Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Light December Grinding

So it turns out that instead of pushing for 3m or 2.75m or any other number of VPP "goals" that I had set for myself earlier, I have ended up taking December very easy and haven't logged too many hours. I feel that I've worked hard enough this year where I don't need to justify another big month in grinding out 250k VPP just to get to that milestone, as I'm currently on 2.5m or so. It really is pretty nice to not have to make yourself play when you don't have to, really. So, when all of you finally DO hit your goals, definitely treat yourself and relax in life! I just purchased a sweet toy for myself - a 13" MacBook Air. It really is a beautiful piece of art. I definitely recommend this to anyone who even has an inkling of an urge to get it - you won't regret it (just get an external HDD to go with it). I waited far too long to get it!

My December running, during the sessions that I have played, has been pretty gross. I'm doing very well with my EV/redline which is nice to see, but my running in high stakes (300s and above) is simply a mess right now. No matter, I know I'm playing quite well these days and eventually it will show. Just gotta put some volume in, if I feel like it, that is.

In other news, I have booked a 3 week trip to Singapore and Hong Kong in mid-January-early Feb, right around the Chinese New Year. I've never been in Asia during this time, so it'll be cool to hang out with my extended family and friends during that time up there. Not sure if I'll make it over to Macau though... maybe if I get bored. Because of that, it will be another light VPP month to start off 2012. I'll be away from Sydney for the first time in 6-7 months, so that will be kinda awesome. Surprisingly, I haven't traveled much at all since getting here, something I'm not too accustomed to!

Good luck to everyone making their last 17 day push to get to your goals. Hang in there, and make sure to enjoy the holidays too!

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Grind!

Hey guys, it's been a while since I last updated, so here's a quick update to my pokering as well as some random banter on the European economy and American politics that I've found highly amusing. I don't normally talk about non-poker or travel stuff, but why not change it up once in a while!

My grinding of late had definitely slowed down as I mentioned in my last post. However in the past few days, I've figured out why the action has been so dry in the mornings lately. There has definitely been a shift a few hours backwards from early mornings in terms of peak action. Now the middle of the night here, which corresponds to mid-afternoon in Europe, seems to be peak. Apparently the euro regs are out in full force then, so I have been adjusting my schedule accordingly. Riding the reg train is never fun results-wise, but I've been able to get back up to 10k+ VPP days, which puts me ahead of pace for finishing 2011 with 2.75m VPPs. I plan to finish out the next 350k VPPs by mid-December or so, taking a break here and there, then relaxing for the rest of the year and probably a month into 2012 as well.

In addition to poker, what's on my mind constantly these days is the European economic contagion that seems ready to just explode day after day. Not only are markets way down already, the worst part is that there's no end in sight for the economic woes of Greece, Italy, Spain, and even France. My stock portfolio has performed beyond abysmally and has really overshadowed any of my profits in poker these last 6 months.That has been the overwhelming dis-motivating factor for me and poker since a good week's grinding can be wiped out in a single day in the stock market! But of course, as in poker, investors cannot be emotional about this kind of stuff, so I've practiced that philosophy and haven't made rash decisions. Let us hope that both the new leadership (of Italy and Greece) and existing officials can steer the Eurozone from disaster.

In a completely different topic, I hope all you international readers of my blog are enjoying the circus that is going on in American politics at the moment, specifically the Republican party candidate debates! In an entertainment point of view, the stuff that is going on is pure gold, but from a political view, it's just highly embarrassing for Americans. One of the early frontrunners, Rick Perry (who is now governor of Texas, same state our old lollable president George W. Bush was from) recently made a super funny gaffe during the debate where he forgot a key part of his statement (The Third Agency..umm..oops). I almost want to feel bad for the guy, but then I realize this is serious stuff we are talking about... the potential leader of the United States! Not to be outdone, another candidate named Herman Cain also had his moment recently (Cain on Libya) where he had little to no clue on a major recent worldwide event. And then of course there's Michelle Bachmann (A good montage here).

Anyways, as the year draws to a close soon, I hope everyone's doing well either in the pursuit of SNE, or whatever goals you may have. There are only 43 days left, so let us gogogogo!

Monday, October 24, 2011

2.25 M Update

Hey all, just checkin back in here after a bit of a hiatus. In the good news department, I recently just cracked the 2.25M VPP milestone at long last! The bad news has been the severely decreased action on Pokerstars in the past few weeks, especially at the higher stakes ($200 games and higher). I'm not sure if you guys have noticed the same or not, but the difference has been very significant. Consequently, it's been a very slow grind each session in terms of volume. It makes me wonder how it was at all possible that I attained 30k VPP every session back in February... it's taking me days to get 30k VPPs now. Granted I was playing way more hours (~10/day vs 2-4/day lately). There simply aren't 10 playable hours in a day anymore, only 4-5. And even during those times, the rake reduction, limited action, and new players registering have causing my VPP rate to plummet. I will still aim to to play as much as I can, as my profits are directly correlated with how much I play, as is the case for any long-term grinder.

As I write this, it is easily the hottest day in Sydney since I've been here. It is currently 33 C (92 F) outside on just a completely beautiful clear day. It's almost too hot! I am really thinking of getting back into cycling these days because I just can't let these upcoming great days go to waste. I've been running a fair bit, but back home in the states, cycling was my huge passion. I'll be buying a used road racing bicycle, and if I ever do leave, it shouldn't be a big problem to re-sell it for maybe 60-70% of the price.

Here's to hoping the action picks back up on Pokerstars, although I'm not counting on it. As has been my mantra throughout the year, I'm just going to push myself to play only as much as I'm comfortable with while still being responsible and realistic with my attainable goals.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Revisiting EPT Madrid :)

Hey all, hope everyone's been enjoying the changing weather (for the better for the bottom half of the world hehe)! I recently stumbled upon the broadcast for the my final table at EPT Madrid 5 months ago and thought I'd share a link to it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQBfetxPkgk. They only show one hand of mine, my bustout, so it's not that interesting but thought I'd post it anyways. If you go to 7:20 of the video, you can marvel at one of the biggest nitfolds that has ever been made at an EPT final table. It annoys me that AK guy made such a terrible laydown (given his effective stack of only 23 BBs) and was still able to get 2nd in the tournament. My late friend 'Dana Gordon' would be absolutely rolling over in his grave if he ever saw this one...

I'd like to respond to some of the comments I've been getting or have received in the past. First off, I DO use Table Ninja to all those who question how I can get by without it. Honestly though, I wasn't using it as late as last year... and have no idea how I got by without it. The preset raise and flop/turn/river bet settings are invaluable, in addition to the auto sit back in feature. I also use TN to simplify registering into SNGs. Easily the most worthwhile $60 I've ever spent.

I actually don't use a HUD because when I'm in as many tables as I am, the overload of information from having people's stats displayed on the table would be too hectic for me. If I played cash games, then a HUD would be of utmost importance. However, I feel the dynamics are quite a bit different in SNGs as people's VPIP/PFR stats change throughout the different blind levels. I believe I have a feel for how most people play, even unknowns, and I certainly already know the tendencies of the most common regs (at least I think I do :p)

Also, it may look like a massive jumble of tables in that video if you've seen it, but there's actually method to my organizational madness. I always start with a standard cascade that goes down my screen, then pull aside the higher stake games ($300s and above) to the bottom left of my screen. I also drag out games that are on the bubble, ITM, or HU to the center/right. It's a flurry of activity that could make someone dizzy, but it's actually quite fun and enjoyable for me, if I'm not losing everything that is.

I've been playing quite a bit more these days, although it is hard to rack up the VPPs as action seems to be a bit limited especially at higher stakes. I'm getting roughly 8k-10k per full session, which boggles my mind as to how I got 30k+ each day back in February :) No matter, I'll see what I can do. Good luck everyone on their grinds!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Update!

My last blog post wasn't really a post at all, and it was a rather depressing one at that, so this'll be a short, fun, happy one!

