Time for the obligatory new year blog. Obvious I know but I've done it for the last few years now and it is a good way to track results. First though I want to follow on from my last blog.
I've not blogged since
Actually I just checked and my last real blog was fucking August! The last two were just cut n pastes of old articles to show in some discussion or another. Wow, almost 6 months since I last blogged? Can time of really gone that quickly? A blog at least once a month has to be a resolution. Right, let me write down all the subjects I need to cover...
Phew. Right. Here goes.
Let's start with Black Belt Poker as we've had some amazing things going on recently, the biggest undoubtably being Nottingham Live.
For such a small company, we've always had big aspirations and doing a second large live event was definitely ambitious. Still, we went full steam ahead and ended up going well over the 400 runners needed to make the guarantee, in fact finishing just shy of 500 runners. As expected DTD was a quality venue and everyone I spoke to had a great time.
I didn't fare too well, with a super aggressive opponent directly to my right (opening 80% of pots) and the rest of the table being super tight. I was really card dead so never had a chance to really win anything.
Great weekend and I'm really looking forward to our live events next year. We will be going one step further, at least adding a 3rd event to the roster, and then who knows...
As well as all our successful academies, we did a free poker workshop inviting players who hadn't played on Black Belt Poker for a while. The venue was, of course, the Vic and this was the first project I was fully in charge of. I was very happy with the end result and think we learned a lot to fully unleash this once again later in the year. Here is the Vic looking all tidy before we started:
This was, shamelessly, the first time I'd heard any of our pro's in an academy type setting and I was really blown away, especially by Blue Belt Kevin Williams. It's not that long ago I was learning the cutting edge of 6max theory (5 years) but the game is completely different today. We watched Kevin play for a while and some of his theories were amazing. My favourite was bluffing one street knowing we would get called so we could get more money in the pot knowing another barrel would make them fold. Awesome.
We also did something a little similar for high roller players, inviting them for a free night out at the Ritz and offering them something a little special. I didn't attend as it was a school night, but it went well and we have a new Blue Belt from it, Mr Ross Jarvis.
For those who couldn't make the event we did a follow up one at the Vic and had a low turnout (one person lol) but the night was a fun one. We decided to sit down for dinner which was superb (Grosvenor food in general is excellent, Genting food however is TERRIBLE). Neil got a call while at the table and said we were going to be joined by a guest, which turned out to be none other than Ms Jennifer Tilly! Yes she's made a few errors on screen playing poker but she's had an amazing career (see the excellent 'Bound') and it was fascinating spending time with her, she had some great stories about the big Hollywood poker games and she was very down to earth.
Online we hosted the iPops, the iPoker Online Poke Series, which had $1m in Guarantees. This was super sick and one the online tournament pro's really shouldn't of missed out on as there was over $100k in overlays! Whether this will happen again or not is anyones guess, but I'm sure someone at iPoker is in trouble.
Last week we had the office christmas party at, your guessed it, the Vic. Great food and great banter, all the BBP pro's and office staff came together as well as Ken from Northern Poker Stars and Karl from the Little Vic in Slough.
The food was great and afterwards we had a £100 SnG. I was eager to play but against a lineup of Channing, Wooldridge, Bradpiece, Williams and Burland it was not a great idea, so I sold half my action to a missing Sam Razavi.
Whilst nearly everyone else had had a drink, I drove in and actually tried to win the damned thing. I said to myself I was going to play tight but couldn't help raising T5o in late position and getting called by Bradpiece on the button. An 88J flop wasn't great and I was sure if I bet I was getting called, but I bet anyway. The turn T was a lucky card for me and usually I would check here, but I wanted to stick with my plan and try double barreling, assuming Jerome called me on an obvious floatable flop. I bet again and Jerome finally folded, claiming 9's. Yes! What an ego booster.
I continued playing aggressive before getting my dream two opponents 3 handed, Mr Channing and Mr Wooldridge:
With the blinds nice and high and some decent shoving spots, I made quick work of these two amateurs and took it down. It's going to be a fun year of bragging in the office. In fact, the first thing I will say when going back in tomorrow is 'anyone played any poker over the holidays?' and 'I only played once, but won' hahaha.
I've been playing quite a bit of poker, trying to play at least one tournament a week. I've been playing most my poker at The Little Vic (an article I wrote about the place) which has been fun, but I've not had many results, save for a couple of final tables. I've travelled around a little and had another final table at the Western, but again not for much. The biggest win I had was the christmas party SnG. However, I do think I've had my best year ever, with 3 wins, so that feels good.
My poker plans aren't changing much really, just trying to play whenever possible. Now BBP has Razz, I'm going to try and play that as much as possible, but really I'm not planning on doing anything serious.
After missing last year, I made the trip to PITP this year to see BBP win a couple of awards. We were going to host a tent, but after getting a quote and analysing player performance from last year, we decided it wasn't a cost effective exercise. I bumped into Sam Trickett for the fist time in a couple of years and it was great to see him and humbling he seemed so happy to see me. For those that don't know, I was one of Sam's agents in my first major poker role, the head UK agent for PokerIcons. This was sadly just before Sam broke into the big time, otherwise I'd be driving a Porsche now instead of being in debt!
Anna came with me and we headed into China Town for some munch:
(mmmm, beer in the photo, brb getting one...ahhh nice) Sadly we ended up in a restaurant that catered mainly for real Chinese people as the food was 'weird', no sweet and sour british chinese food in sight! It was still nice though and afterwards I took Anna on her first gambling expedition, first to the Empire where she hit a number on the nose playing roulette and then to the G Casino where we had cocktails and I won a little playing BlackJack. I've started teaching Anna to play poker as it I'd love to take her to some small competitions, it will be interesting to see how the guys react to playing against a tiny asian girl!
