Thursday, October 14, 2010
Saturday, September 18, 2010
I know I haven't made a blog entry in a while, and I have a three hour flight to kill with no internet, so I'm going to type this up in text edit and post it later tonight. I apologize in advance because this is incredibly, incredibly long. I'm on my way to Chicago right now which means that I've lived in Vegas for three full months now. It's really flown by and I'm enjoying my job a lot, not to mention that living five minutes from the strip and having people come visit/live with me has been an absolute blast. I couldn't be happier right now with my decision to come out here for the summer.
Now that I've lived on my own and worked a legitimate job for a little while now I think I've sorted out a lot of things that I want to do in the future, or at least, how I want my life to be structured. Ever since I moved out here I've been waking up every weekday at 5:00 in the morning and going to work until 1:30, frequently going to the gym afterwards and getting home by 4:00. This, much like going to high school, sucks.
Some of you might be laughing right now because you know that my job isn't nearly as strict as your run of the mill office job, and I've definitely been able to stretch my hours at my own discretion. Frequently I can leave in the middle of the work day and take a nap, take lunch for two hours, or just simply call it a day. The reason being is that the majority of the action in the market is during the first two hours and the last hour--from 8:00-12:00 is mostly dead barring some unusual news. This certainly turns me off from the idea of working a 9-5 (or 8-4 in Chicago) trading job. I don't want to say I'm completely dismissing this, because of course I may not have a choice, but for the time being I see a lot of opportunities to set up a way to work from home. And not only that, but because of the way the market activity dies down during mid day, I'm confident that I can work as a trader and a professional poker player, and even schedule an active exercise routine during the day.
Let's lay out the blueprint for this. With my current trading firm (which at the moment I intend to stay with but I'm not sold on it) I can set up a remote account on my desktop at home, and have all the software and news feeds that I need to trade during the hours of 9:00a EST and 11:00a EST. I'm using eastern time for simplicity because I haven't decided by any means where I intend to live down the road. Around this time of morning there's not a lot of trading activity, so this is the time of day where I can put in a solid two hours of exercise. Under my current lifestyle this is going to be the most difficult part, but I'm also confident that I can turn this around once I'm satisfied with the other parts of my life. Presumably I can be done with my workout and eat some lunch by 2:30p, which is around the time I should start preparing for the market close. I'll continue trading until 4:00p and then log whatever stats for the day I need to.
Having spent four hours on the computer by this point in the day, I imagine that I'm not going to be psyched about diving into a long poker session. Ideally I can come up with something else to do around this time so that I don't resort to watching sports and taking naps. At the current moment my hope is that I'll play music for an hour or two, eat dinner, and then play a poker session during the higher traffic times of roughly 7:00-11:00p. During my dinner I'm going to try and do any bullshit internet browsing and chatting that I normally do during my poker sessions, because focus is a huge issue for me and I'm going to try and overhaul my attitude entirely with this respect. A very successful poker professional once said that you have to treat poker like a business...and I fully intend to.
Because of how much I enjoy doing all of the things I've scheduled above, I have no expectation of burning out from the tight hours. As long as I eat healthy, do that daily workout and sleep well on a daily basis, the rest should work itself out. I also have weekends to recharge and relax, and interact with society for once after that incredibly isolated week. The question now is, how do I get to this point, and when can I start? I think that for the two months I'll still be in Vegas I can test out this schedule on a smaller scale. I haven't gotten any interest for the most part with getting a roommate, so chances are I'm going to be living alone for the remainder of my stay and that means I'm going to be dishing out some extra rent money. That should be a good amount of motivation for me to earn good money (I've also heard rumors floating around that I'm buying a Lexus, but don't get carried away, they're just rumors). However, I think the biggest factor in succeeding at this is to make serious progress in my poker results, and earn the money that I want to get the proper living environment for this.
When I'm being completely honest with myself, I think I've done the absolute minimum while I've lived in Vegas, and that's extremely disappointing. I have made money in poker, yes, and I've definitely improved as a player. I've also been a tad unlucky, having lost close to $2,500 in buying tournament action by my last count, but the bottom line is that I could've done better. I think that I was doing a very good job in July putting in hours at the tables, but I'll admit I was somewhat distracted because I was living with friends and trying to enjoy myself. August was good because I ran well in live games, but that's not an excuse for putting in less time. I have a terrible habit of taking breaks and being complacent when I've made a lot of money recently, and it can really hurt me later when I'm not making as much. I need to fight against complacence in my poker playing and take it seriously, like a job from which I'll be fired if I don't sit down every day.