In the past, I've been asked to show what it's like to mass-multitable SNGs, aka record me doing so. Well wait no longer! I recently uploaded my first video to YouTube (my late friend Paresh and our rental car exploits in Uruguay) and it really wasn't that painful. Therefore, I decided to attempt to record myself playing during one of my sessions, which is never a great idea since I'm busy enough as it is. I think I was in about 30 tables as I recorded this, which is pretty high, and something I'm looking to limit in the future (read below). You can view the fruit of my efforts here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kMOW--2Su0

I was sitting pretty close to my monitor as I usually do and my phone was even closer, so I was unable to record the whole screen. You get the overall idea though! Depending on your previous notions about multitabling, the action is either not as fast and furious as you would think (I'm in that camp), the complete opposite, or just... what you expected. I'm not trying to impress anyone, but just simply showing you what my daily grind looks like for hours at time :)

On a serious note, because the vast majority (more than 80%) of my games are 6max, I am convinced that the high # of tables is having a detrimental effect on the quality of my game. It has definitely contributed to my downswing here, that I am sure of. Consequently, I've been meaning to scale down the number of tables I'm in; no more 30+ tabling if I can help it. In addition, I've actually been making some pretty significant changes to my play style in an effort to improve my overall play. I won't get into specifics, as I suspect many of the regs I play with probably read this blog. Suffice to say that I'll be becoming harder to play against even as I do maintain a solid load of games (anywhere from 15-20 range).

In other news, if any of you guys are American and/or care about baseball, holy **** what just happened??? According to my friend, the Red Sox were 95% to win their game vs the Orioles going into the bottom of the 9th, and Tampa Bay was less than 1% to win their game vs the Yankees when they were down 7-0 going into the EIGHTH inning, but both outdraws occurred to push TB into the playoffs. What an unreal run for both Tampa Bay and Boston in September, just wow wow wow.

Cheers for now!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Goodbye Dear Friend

As the poker community has heard now, one of my best friends, Paresh Jain aka Dana Gordon on 2p2 and on Pokerstars, has passed away.

I'm not used to dealing with the passing of such a loved one as Paresh, and so I may be rambling at times so I apologize in advance. Also, I think I'll have a hard time putting his essence into words because it seems bleh to summarize his life in only a few paragraphs, but I'll try my damndest. Hopefully I won't be in tears by the end of this post although I can already feel them. And I'm not sure whether to use 'was' or 'is' in reference to him, so **** it I'm gonna use 'is.'

I met Paresh 7 years ago when we first started at the University of Virginia together. We were both SNG donks back then (I guess I still am lol) and he was back then, and remains now now, my best poker friend as we helped each other quickly learn and grow as poker players to crush all those silly games back in the Party Poker days. His regimen and approach to thinking is beyond admirable and I learned that pretty early on. He is an absolute delight to hang out with, talk strategy, play MTTs with (both $20 frat tournies and eventually Super Tuesdays and such), and just plain party with. He has met many of my high school friends through me and others, and together, we have a core group that exists today and transcends poker. As luck would have it, my best friends now are actually his best friends from the small town of Roanoke in Virginia that I would never have met otherwise.

This dude is seriously the craziest, most fun-loving, adrenaline junkie, and all-around great buddy anyone could ask for. We went skydiving in college, jet-skiing at the PCA (we were the only two ppl from our group that would go), and definitely wanted to do much more. After college, we went on two separate sweet trips to South America which embodied all that is awesome about him. Who else would randomly go with me to the Amazonian jungle in Manaus (Brazil) with me? On the other trip, we randomly rented a car in Montevideo, Uruguay, drove ourselves to the LAPT in Punta Del Este, and actually came close to having a serious accident as he drove 110 kmh over a pretty steep hill on a bridge to get some air! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vk2Tpwl6eE, notice techno blaring) We severely bottomed out the car, punctured the radiator, and the car instantly started overheating haha. We had to get help from some old dude in a bar at 2am who didn't speak a lick of English, and all we could muster was an "hola" or "gracias." My friends think we are insane.

We also hit up Europe a couple times (EPT Monte Carlo and most recently the EPT Madrid). We went on a sick drive last year that started in Geneva, Switzerland, went through the French Alps and Italy, and ended in Nice (France). My other buddies were like "wtf we're gonna fly, have fun you idiots" so it was just Paresh and I. And most recently, we hit up Madrid just cruising around randomly both at night and during the day. However, I was stuck in the tournament for a while and didn't get to go around with him like I had planned to (doesnt everyone bust Day 1?) Oh how I'd give up my winnings in a heartbeat to just spend 3-5 days more with him.

Oh and the music. As someone mentioned above, he is ALL about rockin sick beats, house, trance, techno, hip hop, mashups, anything fun and exiting with a beat. We were roommates for the last year, so Apartment 1912 in Arlington, Virginia was definitely the place to be if you wanted to rock out to techno beats blasting from both of our rooms. We'd grind poker during the day together and then I'd sweat him in his nightime MTTs sometimes while he played. Little known fact - when he is deep in an MTT, he loops the same song he's on literally 30 or 50 or however many times until the final table is over. Just incredible passion. Here are a few of his favorites: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ay8zFH5a59Y, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_L1zqyUwefs, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqY-Q32wPv4, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5ezEcaZz6Q. Listening to these are going to make me well up everytime. ****.

I hope you all now have a more complete view of the guy that is Dana Gordon. I could probably talk and write for hours more about him; he is just that special to me. I feel blessed to have met him, shared some of the most fun moments of my life with him, and simply being associated with him (and I'm not even religious!). I'll save the clichés because he is as far from a cliché as one can be. My thoughts and prayers go out to his parents, his brother, and the rest of my friends (hang in there tuttle, chuc, natt, ben, leb, gabe, cara and all). Goodbye, and may you rest in peace Paresh.

spwwacewwwavy!!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Slowing down...

It's been quite the turnaround these days! And I'm not talking about my poker downswing... that's been as brutal as ever, and I'm officially at my trough/bottom as I type this. I'm talking about my playing volume, which has taken a precipitous drop these days for a few reasons. The first and most important reason is that I have been going out with a super awesome Australian chica for almost 3 weeks now. Poker runbad be damned because finding someone in Australia who's as cool as her way more than makes up for it! I've been hanging out heaps with her, consequently I haven't been getting to sleep at a decent hour.

The other contributing factor to my slowdown is "Bjoerni89" and his ridiculous VPP accrual the last few months. He has leapfrogged me in the VPP race, and is almost 200k points ahead of me as of a couple days ago. If he continues at his torrid pace playing the 2k/5k HUs, I am powerless to overtake him and he'll probably get the record if he wants to. This would very much reduce the significance of me breaking the record.

In light of these developments, I'm currently reevaluating my end of year VPP goals. My goal is, and always has been, to play as much as I feel like. You may recall that I started 2011 with this mantra, and it has certainly paid off so far. While playing poker on a regimented schedule is importance to me, my life and enjoyment of it takes precedence always. Now that I'm in a relationship and the outcome of the VPP record is becoming murky, I'm definitely thinking about my schedule a lot more.

One factor that is on my side that could help my VPP grind is that the DST (daylight savings time) changeovers will happen soon. On October 2nd, Australia's DST starts, meaning that our time will advance by one hour. Meanwhile, on October 30th, Europe's DST ends, meaning their time will go back by one hour. As a result, for the rest of the year (and until April of 2012), I'll be able to wake up/start 2 hours later and still enjoy the peak hours in Euroland.

Accompanying these DST changes, obviously, is the new change of weather! The weather, already great here even during the winter time, has been steadily getting better and warmer. We are entering spring, and so temps have climbed into the 70s pretty much every day now. With the sweet weather, I've been running quite often and will be doing the Blackmores half-marathon (13.1 miles or 21.1 km) this Sunday. This is the longest run I've ever done and it should be really exciting since Sydney is shutting down tons of roads, including the Sydney Harbour bridge, just for this event which is expected to attract 35,000 runners. I'll try to get a decent time (under 100 minutes), but I'll let you know about that!

I also went to Maroubra Beach a few days ago and look forward to many many more beach trips this "summer" in December, January, and February. There are heaps of beaches in Sydney and around it, so I'll want to see them all. By the way, it is really weird to even think of going to the beach on Christmas Day and New Years Eve haha! Maybe I'll be getting used to that...

Monday, August 29, 2011

SNE 2x, one more to go...

Well this post has been a few days late, but better than late than never (in most cases!) I finally crossed the 2M VPP threshold on August 21st, exactly 1 month and 1 day after my 1.75 millionth point. In my previous post, I said that I aimed to get my next quarter million points in less than a month but unfortunately my pace these days has been mediocre at best. I am truly settling into life here in Sydney, more on that in a bit, and so my attention to poker hasn't been as strong. This has not been conducive to my usual 10k+ VPP days; I just simply can't do the 5am wakeup call everyday. But I'm trying my best.

