December 31, 2011

2011 in review...

2011 was a very good year for me all in all. In poker, I had my most profitable year so far, and in my personal life I moved to a much nicer house, got married and found out I would become a father for the second time. However I can't help but feel, poker-wise, it could have been even better than it was. Both my results and my volume in the second half of the year were very disappointing, and I am really motivated to make up for that in 2012.

There were many stages I seemed to go through in 2011, so that is how I am going to format this review...

Stage 1
Going for SNE
1 January - 14 April

This stage was great for me. I was going for SNE and consequently was working very hard. I was doing very well in the games I was playing (almost exclusively 18-mans at this point) so I was being rewarded very nicely for the time I was putting in at the tables.

I did allow myself to slip away from SNE pace in February and March, but had accumulated 240,000 VPPs by April 14th so was within reasonable distance to still achieve my year long goal.

I can't remember a whole lot else going on at the time, I guess I was just too busy working!

Related Blog posts:

Stage 2
Black Friday & aftermath...
15 April -  8 June

Black Friday unfortunately put paid to my Supernova Elite attempts. There were a few days where there was a lot of confusion about what was going on and what was going to happen. I didn't want to work hard for no reason, and the traffic in all the games I was playing died to a point that staying on pace would have been insanely difficult. So after working very hard for the first 14 weeks of the year I essentially took the rest of April off.

Unfortunately May was hugely disrupted by the changes that PokerStars made to SNGs. They started off with an absolute botch job, but over the next couple of weeks they fixed many of the problems they had created/ Unfortunately in this time they were somewhat insulting in their attempt to pass off a rake increase as a rake decrease, and I further disappointed that they had chosen this direction (increase instead of decrease), especially in games that were already barely beatable. Nevertheless by the end of it all, order was restored, and for me personally, things virtually went back to how they were before the changes, just a little more organised.

On the plus side, the games were the softest they had been for a long time in the post Black Friday world, although this didn't last for too long, and games are back to being as tough as ever before now.I'm not sure how related it is to the best American players gradually relocating, but imagine this is a factor.

Related Blog posts:

Stage 3
Trip to Vegas & aftermath...
9 June -  28 July

I took it upon myself to have the most ridiculously short trip to Vegas during the World Series of Poker, just 6 days. I really wanted to go, having not been since 2007 and not really enjoying myself then and wanted to do it right. However, I didn't want to leave my then fiancée and son on their own for too long, so this was sort of a compromise. In reality it was too short, I was on my way home before I knew it, but I had a really good time whilst I was there. I only played four poker tourneys, and it would have been nice if I didn't get a ridiculous beat to send me packing in the 1 WSOP event I played, but nevermind.

The highlight of the trip was the sickest night out I had after me and Longy, who I was staying with, bumped into lil Dave in the Venetian. We went back with him to his sick pad where he was staying with Stu Rutter and other heroes, and proceeded to have an hilarious night out ending up in Surrender at Encore.

My play for the rest of June and July was sporadic at best. I did have fun being a guest analyst on Sky Poker in their live 4-hour show on a Thursday evening. I think I came off pretty well, and I'd say it's quite possibly the first time my parents have been proud of me job-wise. Hopefully I'll get another chance to do that again soon as they have said I'd be very welcome back :).

Related Blog posts:

Stage 4
Moving House, Getting married & Honeymoon...
29 July -  5 September

This was undoubtedly the most hectic time of the year for me where I decided to fit two huge life events into little more than a month. Literally the perfect house came up for rent very near where we were living, and we had to go for it. It has a double garage that has been converted into my 'grind-station'. and is just a really nice and big house with plenty of room for our family to expand. It's nice to know we're pretty set-up in this lovely house for the coming years.

Unfortunately, it was a rather stressful time, as moving house tends to be. On top of that it took me a ridiculous 6 weeks to get my internet sorted, so that put paid to any chance of me playing poker during this time.

Me and Liz got married on the 27th August after being together just shy of 4 years, and having got engaged in December 2009. I really can't envisage the wedding being any better than it was, it was exactly what we both wanted and it was a really special day. Having complained quite a lot about the expense of "just one day" in the lead up to the wedding, I am so glad that we did it and did it right, it's a day we'll never forget.

If you'd like to see the pictures from that day, they are all here:  worth a look if you like hot wife didn't look too bad either ;-)

After the wedding me, my wife and our son, who was just about to turn two, went on a family "not exactly a honeymoon" hoilday to Salou in Spain. We had a really great time to begin with, but unfortunately Clark got tonsillitis 3 days in which kind of ruined the holiday. We actually took him to A&E at midnight because he had such a high fever. I have to say I was impressed with the health care we got, they saw us very quickly and with the help of Google Translate (lol) they diagnosed him and he did get better shortly after we arrived home (standard sods law!).

Related Blog posts:

Stage 5
Death run in SNGs
6 September -  10 December

After a long absence to the tables, it seems I was rather rusty upon my return. It was my most testing time as a SNG player so far, as I endured something like a 7,000 game run of SNGs where I did little more than break-even. Much of this was attributable to running like death in my higher buy-in SNGs, with my very good return in lower buy-ins doing nothing but cancelling out those losses. The rakeback I accrued just about got me through this period without going completely insane, but being an FPP Pro is definitely not for me if I can avoid it.

