Sunday, November 06, 2011

Tuscaloosa Johnny minus Tuscaloosa

The last few weeks? A whirlwind of emotions…and the miles, oh the miles.

Excuse my prolonged absence from this little blog of mine. I’ve noticed that when major life changes occur, blog posts tend to go by the wayside. (An aside: You write a “blog post” not a “blog.” The “blog” is the place where your “blog posts” go. Every time I see it written otherwise it drives me a bit nuts. OK, back to our regularly scheduled “blog post.”)

The last blog absence longer than this one was when I met and fell in love with my future wife and also started grad school way back in 2006. Those simultaneous occurrences had my mind focused on other things, as is the case now.

The first recent major life change happened in the first week of October when I started my new job at The Decatur Daily. Yes, the former newspaper man who said he wouldn’t return to that dying business is back at work at the dying business. What can I say? It’s been a slower death than expected!

While I am proud that I made it more than six years as a self-employed fellow, the writing has definitely been on the wall for some time. With my own government conspiring against its citizens to prevent us from playing online poker (and by extension preventing us from making a living writing about online poker), as well as some of my other freelance opportunities drying up (I’m looking at you Demand Studios), plus my wife’s desire to be a stay-at-home mom it was time to find a steady paycheck again.

Fortunately, I quickly found this job and have enjoyed my first month at it. The Daily is a slightly smaller paper than my old one, The Tuscaloosa News, and it is a demanding yet rewarding job. I’ve been cranking out the Pulitzer Prize wannabe articles and I think they like me here. The biggest plus is that it puts us closer to our respective families in Cullman County. Visit if you’re bored.

Even before I found this job we had put our house on the market, ostensibly to sell it and hope to find a job if our house sold quickly. Things worked out well on both fronts as we got an offer on the house the first week I was in Decatur. Before that week was over we had reached an agreement. On Oct. 31, as the kiddies went door to door seeking candy, I was driving a U-Haul from Tuscaloosa to Cullman to put our scads of furniture and junk into storage.

And that’s how after 15 years in T-Town I became Tuscaloosa Johnny minus Tuscaloosa.

I had nine good years in that house. It's where I dated and fell in love with my future wife, where we brought our son home from the hospital, where I made the decision to leave the newspaper business in the first place -- and set in motion the events that led to a wife, dog and child. (And since this is a poker blog I will note that it was there that I qualified online to play in the 2006 WSOP main event.)

If you want to read a talented writer muse on leaving his house visit rapideyereality.
Good luck having dry eyes after reading his post.

I’m better at making myself cry. I’m not ashamed to admit that I had a good weep fest before we locked the door on Halloween. Every room full of memories, I told Amy as we hugged and I bawled into her shoulder in the kitchen entranceway. To my left were the stairs where John Harper had recently begun climbing up to the third step so he could flick the landing light on and off repeatedly. Of course, Amy or I had to sit with him just in case he lost his balance so that he would not go tumbling down.

That’s just one.

Many of the memories Brad relates in his post I have yet to experience. I look forward to the days of teaching my son to throw a spiral and the adventures he will have in his pirate ship deck.

Those will happen in our new house.

We’re hitting the hunt hard Monday morning on my day off, and we are already in love with a foreclosure that appears to be in surprisingly good shape. As my realtor in Tuscaloosa told me, “You see a lot of anger in foreclosures” from people upset about losing their homes. This one seems loved and cared for.

Perhaps it will one day be the house where I will watch my son (and any future children) grow up. Perhaps another one we visit tomorrow will be. Right now, I’m commuting an hour each way from my in-law’s house to the Daily, just about burning up the new Coldplay CD on the way.

For now, I’m just Johnny, not Tuscaloosa Johnny, putting in the miles and dreaming about the future.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Vegas 2011

I started writing this post shortly after the Vegas trip and got sidetracked, and put it off, and well...finally I am not completing it nearly a month later. Here it is:

I'm back from my five-day trip to Vegas with a little money in my pocket. Nothing like the cash I've managed to win on WPEX lately, but it did pay for the trip at least...and lest we forget it was NOT a vacation and WAS a business trip. But yes, I had plenty of fun. It is Vegas, after all.