In addition, while I rarely like to complain about running bad, I have been battling a horrific downswing ever since I've arrived in Sydney that hasn't come close to turning around. Even as my 10,000th game came and went (aka sample size is getting up there), my results have been downright nasty bad. It is very likely due to the high number of tables I play at a time and the fact that 90% of games are 6max, which require the utmost attention unfortunately. All things considered though, it has not been a pretty picture, and so it's been difficult to motivate myself to play with the ever-real prospect of another -5k or more session. However, even though I am down at the tables each of the last three months, I am up post-rakeback. I will continue to stick with this tradeoff of potentially negative ROI in exchange for VPP generation because the record is so close now. Only need to get SNE one more time this year :) That is, if fellow high stakes grinder Bjoerni89 doesn't challenge me I suppose.


Good time for a quick non-poker related tangent. I find myself becoming more and more desensitized to money in general (both good and bad) simply due to the ridiculous amount of swings (read: loss) that I've experienced in the last month in poker and the stock market. In case you haven't been keeping up, the worldwide stock market is suffering through its worse period since the 2008 GFC. I find it interesting to note that people who don't follow the financial world at all have little to no idea that there is worldwide financial turmoil lurking in our midst (European sovereign debt crisis, potential worldwide global recession starting with the US, etc). Only when someone loses their job or gas prices surge will most people actually care about this sort of stuff in their day-to-day lives. It's fair enough though. And yet I am glued to the world financial/general news these days.. it really is a fascinating world to learn about and keep up with. For example it is appalling to me that 1 out of 5 people in Spain are unemployed, while the unemployment rate in Australia is only 5%! And Steve Jobs? More like Steve Unemployeds....

So before this post gets too sidetracked, I'd just like to say that despite these recent uncertainties/variance, I couldn't be happier these days. I'm in such a lucky and awesome position and no amount of losses should ever make me feel negative. I simply wanted to keep people apprised of my poker swings and make sure they know that everyone goes through dark days (more like months!)

Like I alluded to before, I've been spending heaps of time out of my apartment, meeting up with familiar faces and meeting others through friends, and generally just been enjoying everything Sydney has to offer. It's also great when it seems like I know more places around Sydney (at least the touristy names of places and restaurants) than even other people who live here do.

As you can tell, I'm becoming quite fond of this place and there's no telling how long I'm going to stay. I'll have to make those decisions as time passes, but so many facets here have just worked out so well. The transportation is excellent, the banking system here in conjunction with Pokerstars has been first-rate and buttery smooth, and the weather is unbelievable with spring just around the corner. I'm even having the occasional 5-star steak dinner at Roy's in Cab. Yes, I just made that up, but it's sensational and you should try it sometime when you get a chance. #shamelessplugforsomeoneelse. Life is good these days.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

1,750,000 Update

It's been exactly one month since I last blogged, and it's a neat coincidence that I happened to reach and pass 1,750,000 VPPs today. The action has been pretty great, and I've been grinding along most every day here. For the month, I've only completely taken off 2 days, which is quite an accomplishment for me because of the odd schedule I'm on. Whenever I need the extra sleep, I will give myself a couple hours in the morning (typically till 6 or 7am) and shorten my sessions, which I have done on more than a few occasions. As for the poker itself, it has been a frustrating grind for sure. High stakes have not been too friendly to me, or any stake, for that matter. It is quite alright though, since after FPPs and milestones, the grind is still a very profitable one even if I am down for the last two months. Everyday I start my grind with the hope that things will go crazy at high stakes to make up for the hundreds of games of runbad preceeding...but, I'm always prepared that it might be another bad one. It's always beneficial to have a positive attitude before and during your sessions even though it may not make a lick of difference; it might just keep you sane. I hope you all would adopt the same mindset if you don't have it already!

I feel like I am completely at home in Australia. I'm going to "work" everyday bright and early at 5am, finishing by 10am typically. After my sessions, I look to hit my mates up to hang out or do whatever. So far, we've driven out to a few unique and picturesque places around the Sydney area, including the Blue Mountains (the rural outskirts an hour west of the city), beautiful Watsons Bay/Vaucluse, and the truly unique cultural anomaly of Cabramatta (I saw perhaps three white people the entire afternoon we spent there). My vocabulary is surely changing as I'm adopting many more of the little words/expressions that makes Aussie English so interesting and funny. I still have my accent though :)

Here are some pictures here and there of the Aussie life-

A couple of these guys randomly showed up on my balcony... I thought they were somebody's escaped pets at first. They don't like bread crumbs, and I haven't seen them since.


Real Black Swans!

The Three Sisters rock formation in the Blue Mountains

Beautiful winter sky from Watsons Bay/Vaucluse

A more unique view of Sydney from Vaucluse. There's that bridge again..
Lighthouse on a hill in Vaucluse

One of the signs discouraging suicides, a regular occurrence off the cliffs unfortunately.
Due to a cyclone that destroyed banana crops in Australia, prices are bananas for bananas...
The next 250,000 VPPs will be pretty fun because of the bonus that awaits me when I get to the 2m VPP milestone. Typically, it takes me about 1 month to make 250k, so my next post might come exactly one month from now announcing my 2m VPPs! Of course, I hope I can get there before that. I really would like to be as much ahead of schedule of breaking the VPP record as possible because I plan to go traveling later this year. I was talking to a fellow grinder at a table today, and he said that he had about 1.67m VPPs and had earned 600k last month playing 5k HUs vs Isilildur! As I've said before, I really have no chance versus anyone multi-tabling the 2k/5k HUs in terms of VPPs, so if he decides to overtake me and continue onwards, I cannot keep up haha. That issue aside, my personal goal is still to hit 3m VPP, as that's a perfectly attainable # for me pace-wise, and it's a great incentive for me to grind daily now.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sydney Update!

10 days ago, I left off with the very start of my poker grind and new life here in Sydney. Back then, the weather was atrocious, cloudy, and raining off and on pretty much all hours of the day. Since then however, all that messy weather has cleared, and every winter day now is gorgeous with blue skies (temperature a quite comfy 15 C/60 F). I am definitely getting used to my 450am alarm, much better than I would have thought. Because I am only getting 6-7 hours of sleep every night, I have a "mask of sleepiness" on me pretty constantly, but I am adapting well. Plus, I'm able to nap whenever I want if I'm not doing anything out with people or errands after my sessions. I took my move here very seriously, so that is providing all the motivation I need to keep up my odd schedule. My adjustment has been so severe, as I now consider getting to bed after 11pm and getting up past 5am "late." Some of you may know my old schedule in the states frequently included the exact opposite of those times; I'd often sleep in past 11am, and sometimes go to bed after 5am!

Poker-wise, it's been pretty standard every day at the tables. I am fully entrenched in the swongs that is the nature of the games I play. Every session, I am up or down heaps (like my newly developing Australian lingo?), but mostly down unfortunately. I've already had two -9k days, including today. Normally that wouldn't be too big of a concern, since I'm used to those by now, but this is the time where a downswing hurts the most. I didn't start with much money in my account, so I've been dipping into the zone of my Pokerstars balance to SNG stakes ratio. In fact, during one session last week, I actually ran out of money when registering for games! I usually register for games that never run anyway (so I have stopped doing that). Also, being registered for every game in the lobby and of course the games I'm already playing in automatically deducts 12k+ from my balance, so it's quite crazy. It's better now though, as I have received some money in my account through FPPs, transfers with friends, and I'm approaching my 1.5m VPP milestone...only 3k to go!

So all in all, life down here has been hunky dory, save the fact that I can't win flips in my $500 games :) My social network has been expanding, although it's still very tough taking the initiative and engaging others, while trying not impose too much since I know I'm an outsider. It will take time for sure. Thankfully, I am just fine on my own as well...I just bought some awesome new running shoes yesterday and have gone on two long runs already (14 km and 8km). Today, I did one of my most memorable and pleasurable activities here - the sunset+twilight run across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, around Circular Quay, and to the Sydney Opera House. The views are breathtaking and I highly doubt I will ever tire of these sight. Sydney's downtown skyline (they call it the Sydney CBD, or just "city") is majestic too, as is the opposite facing North Shore skyline (where I live!)

Here are some grainy/crappy pictures I took as I crossed the bridge one night. The lights/colors projected onto the Opera House and the Customs House were part of an art exhibition called "Vivid." Definitely very cool.









