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Poker 2011 & The Royal Flush Of Destiny & 2012 Poker Goals

January 11, 2012

My biggest goal for 2011 was to make money gambling. After several years of talking about how good of a poker player I am, it was time to prove it. I’d been treading water in mediocrity for quite some time and didn’t have anything to show for all my self-proclaimed “knowledge.” I’d make a few scores here and there that suggested I was better than the average player, but I had way too many leaks in my game to be an actual long term winner. Last year, I exceeded whatever goal I had in mind. I just wanted to turn a little profit from my hobby and wound up making several thousand dollars and for a moment, I could see a career as a professional gambler in my near future.

Unfortunately, nothing comes easy. Full Tilt shut down and took about 33% of my bankroll with it; I spent a month in jail not making any money; I moved into my own place and through an unfortunate chain of events that were beyond my control, found a friend of mine indebted to me for $1500 (a debt that has since been paid off–good looking out Tiny T!); I lost any and all interest in working at my day job at Silver City and found myself filing for unemployment in November; and finally, my new job at Arena Sports Bar & Grille has gotten off to a slow start and I’m not making nearly as much money there as I thought I would be. Basically, instead of building a bankroll last year, I had to survive off my gambling winnings because actual work wasn’t paying my bills anymore.

I spent most of last year playing $4-$8 limit hold em and small stakes tournaments locally. Over roughly 750 hours of $4-$8, however, all I could really say was I’m a roughly break even player. I’m not crushing the game by any means and certainly haven’t proven I can make a living from it. Between the rake, tipping the dealers, variance, some terrible luck, and a game that is still not free of leaks, beating the game in the long run has been a formidable challenge. I still think I can do it and I plan to prove it, but if I’m really looking to make money playing limit hold em, it’s time to step my regular game up to the $8-$16 level.

I did get some experience in the $8-$16 games in Tacoma and Seattle last year. I sold half my action in all but one session, but over 81 hours I beat the game for 1.47 big bets an hour. Hardly a large enough sample size to be considered reliable, but still somewhat promising. If I’m not playing $8-$16 regularly, with 100% of my own action, by the end of the year, 2012 will be a long year for me. This is where I need to be at.

In 2011, I played 123 live tournaments, mostly at Chips Casino in Bremerton. Considering the size of the buy-ins, I absolutely crushed the game. I cashed in 33% of the tournaments I played, finished in the top three 18.5% of the time (!!), and at least chopped for first place in 12.2%. Those numbers are INSANE. For the year, I made roughly $2000 in live tournaments, or profited roughly 80 buy-ins (assuming an average BI of $25). All of these numbers include the fact that I didn’t cash in a single event with a buy-in of more than $50. I completely whiffed at Pendleton’s Fall Poker Round-Up and had one of the worst showings of my life in the first event of Muckleshoot’s Fall Poker Classic. Fortunately, I sold most of my action in those events, but the trip to Oregon was still a soul-crushing experience. Above anything else, it made me realize that despite my pedigree in local small stakes tournaments, my game still has a lot of work to do and I vow to return to Pendleton with something to prove in 2012. I refuse to come out of this year without a 5-figure tournament score. It’s my time.

I played a minimal amount of spread limit and no limit hold em in 2011, but found success in the few hours I put in. I profited roughly $1000 in about 40 total hours and that includes a brutal hand where I get stacked for $250 with AA after getting it all-in preflop vs KK. Along with trying to play more $8-$16 in this upcoming year, I absolutely need to get in more no limit cash games against weak players because differences in skill level is a much larger factor than it is in fixed limit games.

I opened 2012 by getting a job at All-Star Lanes. I’m not going to state many details on exactly what it is I’m going to be doing, but I’ve been hired to help out in the poker room: possibly dealing, possibly chip-running, but definitely playing a lot of poker. It sounds like my dream job and right now I’m being told everything I want to hear. How it works out remains to be seen, but I’m excited about the prospects, although not being able to play at Chips as much is going to sting. I love that place and I thank them dearly for treating me like royalty the last seven months. Carla, A.J., Dan, James: you guys are like family. I spent more time with you than anyone else last year and I know that all of you root me on wholeheartedly. I will miss you and try to visit often. I’m going to miss the regulars too. Somehow… a young, cocky, aspiring professional that never gives anyone air and plays cutthroat poker 100% of the time has mostly gained the respect and support of the local gambling community. Many of these players are friends of mine on Facebook now and follow my blog, so I thank you all for tolerating my unforgiving play and being willing to lock horns with me all year. Today, someone that won a seat to the World Series Of Poker 2012 Main Event seriously considered letting me play the event for him. I would hate to deprive someone of that experience, but I’d also love to bring a main event cash back home to Bremerton. What you say, Simi?

