Road to Vegas 2020: Relocating and Rebuilding

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Road to Vegas 2020: Relocating and Rebuilding

So, you may have seen the pretty active journal I kept over the past ~year, in which I described a return to poker after a long absence. This documented an emotional rollercoaster results-wise, as I attempted to play full-time (and didn't exactly succeed).

Between my biggest MTT win ($7.7k online from a $55 buy-in) and other final tables/binks, my improbable and expensive live MTT cashless streak, and my first ~85k hands of online cash being a losing endeavor... there was just a lot to talk about.

So much so that I think it's prudent to start a new thread for the new chapter of my poker career, which is marked by a few different things (some good, some bad):

First, my return home from Las Vegas after what I hope is an annual visit.

Second, increased confidence in my poker skill.

Third, a continuing struggle to build a (semi-)professional bankroll and define my relationship to poker.

Fourth, an upcoming move to a far more poker-friendly region of the US than my current home of Atlanta.

As to the first point, you can see in the final (subtantial) post of my previous thread that I was deciding to cancel my summer Vegas trip, with some disappointment.

Well, FOMO got the best of me. That feeling combined with some boring details that made the travel itself relatively inexpensive resulted in me heading out June 6-12.

As always, I enjoyed Vegas. I'm one of those vegan types you hear about, and it's just a fantastic town for that diet (despite the Rio itself not being great for options if you're there playing the WSOP).

Results-wise, it was a mixed bag like pretty much all of my poker trips in the past year have been. Same story as pretty much always: crush cash games and run miserably in tournaments.

Not counting satellites, this Vegas trip extended my live MTT cashless streak to 22. And because live MTT price points are very much in my shot-taking range bankroll-wise, this has been really difficult on me financially.

But it's not all bad. I was able to play various mixed game MTTs that I really enjoyed despite zero cashes (came close in the Orleans $300 big bet mix, in which I played NL27 for the first time and found out that a king is either a good bluffcatcher or... a bad bluffcatcher for jerks that I was just unfortunate to bet pot into having seen two deuces and two sevens and pairing), including the $1,500 8-game bracelet event after I binked the first Rio STT I played for $1k in lammers. Sadly, I was pretty card dead for most of the $1500's day 1. After being down to about 25% of the starting stack... I eventually got back up to nearly the 10k starting chips, and then noted mixed game killer Chris Vitch sat at my table (great hair; seemingly friendly guy; unwelcome MTT opponent). He caught a better 8 than me in a medium-sized 27TD pot I started way ahead in, and then he busted me on a NLHE coinflip. (Then he finished 8th, so at least my chips didn't go to waste, I suppose!)

I also played the $600 PLO bracelet event and didn't even last two levels, calling down the nuts with the second nuts in a 3bet pot. Frustrating. PLO is my best game and I came into the event with loads of confidence, and I know I didn't do anything wrong. I had JdJs7d7s OOP, KsQs4s flop... couldn't do anything but call down when the board didn't pair, unless unknown 3betting villain is never bluffing the bare As (or value-cutting with a set or lower flush).

Speaking of PLO confidence, a big story in my previous thread was my frustrations over poor PLO cash results despite hours and hours of study and dedication. I still don't know whether it was just luck or a still-developing PLO mind or what, but I'm trying to put 2018's PLO disappointments behind me, because I just have too much PLO knowledge to not try and profit from it. And it's a game that people just play so badly... especially at the Flamingo $1/$1 game on my final day in Vegas when I bought in for $100 and cashed out $1320 in chips (my best cash session result so far, lifetime). Thanks to the guy who showed up the previous night and decided to drink instead of sleep through the night and into the late morning; dude got me unstuck in cash for the trip.

By no means was that the only crushable low-stakes PLO game I played on my trip, but it made me realize that I really do tend to have a considerable edge in most PLO lineups. This is due in no small part to me spending a lot of time on the game away from the tables over the past year. The simple knowledge that most people are too loose-passive preflop and too tight on the river (and many boards in general) is a license to print money in the current PLO economy, and I'm going to try to maintain a better mental game over the next 12 months in order to take advantage of that without becoming unduly stressed by PLO's swings.

Hopefully this rebuilds my bankroll and reveals to me the relationship I want to have to poker through 2019 and beyond. Last October, my bankroll was approaching professional territory and then I went on an extremely challenging downswing, including but not limited to the live MTT cashless streak that I'm still trying to break to this day.

As I've written about before, annual trips to the WSOP are a pretty primary poker goal for me. And after months and months of being anxious that I wouldn't have the bankroll for a proper (if modest) 2019 WSOP outing... having visited Vegas and taken my shots for 2019 without utterly bankrupting myself leaves me with basically a full year to try again. That's a relief in a lot of ways (less pressure than "omgomg do I book a hotel for WSOP next month or not what if I go 0-for again" ruminations), and it opens an exciting new chapter in my poker career.

I'm still figuring out what "trying again" means to me though, as well as what is important to me in poker outside of Vegas summers. I know I'm eager to see if I can have a less discouraging online PLO cash career than I experienced in 2018, but I've also recently become enamored with Jackpot Sit n Go games (having cut my teeth on STTs when they still ran often in the US at meaningful stakes) and I always enjoy MTTs and mixed games.

I'm not sure what my playing schedule will look like. A dozen JSNGs a day? 10k PLO cash hands a month? MTTs every Sunday and afternoon? All of the above? No matter what, I expect it to be somewhat modest (and relatively aggressive, BRM-wise), as even without my disappointing 2018 results I'm not sure I enjoyed the full-time poker experience. But even as a part-time player, I have pretty significant goals.

I mostly just want to be able to compete at the level I believe I'm at and profit accordingly over time. I don't think it's overconfident to believe myself to be +EV in live MTTs up to and including $1500 bracelet events in most variants of poker, as well as (at the very least) low stakes cash games. I've just studied and played for too many hours to not be able to hold my own, especially in what are typically very "rec"-heavy fields.

So I'm just trying to put myself in a position to rebuild a bankroll that allows for at least occasional shots at live MTTs and some modicum of supplementary income outside of that. And after being in a veritable poker desert, I'm soon going to be making a move that will increase the poker opportunities I have in front of me.

After restarting my poker career in the US post-Black Friday and 200 miles from a legitimate poker room, I'm going to be moving to Philadelphia. My wife fell in love with the city and found a job there (she's awesome), and we're going to be leaving Atlanta for this new chapter of our lives in a matter of weeks.

It was not a primary factor in our decision to move, but the poker-friendliness of Philadelphia is certainly a very significant plus for me.

In July, PokerStars is reportedly coming online for a PA market bigger than what is available in NJ... to say nothing of if they can get a shared player pool despite the recent DoJ Wire Act opinion, and I'll newly have Parx/Borgata/etc in my proverbial backyard.

I'm hoping to visit Borgata for their July tournament series, though this depends on our moving schedule. On the 14th there's a mixed tournament and on the 16th there's a PLO tournament, so hopefully it makes sense for me to play one or both. I'm not holding my breath, but the dates are circled in my calendar.

And I'm really hoping that PokerStars PA can sustain some mixed game and/or Zoom PLO traffic sooner than later, as it potentially makes my poker goals far more achievable than they are now.

Either way, I'm excited about the geographical change that's coming for me, and I feel newly invigorated to work towards a sustainable bankroll for WSOP 2020 (and probably some other festivals along the way).

And while I'm apprehensive about the prospect of playing full-time per se, my passion for poker is here to stay, and it should be an interesting year for my poker career between now and next June.

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