It's past 11 at night here, so I'm already late for bed. 6 hours later and I'll be starting it up again. I hope my poker work ethic down here is inspiring you guys to do the same! Cheers, mates.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sydney at last

Ah, my first official Friday night here in beautiful Sydney, Australia. What a wonderful feeling it is to be settled finally and actually feel relaxed. Moving to another country is tough, but not insurmountable, and I've finally done it. It's hard to believe that exactly one week ago, I was on a plane flying across the Pacific (on the new Airbus A380!!!... sorry I'm a semi-aviation buff). In the span of 4 days, I found a furnished apartment in a sweet area called North Sydney (directly across the harbor from downtown), applied for it and got accepted, submitted my new documentation to Pokerstars, and got my account officially active again. I am a very independent person (however lazy at times) and when I want something, I apply 100% of myself to attain it. It is an immensely satisfying feeling for me to accomplish what I wanted to especially in such a short time frame.

Since getting my account restored, I've put in two sessions at the tables so far; yesterday was a tester session where I eased back into the grind. I definitely felt a bit rusty at times, but I was surprised how automatic most of the decisions still were to me – thank God :) I started “late” around 9:30am Sydney time, and only earned about 2800 VPPs before action died. This morning I was determined to get a longer session in, so I set the alarm for 7:00am and grinded the latter half of the prime Euro hours, earning a more respectable but still weak 7.2k VPPs. I was done by noon and hung out all day shopping with a friend and just relaxing.

And so here I sit, 9 on a Friday night, feeling pretty sleepy already. Since getting here, I've been fortunate enough to meet some new friends through my cousin and other friends, and so my social life will hopefully develop more as I settle here. I actually passed on going out with some of them tonight because I'm so exhausted from my early wake up today and the fact that I will have to start tomorrow even earlier. My plan for the coming days/weeks is to sleep very early around 10-11pm and be up and grinding by about 5am. This will be crucial in order to take full advantage of the peak Euro hours. Sydney is 8 hours ahead of all major European poker-heavy cities (Madrid, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Vienna, Berlin), 9 hours ahead of London, and 13 hours ahead of Brazil/Argentina. Therefore, I'll be playing when it is evening or afternoon time for the vast majority of the grinders on Stars. It's a pain to wake up this early of course, but then I'll have the rest of my own afternoon/evening free!

It is too early to tell what sort of VPP pace I will be able to maintain with these funky hours I will play. However, I do know that I need to average an even 250k VPPs/month, or ~8,333 VPPs/day in order to break the VPP record of 3.055m set by 'WizardofAhhs' last year. This had been very doable for me, but of course I don't know the future climate of SNG scene. From what I have seen though, action is buzzing at high stakes, especially with the introduction of the new $300 6max turbo SNGs. My general plan will be to play as much as I/my body/my sleep schedule feel comfortable with while taking regular days off, and perhaps even some trips overseas with friends. I am not looking to kill myself, quite the contrary.

From final tabling the EPT final in Madrid and having a trip of a lifetime there, to packing up everything I own in Washington DC, to finally jetting myself and everything over to Sydney – 13,592 miles in total – the whirlwind of the last month has been an unbelievably fun ride in my life. Some may find this excruciating, but I feel quite the opposite. I am simply blessed (I'm not even religious) not only to have these opportunities but also the wherewithal and desire to ACT on them. I've run super hot in having everything work out well so far and am extremely appreciative of that as well.

In closing, I sincerely hope everyone who aspires to live the dream, whatever that means, to go out and do it – it takes drive and desire more than anything, even money. If you want it bad enough, stop reading and go. I've done it and I'm no better than anyone reading this right now :)

By the way, huge congratulations in order for George “Jorj95” Lind III, runner-up in the 2011 WSOP Event #11, 10K Omaha 8/b Championship for 287k. Good run man, very nicely done. Mad jeals.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Australia Bound...

Just like that, I will be leaving the USA tomorrow and making Australia my new home for at least the next 7 months (till end of 2011), if not a few more months into 2012. I will deeply miss everyone around here but life moves quickly, and everyone's gotta make decisions that's best for them. Mine is clear: close out the year as best I can, aka rack up as many VPPs as possible.

With regard to the VPP record, I can honestly say that my mindset about that is the exact same as in January when had 0 VPPs. I'm going to start playing in Sydney as if the year just started, so I'll play as much as I feel comfortable with and just see where that takes me. I will still be eyeing the VPP record, but I really have to see how long it takes me to get up and running in Sydney and then reevaluate. If the action isn't significant enough to give me a real chance, or my pace simply isn't enough to get the record, then so be it. My history of not setting a goal (without sufficient information) has worked out well for me so far :)

I'll definitely post here as soon as I'm set up in Sydney, which hopefully won't take too long. All you guys catching up to me, it's time for me to (try to) pull away again! I'm super stoked about this next phase of my life and I'm sure I will be content with wherever it takes me.

EPT Madrid: Part 2 (The City)

Coming off a fresh high I had never experienced in live poker, I decided to rebook my flight for the 2nd time after finishing the final table so I could actually explore the city of Madrid. I had heard some things about the city but not really too much so I was curious. Little did I know that I was in for a treat!

Due to the convivial nature of friendly poker players, as well as the fact that a hundred people with one common obvious interest are often crammed into a room for hours at a time, it is always inevitable that I meet someone interesting and fun to chill with. One of them was Jen Shahade, a poker player, announcer, author, and apparent sicko at chess. We were able to meet up with others around Madrid a few times which really makes these sorts of poker trips a delight for me.

Thanks to some uncanny connections which involved meeting a fellow SNG grinder who also played the tourney, I was able to meet an additional couple people who actually live in Madrid! They both made time for me out of their busy schedules to show me the ins and outs of "Old Madrid." There are enough neat alleyways, plaza squares, colorful buildings, and quaint shops/restaurants to make most people just want to walk around and explore even before heading towards the popular tourist attractions. I certainly enjoyed these facets of the city more than the standard repertoire of art museums/cathedrals/etc that European cities are known for. Here are some pictures to whet your appetites:

Typical residential street



The one and only true negative of my time was the lack of sleep. Before the trip I was taking it easy and getting my 9-10 hours a night. Even during my SNE run in February, I still got 9+ hours per night (but I probably needed all of them!) Suddenly in Madrid, I was averaging half that since I'd get back late each night to the hotel super amped-up from continually getting deeper and deeper every day. After the tournament and meeting my two friends came the ensuing 2+ hour lunches and dinners with drinks along with nightly hanging out at countless bars/lounges around the area. With all that, who would rather sleep! I even rebooked my flight back a 3rd and final time, just to extend the fun in Madrid and delay the inevitable return back and annoying preparations for my move to Australia. I just didn't want to say bye.

Fire Art @ San Isidro Parade
You can see all the rest of my lovely iPhone-quality pictures @ http://bit.ly/ivamLS. If I had known I'd be sightseeing as much as I did, I would have brought my actual camera. It is funny to think that my original itinerary had me leaving on May 9th; I had accidentally booked my return flight on Day 2(!) of the main event oops. You can tell I was really looking to go there and come back as quickly as possible, since I had Australia on my mind. I didn't actually end up departing until May 18th.

Thank you Madrid and friends for a truly wonderful time there. If I only spoke Spanish, perhaps I'd be contemplating a move there instead of going the absolute opposite direction - Sydney, the topic of my next post.

Friday, May 20, 2011

EPT Madrid: Part 1 (The Poker)

I just returned from Madrid, Spain and a wonderful but absolutely exhausting trip! Because it was a tale of two stories, I will break up my trip report into two parts: The Poker and The City Experience. Here is the first part about poker, and I will write the second one in the coming days.

Wow, just wow, at the fortune that awaited me at the EPT Madrid. From the start I was on fire. I'll try to limit the discussion of hands as they tend to be boring and no one cares, so I'll just recap quickly. I immediately got a pretty good table draw, a theme that would continue throughout the tournament until the final 2 tables. Ended Level 1 with 40k from 30k starting stack as I had KK and rivered a K on an A-high flop. During the 2nd level (75/150), I had QQ and flopped a Q 4-way and got some nice value from button bluffing twice into me. Was up to 50k by the end of the 2nd level; I hadn't run like that in the beginning of a poker tournament pretty much ever, and I thought I was invincible. During the 3rd level, picked up AA and won a large pot to get up to 55k, and then got 3 huge streets of action with AQdd on Jxx (2 diamonds) and rivering that 3rd diamond vs hustla16 (great player). Ended Level 4 with 80k, almost tripled up. Last year at the EPT Monte Carlo, I lost in the 3rd level with AQ vs AA on AT6QQ, so I was thinking maybe this made up for it haha.