In addition to networking, one of main goals was to hit every poker room on the Strip that I did not make it to last summer. This was to make notes on each one for my website project. This meant that in addition to checking out the WSOP and playing some cash games in glorious poker rooms like Venetian and Bellagio I would also be slumming it in Hooters, Riviera, Circus Circus and the like.

One thing I've discovered in trekking around Strip poker rooms is that many of the smaller rooms are struggling big time. If not for little morning tournaments that tend to draw in the neighborhood of 15-25 players these rooms wouldn't have a poker game going at all before late afternoon. Even then, most of the small rooms are lucky to get one 1-2 NL game going. I'm not sure any games run at all at Hooters except for weekends. The casino is running a promotion where a player who sits in a cash game for 20 hours during the week gets $300...AND THE ROOM WAS STILL EMPTY!

This was to be another trip on the cheap so we ended up staying a couple of nights at the El Cortez and a couple at Golden Nugget. (GN is a nice hotel for the price, though, with accommodation rivaling those of good Strip rooms for a much lower all of those Vegas articles I wrote for USA Today Travel Tips I mentioned this frequently.) I like to joke about the ol' El Cortez, but I had heard the rooms were actually pretty good. I would say I was a bit disappointed in the furnishings (older), but happily surprised with the size of the room (large).

Brian and I played the evening deep stack tournament at the WSOP as I knew this would be one of my few (if only) chances on the trip to play a lengthy tournament. I lasted awhile, doubling early when I flopped a nut straight and a woman pushed all in against me with the bottom end of a four-card straight on the turn drawing dead to a chop. I busted with AT on a ten high flop against slow played jacks when he called preflop and check raise shoved the flop.

We checked out the stage for the featured table. It's by far the coolest setup yet:

We spent a couple of days hitting Strip rooms pretty hard, and playing lots of 1-2 NL. Of course, we had to stop in to places like Venetian, Aria and Bellagio although I had already taken notes for my research. Don't worry. These rooms are still kicking!

I met up with Jim Anderson, a former regular on RGP, to finally cash in on an unpaid gambling debt. Since our alma maters, Alabama and Texas Tech, played in the 2006 Cotton Bowl we decided to wager a Vegas dinner on the outcome. Bama squeaked by on the fugliest game winning field goal in history. Although both Jim and I have spent considerable time in Vegas in the ensuing five years, this was the first time we were able to connect.

Jim, my traveling companion Brian and I had dinner at the Peppermill, a Vegas institution at which I had yet to eat. Just as its Reno casino counterpart, this local eatery features low lighting and plenty of neon. The three of us played the late tournament at Binion's that night with no luck. I must say that place continues to sadly go downhill. The tournament itself drew about 15 players (they used to get maybe 10 tables) and the former poker room was converted to a bingo hall...which I don't think is even in use anymore.

On this trip Brian and I did perhaps the coolest thing I can recall doing in Vegas (other than, you know, playing in the WSOP ME). You probably are aware that Sahara closed in the spring. We were able to visit during the last days of the liquidation sale inside the property. Where slots once stood on the casino floor was rows and rows of lamps, desks and other assorted junk. A craps table could be had for several thousand.

We weren't so much interested in buying goods as we were in wondering around the property. Talk about access! We went back through the restaurants and kitchens, cashiers cage and coin sorting room and up to the top floor to visit the penthouse suites. We roamed through space that untold celebrities and big shots once stayed. Here are some photos from the excursion:

We checked out the Cosmo one day. Nice place, and you get $10 in free slot play when you sign up for their player's club card. My advice on free slot play is to use it on video poker, where you are likely to recoup most of the free play amount and if you get lucky to hit a royal, straight flush or quads might just make some decent cash.

Overall, I made about enough to pay for the trip so let's call if a freeroll. :)

Monday, June 27, 2011

So Close...Yet So Far Away

As you might expect, we had several later arrivals in the freeroll. Eight handed in all including celebrity guest Dr. Pauly.

