Goodbye 2011, America, and Other Bad Things

Hey Guys,

It’s finally 2012!  By the way, it’s easier to type “2012” if you call it “twenty-twelve” rather than “two-thousand-twelve” in your head.  I always first type out “20012” before correcting it (which is actually neither, now that I think about it).

2011 was definitely the roughest year of my life to date, both professionally and personally (coincidence?  doubt it), so I’m extremely excited to be done with it and moving forward.  It was a rough year for all of us who call online poker our profession or even those who just love to play.   I’m frustrated enough that I had to leave my home, friends, and country to continue working.  When I think about some of the poker players who aren’t as fortunate as me, I get even more frustrated for them.  Those with families that they can’t simply uproot, those who don’t earn enough to be able to travel back and forth out of the country and cover the cost of two leases or mortgages, those who were playing part time while working another job or going to school.  All of those people had online poker completely taken away from them.

I don’t know any more than the rest of you guys in terms of when and how things will change for online poker in the US, but I’m very hopeful for it’s future.  It just seems like a no-brainer, win-win-win situation for the US to get I-Poker legalized and regulated (my uneducated opinion).

After Black Friday, I left New York and headed to Vegas early.  I normally head there right around the start of the WSOP.  I had just started renting an apartment in Vegas year round, which turned out to be great timing for me.  Compared to past summers, staying in hotels or in houses with huge groups of (awesome) guys, I really enjoyed living alone in my own space.  That’s something that’s extremely important to me, for my happiness and sanity.  It’s the reason I don’t travel the circuit, playing the EPTs, WPTs, NAPTs, WSOPEs, and all the other letters.

Some people love to travel.  They go crazy doing the same things day in and day out, and can’t wait for their next adventure.  I’m not one of those people.  Waking up in the same bed, sitting at the same desk, walking to the same grocery store… I need those things.

After leaving my comfortable NYC home and routine, I slowly settled into my Vegas home and routine.  The summer went, I don’t know, fine.  I won a little bit in the cash games, though not as much as I’d have liked given how good they were, and how much I was playing.  I probably played more hands of live poker this summer than the rest of my life combined.  I also played only a few tournaments, with no success (whatever).

At the end of the series, I left Vegas with a couple of friends and headed to Vancouver.  New home, new routine.  (All of a sudden, I find myself having three homes… wtf)  It’s been almost five months now (though I’ve been out of town for a good chunk of that), and I’ve finally gotten comfortable and used to it here.  I love the city.  Vancouver has most of the great things NYC has, but with friendlier people, cleaner streets, more nature, and better weather.  Sure, it rains a lot here, but I like the rain.  I actually think Vancouver is my favorite city I’ve spent time in.  (As a matter of fact, I’ve really liked everything Canada-related thus far in my life)

Since I moved here only knowing a few people, and poker people at that, I decided to make it a business trip of sorts.  I’ve been playing hard, working on my game, trying to lead a healthy lifestyle, I even started doing some writing in my “free time” (In reality, all of my time is free time).  I’ve played around 200k hands since August… pretty crazy for someone who has been playing under 50k hands a year.  I started off crushing, but have been hit the other side of variance lately.  I’m still very proud of how productive I’ve been over this time.

Online nosebleeds have disappeared with FTP, so I’ve mostly been playing 25/50 and 50/100.  Sure, some 100/200 and 200/400 mixed in, and some 500/1k limit games from time to time, but it’s mostly been just (regular) high stakes.  I’m actually loving it.  Since I’m comfortably rolled, I’m not nearly as stressed as I used to be when playing.  (Spending a week waiting for good 500/1k PLO games to run so that you can 2 table it is an awful career and lifestyle)

Due to this, I’ve completely fallen back in love with poker.  Almost every day, I wake up and can’t wait to play.  I walk to my desk praying that there will be 6+ tables running… 3 tables isn’t enough action for me.  I suppose some might call this a gambling addiction, but I like to pretend that it’s good work ethic.

Since I’m well rolled for the smaller games, there’s no PLO game I won’t play in.  I’ve always wanted to take on any and all comers, as I love HU PLO, and love challenging myself.   In the past, at $200/400+, I haven’t been able to afford playing any and every game, as the risk of a massive downswing was too high.  At 25/50 or 50/100, I get to challenge myself anytime someone will play.

Another nice thing about this is that my schedule isn’t at the mercy of the games.  No game is good enough that I need to miss out on sleep, and no game is bad enough that I have to sit it out.  I can play whenever I want to.  This leads to such a healthier and happier life, I’ve found.  If and when nosebleeds are back, I’m going to attempt to make some changes in order to keep a better schedule, even if it costs me some money.

