2018 Poker Goals

March 8, 2018

Sorry, this is way overdue, but better late than never! My playing schedule is going to be very tournament heavy over the next couple weeks. I will be playing $15/$30 today and tomorrow at Palace, but I’ll be heading to Little Creek Casino for their $340 No Limit Hold’em Main Event on Saturday. I have an online fantasy baseball draft on Sunday night, so I’ll probably just take the day off or play on Global that day, then back to Palace for a $15/$30 Marathon Monday session. Tuesday will be an off day and then Wednesday is the first day of the Muckleshoot Spring Classic series. They have events every day, Wednesday through Sunday, and I sold action to all of them, so that’s my tentative plan for next week. I typically skip the $500 on Saturday if I’m not in the running for Player of the Series (which I never am) so that I can be rested up for the $750 Main Event the next day instead. I have multiple cashes in the Main Event of this series over the last several years, but I have zero final tables and I think only one or two cashes in preliminary events. My phone data goes back to August of 2014 and Muckleshoot has been my worst location during that stretch. I have 0 cashes in the last 11 Classic events I’ve played, so I’m looking to break a cold stretch and finally do something big in this series. I’m way overdue! I will take notes and try to make posts at the end of the day, but that’s something that is much easier to do when I’m on the road by myself than when I’m at home with my wife.

Now onto the goals!

Volume Goals

-play 1800 live hours
-play less than 33% of live cash game hours at $8/$16 or lower
-play 500 hours of PLO (online and live)
-play one mixed game session a month (house games)
-take more shots
-play at least one online tournament a week
-play a bigger WSOP schedule
-play 100 hours of NLHE cash (online and live)


1800 total live hours is 150 hours a month which should be easily attainable and if you’ve been following my blog, you know I’m on pace to crush that number.

Playing 67% of my cash game volume at $10/$20 or higher seemed problematic a few short weeks ago, but $15/$30 has been going basically every day at Palace and this should be another goal I will demolish. I was mostly an $8/$16 player for the last three years, but this year I will be playing almost entirely red chip games.

With online play, 500 hours of PLO should be a number I will hit, but my real goal here is to play more in live PLO cash games, particularly when I’m traveling out of state. Even locally, I wouldn’t say I’ve been committed to playing PLO. I average about two sessions a month and I went three months in a row without playing at all last year. I would like to add an Omaha 8 or Better goal but really the only place I go specifically to play O8 is The Orleans in Las Vegas, so it’s not something that comes up much and I only play it when I’m in Vegas if it wasn’t my priority for the day… meaning, I busted out of tournament and it’s 9 PM and I still want to play some poker, but with like zero pressure.

I want to play more mixed game poker this year, so that I’m fresh and ready come WSOP time. Ideally, I’d like to play a mixed game a couple times a month, but even 12 sessions in a year would be a big improvement over my past volume. I seem to play most of the games pretty well using mostly natural instincts and card sense, but I’d like to gain more actual experience.

When I say take more shots I mean in games I might not exactly be bankrolled for. For instance, I shouldn’t be such a nit when I’m in L.A. and Vegas and I should sit down in the $40/$80 games some of the time. A bad session isn’t going to crush me, but a great one could be huge. The concept of having a bankroll for a particular game assumes that you are playing that game regularly. Taking shots seems fine if I’m smart and careful about it. Also, I have some interest in playing the $100/$200 mix game at Muckleshoot, but I wouldn’t do so without taking on a partner or two. Hit me up if you’re interested!

On average, playing one tournament online a week is a piece of cake. When I do play online, I typically play 5-8 tournaments in a single night. This is to help keep me sharp for NLHE tournaments, which I very rarely play live.

My WSOP schedule has been increasing every year, but I’m ready to kick it up a few notches. I already have a room booked for May 30th through June 12th and that could cover up to seven WSOP events and I may wind up staying through – and playing – the Main Event. Certainly I will not be done with Vegas after June 12th. There are at least two more must play events on my schedule after that first trip. The most events I’ve played in a year was five in 2017 and it would be cool to at least double that number for 2018. In all likelihood, if I play the Main Event, I will be selling up to 90% of my action and I will probably need more assistance than my usual backing arrangement.

My weekly goal is 30 minutes of NL cash games online. This seems like the bare minimum practice I need. When I’m playing online though, I drastically prefer PLO and when I play live, it is incredibly rare for me to actually sit in a no limit cash game. 100 hours is way more than my actual weekly goal would add up to, but this is a skill set that I really need to start developing. I feel like I’m a fine NL cash game player, but I’m far from being an expert and I wouldn’t feel comfortable playing anything bigger than $3/$5.

