Friday, November 5, 2010

Nearing the end of 2010

To start this blog post off, I want to first extend my thoughts and well-wishes to my buddy Sam, a grad student at Carnegie Mellon and an online poker player who I've enjoyed chatting/ranting/joking with about the many stresses of poker in the past couple years. He was recently diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia, and his drug treatment failed, and will be undergoing a bone marrow transplant operation soon at the Dana-Farber Institute. It is truly sobering to personally know someone my age to have encountered such horrid luck. It really puts me in my place when we are discussing/complaining about how “unlucky” we were during a particular poker session. That stuff and everything else is really so trivial compared to our health. I try my best not to take anything for granted ever, and it would be wise for everyone to do the same. I definitely wish Sam the best run good of his life in the next few months, “like it's nbd.”

Anyways, since my last post, fall has nestled itself quite nicely in the area. The big story for me this past summer was my full-out plunge into road biking (for pleasure though, not competitive). I bought a decent used road bike and off I went on trails all over the Arlington and DC area. All the different parts of my costume (I went as a biker for Halloween last weekend haha), including those tight Spandex biker shorts, compression shorts, and jerseys came one by one as I got more and more into it! Nothing beats cruising along at 20 mph jamming out to tunes, lost in your own world. And I only fell once! In total this summer, I logged 933.99 miles on 43 rides for a total of 60 hours biked. This included a pair of long Saturday morning rides out west (65 and 67 miles), which were the most incredible and fun athletic activities I've done since my running days years ago.

When I wasn't biking, I was of course thinking about and planning any trips I could take. Unfortunately, and this is unique to this blog post, I don't have any poker trips to report on since I didn't take any. I set a very high point goal for myself at the beginning of the year and have been extremely reluctant to take time out of my daily playing to make extended poker trips, which are often unproductive and not too fun for me. I am happy to say however that I was able to take a random, completely non poker-related trip with my good friend and freshman year roommate. We met up in Phoenix, AZ, rented a car, and started a scenic roadtrip up the western United States. We drove through Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah (my favorite state of the trip!), Nevada, Wyoming, Idaho, and finally South Dakota. Highlights of the trip included the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Arches NP, the salt flats of Utah, Salt Lake City and all those Mormons!, Yellowstone NP, and the Badlands in South Dakota. After a week and 2,383 miles of driving, we finally flew back from Rapid City, SD. My favorite part of the trip was not centered at any named place, but was simply during the drive just outside Yellowstone and close to Buffalo Bill Reservoir. It was just past dusk when we witnessed an incredible gigantic moon rising between two mountains against a purple sky behind a shimmering lake. The accompanying feelings of remoteness, serenity, and awe is indescribable. There was even a little gazebo where anyone could have enjoyed a lovely dinner with no one around. I'm obviously returning to this place in the future; that image has been seared into my brain.

Besides that stroll down memory lane, and returning to the poker aspect of this blog, I've been staying put in Arlington and grinding online a fair bit. In my last post, I mentioned aiming for 2M VPPs, but I have since increased that goal to 2,250,000 VPPs since there is an extra bonus at that level and I am fully capable of hitting it. I'm currently at 1,827,574 VPPs, almost double my previous count, but still a bit behind pace for 2.25M. For the remaining 57 days of the 2010, I will have to play pretty much 90% of days for an avg of ~4-5 hrs a day, and that is definitely within reason for me. I'm feeling very good about my game currently and other than dealing with the inevitable daily or weekly downswings, it really will just take endurance and patience to get to my goal.

With the arrival of colder temps and shorter days, I'll be playing more poker anyways since there's less opportunity to bike. Instead, I am going to get into weight lifting, something I've been far too lazy to do in the past. I'm hoping I can channel the buildup of unused cycling energy to it, we'll see!

In regards to my upcoming plans for travel, the only set trip I'll be taking is back to the Bahamas for the PCA in January 2011. This will be my 3rd time there, and it's always a ton of fun since a bunch of friends always fly down with me! And wet money obv. Meeting up with poker players I know is also an interesting experience... I will also be attending the final event of the European Poker Tour, which will occur sometime in April 2011. It will no longer be in Monte Carlo next year. Instead, I've heard that it will be in Cannes (France) or Rome, but nothing is set yet. I hope it's in Rome!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

6 Month Update... lol

Wow, alright, I really let my life drag on without updating this thing, mostly due to procrastination, but also just lack of time as I have been pretty busy with my online pokers and a 5 month relationship that didn't turn out exactly ideally. First things first, picking up where I left off last time- the Bahamas.

