True Fact 1: I used to win a lot of freaking money.
The numbers from 2008 and 2009 are just astonishing. In 2008, I did things like beat the Bay 20 game for $27K over 560 hours, and the GC 20 game for $19K in 280 hours. My combined 20/40 win rate for the year, across all casinos, was $56.62/hour! No wonder I thought this shit was easy and that nothing could ever go wrong; it was, and nothing ever did! In 2009 I slowed down considerably, winning only about $32/hour over close to 1000 hours of 20/40. I also crushed 15/30 that year, beat the Oaks 30 for half a bet per hour, and posted a winning 40/80 year thanks to the 9 racks I took out of the Oceans 11 game in two short evenings of work. My memory is that basically I ran like God before the Southwest Trip, and like ass afterwards. I didn't really dive into it that deeply, but I'm sure it's pretty much true.
True Fact 2: I didn't play enough in 2010
In 2009, my first full year as a professional, I logged 1772 ass in seat hours. In 2010, that number fell to, and I'm not making this up, 1299. That's right, I was a "full time" live poker pro in 2010 and I played less than 1300 hours. In fairness I did play an awful lot of online poker (I just tried to fire up HEM to see exactly how many, but was met with a scary exception and a basic promise not to work....aiyah), but still, 1300 is simply unacceptable.
True Fact 3: Things went very, very poorly for 18 months straight.
The second half of 2009 was bad, but 2010 was a complete catastrophe. Every single time I peeked my head above 20/40 I was smoted with great speed and vigor by some vengeful poker god. Perhaps he was telling me "you idiot, go do something useful with your life", but more likely it was just a coincidence. Hustler 25, lose. Bellagio 30, lose, Oaks 30, lose. Bay 40, small win. Commerce 40, lose. GC 40, lose. HG 40, lose big. All those games, however, comprised less than 70 hours of play FOR THE ENTIRE YEAR. That's right, I played less than 2 full time weeks above 20 for the entire year, and lost something like $15K. How ugly. And what about 20/40? Well I played 1145 hours (virtually all the rest of my table time) and won a little under $20/hour. Not a great result, but when you take out the 425 hours I logged at Hawaiian Gardens winning $2 (that's right...two) dollars per hour, all of a sudden the picture looks completely reasonable.
True fact 4: Nobody wins at Hawaiian Gardens
To make a long story very, very short, I have talked about half a dozen winning professionals and the results are almost unanimous; they win more in the Commerce 20 than they do in the Hawaiian Gardens 20, and it's not particularly close. It's only a few thousand hours in each game, but the numbers are striking. My personal results at HG have also been shit-tastic, with me winning $1600 (40 bets) in close to 600 hours. I mean really people....really. What a fucking disaster.
True fact 5: I have turned a corner
2011 is going just fine. I've already logged 1277 hours of just limit texas hold 'em and have won about 700 bets. I'm winning at 40, I'm winning at 20, I'm winning at basically every limit except 15 (which is a small sample size and high rake and yada yada yada). 3 months ago it was going way better than fine, but I've been running pretty cold of late and having trouble snapping out of it; every time I come close I seem to have a 5+ rack losing day in the 40, which is difficult to do with any regularity and still post strong results.
True fact 6: The Commerce 40 has destroyed me
I don't have a lot of hours (less than 100 total) but I've lost something like $15K in the game. All told I'm barely a winner in the building thanks to that game, despite logging nearly 600 hours in the 20 and posting a very presentable win rate. It has just taken me an unbelievably long time to get comfortable playing above 20, mainly because of the fact that I simply lost every time I gave it a try for close to 2 years.
So here are my goals for the rest of the year, in no particular order. I'm hoping to log 1800 hours of limit hold em; it's going to be tough, as I have almost 500 to go in 16 weeks that include the holidays, and have the pesky little problem of currently having a prop job (were it not for that, grinding out 40 hour weeks the rest of the year would be simply no problem) that involves getting picked up and playing razzdugi. I'm not going to play at HG unless I get scouting that the 30 (not the 20) looks very good, and even then I'm not going to make a habit of it. I'm generally going to play pretty small at Commerce, only sitting in the 40 when I find myself in stupendous games, and remembering that the 20 game really is mother's milk to me. With my paychecks coming in I don't need to be a hero during my off shift hours; I really only need to generate a few thousand dollars of EV a month when I'm off the clock to post the kinds of months (and years) that I want. With these guidelines in place, I think it's possible for me to have a 6 figure pretax year, especially if you don't count the money the department of justice stole from me. Now that I've gone out and called my shot like this I'm sure I'll just spray off like $25K the rest of the year and end up scratching my head wondering what the fuck happened, but for the moment it makes me feel good to at least claim that that number is still in reach.