I had one cool hand where I flatted pre with 44, called a cbet on 977 flop and called a double barrel on Ace turn. The river came a 9 counterfeiting me, but he checked, so I bet to rep the Ace or 9 or 7 which worked! I knew we were splitting if I checked back so I had a perfect freeroll to pick the pot up. For the rest of the afternoon/evening levels, 300/600-500/1000 nothing much really happened until the 2nd to last hand. I was gifted about 30k after some guy 3bet his KQo and called my 4bet jam and I held with ATo. That would be another running theme of this tournament - never losing an all-in and not ever having a scary sweat... Ace on turn gg him. Ended Day 1 @ 120k.

The next day would not be as smooth, but I would rejoin the ranks of the chip leaders after I won KK>AQ followed by the this hand. I had called a raise pre with KQo then decided to bluff raise the T53 flop which he called. I shut down on turn/river but was good anyway vs his flush draw. I had another KK>AQ to get up to 275k, def among the chip leaders middle of Day 2, and then the first/only bad postflop hand of the tournament happened. I cold-called a button 3bet from the SB with red 99, then check/called three streets on a Jack-high board, hitting a flush on the river too (he had QJo, with Qd). I definitely misplayed that hand, as he shouldn't be bluffing the turn too often, but oh well. We made the money at the end of Day 2, and I ended with about 155k.

Day 3 was pretty awesome as we played down from 104 players to the final 3 tables. Had an AK>AQ to get up to 250k and then got moved to the TV table to show off my 25 BB stack at 5k/10k blinds! I've never passed the 5k/10k level of any major live tournament (reached it twice at PCA/WSOP 09), so it felt like a breakthrough to get to 6k/12k! During the dinner break I drove around by myself for an hour, which was liberating after being trapped in the casino and playing for all these days. When I returned, I was able to find a lucky double up with KK>JJ versus Alex Gomes, a good friend and Team Pro who would be at my tables the next 2 days including the final table. After the double, I pulled off a successful 3bet squeeze with JTo and won A7>AQ, runner-runnering my way to 704k to end the night. The most chips I've ever had in a liveament!

Day 4 started off pretty miserably as I raise/folded twice and 3bet/folded once to drop down to 440k before getting all-in for my tournament life for the first time, 99>AQ! AQ had been pretty brutal versus me this tournament so far. I chipped up nicely after the double, raising most hands I got and was able to climb to about 1.6 million before being moved to the TV table again. A big hand then happened where I raised UTG with KJo and was flatted by the BB...flop 963 which I cbet and was called, turn was the lovely Jack but I decided to slowplay...river K, and he check/called my 200k bet which rocketed me to 2.3 million (56 BBs and 3rd of 11). That would be my high point of the tournament, unfortunately, as the rest of the night I was completely card dead and my raises were getting 3bet and my lone 3bet was shoved on. I ended Day 4 with 1.25 million and as short as that was, I was ELATED to make the final table!!! A dream come true.

The final table was just an awesome experience for the 30 or so minutes I lasted there. We had an initial meeting to discuss a redistribution of the prize structure, but talks broke down and we resumed play. For those of you watching the live stream, hopefully you caught me raising to "1 million" on one of the first few hands. "oogee" had opened from late position and I 1-million'd with A9o from the SB (with my 15 BB) which worked. A few hands later, I button minraised with my 17 BB with T8o, which also worked. Later I shoved about 19 BB with 44 from MP successfully, 3/3 with pretty meh hands, but good spots. Unfortunately my aggression would get the best of me, as my 20 BB reshove with 33 got tank-called by AQo and I lost my flip in brutal fashion.. 99474 board! AQ was definitely the hand to be against in this tournament, so very strange. After losing that 3.5 million chip flip, probably worth 600-700k or so, I calmly walked off, congratulated and wished everyone the best. gg.

€130,000 ain't bad for sure, but of course one always wonders what could have been...even 6th place was double that of 8th place, a lil absurd. Despite losing that hand, I am forever appreciative of my fortune and chance to get to that stage. I had an amazing once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I was definitely on top of the world every moment of that tournament. I had every reason to be all smiles all the time even during and after my bustout. I could not be more satisfied with how I played that tournament, as everything seemed to flow amazingly and I stood tough in the wake of all the seasoned MTT pros and Europeans. The interviews were really fun to do as well, and I hope to see myself on TV or wherever soon :) They told me that the poker show would be broadcast all over Europe in the coming weeks, so I'd love it if you Euro readers could send me links to them!

I'd like to thank everyone for their support... on Facebook, Twitter, the 2p2 SNE thread, in person, over AIM/GTalk/MSN, everyone! The outpouring of attention was really awesome and I'm glad that I was able to give you guys a good show. Just one card away from potentially giving you guys an even better one :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

EPT Madrid Quick Update

Hey guys, what a fantastic run at the EPT Madrid main event so far for me. I've got 704,000 chips (not 104k as reported by Pokernews/Cardplayer), which is good enough for 12th out of 24 left. The remaining field, including my table, seems very manageable with only a couple big names left (Alex Gomes and Victor Ramdin). Good thing I am friends with both ;)

I am so so stoked to have made it this far, and I realize I may never be in this position again so I'm trying to cherish every additional minute I'm in the tournament. I thank everyone for their support so far on this run. Up till the very end of yesterday, I've just kinda crept along/survived without much fanfare so the attention has been pretty minimal. Today might change that hopefully. In terms of payouts, it really doesn't matter until the final table, but I'm sure loving the spot I'm in now regardless of the money. I truly wish there were a way to bookmark my life at this point right now!

So a few more allins that go my way, and I'll be headed to the final table tomorrow! They are live streaming it with revealed hole cards for everyone for the first time in EPT history. That is going to be so awesome to play, just so awesome. And to think I booked flight the day before I flew, and all that random craziness happening with the 1st flight. Oh fate, you tricky devil!

Gl me.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Andrew's First Day At the Airport

What. A. Day. So it all started when I awoke at 830am (having slept at 430am) in order to purposely make myself sleepy and exhausted for the rest of the day. The red-eye flight to Madrid was at 5:40 in the afternoon and arriving at 7:30 the next morning, so I really wanted to be nice and sleepy for the whole flight. Good idea in principle right?

Everything was hunky-dory until about an hour before our departure when it was announced that our Aer Lingus plane was having some trouble with one of its wing ailerons (the control surface that allows the airplane to bank and turn - kinda important). After two hours, it was declared that the flight was canceled. My roommate and fellow poker player 'Dana Gordon' absolutely bolted to the nearest customer service desk to rebook as we were trying to beat out everyone else who was also running. It was truly a mad and funny scene being in a giant hoard of people flying down the corridors at frantic pace. Then we hit the wall. There was already a crush of people at the desk for previous flight cancellations and all sorts of crazy. A cluster**** as we call it.

We spent the next 3 hours calling United Airlines while also standing in the line that advanced 1-2 people every 5-10 minutes; it was truly excruciating. Finally, my roommate managed to secure a rebooking that would take us to Paris via Air France, then on to Madrid the next day! Problem: It was 9:25pm and we were in the C terminal, and the departure was at 9:50pm in the A terminal, about a 20 minute commute. The ensuing mad dash to the A gates completely obliterated our previous run. We arrived panting, sweaty, and utterly drained both physically and mentally at everything that had gone on today. But it was not to be. The French people manning the gate said we were too late and that was that.

Spent, exhausted, and ready to go home, we took a cab ride back to our apartment in Arlington. It was such a strange feeling to have spent 8 hours in an airport only to take a cab back... to where we had started our day. We tried our best and made do with what we had at our disposal. It was good to practice some of the tactics that have made us successful poker players, namely patience and calm/logical thinking, no matter the crappy situation.

We're both going back to Dulles tomorrow to make the same flight. Let's hope they have a different plane :) (Btw who lets an airplane aileron get busted to the point of a flight cancellation??) I'm hoping to start Day 1B on Sunday. I've also extended my stay there till the 12th, just because now I want to get as much Madrid in me as I possibly can!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Last minute EPT Madrid!!

I have to say that after the black Friday events a fortnight ago, my life has seemingly been on an overdrive whirlwind, contrary to anything I would have expected from being freshly "unemployed!" All these days have been spent endlessly thinking/evaluating decisions, trying to sort out where to move to, applying for visas, preparing everything at home for the eventual move, and still finding time to chill and hang with friends. After over a week of anxious waiting, I was greeted today with the great news that I have been granted an Australian visa for 12 months! It looks like I'm finally 100% to move to Sydney and will probably do so sometime in the next couple weeks.

