The context of this blog might not make so much sense placed next to the article immediately below but a lot of this stuff was inspired by my friend Olly who contributed some really insightful and thought provoking comments on my last post. Bear with me as this post might get a little TL;DR so if you wanna just skip to my "monthly graph" section scroll right down to the bottom and I'll probably talk about poker a little bit and post some pretty pictures.
In the last month or so I can probably say that my overall quality of life and happiness has increased more than it ever has. This is strange as I can't remember one significant week, day or even event that I would say was amazing. It's just all the small stuff is... better.
I already alluded to the fact that having a routine would be a huge positive of my new job. I think that this is probably the route of a whole variety of changes that have happened very suddenly in my life that are making me feel a lot more positive and happy on a day to day basis.
The job it's self is great. I really get along with a lot of people at work and the office is generally a very happy and up-beat place to be. I have a lot in common with a couple of people who started the job at the same time as me so I will never be short of friends while I stay here. As with any job, there is the work; And I really like it. My average day consists of sitting with a group of people sharing jokes, pictures, stories etc and answering technical questions from our mostly really cool and friendly customers. I do remember a time when I had a similarly positive outlook about the job I had gotten at Aspers though so we will see how things progress as time passes.
Outside of work my days are loads more productive too. This week I have found the time to work 8.5 hours per day, play poker for 2-3 a night, watch a TV series, go to the pub, go clothes shopping and go karting. Today on my only day off this weekend I found the time to tidy the house, do my laundry, write a blog, do some coding, file my mail and sweat a friend for an hour. I can't think of a Sunday or a week for a long time when I have accomplished so much stuff as this. Nothing has changed other than my self-motivation as a result of having been at work all week.
So now I have realised that working a normal job has loads of massive knock-on positive effects on my life that I wasn't expecting I should move on to what should be the negative: Finance.
I don't get paid a great deal from work, and I certainly don't make as much as I was making grinding 50nl on Sky Poker. Hell, I probably don't make as much as you do! Still I am doing better financially this month than I have done for quite some time. As I predicted poker is providing a very good second income but now it is stress-free and there aren't any life-changing circumstances to consider if I lose my online bankroll.
I made my mind up while speaking to Olly that I would grind online and focus on playing less tables, making better decisions and improving my game and bankroll to the point where I can make more money live. So as it stands I am grinding €20nl 2-6max on Microgaming with shots at €50nl and playing 2-6 tables. My win rate isn't massive but that it indicative that I am not as good as I thought I was but I am consistently winning over a large sample. I am so much more motivated and hard working now that I am inadvertently still on track for my volume target that I had when I was professional despite the fact that I am playing part time.
Something else that has really helped my game lately was meeting someone from work who was interested in poker but no offence to him was terrible at it too. For the last 2 weeks or so I have been sweating him and basically building him a basic winning strategy from the ground up which has really made me go back and justify everything that I have in the basics of my game, helping me break a few bad habits along the way.
So yeah overall at the moment life is good. I always do the best I can to reflect on stuff and so far this month I can see that all of the lessons learned since leaving Higher Education by making mistakes and trying new things have started to come together and work out for me. All is well apart from my Student Loan debt :p
Thanks once again for reading
In the past two month since I posted my last blog a lot of stuff has changed. The problem is though that most of it is personal/financial and not too many people really want to read about that. In an effort to keep this blog current though I will dedicate the next half-hour or so to typing what I can remember, and maybe summon something interesting to talk about.
So in my last blog I spoke of my new job at the Hilton Hotel. This was cool in that I met a bunch of really cool people and actually enjoyed the work. The problem was that they didn't have enough shifts available for me to even support myself and I didn't get the full-time position which I applied for. Since then however I now have a full-time job elsewhere which I started on 21st May (which coincidentally was my 22nd birthday).
