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2016 Poker Goals

January 6, 2016

My goals for 2016 aren’t fully realized just yet, but I have a pretty good idea of what I want to accomplish so I’ll go ahead and share some of them.

Play 1250 hours

Even though this number is less than the amount of volume I put in last year, I think it’s a reasonable target. It would allow for me to play three 8 hour sessions a week, which is probably my happy zone, considering I work 30 hours a week at my day job. I will probably end up crushing this goal, but I just like to have a Mendoza Line for how much poker I need to play in order to keep myself satisfied.

Play 150 hours of Omaha 8 or better and maintain a 1 BB/HR win rate

As noted in my 2015 wrap up, I am pretty disappointed in my results in Omaha games. Granted, I haven’t put in a ton of volume – probably not even enough to have meaningful results – but I know I can do better. I can feel myself doing fishy things – limping with hands I should probably be folding, calling on the flop with non-premium draws, etc. – so there’s tangible room for improvement. Part of my problem is that my limit hold em game has evolved to the point where my playing style is almost entirely exploitive and I’m hyper-aware of what’s going on. I do not have the same game feel in Omaha, and yet, I feel myself wanting to remain unpredictable when my experience level probably calls for me to simply nit it up. Even so, I can see some improvement happening. My big cash last year was in an O8 tournament, so I actually won considerable money in the variant last year (no thanks to my cash game performance), and a hand from that final table stands out: in this hand, I flopped a ten high flush and value bet it to the river; by this point, the board was paired and I had rivered a wheel, but my opponent was now raising me after calling the two previous streets. To me, it was perfectly clear that I was being raised by a wheel, so I three bet with my ten high flush confident that I was quartering my opponent. He called and tabled the wheel just as I suspected and I took 75% of a critical pot. But when I tabled my hand, there was some commentary that implied my three bet on the river may have been reckless. Perhaps that sentiment is right, in general, but in this specific spot, the flow of the hand made it rather apparent, to me, that I was quartering my opponent. This is the kind of laser awareness that I frequently have while playing hold em, but I rarely feel it when I’m playing Omaha. I’m hoping to change that in 2016. My current plan is to play two sessions a month at Clearwater Casino in their $10/$20 O8 game and I tend to gravitate to the O8 cash games whenever I have time to play in Vegas.

Play 100 hours of no limit cash games

At some point, my game simply has to evolve to the point where I am a small to medium stakes no limit cash game expert. I feel like my win rate in an $8-$16 limit game has a ceiling of somewhere around $25/hour, whereas $40+/hour should be attainable in a $3-$5 no limit game. Last year I only played 40 hours of NL cash and the biggest reasons for my reluctance to play a ton of volume are: a) $3-$5 is a pretty high starting point – I’m super conservative with my bankroll and I still feel like playing in that game is kind of like taking a shot; b) I feel like a novice at a NL cash game table; and c) in my limited experience of playing live NL cash games, I’ve experienced a tremendous amount of short term bad luck – I’ve had AA < KK twice, KK < AA twice, and the one time I had KK > AA my opponent had a short stack. In what probably amounts to less than 200 hours of live no limit play for my career, it’s absurd how many times I’ve ran Kings into Aces, or vice versa, all with bad to terrible results. I’ve had a number of other bad connections where I can remember getting felted. To sum up, I’ve experienced the feeling of being the stackee far more times than feeling of being the stacker and it has left a bad taste in my mouth when it comes to NL cash games. Still, I can’t imagine having a future as a full time poker player if I’m not a NL cash game expert, so I want to start developing that muscle this year. My current plan is to play the Muckleshoot $3-$5 game at least once a month on Fridays when it’s at its juiciest and I may try to play once a month on Wednesdays as well, although the games are probably far less attractive in the middle of the week.

Do the Advanced Poker Training weekly challenge every week and spend at least an hour a week playing hands on APT

The last thing I want to do is help my opponents improve, but anyone that reads Card Player magazine probably knows this online poker training site exists, so if you’re willing to spend the money to join up, go ahead.  My wife got me a lifetime membership to this site for Christmas and I have to say I’m super impressed with the operation. A ton of notable pros (Jonathan Little, Scott Clements, Lauren Kling, Ed Miller) are active participants and the site allows me to practice specific tournament situations with specific hands and simulate live NL cash games without having to risk any money. One of the coolest things I’ve been able to do on the site is set up a tournament that mimics the structure of an event I’m about to play and simulates the level of talent I expect to face, without having to wait in between decision points. It’s a pretty sick site and I expect it to do wonders for my tournament and NL cash games as long as I put in the work.

