a bit better about things, and lets hope I can push on and actually earn some money for the month! Below are some graphs from September:

epitomised, 18-man SNGs 6th-14th September (by buy-in)
epitomised, 18-man SNGs September (by buy-in)
epitomised, all SNGs September (by $ amount)

September 17, 2011

My Wedding Day...

My apologies for the length of time between posts recently, I've just been ridiculously busy. Probably don't move house and get married in the same month if you don't want to be ridiculously busy!

Me and my new wife got married on 27th August, and the day went about as well as you could ever expect it to, so I was really happy. We ended up being really pleased to hold it all at The Bentley Hotel in Lincoln, who did a great job, and it was so easy with everything being all in one place (the ceremony, the meal, the reception and a place to stay that evening).

There was a little bit of panic before it all got started. There was a crash on the bypass in Lincoln in the late morning, and gridlock on the damn roads I was travelling on and knew people coming to the wedding would prefer to be clear! After dropping Clark off at the Bentley in the morning having looked after him that evening, I picked my best man up and fortunately he has some supreme knowledge of all the back roads around here so we could get ready in time.

Panic number two was that Liz hadn't ironed my shirt! Apparently she didn't want to take on board her wifely duties a day too soon! The thing is I have probably ironed about 5 shirts in my entire life, I'm a "let the creases fall out while it's hanging in the wardrobe" kinda guy. I gave it a go, but was scared of ballsing it up, and with only 90 minutes to the wedding I made the rather shameful decision to take it to my mum for her to iron, lolz.

Everyone had been asking me for months if I was nervous about the wedding. I always thought this was a bit of a silly question as me and Liz have lived together for 4 years and have a two year old boy, I think we had already done the commitment side of getting married. Nevertheless I was getting butterflies the hour before the ceremony.

Liz looked absolutely gorgeous walking down the aisle to this really beautiful Alicia Keys song:

The ceremony was quick and went without a hitch, although I was rather thrown off when I was told to put Liz's wedding ring on her right hand ring finger and not on the finger with her engagement ring on it. This is because the wedding ring goes underneath the engagement ring (Liz informed me after, thanks for the heads up!).

Liz had allowed me to name the tables after wrestlers, wiiiiii, so after the ceremony I went to sit on Shawn Michaels. Let's hope that's the last time I say that. After a really nice meal it was time for the speeches. I was actually pretty nervous about my speech, although obviously it's the best man has the main speech. Being the exceptionally organised person I am, I had written it the night before, so it wasn't exactly memorised though I did have my flash cards to guide me along.

Apparently my two best poker mates who came to the wedding, Dan Carter and Stu Rutter, had a prop-bet on how long it would be and they had the under/over respectively at 11 minutes. It actually went really well, although perhaps I was a little self-indulgent after they told me I had rabbited on for 16 minutes! They also had a drinking game going where whenever I said "Liz", Dan would have to down some drink and whenever I said "Thanks" Stu did. Trust poker players to do something like this at your wedding lolz. They actually called a truce half way through as they were both getting crushed!

My best man, Aston, did a really good job with his speech, he got a lot of laughs, and although he brought up a fair few embarrassing stories, it was all very funny (except perhaps for the embarrassing photo of me wearing only paper pants at a Spa in the Dominican Republic that he had somehow gotten his hands on and put a copy of on each table, gfdhsgfgdhgjsdf!!). He ended the speech with a joke that got a lot of laughs: "Somebody told me today that James is going to Spain for a week for his honeymoon. This confused me, as I thought he was going to North Wales after I spoke to him and he said he was going to Bangor all week!"

The whole day actually flew by, as I was basically talking the whole time to different people. I did my best to speak to everyone that came, but we had ~80 guests so it wasn't all that easy dividing my time up. Although it was difficult I did really enjoy it and it was really nice to have all my friends and family in the same place at once. Ironically the only time I really got to spend with my new wife was during our first dance!

I didn't end up having much to drink as I was just so busy talking most of the time, but that's probably not such a bad thing! I was absolutely shattered by the time it all finished at midnight. Me and Liz had the honeymoon suite at the hotel, but let's just say Clark slept between us! Although actually that was really nice, as he had been the most amazing little boy all day. He was really well behaved and had such a good time playing with all the other children that came to the wedding.

We haven't got the official photographs back yet, so I have just added a few that other people took, and below are a few video clips that my Auntie and Uncle kindly took throughout the day...