Saturday, 26 January 2013

Plans for 2013


It's been almost two weeks since we came back from the Bahamas... Last week was kind of tough because both me and André were battling with the flu and all that jazz, but by now we have fully recovered and are finally getting back to our normal rhythms of work.

That said, this week has been pretty bad work-wise. I've been downswinging like crazy. Here's my graph for this month so far:

As you can see it's not one of my best graphs. -$5380 so far and the worst part of it all is that it kind of all fell apart in the last three days of play (from hand 2000 and on). It's a bit too much for me to take in such a short period of time, especially coming from a super profitable December...

Last Wednesday I came to the office earlier than usual because of a TCOOP tournament. I thought I'd profit from the extra traffic during the two hours leading up to the tournament. I was definitely not prepared for a -35 buy-ins downswing. That was the last hit I could take cause I'd been losing for days. The great results of December seem to be distant past by now. I'm in one of those phases that I don't even remember what it feels like to be winning.

After less than two hours of work, I decided that playing was immediately suspended. You know you need to stop playing if you are consciously not playing your best. I caught myself folding in spots where I knew I shouldn't, just because I was playing scared. No reason to add poor skill to my bad luck so I turned the computer off.

I went to the mall, and had lunch. After that, I met with a friend for a coffee. That friend has nothing to do with poker so the game was not a topic of choice. Which was good and... refreshing. I really needed to take my mind off of it a bit, cause it's all I've been thinking lately.

Lunch time!

Then, I hit the stores. This was the first month that I got a poker salary. It was weird to be spending money that came entirely from poker. Good obviously, but kind of weird at the same time. We're still on the sales period and even though the best merchandise is long gone (you shouldn't really wait for the end of the sales to go shopping), I still managed to find some good stuff.

You can say all you want about shopping therapy and how we are brainwashed by modern society to buy things we don't really need. Some people say that they feel the urge to buy stuff, they enjoy the buying process and then they regret it all once they go home with their hands full but their wallets empty. My perspective is, I was emotionally low because of the downswing, I went on a shopping spree and I was feeling a lot better when I came back. Three days later, and I still don't regret it. I just set a limit of up to how much I was going to spend before going to the mall and stopped shopping once I reached that limit. I am very prudent with my bankroll in poker so it wouldn't make any sense to go bankroll crazy in real life!

Shopping goodies! As you can see, I'm going through a candle phase... Oh, and I bought another pair of fluffy socks (they have owls on them)! Plus some completely unnecessary nail polish! Yeay! :D

Some clothing items...

One super cute top! Not the kind of style I usually go for, but it was on discount so I couldn't resist!

But enough small talk already. Let's get to the subject of this post: my plans for the year!

Back in December, as soon as I realized in τhat it would be possible for me to make 50.000 VPPs in a month, I started thinking about all the possibilities (or as we say in greek πήραν τα μυαλά μου αέρα!). Obviously 2012 was close to an end, but what about 2013? I started making calculations to see if Supernova Elite is reachable. And the truth is, it IS reachable depending on how much you are willing to sacrifice. I did all the possible combinations I could think of: working 5 days a week 8 hours per day, working 6 days a week, working 7 days a week but less hours per day... Anything you can think of I've tried it.

The big catch here is to always keep your expectations realistic. I know for a fact, for example, that I cannot work 7 days a week. Maybe I could do it if my life depended on it, but otherwise I can't. I'm sure I'd snap somewhere along the way, if not the first month then the second or the third. It's just too much for me. Another limitation that I have is that I need to take at least a month off during the year. All my family is in Greece and I live in Portugal, so it's really important for me to go and see them from time to time. And since the journey is pretty long (there are no longer direct flights, so in general it takes a full day to get there) and the tickets are not exactly cheap, it's not worth it if you don't have at least one week to spend. So, realistically speaking, let's assume 3-4 weeks spent in Greece plus the 2 weeks spent at the Bahamas (1 week of travel + 1 week of recovery)... That's like 1,5 months that I count off from work for 2013.