We started with 1,000 chips and 15/30 blinds so I knew this would be a quickie. I managed to chip up when I shoved my 980 stack with AQ with blinds of 50/100 and got called by AJ.

I had about 2,800 when a short stack shoved with T3, another player with decent chips went all in with AT and I called with AdKx. The flop was gin in the form of Kd2d3d. Of course T3 caught up with the T on the turn and the river bricked. I ended up winning a few chips on the hand by beating the AT, but if my AK held against short stack I would have had 5K out of the 8K chips in play four handed. As it were I lost with K9 vs. Pauly's K5 and got sort of short myself. I luckily chopped with a couple of outkicked aces against Pauly and ended up heads up against my T3 nemesis, who sucked out big on TimTern to get there.

Not much to report heads up as he had a 3-to-1 chip lead. I just wanted to double so I could play a little poker with 4K chips and 100/200 blinds, but my Q7 went down to A7 and I got the second-place prize of $0.

Honestly, it would have probably cost me $500 just to get to Vegas so I guess it's all for the best.

I want to thank RISE Poker and Hustler Casino for putting on the event. This is one of those subscription based online poker sites that is legal in the U.S.

Heads-Up Freeroll for WSOP Seat?

Doubtful, but with 75 minutes to go before registration ends in a freeroll put on by RISE Poker today I can report that only two people are signed up to play at this time, myself and TimTern from PokerRoad fame.

The winner gets a $1,000 entry in either Event 53 or 54 of the WSOP at the end of the week. My Vegas travel dates are July 8-12, but that could change with a win here. Of course, the cost of a flight might be as much as the tournament entry so I might have to pass even if I won. Another post coming later...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Vegas, Here I Come :)

The title sums it up.

As the Series began I hadn't necessarily planned on going this year, but the streak will continue...eight WSOPs in a row for me. This trip will be a short one, though, and late in the game...from July 8-12.

Last year I went to work on a project I was beginning with American Casino Guide. Unfortunately, things didn't work out as I had hoped. My lovely wife, Amy, however, has encouraged me to build the website I want to start so I'm following through -- this time on my own. (And you can guess that she also encouraged me to thank her profusely on my blog for allowing me to hop on a plane to Vegas.)

The time of the WSOP main event is a great time for me to network, both as a writer and the purveyor of this website project (the details of which I am not ready to divulge just yet). It also allows me to gather research for the site. Yes, that involves playing poker all over town. Sucks, doesn't it?

As usually seems to happen before I head off to Vegas, I have been running hot at the poker tables. Incredibly hot, in fact, as (please don't curse me for bragging poker gods) I am up about $3,000 on the month. May that fun ride continue on to Sin City...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

WSOP time almost here

The grand ol' poker tournament is just around the corner. Hard to believe that it's already World Series of Poker time again. I'm sure plenty of online players are chomping at the bit, especially those who focused their play on Full Tilt and PokerStars.

I do find it interesting that while PokerStars has quickly reimbursed American players (got my meager check two weeks ago), Full Tilt still does not have a plan in place to pay us. I'm sure we'll get the money in due time, but for those who have a large percentage of their roll on that site it could affect how much of the WSOP they are able to play.

At least for those players who didn't move to Vancouver or Toronto to play Canadian poker.

Our friendly Feds may have put an end to my WSOP streak. This would have been my eighth year in a row to visit Vegas during the WSOP, but the FBI putting the kabosh on the BBT and any freerolls for Poker from the Rail bloggers is putting that streak in jeopardy. I was lucky enough to win free airfare on Southwest through a website for which I write, but we may pencil that in for flights to alternate locations.

Friday, May 20, 2011

SCOOP & Happy Families

Since we're tornado crazy around here, let me share this video that my friend Tony sent me the link to:

Insane how close that was to him. I believe this was taken in Alberta area in Tuscaloosa, which was just about wiped off the face of the Earth. No joke.

