It's that time of year where players start to reflect on the year they've had, and in some cases go a bit mad. (More on that later).
As the year draws to a close, it's time to look back and reflecting how I did overall this year and whst I can do better next year.
Barring a major bink or downswing in the next few days, my bottom line profit for 2011 is comfortably over $200k but down on 2010. I probably worked harder this year online and had my biggest scores this year (a few 5 figure ones), and I think I ran ok overall (certainly not below expectation) so I think the dip is down to a couple of things:
(1) Game selection. I didn't game select as well this year as previous years. I tried a number of bigger higher prestige games and while I more than hold my own overall in these, these are essentially the poker equivalent of vanity publishing in my book (I summed up my thoughts on this during the week on IrishPokerBoards). Practically all my profit comes from $100 and less buyins. For example, on Stars this year, I beat all six levels I played decent volume at by a hefty margin (261% ROI in the $60-$100 group). Big Mick G and Jude both said to me in London at the EPT that there are no good games (apart from Sunday) with a buyin of over $150 these days: it's just the best players in the world swapping $'s and paying rake.
(2) Tougher year. Online inevitably gets tougher over time. Several of the other top Irish online players have seen their bottom line plummet this year. Some have even recorded losing years. At the end of the day (or year) when you toss in rakeback, bonuses and other extras, making over a quarter of a mill clicking buttons at home is more than acceptable.
Nicky (Power) said to me in Vegas a few years ago that the game passes everyone by in the end. This stuck in my memory and made me determined to make the most of it while I can still beat the game online. To be honest, live is so soft that I can't imagine ever reaching the situation where I wouldn't have a fairly clear edge outside of EPTs and WSOPs, but online I can definitely feel I might be looking at a 3-5 year shelf life. Hopefully when that point comes when I can't beat online any more by a worthwhile margin, I'll be able to step back, see it and walk away, without having to do my roll first all the time complaining about variance. They say that all political careers end in failure: too many successful poker careers end in busted bankrolls.
2011 was my most profitable year live to date, helped in no small part by my second place finish at EMOP Dublin. But like my online year which was very consistent (I made approximately the same in both halves of the year, and don't think I had a losing month), I've been really consistent live this year in terms of notching up the results. I'll do a fuller summary in my end of year blog, but apart from EMOP Dublin, other highlights during the year included getting the "never cashed in an EPT main event" monkey off my back in the only EPT I played this year (Berlin), as well as the "never cashed in a WSOP event" one with 3 cashes in Vegas this summer. I also ended the year on a high chopping the Fitz main event and being on the winning team in the team event. My consistency this year is highlighted by the fact that I got a Hendon Mob entry every month this year except January and December, a total of 19 over the year which is my most ever in one year.
Onwards and hopefully upwards in 2012
Adding online and live together, 2012 was my most profitable year to date in poker. However, there's no disputing that I ran above Ev live (and possibly online too) so there's no room for complacency. I have to keep working to improve my game to stay ahead of the training sites curve. I have a very good brains trust of top players to discuss hands and strategy with. They're all top class players in their own right, and perhaps more importantly, they cover the entire spectrum of winning playing styles, so I get top class advice from every angle.
One thing I want to focus on more (again) in 2012 is game selection. Game selection has been the key to my career to date, allowing me to build from a bankroll of zero (I never deposited a cent online: everything I've won has been spun up from freerolls) following the path of least variance. While I'm now in a position bankrollwise to take a sustained and nasty downswing, and it could be argued it would be more profitable for me to focus on more profitable high variance games, I feel myself that I'm psychologically better equipped to deal with sailing along with no losing months (but also no massive scores). After all, I've always been a long distance runner, not a sprinter.
This year my game selection suffered slightly. I still made money across all the sites I played, and I played a good spread (my biggest winners this year were Bodog and Ipoker). But I definitely played quite a few games which would not be that profitable for me long term, so next year the plan is to stick more rigidly to the bread and butter games.
Live: well, we'll see what comes. Live is always such a small sample size that luck is the main determinant of success in any one year. That said, game selection is vital here too, and with the exception of the WSOP which I see as my one shot at glory every year, I won't be running around playing EPTs full of the best mtters in the world.
I was finishing my night grind a few nights ago around 6 AM when my laptop started making that "You've got Skype" noise. Clicking the answer button, I heard the distinctive voice of Jono "Gawa9" Crute. As I recall, the conversation went along the lines of:
Gawa9: Doke, what's the name of that form you have to fill for the US?
Doke: Eh? Why?
Gawa9: Me and Karl Henrik are going to Detroit in a few hours.
Doke: Again, eh and why?
Gawa9: We just decided we wanted to go to the US.
Gawa9: An hour ago.
Doke: And Detroit?
Gawa9: There were flights. What's that form?
Doke: ESTA. I'll skype you the link.
Gawa9: ESTA, that's it. Doke, you're a legend. See Karl Henrik, just gotta ask a Vegas veteran these things
Doke: When's your flight?
Gawa9: 10 AM. From Dublin airport.
Doke: Really? How you getting to Dublin?
Gawa9: Hmmmm. When do we need to be there?
Doke: Probably around 8, you have to clear immigration on this side.
Gawa9: Karl Henrik, we're gonna need a cab.
KH: Where to?
Gawa9: Dublin airport.
Doke: You realise Detroit's not exactly one of the US's prettiest cities right?
Gawa9: Really? That sucks
Doke: Be like some Americans randomly deciding to fly to Milton Keynes for Christmas
Gawa9: That makes me sad
Doke: You're going through with this?
Gawa9: No choice now. Flights already booked
Doke: Enjoy Detroit so. Go visit a car factory and walk 8 Mile imo
Gawa9: Not doing 8 Mile! Can you ring my Mum and explain if I don't come back?
Obviously there was drink implicated, and Jono apparently woke up on a transatlantic flight wondering how he'd got there remembering only that he'd gone pub the night before. Since then, Facebook and Skype has been unusually entertaining with glimpses from the most awesome poker road trip ever. Highlights include a novel solution to what to do when you want to drive away from Detroit but have no credit card with which to rent a car (correct answer, it turns out, is ask a cop who drives you round to cheap second hand places where you eventually buy a red 1995 pickup), a decision to drive to Chicago stopping at the funniest town name they could find (Welcome to Climax was an early contender, but with no room at the Inn they ended up in Kalamazoo). I'm sure Jono will be posting a trip report on the crazy kid's blog at some point, but I just felt this whole moment of seasonal madness was just too good to go unnoted on my blog. Jono: in a world of people pretending to be "characters", you're a genuine eccentric, and I love you for it.