Monday, January 04, 2010

2009 in Review

So much to get to after a week away from it all, it's hard to know where to begin. I played a decent amount of online poker over the break, several runs of which would probably merit their own post in another time. The football season came and went, and I have my preseason predictions to review and laugh at myself over. College basketball has started up in force yet again as well. I saw some movies over the break and spent a ton of awesome time with my family. Shit, I even managed to play live poker not once but twice, something which I do plan to run a post about in the coming days as well. But I guess this first post of 2010 can serve as my 2009 Year in Review post, as I've done each of the past several years, focusing of course on this blog, my poker game and anything else of import to me as each new year rolls in.

I usually begin these posts by taking a look at my Goals post at the beginning of the year and seeing how I think I fared in each of those goals.

My #1 goal for 2009 as of this post was to withdraw more money from online poker. On this front I would rate myself a solid A, as I succeeded in keeping my balances at all the online sites I play at in the triple-digits throughout most of 2009. Despite several nice wins and a couple of gigantic ones during the year, I did not let myself get tempted by the dark side and start playing online with the won money, usually way above my comfort limit from right before the win at that. I regularly withdrew funds from my most active online accounts whenever the balance got noticeably above 1k, and my bank account really shows the difference which is something I am extremely pleased about for sure. And, at least as importantly, by keeping my account balances low, I am sure I also positively impacted my poker game, as I was not tempted to play recklessly with my funds due to having so much immediately available and viewable right on my cashier screen.

My second goal for 2009 was to continue my focus on multi-table tournaments, and build on my success from 2008. On this one I also scored a major A grade, as I generally stayed away from satellite tournaments in their own right and focused instead primarily on mtt's as an end unto themselves. Although for a lot of different reasons I did not end up playing nearly as much poker as I have in the past few years, and I generally did not focus on my recent standbys like the nightly 50-50 and 32k tournaments on full tilt, I did take my shots regularly at large-field tournaments like the $100 and $30 rebuy events on full tilt, the nightly 100k on pokerstars and several other of the larger-buyin events.

Along these same lines, my #3 2009 goal was to increase my focus at mtt final tables, and make the required adjustments to get me into the top 3 with a greater frequency. In 2008 I recall I had something like ten final-table mtt finishes where I ended up between 4th and 9th place on the final leaderboard, which is just not going to work if you are an mtt grinder and therefore need to get into those coveted top three spots where the real money is with as much regularity as possible. In 2009, although I am sure I had fewer large-field final tables in general due to playing far fewer large-field mtts in general, my top-3 percentage was far greater, in particular in the absolute biggest events I played in. In the Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza this summer I rode a massive chip lead all throughout Day Two, entered the final table as the chip leader, and this time I made sure to focus and retain that chip stack long enough to make it into the final four-way chop of some $213,000 in tournament payouts. Similarly, in two rebuy mtt final tables on full tilt in 2009, I managed a top-3 finish in both, including a runner-up suckout elimination to nab over 5k in cash just a month or two ago. And of course then there was the big Mini FTOPS win just last month, where once again I rode a short stack early in the final table all the way down to 3 players remaining and a bad suckout to again ensure a nice payout. Focus at final tables is an area where I definitely improved during 2009, and once again it is something that really shows in my bank account as I take stock here heading into 2010.

My #4 goal for 2009 was of all things to use the stop-n-go more. On this one I guess I would give myself a C grade. I mean, after really focusing on this late in 2008 -- really only in late-stage mtt play where it's usually just one bet and then someone is all in -- I would say that I have better integrated the stop-n-go move into my regular poker repertoire late in mtts here in 2009. But to be honest with myself, this still is something I should probably focus on more in 2010. In the end, while I am sure I used this strategy more often in big spots than I had previously, the bottom line is that I am still finding myself busting late from mtt's most frequently when I push allin preflop -- either on a raise or a reraise -- and get called by someone, and then I go on to lose whether by being dominated, getting sucked out on, or most commonly, by racing. I still think I have room to improve on this score heading into 2010.

My 5th goal for 2009 was to write more about non-poker topics here at the blog, another area where I clearly succeeded during the past year. Surprisingly, the biggest area of this ended up being my sports predictions, as I found early in the year that one thing I really wanted to use the blog for was to track the performance of my sports picks, and more specifically, my long-term sports predictions, like over-under totals for the baseball and football seasons, NCAA predictions, etc. While some people may have been frustrated at the amount of posting I did this year about the Phillies, or the NFL, etc., I always remind myself these days that this is my blog -- my online diary, really -- and thus I get to write in it whatever I want about whatever or whoever I want, and by definition no one else's criticism of that decision has any meaning. I mean, can you imagine critizing someone for writing too much about topic X in their own diary? The whole notion is silly, really. So you can look for more of the same on this front for 2010, albeit still with my primary focus remaining all things poker and poker-related.