Here's my picture of one Alberta intersection:

We're nearly done covering PokerStars' Spring Championship of Online Poker, which will end on Monday. It's been enjoyable getting back into doing recaps of the tournaments. Part of what I love about my life is in having the ability to make money doing the things I enjoy. As my friend Brian pointed out the other day, it's been almost six years since I left my newspaper job. It has not been an easy road by any means, and I can certainly say that I never expected I would still be trolling around outside of an office six years later.

Of more important note to me, is that this summer will be five years since the Summer of 2006. That's worth capitalization in my eyes. An earlier generation had the Summer of 69 thanks to several notable national events. I have the Summer of 2006, not due to any big news events in the world--I couldn't even tell you a single newsworthy item from that summer--but just for the things that went on in my life.

The Summer of 2006 was the time I decided not to go back to "work." It was the summer I met many bloggers, and got paid to write for Party Poker. It was the summer I spent the longest in Vegas--five weeks--and hung out with people like Wil Wheaton. It was the summer I got to play in the WSOP main event for the first and, perhaps, last time. Most importantly, it was the summer I met my lovely future wife

which led to out future son

which makes us one happy family

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Tornado

Multiply what you see in this photo by a few thousand. That's a fairly accurate description of what happened in Tuscaloosa on April 27.

The tornado and its aftermath have obviously kept me busy. I think I went through a period of survivor's guilt. It was as if our family won some sick lottery after the tornado turned slightly while headed through the heart of town and missed our home by about a quarter mile. I think it took about a week for me to get over the depression that set in after seeing the devastation the tornado wrought on my city. Fortunately, no one we know was among the 41 that were killed, or were even injured. Several people we know lost their homes, including a Sunday School member (the home depicted here.)

Due to some professional connections, I got to write two articles for Time's website, which you can view here and here.

I also was interviewed on FOX News a couple of days after the tornado thanks to the first Time piece. For those of you who are Facebook friends you can view it there (amazingly I don't sound TOO stupid.)

Hey, at least the poker room where I play in town was missed--by mere yards as it turns out.

Finally, two weeks after the disaster I've turned back to my bread and butter of poker and poker writing. I still play a few online poker games at the smaller sites, and was fortunate enough to get hired to do recaps for the 2011 edition of SCOOP on PokerStars. Thanks Otis!

Since PS is now focused more on the Eastern Hemisphere, the start times are more palatable for us who must stay up and watch the final tables for the blog recaps. Although I was up until 3 a.m. on Tuesday morning covering Badugi, I finished up before 11 p.m. the last couple of nights.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How NOT to Play the Hammer

With the closure of FTP and PS to American customers I've seen a few new faces on my sometimes stomping grounds of World Poker Exchange, and boy are some of them donkified. To wit:

Donk limps for $2 in the $1-$2 game and I make it $8 on the button with K-Q. He calls and we see a flop of A-J-T. Donk checks and I bet $10. He calls. Turn is the Q, putting two clubs on the board. He checks, I bet $15 and he check raises to $51. I time out a bit for effect and call. The river is a blank 6 and donk shoves his remaining $71 into the pot and I, of course, instacall.

Yes, he turns over the 7-2 of hearts.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Opportunity Knocks

First, the good news. As I was posting yesterday I didn't realize some of my questions had already been answered. In case you are as oblivious as me, read this.

Also, there was a post on 2+2 from FTP Doug saying that points and medals may be converted to dollars for cashouts, but I cannot find that discussion again.

Great article on the current and potential future situation of online poker here.

So already some good news is coming out a week after the darkest day for online poker. I spoke to an old colleague via online chat today and he told me he just lost the chance at a six figure front office job with one of the online poker companies. Yet he added "but onwards and upwards. no sense crying over spilled milk."

His is certainly a refreshing positive attitude.

As we agreed later in the discussion, there will be new and different opportunities coming up. I got the nice email today learning that FTP will continue to sponsor this blog with its advertisements, while Party Poker purchased an ad on this site in its aggressive attempt to take some more of the market share.

