Wednesday, December 31, 2008

SUPERNOVA ELITE!!!

I did it!

I ended the year with 1,000,051 points. I wish I could say it was easy and that I ended the year on a high note. Unfortunately, it was the exact opposite. December 2008 was without a doubt the worst week of my professional life. Not only did I play every day but one from the 2nd until the 30th (I actually knocked out a record 7,000 points on the 30th to wrap it up), but I got my ass kicked in the process. I don't want to go into the exact numbers, but I will say that it was my worst month ever by a substantial margin.

While I know that I ran into some pretty horrific luck this month, I'm certain that for most of the time I wasn't playing winning poker. I just don't have it in me to play 7 or 8 games at a time for 8 hours a day, every day for a month. Ideally, I should be playing 4 games at a time 6 hours a day, 5 days a week so it was a real stretch.

In this case my hands were tied. I needed to make up for the fact that I did 7 months of work in the first 9 months of the year by doing 5 months of work in the last 3. Like I said before, it was not easy and I am beat! In 2009 I expect to do a much better job of spreading my effort over the whole year evenly.

But guess what? I MADE IT TO SUPERNOVA ELITE! Myself from a year and a half ago wouldn't have believed it. In fact I think this was one of the first times in my life that people doubted me. While I don't think anyone would have called me a hard working guy until recently, almost everyone would call me a smart, capable guy. But I can't tell you how many people said to me "Are you going to make it?" in all seriousness even when I was coming down the home stretch. Not "how is it going with the points?" Or "What is it going to take for you to make it?"

Every time I heard "are you going to make it?" in the last few months of the year I wanted to say "Are you fucking kidding me? Am I going to make it? OF COURSE I'M GOING TO MAKE IT! Do you think I'm going to bail on $30,000 that I've been working towards all year? Do you think I'm just going to wake up one morning, not feel like playing and just blow it off? ARE YOU CRAZY!? Do you think I'm a totally unreliable, flaky, idiot?"

Of course I never actually said that, but it's what I was thinking every time. Normally I just responded by saying that I was going to make it no matter what it took, but if you are one of the people who asked me if I was going to make it, don't feel bad. Almost everyone I know used those exact words!

Within 5 minutes of earning that last point I was sucking on an $80 Magnum of Champagne that I had bought specifically for celebrating that exact moment. It was hard to feel too excited since I knew this was coming for a long time, but now that it's been 24 hours and it's had some time to sink in, I'm pretty proud of myself. I don't think I've ever achieved a goal in my life that took so long, and involved so much effort.

The second part of the celebrations starts tomorrow! My wife Jen and I are leaving our son with his grandparents and heading out for two nights in Vegas (at the Bellagio - BOOM!)! Actually the genesis of this trip was the fact that it's actually a bachelor/bachelorette party for our good friends Jake and Chrissy who are getting married on January 10th. Our other good friends E.B. and Jean will be there and we're going to drink, eat and gamble as if we are celebrating all kinds of good shit (which we are) and are living the kind of lives that most people only dream about (which we are).

Now that I'm done killing myself I'll have more time to blog. I enjoy it, but some days I just need to be away from the computer! I'm taking the next 11 days off (YAY!), but then it will be time to start work on Supernova Elite 2009!

Also on the horizon are some WCOOP or FTOPS style tournaments on Ultimate bet in mid January. The buy ins are smaller, they prize pools are smaller, there are many fewer tournaments and the prestige is close to nothing, but I expect weak play from my opponents and it could be a chance to make some solid cash. I haven't decided if I'm going to take backers on this one or not, but I'll keep you posted and put up a schedule of events when I get back from Vegas.

2008 was a great year for me in my personal and professional life. I hope that it was great for you too and that 2009 is even better for us all! HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Things Getting Better

I wish I could say I started really kicking ass recently, but I can't. I have however stopped flushing money faster than the US automakers and have actually won the past three days.

The day after my last post I dropped another $2,000 or so in the first few hours of play. At this point I was in a state of panic. I had about $2,000 left in my account and had been losing an average of $2,000 a day for the past 8 days. This was December 9th and I had to go all the way back to November 21st (three days before I left for vacation) to see a winning day in my records. I can tell you that from the day I was dealt my first hand of Texas Hold'em in August of 2000 until now I've never gone 19 days (I only played ten of those days) without a winning day.