I’ve even been taking on many of the regs at 500/1k 2-7 triple draw when there’s no PLO action.  I’m not anywhere close to as strong a player there as I am at PLO, but I love the game so much.  I would honestly play it every day if I could, but now oogee is the only person sitting and waiting who will play, and though I’ve tried many times to play with him, I know I’m very outclassed.  I will give him (or anyone else) another shot soon (for fun and practice), but I need to climb out of my recent downswing first.  I really feel as though I can get good enough to seriously compete at that game by the end of the year.

Though I’m loving Vancouver and loving poker, my life is a bit one dimensional lately.  I miss my friends in NYC (and elsewhere) a tonnnn.  I may make more of an effort to make some friends in Vancouver (non poker people), as I think it’s important to get away from poker once in a while.  That will be easier said than done though… not like I run into lots of interesting people while sitting at my computer desk all day.

Anyways, that’s my life since April.  This ended up being a little bit longer than I meant for it to, so thanks for those of you who are still with me!

I’m very much looking forward to the rest of 2012.  I’ll be playing hard and keeping you guys posted.  I already have more to say, but I’m trying to keep these at a manageable length.  Please post any feedback or questions you have.  I’ll do my best to get to them (though they’re piling up fast!  Thanks guys).

Take care.

-Phil

45 Replies to “Goodbye 2011, America, and Other Bad Things”

  1. Really interesting read, Phil, I travel between Melbourne (home) and Macau (poker of course) so I can understand what you mean, although having to commute to play online is still kind of absurd. Gl with everything this year, looking forward to reading more.

  2. a good read cheers phil glad things are looking up!since you’v eleft bluefire will you do any more poker vids? best of luck for 2012 mate

  3. Phil, I really enjoyed your post. I was hit by black Friday also. Its weird that you feel bad for the smaller guy and I feel horrible for the people who were making a living. Keep up the good work.

  4. Phil, do you have any idea of who ChaoRen and FakeLove888 are?
    I’ve been following FakeLove, and looks to me like Patrick Antonius.
    About what you said of the video blog, on the other post, you could use the pokerstatic guys to chat about poker, and all.
    Do you have any information how Zee and Hac Dang are doing? They seem pretty cool guys, also.
    Take care.
    Panda.

  5. Hi Phil,

    You’re blog was very great to read, and I’m glad you’re enjoying poker so much again. Will you be playing many tournaments & big cashgames around the world this year? Might give a little break to your routine & you can see your pokerbuddies more often.

    Have a great year and the best of luck!

    Igor
    (the Netherlands)

  6. Thoughts for future blog posts:

    1) Video tour of your place in NYC; long overdue 🙂

    2) A day in the life….. I think people will be pretty shocked at how normal it will be.

  7. You are good peeps, Phil. Most people from Maryland are…glad you are moving on as best you can. Poker needs more of you.

  8. Phil, may i ask to know a bit more about waht happened with you and BFP? Of course you don`t have to go into details , but you were the only reason for me to go to Bfp in the first place,

    and after you stepping back i cancelled my subscription. I loved your relaxing approach and your insight on how to tackle the poker world. Are you perhaps in the future finding a new platform on wich to share videos?

    anyways i wish you the best for 2012 and if you are ever in berlin, germany i`ll invite you to some beers 😀

  9. Great blog Phil, keep it up. I have the utmost respect for you as a poker player but more importantly as a person. There are good people in poker and I think you are probably the best example of that. With all the bad things in poker right now (from scandals, to legislation, to scumbags, to the economy) it’s good to see someone like you still wanting to give poker a good name.

    Jamie

  10. Love the blogs so far Phil! I am in the states and since I can’t play I spend a lot of time railing you, and the other guys. I love watching you, Ilari, FakeLove888 (who I assume is PA, any comment? 🙂 ), and of course the best rails are between you and Blom.

    You are a GREAT ambassador to poker! Such a nice guy, down to earth, and like your style.

    Do you think you could write a little more on about the swings in poker you have encountered? I also like your piece in there about the nosebleed games on FTP, I am very glad you are happier at the the limits on PS. I wanted to attempt poker full time but I have very bad BR management. That was rather scary to me, as when I would when big I would often donk it off in a few days; I’d win tournies then donk it at the ring games :(. Anyways GL for 2012!!!

  11. You are correct, Vancouver is awesome city. Architecture, food, water, nice people, views, legal prostitution and most important you are away from the religious backed confines of the U.S. laws.

    That was a good read… I may be in Vancouver in next few weeks…

    Don

  12. Hey Phil,

    Glad you like Canada 🙂 I should make time and visit Vancouver someday soon. I’ve been putting it off since it’s kinda far… (I live in Montreal!)

    You didn’t mention you leaving BFP. What happened with that?

    Keep up the posts! 🙂

  13. Love to read your blogs. I hope you keep doing it and even be more active with it.

    Good luck on the tables and in Canada.

