Wednesday, 9 January 2013

2012 review/looking toward 2013

Where does all the time go, another year down. At the start of 2012 I didn't really have any concrete goals. I posted in this blog that "I just want to focus on improving the small things, because in time, that's what leads to the big things.". With such a general goal, I think it's impossible to say  whether it was a success or failure! Overall, I guess I'm pretty happy but not ecstatic with 2012. There was no one moment so big that it ensured it was a great year, but on the other hand, there wasn't too many bad moments either. It depends on what way you look at it I guess. Compared with 2011, I didn't win as much money. Compared to my expectations, it was probably a little below par in some areas. Compared to how bad it could have been, it was pretty good. Comparing my year to years of other people of similar age, demographic etc. I have to think I was pretty lucky. So I guess there's lots of ways of looking at things, but overall, I have to say I'm reasonably happy with my 2012. It's my third winning year in a row from poker so I guess that's the main thing!

Live Poker


I suppose the bread and butter game this year was live cash. All in all, over the course of a year, I have to be pretty happy. Of course there were times I wasn't playing at 100% or not absolutely focused, but I think on average, I was very happy with my play. The biggest difference with 2011 has to be the variance. This year, the graph is a lot straighter. It's only inevitable that you have losing nights in poker, but when I did, my aim was to minimize the losses those nights and hope to come back stronger the next night. 

I don't really like discussing specific € figures (esp in relation to cash games, tournies I feel are a bit different since there's more of a 'public' feel about them) but in 2012, I played 66 cash sessions in Limerick and only had 19 losing nights. My biggest 'losing streak' was 3 nights in a row which happened only once throughout the year and my biggest 'winning streak' was 7 nights in a row which happened on two separate occasions. With regard to €/hr, I was very happy with what I managed to average throughout the year. As I said, I don't like talking money, so here's my graph with the cash figures removed (I've decided to that with all the graphs in this blog. Money is obv on the Y-axis, just not labelled):


Bottom line, I won more money than I lost at live tournaments. However, my ROI left a lot to be desired. All told, I only played 21 live tournaments in 2012 - I cashed in 3 (1 heads-up chop and two 3rds) and had an ROI of 15%. My largest buy-in this year was €1100 and the average buy-in was €332

Statistically, it's very hard to draw any conclusions from such a small sample size but such is the way with live tournaments. The big changes from 2011 are that I didn't manage any 5-fig scores and my results all came in the slightly smaller buy-in tournaments. That's partly unlucky and partly natural. It's true, you can't choose the events to run good in, but it's also true that generally, the higher the buy-in, the tougher the field, the lower the ROI, so the higher the variance. 

Overall, I was reasonably happy with my play throughout the year. I certainly made a lot of mistakes, but I also feel I learned from a lot of those mistakes. You always have to be improving as a poker player and one thing I can say for certain is that I'm a better player now than I was at the start of 2012.

If I was to make some changes for 2013, they would be 1) to go into every single tournament with absolute focus and 2) go with my gut more. I did make a conscious effort to really focus for every tournament, but there's no denying that some days I just felt more on my game than others. It's a lot easier said than done, but for 2013, I want to replicate this kind of focus every time I sit down. Then on 2), I just think I should trust myself and my own judgement a bit more. The more you learn, the greater number of factors are at play in a hand. There's been times where I've 'felt' I should pull the trigger on a big bluff or make a big fold, but I thought about it, and based on other factors, I talked myself into not making the play. My gut wasn't right every time but on balance, I think it'd be a +EV move to listen to my gut more. I remember reading one of Doke's blogs where he said something to the effect of 'the standard spots (esp live) aren't always that standard'. This is definitely true, and there have been times where I've made what I thought was the automatic play, when my gut told me otherwise. 
And also, what's a poker player when he can't even trust himself!?!

Online Poker


Online cash is a leak and I may aswell play roulette any time I sit down to play cash. There have been times in the past where I've attempted to grind cash or take it seriously, but pretty much every session in memory this year was just 'ah I'm bored let's play cash'. Online cash seemed practically non-existant in my poker playing this year but that was of course until you see how much money you lost playing it. So as a reminder to my degeneracy, my 2012 cash graphs:



Obviously I'm taking solace in the fact I totally ran below expectation in NLHE. 

Seriously though, no comment. Analyzing this is about as much use as analyzing my roulette results. Aims for 2012: practically no online cash (or roulette for that matter). The only exception would be if I somehow decide that online cash is where the soft money's at and I put a lot of work into study, game selection, my hud etc. etc. But that's not going to happen, so...


