2010 In Review

Anyone who reads this blog or knows me will probably understand that I cannot wait to get shut of 2010 as soon as humanly possible. My Dad passed away just two months ago and, with it being so close to Xmas, there has been a huge sense of ‘just get Christmas out of the way’ amongst the family.

I won’t spend too long musing over what it’s like to lose a parent, because almost all of us are going to go through it twice in our lives, but rest assured its awful. Even though I was bigger than him, fitter than him and probably earned more money than him, still at the age of 31 I always felt ‘looked after’ or protected by Dad. Now that’s gone you all of a sudden do feel thrust into adulthood and on your own. I guess the one positive that has come from it all as it has made me reevaluate certain things in life and been a very maturing, character building experience – I’m trying to be a bit more like the great friend and provider Dad was every day.

Meeting Jared Tendler & Dusty Schmidt in person, finally

But I cannot honestly say that 2010 was a totally horrendous year, far from it, in fact it was shaping up to be one of the best years ever until 2 months ago. Work has gone really well, PokerNews is going from strength to strength and I predict big things for the company in 2011. The book is also (nearly) finished and how that is received in 2011 is something I am really looking forward to.

Poker playing itself went well and interesting. It was a nice winning year, but I probably played 20% or less of the volume than the previous year. This all goes back to my last blog post where I detail that working with performance coach Jared Tendler has actually freed me from needing to play poker every day, so I only play for fun now. Live Poker went particularly well, I only think I played 8 live tournaments in 2010 and managed to turn that into 4 final tables (Two IPO side events, the British Masters Poker Tour Leeds and a UKIPT side event), the highest finish being a 3rd place. I’d be a fool to claim I didn’t run perhaps quite a bit above expectation, but I think the fact I only play rarely for fun now has made me pretty fearless at the tables when I do.

British Masters Leeds Final Table, it was on telly, well web telly

Me with the Online Player of the Year award at the European Poker Awards, I didn't win it, I introduced it to the awards

I got the opportunity to do some really interesting things and travel some great places in 2010. I was a judge at the European Poker Awards in Paris which was one of my career highlights so far, especially getting to look like a big shot in front of the Missus in Paris on Valentines weekend. In London I worked with the guys at Matchroom Sport on the PartyPoker Big Game V show and at the same time finally met Jared in person, which was awesome, especially after he got stuck here an extra week due to Volcanic ash. I also got a rare chance to interview a Heavyweight title contender and the fight in Manchester……shame it turned out to be Audley Harrison and the worst fight in British Boxing history (I still have to admit he was a really nice guy though). I had a fun a profitable time in Ireland for the IPO, I got to meet the PokerNews crew in Lithuania and best of all discovered Portoroz in Slovenia.

Portorose in Slovenia with the missus and chums

The latter was so special that I proposed to Gina, my girlfriend, there and she said yes. In fact that was probably the best day of my life, so I guess looking back 2010 was the year I had the best and worst day of my life – in that respect it was probably a big chapter in the film or book of my life if nothing else.

So was it really my worst year ever?

Yes. My Dad was a bloody fantastic guy and the world is a much worse place now he is no longer in it. Getting past the New Year’s Eve countdown and reigning in 2011 is not going to all of a sudden make everything better, but I cannot wait to get it done nonetheless. Thankfully there were plenty of positives in 2010 and plenty to look forward to in 2011, so it’s not all doom and gloom but hurry up 2010, you can finish now.

My Dad and my Dog, the two best blokes in the world

Book Nearly Done, Glad I'm Not a Pro Player, Merry Xmas

Well The Mental Game of Poker is nearly done, we are having a ‘cram week’ the first week of January to tie up the loose ends. Its took slightly longer than the original plan of April this year to finish it off, but in fairness Jared and I both maintained full time jobs instead of lightening the load for a short while, so in the respect and given that it’s a pretty involved book, it’s probably a success timing wise.

Spending 12 months essentially shadowing a sports psychologist who works with poker players has been amazing. I think most players would jump at the chance to do this, I certainly did, because the positive impact on one’s game was a shoe in. It was for me, Jared has cured me of several crippling poker leaks for which I am very grateful. But the biggest thing he has done for me was a huge surprise, he has freed me from poker.

I was the sort of player who couldn’t put poker down, I had to play most days, not for mega sick sessions, an hour a day was fine, but I had to play. Right now I have played one serious session in about 4 months and I couldn’t be happier about it. Poker will be there tomorrow and working with Jared has helped me go off in different directions. I think it’s helped my job at PokerNews which I am really loving right now and I am also reading a shit load.

Thankfully I still love the game, the industry and the people. I haven’t completely fell out of love with poker, merely having a hiatus from playing. The one thing this whole experience has opened my eyes to is how much I would hate to be a professional poker player now, the games are so much tougher and I fear for a lot of guys the wrong end of 30 who might have nowhere good to turn if poker went south for them.

The one thing I think ALL pro poker players should actively have is other interests and other ways to make money. The game is so vulnerable in a regulatory sense and a good player can become a bad player so quickly if they don’t work on their game, the game could leave a lot of people in the wilderness. Thankfully poker does open lots of doors and most of the people who make a crust from it are usually very intelligent.

Anyway, enough doom and gloom. I am off to the annual Christmas Eve jolly with the lads, I am not looking forward to Christmas Day at all as anyone who follows the blog will understand this year, but the Christmas Eve Bomber is always my favourite part of the festive period.
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