December 13, 2009

2009- A humbling year

In 2009 I was expecting to make a lot of money; unfortunately it didn’t work out that way. My poker goals for 2009 was to become a 5/10 regular, make 250k, and travel overseas , I fell well short of all three. Before I get started on my 09 tale, let me go back to August 2008. I had finished my coaching sessions with Jsnipes and contacted Vanessa about coaching. We got started and August was my second best month ever. I was playing 400 and 600 at the time and was probably playing my best poker. I was going to take one more month and become a 5/10 reg, unfortunately school started in September.

It was my last semester and I couldn’t wait to graduate so I could grind full time. However being that is was my last semester and I was out of electives I was swamped with school work the whole year and put in about 20k hands total over the next four months. In addition to that I was also withdrawing a large amount per month to get ready to pay for taxes and my monthly expenses. I also went on a trip to Tampa to visit my buddy and attend games 1 and 2 of the ALCS. In the meantime a lot of poker players were improving and I wasn’t, I didn’t have the time and I really don’t like poker enough to devote all my free time to it. Mainly I enjoy baseball and other sports much more than I’d rather spend my time reading about, watching, learning, etc. than reviewing or putting in hands.

Fast forward to January of 2009. I was sick of waiting for action at 400 and 600 so I decided to learn 6max PLO. I contacted Vanessa about coaching and we began our sessions. However, the only problem was it just didn’t click. After seeing how fast I progressed with Jsnipes when I first received coaching I figured it’d be pretty much the same with PLO. I started at 100, but moved up way too fast. I was still scheduling lessons, but didn’t see myself improving. However it wasn’t Vanessa’s fault I was consistently just putting in hands and not going over HHs, reviewing equities, watching videos, etc.

In addition to that, I’m convinced PLO can tilt anyone and it really messed with my head. I was making stupid plays, doing things that I knew were bad but did it anyways because I was below equity and upset with my plummeting bankroll. After struggling at 200 6max PLO I decided that the best way to recoup my losses was to move up to 400. There I played bad and ran worse, I think I finished January 15k under equity which isn’t even that much in PLO and besides at equity I was still only a BE player so I wasn’t setting the world on fire either way.

Disappointed with my results I decided to give Michaelsc a shot. Like Vanessa, I was learning a lot in our sessions but just couldn’t play well enough on my own. I was stuck so I decided the best way to get even was to mass multi-table 200. I had just learned the game about 6 weeks before and I was trying to 9 table and it just wasn’t going well. Again I was running bad but even if I was running at or above EV I wouldn’t have been profitable. It was very frustrating that after my first 2 months as a pro I was 20k in the hole.

It was around this time that I met ugotabanana who taught me HUPLO. This went much better as some of my HUNL skills translated over to HUPLO and I was actually a winner in these games. However I still had tilt problems. I learned an expensive lesson regarding PLO. You have to be incredibly stable mentally and/or overolled. Otherwise the swings are just too much for anyone to handle. Every time you get it in your opponent has some equity and it seems like they turn another backdoor draw every time. After turning a slight profit in March I decided to turn back to HUNL.

I had a great month oat 200nl on Stars, but I was just running insanely well. My game just wasn’t very good and for some reason my tilt problems carried over into HUNL as well. I was making money again so that was good, but the bad part was I discovered how tough it is to move up when cashing out a significant amount each month. This was my first year paying quarterly taxes and there was nothing worse for me than writing that check every three months. Also, I had it in my head that I still deserved to be a 5/10 reg. So once again I didn’t study and didn’t improve.

This really caught up to me over the next 3 months I was a slight winner but was just awful. My non-SD winnings were terrible and I was playing fit or fold. I faced one of insyderrr’s students while he was sweating him and he IMd me afterwards and as politely as he could basically said “dude, you’re terrible”. That actually helped, as after September I finally decided I was going to devote myself again. Someone else telling me my game needed a lot of work was huge. However due to cashing out, I was barely rolled for 100nl at this point.

In the meantime, I was succeeding in the other areas of my life. My students were progressing; in fact my most successful batch of students came along when I was playing the worst poker of my career. For some reason I couldn’t focus when I was playing but when I was teaching, sweating, or reviewing HHs with a student I was locked in. This was incredibly frustrating to me since I realized how easy it was to be successful if I just was able to focus while I played. But I couldn’t do that and that led to me playing super spewy.

As far as baseball coaching, I was received hitting lessons online from DC member Oneilsurfer who is absolutely sick as far as hitting instruction goes. Anyone who lives in California with a son or daughter that plays baseball should go to him. Anyways, partially due to him the varsity team in which I’m assistant coach on went 2-16 the year before hitting 3 home runs the whole year improved to 15-7 hitting ~ 17 home runs as a team. In addition we lost in the sectional semis to the eventual state champions 4-3 in 12 innings. Also, my legion team which was 4-18 the year before finished 15-7 one game out of the playoffs. Although I got a little lucky as one of the neighboring towns didn’t have a team so my team was much more talented this year.

So everything else was going well besides actually playing poker. I was actually pretty close to online busto I hardly had enough to be rolled for 100nl. In October I finally watched Tommy’s series and took notes on every episode. I also studied my hands a ton and took notes on a bunch of HU videos. I had my first 10k month in a year and thought I was back on track. Despite that my tilt started to re-appear . Also, when I tilt I tend to tilt-cashout. While I was still making money it wasn’t nearly what it should’ve been and I was leaving myself underolled. Basically that sums up November and December so far.

