2015 Poker Year In Review

January 4, 2016

All in all, I’d have to consider 2015 the best year of my life. As far as gambling goes, it was my third best year ever, but I’ll get to that later. In my personal life, I had a lot of big things happen this past year: I married my beautiful, amazingly supportive wife, Dina, in May and then we moved out of Kitsap County across the Narrows Bridge to University Place in Tacoma in August. Shortly afterwards, I was hired to work at the Palace in Lakewood, where a slow day is when we only have four games going. This wasn’t just a great move for me concerning my day job, it was an absolutely essential move for me as a poker player. Sorry to say it, but there just isn’t a poker scene in Kitsap County anymore. Silverdale and Bremerton went from 3-4 rooms completely thriving during the poker boom of 2004-2007, to having three rooms within 5 miles of each other spreading multiple games at the same time as recently as 2010-2011, to having ONE poker room with ONE $4-$8 game – and maybe a second game for a few hours on peak nights, but more often than having a second game there was NO game after 11 PM in Kitsap County in 2015. You have to drive at least 30 minutes to find another option. Eventually, with a major assist from my wife wanting to be closer to her work and family, I found that option so attractive that I decided to cut out the commute altogether and just relocated. It was a decision that already has and will continue to let us realize a ton of growth. If you’re as sick of the Kitsap poker scene as I was, I have good news for you: people are still gambling in Pierce County and King County.

In addition to the overdue change of scenery, I also bid adieu to my last link to my 2010 DUI: the breathalyzer that had been installed in my car for the past 5+ years. Less than a week later, I got rid of my POS 2001 Pontiac Grand Am that I was driving into the ground and upgraded to a brand new 2016 Subaru Legacy. In fact, the only negative that remains from my past mistakes these days is a hospital bill for my emergency appendectomy I had in late 2008. With a balance of over $23,000 I simply have no intentions of ever paying it off. I still haven’t decided exactly how I’m going to tackle that issue, but since it is not on my credit report and doesn’t really affect my livelihood, it’s not really that imposing of a storm cloud.

Now back to poker. Technically speaking, 2015 was only my third best year of my poker career – in 2005, I had an absurd three month stretch that convinced me to play professionally and make all sorts of terrible decisions in my life that would lead to a downward spiral I wouldn’t really start to recover from until 2011; and I had a breakout year in 2012 where everything finally started to click – but it was quite easily my best year in terms of giving myself the cushion that will be needed to play for a living some day and continue laddering up the stakes. My new day job has finally allowed me to handle our monthly expenses without having to use any money I win gambling, so all my profits from playing poker are now entirely invested in our future.

As far as my actual 2015 goals are concerned, these are the goals I set for myself and how well I succeeded at achieving them:

I had a bunch of mental game goals for 2015, including: studying away from the table, profiling players at the table, improving my c-game, focus on how well I’m playing and my emotional control instead of focusing on results, taking notes throughout my sessions, studing opponents in tournaments to find mistakes and exploit them, and taking my time in critical pots. If I’m being honest with myself, I feel like I started out really strong in staying on point with these goals, but as I smashed the $8-$16 game all throughout the spring and deep into the fall, I got lazy and, possibly, – *gasp* – overconfident. I certainly stopped profiling players and I stopped taking notes of all the hands I played, and I can think of a few big pots in tournaments where I really didn’t think things through enough and made big, tournament-costing mistakes. Definitely not a great success here, but I’m way better at handling variance than I used to be. Perhaps the best stat that shows just how much growth I’ve made in this department is this one: in 2015, my main game was the $8-$16 at the Palace and, overall, I played 93 sessions totaling 701 hours for an average session length of 7.53 hours. What that number means is that I’m basically never quitting a session because I’m running bad. There may have been a time or two I should have, but most of the time, I powered through and, quite frequently, I’d limit the damage or even book a win in a session where I would’ve left a big loser in the past. It’s all about the long run and that’s a concept I seem to fully understand now.