  14. Great stuff Phil. What are you currently doing to improve your game? Have your habits changed since NY or Vegas? Have a good one

  15. Thanks for the thoughts Phil. Hope 2012 works out for you. Can’t be any worse than 2011 – unless of course Canada gets into the ban game. Highly unlikely in 2012 however =]

  16. Phil,
    Glad to see you’re back up and running. I really respect your ability to make life decisions based on what makes YOU happy, not what looks “cool”. Keep being the great poker ambassador that you are!
    Big fan!

  17. Relevant to your first entry:
    To incentivize yourself to post more frequently (and also as a writing exercise) you could have regular features e.g. “Hand History Fridays”.
    Some features ideas to help alleviate the monotony of always writing about poker:
    – This week I didn’t… (something you didn’t do this week but wish you had)
    – Spoken word original poetry (for when you videoblog)
    – Spoken word original poetry in drag(for when you drunk videoblog)
    – Ask Dr. Phil (where you resolve readers’ sexual and relationship problems, perhaps with the aid of poker analogies)

    Relevant to this entry:
    It’s always difficult to start a social circle in a new city, especially if you’ve moved for work and are self-employed.
    I imagine a large hurdle for you in making new friends is the fact that you’re semi-famous and often have people who want to attach themselves to you for the wrong motives. So while you might get a ton of offers to hang out if you just tweet it, you’ll not be fully comfortable with the results.
    It’s true that people in Vancouver are friendlier (read: less rude) than in New York, but I feel like they’re also less open to “stranger interactions”. In NY, it’s normal to have a conversation with a random person at any random location and actually keep in contact after that, but in Vancouver the general population is much warier of those situations. Fortunately, it’s a big enough city that you’ll be able to find activities you can join in your area(s) of interest (especially sports – try meetup.com). And I know it’s difficult as a highly rational person, but try not to think of the opportunity cost of going out to meet new people in terms of the foregone hourly rate. It might help to look at it as a long-term/short-term value thing. Sure you could be making big $$!!!$$ but you likely already have more than enough money to live a perfectly relaxed and contented life, and any extra now is just another glob of icing you don’t necessarily need on the cake. Relationships with other people are probably* more valuable in the long-run. You might feel like you’re wasting time if you’re not enjoying a particular social event, but that’s just life variance. And you can’t appreciate fun times unless you’ve also had times of numbing boredom listening to someone talk about something you couldn’t care less about but pretend to because you’re a nice, polite person. But I think the most important consideration is: in 30 years from now, would you want the bulk of your memories of your 20s to be sitting in front of 4 monitors multi-tabling HU PLO?

    *I can’t be 100% confident in this assessment until I’ve lived my life to completion, by which time I will feel more qualified to comment on whether I like money or people more.

  18. First of all I just want to say thanks from me and all the others that loves to read your blogs/tweets(and watch your vid’s!) And I gotta agree with DN on his: “you are the most respected “kid” in the game today IMO #earned”, but also on the “#getaroom” comment, haha! 😀

    I love poker and I can grind for 80+ hours a week on a million tables, but I just find it hard to work on my game, and you are the only one I’ve wanted to see Vid’s from the last few years! You should definitely make your own site and you would get loads of subscribers even if it was just you posting once a week or so 😉

  19. Hello again Phil,well said mate, very interesting reading,am really enjoying your blogs. I’m trying to redefine my game a little this year, so hearing about your game/ balancing life is great. Look forward to more. Daniel.

  20. Hey Phil,

    Great blog ! im really glad you have decided to participate with the poker community more. As an ex Grinder, i can relate to much of your sayings and truly believe the poker community needs great ambassadors such as yourself. Sounds like you have found the perfect balance for your grind.

    It also makes me happy to hear your appreciation for Vancouver, It really is a great city. If you are bored and want to meet some non poker people, Feel free to email me . We could go out for a beer or go snowboarding, as i haven’t been yet this year, and thats just unacceptable with these mountains in our backyard.

    Ryan

  21. Great stuff as always. Look forward to seeing more as you rejuvenate your blogging efforts! Two questions: 1.) Can you explain or justify the secrecy that accompanies certain online players? I understand that certain individuals have seemed to embrace the mystique, but when online railers see a guy like “1II|1II|1iI|” making huge runs on Pokerstars, is there truly a reason or motivation for a well known player to remain anonymous, or is this someone maintaining their right to privacy and/or laughing as the forums and speculation run rampant? Secondly, I am sure that you get sick and tired of people asking about Tom, but I am going to ask anyway…. Any idea how he is doing? Obviously it is refreshing to observe your efforts towards reconnecting with the poker community, but if you have considered yourself relatively inaccessible as of late, I’m not sure what that makes Tom! Still much love for the guy, hence the inquiry, but obviously he has been MIA over the past several months… just hoping that he has plenty of Macau pay-days to show for it. Good luck in the new year!!