I've been talking with some Supernova Elites or with Supernovas that are considering to take the extra step during this year. The overall feeling I get is that it's a lot of work, but also a lot of sacrifices. In some of the stories I've heard, people practically gave up on social interaction. No more going out with friends, no holidays, etc etc. I'm ok with not going out with friends and having less time for hobbies and stuff like that, but I draw the line where my family and my boyfriend are concerned. I need to travel to Greece and I need to have one day per week to spend with André. Period. That's not negotiable. Cause after all, I could make all the money in the world playing poker but what's the point if I'm feeling miserable in the process?

That said, I do want to push myself to work a lot harder than I did last year. Even harder than what I did in December. So the question is... Is it possible for me to reach Supernova Elite? And if yes, how do I do it?

At the Bahamas I had a very enlightening conversation with Kevin Thurman and his girlfriend Trish. You've probably heard of it already but a couple of years ago Kevin (WizardofAhhs at Pokerstars) went for the VPPs record. He wanted to reach more than 3 million (!) VPPs and he actually made it, so he's the best person to give advice on how to plan for your goals. The thing that made the biggest impact on me out of everything he said is that whatever goal you set in terms of VPPs, that's what you are getting. Not more not less. You see, up until talking with him my calculations were for around 800.000 VPPs and I was hoping to get the remaining 200k from the special months like the SCOOP etc. Kevin clearly put that out of the question.

So, taking that into consideration along with the fact that I need 1 day off per week and 1 month total to go to Greece, we reach the magic number of... 3.800 VPPs daily. That's how much I need to do in order to make Elite this year. Just to put this into perspective, in December my goal was 2.400 VPPs per day. As you can see that's quite a big difference.

Later on in the conversation where I was arguing that I have no idea if I can do it or not, Kevin and Trish had a great idea: to try it for a week, see how it goes and decide from there. Before talking to them, I thought that Elite could not be planned, you just put in as much volume as you could take and then see how it went from there. If towards the end of the year you thought it possible, then you pushed it a bit more (or a lot more) and that was the way to do it. Talking with Kevin completely changed my perspective. By the way, he and Trish are super cool people and it was great meeting them! If you want you can check out Kevin's blog here.

Also, I had a conversation with Caleb from Pokerstars staff while André was doing his iPad Heads-Up contest at the Players Lounge. I asked him how many female Supernova Elites there are and he said like five or six. I knew there wouldn't be many, but that number seems so low!

I left from the Bahamas super motivated. Of course when I came back I wasn't in great physical shape so that slowed me down by quite a bit. When I started playing again, I kept the number 3.800 VPPs in my head. Here's how many points I actually got:

- 17/01/13: 1200 VPPs
- 18/01/13: 2953 VPPs
- 19/01/13: 3754 VPPs
- 20/01/13: 1756 VPPs
- 22/01/13: 3007 VPPs
- 23/01/13: 709 VPPs, snapped with the downswing & gone shopping!

As you can see, there was only one day where I reached the goal (and even then I was 46 points short). Did I try my best? If I'm honest with myself, no, I didn't. To my defense, I'm not fully in working mode yet. But then again, that's my fault and no one else's. The swing obviously made things worse. I'm a lot more willing to put in the hours when I'm winning. On the contrary, when I lose I feel like doing everything else apart from playing. Last Sunday, after I arrived at the office I felt like I had to clean and organize everything around me before finally sitting in front the computer to play. There was literally nothing else to do in there. I take procrastinating to a whole new level!

After my slight tilt on Wednesday I felt more like studying and not so much like playing. Last time I seriously sat down to study was back in November, so a looooong time ago. Some things get rusty no matter how much you play. But starting the year losing money took its toll on me and I couldn't sleep fine. I ended up falling asleep at 7 o'clock in the morning so the next day, instead of studying I took a long afternoon nap. But enough with being disorganized. Starting tomorrow, I'll go for the week Kevin and Trish suggested. But this time I'll try my best. 