Last year I teased about a major project I was working on with some established heavyweights in the casino guide industry. My trip to Vegas last summer was largely a scouting mission for that idea. Unfortunately, our plans fell through, but I'm considering renewing that website idea (or something very similar) especially in light of the events of April 15.

Yes, it's cliche, but when one door closes another one opens. While major live tournament attendance is likely to see a significant drop due to the shuttering of the two biggest online poker sites, I think we will likely witness a boost in attendance for both cash games and smaller tournaments at large gambling destinations like Las Vegas as online players are forced to play their trade in brick and mortar properties. This will open up new opportunities for those creative enough to seek them out.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Fallout

I suppose it's time for me to ring in on this online poker blackout. I was late to the game because I had a blackout of my own -- a tornado narrowly missed my house on Friday afternoon and I was without power for a day and a half. My neighborhood got whacked, with trees busting through roofs and power lines downed everywhere. Amazingly, no one was seriously hurt and we feel blessed to suffer only very minor damage to our house.

Perhaps we shouldn't be that surprised of the events of April 15th. Deep in our hearts didn't we know the day was eventually coming? Even if online poker was legalized in the U.S. you had to figure the Feds would shut down Full Tilt Poker and Poker Stars for being "outlaws" during the existence of the UIGEA. I figured those two and pretty much all of the other online poker sites now serving American customers would never get licenses to offer games in this country.

I figure I am middle of the road in how this affects me. I only have about $1,400 tied up in financial limbo among FTP and PS at the moment, unlike those with tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars that have disappeared into the ether. I am hopeful that we will all be compensated one day, but it's better to forget the money exists and be pleasantly surprised if we get that "windfall" in our bank accounts one day. Perhaps we will even be given the money for our tournament tokens and what nots, even if it's unlikely we ever see any value from the frequent player points we earned on the sites (about $300 worth for me.)

Most of all, I feel for my friends and colleagues who may now be out of jobs. I've had the fortune to meet a host of great people who made their living by writing for these sites, or writing for other websites and publications that feed heavily off online poker advertising revenues. Time will tell who survives and who doesn't. I must assume my great gig writing occasional articles for FTP's Poker from the Rail blog is now over. In addition, Battle of the Bloggers Tournament Vol. 6 was impending, with plenty of freebies in store from our good friends at FTP and thanks to the tireless work of Al Can't Hang. Now that's no more.

While this is truly a sad day for online poker and those of us who loved to play it (it was a great break for me during the day to hop on and play some quick HU SNGs on FTP in between writing stretches) this may finally be the stimulus that gets more people fighting for legalization and regulation. When, and not if, that day comes opportunities will abound for those of us who play online poker and write about online poker like never before. And April 15 will turn from a dark day to once that signaled a bright future.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Afternoon Poker

After having only played in underground poker games in Tuscaloosa a handful of times since John Harper's arrival I recently discovered that my old stomping grounds is running two games that start in the afternoon -- a $10-$20 LHE game with a (doubling) rock on Mondays around 4 p.m. and a $2-$5 NLHE game that usually starts before 3 p.m. on Wednesdays. These work out perfectly for me as I can go play for an hour or two and then head home and help Amy with JH and dinner.

So I believe in the last three weeks I've now played more poker in Tuscaloosa than I did the last 15 months combined. Granted we are talking less than 20 hours of poker, but I've won about $500 in these few afternoon sessions.

That doesn't compare to the haul in one hand I witnessed yesterday. I don't remember exactly how the action went initially, but on a flop of 8-T-J a tight nit pushed about $400 all-in over the top of a bet (or raise perhaps) of $100 by good player Rob. Skipper, a loose and unaggressive player flat calls and Rob calls. The turn brings another ten and Skipper calls a $200 all in from Rob. I was unsurprised to see the tight nit turn over Q-9 for the flopper nuts. Skipper did surprise me by revealing A-A. I was not surprised he could not fold the flop, but was surprised how much he slowplayed PF. Rob surprised me even more to show T-8, which I thought was a very loose call on the flop that got lucky on the turn. He nailed a nice four outer for a $1,700ish pot.

