2008 has been a strange one for me poker wise. I stated two goals for myself at the start of the year. One was to make the transition to online cash; this I failed miserably because I never attempted it. The second was to make more cash then I would if I had been working, which I achieved. It's my fourth year running making a decent profit as a live tournament specialist. A fair achievement when most logic tells you that this is nearly impossible to achieve long-term.
One of my strengths as a player has always been my enthusiasm for the game. While I feel as eager as ever when playing a decent buy in, I have definitely lost the motivation for smaller games and grinding hard online. This loss of dedication eats into my bottom line and needs to be addressed. Playing poker for a living is not easy, drive and focus are required. The inertia and basic laziness of my disposition towards "my poker work ethic" needs addressing.
The soccer cliche of a game of two halves can certainly be used to describe the year past. I was more or less break even for the first half of the year and had a good second half. Online I made meagre €10,000. Most of this coming in a six week period from the start of July, when my declining bankroll dictated that I needed to "get the finger out". A €40,000 touch in Cork mid August saw me get lazy again and those six weeks were the only online poker of any consequence I played over the year.
The two key occurrence of the year for me were the sponsorship deal I signed with BrucePoker and chopping the Irish Classic in Cork. I was delighted to sign with Bruce's and it was a lovely confidence boast for me at the time. I subsequently found out that another site that I had been in contact with were about to table a larger offer to me. Again I found this very complimentary but I had no regrets as I was very happy with the Brucepoker deal and feel that we have established a good understanding/relationship where a mutual progression and growth is our focus.
The year started with the IPC, which was hosted in Galway for the first time. My exit in level one was on the TV table and involved trying to pull poker wheelies against Mike Sexton. I finished forth for the second year running in the Bigslick team event in my home town. As ever this has a very decent field so it felt as the year before; a deep run at a difficult tournament wasted.
I had decided not to play any satellites for the Irish Open but some how ended up playing about a dozen. This one was the most memorable as the player in the hand I describe won his ticket that night and ended up finishing second in the open itself for €400k n1 Donal.
I did manage to win entry but left it late, the pre event supersatt to be exact. I started well in the open getting a second level double against Conner Tate. The pivotal hand of my Open was against Liam Flood where blind on blind I flopped a set and he turned a flush. I managed to reach day two but it was desperate shortstack stuff after that hand and I eventually exited KK v AK for a semi decent pot.
May saw the inaugural JP Masters. I've tried to support JPs games where possible as I have always found him to run marvelous tournament; this was his first "bigger" festival and it ran seamlessly. I had a great run at the title but a bad last two hours on day two eventually running AK into KK saw me bubble the final table, a horrid spot to finish.
June and July were very quiet as I wasn't going to Vegas. A number of factors influenced this decision, the main one being bankroll. I could of went but it would of been a stretch and in the end I decided prudence to be the best option. There was a ten week gap between JPs Masters and the Irish Classic and I secured sponsorship in this period.
My first outing in the Brucepoker shirt saw me chop one of Ireland's most prestigious events. I had more or less the perfect tournament in Cork and while I played very well a lot of things also fell into place. I was never in danger of exiting this one until after the prize monies were chopped four handed. After the deal myself and Rob Tayler got 60BBs each in pre with AJos and Rob won the hand; this would never happen had a chop not happened. I really should be aware of the importance of taking the title as my profile increases and more so because of the fact that I'm sponsored. It was a mistake by me to treat the game nonchalantly once the deal was struck and its not a mistake I will make when I find myself in that position again.
I chopped the Waterford leg of the IPC tour the following week and it was great to get a result in my home town. The first week in October saw an amazing 800 starters for the wonderfully run killarney festival. This festival was an amazing achievement by Connie and Bigslick and although I didn't feature in any of the events I had a super weekend. Brucepoker were however well represented in the prize money with both my bosses, Paul and Thomas making the cash. I was over the moon to see one of my buddies lucky Jimmy take the event down for 100 large.
Another deep run came in the winter festival finishing 13th of the 427 starters. I lost a monster pot with KK v AA about 10 off the money, which wasn't reported on and subsequently won three or four shortstacked pots as a big dog which were. Once in the money I got my stack to a very healthy 268k before the end of play. I came back for day three ahead of the average, but never got anything going eventually exiting in 13th position.
November saw the Brucepoker.com launch festival at the greenisle hotel. This was a super weekends poker and I was proud of the show Bruce's put on. Paul put a lot of work into this and it was nice to see him pull it off with JP as ever doing a great job with the tournament logistics. I managed two small cashes here which was pleasing.
My last two tournaments of the year were across the water and both disappointed. I didn't play well in London for the GUKPT grand final. I did play well a week later in Bristol for the Gala final but both tournaments ended close to the end of play on day one and both were a small let down.
All in all I played around ten tournaments of any consequence over the year; to chop one and run deepish in two others has to be considered a success. I clocked about $80,000 on the hendon mob database and finished the year with a very respectable ROI. Not as good as last year but overall I'm happy with 2008. Last year I established myself as one of the top live tournaments players in the country and I think I have done enough this year to consolidate that position.
I am however very aware that the difference between a successful and losing year in this game is very fickle. So much so that winning or losing a specific race in any given tournament can mean the difference between a good or bad year. Because I've had a few good ones in a row means nothing and I need to stay focused and rediscover my work ethic for the game. Although some will see me as a veteran I still feel very new to the game. I've only been playing four years and I'm still learning all the time. I see 2009 as a crucially important year for me if I am to progress in this marvelous game we play. Wish me luck.