Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Hand History - Part 15: The Final Shove

Well it looks like I won't have much time for poker over the next three years. Or neccessarily that much money either. I've done the calculations and whilst I won't be living light and will no doubt have enough for some sort of leisure, I don't want to factor poker in to my estimates. For a start it would be a bit lame. And in any case I should like to begin saving, saving in such a way that each year can see a sort of incremental increase in prosperity until such time as I end up marrying and buying a semi-detached in Acton or something.

It even looks unlikely that I'll have a Vic session prior to my September start, although I would like to see the place again before too long. The last time I was there was in Janaury pretty much the weekend before applications started. And it's well over two years since I first set foot in there as can be read about in my previous Hand History.

Well now it is time to bring the story to a close. I don't pretend this to be an easy task: the gap between April 2009 and now has been a long one and there have been fewer great easily memorable 'set pieces'. But I shall do my best to relate them now.

The days immediately following the Vic session were pretty low. I did not feel that I had been through some odd rite of passage. I actually felt genuinely foolish. However the loss had no immediate financial effect and in no way impacted on my ability for study, which is infact usually strengthened in times of misery. Two days after my Vic session I was in a cardroom once more for the UKSPC in Birmingham. I was genuinly excited about the event but was playing pretty recklessly and was out before the dinner break. I decided my dignity was worth more than a free meal so rather than hanging around for the buffet I went home under the full veil of glumness.

There were no more major events during this period (up till the end of exams and after). I remember one May afternoon (self designated-day off) I pretty much sat downstairs in my dressing gown playing tournaments on full tilt, making a loss of about $50 which in my dense mental state seemed like a 'fucking waste' rather than a legitimate investment. Generally speaking if you're still in your dressing gown by mid-afternoon and have not washed it's hard to have a healthy mindset about anything. I also won Pokersoc a second time (post-exams) although it was only for a £100 prize. That plus a visit or two to Stanleys (or Noobleys or Stanjokes as we have alternatively called it) and the occasional home game (including an 8-man £20 tourney). DKSOP still existed but was neither as intense nor as regular as it had been in previous years- credit the fact that third year work actually meant something beyond simply copying and pasting! That and the fact that our second year poker-protaganist (always the first to suggest a trip to the casino or to double the stakes) had long left us.

In June there was also the pokersoc final HORSE and NLHE deepstacks, both of which I enjoyed but neither of which I cashed in.  I recall the very last poker games I played at uni being as followes: a fancy dress NLHE tourney at Pokersoc (I came as Phil Hellmuth but busted v. early on) and a three-way £1/£2 mixed game with Goblin and the Conjurer. The pokersoc game was rather offputting: when you see four maths/physics/computer science students/graduands jumping up and down to some music drunk on lager in the Ramphal Building you sort of lose respect for the majesty of the institution (Pokersoc). I feelings when I first entered Pokersoc 33 months earlier were a mixture of florrid confusion and reverence. Gone were the heavy smoking pro's of 2006 (a high proprotion of whom were humanties students). In were the geeks. It isn't gangsters who give poker a bad name these days, it's the misplaced-testostrone bermuda shorts striped shirt BSc's with no discernable interests outside drinking, mathematics, gambling and pornography pay-sites.

Not that I was too different back in July 2009 anyway. From a period stretching July to November (excluding October when I was in Peru) I did get to know the evening tournament schedule on Pokerstars fairly well, and valued having spare evenings in which to grind. To be honest this was one of the most unproductive periods of my life but then... 'life'? I had not decided yet what I wished to do with it anyway, and I had the luxury of time.

One of the features of this period was the WkdSOP, an online series set up by a uni player from the year below and co-managed by me. Aptly enough he came first and I came second. But I didn't really enjoy it. I got easily and quite intensely frustrated at losing to these pokersoc people.

In early September Goblin and the Conjurer came down briefely for another Brighton rack. There were no huge cashes and we lost quite a bit of money. It wasn't even that fun either - when you have two gamblers and it's going badly it's easy enough to cope with. But in a group of three it's easier to get cantankerous, and the idea that you should be doing something better with your time becomes more infectious.

In late September (just before Peru) I had two significant poker experiences. One was live cash at the Vic: Goblin and I had a split going. I finished up quite a bit, but he finished down by a greater amount. So overall we were down quite a bit (no specifc numbers here!) but it was good to play sensibly at the Vic in contrast to my previous attendance. A few days later I scored just under $1,000 in a $5 turbo on Stars. If there had ever been a time for me to consider playing with a serious bankroll, this was it. I had nearly $1300, and ample cushion for comfortable 25NL play, $11 MTTs and $16 STTs, presuming I was EV+ at all three. But I had this little holiday to Peru coming up, so I pretty much withdrew most of it and, ironically, exchanged it for dollars (this being the peg-currency of the Pervuain New Sol).

