Posts Tagged ‘poker mental game’


2014 Poker Year In Review & 2015 Goals

January 1, 2015

I never finished my post for my 2014 goals, but I did save a draft of it and these were the goals I had at the time:

Increase bankroll to 5 figures
Play @ least 250 hours of 8/16 or higher
Play a WSOP event
Increase 4/8 win rate to .75 BB/HR

Sadly, I managed to accomplish only one of those goals — to play in a WSOP event. After having more than 24 consecutive winnings months in a row in 2011-2012, for the second year in a row I struggled from spring to winter. Although I didn’t suffer through the brutal downswing I did last year, I pretty much broke even for an 8 month stretch after getting off to a very hot start through April. Also, because of this static stretch and what felt like a really slow year at my day job, I once again struggled to pad my bankroll. In fact, I won more money gambling this year than currently sits in my playable bankroll. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished the past four years as a lucrative gambler, but I’d be lying if I said I was satisfied with the end result. I thought committing to a day job would ensure that all my gambling profit went to building a bankroll, but that has mostly proven to be untrue — my current bankroll sits at less than 20% of my total profit since 2011 started. Most months, I find myself using bankroll to pay bills or some other unexpected expenditure. It’s been very hard for me to hang on to the money I’ve won gambling and it hasn’t been because I’ve lost it playing poker.

Despite another winning year, one that included my biggest lifetime cash — a fourth place finish in the Main Event of a series at Little Creek this past April — 2014 was mostly a disappointment as far as my poker career is concerned. It felt like a lot of running in place and, even though my upswings were frequently erased by a bad session or two in bigger games, I mostly have myself to blame. For one, I played a lot less than I did the previous two years. In the first half of 2012, I was averaging over 225 hours a month of poker. Last year, I was probably averaging well over 100 hours a month. The past five months I’ve averaged a mere 52.6 hours a month. That’s a pitiful output; one that I can’t fully blame on the increased responsibilities in my life. There were other contributing factors: laziness, lack of motivation, diabetes, even fear. Another reason I’ve made such little progress is that I played the vast majority of my hours at the $4/$8 level, a game I likely grew out of two years ago. I set a goal of 250 hours of $8/$16 or higher and I probably logged less than half of that total. I enjoy supporting my day job game and hooking up my co-workers, but sometimes I need to remind myself that I play poker for money and dedicating myself to such a small game when I have so little free time to play poker these days is downright silly and detrimental to my future, especially since I’ve been bankrolled to play nearly five times as big for some time now.

While I did manage to achieve the goal of playing in a WSOP event this year, my experience at the 2014 World Series Of Poker was incredibly disheartening. For starters, I went 0-5 in my efforts, which included the $500 casino employees event, the $1500 Millionairemaker, and three entries into the $230 daily deep stack. I busted out 10 or 11 spots shy of cashing in the first event, despite having an above average stack at the time. It was quite the shock. I could have easily folded my way to a cash in my first ever WSOP event, but instead I got involved in a 3-bet pot with AK vs A8 and then check-raised all in on the A83 flop. I felt sick to my stomach after losing that hand, but it was only going to get worse from there.

This was my experience in the $1500 Millionairemaker tournament — easily the biggest buy in I’d ever played in: I barely get to my table as the first hand is being dealt. My big blind is already out there and I’m not even comfortable in my chair when the action is on me and I look down at KK. I look up and survey what’s happened so far: an early position player has made it 75 to go and one player has called, with blinds of 25/25 and starting stacks of 4500. I take a closer look at the opening raiser and it dawns on me that it is David Williams, a well known pro that finished runner-up to Greg Raymer in the 2004 WSOP Main Event. I’ve read his section in Daniel Negreanu’s Power Poker so I’m familiar with how absurdly loose and aggressive he can play. Honestly, I don’t want to play a big pot out of position against an elite LAG when I haven’t even had time to pull my card protector out of my pocket yet, so… I make it 475 to go, an absurdly big raise, in an effort to end the hand immediately. Instead, they both call. I manage to get one of the few flops I’m comfortable playing in this spot: the AK9 with two spades. I lead out for a pot-sized bet of 1500 and only David Williams calls me. The turn is a Q that is not a spade. There is 4500 in the pot already so the only bet that makes sense is all-in. I shove and David basically snap-calls me and I feel pretty confident that he’s about to show me the JT of spades. I can barely digest my good fortune when he shows the K5 of spades before the dealer burns and turns the 3 of spades on the river, giving David a spade flush and eliminating me. On the first hand. Of the biggest tournament of my life. I was in shock. I was fully backed for this event and I spent the long walk out of the convention center contemplating if I could even go tell my backer that I was out of an event he put up $1500 for within the first five minutes. I felt nauseous; even though I played the hand perfectly, I was concerned I was about to get sent back on the next flight to Seattle. Instead, I told him the bad news, which he handled well, and then I proceeded to lay in the fetal position for roughly the next 24 hours. My first two WSOP events had been about as agonizing as possible. I got coolered in the live NL games a couple times, broke roughly even in some $20/$40 Omaha, had a few more brutal bust outs in the daily deep stack event, and I left Las Vegas with the Rio as my worst casino lifetime by a long shot. Needless to say, I have something to prove at the WSOP. Still, despite the fact that my results were terrible, it was a pretty awesome experience and I can’t wait to go back in 2015.

The World Series was just the start of my tournament misfortune, however. I have not cashed in a tournament of $150 or more since that score all the way back in April and I’ve played around 20 events, including a $1000 one, a $775 one, and a few over $500. It’s been a brutal stretch and honestly, I haven’t even really made it interesting. I’ve been experimenting with incorporating a more loose-aggressive style into my tournament game and it either doesn’t suit me (unlikely) or I’m misusing it (very likely). Of course, I’ve also experienced a tremendous amount of bad luck. When you never have the best hand when a crucial pot develops, it’s difficult to produce good results in tournaments.

For 2015, I’ve decided to focus on goals that are within my control instead of the things that aren’t (win rate). I felt like I’ve made huge strides improving my mental game the past couple years, but every once in a while I get so frustrated it’s embarrassing. I’m not the type to say anything or cause a scene, but I am the type where you can occasionally see the steam coming out of my ears. It’s ridiculous. Winning or losing should really have no affect on me at this point. I have years of data that prove I beat the game in the long run and whether I do awesome or poorly in a given session, week, or month should really have no bearing on my emotional state.

2015 Goals:

-continuing reading about mental game, develop mental game profiles, and improve my c-game
-focus on how well I played, how well I controlled tilt, and how well I paid attention to game flow instead of how well I ran
-continuing taking notes throughout all my sessions and combing through them later
-watch opponents closely in tournaments and develop exploitative styles for each of them instead of playing laggy for laggy’s sake
-take my time in critical pots and really think things through before acting
-focus my learning — don’t study multiple variants at the same time or games I’m not playing frequently
-spend less than 20% of my total hours in 4/8 games
-log 750 live hours
-log 100 hours of spread limit
-play 2-3 events at 2015 WSOP
-play a tournament series in a city I’ve never been to before
-treat poker like a job with set hours and not like a hobby

And some less controllable goals:

-set a new career high tournament score
-double my current bankroll size
-maintain a 1 BB/HR win rate at 8/16
-start playing 20/40 regularly by end of year

And some blog goals:

-1 new post a week, for starters
-ultimately aiming for 1 new post a day
-write about poker and current progress
-write about movies and at least keep grades for everything I see
-write about baseball
-share my embarrassing rap career