Play 3-5 WSOP events

I’m ready to step up my WSOP volume, starting this year. I’ve played in two WSOP events in each of the past two years and so far I’ve gone 0 for 4. This year I’m planning to play the Casino Industry event and probably the Colossus again, but I also want to expand into some $1500 events. I know for sure I want to play a $1500 H.O.R.S.E. and $1500 Razz event and I think I’d also like to play the $1500 Monster Stack NL event. The WSOP hasn’t released a full schedule yet, so while I know I’ll be in Vegas the first week of June, I don’t know how the rest of the schedule is going to pan out. Also, I’m hoping the first quarter of 2016 is extremely lucrative for me, otherwise playing in $5500+ worth of tournaments in a month isn’t very practical – unless I have substantial backing, which is certainly possible.

Cash a WSOP event

With four WSOP events under my belt and as many as five planned for 2016, I would be running below average not to find a cash in my first nine WSOP events. Certainly cashing an event would help my cause to play more events this year… and it would also help achieve my goal of netting another career high tournament score. I feel like I’m on the brink of a life-changing cash and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if that happens in 2016.

Read through Jared Tendler’s The Mental Game Of Poker vols. 1 & 2 and do ALL the work

I’ve read most of Vol. 1 multiple times and it has done wonders for my mental game… but I still haven’t fully absorbed the material and there is still a ton of room for improvement. I’m pretty confident that one of my biggest edges in my normal game is how tough I am mentally (bankroll is another big one). The standard swings of the game have little affect on my mental state and basically no affect on my actual play while the majority of my opponents’ games fall of a cliff after a difficult hour and sometimes after losing a single, critical pot. That doesn’t mean I’m immune to mental game issues – far from it. I saw plenty of kinks in my armor as I struggled in the final quarter of 2015. It’s one thing to read the material, but it’s an entirely different thing to actually complete all the work Tendler asks of his students and I think doing so can help me reach the next level of mental game superiority.

Maintain a 1.25 BB/HR win rate at the $8-$16 level

I finished last year with a 1.12 BB/HR win rate, which surpassed my goal of 1 BB/HR, but I spent the vast majority of 2015 hovering around 2 BB/HR, so I feel like a loftier win rate is pretty attainable. I was running at 2.1 BB/HR for 2015 as late as October before the last quarter disaster shaved an entire BB/HR off my win rate. While I think 2 BB/HR is probably unrealistic in this day and age – I experienced very few stretches of negative variance during the first three quarters of 2015 – I do think a 1.5 BB/HR rate is possible, so I’m going to shoot for somewhere in between that and my 2015 end result.

Reach a $30,000 bankroll

Considering how much money I’ve made playing poker since the start of 2011, it’s kind of absurd that I haven’t already achieved this, but when I consider that poker has been my primary source of income for a substantial portion of that time period and that my expenses have hovered around $3000/month, it makes a lot of sense. As I’ve noted in previous blogs, I’ve had difficulty building my bankroll despite the success I’ve enjoyed, but I started to see growth last year and now that my day job covers all our monthly expenses I think I could see substantial growth in 2016. In reality, this should be an easy goal to reach, but I settled on $30k because I’ve felt like that’s the magic number I’d need if I ever decided to move to Vegas and play full time. Honestly, I expect to smash this goal in 2016.

I’ll probably come up with more things I want to accomplish, but those are the goals I’ve written down so far for 2016. 2015 was quite easily the best year of my life. I spent 2011-2014 repairing the damage I had caused to my life over the previous six years while basically running in place in my poker career, grinding $4/$8 games almost exclusively, and struggling to take any serious steps forward. 2015 was an enormous step forward and I feel like it has set me up to achieve even bigger things in 2016, which I feel is destined to be, by far, my best poker year ever.

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2 comments

  1. Love ur blog bro.


  2. Hit me up if you want some help w NL



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