Monday, January 14, 2019

The best of years

"The results have been encouraging: I managed to reverse the decline in profitability of recent years to record my most profitable year since 2014. Highlights include a fourth place finish in the WCOOP event for 40K, a Powerfest win, the seventh PocketFives Triple Crown of my career, and regaining the top slot in the PocketFives rankings for Ireland for the first time in several years."

I wrote this last year, celebrating my most successful year in a while. Success in poker is an elusive concept with no widely accepted definition. I recently told a non-poker friend who asked how 2018 was for me pokerwise that it was my most successful year ever.

"Why? What did you win?"

I realised that my definition of success, measured in pure profit, was very different from his. But on my terms at least, 2018 was my most successful year in poker, even if I won nothing major.

So let's have a look back at 2018.


As I've said before in this blog, I have always considered myself to be an online poker player who also plays a bit live, not the other way around. Online went very well this year: I won a couple of Powerfests, a Supernova, and in May the 8th Pocketfives  Triple Crown of my career.

"This year I decided to shift my focus away from low variance satellites to higher variance and higher margin mtts with thousands of runners. The results have been encouraging: I managed to reverse the decline in profitability of recent years to record my most profitable year since 2014. "

That was then (2017) but this is now. This year saw me return to satellites with a vengeance. I'm not going to lie: I was a little rusty at first and the metagame had changed quite a bit in the time I was away. It took me a while to work out the new strategy, but once I did it was satellites that underpinned my most profitable year ever online. Big results and outliers can skew the yearly results of the tournament player, so it's always important to acknowledge their impact. For example, 2015 was a very good year where I finished up 300k overall, but almost all of this came from one result at the WSOP. I made very little online that year, continuing a worrying downward decline. That decline continued the following year, but has reversed the last two years, and ultimately that gives me more satisfaction than any one big outlier.


My live poker year was very much a tale of two halves. The first half of the year was very lacklustre, but I did at least notch up a few firsts. First trip to the Aussie Millions, first cash in Australasia, and first ever Irish Open cash. My Vegas continued in a similar theme: six cashes, two top 100 runs at the series, but no truly deep run.

The second half of the year was considerably better. I finished second to Upeshka Da Silva in the Killarney High Roller (not the first time that's happened) before coming 8th at the UK Millions for £70,000 (not including a Brucey bonus I got for chopping a £100k Last Longer with Alex Foxen), the second biggest live score of my career. This result also brought up my one million dollars lifetime score on the Hendon Mob,. I ended the year with a cash at Unibet Open Dublin, bringing my total live cashes figure for the year on the Hendon Mob to $136,929, my second highest ever.


I did more coaching this year than any other so far. There’s a running joke in poker that players only start coaching when they can’t beat the game any more, but I’ve always felt coaching others helps my own game. Having to explain my thought processes to someone else seems to really crystallize them in my own mind. However, there’s a point beyond which too much time spent coaching is tiring and starts to erode my ability to grind, and I definitely pushed past that point a few times this year coaching over 20 hours a week.

I feel like there's a sweet spot where I coach an hour or two every day but no more, so I'll try to stick to that in 2019. Late this year, I joined Optimal Poker Pathway as a coach. This is a great way for those of you who don't want to pay my exorbitant fees for one-to-one coaching and videos to access my coaching at a more affordable price.


I was very active in 2018 on the content creation front. I wrote 20 blogs here, more than I have in recent years, and passed a milestone of 600k hits. I am very heartened by the number of loyal readers who read everything I publish, and that keeps me motivated to keep writing. Some time in 2019 I expect to write my 500th blog.

I started writing for Bluff Europe again, and contributed some strategy articles to other sites such as PokerStrategy

The Chip Race, the podcast I host with David Lappin, continued to grow in 2018, on Soundcloud, Itunes and YouTube.

On YouTube, I made a couple of strategy videos with my friend Gareth James (one on a huge Jeff Gross check back, and another on a couple of hands from the UK Millions). I also did interviews with Cardplayer Lifestyle, Microgaming and Unibet.

My free strategy newsletter (link to sign up on the bar at the top of this blog) grew from just over 100 subscribers to over 400 over the year.

Health and fitness

I've been very fortunate with my health this year: no major illnesses and very few minor sniffles. I've done considerably worse on the fitness front. I find it hard to maintain my fitness on the road (I do much better during prolonged spells at home), and as a result went to Vegas in the worst shape (and heaviest) in years. There was also too much travel in the second half of the year to regain peak fitness, so I am trying to set this as a priority in 2019. On that front I'm off to a good start at least (I ran my first 26 mile training run in almost a year on New Year's Day, and my first 30 miler the following week). It's still likely to be a struggle to maintain given the amount of live poker on my slate for the next six months.

Plans and goals for 2019

I seem to end every year moaning I do and travel too much, and need to cut back on both, and then proceed not to. I do feel like something has to give. One thing I definitely tend to cut back on in 2019 is coaching: not that I want to drop it completely, but just be more selective.

Other than that it's hard to know what to drop or cut back majorly. Certainly not the Chip Race, which David and I are both very proud of and feel has a bit of life left in it yet. I also intend to keep the blog going (maybe with a few less entries this year though), and the strategy newsletter.

I'm not really one for setting specific poker goals, at least not ones like "I want a 100k live score in 2019" or "I want to make X profit online". I prefer to just focus on the process of grinding, studying and working hard, and taking it as it comes.

One specific goal is to publish my first book in 2019. About a year ago I was lucky enough to be approached by Barry Carter, who pitched the idea "Since there are no good books out there on satellites, we should write one". The book is now almost complete, and we are hoping for a February release. We took the material I developed for my webinar on satellites (the video of which is still available for $75 from if you can't wait for the book), expanded on it and added in some additional concepts to create the most comprehensive book we could.

Barry has been a delight to work with, and  I consider myself very fortunate to be collaborating with a writer of his calibre who has already co-authored one poker bestseller (The Mental Game of Poker, with Jared Tendler).

Finally, I'd like to thank everyone who helped and supported me in 2019, most of all the two D's, Daiva (my study buddy and best friend) and David (my most patient and hard working cohost and collaborator), and everyone who has taken the time to read this blog, follow me on social media, listen to the Chip Race or interact with me at events.

I hope every one of us gets the 2019 we deserve!



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