I could've blogged about this when I was offered the position (Late April actually) but I'm glad I didn't as there was quite a high chance (5/19) that I wouldn't have made it through the training period over the past three weeks. Out of the 19 people who started in my training class there have already been five casualties, four of whom were due to failing their knowledge tests. Happily though I was one of the lucky ones and start next week in my role as Technical Support Advisor for a well known computer manufacturer. In training I was advised not to mention who it was that I worked for as I would've received a barrage of technical questions from friends, family or complete strangers and based on the few people who I have told so far, this was completely correct! (have you guessed who yet?)
I always told myself upon leaving school that I would hate working 9-5 in an office sat behind a desk and this was my justification for failing an ICT qualification despite being IMO the most capable member of the class and pursuing further and higher education in Music Production (Another rant for another day. In fact I already did.). The reality of it though is that it isn't half bad!
Considering that for 6 months of last year I effectively lived a life consisting of all of the negatives of being an office worker without including many of the positives - the once considered horrible idea of being 9-5 in an office full time seemed like a much better proposition. There's the:
- Sociable hours
- Socialisation, meeting people + banter
- Guaranteed Money
(contrary to what I thought it seems like my job will be different with almost every call)
which all put my current position ahead of being a poker pro and the only thing I have had to sacrifice is probably about £3/hr. Not forgetting that I now have a replenishable bankroll which I can now use to play poker on evenings and weekends when I have spare time to make a significant second income without having to worry too much about my risk of ruin.
With regards to poker I'm still not sure which direction to travel. There are a few things which I have been trying to weigh up but without trying everything I will have a hard time deciding.
online cash games in which I am a proven winner but most of my income from that is rake back. Without time to play tens of thousands of hands per month I cannot reach the level of rake to be able to make more £/hr than I do at work (which isn't the objective). For online cash games to be my best option I would have to have enough money online (probably 10-15 buy-ins as I now have this replenishable bankroll) to be sat playing 100 or 200nl depending on currency. I am smart enough to know however that I cannot beat those limits.
online tournaments are fun, but I have no real evidence that I am a winner in these as the majority of my stats are from many years ago when I was a terrible fish. Any hourly rate, ROI etc that I give myself from tournaments would purely be figures picked out of the air. There is the well known fact though and that is that tournaments are fun! The small number of online tournaments that I have played over the last two years has confirmed this and there is nothing better than the rush you get from being on the final table of a game which awards five figures to the winner. The main drawback of tournament play and the reason I never really gave any attention to them is the massive down swings and spells of hundreds of games where you are losing. Again this replenishable bankroll that I now have means that the drawbacks basically don't matter and tournaments are once again viable.
live cash games are looking like my best option at the moment and for a few reasons. I can play higher due to this bankroll that I keep bleating on about and probably play in games on weekends where my expectation is to make ~£10/hr. I have a proven winning sample in cash games and this includes a small sample of live games too. The games are easier and with a higher winrate comes lower variance. This means that I would be comfortable playing in games with as little as 10 buy-ins (or 1,000bb) available.
There is nothing stopping me playing some of all three of the above games in the future but as it stands (or will stand come pay day) I only have the money to choose one. I haven't quite made my mind up but I am currently rating them something like live cash > online tournaments > online cash. What do you guys think? What would you do in my situation?
Hopefully I will have made my mind up soon and by next month I should be back to posting regular poker related posts to take my mind off of technical support.
Thanks for reading
Alot of people have been telling me how much they enjoy reading my blog and reminding me that I should post again, so here I am. The reason I haven't posted is that I had moved this blog in the direction of a poker diary and since stopping playing full time since my last post, I had little or not content that I deemed interesting, or relevant.
In terms of Gambling over the last two months I played a little bit of live poker and dabbled with Matched Betting (more on this soon) making a fairly decent amount of money in the process. The thing about money though is that it doesn't last long . I haven't played any volume or had a "steady income" since a little while before my last blog post and while I estimate that I have profited somewhere close to 4 figures in that time, I have nothing really to show for it as I have not recieved any income such as a wage, and I still don't get my first pay-cheque from work until the end of April.