All in all, I’m probably making 2009 sound worse than it is. Overall I made about 50k (PTR for some reason misses all my heaters), unfortunately a lot of that went to the US government. Sorry no graphs my computer just died last week and am in the process of retrieving all my hands. The good news is taxes won’t be nearly as high for me this year, the bad news is because I didn’t make nearly as much. For 2010, I’m starting fresh and presenting myself with some new challenges.

I’m cashing out all but enough for a roll at 50nl. For the first time since 2008 I will be overolled for the stake I am playing. This means I won’t be checking my cashier every 5 seconds. I won’t be looking at HEM every time I get unlucky so I can complain to myself how bad I run. I now am able to fold hands I should and make good quits. This year I was in such a hurry to get back to 5/10 I would continually play as an awful station just trying to build up my roll again.

I’ve started to meditate and it seems to help but I need to get on a better schedule. I’m inconsistent with the times of the day I do it and how long I do it for. It does seem to work though and really makes you feel good by the end of it.

I’ve never played 50nl before, so it is very humbling to drop all the way down. On the other hand I’ve taken approximately 10 students from 50 to 200+, I figure I should be able to do it myself. In reality the biggest thing for me is being overolled and not thinking I deserve to be playing higher. While 2009 wasn’t fun for me poker wise it was a learning experience and hopefully one that will make me a better player in the end.
Some random tips I’ve decided to throw in at the end. Many can be found throughout this blog post however I figure it would help to reiterate them

1) Don’t tilt- As easy as this sounds it costs a lot of people a ton of money. Basically everyone has trigger points that make them go off the deep end. Identify those and as soon as you see one of those creeping up, make it a goal to quit. It takes time, saying you’re fine when you know you’re not is only going to cost you a bunch of money in the end.

2) Being comfortable with the stakes you’re playing. I’d be willing to bet 9 out of 10 poker players would beat a random level if they were overolled compared to underolled. The swings are just much more impactful to your bankroll. This seems obvious but I see it a lot with people taking shots. I can’t stress how much easier it is to make the right play with 75 BIs as compared to 13. It just makes it much easier to fold top pair when it’s obvious you’re beat.

3) Invest!!! I graduated with a degree with a concentration in personal financial management. I’m amazed at how many poker players that make a lot of money don’t invest in the market. I’m not talking about individual stocks, more so retirement vehicles and mutual funds. This is a perfect time for many poker players to start investing as they have plenty of time to watch it mature. While I understand the allure of taking a trip or spending wildly is there the best time to invest is now, even if it’s just a couple bucks every month.

Now that’s not to say there aren’t bad investments out there. I recently wasted a good amount on a policy I thought was a good investment that wasn’t (that’s a long long story). There are a ton of tools out there and the extra cash you have would be much better served in a ROTH IRA than sitting in checkings or savings. If you’re bored, do some research on the time value of money.

That’s all I can think of for now, I’m sure there’s more but those three are pretty obvious anyways as well as anything else I could come up with. As far as goals for 2010. Firstly, I’m going to start treating this like a job. I hardly put any hands in this year and played 0 hands in a day this year many more times than I played 1000. My goal is to play 20 hours a week. I might struggle with that but even if I can play 15 that’ll lead to a lot more hands and hopefully a lot more money.

Also, I won’t move up a level unless I’m properly rolled. I know I can beat 100HU for a solid rate so I’m going to move up there once I reach 50BIs. After that I’m not going to move up to 200 until I have 75 and 400+ I’m going to need 100 BIs. Furthermore by being overolled it should limit my tilt problems and lead to a higher win rate. I’m not going to set any monetary goals as I tend to play really bad when I try to do that. My ultimate goal is to become a 5/10 reg by this point next year. I’m really not sure if it’ll happen but I’ll give it a much better effort this year than last.

Bruce Dickinson: Easy, guys.. I put my pants on just like the rest of you — one leg at a time. Except, once my pants are on, I make gold records. [ the group laughs ] Alright, here we go. “Fear… Don’t Fear the Reaper” — take one. Roll it

Posted By bosoxx34 at 11:54 AM



simpleme posted on December 13, 2009 at 16:13 PM


Nice post, why don't you go ahead and make some vids of your play on various stakes throughout 2010?

Entity posted on December 13, 2009 at 20:30 PM


Excellent post. Good luck in the coming year. Keep us updated!

KRANTZ posted on December 14, 2009 at 02:48 AM


GL Mike, sounds like 2010 is going to be a great year!

besthand17 posted on December 14, 2009 at 02:58 AM


Sounds a lot like my year...great read, hope you refocus.

bosoxx34 posted on December 15, 2009 at 16:24 PM


Simpleme, that's a pretty good idea. Definitely something I'll keep in mind.

GilgUK posted on December 16, 2009 at 10:44 AM


wow back down to 50nl? I'm only a small winner at 100nl but you are by far the toughest opponent I've played. I was amazed at how you just ran over me in a way I'd never experienced before and been waiting for you to start coaching again ever since!

Moving down to 50 takes guts, I'm sure you will fly through it in a couple of weeks. Good luck man.

FenderJaguar posted on December 18, 2009 at 10:53 AM


Definitely a great post. GL in 2010 man, I feel like it's going to be monumental for a lot of us :D

JAXWY posted on December 22, 2009 at 19:12 PM


Nice to hear some brutal honesty. Not so nice to hear it was a rough year poker wise. Always look on the bright side and it'll all be good. GJ

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