After getting back from that trip in the Caribbean, I proceeded to restart my online pokering. In addition to that, my social life took on a change as I met someone through a friend who was new to the area, and we started a relationship. Most of my waking hours from that point on consisted of "working" during the afternoons, and chilling with her at night. We took a few trips together, most notably to the island nation of Barbados in the Caribbean for 3 days (yep I returned and it only took a couple months) for 3 days. We also took a short trip to Houston, Texas as part of her business trip; I went just because I wanted to see what it was like down there. I even drove to Austin, Texas and back in a day, since I had heard sweet things about the city (got pulled over though sigh, 84 in a 65). Aftr that, we made another another trip, this time a weekend trip out to San Diego, and subsequent roadtrip up to Carlsbad, Los Angeles, and Malibu. I couldn't stop thinking of Entourage the whole way. This was the first time I'd been to Southern California, and wow, I must say that SoCal would be a top pick for places to settle in the USA, if you've got the $. Like La Jolla! Finally, there was the EPT Monte Carlo tournament to attend in April. My gf stayed behind for the first week I went on a Eurotrip, starting with a flight to Barcelona, Spain. I intended to meet up with my friends who flew out about a week earlier, however, the volcanic ash cloud disrupted their flights, and so I explored Barca on my own for 3 days. No complaints though, it was a fabulous city, splendidly modern compared to other European cities I'd been to (Paris/London). Where else does the metro come every 3 minutes, at most, with an accurate timer at each station? Their main attraction, the Sagrada Familia, isn't even completed!! Someone dropped the ball on that one. From Barcelona, I was able to fly to Geneva, Switzerland, just as the cloud cleared over southern Europe, and I got to meet up with my friends there. Practically the only 'landmark' to visit there is the Jet d'Eau, a huge stream of water pumped out continuously; pretty neat to watch but that's about it. It was a cloudy day, so we weren't able to see the mountain view across Lake Geneva :( Geneva is possibly the most extravagant/rich city I've been to, including Monte Carlo, with well-dressed socialite-types at every turn and BMWs flying by like Hondas. We spent a night in Swissland, and the next morning my friend and I split off from the group to make the drive down to the Mediterranean Sea and Nice, France to drop their rental car off. Along the way, we drove through Mont Blanc (via a 65 Euro toll WTF) and witnessed some stunning views of the French/Swiss Alps while going through the 20 or so tunnels through the Italian hills. We swung by Torino, Italy (site of 2006 Olympic winter games) and finally ended up back in France 5 hours later. We met my gf who had flown in to Nice that afternoon, and we all took a bus to Monte Carlo finally!

The tournament went about as badly as I could have expected, I lost in the 2nd level (i.e., 2 hours in)...losing with AQ to AA on a AT6QQ board. For those without poker experience, basically some poker god somewhere flipped a coin up there, and decided that I would be out and the other guy would be doubled up, with no choice in the matter by either player haha. By losing early, however, I got to hang out with the guys and my gf instead of being cramped up in the poker room for days. Can't say I wouldn't want that though, haha, I just mean if I'm going to lose the tournament, might as well be on the first day. We made a day trip out to Nice which was very relaxing, and after Monte Carlo, we proceeded to Italia! My gf and I flew from Nice to Rome, spent 2 days there, then made took the train up to Firenze (Florence), Bologna, and Milan before departing back to the states. A fantastic trip there – great weather, crazy old churches and “duomo's” all over the place, and pasta every meal, what more could I ask for?

As soon as we returned, I resumed my grind.. and having taken 20 days straight off, I needed to get playing. For those following my poker progress, my goal is still 2M VPPs, and as of now I have 945,633, so a little behind pace (which is a little more than 1M), but nothing I can't overcome by year's end. I'm hoping for a better 2nd half of 2010, as the 1st half didn't go as smoothly as last year's. In non-poker news, my aforementioned relationship did not work out unfortunately, and so these days, I spend much of my free time running and biking around the area; I never realized that the northern Virginia/DC area is so beautiful and accessible. So far this summer, I've biked a total of 159 miles over 11.5 hours, on 11 separate rides. It is utterly sick to think that riders in the Tour de France are biking this distance every day for 2 weeks at race pace as I type this. Thankfully I don't have to do that, and I bike at my leisure after my poker sessions. I am actually looking forward to upgrading my bike to a more mid-level road racing bike, since I'm really enjoying this very much.

My most recent trip update was a short sojourn to Las Vegas to partake in the World Series main event. I went with my friend at the last possible day to play, and we both lost promptly on the first day. I lost when I called a 12k shove on the turn with AsQs on a board of AcKcTd7d, the guy had Tc3c, for a flush draw and trips/two pair draw... he got there on the 4c river (roughly 36k pot). Losing on the first day was for the better, since my friend and I both high-tailed and flew back the following day. I'd rather go to many places over Vegas, but the allure and positive expectation of the tournament was too much to pass up. It's just that Vegas is just the most degenerate place, filled with ugly people who do blah things, and is simply not the type of place for me.