Graph excluding Super Turbos

Graph including only Super Turbos
So should probably stay away from the super turbos.

In 2012, I played online tournaments pretty sporadically. According to SharkScope, I played 273 (everything included; SNGs, MTTs etc.) tournaments in 2012 with an ROI of 16.8%. I guess to be up money at the end of it is good so I'm happy with it.

Online MTTs aren't my main game, but unlike online cash, I feel some bit confident in my online tournament game (evidently though, I need to work on my super turbo strategy!). I never really went out of my way to play tournaments during the year and I can only really remember depositing to play the odd Sunday or satellite to a live event. 

Playing online consistently is something I've always wanted to do but never really succeeded at. I'm not sure what I want to achieve in online MTTs in 2013, but there's a lot worse results than playing sporadically and making a profit. In the few times I did play in 2012, I did learn a bit more about what structured games I prefer, what's softer etc. 

Looking toward 2013

Start of year goals, new year's resolutions etc are not something I fully believe in as things can change so much in a year that a lot of goals end up being defunct by the year's end. That said, I do enjoy the 'goals oriented-ness' of it all. Writing something down and coming back and saying 'yeah, I did that' is a good feeling. I think for the sake of a blog, it's better to have a tick-the-box type list of goals, so for the craic, my goals for 2013:

1. Maintain or improve on my hourly rate at cash games
I suppose you should always be looking to improve, but to be totally honest, if I got the same hourly rate next year that I did this year, I'd happily take it.

2. Have an ROI of 100% in live tournaments
Depending on what live tournaments you play, I think this is a very achievable ROI. I don't know how many tournaments I'm planning on playing though, so that's why I won't be making any volume goals etc. Also, the variance could be huge, so with that in mind...

3. Be totally focused in every tournament
As I said earlier, it's easier said than done, but it's in writing now so gonna give it my best!

4. Play 500 online MTTs, positive ROI, profit
I debated on this one, but I decided to go for having some sort of a goal. 500 is only a weeks worth of MTTs for some players, but again I'm not sure how much time I'll be able to spend at them. For profit and ROI, I decided anything above zero will be good enough for me. If things change, and I decide to dedicate more time to online MTTs, this goal will change.

5. Continue to study, improve etc.
I actually made the decision this year to focus less on the theory in poker and more on practical applications. I drew a parallel with chess here; In chess, you can study theory (opening theory, rook endings etc.) or you can study your own games, and analyze where YOU went wrong and what YOU can change to get better. Often it's the studying of your own games that improve you most. In poker, it's somewhat similar. For 2013, I hope to shift the focus back to theory a bit more and improve my overall game.

6. Vegas
I turn 21 in May so all roads hopefully lead to Vegas. If I end up going to Vegas underrrolled, lose everything I have, and come back with nothing but experience, how can I honestly say that's a goal achieved? I've heard plenty of stories of inexperienced people going to Vegas and basically having a good time but coming home with no money. I'm not going to totally over extend myself just to get to Vegas to 'say I did' but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't probably my number one goal for this year. I'm hoping to be in America one way or another this summer, either on a J1 or in Vegas. If I'm there on a J1, I'm sure we'll make our way to Vegas at some stage, but for the sake of this goal, I'm defining 'go to Vegas' as staying in Vegas for 1 week+ and grinding. I guess being able to make a bit of profit in Vegas would be nice too :-)

7. Win a live tournament
Beggars can't be choosers, I'll take any live tournament win.

8. 5 fig score
Beggars can't be choosers, I'll take any 5 figure score.

9. 6 fig score
Hey, you never know...

10. Continue this blog
Should be the easiest one on the list. I think the key to blog writing is to just write when you feel like it. For 2013, I'll think I'll follow that advice and just write when I feel like writing. It's often the posts that you write for the sake of it that end up being the worst. Sometimes, I do want to write straight after a tournament, whereas other times, I just can't bring myself to write anything decent. In these cases, I think it is better to wait (even if it is a few weeks) until the mood strikes to make a post.

I'd also like to thank everyone that does read this blog. Hopefully it manages to serve as a mild form entertainment to some people and I do appreciate it when people enjoy it!

Here's to 2013!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

December 2012

I probably should have written a blog in December but never quite got around to it. I played the Christmas events in both the Macau in Cork and Fitzpatricks in Limerick.