It was after Peru that I decidedly started playing less poker. I was still interested in it and still drooled over live/online series scehdules but... I wasn't really playing. The long sessions and frequent nights of online tournaments never really returned. It was more sporadic. In early November I did sort of set off on a $25NL grinding project but I stopped that after about a week, and never again was there the same sort of  'project-based' approach to poker. I wanted poker to fit in with other aspects of my life, not the other way around, and I was more interested in the quality of the games I played rather than the frequency.

So it was, that in January I had a trip to the Midlands. It was mainly to visit friends but I also planned to play some poker. Not that the two are incomptabible. The Pokersoc (at least those from the year below) were still about and a home game was organized (5p/10p, deep stacks and a lot of pizza and lager). Goblin lived up in Nottingham, so we went a few nights to DTD. I love DTD even though I've never actually won anything there* and it's odd to think that, though I haven't been there for ages I still remember it extremely clearly.

*Actually I did win something there, just not a tournament: I managed to triple my £40 stack in a 50/1 game after flopping a low flush.

The next major poker session was in early April. I had gone to Goblin's house in Surrey. The election had just been called and it was an exciting time, although frankly I was in the grips of hypochondria (when one worry is over a new one quickly fills the void) something which I snapped out of by the summer when my life became more interesting. Still, this was one of the best poker sessions ('racks') we'd ever had. Despite there being very little in the way of cardrooms nearby (we mainly played online) we were only 40 minutes from Waterloo (I say only...). We were both now enthusiasts for the Vic (Victhusiasts) and I proposed the idea of an all-night session there. After all it was already early evening and if we wanted to go there, we'd better do it properly. So we did. After dinner we sat down at around 9 and weren't out till dawn (which at that time was around 5am). We took a morning tube service to Waterloo and then the early train to Hampton Court. Oddly enough I can't actually remember the result of that session, but it was a great experience. On the final night of the rack we managed to get in the top 1% of the Sunday Quarter Million (as it was then - I don't actually know what it is now) but that only fetched us a couple of hundred, enough to cover earlier losses, I dare say.

On my return to Brighton there came what can probably be called the very last thing even resembling a poker 'project', an attempt to grind up a little money (c. $120 on my Stars account) multitabling $3.25 45 seaters. I don't think I played more than 20 or so of these in the end. Over the next few months I playing activity basically came to nil.

It wasn't until late June when I came to the Midlands again (and what a bittersweet trip that was!) that I was back to the card table. There was the Pokersoc annual deepstack. I was disappointed by the pokersoccers amongst me - I began to realise I no longer had anything in common with any of them (if ever I had). In the second leg of my Midlands trip (early July) I was at Nottingham again and played what to date has been my highest-buyin tourney, a £168 monthly special at DTD. I actually made it a few hours in but no cash.

From July to January I hardly played any poker at all. This is essentially because I was trying to sort out my life which, piece by piece, I did. However, I didn't have any particularly strong desire to play poker either, certainly not online. The only sort of poker which did interest me was live cash at the Vic, where I had a session in early December with Goblin.

At the end of January I had my final Vic session. It was a 1/1 allnighter with Goblin and was the first time I'd gone to the Vic with anything resembling a proper roll for the occasion. We did well and had a great time too, leaving the cardroom around 10 or 11 hours after our arrival. My experience inspired me to reread Harrington on Cash but all that enthusiasm came to and end very quickly. I think I had known at the time that that Vic session would be the last for a while. We all need inspiration from time to time, and much came to me in the late January/early February period. My friends were going places, my London Lust was never stronger, I had nothing else on the horizon and I had sorted out everything else in my life. All I needed now was a good graduate scheme in an accountancy firm. This would keep me away from the poker rooms right up until July (although I had my offer in June).

I still played a bit of poker during applications season but it was minor online stuff. Friend-from-uni set up another mini-series in March using Pokerstars homegames (excellent innovation). I only played a few events but soon stopped in favour of interview preperation. On 6th April (two days before my Big Four interview telephone interview) I remember seeing myself registered for the tourneys thinking to myself "why on earth am I playing a poker tourney tonight? I have an interview in two mornings' time. What makes me so special!"

I made myself lots of promises about things I'd enjoy post-applications season. Whilst I had banned myself from live poker during applications season, it was not specifically one of the things I looked forward to as a motivator. I had always supposed that I would have one live tournament session (which I did in July) and one Vic Session (which I may yet do this month) but nothing more extravagent than that. I think it's fair to say that I'm no longer really a poker player like I was at university. I have my own interests and an ambitions now which have nothing to do with poker. Sure, having a good salary will no doubt make it easier to play any big tourneys I might one day be interested in (liferoll permitting) but this is no longer something which dominates my thoughts. And if ever I needed confirmation that having poker as your main hobby essentially destroys your social life and (to some extent) self-worth, I saw it at the UKIPT, sitting with the grinders

As the title suggests this shall be the last hand history. If I have any more significant poker episodes during the lifetime of this blog I shall post them. But I'm not planning to rebuy anytime soon.

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