But even before that happens, I further crazy-fied my life by choosing to randomly purchase a ticket to Madrid, Spain for tomorrow afternoon to partake in the EPT Grand Finale on Saturday. Might as well add to the whirlwind while I'm still able to, makes for an exciting life =) I'll be traveling with my good friend, roommate, and poker sicko 'Dana Gordon.' It'll be tight as we plan to rent a car and explore Madrid for as much as we can before we play the event. Who knows, maybe this last minute decision to play this tourney will pay off! A full trip report to come after I get back.

Good luck to everyone still deciding whether to / where to relocate to continue our livelihoods :)

[0 VPP since April 12, 2011 hehe, still #1 on the list though]

Monday, April 18, 2011

#GG

Hmm, what to say! April 15th - Black Friday - will forever be seared into our collective memories as the most important day in the history of online poker. The swiftness and effectiveness of US law-enforcement agencies in shutting down each of the top three poker companies' operations in the USA is staggering and simply mind-blowing. With all this commotion, there has been very little information to come out either from the sites involved or the Department of Justice/FBI. As such, it's crucial that we all keep the speculation to a minimum and just be patient for official information.

Now in the aftermath, everyone will certainly have concerns, priorities, and plans for handling this epic event, but I imagine the #1 item on everyone's mind is the security of our funds. At the beginning as everything was unfolding, my take on the money situation was pretty grim and I really didn't expect a high chance that we would ever be getting our money back. Since then however, positive developments have occured such as Pokerstars' personal calls to every Supernova+ VIP ensuring that our funds are safe. I had a 20 minute phone conversation with SteveD, the VIP manager of Pokerstars, that was comforting. Even though he wasn't allowed to disclose any particular details, it seemed like the situation is under Pokerstars' control. We even joked about the fact that PS didn't just close up shop and disappear with all our money haha. In addition, I've learned that during Pokerstars' licensing requirements in the Isle of Man, it was stipulated that all player funds be placed in trust accounts that cannot be seized by any authority other than the listed trustee. Whatever that means. I'm sure there is a myriad of other legal technicalities that are involved, as well as countless factors that will come into play, so we'll all just have to wait and see.

In addition to the integrity of our balances, of course we are all wondering about the future of online poker in the US. It certainly looks bleak, but we really just don't know enough about the situation to make any sort of educated predictions. Lest we forget, it's only been 3 days(!) since the **** hit the fan. And it's been weekend days where obv nobody works in the US government ;) Naturally, we can't help but speculate and think of continuing the life and traveling to foreign countries to cash out and continue playing. If this were to happen, I would probably go back to Sydney, Australia where I was already planning to visit this year anyways. It would work out quite well, so hopefully that's an option. Or perhaps O! Canada; I've always wanted to visit Vancouver.

Anyways best of luck to all of us these next few days/weeks as the situation unfolds itself. No one can really do anything at this point so it's just best to just accept what's coming and make the best of it.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

April Update

Upswingaments! Ever since the calendar changed from March to April, I've been doing very well at the tables (+33k until dropping 11k today). I ended last month on a 23k downswing with pretty much every session being a losing one. It seems absurd and silly that a simple flip of the calendar would produce such a drastic differences in my results, and rest assured, it really is absurd. Many poker players will set a definitive timeframe like a week or a month to base their results on. I am definitely guilty of this, as my spreadsheet is set up month by month. But while my spreadsheet is set up in this manner, it is mostly for organizational purposes especially when it comes to VPPs. Those are the crux of my grind and I actually have control over them, unlike profits.

As poker grinders we've got to remember cards know no time frame nor have any sort of memory; they just fall as they may. Of course that's obvious, but it helps us understand that we have no control of our luck and ultimately the "profit" column of our spreadsheets. When evaluating results, try not to base comparisons or emphasis on weekly or monthly results. If I had done that, I would have quit right after my horrendous February! (I was -36k). Instead of thinking, "Ugh I was down 100 buyins last month," I'd look at some hand histories and ROIs over significant sample sizes. Even if you had a losing month, it could have been due to lack of sufficient sample size coupled with a bad run, and not necessarily indicative of bad play. Conversely, don't let being up a bunch in a given time give you too much complacency!

So ever since that mega grind of January and February, I've taken big steps to limit my playing days so I've had some nice free days to do whatever. Weather is getting warm around the Washington DC area and so I've been out and about. There's a chance some friends and I will be moving away from here sometime soon, so I'd like to enjoy the area as much as I can. Here are some pictures from my recent outings around this pretty city!


Washington Memorial
US Capitol
Lincoln Memorial

 
March Madness (college basketball tournament) opening round at Verizon Center. Butler vs. ODU, Butler would eventually reach the national championship game!...and lose in epic fashion.

Gorgeous National Mall

Chinatown!!

A few days ago, I also went back to my old high school to watch a soccer game since my little brother is on the team! Walking around the old hallways and stepping into some of my old classrooms really brought back some memories...then I realized it's been 7 years since I graduated! I snapped this picture of my old high school track as well, after running half a lap. Some pleasant and not-so-pleasant memories here :)


This leads directly to the origin of my screen name 'azntracker.' When I made this name, I was just getting into the buzz of poker in 2004, which was my senior year in high school. I decided to do something related to my track team, so I just combined "asian" and "tracker" (as in someone who runs track...maybe making up a word here) and voila!, azntracker was born. It does not mean I track anybody, particularly of Asian decent haha.

Anyway to close, my poker pace is pretty decent these days. I've set my VPP counter bar on Pokerstars to 15,000 VPPs that resets after every session (very nifty feature). I've been hitting that mark and then some in my sessions lately, so that should put me in good position for getting into the upper 3-millions of VPPs while still being able to take time off and travel. I'm still hazy on what I'm going to end my year at because of uncertainty in my playing schedule, as well as the possibility of rake reduction in the coming months.

There's a 2p2 thread that discusses the nebulous proposal that Pokerstars VIP manager "SteveD" mentioned a few months ago. If rake were reduced at my SNGs, obviously I would have more trouble earning VPPs and breaking the record. For me (and other SNEs), there's that fine line between earning VPPs for rakeback versus an increase in ROI (with reduced rake). Even with my heavy emphasis on VPPs shooting for the record and all, I am unequivocally in favor of any sort of rake reduction. We'll have to see what happens as it plays out, there's too much speculation and too little information at this point. You can read more about rake reduction and some analysis on my fellow blogger atkinator's newest post.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Grinding Along

Hey all! It's been over a week since I posted, so I decided to write a post about some general topics/news.

First, I did another interview recently over the phone with someone from Cardplayer Magazine. It was a pretty different interview from my earlier one with Pokernews - the Cardplayer chat was definitely much less technical. He asked me about my general background, how I got started in poker, and asked me to give some details of the VIP program at Pokerstars. It seems like the Cardplayer article will be geared more towards the general population who may not necessarily know all the facets of Supernova Elite, and who certainly know less than you guys :) I saw on someone's blog that Pokerstars has really revamped the VIP section of their website and so made a visit myself. It now gives exact numbers on pretty much everything related to Supernova Elite; I am really impressed!

As far as my poker grind goes, I just broke 200k VPPs for the month today!! (jokingly excited) In comparison, I got my 200,000th point on Feb 14 last month, and it only took me the last 7 days of Feb to get 200k. It really makes me think I'm super slacking this month, but I've only taken 6 days off so far. I feel like my VPP count these days (lingering around ~1.1m-1.2m) seems so low compared to what I'm aiming for (3M+), so I'm trying not to think about the total points and instead just focus on making good use of my time day by day. "Good use" can mean playing a decent session (15k+ VPPs), or getting in a good ride on by road bike (40+ miles), or even taking a relaxing day off.

For all SNE grinders out there, there will surely be times where it seems the points are adding up sooooo slowly, which is exactly what I'm going through right now. If you find yourself going through that, I'd suggest keeping your mind focused on the short-term grind (day by day or week by week) instead of looking at your total VPP count and that beastly 1,000,000 figure. Of course, have weekly and monthly goals too as they are crucial, but I feel that the process seems much more manageable and achievable by approaching the task one day at a time.

Want to see me get owned? In the past, I have posted a few hand histories where I outplayed some people, but I came across a hand recently in a 1k SNG (I tend to remember hands in these for obvious reasons) that was too good not to include in this blog haha. Witness me get destroyed...