My plan is this: I'll wake up around 12 o'clock and try to be at the office around 15:00. I'll have lunch at the office and start playing at 16:00 at the latest. I'll make a two-hour session. Then at 18:00 I'll either go for a dance lesson or study. I'll resume playing around 21:00-21:30 and then keep playing until 2:00. I'm not sure if that's enough to make 3.800 VPPs and that's something that also depends on the traffic, but we'll see how it goes.

In terms of studying, I'm going to start marking hands while I play. Marking hands is an excellent option that I haven't been taking advantage of. I think it makes a lot more sense to review hands that I found problematic while I was playing than to review entire sessions. It should be much more efficient. Also, I followed André's idea and made a list with all the situations in game that I feel I'm uncomfortable with. During my studying sessions I'll review them one by one.

The big challenge here will be to actually keep calm when losing money. That I have no idea how to do. I seriously hope that I'll start winning a bit cause I'm not very good at controlling my emotions so far. I'm better than before, yes, but I don't handle it well yet. Anyway, I'll see how this week goes and then take it from there. Maybe I'll have to go down at stakes if I keep losing and running bad. And that would take me back in terms of VPPs. At this point, I think it's pretty far fetched to say that I'm going for Elite. My current goal is to do the best I can, keeping in mind the possibility of making Elite my goal later on during the year.

Moving on to a different subject, I want to thank every one that has been leaving me comments and supporting me! Some people asked if I give coaching. I am very honored that some of you would like to get coaching with me! However, as you can deduct from the schedule I described above, I have a very limited amount of free time (that's not enough for everything I want to do on my free day) and it's practically impossible to squeeze coaching in my working days. So for now, giving coaching is not something I'm considering but if I change my mind in the future I'll let you know in one of my posts!

As I mentioned in a previous post, back in October I got some health issues that were caused by the way I was sitting on my chair while working. Ever since I started being a lot more aware of how small things like that can affect my health and among other changes that I made, I decided to get a new chair. André and I went chair hunting and visited several stores before I could reach a final decision.

Fortunately I found the chair I was looking for. Unfortunately for me, I didn't find it in a store. I decided that the best chair is the one André was using back at the office. It's the Embody chair by Herman Miller. And that's a bad thing because the chair costs... 1700 euros!!! And that's the discounted price we paid! I know that to most people that may sound a crazy amount of money to pay for a chair. But the truth is, that health is priceless. Not to mention that if I'm not well like when I was getting the vertigo, I won't be able to work at all... If you've tried the chair, you could definitely tell the difference from all the other ones that are out in the market. Is it worth the money? Honestly, I don't know if you are paying for the materials the chair is made of that are better quality, the research they company put into making it, or the brand... What I do know is that it's the best chair out there so I'm willing to pay the 1700 euros for it.

It finally arrived yesterday!

Last news that I have for this week is that I've changed my address on Pokerstars. So now it's no longer katerina289 Greece, but katerina289 Portugal. To be honest, I feel a pinch of sadness that it doesn't say "Greece" next to my screen name anymore, it's like I'm severing ties with the place where I came from... But the truth is my life is in Portugal now so it made a lot more sense for practical reasons. Both countries feel like home to me anyway, so it's all good! :)

Anyway, that's all for today! I'll stop here cause this post is already humongous! Thank you all for your support and see you at the tables!

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

PCA 2013

Hello and Happy New year! :D

I know it's already the 16th of January so people are already done with wishing each other "Happy New Year", but this is the first post on my blog for 2013 so I thought it was appropriate!

And what better way to start a new year than taking some time off to go to the Bahamas? Well, that's sort of a lie, cause on January 2nd I was back at the tables and we only left for the Bahamas on the 5th, but whatever! I'll skip those couple days of work cause this post is all about vacation!

I was super excited for this trip. In case any of you are wondering I wasn't going to the Bahamas to play the main event of the PCA or any other event for that matter. André had his Team Online meeting there and he would spend a couple of days with work stuff, but other than that it would just be our week in paradise! We didn't go anywhere together in 2012 so I felt like those vacations were very much deserved.

