Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

First of all, I would like to report, rather proudly, that nobody collected on the bounty.  It's officially off now, so if you see me sitting in a big game don't walk up to me and ask for a Benjamin because you're not gonna get it.  I'm not exactly planning to play biggish anytime soon, but I'm comfortable allowing myself the option again.  So there's that.

I sat down this morning during the rose parade (Danielle watches the pre-game, the pre-pre-game, and the entire broadcast...admittedly this year I was mildly interested since I spent Friday applying hand swirled circles of palm fir to roughly 3 square feet of deer butt on the nurses float, which got a fair bit of air time, but IMR, it's tough to pay attention to the whole 4 hours) and did my yearly stats work.  It's funny how that goes, but I'm always in a hurry to get it done when things have gone well and don't really want to look at it when they haven't.  Along these lines, and I'm kind of  making a hard decision here, for the first time I'm not really practicing full disclosure on this blog.  I realize that my honesty and openness are a big part of the reason some people read, but it's gotten to the point that I just don't really want to talk about everything that's going on.  That said, the results for the year were pretty darn good.  I made far more money than I'd hoped to make when all the columns were tallied up, with quite a bit of it coming from what I'd call "side ventures".  Some of them aren't really that (9 weeks of paychecks from the Bike), while some of them decidedly are (wsop backing).  I currently have a few other irons in various fires, some of which will probably prove rather profitable, and I'm finding these little side endeavors are helping keep me sane.  They're fun, even if they don't always pan out.

On to the yearly stats that I am willing to share...I logged a total of 1984 hours of limit hold 'em (and 16 of other games, putting the yearly total at almost exactly 2000), with my lowest outputs coming in November and December (Hawaii, Christmas).  I had three losing months (and one break even month), which I'm guessing is probably about right, or perhaps even low given how wide a range of stakes I was playing throughout the middle part of the year (obviously mixing games makes it way easier to have a losing month, as your results in just a few hours of a very large game could ensure a monthly loser).  I collected almost exactly 1100 bets playing LHE, for a win rate of just over half a bet per hour.  After my initial destructication of the big games at commerce, I finished out on a mid sized downer in them, dropping almost $30k straight (150 bets) in the 1/2 alone.  Had I managed to avoid that (and some more loses playing even bigger), my year would have been promoted from merely excellent to supremely fantastic.  But it is what it is, and I absolutely can't complain.

I was thinking the other day about things in general, and I've probably said this before but it bears repeating.  At the beginning of my poker career I basically went off half (or even quarter) cocked, foolishly thinking I could replace a software developer income playing 20/40.  It's maybe not as bad as all that, as the Bay Area games in 2007-2009 were just simply stunning and I won almost $50/hour in them through the end of 2009, but I wasn't even close to ready to do what I was attempting and of course it eventually did catch up with me.  I ran bad, I lost motivation, I didn't log enough hours, I played bad, and I didn't win any money for a very long time.  At that point I was foolishly chasing a dream, forgoing present and future financial success in a stubborn pursuit of some intangible, and as it turns out very ill-defined, goal.  Now things have changed dramatically.  My software pedigree has continued to degrade over the 4.5 years I've been out of the game, to the point that if I wanted to get back in now I'd likely have to start at a start up making less than half what other engineers with my background command.  Meanwhile I've gotten extremely effective at making this poker thing actually work.  Obviously I've gotten a lot better at the game itself, but that's only a small part of my suite of improvements.  I tilt less.  I look at my options more, and have the bankroll to play big and the ego management to play small.  I can play longer sessions now, if I have to.  I have these side projects.

As an aside...I have started to believe that once you reach a certain level of skill in this game, it doesn't make sense to try to get much better.  There are lots of players who are much better than me at LHE, but I don't think they earn proportionally that much more money than I do.  I'm not saying I've stopped studying the game entirely, but I have made a push to spend more of my "free time" on these other endeavors, trying to find ways to make money through other means.  These goes back to something Pete used to say, that it makes sense in life to have multiple streams of income.  I think it's more profitable for me to look at developing other streams of income than trying to eek another 10% out of my win rate.  Maybe that's short sighted, and maybe I really should try to become some sort of GTO master so I can sit in the 300/600 games with Juice and capture my share of the whale's $2000/hour losses, but I don't think so.  Those games are drying up, always have been and (mostly) always will be.  It's probably better for me to spend some time and effort on projects that can (or could) make me some money than keeping a dedicated 6 figure bankroll around to play 3/6 four times a month.

Back to what I was trying to say....The point is that now instead of sacrificing financial gain and stability in the name of chasing this "dream" or whatever, I'm actually sort of boxed into the dream itself now and would take quite a hit financially if I altered course.  Obviously I'm pulling these numbers out of thin air, but I'm guessing that if I decided right now that I wanted to go back to software instead of playing poker, I'd miss out on six figures of income in the next 24 months.  In a way, I've become more like a lot of poker friends, ones who don't really have very good fall back plans.  I used to say I was happy to be me, to have my degrees to fall back on, and that the whole poker thing was in fact predicated on the safety net they provided.  But at the time I always realized that that very safety net was in a way holding me back.  I didn't have that killer instinct, I didn't have to succeed, I wasn't committed, like you read about.  I was just coasting along, and for a while the results were pretty pathetic.  Looking back I'm not really sure how or why I kept going though that time, but I did and now I'm here and the train is on the tracks just humming along and I sorta feel like I'm entitled to keep going, to keep winning, to keep playing a freaking game and pretending it's a job.  Because despite the fact that I feel like what I do isn't actually very hard, I've gotten very, very good at it.  I'd guess that most people feel that way once they've "mastered" a skill that would bewilder the vast majority of the population.

So I guess what I'm saying is pretty simple;  2012 went really well.  I learned a lot, I made a lot of money, and despite how much I've bitched on here I can't really complain about much of anything.  And I see no real reason to change course, other than the changes I discussed a few months ago (and practiced to good effect) like reducing my total hours slightly, taking mid-week days off, and occasionally spending the night up north.  I'm going to keep playing poker, and at least for the time being feel more confident that's what I want to do than I have in quite some time.


armor said...

Very nice post, Jesse. Best of luck in 2013! You def can continue doing this as long as you don't have kids to (financially) worry about. I have to keep my s/w job for now, even though I rather hate it and would prefer to "play a freakin' game pretending it's a job" :)

avoidthe9to5 said...

epic, should be a great year