PokerStars Game #59268597040: Tournament #375361369, $1060+$50 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level IV (50/100) - 2011/03/15 20:27:49 ET
Table '375361369 1' 6-max Seat #2 is the button
Seat 1: poceiro (1735 in chips)
Seat 2: kenny05 (2480 in chips)
Seat 4: azntracker (775 in chips)
Seat 5: CHAMUCO58 (1570 in chips)
Seat 6: KMIK-001 (2440 in chips)
azntracker: posts small blind 50
CHAMUCO58: posts big blind 100
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to azntracker [Td 6d]
KMIK-001: folds
poceiro: calls 100
kenny05: folds
azntracker: calls 50
CHAMUCO58: checks
*** FLOP *** [Ks Tc 2d]
azntracker: bets 133
CHAMUCO58: folds
poceiro: calls 133
*** TURN *** [Ks Tc 2d] [Qh]
azntracker: checks
poceiro: checks
*** RIVER *** [Ks Tc 2d Qh] [Kd]
azntracker: bets 100
poceiro: raises 100 to 200
azntracker: folds
Uncalled bet (100) returned to poceiro
poceiro collected 766 from pot
poceiro: shows [3d 4d] (a pair of Kings)


I mean no words can describe this. I shall try though: He was a complete unknown, as was the BB so I completed with a suited-kinda-connector. I decided to lead since I'm good a lot of the times, just want to take it down, and I don't want to check/call vs the limper and lose initiative. I completely give up the turn as that card smacks his range pretty hard I feel (if I wasn't beat on the flop, I'm way more likely now to be). Plus I'm so poor as it is. When he checks behind, and the board pairs on river, I figure my hand could possibly be good but I don't want to face a large bet. By firing a microbet, I can stop the passive guy from raising as a bluff. Alas, I was wrong! Minimum raise in my face, and I fold getting 8.6 to 1 like a fish to the nut low hand. Why he flatted on the flop with the nut low (literally) with no pair no draw, and didn't fire the turn as a bluff, I shall never know :) I will say that I definitely misplayed this hand in hindsight, and that I only played it strangely because I sensed he was not that strong a player and I might be able to get away with it.

To make up for that debacle of a hand by me, this hand a couple days ago heads up in a $565 6max was nice haha. He had A6s, still not sure what the point of this play was. It's great to see bad players floating around all over the place, especially at the highest stakes.


Again good luck to everyone, year is almost 1/4 over, and hopefully everyone is on track. Pace is 224.7k :)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Interview Up

Hey all, just a quick update so far. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Remko Rinkema over at Pokernews.nl (the Dutch version of Powernews), and my interview with him has now been posted. Check it out! It's a bit long so feel free to skip around. I think I'm a bit rambly in places, but that's just me trying to convey all that I want to in the short amount of time that I got.

In other news, I have continued my shortened sessions and have been table selecting hardcore at the 6mans above $235, perhaps too much so. Because I am passing on so many games, my VPP rate has nosedived to around 2000-2500 an hour, so I have to figure out the fine line between VPP accrual and table profit/losses. I would have have no problem getting only 10k VPPs every day from here on out (what I've been getting lately), if I averaged that many every day for the rest of 2011. That would put me at just above 4M VPPs for the year, a lofty goal in itself. However, I know I'll be traveling later and will be taking random days off like today, so I'll need to pick it up during my playing days.

Finally, *warning cornyness alert* I would like to extend my thoughts and well-wishes to all those affected in Japan by the earthquake and ensuing tsunamis. It's a disaster of epic proportions and I can't even begin to imagine the utter devastation that that country is going through. We can all help in some ways, at the very least by donating. As poker players who don't contribute too much (anything?) to society, this is an opportunity for us to give back, if only by giving some money.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Slackin!

Well it appears as if I've really been taking it easy this month so far, taking 3 full days off at the beginning, then constantly waking up too late (like 2 or 3) to start any meaningful productive session haha. I'm losing my mojo!!! All kidding aside, I'm really enjoying my sessions lately, where I'm not forcing myself to play everything and just chilling for the most part. My last 5 sessions have produced VPP counts of 9,475, 6,260, 12,881, 15,559, and 8,385 just now. It's funny that the VPPs from my first 3 sessions added up to less than 1 of my full February insane-o sessions, oof!

And now here's a hilarious incident that happened to me earlier this afternoon, pretty embarrassing actually but I have no problem laughing at my own expense and you shouldn't either. Before starting my session way late today I went to get a haircut at my local Vietnamese place. The hairdressers there are pretty talkative and inquisitive (middle aged Asian women go figure), so you can imagine their curiosity when I regularly come in on weekday afternoons for a head mowing when people are supposed to be working, etc. Usually the same person cuts my hair, and a few haircuts ago I told her that I played poker for some reason and, yada yada yada, now it's a regular thing where she asks me in broken English, "You make good monies???" and "How's the poker game??" Nowadays I try to say as little as possible, and lie as much as possible haha. Well that's all good and I'm used to that by now, but today, another lady cuts my hair so she doesn't really know my background. She's actually pretty cute/not old so that was sweet. Anyways, mid-way through the haircut, the following dialogue occurs:


Her: Is that your ride, that car in the lot? [something to that effect since I couldn't really understand all that well]
Me: Uhh, yeah. Wait no, my car is that black one at the end.
Her: Ohhhhh, you drove?? When did you get your license? How long been driving?
Me: [slightly confused at this point] Hmm... I got it when I was 16... wait, you know I'm 25 right?
Her: OMG!!! [looks like someone just smacked her silly] You look so young!!!!! I thought that was your ride just leaving from the parking lot.
Me: Waaaaaaaait a minute, let me understand this. You thought I was 16 years old and that my mom just dropped me off for a haircut and left the parking lot?
Her: Yes.

Wow, just wow. I mean I have a very young face for sure, and I know it. I get carded at casinos all the time (standard), and even occasionally R-rated movies (that's fine), but my mom dropping me off at the hair salon because I'm 16 and too young to drive myself? Jesus. Just too funny! I didn't, and still don't know, whether to be flattered with my spectacular age-like-wine face, or be flat out embarrassed to be mistaken for an asian Justin Bieber. #aznbieber ftw? Anyways I just thought I'd share that lovely embarrassing story of mine. Hopefully next time I go in for a haircut, she'll ask me "wanna hit this club up on Friday?" instead of "what time do you have to be home tonight?"

In other news, I'm going to be Skyping with someone from pokernews.nl (the Dutch version) in a couple days. I've never interviewed over Skype like this before so I'm definitely looking forward to doing that.

Friday, March 4, 2011

A little R&R

Wow. Just wow at the response of the poker community these last few days - well a very specific portion of it (i.e., people who even know what Supernova Elite means). I want to first say that I cannot express how grateful I am for everyone's kind words, the crazy number of congratulatory posts and comments, and just general support of my achievement. The attention has been unlike anything I've experienced before, and so I'm just taking it all in slowly now. Anyways, on to some business!

In addition to the response on the SNE thread on 2p2, someone created another thread dedicated to my achievement (http://bit.ly/idIYCI). In both these threads, as well as in the many comments in my prior post, there were a bunch of questions that people had about my run up to SNE so I'll try to get to all or most of them answered in this post. First and foremost, as this question seems to get asked the most often, I use 100% of my FPPs on the $4k/250k FPP reward bonus. This option offers a decent rate for each FPP, and is the most liquid form of money I can get. I don't have any interest in buying live tournament packages yet, which would be the only other use of FPPs for me. Currently I only have like 63,000 FPPs (not something ridiculous like 5,000,000 that I have earned in 2011) because I convert as soon as I have >250k FPPs.

Another popular question is about my poker setup. Well what you see in that picture on my blog and on the Pokerstarsblog article written by the best blogger in the business (http://bit.ly/azntracker if you haven't read it) is basically the entirety of my setup. And what is on my screen is usually how my tables are arranged. I only have like 15 tables there, but with 30-40 tables, I have a mass cascade deal going on, with many tables pulled aside for attention purposes. This is an odd quirk of mine, but for some reason I must see the important all-ins as they happen at high stakes, so those tables have to be pulled out of the cascade. In terms of scripts that I use, I use TableNinja and a nifty Table Count AHK script which... counts my tables. I have exactly 3 hotkeys: "End" for registering a game, "PgUp" to recascade my tables when things are really messy looking, and "PgDn" to cycle to the table that needs attention. TN also sets my default raise pf depending on the blinds (usually 2.1x to 3x), and flop/turn/river pot % bets.