In addition to all of the losing I was worried about keeping enough money in my account to keep playing. Pokerstars has 4 deposit methods that I can use: Instant E-checks (they take the money right out of your bank account), credit card, Western Union and Money Order. The first two have a limit of $600 a day and $1,000 in any 7 days. By the time I was down to $2,000 I'd already maxed those out.

So I asked my wife to read the 1,000 words of instructions on depositing via money order, get a money order for $5,000 and send it off to pokerstars ASAP. It turns out you have to send it registered mail and that takes 5 to 10 business days because it has to go all the way to the Isle of Mann which is in the UK. When I heard this news I had a medium sized freak out. I'd stared the day with $4,000 in my account, and I'd sent my wife out with instructions to pay whatever it cost to get that $5,000 to the Isle of Mann as fast as possible. At that point I was thinking my account would be back to $9,000 in 2 or 3 days and $4,000 would be more than enough to last me that long even if my bad luck kept up. By noon I had $2,000 with no prospects a big deposit for at least week and I was thinking $2,000 might not last the rest of the day.

This was a totally unforeseen set of difficulties!

The last despot option is western Union which while also limited has a more substantial $1,800 daily and $6,000 weekly maximum. This option also came with a full page of instructions including the name of a person in Costa Rica to whom I could send the money. Not a company, or an entity, but specifically "Greivin Navarro Segura." Right after "look both ways before you cross the street" and "don't take candy from strangers" I think every child should learn "don't send money via Western Union to Costa Rica!" Actually I had confidence in the validity of the transaction, but it was going to cost $100 to send $1,800 so I decided to wait until it was absolutely essential that I make a deposit.

Luckily, I told my good friend Matt about the conundrum and he offered to transfer $2,500 into my account until the Money order cleared. Happily that happened today and after a few wins and cashing in a few FPP blocks I'm back up to about $11,000 after transferring Matt back his $2,500.

So why am I going through all this trouble anyway? I think it's been a long time since I mentioned the benefits of Supernova Elite so briefly I want to remind you all (and remind myself) why I'm busting my ass playing for twenty 10+ hour days in a row.

Perhaps the least glamorous part is that instead of getting 3.5 FPPs for every base FPP I will get 5 FPPs for every base FPP. I'm sure the magnitude of that isn't clear to almost all of you so I'll try to explain. Every time you're dealt into a hand where pokerstars takes $1 out of the pot you get 1 base FPP (which for simplicity I refer to as points on this blog - I need 1,000,000 base FPPs in a year to be Supernova Elite). If they take $2 out of a pot you get 2 base FPPs which is the most you can earn on one hand. If they take no money because someone wins before you make it to the flop you get no points.

Playing $10/$20, on average, I make about 1.4 base FPPs per hand. That translates into 4.9 actual FPPs per hand this year as a supernova and will be 7 actual FPPs as a Supernova Elite. I can then trade in 250,000 actual FPPs for $4,000 cash.

To simplify, in order to make $4,000 in bonus cash it takes me 51,000 hands right now and next year it will only take me 35,700. That's a big deal.

The more glamorous part is the FREE tournament entries. I get entry into the WCOOP main event FREE which normally costs $5,200.

I get entry into the Main Event of the WSOP FREE which normally costs $10,000! Plus I get $2,500 in travel expenses, and 8 nights hotel in Vegas!

I get FREE entry into the Pokerstars Caribbean Adventure tournament which normally costs $10,000! Plus I get $2,500 in travel expenses and 7 nights at the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas!

That's some serious shit! And I'm going to get it all! And that's why I'm working so hard.

I've got about 48,000 points left to go. I'll let you know the next time I have some good news.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Bounce Back

I wrote my last post just after finishing my work day. An hour or so later I got a call from my good friend Matt wondering if I was OK. I just wanted to assure everyone that I'm not as upset as my last post might lead you to believe. One of the things that has allowed me to be so successful as a professional poker player is I have great bounce back.

I'm always pissed when I lose. If it's one dollar or ten thousand, I hate to lose. But my personal life is as good as anyone could ever wish for. I have a family who I love and who loves me, I have great friends, and I like where I live and what I do. While I never feel great after a loss, those feelings are always short lived.

Tomorrow is a new day and I'm going to go into it with a positive attitude and do whatever I can to make it a successful one!

