Friday, 14 January 2011

Time for an honest appraisal

It's been a while since I posted on here - I was actually beginning to wonder if I would post again, or if I'd lost the will to keep it up. Thing is, at the moment, if I'm not working I'm at the swimming club, and if not swimming, then I'm playing poker.... and that doesn't leave a great deal of time for the important stuff, ie wife and kids (and blog). Neglecting the blog is one thing, but neglecting the wife and kids is unacceptable, and something that I must fix in order to return to an appropriate balance.

At 41, with a decent career, an awesome family, and everything going for me, I really shouldn't be losing sleep about things that don't matter. But I do, constantly.

In terms of my poker performances of late, I am a loser - how's that for honest!? However, this time last year, I was winning poker for fun, was already a couple of thousand ahead for the year, and had just bought in to a £560 UKIPT tournament with online winnings. In May 2010, for some unknown reason, the winning tailed off. In July I contracted with Bankroll Supply for a sponsorship deal, and with a slow but reasonably safe start, things were looking ok.

However, from October onward, it went bad - and when it goes bad, boy it hurts. Three big losing months on my BRS accounts, coupled with losses on my personal accounts, and I was in a hole that looked like I would need a ladder to get out. During the christmas holiday period, after some soul searching, I re-evaluated my poker approach, and figured that at the time, my approach was to spend 99.5% of my available poker time playing poker. Perhaps not a bad idea on the face of it, however it meant that I was spending only minimal time learning and analyising my game. My New Year resolution was to force this split to something nearer 90/10 - ie spend 10% of my available time learning and analysing..... that said though, if I achieve 5% I'll be happy. I spend around 30 hours a week playing - so I am committing to myself to use 3 hours a week for analysis.

After spending some time looking at previous STT hands, it didn't take long to identify a whole ruck of leaks - mostly -EV shoves in the late stages. It seems that I rarely call in -EV situations, but that my shove range is too wide. Personally, I would prefer to die from over-aggression as opposed to excessive passivity, so I don't feel that my major leak is one that will be the end of me - I just need to learn to better harness the aggression, and be more targetted.

Ironically, in MTTs my problem is the other way - I tighten up too much in the mid stages, when I should be opening my range and turning up the aggression.

For STTs, I've spent time with SNGWiz (an ICM tool that advises on correct shove/fold decisions in situations that the user defines) and with Pokerstove, and am trying to better define the ranges from which I shove or fold during the end game stage. If anyone's really interested, there are some great videos on this hosted by deucescracked, presented by Vandweller. I feel like I learned a great deal from those, and early results in January showed some evidence of improvement.

So, armed with newfound thought processes, redefined ranges, and a little confidence, I set about a recovery in early January with an aim to clear $2k profit and get my BRS accounts back in the black so I could actually get paid for my efforts for a change (I only get paid when my overall account is in profit - a percentage of a negative value equates to zero).... and it started pretty well with around $400 of recovery in the first week.

Poker is an amazing game - if you imagine going on the Pepsi Max Big One at Blackpool where you can go from 200 feet in the air to ground level at 80mph with your guts feeling like they are departing via your ears, that's what poker has felt like for me over the past week. I was in profit for the month and feeling good - 2 days later, and I'm at the lowest earnings point I've been at since I started, with all January profits wiped out and further losses induced in a handful of games. BUT, I'm content in the knowledge that I could not have done anything differently. I only played 27 games yesterday, and traversed PokerTracker data last night to review all of my exits - and every single one was played correctly according to SNGWiz, but I managed to finish 15 buy ins down for a $300 loss.

Tilt could play a major factor now - perhaps it's good that I'm off to Belguim on Sunday for the start of a mini-tour with work... Droitwich to Belgium on Sunday, Belgium to Newcastle on Tuesday, Newcastle to Dublin on Thursday, and back home on Friday. Busy times with the client = No Poker!! Hopefully will be refreshed and raring to play again by next weekend.

BCPC tonight - need to get some points on the board, but not much chancee of defending last season's title after a blank score in round 2, and will miss round 4 in February when I play the Nottingham leg of the UKIPT on behalf of BCPC.

Bolton later in the month where I will have the proud honour of captaining the BCPC team at the APAT UK Team Championships.... and although I will be representing a different team this year, I have the privilege of being defending champion from last year's event when I played and won with the APAT team.

So, an honest appraisal? Is my game dead? No. Does it need some work and effort? Certainly. Running bad and playing bad is not a good coincidental mix.

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