Not a bad score before dinner.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

It is Coming...

....what is it?

Here's a four-word clue: Al is the Man!

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Little Trip to Tunica

Here's a recent guest post on the FTP Blogger from the rail on setting goals in poker.

Amy, John Harper and I enjoyed some R&R last week at Tybee Island, a small outpost about 15 minutes east of Savannah. We had talked about a trip to Savannah for years and finally made it over. JH got his first walk into the surf with mommy and cried when she took him out. I suspect he will be a beach fiend like his mother.

That trip reminded me that I never wrote about my rare journey out of the house and into the land of live casino poker. Whereas I once traveled to places like Tunica, Biloxi, Reno and Vegas for weeks at a time I hadn't been to a casino since I got back from Vegas last summer. My friend Brian helped cure that problem as we decided to take a trip to Gold Strike last month.

It was basically just an overnight trip, but I managed to play two events -- a $230 O8 and $230 NLHE -- and a few cash games. As is usually the case in Omaha Hi Lo, I just hung around and then lost the big hand when the stakes got high. In the NLHE tournament I ran my kings into queens about two thirds of the way through the field. The guy who spike the queen on me made the same play four times (!) where he limped in early position and then pushed all-in over the top of a raise behind him. How often does he think he was going to fool us? Of course when I saw him limp I licked my lips and just hoped he didn't have aces that time. Guess he might as well have had aces as it turned out.

I played a $10-$20 O8 cash game with a half kill and it was quite juicy. I made more than $800 in it, including winning a pot greater than $500 with queens and tens on a Q-4-T-8-4 board. Yep, it got four bet preflop and no one had aces in their hand (much less a four). I believe I had A-K-Q-T. Myself and this old guy who played every hand won most of the chips on the table. When he cashed out the game quickly broke up.

The next day that old man made one of the funniest and stupifying mistakes I have ever seen. Brian and I sat down to play a NLHE satellite and the old guy joined up. He put most of his chips into the pot with garbage and lost to a guy who had aces up. He kept examining the board and asked, "Don't I have a low?" I later saw him playing the Stud 8 event so I see he is quite the split pot player.

One other interesting note: I played another satellite with a pregnant woman (and off-duty dealer) who said she was due in May. I overheard her tell another dealer that she hoped she would be able to deal the WSOP this summer!?!?!! So she plans to give birth and then, what, leave the baby with her family? take it to Vegas?

Some people just aren't cut out to be parents.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011


First, it appears that the possibility of BBT6 is on shaky ground. Al said he's not sure if he should host another once since so many people don't actually use the WSOP packages won to play in WSOP events.

I can understand the frustration of organizing such a major event with a specific purpose and the winners not fulfilling the purpose of the prizes. On the other hand, unless we're talking about the main event it doesn't matter if a player enter a WSOP bracelet event and wears FTP gear--since it's not on TV the site gets little free advertising. I've used prizes won to play WSOP events. I've also used prizes won just to use as a Vegas bankroll to play smaller tournaments. So perhaps you can blame me for being part of the problem.

Obviously, when the BBT is going on it's about all the bloggers who participate talk about on their blogs so FTP gets plenty of marketing via the buzz there. The question would be how much is that really worth to them? Is it worth as much as the prizes given away?

If BBT6 does not happen I'll miss the camaraderie of the events and the fun in discussing the results on the blog. These are always fun tournaments in which to participate. I realize the blogger events go on all year, but with nothing at stake I can't justify taking the time to play them.

Shoot Al some love. Promise to use any money won to go to Vegas and play a WSOP tournament. Let's see if we can make BBT6 happen.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Comeback

After months of poker hibernation I've been both playing and winning more in 2011. After piddling around with chump change on FTP I finally deposited enough money to play for real stakes and the results have been good. If not for four, and I mean FOUR on the money, bubbles in FTOPS satellites the last couple of weeks the results would be more in the range of spectacular.