People have also been wondering about my swings and how my 2011 has gone so far, "pre-rakeback." All money is the same to me no matter how I earn it, so I try not to pay attention to my "pre-rb" profits/losses but here they are. According to Sharkscope, I was -$7,029 in SNGs in 2011. However, I won a total of $7,750 from the Battle of the Planets Leaderboards, which I suppose puts me into the black for the year pre-rb, yay? The -7k figure is essentially break-even for me since it is a loss of only 40 "average buy-ins," which is $173 so far. I frequently win and lose more than 40 buy-ins in one session. This leads to the 2nd most fun, and depressing, part of this post - my graphs! Most fun part coming up down below :) I have run out of adjectives when describing my largest upswings and downswings so here's a link to a series of 12 graphs which are of my last 12 sessions/days of February (the most ridiculous sessions of my life) - http://imgur.com/a/Gb5AM. You can see for yourself what some of the swings were, both up and down. From a quick glance, it looks like my worst downswing was -21k, and best uptick was around +12k. Remember, each graph represents a single day. Here is my overall graph for 2011, with the green line representing all profits including rakeback.


And finally - my plan moving forward. Some of you may find this hard to believe but I actually feel very refreshed and in an excellent mental state. Despite putting in all that volume, I feel pretty much the same as I always do. I didn't get burned out at all from the grind, which is surprising even to me, and could probably continue to play at my February pace for another few months. But that simply isn't my interest now. I specifically decided in February to go for finish SNE by the end of the month because I knew it would be one of the worst/coldest months of the year and I wouldn't miss out too much in life. Now that the weather is getting great again, I'm going to do the fun things that I love like biking, going out with friends, popping bottles in the ice, and generally feeling fly like a G6 (joke). It's also going to start being sweet again driving my M3 around town windows down.

All this means I will be playing fewer days because I'll be taking 2-3 days off every 2 weeks. I will also be reducing my table count back down to the 20-30 range by cutting out the majority of 6mans; my strongest games have always been the 9mans anyways. My game selecting will go into affect again for all 6mans above the $200 stake level, and I won't play the nosebleeds (1k+) unless they are reasonable. Consequently, my VPP rate will drop to around the 2300-2700/hour range (while doing my insane run, I'm pretty sure I was getting 4000-4500 VPP/hour at peak times), and my sessions will return to the 13-18k VPP range.

With this relaxed schedule, I can still easily break the VPP record of 3M set by WizardofAhhs last year, and go for 4-5M VPP. However, I want to take at least a few fun trips back to Asia and Australia this year, or wherever else! so it's way too soon to tell what my eventual goal will be. I will set my sights low for now, and aim for the VPP record only simply because there's no point to push myself right now.

Enough about poker! Here's some ski footage from a short but sweet day trip to the slopes I took with a couple buddies yesterday. It was 55 F (12 C) during the day, so it wasn't exactly ideal skiing conditions lol, but we made the best of it.




We did a total of 25-30 runs (yay for no crowds) on mostly blues and blacks, so I am very happy with my performance considering it's my 3rd time ever skiing. I also lost my car key on the mountain somewhere (facepalm), so we had to get my friend to get my spare key and drive up 2 hours at night. Thank you Andrew for rescuing a tracker from his idiocy. Speaking of idiocy... here's me doing some ski jumping!




Sticks the graceful landing like a champ... or does he?


That's it for now! I'll probably resume playing tomorrow in light session after a 3 day hiatus. I gotta start adding points to my VPP counter up there! Good luck everyone and have a great weekend.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

1,000,000

Well, that's it folks, I finally made it! After pretty much nonstop grinding starting right after getting back from the Bahamas on January 14th, I have finally reached SNE for 2011! This is very reminiscent of the feeling I used to get shortly after finishing a huge exam or project back in college - I would characterize it as "subdued elation." I'm not going crazy in jubilation or anything like that, but I am tremendously happy that I was able to accomplish this. I've definitely been more excited about some other poker achievements in the past, such as after MTT wins or my deep run in the WSOP ME in 2009, mostly because I ran so hot in those. However, I believe this is my most impressive poker achievement so far and I am most proud of this. It's been 59 days in the making (including 9 Saturdays, in reference to the picture below), so I've had much time to let this sink in. Still Feels Awesome!




The crazy part of this entire endeavor, as I've said before, is that I really had no intention of getting 1M points anywhere close to this soon. Sure, after I got back from the PCA and started the normal January grind, I had thoughts about getting SNE by March 17, but I didn't make it my mission. After a short ski trip in mid-February, where I was at 560,415 VPPs, a fellow by the name of Isildur1 started to creep up behind me with his 5k heads-up craziness. I realized at this point that I had a serious competitor, and breaking the old record of March 18 might not be good enough. In addition, I didn't even know at this time that "poker_in_pb," whose VPP count is hidden from the list in the SNE thread on Two Plus Two, was ahead of me all along! He must have been getting 18-20k VPP every day, including those PCA days I missed. I only passed him around Feb 18th when I got over 700k VPPs. With these two people in my rear-view mirror, along with a "f*** it, I'm just gonna get it by the end of this damn short month" mentality, I decided to really gun it right after getting back from skiing. In hindsight, I definitely should have skipped PCA and my skiing trip so that I could maintain a more reasonable pace (16,949 VPP per day), instead of the ~20,000 I had to average.

Now that I've finished with this mega grind as I call it, I will most definitely relish many things I took for granted in the past. I will relish not having to play every single game that goes off. I will relish not having to play as soon as I wake up pretty much and not ending until after normal people's dinnertimes. I will relish not having to constantly maintain 25+ tables, and sometimes accidentally creeping into the 40s. The most tables I was in during my session one time was something like 47, which is simply way too much for me to handle (considering probably close to 1/3 of them were 6mans and I was heads up or on the bubble in several!) I will relish taking days off and not thinking about my VPP pace or "Gee, I need to get in a double session today to get to 30k VPP!" And finally, perhaps the most important one to me, I will relish not having 10-15k upswings and downswings literally EVERY session. It's enough to make most people and sometimes even me go a bit berserk.

That last point was the most traumatic and stressful aspect of what I had to go through, particularly for the last 400k VPPs aka 2 weeks. No matter how bad you think the variance can be, it can always go at least one more level above your head. Never before had I played 300+ SNGs in a day and close to 500. That amount of volume is equivalent to probably 3 or 4 of my "old" sessions, which were already pretty long sessions in themselves. I went through the ups and downs of that many sessions in just one, and as such, I also went through the variance of multiple sessions every day. I did not know it was possible to just flat out lose 80-90% of games for hundreds of games, but I sure found out haha. Prior to this mega grind, I always thought -10k days were immeasurably brutal, but with these new sessions I was putting in, I was losing more than that every day (and going on a few upswings of course). I had to learn to suck it up and just keep focused on playing well. Keeping myself on an even keel is something I pride myself on being able to do well, and I sincerely believe I was able to do that through even the toughest of days.

I made this whole record attempt as a test for myself, just to see if I could do it and handle all of its most miserable and trying hardships. Of course I knew the attention that it would garner, and I am very very appreciative of ALL of you who comment on my posts and post kind words on the SNE thread. I wanted to show all of you, but myself first and foremost, that it IS possible to grind through the nastiest of the nasty. Believe me, some parts of my grind were downright carnal in their brutality. The 30+ tabling high stakes part combined with almost no game selection is a true recipe for disaster. The edges are so small in most games, so when I played hundreds of them in a day, there was a statistically high likelihood of variance either up or down many many buy-ins, but most likely down due to the rake.

Here are some interesting stats from my SNE run according to my spreadsheet:

SNGs played: 14,183, Avg ROI: 0%
# of days played: 50 out of 59 (84.75%)
# of days >25,000 VPP: 13
# of days >10,000 VPP: 48

VPPs in Jan (including 50k WSOP bonus): 398,682
VPPs in Feb: 602,086
VPP Milestones achieved in February: 6
Lowest VPP session: 7,326 on Jan 1st (lol lazy)
Highest VPP session: 35,167 on Feb 18th
VPPs in last 15 days: 425,954 (28,397/day)
Top 3 profit days: +12,732, +9,880, +8,444
Top 3 loss days: -17,511, -12,860, -9,414
Left-mouse clicks in 2011:  1,172,167

I will make some follow-up posts in the days to come. Just wanted to put this main one out there for now. I'll be happy to answer any questions you have, just post them in the comments and I'll get to them in future posts. As for now, I'm going to take at least tomorrow off, get some errands done and just RELAX! It's been a fun ride! But don't tune out yet, I'll be grinding a lot all year and will be blogging as I go. Again I appreciate everyone who has been supportive in the SNE thread, in this blog, and even at my tables; you guys are all the best!




(I was sweating that green bar hardcore lemme tell ya)

azntracker out.