Saturday, 2 February 2013

Reflecting on 2012 and Goals for 2013

Image: Stuart Miles,

Time flies, eh? Either that or I'm just lazy, both I suppose!

So...2012 was another action-packed year on and off the tables. I just checked my earlier post (First 2012 Post) to see what goals I'd set for 2012. The thing about making such big long-term goals is that they are subject to change with the circumstances. Ideally with big goals you don't want that, but in a dynamic environment and as circumstances change, you gotta adapt.

1) Retain Supernova Elite

Oops. This one didn't happen, but it was a very tough decision to make at the time. Around March of last year I was considering various things that were going to happen that year, and how to prioritize them in a year of chasing Supernova Elite. Firstly, I had just set up Professional Poker Videos which had taken up an enormous amount of time from Jan-Mar. Secondly, we were considering a [semi] permanent move to Australia, which we ended up doing in July. This was a really difficult decision with all our friends and family back in the UK, but in the end, we chose to follow the sun, and escape austerity.

I started my spiel for the 2012 goals by saying that flexibility was the underlying aim for the year, and I felt with those other big commitments, Supernova Elite would really be at odds with that aim. It was pretty disappointing, since I'd worked so hard at the end of 2011 to become Supernova Elite, only to lose it in a fairly innocuous way, but life is always my primary motive. Work must be to live, life must not be to work. And so the decision was made, and it was back to Supernova.

It wasn't quite as simple as that. I hate making large concessions, and one thing I was sure of was that I was going to turn this adverse decision into a positive one, not only for life, but for work as well. With that in mind I realized not having the big Supernova Elite pursuit meant I could dedicate more time and resources to coaching, and becoming a much better player myself. I was determined that this decision would be pivotal for my success in poker, and am encouraged so far that this really has been the case. If nothing else, it allowed me to be profitable pre-rakeback for SNGs in 2012, despite hardly getting a chance to play most of the year.
2) Get two students to Supernova Elite

Another fail haha. Ok not exactly, again I think there was overwhelming success with this one as well, even though it wasn't achieved. One of my two main students, 'Sooo Tilted', did achieve Supernova Elite, and with it a performance good enough for a tidy six-figure year. My other main student, BigTunna99 had a fantastic year despite not achieving Supernova Elite, as he earned a Diamond Star on Sharkscope (world rankings) for finishing at the top of the 18-Man SNG Leaderboards. This performance was good enough for a tidy sum, with fairly light hours compared to most of the professional SNG poker grinders.

3) All three of us reach Supernova Elite profitable before rakeback!

In a sense this one was achieved, since I think all three of us were profitable pre-rb for SNGs, despite not all getting the Supernova Elite accolade. 

4) Decide on the other goals which are most important, and an action plan which will ensure success. The action plan won't be grounded on a regimented daily plan, but instead a detailed and workable solution to the challenges, provided enough time and effort is dedicated to each.

There's a few things I could put here. For example, improving Professional Poker Videos with experience and feedback, making the move to Brisbane, Australia, enrolling into a Masters degree programme and achieving distinction average whilst doing the poker stuff. Fails would include not becoming a decent guitarist, not maintaining a solid workout programme all-year round, not learning any new languages or parts of them, not getting back into football/cricket. Looking to put those right this year! :)

Goals for 2013

My goals for 2013 are pretty ambitious, which keeps things interesting:

1) Get five students to 1-2* Supernova Elite (1-2M VPPs). This is quite tough, if only because they cumulatively would have to generate well in excess of 1 million dollars of rake (tournament commissions). And to make good money, they need to generate much more expected value than that total rake, so no pressure guys, get to work.

2) Have world-leading personal performance with strong pre-rakeback performance. I won't be able to play much volume compared to the other pros, so world-leading will likely be defined by ROI and pre-rakeback profits. For the purposes of my coaching and the blog following, I might try and win at a few different games just to show it can be done. For example, grind all types of SNGs, MTTs and Cash Games with top results. This could be an interesting sweat and offer some inspiration for those looking to get to the top in those respective game formats. It should also strengthen my coaching brand to show that the coaching services offered are of the highest quality and teach transferable skills to win at a variety of game types, making you a very solid poker player all-round.

3) Have five students at the top of the world rankings for their games on Sharkscope. For this goal, it will mean five of them finishing the year with a Gold Star or better for overall profit in a buy-in range and game type. This will be really tough, but last year two managed this, so the bar has to rise. I think if three got there it would be fantastic, but five is the ultimate goal.

Non-poker goals for 2013

1) Complete the masters degree with distinction average.

2) Eat and train great year round. That will mean putting on lean mass and going from 4-pack to 6-pack haha. We've made some awesome changes which involve moving much more towards a fish and vegetarian diet, away from red meats almost completely but still eating chicken once a week. Drinking soy milk instead of cows milk. Generally eating crap less and drinking less [often].

We have a pool at our apartment now which will be great, try to swim 3 times per week initially and everyday thereafter. Continue a pretty laid back workout programme which I make up myself after taking the best bits from a bunch of places. I've really found kinesthetic (bodyweight) exercises to be awesome, since they are sustainable when you go on vacation, you get injured less, maintain a better proportioned physique which is functional for sports, and it's something that can be sustained into old age. Add some yoga and CV training with swimming, cycling and running and it's a pretty awesome combination. Putting on brute mass is much harder, but I'm much more doing this to maintain a healthy body and mind than for pure vanity these days. It doesn't hurt though.

3) Make steps towards my ultimate life pursuit of dedicating most of my [professional] time and resources towards helping others. Poker is making this goal closer and closer each day, and I'm hopeful that from 2014 onwards I'll be in a position where I can shift from financial work to social/philanthropic work. It troubles me 'succeeding' in poker which in effect is automatically making me fail where I want to achieve the most. But in the big picture, it should open up a wealth of opportunities that would not otherwise be possible. Creating a long-term security for your family is a privilege, and one I am very grateful for and dedicated towards achieving too.

I'm studying a Masters in International Relations, and the decision to go back to study postgraduate, and in particular in that subject area was with this goal in mind.

Lots of friends inside and outside of poker think I'm mad spending time at Uni if I make a good living without it. Even if this is/will be true in the future, it really misses the point. I don't choose my vocation to make the most money, my vocation is that which is the most worthwhile pursuit I can follow with my life. In the short-term this may well be the case - to create security at home, a fund for children down the line, family emergencies etc. And also to create a situation where time isn't only 'wasted' earning money year-in-year-out, but dedicated towards the vocation of helping and inspiring others in the small ways I am able to. 99.9% of people do not have a choice in the matter, so I sure as hell better make the most of the opportunity that has been presented. Still, being able to make a few nice token donations, and having the opportunity to be a major sponsor of the 2012 Scottish Blitz Chess Championships was great. Giving back to something which helped you so much is a great feeling :)

4) I'll leave this one empty, because it's nice having something unknown materialize into something special. After all, life is to be enjoyed for the present - the past is a figment of our imagination and the future may never come.

What are your goals for 2013? I'd love to hear them!


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