Funny enough, my last goal for 2009 was to bury the hatchest on some stoopid feuds with other bloggers that I have historically been all too happy to fuel here on the blog in the past. As you all know if you've read here with any regularity, I am not one to pull punches with people, and when I see someone make a horrible poker play, justify it with the worst poker analysis in history, go off on someone else's play without a good basis to do so, or otherwise generally be a cheat, or a dickhead in connection with this game, I tend to just say it. I have done a near-flawless job of keeping the focus away from personal comments in this blog, really over the past two or three years moreso than just during 2009, and in the end that's the only thing I can affect in any meaningful way.

So overall it seems like for once I did a fairly good job at attaining my poker- and blog-related goals for 2009. Generally speaking, 2009 was a banner year for me poker-wise, one that saw me record my biggest-ever live cash in the summer at the Venetian to the tune of just over $50,000, and then follow that up in December with my largest-ever online cash, my 27k takedown in the Mini FTOPS $30 rebuy event with 3500+ runners and over 10,000 total buyins to the tournament. Those two cashes along with several other nice mtt scores as well as a strong year in turbo sitngos -- the new-baby-daddy's poker structure of choice, believe you me -- also helped me to post far and away my best annual ROI since I've been playing this game, which combines with my best-ever total profit to make 2009 a really, really awesome year in poker for me.

And let us not forget, the one thing that I did not include in my goals for 2009 for the first time in at least three years but which I was able to attain finally in 2009 -- winning the Mookie. I won it twice last year, in fact. Once was just a couple of months ago, with under 30 runners as we were well into the post-BBT swoon in blogger tournament participation, which barely even counts as a real Mookie win. But I also won the Mook right smack dab in the middle of the BBT early in 2009, a tournament that I imagine had somewhere in the 60+ range of players, and even though I am straight up too lazy to go and look up the post, my lasting memory really is of pushmonkey72 seriously donating me the title, a couple of different times even as I recall. So thanks, Rich, I guess I owe you something for your performance in 2008.

Most interestingly to me about my positive tournament results in 2009 is that I played decidedly less poker throughout this year than I have in any of the past several years. I started off the year at a new job, with the economy collapsing around me and with a new president coming into office who seemed hell-bent on spend-spend-spending his way through his first term in office, and all of this combined to leave me feeling particularly vulnerable and just generally wanting to curtail my poker habit in favor of holding onto more of my money for the inevitable rainy day that I felt could easily be coming for me and my family. Later in the year, as the economy seemed to recover or at least cease its freefall from late 2008 and early 2009, that feeling of financial vulnerability subsided, but was soon replaced with a different kind of hindrance to my poker play, in the form of a bouncing baby boy. Now, with multiple kids already I won't even try to spin the new baby as the kind of life-altering, all-time-consuming debacle that a first child can be, but let's just say that life with an infant is not exactly conducive to mtt play and leave it at that. So I would not be surprised to learn that I played somewhere between a third and a half as many true mtts in 2009 as I did in, say, 2007 or 2008, and yet my results skyrocketed, both in total amounts won and in terms of my ROI. What does that say about my poker play going forward? I'm not sure, but I doubt it can be chalked up purely to circumstance or luck that my profits increased as the frequency of my play decreased. I will take some time this week thinking about what specifically that means or why specifically that may have happened, but it seems that the inescapable conclusion that I will bring with me heading into 2010 is that playing more and more tournaments does not necessarily correlate with increasing my ROI or my total profits won from the game.

I will look to do another post later in the week about my goals for 2010, assuming I can think some up between now and then. Tomorrow look for a post probably about the NFL, or perhaps a review of my two separate live poker sessions from over the break.

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Blogger Riggstad said...

Great year for you Hoy! Congrats!

8:46 PM  
Blogger Josie said...

Hello Mr. Hammer/Hoyazo,

Love the blog - informative,easy to read and full of poker! I play alot online and as much as I can in person and I have a question re: goal #4. What is stop & go...I understand it's a strategy used in MTT final tables - but could you please describe it in detail?

Again, thank you for all the hand scenarios and solid poker advice.

2:19 AM  
Blogger BWoP said...

Congrats on your 2009.

Thoughts about Saturday's do-over in Dallas?

4:03 AM  
Blogger The Poker Meister said...

Congrats on the solid year.

5:56 AM  
Blogger Fred aka TwoBlackAces said...

Congrats Hoy! Banner year for sure!

6:48 AM  

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