Did I say work? Yeah I did! Since my last post I have done a bunch of different stuff, the most important of which is getting a job. I am now working as a "C&E Team Member" at the Hilton Hotel Gateshead. I got this job at the beginning of march and so far I am definitely enjoying it. I have met a bunch of really cool people so far and the work isn't half bad either. Infact I enjoy it there so much that I have applied for, and been interviewed for, a full-time position there (currently I am 0-hours casual) so fingers crossed.
One thing which has surprised me in my first month back in "conventional employment" is actually how much working from home and grinding professionally effected my social life and work/life balance. At the time, I thought I had it all. The world was my oyster, I had all the time in the world, etc etc. If you look back at the tone of my previous posts you will see this. What I have realised though is that I had accidentally become a boring, reclusive social nobody. Yeah I still had friends, and I'd still get to see them at least once a week, maybe go out for a meal or for a drink but this really wasn't enough. Picture this. I live alone and I grind 5 days a week. There's a good chance that the only face-to-face contact that I had with anyone during this time was me popping into the local shop for a pint of milk and a loaf of bread. This was not enough! I thought that because I was seeing just as much, or maybe more of my friends outside of "work" that I had a pretty good work life balance. I never thought of all of the people who I would get to talk to, share a laugh with, help out or even just acknowledge or smile all night every night while I worked at Aspers. While I was grinding I would IM people, text people and maybe have a VOIP convo with some friends daily but this is nowhere near a normal level of socialisation and something which I never really realised that I was missing.
At work I get to see hundreds of people in a shift. I love meeting people, getting to know people, joking with people and helping people out. I have already befriended a bunch of people there (who may or may not still be friends after a drunken pizza throwing incident that I can remember from Monday night) and even found a girl there who I have a proper childish crush on :$. This is something which everybody should have, and most people do have, but it was very easy to lose as a pro grinder. Infact my friend Ben has just gotten a part-time job in addition to playing poker for similar reasons. A routine, some motivation, and a little social interaction were the reasons he cited if I remember correctly. Ben isn't the only person who has spoke about this. A guy I was speaking to in a £100nl live cash game one day who claims to play $200 HUSNG for his living told me this: "Yeh I can definitely make more money online but I come out here and play live for the company" which was totally fair enough, and probably a good idea.
Yeah so.. Life is good, my finances aren't. I don't worry about this though as with a little bit of hard work it shouldn't take too long to get back to where I was ~4 months ago. I intend to work as many hours as I can and when I get a little more financially stable to play poker part-time to subsidise my earnings. If i eventually get a decent sized BR back I will probably look into doing some more matched betting too as that seemed like a mini-goldmine which won't be around forever.
I can't really think of too much else to say right now (surprising after 2 whole months) so I'll wrap up for now. I said that I'd talk more about matched betting later but I don't think this is the place to do it. I actually started work on a little guide ( How I made £500 risk free in 1 month ) and a website about the subject so stay tuned if you are interested for that. Even if you aren't, the tools I am creating will be handy for my future exploits so I should really pull my finger out and get to it.
Thanks for reading, and staying patient while I was lazy and didn't update
So as per usual, I get my blog back on track, get 20 or so posts with a decent readership and then take a whole month to write my next post. I can't think of any reason for this other than bad results so basically the new measure of my success for the masses is how recently I posted my latest blog update. Well the last few weeks have been very unusual and my outlook, aims, objectives and plans for the next 6-10 months have very quickly changed from road to robusto to avoiding becoming busto. Let me explain.
So now that everybody knows that you can track results on sky I can discuss what happened and why I eventually moved my money off in mid january and moved to Pokerstars. Since leaving my staking deal in October, my total profits are ~£5,400 including bonuses. Since around mid-december though I have been breaking even in the games over a sample of ~ 100,000 hands. Maybe I was just a breakeven play all along.. I don't know for sure but I won't be sticking around to find out.
So how did MTTs go on Pokerstars?
I can sum this up in one sentence without too much bitching. I lost ~200 $8 ABIs. If you wanna see how it went exactly, check out sharkscope. Not good would be my assesment.
What went wrong then?