To add to the excitement, on our way back we would have a one night stopover in New York. I think I was more happy about those 24 hours in NY than the week at the Bahamas to be honest, but anyway. Overall, it was a very promising week and I just couldn't wait for it to get started!

However, we got a pretty rough start when we boarded the plane in Lisbon and the captain announced that there was some problem with the 2nd engine. We waited in the plane for two hours before the problem was solved and then we had a 9 hours and 40 minutes flight ahead of us so... Loooots of time sitting around with not much to do. Eventually, we landed at Miami. We waited another half hour after it landed before they'd let us out. Just for the fun! Of course, since our flight was delayed and we still needed to clear through customs and all, we missed our flight to Nassau.

And that's when the downswing begins. To cut a long story short, Miami's airport is the most unorganized I've seen in my life. And I've been in quite a few. We were never able to find a transfer desk or anyone else to help us with rescheduling our flight. Eventually, we ended up playing some ping pong game between TAP (Portugal's airline company) and American Airlines. The game is fun, except when you are the ball. Oh, and I forgot to mention that American Airlines was on one end of the airport while TAP was on the far other side. Which was a 30 minutes walk. Maybe 20 if you're almost running. 

Somewhere in the long waiting lines, André grabbed coffee from Starbucks. I loooooooove my Starbucks and I don't get the chance to have it often in Lisbon. So, even though the situation was bad, we kept our spirits up and enjoyed our coffees. Highlight of the day? When we were walking/running to the next airline counter trying to see if we could still make it to Nassau when I tripped and fell flat on my face. I put one hand in front of me to cushion the fall and held the other one high to save the coffee. Talking about reflexes! I found the whole thing hilarious and just stayed there laughing on the floor of the airport. I got some tears in my eyes but I'm not sure if they were from laughing so hard or the pain in my hand. The important thing is both me and the coffee were fine so we kept on running!

Anyway, thanks to a nice lady from American Airlines that refused to help us and sent us over to TAP, we ended up missing the next flight to Nassau that day and were obligated to spend the night at a hotel in Miami, along with other misplaced passengers. I could go on and on about the troubles at the hotel, re-booking our flight or finding a way to get back to the airport, but that's more of the same so I'll fast forward a bit.

We got to the Bahamas with only 5 hours of sleep. I was obviously regretting my decision to not sleep on the night before our departure cause those 5 hours were all the sleep I'd gotten in two days. Yet surprisingly, we were finally at the Nassau airport. Guess what Pokerstars sent to pick us up...

...A limo! Nice touch, huh? Shorly after we arrived at Atlantis hotel and André was only like an hour late for his Team Online meeting. We checked in, he left for the meeting and I went to the room. We were staying at the Cove, one of Atlantis' most luxurious towers. The resort was great overall and the staff was very friendly. This was the second best hotel room I've stayed in, losing only to The Palms Place at Las Vegas (surprise, also booked by Pokerstars). Here are some photos of the room:

Complimentary bag to hit the beach!

View from the room

View from the room/ The Cove's private pools

Pretty awesome huh? The bed looked super inviting and since André was busy for the day I decided to take a nap. I woke up a bit before sunset and was feeling hungry. Since André wasn't back yet I decided to go get something to eat.

Later that night we met with other Team Online members for drinks and I got to meet most of them. I am now officially a Team Online fan! Those people are great! I could literally spend the entire night talking to them and I don't think I'd be bored for a second. Great personalities, hard working people and surprisingly down to earth. Too bad we couldn't stay until late cause André was exhausted! Then again if I was in his shoes, I wouldn't have the courage to even go out for drinks, I'd just go to bed after the meeting...

The next day we hit the swimming pools. Atlantis has a great water park with a lazy river, slides and other fun stuff! It was a nice day, but to be honest the weather didn't feel hot enough for us to be spending the entire day in and out of pools. Another thing is that during our entire stay the whole place was pretty windy. Not sure if that's a common thing or if it just happened during the week that we were there but... I didn't find the weather so great. Then again, that's the Greek in me speaking, if you ask a Canadian they would probably have a different opinion. 