I will say I'm proud though, that I've been able to pay for my own living expenses through a variety of self employed sources of income and that is really, really exciting. I've also been able to eat at nice restaurants and stay on the strip for around seven total nights this summer without breaking the bank. I do think that I should be playing higher stakes by now, but I've experienced a lot of unique things in the last three months and I'm happy that I can still look forward to living this way for a long time.
I have some fairly big goals for the next few years but I think they're all well within reach and I'm going to write them down so that I can look back at this post once I've achieved them. I'm going to write them as my quarterly goals for the next year, and then my annual goals for the next year after that. I'll also start with October because I'll be in Chicago until September 25th, which is close enough.
Quarter One: October 2010 - December 2010
- $50,000 from online poker
- $15,000 from trading, and deposit this to restructure my deal
- $10,000 from live poker
Summary: Yes, these are all monetary goals, but like I said in my post above I'm going to need to earn the money I need to progress towards what I want in the future, and I think by far the best use of my time for the next three months is focusing exclusively on earning money. I'm going to spend very little time going out, and I'm going to have to miss that two week trip to South America that I hadn't really told anyone I was considering (sorry Rob!). I'm setting my goals as realistically as I think I can without selling myself short. These are going to be extremely difficult to meet, especially because I'll still be working at the trading office for the first two months, but I'm definitely looking forward to the challenge. It's also going to be important for my success that I restructure my trading deal, because at the moment I have deposited no money, and as a result can only earn half of my P&L. By making this deposit I should be able to secure 100% of my P&L and allow for bigger earnings in the future.
Quarter Two: January 2011 - March 2011
- Take my remaining four classes at UChicago and graduate.
- $60,000 from online poker
- $20,000 from trading
- $5,000 from live poker
- Take the first steps toward upgrading my setup
- High Quality Desk Chair
- Improve the lighting around my desk
- Isolate my poker sessions within the 4br apartment
Summary: This is going to be significantly harder than the previous quarter. Taking four classes at UChicago is extremely difficult to begin with, and I'm not expecting the classes I'm taking to be easy either. I have, in my past quarters at UChicago, been able to balance poker and class fairly well. Usually my workout schedule suffers, especially during the winter. I'm going to do my best to fight that problem, and still meet these goals. Yes, my dollar goals are higher than the previous quarter despite having less time. This is because I'll have likely moved up in stakes, and will be looking to play in better spots for bigger money. If everything goes right, this should translate to a bigger quarter despite putting in less time. The same applies to trading. I'll have more money in the account and should be receiving a better cut, so I expect to earn more. I might even be selling myself short here, but I don't fully trust myself to wake up for every market open when I have so much else on my plate. I'm going to push for it though. The improves to my setup might sound silly, but this is a big step towards professionalism in poker. Being comfortable during my sessions is extremely important, not only for focus but also for the ability to play long hours without feeling drained.
Quarter Three: April 2011 - June 2011
- Finish out my lease in Chicago, and enjoy the last taste of college
- Make big improvements in my physical health
- $80,000 from online poker
- $40,000 from trading
- $20,000 from live poker
- Plan out my summer in detail
- Begin my trip to Vegas (Early June)
Summary: This quarter is going to be the most enjoyable and the most relaxed of the four. I have big hopes because both I and my roommate David are planning to have graduated, yet still continue living at the apartment in Chicago. I'm going to have nothing but free time, entirely schedule my own day, and make seriously detailed plans towards my future. With a free schedule and the spring weather, I intend to make the biggest improvements in my health during this quarter. In addition to going to the gym I'll be able to play more sports, get outside more often in general, and this should be far enough in the future that any nagging knee problems I'm having now have completely passed. Again, with my increased bankroll I expect an increase in income, but I'm not going to predict a huge one because I do want to spend a lot of time with my friends. David and I also have travel plans for the summer that I want to work out in detail during this quarter. To clarify the monetary goals, I intend to trade and play a lot of online poker during April and May, while playing almost exclusively live poker in June. This is because it's going to be the first WSOP that I can participate in, so I want to put a lot of time into live poker, both cash games and series tournaments. I also want to live with a lot of good poker players during this month, which is the most exciting part of the trip for me. This means I am actually putting up pretty big goals for my earnings in April and May, but I'm confident that by this point I'll be able to. I didn't make a bullet point for it, but since I'll have free time I hope that by now, and with a good amount of online poker success, that I'll be able to launch a larger coaching platform, with a higher hourly rate.
