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 @ 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.