Win Rate Goals

-$15/$30 LHE: 1.25 BB/HR
-$20/$40 LHE (and higher): 1 BB/HR
-$8/$16 LHE (and lower): 1.25 BB/HR
-$1/$3/$5 PLO: $50/HR
-Live PLO: 10 bb/HR
-$0.25/$0.50 6-max PLO: 1 bb/HR
-Online PLO: 5 bb/HR
-No Limit Hold Em: 10 bb/HR
-Live Tournaments: 50% ROI
-Online Tournaments: 30% ROI

*note: limit games are expressed as big bets per hour and no limit and plo are expressed as big blinds per hour


First off, it’s not going to break my heart if I don’t meet some of these goal. My real goal is to play amazing poker all the time and hopefully the money comes my way. These numbers just seem like reasonable bench marks. For the non-LHE games, I probably won’t play enough hours for short-term variance not to have a dramatic affect on my final results. But still, I feel like this is where I would like to be at.

I imagine I will play more $15/$30 LHE than any other game this year. When I was sitting at $7/hour after 200 hours in the Palace $15/$30 (thanks mostly to High Hands and Jackpots), I thought a final goal of even 1 BB/HR might be a reach after such a rough start. But after making $11k in four days, my numbers look more like what I’m accustomed to and I think continuing to beat Palace LHE games for somewhere between 1.25 and 1.75 big bets per hour is plenty doable.

Bigger games are tougher, but last year I smashed my goal of 0.75 BB/HR at $20/$40 or higher. No reason I can’t do that again, but since $30/$60 happens at Palace a few times a month now, and I plan to take some shots in even bigger games, I’m going to temper my expectations for the time being.

As I noted earlier, I don’t expect to be playing much $8/$16 this year, so this could be a number that could see a lot of variance.

I won $100 an hour in the PLO game at Palace last year, but I’m positive that’s unsustainable. If I won even half that much an hour in 2018, that’s probably still smashing. I may have set this goal too high, but whatever. Shoot for the moon!

I listed the Palace game separately since it has a 1/3/5 structure. For all other games where you can limp for the price of the big blind, I think a 10 bb/hour goal is solid. Same can be said for no limit hold cash games.

My goal of 1 bb/hr for $0.25/$0.50 6-max PLO online is a joke. Considering I lost 26 bb/hr at this exact game last year, anything in the positive is a huge turnaround and I’ll take it. My results in full ring PLO games are basically the opposite. I don’t really know what I should be making at PLO online, but anything positive seems like a good start and somewhere between 5 and 10 bb/hr is probably a solid target.

I will come back to earth eventually with live tournaments and when I do, it will probably be to the tune of my first losing year of tournament poker ever. Even when I was an idiot alcoholic I never had a losing year in tournaments. But with my average buy-in increasing every year and a rather small sample size, posting a final score in the red is bound to happen.

My ROI in tournaments on Global Poker is currently 13%. My ROI in 755 online tournaments over the past 3+ years is -1%. Setting a goal of 30% here is actually kind of a big deal. But there are so many different players absolutely smashing the Global Poker tournaments that I refuse to believe I can’t drastically improve on my past performance. I can’t speak to my performance on sites before Global, but I do know my biggest reason for lack of success on Global is an abysmal performance in anything with a buy-in of $20 or higher. My average ROI is 83%, which is on par with the beasts on the site, but basically all my good fortune has happened in the smallest buy-ins.

Life Goals

-Reach a new bankroll peak
-clear credit card debt
-pay off final student loan
-visit a new MLB stadium
-play poker in a new part of the U.S.
-meditate every day
-do yoga twice a week
-run/jog more
-lift twice a week
-drink more water, drink less soda
-eat better and smarter, less fast food
-bring my average blood sugar below 150
-bring my A1C below 7
-less distractions
-no toxic chatting/arguing/debating
-keep blogging about poker
-read Jared Tendler’s books
-study mix games
-watch at least two vlogs a week
-read about mindfulness/meditation


I had a very successful first year as a professional poker player, but my bankroll at the end of 2017 was actually smaller than it was when I quit my job. To be fair to myself, we did buy a house and I put more money down than I ever planned to and then we spent the first several months fixing up our new home and the costs piled. We also aggressively paid down our debt. I paid off two student loans and one credit card and now we have one of each to go. Then I sent a very painful bundle of money to the IRS for taxes and did so all throughout 2017 as well. I also dropped a chunk of change into an IRA account and invested in some digital currencies. Plus, I like to spend money on experiences. We go to multiple MLB games a year, see plays like “Hamilton”, travel a lot, and I’ve been to Universal Studios and Disneyland twice each since October 2016. I make a budget every month, but we aren’t exactly pinching pennies. I enjoy living and experiencing life. With that said, there have been multiple moments where I look at my total bankroll number and think “WTF?” I had a massive year for an $8/$16 player and I had less money than I started with? I’ve been working on this post for a while now and I’ve gotten healthy over the past few weeks and saw considerable growth for the first time in a while. Being able to play $15/$30 on a daily basis five minutes from home should be like giving myself a raise that is nearly double my previous cash game hourly. That’s obviously extremely helpful. With that said, I feel comfortable playing $30/$60 regularly. I want to say I felt comfortable playing $40/$80 – I didn’t have any nerves – but I also quit the game after dropping a couple racks in about an hour. That’s not giving myself a chance to overcome a poor start. I do that all the time at my normal limits. I want to end 2018 with at least a $40/$80 bankroll, even if I won’t be playing it regularly.