I have no future short-term plans to travel at this point, no live tournaments to go to or anything. My main goal every day is to play as much as I can without burning out, and spending quality time with friends in the area while meeting new people. I'm about to have a roommate change as my best poker friend (who drove with me from Geneva to Nice and who I went to Vegas with) is coming in to replace my current roommate. As soon as he gets in, this will become the primo poker grind apartment of Arlington haha, as we'll be playing pretty much every day and hopefully both motivating each other to play as much as possible. I certainly look forward to it!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Big Update

It's been a long while since I last wrote, and I'm not sure why I've been so bad about it, but nonetheless, I'll pick up right where I left off last time...

So after making it back from Macau, I went back to the same hotel where I would spend the next 2 weeks. I was able to meet some cool HK locals and hang out/practice my cantonese heh. Of course, I also continued my never-ending exploration of my favorite city in the world. One day, I randomly decided to visit an outlying island called Cheung Chau on a steaming afternoon via a 60 min ferry ride. I got there just as the sun was beginning to set, and I made my way towards a point called the “north point lookout.” Somewhere along the way I lost the trail by wandering off and exploring places, so I trailblazed my own way randomly until I got to a tranquil spot. I just sat there and watched the sun set overlooking the rest of the island and the edge of HK island in the distance. What a gorgeous view, and I was comfortably secluded too with me being the only one in sight. The island is pretty unique in that it does not have any cars or roads; all transportation is via walking or biking (similar to Mackinac Island in the USA). Everything is very old and antiquated, as it is a fishing village primarily. It was an amazing experience exploring a world that is pretty much the polar opposite of mine – 4am wake-ups to start the day-long fishing grind in a 50 year-old tug trolley vs Internet poker grinding on a 30” monitor in the comfort of my home (more on that later). The irony is that this island lies no more than 20 miles from the city of Hong Kong, a wonderful marvel of high-tech, fast-paced, and modern commercial life.

So after my month long escapade overseas, I found myself longing to move into my own place. The struggle to decide on a location finally ended as I was fortunate enough to find a great roommate who wanted to move out to Arlington, VA in October. By choosing to stay in Virginia, I got to stay close to family, which is always good, and move closer to my best friends who had just moved there a few weeks beforehand. Some people have expressed the “Really? Arlington?” to me, and I don't blame them, as Virginia is a bit less exotic than some of the places I've been in the past. However, I've found the move to be a great decision for me, and I have enjoyed my new apartment and roommate even more than I had imagined. It has been a great pleasure playing online while looking out my windows and enjoying the view of a sunset over Washington DC. But who knows, there's always the chance I make it back out to Hong Kong or Sydney :)

After a couple months of hanging out and “workin” in my new “office”, my friend and I randomly decided to take a week long trip to Costa Rica in November, more specifically Playa Hermosa. I was invited by 'spacegravy' (well known poker player online) to come check out and stay at his new poker training pad down there. We rented a car in San Jose and cruised around the city and met up with some friends at their house before driving out to the beach. The waves were pretty wild and so surfing was an instant-no for me heh. During my stay there, I yearned for the comforts of my new apartment back home, which reminded me how much I do enjoy my new place. All the bugs and humidity didn't help either!

After a month back in Arlington, I went skiing for the first time ever in Wintergreen (near my university town), which was pretty interesting. I gotta work on the nuances of slowing and turning, as the “go as fast as you can and then stop by wiping out down the mountain multiple times” strategy gets laughed at by friends (and probably isn't too good on the hips/body in general). Celebrating new years with friends in the ski house was pretty tight.

And literally 2 days after our return from the winter slopes, we were all off to the Bahamas! My roommate and her friend came with me, along with a bunch of my other good friends, most of whom play poker either recreationally or professionally. It was almost a repeat of my Bahamas trip last year and I really do appreciate all the support by my friends for coming down to 'paradise' to chill. And by “almost,” that's what I really mean, unfortunately. I lost in the first day of play (unlike last year where I had a semi-deep run) and the weather was just cold and windy for the most part (unlike last year where the water was inviting everyday). In fact I am sitting on the bed now as it is actually storming outside. The trip hasn't been as exciting as last year due to the weather, but hey, no complaints... the most important thing to me is that everyone is enjoying themselves, and I'm sure everyone is having a great time away from the real cold in VA. I have 3 more days here before heading back home, not sure whether I will play any more live events or not. As for upcoming trips, the only real planned one I have is back to Monte Carlo, Monaco in April for the another big tournament. Until then, I'll be chilling in northern VA.

For those interested in my poker progress, my goal is to achieve Supernova Elite again in 2010.. it just makes so much financial sense, even though the games are getting pretty tough nowadays. Goal for now, as it was last year, was 2M VPPs (altho it ended up being 1.25M for 2009, slacked I did). I'll try to mix in a more regimented MTT schedule as well as dabble in cash here and there.