I'm still hooked on those HU Ultra Turbo SNGs, except now I play more PLO8 than Hold'em. I've also hit the .50/$1 Rush PLO table pretty hard in the last week to good results.

This weekend I'm headed to Tunica for some live casino poker, which will be the first I've played since I went to Vegas last summer. I'm looking forward to hitting the real felt for the first time this year. Considering how cooped up I am in my house most of the time, it's hard to fathom that I once spent weeks at a time on the road playing and writing about poker. My lifestyle has changed as dramatically as you can imagine in the last year, but I wouldn't trade John Harper for anything. My son is the light of my life.

As for Vegas in 2011? My streak of attending the last seven WSOPs will not continue unless I "win" my way to Sin City this summer. This brings me to the point that I think has many of us poker bloggers in suspense--is Battle of the Bloggers 6 imminent? Considering we thought it had bit the dust last spring yet Al managed to score even more prizes for us I would be really surprised if BBT does not return. Maybe I'll try to prod Al for some info...

Monday, January 31, 2011

What's Right/Wrong with the WSOP

Jason and I put this together for Al Can't Hang at Poker From the Rail.

Flame away.

Thanks for my invitation for the World Championship of Blogging events, PokerStars. Oh wait, you never gave me a ticket? Guess I better get rid of this free ad I put up for you then...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Poker Goals

Presently, I'm writing an article for FTP Blogger from the Rail about poker goals. What's a good goal? What's reasonable? What should you NOT focus on?

I used myself as an example of a person who used to set bad goals. The prime one being my focus on winning at least $10,000 a year. Because of the fickleness of luck you hit some ridiculously good swings and hellaciously bad swings. Can you really expect to win "X" amount of dollars in a month? In a year? Not really. Your focus should be on improving your game and making good decisions. The wins will come in the long run if you do those things.

It's not that much different than what Nick Saban beats into the minds of his football players. He emphasizes the focus needed to do the right thing and make the right play no matter the situation. If your focus is where it needs to be you will make the same play no matter if it's the first play of the game or in the last two minutes of a tied game.

That being said, I haven't made any goals for myself this year other than to play more poker than I was at the end of last year. I want to bring more balance into my daily structure, with a good mix of writing and poker playing. If there's plenty of writing work to do I will put the brakes on the poker. If writing is slow I can spend more time on my poker game. Definitely I will look for more opportunities to combine the two by writing about poker more this year, seeking out more freelance work and posting on this blog much more often than I did in 2010.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Back in Action!

Long time no see.

The last few months have been relatively busy, with few poker hands played by me. John Harper turned the big ONE in December, and I cannot tell you how much joy he brings into our lives. 'Bama had a decent year that was well below our repeat championship dreams, and Auburn came out of nowhere to win the title. The football season was, however, fun as always. I worked almost all of the home games for CBS and ESPN and was usually outside Bryant-Denny Stadium selling copies of Crimson Magazine before games.

I rarely even thought about poker since I got back from Vegas. When I did sit down to play I couldn't seem to win, and my online bankroll vanished as a result...$20 in PokerStars, $10 in FTP and $60 in WPEX. I think I played live once.

I did not come close to the ol' five figure win, ending my streak of six or seven years of scoring at least $10,000 from poker.

Sometimes poker is telling you to take a break.

So I did.

But I am back.

Well, to a degree. While I will definitely not be jetsetting to such farflung and exotic locales as Tunica, Biloxi and New Orleans on a regular basis, I am at least back to mixing in some online poker with my daily writing activities. Those writing activities have not included the subject of poker much in awhile, what with Rounder magazine seemingly folded.

Things have taken a swing upwards lately. Al Can't Hang is asking some of us regular FTP Blogger from the Rail guest posters to contribute more often, an Jason "Tennessee Spaceman" Kirk and I have begun a point-counterpoint column.

I managed to run that $60 up to $1,000 on WSEX, and thanks for the money I get from the ad for the good folks at FTP I was able to build my bankroll up some on that site, as well. I get to take a little weekend trip up to Tunica for the World Series of Poker Circuit event Feb. 4-7, too.