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After yesterday's post, I decided to go back and re-evaluate where I am in terms of the goals I set for myself in 2009. I opened up Poker Tracker 3 and Poker Tracker Omaha last night to look over my stats. Frankly, I'm shocked at how poorly I've performed this year. I'm not upset with my actual results. I'm quite upset with how few hands and sessions I've played overall.

Let's take a closer look at my current state of affairs.

In early January, I set six goals for myself in 2009. I tried to keep thing reasonable though there's one goal that is pretty ridiculous in hindsight. How are things going? Let's see...

Play at least 60K hands of cash game poker
According to Poker Tracker, I'm way off pace to hit 60K hands this year. At my current pace, I'd be lucky to hit 26K hands by December 31st. This is pretty unacceptable. Many of my goals were based on playing more hands this year. From a financial point of view or a mental point of view, I need more hands to help reduce the effects of variance on my game.

As of last night, I've played roughly 4600 hands of NLHE ($0.10/$0.25 - $0.50/$1.00), 3330 hands of HUNL ($0.25/$0.50 - $0.50/$1.00), 4800 hands of PLO ($0.10/$0.25 - $0.25/$0.50), and 2600 hands of limit Omaha 8 ($0.50/$1.00 - $1/$2). I'm a little embarrassed to call myself a poker player right now. But I'm also willing to make amends...

Learn to play Pot-Limit Omaha; play $50 PLO regularly by year's end
It's hard to say that I've really "learned" PLO. But I strive to learn more about PLO whenever the mood strikes and I enjoy playing the game. It's been a while since I've really played PLO. I'm looking forward to jumping back in. I'd like to put in 10K hands at $50 PLO by year's end. I think that should serve as a good introduction to the game and give me a solid foundation to build from in the coming years. If things go well, I may even make the jump to the $100 games and try for 10K hands there as well.

Continue beating the 6-max $200 NLHE games; play the $400 NLHE games by year's end
My 6-max NLHE game took a bit of a nose-dive in these past 7 months. Although I've had limited success at the $200 games, I was just on a small heater. I'm currently reworking my game at the $50 tables with renewed focus on aggression and fearlessness. I think the key to beating the small stakes NLHE games is solid aggressive play and a desire to force others out of their comfort zones. Once I've reached 10,000 hands at the $50 games, I'll move back to the $100 NLHE games.

I should also mention that I failed to take into account the necessary bankroll requirements for playing $400 NLHE. If Ed Miller, Matt Flynn, and Sunny Mehta are to be believed, a professional poker player needs roughly 100 buy-ins to play at any given level. Since I am a recreational player who is quite willing to move down in stakes at any time, I should be able to get away with 50 buy-ins. As it stands right now, my bankroll is not ready to withstand the $400 6-max games. My current skill level is nowhere near optimal to beat the $400 games either, to be perfectly honest.

Over the next 5 months, I'd like to play another 7K hands at $50 NLHE and another 10K - 20K hands at $100 NLHE. I may even get back to the $200 games if things go well. I can say with near-certainty that the $400 games are well out of reach for 2009. Poker's not easy and it's about time that I accept that fact while doing my best to surprise myself.

Consistently beat the $50 HU NLHE games; play $100 HU NLHE games by year's end
With only 3300 hands played of $50 HUNL, it's hard to make any decisions about how well or poorly I've played so far. I can say that I'm not happy with my results. More importantly, I really feel that I let my game go to hell in a number of matches that I've played. It's so easy to go on tilt or misread an opponent to the tune of a couple buy-ins when playing heads-up. I'm going to put in at least 10K hands of HUNL by year's end and I'll see if I'm ready and confident enough to play the $100 games.

Focus, focus, focus
My original plan this year was to focus on fewer forms of poker. I totally forgot about this goal and started dabbling in mixed games. While I understand the need to try different games for fun and profit, I need to settle myself down and play what I know best. I believe that I started playing O8 and other games out of fear of failure at the NLHE tables. My results were poor, my confidence was low, and I was afraid to keep trying beat the no-limit games. If I'm ever going to elevate my game from mediocre to "Phil Ivey", I'm going to have to check my pride at the door and take the bumps and bruises of NLHE (and PLO) as they come.

Have fun playing poker!
I've had fun playing poker at times. But as is always the case, I start to focus too much on results. Looking at my bottom line on a nightly basis is a catalyst for my frequent bouts of poker apathy. When I win, I'm happy; when I lose, I'm crushed. If I'm to learn to be a good poker player, I have to ignore the daily ups and downs. I need to play poker because I enjoy the challenge and the fun of the game itself. Money and results should never be valued above my enjoyment of the game.

On the flip side of the coin, I've done a good job (too good?) by forcing myself to not play poker when I'm not in the mood to play. There's nothing wrong with taking a night off to enjoy other hobbies.

Honestly, I don't know if I'll play all of the hands that I want to play by December 31st. But I'm going to try the best I can. 2009 was supposed to be the year to make or break me as a poker player.

I don't need to tell you where the chips have fallen so far...


Memphis MOJO said...

Good goals, and you're entitled to revise them as the year unfolds. I wouldn't be too hard on yourself.

Klopzi said...

If I'm not hard on myself, I'll just end up playing video games until any poker skills I have remaining have long withered away to nothing.

If video games paid as well as poker, I'd really have a tough time deciding what to do with myself.

joxum said...

It's not a shame to pick something else over poker. Perhaps it's time to make a decision then, if you really are motivated to play?


Klopzi said...

Joxum -

That's the tricky part. Both poker and video games are important to me. However, I view poker as a means of keeping my mind sharp as I get older. I also like the competition and the money of poker.

I just wish that poker wasn't so damned hard and frustrating.