I've been on the hunt for a decent pair of Noise Cancelling headphones after my Bose QuietComfort 2's literally fell apart. I've had them for the best part of 5 years and they've been used vigorously, so they'v done the job well. I researched hard to find a cheaper replacement as the Bose's go for ~£27o new. I first tried the JVC HA-NC250's which had great reviews on Amazon and were only £81.
In terms of sound quality and noise cancelling capabilities they were great, however, I found the on-ear design (as opposed to the Bose over or around ear design) became super uncomfortable about a couple of hours use. A shame but they had to go back. I then tried the Sony MDR-NC60 which were a little more pricy at £135, but had the over ear design I needed. They were super comfortable and the noise cancelling was fine, but they picked up and amplified the signal noise from my BlackBerry like crazy, making it unbearable without having the phone miles away from you. I could of gone back to using an iPod, but these days I like travelling as light as possible and having a 35GB memory card in my phone means I shouldn't have to use anything else.
So back to square one, looks like I will have to shell out for the Bose's. I'm a little worried as there's been two models since the QC 2's, the QC 3 (which were on ear) and the new QC 15, which go back to the QC 2 over ear design.
Am still building up my Cigar collection and my humidor is now bursting at the seems:
Holy cow, the SMELL when opening it up is amazing. I shall definitely partake later on tonight. Here is a recent pic of me and Anna on a nice cold evening while I was puffing away. I really like this one:
And another of her looking beautiful after we had a little candle lit dinner:
TV wise I watched all of Breaking Bad an loved it, for the most part anyway. It dragged a few times but the ending of Season 4 was amazing. Looking forward to Season 5, who knows where they'll take it. Also watched The Walking Dead and enjoyed it too, the same thing it dragged but the mid season finale was pretty epic and the preview makes it look like it will step up a gear when it comes back.
Curb Your Enthusiasm was awesome. That's all that can be said. Movie wise I've not really been impressed much this year, although X Men First Class was brilliant. Here are my epic moments of 2011 (SPOILERS OF THE ABOVE SHOWS/FILMS):
The end of Gus. Holy FUCK this was amazing. I loved this character and the fact he went out the way he always lived, being smart and professional.
The hunt for Sophia was pretty boring and drawn out, but I never would of guessed her end. When you saw one more person was coming out the barn, you knew it was her, great ending.
What can you say, the bringing together of my two favourite comedians, and a proud day for all us Readingensian's.
It was brilliant to see Kevin Bacon back in a popular movie and his end, plus the creation of evil magneto, was great viewing.
And finally, it was a big year for UFC. Am looking forward to seeing Overeem take the title, but my favourite fight was a short one, Mir breaking Big Nog's arm. Amazing show of Jiu Jutsu.
Music wise I've had a nice and varied year. I won't go into it but here are my top artists of 2011 according to last.fm:
1. The Black Dog
2. Stars of the Lid
3. Back to Comm
4. Brian McBride
5. Jóhann Jóhannsson
6. Clams Casino
7. The Flashbulb
8. The Sight Below
9. Kriptic Minds
So, a recap of last years resolutions (blog). I'm actually quite proud with what I've achieved.
1. Advance my experience/career/results as much as I have done over the last year.
What can I say about this one. This time last year I was sat in my room all day every day struggling with my last job and now I'm working in London for Black Belt Poker. I more than achieved this goal.
2. Work in a more efficient manner.
I achieved this by default as working for Black Belt Poker means regular(ish) office hours so I sleepy normal times and pack as much work as possible into the times I'm at my desk.
3. Take up a martial art.
I DID IT! Finally! After years of saying I'd do it, last month I joined a local MMA school. I almost started Wing Chun, but a friend was starting MMA and deep down I knew that was what I wanted to do. First the first year or so I'm just attending their striking classes, a hybrid style including elements of Mui Thai, American Kickboxing, Boxing, Karate and San Shou, which they call Thai Kik Jutsu. I am LOVING it, it's such a great workout. Here is the promo video of my school and what they do:
It's the perfect school for me as it combines everything I'd want out of martial arts. Effective styles (striking and grappling, I wont be doing the Kung Fu) with just a little bit of tradition (uniforms and gradings). Looking forward to getting my Yellow Belt this year!
4. Become healthy.
This one has been a fail. For most of the year I stopped playing squash and except a few sporadic diets where I lost some weight, I'm back to square one. However, I'm not too disappointed as I've made preparations to start getting fit with the MMA training and have joined the squash league again. I will touch back on this in 6 months.
5. Complete at least one large personal project, either launching a small business, finishing a poker documentary or releasing a piece of music.
Another majority fail. I've done little tweaks here and there on each thing though, so not completely stagnant.
Here are this years resolutions.
1. Make some big achievements with Black Belt Poker.
Hard to qualify what this is going to be, but I will know in my heard next year if I've worked as hars as I could have.
2. GET HEALTHY (inc. get my yellow belt and win squash league).
I'm turning 27 in a couple of weeks, so using my youth to compensate for bad eating habits has finish. I will get healthy this year and have two mini goals of getting my yellow belt in kickboxing and winning at least one squash league.
3. Complete a creative project.
This is releasing a piece of music, launching a small business or doing a mini film. I still have a few of these in progress and there's no reason why I can't finish one this year.
So that's it. If I can achieve these three things, it will of been a good year.
Hope everyone has a cracking 2012.