Quarter Four: July 2011 - September 2011
- Finish trip in Vegas (Early-Mid July)
- Start trip overseas, travel as many places as I can
- $40,000 from online poker
- $20,000 from trading
- $10,000 from live poker
Summary: This is the summer of travel. Yes, I still have fairly large goals for my earnings but this will mostly be online from wherever I happen to be, and I don't think it will require a huge amount of hours. My primary goal during this quarter is to finally get the hell out of the United States, and see the world. I've done next to nothing in terms of traveling throughout my life, and the only time I've ever flown over a body of water was on a week long trip to Hawaii eleven years ago. David and I have plans to see Europe, and I expect to spend a lot of this summer in different parts of Europe. I want to see London because there's a fairly large trading floor in London and it's worth exploring the European markets for job opportunities. It's also a great place to live as a poker player, and something I want to see with my own eyes and explore places like this where I might live down the road. I'd like to travel mostly to places where I have people to visit (mostly poker players since they're the most international friends I have), so places on my short list are Manchester, Greece, France, Croatia, Australia/New Zealand, and parts of Asia (I've thought of Thailand and Macau so far). I don't intend to stay in any one place for a long time, and I expect this trip to be expensive, so I want to plan it all out very carefully during the spring so that I get the most out of it that I possibly can.
Year Two: October 2011 - October 2012
- Choose a city that I like and live there for a year
- Set up the best environment I can afford to trade and play poker
- $350,000 from poker
- $150,000 from trading
- Officially file as a professional poker player
Summary: This looks huge to me. I really can't believe that in a year I want to achieve this but the more I think about it the more I believe I'm perfectly capable of it. I'm sure that sometime during this year I'll take short vacations so I won't be just camped out in Boston or San Francisco playing poker every day for a year, so it's pretty amazing to think that I want to make $500,000 in a year, just one year departed from pulling $10,000 months, if I'm actually putting in time. I'm going to have to take some steps to make sure I'm getting the best deal I can to have this kind of success in trading, with respect to commissions and my cut of P&L. Assuming I take care of that, I'm essentially claiming that I can earn in the ballpark of 60-75% of what my coworkers make having had years of experience. While that seems unrealistic at first glance, I know what I'm capable of and I know that I can improve quickly with hard work. If everything goes the way I expect it to, this is exactly where I'm going to be. Now I'm not certain where I want to live. Right now I'm partial to San Francisco, or perhaps the nearby places in California like San Diego or Irvine. The weather there is spectacular, the communities are awesome, I like the people there from the times I've been, and it's within reasonable distance of Vegas when I want to drive there for the live games (also within a reasonable distance of Commerce and other California games). I don't want to live in Vegas for a billion reasons that would take a while to describe, but that's really the only progress I've made towards choosing a place to live down the road. I'll do more research on this during the spring and summer.
My flights winding down and my battery is dying so I'm going to try and wrap up this post. I think this is an accurate idea of what I hope to achieve over the next two years. The travel plans and living conditions are close to exact on the timeline as far as I know, and the monetary goals will be the biggest uncertainty. I'm going to put an incredible amount of work now that I've written this out, and I've never felt better about my poker game so this might not be as big of a long shot as I'm making it out to be. The hardest thing for me will be to keep on schedule and to keep my diet and exercise in check, so hopefully by year two I can afford to have a chef and a personal trainer or something to keep me in check with respect to those things. I'm really hoping that I'll find someone to work through this with me because I think meeting big goals is easier when you have someone else around you doing the same. However I don't have anything in mind for the time being so we will see how that pans out as time goes on. I hope you guys enjoyed reading this and maybe it'll motivate you guys to think about this stuff too, because the future is gaining on us fast and we've got lives to live. Take care guys, and best of luck.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Translation: I spend too much time on poker forums and make long posts like this one to sound important to new members.
As inspired by this post in the SNG regs thread, and a special thanks to my roommate Henry and to Rob for always giving me shit about how few hands I play.
The above poster was complaining about a string of consecutive bad sessions, even when taking breaks between them to clear his head. He plays well in game, takes his bad beats as well as he thinks he can, but just can't get anything going for weeks. When I'm reading this at first my immediate reaction is to lol from my internet high horse and troll him for how weak he is (which I'm proud to say is my reaction to most things now on twoplustwo). But I couldn't help but notice how close this is to the mindset I've struggled with for a long, long time. Hopefully writing out my thoughts on it can finally put that leak behind me.