I also had goals to spend less than 20% of my live hours in $4-$8 games, play 750 total live hours, and play at least 100 hours of no limit cash games. I smashed my 750 hour goal by playing 1487 total hours, including tournament play. I only spent 18.8% of my total cash game hours in $4-$8 games and over half of those hours were as the floorman propping the game at my old job. At this point, I think it’s safe to say that the $4-$8 limit is a thing of my past. I did not play 100 hours of no limit cash. I only played 40 hours… over 12 sessions. So not only am I not putting in the sessions, but the ones I do play are super short. I played three reasonably long Super Sundays at Muckleshoot before I started working on Sundays, but other than that, I was in and out of any no limit game I played this past year.

I did play 2-3 events at the 2015 WSOP – two WSOP events and two daily tournaments – and went 0 for 4, to bring my career total at the Rio during the WSOP to 0 for 9. I did not play a tournament series in a city I’ve never been to before but I did set a new career high tournament score with my third place finish in the 08 event at the Wildhorse Fall Round Up in Pendleton, Oregon.

I spent most of my poker playing time in the $8-$16 game, where I exceeded my goal of 1 BB/HR by maintaining a 1.12 BB/HR win rate over a significant sample size, despite a monstrous downswing from early October to late December.

My five biggest $8-$16 wins were: +$2230, +$1835, +$1697, +$1360, +$1246.
My five biggest losses: -$1847, -$1238, -$1166, -$1081, -$896.

I had a 0.48 BB/HR win rate at $4/$8 with my top 5 wins being: +$616, +$499, +$456, +$441, +$425.

I played 151 hours of Omaha 8 for a whopping $478 profit despite a -0.29 BB/HR win rate (I hit and ran the $20-$40 at the WSOP pretty good).

I played 93.5 hours above the $8/$16 level and maintained a 0.46 BB/HR win rate. Most of those hours were in the $10/$20 O8 game at Clearwater where I basically broke even (-$34) and almost all of that win rate resulted from smashing the $20/$40 O8 at the Rio for an hour and having a good $15/$30 Razz session a few days later. Basically none of these stats are meaningful – due to lack of sample size – although I do feel like my O8 game could needs work. I see no reason for me not to be a 1 BB/HR player in most O8 game in the United States – it just seems so attainable.

My best location was the Palace by a mile. My worst location for 2015 was Diamond Lils and I only played one $8/$16 session there and it didn’t even crack my top five worst that I listed above. I posted a profit for the year on every single day of the week, with my best day being Saturdays by a long shot and my worst day being Fridays, which is a bit bewildering to me (note: after digging deeper, I discovered that my average session length on Fridays was less than 5.5 hours, which leaves me vulnerable to quite a bit of short term variance – it’s no mystery why my shortest sessions are far less profitable than my longest ones). I only had two losing months for the year and the worst month was in April and I only lost $289, so all in all, 2015 was a consistently very good year.

I played in 48 tournaments, cashed in 8 of them (16%), for a 25% ROI. My average buy in $183, which is a significant increase over years past. I’ve never had a losing year of tournament poker – even when I deep into the misery of alcoholism – but a week into November I was down multiple thousands in tournament buy ins before clutching up for that third place O8 finish at the Fall Round Up that put me squarely in the black for the year. I also won the weekly H.O.R.S.E. tournament at The Orleans in Vegas in June and cashed two of the major Muckleshoot events this year, but if I said I was satisfied with my tournament performance over the past couple years, I’d be lying. I know I can do better and I know I will. That’s the thing about tournaments – when you make a mistake, it can cost you your tournament life or cripple you and you have to wait til the next event to plug that leak. Hopefully I’ve ironed out enough leaks that I’m in store for a monster 2016!

I was going to post my 2016 poker goals in this blog, but I will do that in the next couple days. Good night!


  1. […] poker, movies, T.V., music, and baseball « 2015 Poker Year In Review […]

  2. […] just read my 2015 Wrap Up again and there were a lot of positives in there. Notably, how beneficial our move to Tacoma was, […]

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