  22. Phil, if I didnt have school, I would move from Ontario to Van city to be your friend. Keep up the awesome blog, I will def. be adding this to my list of sites to check up on.

    bp

  23. Glad to see you are blogging again Phil, I don’t play poker anymore but I still love to read about what’s happening in the poker world.

    Good Luck for 2012!

  24. Awesome blog post. More blogs like this, that are just “stream of conciousness” style would be cool. I’m glad to hear that you’re liking Canada and that you’re enjoying poker so much again. I really hope you keep up the blogging, though I obv understand if you tire of it. GL in poker, and I hope you have a great 2012!

  25. I feel the same way on life balance. Always maxing out on EV isn’t healthy and also doesn’t make you happy in the long run (atleast I think this applies to most). Naturally I would understand why a poker player would think this way, especially when survival in the games is at stake, but my life is so much more healthier with balance. I can schedule time to work on side projects and since I’m not forcing myself to eek out every small EV I find, I find that I’m happier when I play.

  26. whow!
    great blog, very honest, great to read.
    you are a very nice person in my humble opinion.
    gl in the games, and please do not bust isi
    ps I love the rain to! 😉

  27. Heya Phil!

    Amazing read and I’m a huge fan of u 🙂 love to rail when u play on stars.

    Got a lil question, since u quit BFP will u start make videos elsewhere? I really really love watching those despite I don’t even play PLO.

  28. Great stuff Phil ! Hey, if you have extra time being away from family and friends, maybe you could write a poker book? I’d buy it.

  29. hi phil you know my name……….yes i am XSPEED
    the alive god
    the sharks fear
    do you like a challenge with me??

    how many paysafes should i deposit to have a solid bankroll?

  30. Good read Phil! Excellent summation of the last year; definently agree it was the roughest years for my life as well playing it part-time while going to school but great to see how humble and committed you are to change your lifestyle to adjust moving forward with poker and life!

  31. Hi, it’s me again:
    I posted the link to your new blog in your well at 2+2.

    Thanks for doing this. It is, as always, a great read.

  32. Hello Phil,

    I won’t say after couple of posts that wow what a great blog you have here cause you got this all day but I like the start of it. Especially Loving the header font.

    One question pokerwise,

    Are you finding any trouble (honestly) playing lower limits now as with concentrating and keeping your a-game most of the time?

    To me, sometimes when I play lower than normally it’s so easy to lose motivation/concentration even though I pretend to myself I’m playing close to my best.

    I’m also in a situation that I see my closest friends few times in a year or so, it’s really tough but at least you learn to apprechiate the time you have even more. Even though you seem to be like a person who already values it a ton..

    – J

  33. You are sure good at buttering us Canadians up! I live in vancouver too and will say its a pretty damn good city other than the rain. You should try to catch a Canucks game sometime if you havent yet, then you will be well on your way to becoming an honorary canadian

  34. Hey Phil.

    Would be really cool if you could make a video review of ur player notes and what kind of tags you have on them.

    Other thing could be talking about your favourite opponent, worst, etc etc.

  35. Hi Phil!

    At first i have to say that your new site/blog is fantastic.
    Keep up the good work!
    I like the layout and the structure which allows a fast overview
    and a good availability to all sections.
    I read all your words. Don’t apologize if the articles are seeming
    to long in your opinion – for me none of them can’t be to long
    (even i need a dictionary sometimes).
    To your vid:
    For me as a non native english speaker (i am from Germany) your
    speach is a little bit to fast.
    I don’t want you to speak in slow motion – perhaps you can make a
    short writed overview with the most important points for your non
    native speaking fans in Europe and elsewhere.
    And: A little more light – you looked so tired in the vid :).

    I wish you the best luck for 2012 and further!

    -RaWi

    PS: Sorry for my bad english.

  36. Hey Phil
    Very interesting blog.Good to see you’ve gone for more volume with the 200k hands.I just assumed you played more than 50k a year.I couldn’t play(proportion wise) the same way you used too as you said above,have to be the opposite of broke JRB for me to play(safer that way).Glad to hear your loving poker again.Sometimes its hard to keep the passion after you have played so much of the same thing.Hope you find some non poker players in Canada soon,all poker and no play make Phil a dull boy 🙂 Great read,keep these up! gg

  37. hey phil,
    Just found out about your site, rly like it!
    I like your approach on poker and strategy, life as well.
    Could you upload/make videos on how you play/think through certain hands and situations?
    In general I am not in to blogs, maybe because most of them is not about poker and not seen from a great poker players perspective.
    Keep it up, I hope to see more ! 😀

  38. Vancouver is a great place & if you do not ski, this is the place to be with Whistler a drive away. Vegas is a short plane hop away.

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