2009: The Year of Running Good

I cant believe its been almost a month since I last updated this thing.

Just about to get ready for a New Years party and I cannot wait to get 2008 done and dusted. I know tomorrow will be the same as any other day but we humans do think of things in terms of months and years and, while by no means an awful year, 2008 is one I will be glad to see the back of.

The dog died, my old man was ill for a bit, my missuses grandparents the same and even my missus was worryingly ill for a while (all more than fine now thankfully). Most of my mates had some form of bad news or other in 2008, in the case of a few some very grim news indeed, so generally it wasn't the best year. I did have plenty of fun too, went to Vegas which was amazing, had a really good year with the girlfriend in general so it wasn't all that bad.

As a writer I had a truly fantastic year. I really love the stuff I do with Pokernews and wrote some stuff for magazines I really truly deemed 'proper writing n that'. I also got a lot of kudos in the industry and have even started a regular stint on Sky Poker as a guest, which panders to my ego very nicely indeed. If 2009 can be anything like 2008 in this regard, I will be a happy man.

As a player, its been a bad year. A winning year, a nice winning year I guess (I have more in the bank now than ever before), but way below expectation and had lots of long frustrating break even spells. I only had one bad losing month (which might have actually been break even when you add rakeback) but the 2nd half of the year contained too many just-better-than-break-even months, which was frustrating but again, thank god for rakeback.

Which was all funny, because this was the first year I had a coach, Stuart 'Balloo' Menzies, which coincided with the bad run when you think it would do the opposite. Stuart has really massively helped my game, and made me realise that I wasn't as good as I thought I was and a lot of my success in the past has been a result of raw aggression (Which ain't a terrible thing). Its good to have the wind knocked out of your sails like this and I think I am a much better player this year than I was 12 months ago for it.

But unfortunately, the coaching has also coincided with some real bad luck at the cash tables. The last 6 months I have ran really bad at the cash tables, not getting massively outdrawn all the time (Although that did happen plenty and I am about significantly up on my 'Sklansky Bucks' graph, though not on my real bucks graph lol) but simply constantly running big hands into bigger hands. I get queens, they get kings, I get kings, they get aces, I get aces, they hit a set, I get a set, they hit their flush etc etc.

I hate moaning about it, I hate people that moan about bad luck, but apart from occasional weeks where I would run like god, this was the story of May to December for me. My coach, who sweats my sessions, made the comment to me that he has never seen anyone run big hands into bigger hands as much as me and I must say, his support has been what has stopped me from quitting the game this year.

But, one big leak of mine that I cant blame luck on (though it is a catalyst for) is that when I am tilted, I play very defensively and don't value bet enough. As much as I moan about bad luck, I'm pretty certain the tilt factor amplified the bad luck and I could have got myself out of these runs had I played better.

Live tournaments were a huge flop for me too, which was lucky in a way as I was sponsored for the vast majority of the events I played and didnt lose much of my own money at all. I didn't cash in a single ranking event and only got my money back in one saver deal. I cant really blame luck on this, every tournament I played went like this:

Build a big stack early
Go card dead when the blinds start to get big
Blind away and shove with rags at the end of day 1, get called, lose.

Obviously I say there that I went card dead every time in the middle stages, but the leak is mine because I clearly have no clue what to do in that scenario and better tournament players will have emerged from those spells better than I did. Thankfully, I did do really well in the small handful of Online MTTs I played, I reckon I only played about 15 MTTs online this year and I won 4, which is a great return I should probably think more about making the most of next year.

So 2009 looks pretty simple for me. I want to carry on my writing work and any other poker opportunities that come along. I want to get a dog with my girlfriend, that should be easy enough. And in 2009 I want to run well and play well. Obviously I cant control the luck element, but I can constantly improve as a player and I think that if I have a positive attitude and stop whining about running bad, then it will only have a positive affect on my winnings. (Cashing in a live event would be nice too).

So happy new year and may 2009 be the year of the run good!

DTD £300 Deepstack

Whenever I play live these days, I always jinx myself by having a really good session playing online cash just before I leave the house, and this was no different. The £300er at DTD was lots of fun though and I had a nice soft table to begin with for most of day 1. No complaints about how I never got a big stack for 2 days because I ran pretty well but picked the wrong street to start bluffing every time I did that, really mis timed the rare occassions I was trying to nick pots and the more I think of it, there is no real reason to do anything than value bet when the structure is as good as it was. I was even able to fold pocket queens very easily with just under 30 big blinds to someone with the worlds most polarised hand range without worrying about getting too short.

I stopped in a travel lodge near by because of the early start to day 2, which was awful. First off I forgot my toothpaste and travel lodges are so shit they dont have any to buy or give away, so ended up cleaning my teeth with soap. Then I had a rotten nights sleep and woke up to find I actually didnt have a shower, just a hole in the wall where the shower heads should be. I couldnt really complain, because there was nobody there to complain to, the cleaning lady said the reception staff didnt start till 3. Eventually she let me into a disused room with a proper shower, which saved them one of my overwritten complaint letters.

Day 2 lasted exactly one hand for me. I had about 15k with blinds at 600/1200 and an ante of 100. A taggy player I had heard moan about being card day on day 1 raised to 2800, called by a laggy player who has been running like god and I find 78 of diamonds. Excellent spot for a squeeze in my opinion, I had enough to make them fold a lot of crap and the right hand if I get caught out by a monster. The original raiser postures for ages, asks me if I had AJ (meaning he has AT or AQ) and folds. In hindsight I wish I had made more of this, because it didnt stop mr running like god to insta call me with A2, which he hit aces up with right away. Not the best call from him, but being as I mentioned he had been running like god, I cant exactly be suprised when he calls me. He was a nice bloke so who cares.

But was all good fun, as DTD usually is. I got interviwed by Poker Tour Radio who launched last week and showing some real signs of potential. We are going to have a little crack at making the pilot of the Pokernews podcast this week to see just how out of depth we really are.

European Deepstack Poker Championships


In years of poker I have only ever really entered a satelitte about 5 times, and never had any success at all. However last night I entered a satelitte for the European Deepstack Championships on Winamax and came 1st, so an all expenses trip to Dublin it is for me. So glad too, because its one of three events I really want to play next year (That and the WSOP main event, obv, and the Irish Open)and its always a good laugh.

Its funny, Ive played much bigger events and been lucky enough to have been sponsored into much bigger, but for some reason winning my seat is all that more satisfactory. Maybe because Im going to get about a grand in travel expenses for what will essentially be a £400 round trip to Dublin.

Anyway, minor brag over.
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