The Cove swimming pool

Piña Colada

See, not so great weather, is it?

The beach was beautiful

Water Slides

Walking inside the shark tank

The had similar signs all over the resort, lol!

Anyway, the worst part of all was that outside the weather was hot and very humid while inside (casino, restaurants, hotel corridors, elevators etc.) it was very cold and dry because of the air conditioning. I honestly had to wear a jacket every time I was indoors. Of course, that's an excellent recipe to catch a cold. On day 3 of our stay I got a sore throat and it only got worse from that. Half of the people I knew around the resort were either very sick or had some sort of cold. I only went to the pool one more time and then every day I'd just wake up worse and worse until the last day of our stay I decided to not move from my room. 

Well, apart from breakfast that is. Breakfast at the Cove was by far the best one I've seen in a hotel. It had such a big variety that even after staying there several days I don't think I got to try everything at least once. Here are some photos:

My breakfast

André's breakfast

Atlantis had a lot of great restaurants but since we were mostly hanging out with Team Online we went to what the majority preferred. Unfortunately for me, 3 nights in a row it was Asian cuisine which I'm not a big fan of but oh well! The company was great so it totally made up for it!

Team Online cheering up for Adrienne (talonchick) at her final table

I think Adrienne's opponent got intimidated. Wouldn't you? :P

But I'm getting out of subject here... So as I was saying earlier, the last day I decided to stay in the room. André stayed with me to keep me company. As for food... We had to go with room service which didn't feel at all like a compromise:

Caesar's Salad

One thing that I forgot to mention but is very important is that I made my first withdrawal from my poker account! And boy, did I make it in style! :P I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before but up until now I've always been focused on building my bankroll. I've never ever withdrawn money from my Pokerstars account. This however, is the first month where I start paying myself a salary. I heard that Pokerstars would have a bank in the Atlantis casino where players could withdraw from their online accounts. André and I decided to take advantage of that opportunity. When I went there and filled in the form, the guy at the cashier's gave me a chip. I was kind of surprised because when you go to a bank to make a withdrawal you expect to get money, right? For a moment I thought he was giving me a promotional chip or a card protector or something... Until I noticed that the value printed on it was the amount of money I had chosen to withdrawn. I took a side-glance at André who was at the next cashier in the process of receiving two chips so I thought everything was normal. I played it cool, got the chip, thanked the guy and left. Even though I'm  a poker player I've never actually held a casino chip in my hands so that was a strange way for me to withdraw money. Anyway, then we went to the casino's cashier to exchange the chip for money. The first withdrawal of many! :D

Last Saturday was finally time for us to leave. The plan was to go to New York, spend the night there and then leave for Lisbon on Sunday. We did get to NY just fine, although the tip from the airport to the hotel took longer than we had expected. We left our bags and went to get something to eat which I can't classify as lunch or dinner cause it was 18.00 and that was our first meal of the day after breakfast. Then we went for a walk around Times Square and 5th Avenue when André said that he was not feeling well so we headed back to the hotel. We didn't get much sleep that night cause guess what... Both of us got food poisoning! I'm not sure if it was from something we ate back at the Atlantis or from our meal in NY, but it was pretty bad. On Sunday we were both feeling trashed and it was the toughest trip back home I've ever had to make. I was completely dehydrated because my stomach would refuse to keep even a single sip of water or chamomile. The next time we ate again (with extreme precaution and only after taking anti-vomiting medication) was on Monday night.

Of course now I'm full of pills to fight not only the food poisoning (that's almost gone by now), but also the cold. I needed a couple of days to recover from this vacation but I think that I'll be heading to the office tomorrow. I have a lot of plans for 2013 and I won't let a cold ruin them!

Anyway, this year's PCA turned out to be an adventure alright even though not exactly what we had in mind... Now I just have to get back into my daily routine. My next post will be with my plans for this year, I hope I'll be able to put it up either towards the end of this week or the beginning of the next one.

Until then... See you all at the tables! :D


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