I used to have a huge issue putting in a solid day's work. Every session I'd play I would be hoping it was going to be that 'big' session. You know the feeling, that day where everything goes your way: you win every flip, you hit every flop, and you go to sleep satisfied with more money in the bank than ever. Well for about a year, this never happened for me. I've posted graphs of it in the past but basically, from the time that I was demolishing 100NL and the time that I took shots at 400NL (probably too short of a time, but either way) I made about $8,000 online. The shots at 400NL didn't go so well, and I humbly moved down to 200NL and pumped out money, until I was comfortable shot taking again, and repeated. Pretty standard for every player who's trying to make it big in poker I'd imagine. The thing that felt different for me, was that for 100,000 hands from the first time I tried 400NL, I didn't make a dime. I mean sure, I had rakeback, bonuses, the occasional super turbo MTT that i'd score some money in, but if you look at my HU cash graph from about hand 30,000 to hand 130,000, I didn't make a fucking dime.
Now sure, this is rough, but the variance isn't really unbelievable considering I was moving up and down between 100NL and 600NL throughout the whole thing but the huge majority was around 200 and 400. I was probably playing too many regs, not enough fish, and despite working pretty hard on my fundamentals in the forum, I wasn't playing with the right mindset. I was constantly wishing for that 'breakout' session at mid stakes. I wanted to win a fishreg's entire bankroll in one night. I was gambling. I'd have a few bad days in a row and i wouldn't be happy with any session unless i absolutely CRUSHED. And it just never happened, I never had that big day, I'd never win that key flip that would give me a ton of momentum against a reg and I'd either win 3 buyins or lose 8. Combine that with basically never running deep in an MTT despite joining a ton every sunday and you get a pretty brutal outlook about poker.
It was really disappointing and even though I was making a little money every month, I was spending it just as quickly. It took me a while to realize that I was putting in about as little volume as possible. I never once played more than 15k hands in a month (even in 2009) and that's really pathetic. Sure, I'm a full time student at a difficult university, but how much time to I spend in the library each week and how much time to I spend on the couch? Making excuses is really the worst thing I could do, and I'll be the first to say I was full of them. Maybe I didn't get a lot of sleep that day, so I'm not fit to play tonight. Or maybe I have a test coming up and I can't afford to waste a day thinking about hand histories. Maybe I lost 5 buyins yesterday and it's too frustrating to sit down again for another two days. Sure, people say you shouldn't play if you don't feel like playing but when you get to this point then how are you ever going to make money? I needed to play some god damn hands if I ever wanted to make it big.
What it's taking for me in the past few months is just sitting the fuck down every day and playing some poker. Anyone who talks to me regularly probably knows that I went on a pretty big heater at the start of the summer and obviously that helped. I'm really disappointed that it took that much of a kick to really make me want to play. Regardless, I ended up having the motivation to sit down every day, and I just posted my biggest month of cash profit in July because I also just posted my biggest volume of heads up hands. I'm not going to turn this thread into a brag about how much money I've made and given that I'm still losing in tournaments it's probably a weak brag anyways. The point is that a lot of people really don't understand how long the long run is, and they don't value effort or volume nearly enough. The best way to get out of a downswing is to stop bitching and play more (that is, if it really is a downswing, and not a reflection of how bad you are at poker). Don't be afraid to drop a few limits where you can get better action, because putting in that many more hands and stringing together some winning sessions can be incredible for your confidence, whether or not the money you make is a meaningful sum. Everyone knows this but nobody does it, and I'm guilty of it more than anyone (until now, I hope).
There's nothing I've learned more this year than that praying for that big break is not going to work out. The worst thing about poker is that every day of the week we get a public view of who just got rich. We get to sit down every day, open up the biggest tournament running and see that some random who's worth about $10 just made six figures for doing nothing. And we want that. We want it more than anything in the fucking world. But it's not going to fall in your lap, you're not going to win the lottery, nothing is going to hand wrap itself for you and walk right up to you say 'all your troubles are solved!' The people who get this luxury are some of the luckiest people in the world, whether they appreciate it or not. But living your life trying to be the one of those people isn't going to work out any better than structuring your poker game plan around making people fold their scary flush draws when you have aces. It's crucial to realize that luck is not controllable, and that motivation is. The absolute only way to succeed is to work your hardest at what you can control and to virtually separate yourself from everything you can't.
I hope the way I wrote this won't constrain its application to poker, because it's much more than that. Everything I wrote here applies to school work, getting up and going to your job in the morning, and accomplishing just about anything you want in life. Consider this a revision of my Pooh-Bah post, which was severely lacking and quite uninformative. I'd like to think this one will give me more success and I hope it does for you too. I wish all you guys the best of luck but I encourage you to work hard enough that you never need it.