As I stated earlier, despite having such a successful year gambling in 2011 and showing a profit in 10 of 11 months (I was in jail all of May), multiple shenanigans lead to me having a very depleted bankroll to start 2012. I was basically operating on fumes. Off of unemployment and not being able to bank on my current job for more than $200 or so a week, I was starting to wonder if I’d even survive January without resorting to drastic measures. Fortunately, my gig at All-Star Lanes looks like a go, but still: if I was going to be playing a ton of poker there, how was I going to fund it? Start with a short roll and pray that I run good for a couple months? I certainly didn’t have the stake to absorb any significant downswings and if 800+ hours of live play last year proved anything, it’s that no matter how good you are, large downswings are still very common. I needed a miracle.

To make matters worse, I met a remarkable woman the last couple weeks of 2011, but what I thought was the beginning of an amazing relationship instead fizzled out rather quickly. It was incredibly disappointing and it was messing with my head. On Saturday, January 7th, whatever hope I had remaining for it to work out evaporated. But it’s funny, because as we were talking over lunch about how painful things were in that moment, we both recognized the fact that it would all make sense some day and that everything happens for a reason. Little did I know, it’d make sense to me within hours.

After my dismal lunch, I tried to go home and sleep it off… get a little rest in before my poker session that night. But sleep proved beyond my reach and instead I hit my boy MC up and told him I needed a guy’s night out. He said he needed to be home by 6 PM, but I showed up at Chips anyways, kidnapped him out of their live game, and we drove to All-Star Lanes to play their 7 PM tournament. After busting out in 7th place at the final table, it didn’t look like their live game was going to be too cracking that night, so I talked MC into going back to Chips since they had two jackpots that were over $2000. We get back to Chips and I toss $300 on the table, but the floor is gone and I can’t get all my chips yet, so I say “fuck it” and start walking around the casino bullshitting with various people.

Finally, after about 15 minutes or so, I sit down in the live game with $100 in white chips and $200 in cash and Carla asks if I wanna post my big blind. Sure I do. 3-4 people limp in, the small blind completes and I look down at AdJd in my big blind. Raise it up! Everyone calls and we see a flop of KdQdx.

I’ve been playing poker for 8 years and have logged TONS of live hours, but I’ve never hit a Royal Flush in a casino. I know someone that has hit three in a calendar year. Another friend of mine has been playing half the time I have and has four under his belt. I know a regular that recently hit a $11K Royal and followed it up with $2K one just a few months later. I’ve personally hit 11 royal flushes online, but I’ve never received jackpot money for one and I’ve never done it in live play. For whatever reason, I could feel this one coming in from the jump. Carla, the dealer, has said to me numerous times recently: “something great is going to happen to you soon, Mac.” I believed her.

I go ahead and lead the flop, betting my monster draw for value, not worried about losing customers (and a chance to draw out for a Royal) since that flop hits so many hands. Two players do call. A blank falls on the turn and I decide to bet again anyways to keep building a pot with my big draw, not really concerned about getting raised. Both players call again and one of them says, “bring a ten on the river.” I think in my head, “oh really? Be careful what you wish for, sir.”

With my life in shambles, my head in disarray, and my future in question, I can’t say anything has ever looked prettier than that Ten of Diamonds on the river. Red Royal Flush. Jackpot. $2389. Ship it.

I’m not saying that jackpot is going to solve all my problems, but it couldn’t have come at a more critical time. I am now right back where I was several months ago: with a reliable source of income that I can pay my bills with and a large enough bankroll that I can gamble with regularly and build over time. And rather than dwell in self-pity and wonder why things didn’t work out with ole girl, I know that everything that happened with her led up to that exact moment. I don’t hit that Royal Flush if we are still dating. Plain and simple. And I need that money way more than I need a woman in my life right now.

The Royal Flush Of Destiny… I’ve never been a religious person, but I do think there is some merit to concepts like fate and destiny. Like… everything that has happened in my past, good or bad, was meant to be and has shaped me into the person I am today. Well, I feel like this Royal Flush is a sign that my poker career should be my top priority right now. Fuck all the doubters; this is what I was meant to do. Instead of having to start from scratch all over again–through no little fault of my own–it’s like I’ve been given a reprieve and can continue doing exactly what it is that I want to do: work my way towards becoming a professional gambler.

I expect another successful year in 2012 and I have a list of goals that should be more than achievable: become an $8-$16 regular, play significantly more no limit cash games, log my biggest tournament cash of all-time, and, for crying out loud, have a profitable trip to Pendleton, Oregon.

2011 was a promising year. I proved that I have what it takes to beat the game of poker in the long run. It’s no longer a question. I feel I have answered it and that my calling is apparent. I experienced some growing pains and some struggles last year, but have learned from all of that. The struggles are over. I feel like Eminem on ‘Say Goodbye To Hollywood:’ “but no one ever puts a grasp/ on the fact I’ve sacrificed everything I have.” I really have; I’ve bet it all on this poker shit and I don’t plan on failing now. 2012 is my year.

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One comment

  1. […] off my first Royal Flush Jackpot and had completely turned my life around, a story you can read in this post. Since officially donning the cape and the cowl, I’ve been on the most ridiculous heater of […]



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