Since my last blog, I have struggling on a number of fronts. I'm the kind of guy who typically gets one minor illness a year and that bout of man flu aside enjoy rude good health. This year I've bucked that trend succumbing to winter vomiting bug and three other week plus colds. I'm also the kind of poker player who just gets on with it irrespective of results and how I'm running, giving my best every event and keeping major mistakes to the minimum. This year I've been running pretty bad live and have also allowed some personal life baggage to bleed over into my poker, and I've ended up making some less than minor mistakes at crucial points in big tournaments. Also, after the last blog I was unsure whether I even wanted to continue blogging. It seemed like a good point to end the blog, on a high point in terms of readership (it's my most read blog by a factor of ten) and reaction.
A number of people have noticed this and said they hoped it wasn't my last blog. I think I've also missed blogging. So here we are at the point where I think it's time to move on. The original purpose of this blog was to have something to look back on when the curtain comes down on my poker career, and since we aren't yet at that point I'm returning to blogging and the original focus of it being a living record of a poker career in progress.
Online has been going pretty well so far this year. I've made a better start in pure profit terms to 2016 than I did to 2015 or 2014. Live has not been so good. As mentioned earlier, I'm running pretty bad, but a far bigger concern is I'm not playing much better. I wasn't at all happy with my play for most of the UKIPT/EPT festival. Apart from one or two days where I hit my normal standard, I just sort of chugged along playing my B game, with a few mistakes at crucial points dragging me down to C game territory.
I was much happier with my play for most of the Norwegian/Irish Open festival, but towards the end there were a couple of days and displays where I let how bad I was running to affect my performance. After a very disciplined and somewhat profitable day 1 at the Irish Open main event, my exit early on day 2 was not a proud moment. I took a pretty lazy "standard" line without pausing to think it through. At my best I think I would probably have got away from the hand.
So I came to London for the UKIPT hoping to turn things around. I continued to run bad losing pretty much every flip and more than my fair share of 60/40s and 70/30s, meaning that one stone cold bubble in a turbo side event was the closest I came to breaking a cashless streak stretching back to UKIPT Dublin. But at least I managed to cut the mistakes down to one or two. Unfortunately both came in the main event and resulted in an early exit there.
There are a lot of worse places to be stuck after an early exit, and my friend Daiva and her husband John who kindly let me stay at their place near Primrose Hill proved themselves to be hosts with the most. The absence of deep runs and slew of early exits from my London campaign on the poker front meant I got to spend a lot of time with Daiva, who is always an absolute delight to spend time with. I also found time to catch up with Andy (dawhiteninja), Sameer and Asif, and several morning runs up to and around Primrose Hill.
On Sunday I went with Daiva to the casino, intending to jump into the last side event due to start two hours later than her Ladies event. She lost a good chunk of her stack in the early levels so I postponed registering the side and instead arranged to meet Asif for breakfast. As you'd expect from a guy wearing a batman jacket, Asif is a special kind of erratic fun to be around. He told me to come to Piccadilly Circus because he knew a good place for breakfast there. Asif's idea of a good breakfast place turned out to be a Cineplex cafeteria. After staring at the choice between a mouldy looking pastry and a slightly less mouldy but equally indeterminate pastry, I decided we were working from different definitions of "good breakfast place" and suggested we take our business elsewhere.
Asif's next stroke of genius was to announce that the gay area was the best place for breakfast. After a bit of a wander we settled instead on some Dim Sum in a Malaysian place where Asif decided to tell every member of staff at every possible opportunity how they should go halal. As we wandered back to the casino, Asif decided he wasn't in a mood for more poker and bailed on his decision to play. Suggestible as ever, I immediately realised I felt the same, and the fact that Daiva was still short in the ladies provided added incentive to take the day off. A good decision rendered better when Sameer and his lovely wife Fran turned up for belated bust out gelatotherapy. So a motley United Colours of Poker crew comprising a German, an Indian, a Pakistani and an Irishman wandered around Soho a bit looking for halal gelatos and espresso.
Back at the casino, Daiva was rallying and she ended up on the final table a bit above average. This cemented my decision to take the day off and tentative plans for an online session were pushed aside in favour of railing Daiva's final table. She put on a master display of composure, focus, discipline and small ball poker to ease to a victory that never looked in doubt from a long way out. Class tends to rise to the top towards the end of a tournament with some players crumbling while others keep their cool, and Daiva was the coolest of customers. Even when she had 99 beaten by 77 all in pre headsup to postpone the victory, there wasn't so much as a sigh or trace of self pity as she got on with the job. Daiva is one of the most naturally talented players I've encountered in terms of her ability to intuitively read people and situations, and her mental game and emotional detachment from outcomes.
Her biggest concern came after she had won and was told she had to do a winners photo, and she requested a makeup timeout (makeup has a very different definition from the normal one in poker when it comes to live ladies events). Daiva was understandably pleased with herself after the win, and it was good for me to watch a friend remind me how to win.
Dave Curtis asked me if I could accept Daragh Davey's Player of the Year trophy on his behalf. I was willing but unfortunatelty it didn't happen. I even had an acceptance speech prepared for the occasion:
"Daragh would love to be here to accept this trophy but he's far too important so he sent me. He would like it acknowledged though that winning Player of the Year two years running is without the greatest achievement in the history of poker"
He would like to thank everyone who helped but in reality the only two people who helped were David Lappin and Dara O'Kearney. When I met them, I was a slight sullen young cash grinder in some of the seedier casinos in Dublin. Meeting them kickstarted the transformation to what I am today, a slightly less sullen slightly less young superstar crusher in tax exile in Malta.
I'd also like to that David Lappin for helping me write this speech as I don't write much these day. I used to have my own blog, but.....graphs...."
On Monday, Daiva battled through post poker Petrie dish sniffles to show me some of the sights. A nice walk along the South Bank was punctuated by a stop under a bridge for some tea. My mother always said I'd end up under a bridge some day but at least the company and drinks were a lot better than expected...
A visit to the Tate Modern....
And sightings of a large wheel and a big clock.
Time flew to the point I lost track of it and ended up scrambling to pack and get to the airport with a little less time than I'd normally leave. Getting on the wrong train in Victoria and missing a Gatwick Express platform change announcement heightened the sweat but in the end I made my flight.
Taking time off and holidays is something I've always been really bad at doing, and while I'd like to have run better at the tables I really couldn't have run better in terms of uplifting company, and a relaxed week in London may be exactly what I needed at this point.
Next up is a trip to Sofia next week for the Microgaming tour stop there, and then a month of online and continued preparations for this year's WSOP. While it would be nice to break my cashless streak in Sofia or in Malta before Vegas, the main thing I will be focusing on is working hard and preparing properly for Vegas. The WSOP is always the high point of the year and I want to be back to my absolute best in the desert. I can't control how I run (and after last year some regression to the mean was to be expected and I can hardly claim I'm due or look for sympathy if I run bad this year) but I can do my utmost to prepare to play my best, and roll with whatever comes.
I've already booked flights and hotel for Vegas,with a similar campaign to last year. I get there just in time to play the Seniors, and will then play some more Holdem bracelet events. After 12 days I will head to New York for four days relaxation with my wife, then back to Vegas for more side events and the main. I've been putting in a lot of study and work away from the tables and while it hasn't exactly paid off live yet, Vegas would be a perfect place for it to start again.