I won two live events in 2011 which meant I had two title defenses in 2012. The Student Masters title defense went horribly so I was determined not to let a similar thing happen again. The tournament only drew 45 players at 350 a pop (75 of which was a bounty, and 40 reg fee) which is obviously quite a bit down on the 96 players at 500+50 the tournament had last year. I managed to give a good account of myself and finished day 1 with the chip lead. I held 14% of the chips in play with 22 players remaining. Early on day 2, I made a big fold which ended up being completely wrong. I just moved to the table and UTG (who I'd never played with) opened, I flatted utg+2 with JJ, the player on my direct left reshipped, and UTG then shipped after some deliberation. I can't remember the exact stack sizes, but I think UTG had 25BBs and had the other player slightly covered (I think I had around 80BBs). Reading back on it, I'm actually ok with the fold. I think what's really important to note though, is the bounties worth 75euro each. Basically, I'm not just getting slightly over 50k to 25k on my 25k investment, I'm actually getting 150euro+50k to my 25k. Anyway, I ended up taking what I thought was the disciplined option and folded. Of course I was shown 77 and 99!

Following that, I ran into a few awkward spots where I contributed to a few CDUs. I actually think I played all the hands fine, and it was due to the €75 bounty I had to call it off a bit lighter than normal. (the bounty, esp one that accounts for almost 25% of the buy-in (when u exclude reg) drastically changes the game, and folding equity for short stacks tends to go out the window). I fell back as far as 70k when I could have had 180k had I called with the jacks. I grinded out the medium stack hovering around average most of the day. It wasn't until there was 8 left that I managed to get a double up and for the first time, have more than what I started the day with! I picked up aces in a fortunate position where it really looked like a good spot for a light 3-bet. Dion Burns opened and I 3-bet from the button. Nicky Power dwelled in the BB before folding. Nicky said after the hand that he was very, very close to shipping it in with 73o. The board ran out 73xxx so it definitely would have been a memorable way to bust!

When it got to 4 handed, all the stacks were getting short and it resulted in push-fold poker. The final hand, the button limped, I shoved with A4 in the SB, Bops called from the BB with KQ and the button (who had us both covered) insta-called also with AQ. In a vacuum, my shove may be a little on the big side (again, I can't remember exact numbers (the joys of writing a blog a month later), but I remember feeling this after the tournament), but I think I have enough folding equity against the button that it's certainly +EV. The AQ held up and both me and Bops were eliminated. I had more chips than Bops which meant I got 3rd place money.

Nicky went on to chop it heads up and win the trophy. Big well done and congratulations to Nicky. Also well done to Bops who final tabled this event last year and is on a streak of approximately 37 final tables in a row in the Macau!

My 2012 ended on a bit of a bad note as I played three times in Limerick. I played the Christmas Cracker tournament (250 buy-in) and two cash sessions. The night before the tournament I lost a decent chunk in what was a small-ish game. I ran badly and the big pots didn't go my way so shouldn't really be too disappointed. The night was summarized by a hand I played where I did the ole 'put him on exactly two cards'. I had A2, raised pre and c-bet the 348 flop into two opponents. One player made a big raise and I went with my read and shoved over the top. I was right with my read but unfortunately a 2 peeled off on the turn to give his 56 the nuts.

I wasn't the happiest after the session, and I think the reason was I hadn't played much recently. If you're playing every night, you take losses in your stride without problem. The cash games had really dried up (worst I've seen) in Limerick so that was only my second session in two months (I played once in Nov and this was my first cash session in Dec). So psychologically, I think my mind was maybe programmed back to real world money rather than poker money and I was just annoyed at losing money.

All that said, I was determined not to let that effect me in the tournament the next day. I played the tourney and it was "just one of those days". However, experience has taught me that if you're on top form and really in the zone, you can often navigate your way through "one of those days" and come out the other side, but if you're not on form, you inevitably bust. I don't think I did much wrong, but I definitely wasn't on my top game, and I busted quite early.

I was out with friends that night so missed what I presumed was a decent enough cash game. I did go in the next night however and booked a small win for €65 (99>JJ aipf being the turning point!). Even though it was a small win in a small game, I was very thankful for it! I had the feeling it could be the start of a bit of a bad run, so just logging any sort of a win felt good psychologically and hopefully ended the bad run before it even started.

I've played three times in 2013 with 2 winning sessions and 1 losing one. The 2 winning sessions were both bigger than the losing session so no complaints from me!

I didn't play the WPTN Dublin and didn't even head up to the Citywest for sides/cash. In 2012 I was a bit more selective about what tourneys I played and I expect 2013 to probably be even more selective. I absolutely love live tournaments but bar any type of staking deal or big bink, I think I'm just going to pick and choose what I play very carefully. Heading up to festivals to grind cash may also be an option I go for a lot more this year. So, next up is the 2012 review/2013 goals blog!