More Bad News

I really don't like posting about all the bad news so I'll keep this brief. I lost about $2,500 yesterday and another $600 today. This is now without a doubt, hands down the worst run I've ever had in my entire life. I've moved to beyond frustrated, and beyond angry, into just feeling sad. It's really depressing flushing so much money in such a short period of time.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

My Worst Losing Streak Ever?

I can't say for sure since I'm not willing to look back over years of records, but I think I'm in the midst of my worst losing streak ever! I know I've lost on 8 consecutive days in the past, and while I'm only on a 5 day downswing I've dropped in the neighborhood of ten grand since I got back from vacation! ACK!

After getting beat down for $3K on Wednesday, I lost almost $4K on Thursday. Then after two moderate $400 losses I lost about $2K today. I'm not sure what the problem is, but I can tell you that it sucks (you can tell how much by all of the exclaimation points I'm using!)! I feel like I'm playing OK, if not well, but for whatever reason I'm just getting smoked.

While there's never a good time to go on a major losing streak, this is really bad timing. I'm up against the wall with the end of the year looming and my FPP's not quite where the need to be (I'm at about 910,000 points for the year). I just can't take a day off to regroup which is what I'd normally do. I can't even drop down a limit since I need my point production to be a full capacity.

To make matters worse my account balance is getting a little short. Normally I like to keep about $20K in pokerstars, but after paying off a few backers for the FTOPS with transfers and the beatings I've been taking I'm down to about $5K. I've actually had to resort to depositing (GASP! I'll never live down the shame!) to keep enough dough in there for me to do my thing.

The good news is I'm not feeling as bad as you might expect. In fact if I could have any kind of winning day at all tomorrow I'd be happy. After all I killed last month and in about three days or so I'll be clearing a $4,000 FPP block. The only thing that has me worried is that perhaps the games have gotten tougher as a result of the economic crisis or perhaps I've changed something slightly in the way that I'm playing. When you play 4,000 hands a day, even the smallest change can have a big effect.

It's probably just the natural ebb and flow of the stakes, but the longer this type of thing goes on the more likely it's an internal problem and not outside factors so I'm constantly trying to reevealuate everything when I have a losing streak.

I just read a poker article today that quoted Winston Churchill. Apparently he once said "If you find yourself going through Hell, keep walking." I'm not going to dig myself out of this hole with inaction. When it comes down to it there's really nothing for me to do, but keep playing, try to play my best and know that it's going to turn around eventually.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Twenty Days of Pain!

Seems like it should be easy right? After all I did 40 (ok 38!) days of pain not too long ago and these days of pain will require the same 5,000 base FPPs a day that those did.

Well you didn't factor in the fact that I've totally forgotten how to play! TDOP day 1was, well, painful. After a long (well deserved, and very pleasant) vacation I came back and had one of my ten worst days of the year! ACK!

I lost something like $3,000, but I did manage to hit my 5,000 point goal. Of course it had been a while since I actually looked at my bank account balance after massive cashouts from my fulltilt account so I'm not exactly in a panic. After all November was one of my best months ever, and even if I get killed in December this is still going to be a banner year.

In other news while the glory of the FTOPS X is still burning bright in the recent past, my next major shot at glory is on the horizon. It's come to my attention that there is a set of tournaments at the L.A. Poker Classic which fit my skill set like a pair of old sneakers.

The L.A. Poker Classic takes place every year at the Commerce Casino, (in the Los Angeles area) which is the largest brick and mortar (as they say) poker room in the country (or the world, I can never remember). In fact the Commerce and more specifically the L.A. poker classic was the site of the first poker tournament I ever played with a buy in of more than $1,000 (it was $1,500 NL hold'em in 2004 and I finished 64th of 308).

In 2009 the classic is going off over a period of 30+ days mostly in February. There is a stretch of 6 tournaments on consecutive days that all have buy ins between $1,000and $2,000 going off from the 10th to the 15th (I think). 5 are NL hold'em and the other is HORSE!

Since my wife's family lives in nearby Orange County it's very convenient for me to make it to the area, and it's now on my official schedule. Backers, grease up you wallets because this will be another chance to make some easy money. I'll keep you posted on all the details in the near future!

I'm hoping day 2 of the TDOP is a little less painful!