Apart from poker, I'm not much good at much else (many would suggest it's even a stretch to say I'm good at poker). But one thing I have been good at all through my life and the different walks of life I've wandered through is making good friends, and choosing them wisely. The same can be said for my "enemies". If I were to compile a list of both Richard Nixon style at any point during my life, I'm pretty sure there would be nobody I would look at wistfully wishing they were on the other list. A few on the friends list have been given the benefit of the doubt for a short while before being banished to the other list, but once there I never wanted them back.
So it has been in poker. Early on, I was lucky enough to become friends with Rob Taylor (after an admittedly rocky start) and Mick McCluskey, both of whom were a huge help to me as friends and mentors as I moved from novice to full time pro. Rob and Mick were the first of many friends I made in poker.
I came back from Vegas this year in not the best of spirits. Not only had I bricked there, but I was having my worst year online since switching from stts to concentrating on mtts. Still a very good living and in healthy profit, but a fair bit down on my previous 2 years.
This made me determined to work even harder and turn the year around. I'm lucky enough to have access to the Firm brain trust so I started running a lot more hands by Jason, Daragh and David. I firmly believe that the day you think you are too good to benefit from the thoughts of proven winners like these guys is the day the game starts to pass you by. David Lappin in particular is our ace in the hole on the coaching front with a proven track record of taking guys all the way to the top online. I basically use David as a kind of informal coach (which has the advantage that I don't have to pay him). As my friend he has a better understanding of my psychological makeup than anyone else in poker and he is a naturally gifted communicator so he tends to know the best way to say everything. He has been very generous with his time and is always on hand to talk through a hand or a spot, or even do more detailed sessions. Since Vegas I have turned my year around, not just because of my Super Tuesday bink, but also consistent results. While still ticking along nicely in my bread and butter satellites, I am trying to get away from overly specialising in satellites (there are much more decent regs in them these days so they just aren't as profitable as they used to be). In the last week I had a couple of crossbars in the Big 162 before final tabling the Party major last Sunday for a five figure score. A recent Hot 33 third place, a win and two other final tables in Party's 20 rebuy and a third in tonight's Night on Stars (on Pokerstars France) are just a few examples of other decent-sized scores that have turned the year round online from my worst to one of my best. I give a lot of credit for this to the Firm, my informal poker support group, and again primarily to Lappin. I think most people who don't know him very well get a very wrong impression of just how perceptive and generous he can be. While the fact that he doesn't suffer fools gladly (or silently) is blatantly obvious, his other qualities take a bit of scratching beneath the surface. Within the Firm he is the guy who does most of the coaching (and handholding and pep talks when guys are on a downswing), so he deserves most of the credit for the success we have had staking players not just in terms of their results but also improving them as players.
Obviously variance tends to obscure everything in the short term, but I like to think the fact I have consciously put a lot more work into my own game away from the tables in the last few months is paying off. Not just running through hands with the brains trust, but also watching videos and more poker. The online metagame keeps moving and it's always good to get an insight into how other big winning online players play and think through their videos.
I guess the one thing needed to make 2013 a truly outstanding year for me is a major live result. After sitting out the IPO, I have two bites at that particular cherry in the next two weeks, starting with the Irish Winter Festival this weekend, followed quickly by next week's Isle of Man UKIPT. I'm raring to perform again on the live felt after my recent mini break so fingers crossed.
Finally, big congratulations to another friend, the Legend himself Dave Curtis on his new position with Stars. I've benefited from some well chosen bits of advice from Dave down the years and I'm delighted to see him land on his feet. No better man for the job.