I have came to the realisation that when I was on sky, against the opposition at 50nl I shouldn't have been winning, I should have been destroying. We have 99% of 6max regs playing 13/11/3, and two regs who I have played the most hands with playing 23/15/5 and 21/12/2 respectively there is no reason I shouldn't have been better than 5bb/100 in the games. And I was breaking even! (well, .75bb/100 :p) So basically the times I played on Sky, I wasn't putting in the work. I wasn't winning what I should have been and I don't think I was totally ready for the pro grind. Somehow in that time I have spent my £5.4k (Well £4.4k now after stars deposit) and have very little of it left.
I took around a fortnight off from poker completely while I guarded the withered remains of my bankroll. I used my spare time to work on SkyHUD, and any time not spent on that was used to study poker. After somewhere between 500 and 1,000 tournaments on stars I concluded that cashgames were where I would be making my future profits. Cash games are where I have put the most work into my game and they are lower variance. Low variance steady income is what I need now that I am back where I started, close to being broke.
So I have gotten together some eBooks, some training videos and a tonne of old hands in HEM to review. I reckon that in the time off from poker I spent about 2 hours per day every day doing one or two of these things. It is very early to say but I think I have improved my game over the two weeks that I took off more than I did over the whole 3 months that I was playing professionally. I am sure I speak for the majority of pros here when I say that I didn't spend enough time working on my game. The problem was that I saw my bank account growing larger at the end of each week and didn't see any need to change. I was winning, and that was enough.
What happens next?
I have some money on Pokerstars and I am currently playing $25 and $50nl. I say both because I am using a very aggressive bankroll management strat where I am starting to mix in bigger games when I have 10bi for that limit. I currently have more than 10 so I am usually mixing in a table or two of 50nl with my 25nl games. Doing this though I have to be extremely strict about moving down as sadly there will be no more deposits to follow...
As there are no more deposits left I am now looking for work harder than I ever had. I am not yet at the point of desperation where I will be looking to flip burgers for minwage but I am looking for alot less than the £18k that I wanted to go back to work for this time 90 days ago. Who knows, this poker thing might just work out in the end and I may stay pro but at the moment the best short term result for me would be to get a short-term or casual job with decent pay and get back some money so that I can decide where to go from there.
So.. Could I succeed as a professional poker player?
At the time of writing that article (14/08/2011) the answer is No. I somehow managed to spend exactly 6 months working from home, with all of the benefits of being a pro but I don't think I was quite prepared or ready for what was ahead. If memory serves I wrote the article in a way that suggested that this was an experiment rather than a committed, planned, educated choice and this is exactly what it has been. I tried it, it worked out for 6 months but was I ready to make this work for the rest of my life?
If I could go back to 14/08/2011 today and do it all again with the knowledge and ability that I have today I would say 100% yes. I would probably still be in my staking deal. I would probably be playing 200nl with a 70/30 chop and maybe writing this from a penthouse in mexico or something but I am happy for the knowledge which I gained for free (well for 120 hours per month) and think that I have had a very good (and very different to most people's) quality of life in this period. I am glad that I did this and don't think that I am any worse off financially than if I had stayed in my job. Infact I think I am still better off AINEC.
Moving forward I will be yet again trying to succeed as a professional poker player but this time I have around 50% of the starting capital that I had in August and will be starting lower. Maybe this time over the next few months will be stressful as I try to get my finances back on track but again this is all part of a bigger picture and the education I am giving myself will definitely help me in times of future hardship. Let's not forget, I am only 21 and I have a tonne of choices ahead. If I went completely cash-broke I'm sure I could sell my car and my stuff and move back home with my mother and go flip burgers.. There is no such thing as a dead-end.
On to the next chapter
Thanks for reading
Ever since Sky Poker's downloadable client was released people have been discussing the possibility of using a HUD on the site. Since the release of HEM2 I have been developing some software which enables this.
Skyhud is an application which allows the downloading of Sky Poker hand history files in a text format. It currently only supports Cash Games.
These files are readable by poker tracking apps and enable the user many associated features such as analysis, results tracking and a Heads up Display (HUD).
Get it at http://apps.groomi.net/skyhud
Enjoy! Any questions, support etc I will do via here or Skype (sjgroomi)