I mentioned we still have a little credit card debt and I have one student loan left. Even though I want to grow my bankroll, clearing unnecessary debt is and has been a bigger priority for us.

My wife and I travel once a year to visit a new MLB stadium. We’ve been doing this since 2014 when we went to Anaheim to watch watch the Angels play the Dodgers. In 2015, we went to San Francisco; 2016 we went to Denver, Colorado to watch the Rockies; and last year we went to Dodger Stadium and the Mariners spring training complex in Peoria, Arizona; I also happened to be driving into L.A. during Game 2 of the NLCS and made a spur of the moment decision to buy tickets to watch some playoff baseball and make my third visit to Dodger Stadium of the year (I did a park tour in January 2017). This year our current plan seems to be to visit New Orleans then drive to Houston for an Astros game and then drive to Arlington for a Rangers game before flying back home out of Dallas.

I would also like to go to somewhere I’ve never been for a poker trip. I played at Thunder Valley last year and some new casinos in L.A. earlier this year, but the only place I’ve played poker outside of Washington, Oregon, California, and Nevada is at Ameristar in Blackhawk, Colorado. One of the best things about my profession is that I can travel and work at the same time and seeing new places is one of my favorite things to do.

Lots of health goals. I was doing really well with meditation and yoga for a while there and I’ve fallen off the cliff since $15/$30 started getting spread every day. I’ve mentioned this before, but my balance has been struggling, and on the days that I plan to play, I want to be there as soon as the game starts and I typically don’t leave before 1 AM, which leaves very little room for production on my work days. I plan to play today and I haven’t looked at Bravo yet, so I just need to accept the fact that I need to get some things done before I go play and I might have to wait a bit to get into the game. Meditation, yoga, lifting, and jogging are all things I can incorporate back into my life when I normalize my sleep schedule and accept that I don’t need to be playing poker every waking hour of my work days.

My diet is absolute shit. I’ve never been huge on preparing my own meals, but I am at an all-time worst right now. I’ve always been skinny and gaining weight has been near impossible for me throughout my life. Well, I’m finally average weight for my height and I have some actual flab going on. I’m sort of happy about that, but I’m not happy about how I got there. I eat at the casino probably 10+ times a week and I eat fast food now more than I ever have because I feel I don’t have time for anything else. I used to have a goal of making one meal a week, but that’s fallen off to like once a month, if that. It’s all quite pathetic and I’d like to focus on eating better and healthier, starting with making my own meals more often. I also would like to make water my drink of choice. I do pretty good about that when I’m playing poker, but I tend to gravitate towards diet soda when I’m at home.

I have some goals for my diabetes as well. I think I do a decent job overall with my blood sugar, but I can definitely manage it better and I’m certainly not helping myself with a lot of my meal choices. My numbers still trend higher than they should and I want to work on lowering them. Exercising regularly and eating healthier will go hand in hand with that.

Less distractions. I just want to use my time more efficiently. My days can start off really poorly. I might spend the first two hours drinking coffee and doing pointless stuff online and before I started live blogging my sessions (which I think is productive), I would spend my time out of hands doing stupid stuff on my phone and not paying attention. I am a pillar of strength at the poker table, but when I play online, that chat box gets me sometimes. It’s so much easier to tell someone what you think or respond to their stupid comments when you’re sitting at home behind your computer screen. I admit I can be a bit toxic in that regard and I need to work on channeling my live table presence into the online arena. I also have a tendency to get into stupid and pointless arguments and debates on Facebook, online forums, and the like. I suppose I enjoy debating and witty banter, but it’s a bad use of time that I could spend doing something else way more productive and healthier.

I plan to keep blogging about my poker experiences. It’s amazing how much my audience has grown since I decided to start posting regular poker content. I appreciate everyone that has been reading and rooting me on!

Finally, some study goals. By goodness, I’m going to read through both of Jared Tendler’s books and do all the damn work he asks me to do. My rough stretch through January and into February proved that I still have a lot of work to do on my mental game. I also want to study and play mix games more often, keep watching poker vlogs, and continue reading about meditation and mindfulness – and making the time to do all that.


  1. Check out Jay Buckleys baseball tours online. The best way to see east coast teams and the Hall of Fame. I went to 10 stadiums in 12 days with a double header in Chicago, Cubs during the day, Sox at nights. They have various tours to look at.

    • That’s a good thought. We really enjoy exploring the cities of the various ballparks too, so not sure how much we could see doing this tour, but I’ll definitely check it out. Thanks!

  2. […] remember when I started writing my 2018 Poker Goals, I thought I might be reaching to hit 1.25 BB/HR because I started the year off so poorly at this […]

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