As I'm sure I've mentioned many times in the past, understanding variance in one of the hardest things I think poker pro's have to combat. It's impossible to know exactly how much of a factor luck plays in your results, not only over the short term but the medium term as well. Trying not to concentrate on short term results is definitely something I intend to work on in 2012.

Related Blog posts:

Stage 6
Calm before the storm
11 December - 31 December
With my plan to go all out for SNE in 2012, I ended up taking a Christmas break a few days early. It was good to not be too stressed about poker, and felt like I reset myself which I think is good for my mindset going into 2012. I was able to spend lots of time with my son which was nice.

I went to see Liverpool (who I support) win at Villa Park which was cool, and I even saw a second consectuive home Aston Villa game as me and a bunch of other British Poker Pros had our "AGM" in Birmingham, going to watch the evening Villa vs Arsenal match and going out into town afterwards. Needless to say much drunkenness and hilarity ensuing, and it's always nice to meet up with the guys like this and get away from the computer monitors.

Christmas was very much a family affair as we pinged between my parents and my wife's parents houses but everything went really well, and Clark got lots of great presents and had lots of fun.

Me and my wife went out with 2 of our really good friends who are a couple for New Years Eve for a posh meal and a disco. It was actually the first time both of us had spent the night away from Clark as he stayed at his Grandma's! Aside from the fact we were the only people in the joint under the age of 40, it was a really nice evening, and although going into my SNE pursuit in 2012 with a headache wasn't the best start, it was well worth it.

Results for the Year
I was rather pleased to ship my first platinum stars on Sharkscope, especially being the most profitable $16-35 SNG player in 2011. I was obviously very pleased with my overall results for the year, if only I'd worked harder in the latter half :)

# Games Played: 26,000
# VPPs earned: 433,000

Profit: $58,500
Rakeback: $33,000
Battle of the Planets Prizes: $3,500

December 11, 2011

(Another) one on the way!

I've been keeping this under-wraps for quite a while, but think it's about time I mentioned it to everybody! Me and my wife are expecting our second child at the end of January.

I'm not quite as terrified as I was the last time around, but there are a lot considerations I have right now. How will we cope with two children? (Considering how much of a handful just one is!) How will it affect our little boy Clark? Is it realistic to attempt to go for Supernova Elite in the same year as having a newborn baby? Although I do worry about these things, I think it's simply a case of taking them as they come.

Preparing for our second child whilst still only 26 years old makes me think about how unorthodox my path in life is for a professional poker player. Of all the twenty-something poker players I know, I can only think of one other that has a child. One out of many.

It does have a certain impact on my on-line play that other on-line grinders wouldn't have to contend with. I tend to play during the daytime, out of peak hours, to make my working life more normal. After being someone who could never wake up in the morning for much of my life, I actually like this schedule though. Getting up at 6am feels like a much healthier lifestyle than waking up after 11am.

It definitely eats up a majority of my spare time, as the time I spend away from the tables tends to be with my family. This does make it harder to see my friends and go out, but I still do my best. And it's not as if I'm losing out on enjoyment here, I love spending time with Liz and Clark.

However with all the success in British Poker, most recently James Dempsey's recent bink in a WPT, I do occasionally give a thought to all very successful young British guys that go out on the circuit, like Flushy himself, Jake Cody, John Eames, Toby Lewis, Sam Trickett, Rupert Elder, Stuart Rutter, Dan Carter, Dave Nicholson, etc etc. All these get to travel the world playing poker, and it's hard not to be a little jealous of their lifestyle and their success.
Dempsey wins WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic
With few responsibilities they seem to be able to go where they want when they want, but I'm pretty much restricted to staying at home for the most part. I would just miss Clark and Liz too much. My trip to Vegas for 6 days in the summer showed me I just wouldn't be capable of going away without them on anything like a regular basis.

However I always come to the same conclusion. It's silly to be jealous, even fleetingly. I am very lucky to live the life I do. I've found the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with, and have a child I love more than anything in the world. Becoming a father was the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I can't wait to have two under my wing.

My apologies if this announcement. has turned into a glorified brag post by the way. I'm not even sure I could hack the poker superstar lifestyle anyway.  For a start I don't profess to have anywhere near their talent in poker, and it's very possible I wouldn't even be able to do what they do and be particularly successful. Also, being the variance nit I am, as well as someone who likes being "home" (I live 5 minutes away from where I grew up ffs!), it's probably not the life for me. I should just be thankful that I am able to make a solid living at a job I somewhat enjoy, and that suits me well, allowing me to spend plenty of time with my family. I've managed to find my niché in poker, and I should just be pleased to have one!

Being told of Liz's first pregnancy was the spark that led me to be a disciplined grind-horse, and I think the responsibility of being the sole provider for two children might help give me the motivation I need to make 2012 the year where I work the hardest.

It was quite interesting reading through an old article I wrote a couple of months after Clark was born called "Poker and Parenthood". In that I wrote:
I'm just happy that the missus didn't go into labour whilst I was playing a SNG session, and me having to tell her "Not now dear, you'll have to wait until I've finished all these games!
With labour taking much less time in your second birth, I'm funking pretty hard for her not to go into labour whilst playing :)

I couldn't help myself posting up a little home video of my son Clark. He's only two and a quarter and he's the brightest little boy you could hope for :)