Spending Money (July Review)
Hey guys, it's been pretty crazy lately since I just returned yesterday from a somewhat spontaneous trip over to Belgium and London! I'll talk about that for a bit and then do a quick review of July before talking about my plans for August and the rest of the year on the poker front.
I'll try to keep the trip report as concise as possible since I could probably write a novel on it if I don't. The reason for my travels was to meet up with two friends, Ben and Kyle, who were on the tail end of a 2 month backpacking adventure around Europe. The plan was to meet up with them in Belgium and then travel around the country for a few days before heading to London to finish up the trip. By far one of the best things about playing poker professionally over the last few year has been the flexibility that it has given me to do cool things like travelling at the last minute. I've made 3 trips across the pond over the last 2-3 years I think and each time I've done minimal planning and preparation, though I've been fortunate enough to know people to stay with most of the time. Anyways, for this trip, I ended up actually booking the flight the DAY OF departure lol...although I wouldn't recommend cutting it this close ;) I didn't really have much of a choice in the matter this time. What happened was that I damaged my passport at the beginning of the month and I was told that there was no guarantee that a replacement would arrive before the 23rd of July (the day that I planned on leaving). I was also told, however, that it *should* be ready on the 23rd for pickup, which would mean that all problems would be avoided. Unfortuantely, the thing was that the airplane tickets would be non-refundable if I bought them and if there was some kind of delay with my passport I'd be out over a grand. So yeah, all that considered I decided to wake up early on the 23rd, run down to the passport office to pick up my replacement passport, run back home and book the flight and get ready to go. That's pretty much exactly what happened and after doing a million things to get ready I managed to board the flight at 6pm, which was headed to Amsterdam (was planning on catching a train to Belgium from there as it was by far the easiest/most affordable option that I found coming out of Vancouver).
The flight to Amsterdam was fairly solid and went by quickly...the main crappy thing was that I had 6 PLO poker training videos to watch on a flash-drive that snapped in half in my carry-on bag :( Without the flash-drive, I was left to watch a bunch of mediocre to terrible movies, including "This Means War" and "Mr. Popper's Penguins," lol. The flight took about 9-10 hours and despite getting almost no sleep I felt pretty awake once I arrived in Amsterdam due to adrenaline and a lot of caffeine. Travelling by yourself can be both fun and stressful...like I enjoy being able to go at my own pace and being able to experience things on a different level but having to figure out everything by yourself can be tough (especially when you're in a place that doesn't have English as a first language). I knew that things would become easy once I rendezvoused with Ben and Kyle in Belgium but until then I just had to figure out what train to take from Amsterdam to Antwerp, how to find my hotel for the first night in Belgium and then where to meet with the guys and how to do that. Fortunately, I caught the train to Antwerp, Belgium straight from the airport in Amsterdam and then my hotel was booked about 5 minutes away on foot (not a coincidence). I had to book a hotel for the first night because Ben and Kyle were staying with one of Ben's friends and it was unsure if there would be room for me...I was very happy to have the hotel regardless though, after such a long time travelling being able to sleep and shower in a nice hotel is pretty much priceless. Once I made it to the hotel, things worked themselves out nicely since I had access to free wifi and could come into contact with my friends. It didn't take long to meet up with them, as well as the two guys that they were staying with, right in the heart of the city of Antwerp.
Over the next 5 days or so, Ben, Kyle and I would spend our time exploring Antwerp with the help of Ben's friend, who was nice enough to play tour guide for us. We saw pretty much the entire city on foot and did a ton of walking the whole time that we were there. I liked the city a lot and found it to be very interesting with many old buildings and cool architecture. I think what I liked the most about Antwerp was that there is a body of water that runs through the city (actually part of the North Sea I think) and along the body of water there are a few man-made beach areas. In these areas, there is basically bean bag chairs, lounge chairs and umbrellas all set out for people to relax on and best of all there are cabana bars like 50 feet away to grabs drinks at. There are also beach volleyball courts set up that are free to use as well as music usually playing the whole time. It was awesome...it would be really sweet if Vancouver would set something up like this but I don't expect that to happen any time soon. This pic below doesn't capture anywhere close how nice the areas actually were (and it wasn't sunny here) but you get the idea.
This pic is from the top of a museum (we didn't actually explore the museum but you get a sweet view of the city from up top)
I got a small taste of the Belgium nightlife as well. We went out a few nights, one to a pretty sweet club. Drinking seemed cheap in the clubs and you could get a bottle of beer for like 2-3 euros, instead of $4.5-$6 back home. The music is almost all US top 40 stuff, which felt familar since it's mostly the same stuff that they play here in Vancouver but was also kinda boring. Actually most of the radio stations played almost all English music as well, which I found a bit weird since English was a distant 2nd or 3rd language it seemed. Anyways, the club was a lot of fun and the main thing that I noticed between the place and clubs back home was that on the dance floor in Belgium, nobody does the dirty grind as they would back in Van and instead just kind of stands around and talks more than anything else. Pic from the club:
After our time in Belgium was over, we headed on a train to Ashford, Kent. We were staying at Ben's aunt's place, which felt like a bed and breakfast and was amazing after having endured sleeping on a half-inflated air mattress every night in Antwerp (though the price was right :)). We were only in town for 2 nights but I was pleasantly surprised by the area. There were some fun bars that had a real local vibe to them and we went out for dinner at a really nice Italian restaurant one night. There was also a nearby castle in a place called Dover and we spent one day exploring the building and took lots of pics...
After we left Ashford, our last stop of the trip was London. I figured the city would be pretty crazy with the Olympics in town and indeed things were busy. We did minimal site seeing around the city as I had already visited the city a couple of times and we wanted to join in all the partying that was taking place centered around the games. We bought some Canadian attire from the Canada House in Trafalgar Square so we could represent Canada as much as possible and support our guys/gals. Pic at the official olympic clock:
Although we didn't get tickets to watch any of the events in person, it was awesome to see that Hyde Park was turned into a giant international party for free. There were 4 giant screens that were each showing different events within a fenced-off area, as well as food stands and beer gardens lining the walls. It was an awesome experience to be a part of the excitement, even if Canada generally sucks at the summer games.
For time saving reasons, that was that! I had to wake up early to catch a 9:25am flight back to Vancouver and spent yesterday sleeping for 12-14 hours, waking up 5-6 times during the process. I managed to sleep in until 6:30am today though so hopefully the worst of my jet-lag will be behind me. I had a blast on the trip and look forward to travelling more in the future.
Alright, on to some poker! So, I was hesitent to even bother doing a July review since I only played like 9 days but I suppose I might as well. My PLO experiment went very poorly, with my actually slipping a tad over my stoploss of $3K at the end. However, factor in FPP's that I earned and the 100K milestone bonus and I'm down less than $1k.
So yeah, even though the results were pretty bad as you can see from the stats I was playing well enough to break-even over this sample if I ran at EV. That stat alone, combined with the great vpp rate of .52/hand has given me enough reason to not give up on PLO just yet. My plan for August is to stick with PLO, settle into playing 8-9 tables max and to work on my game and play a set schedule for the month. What I hope to accomplish this month is to really nail down some heavy volume so that I give myself a chance to fight through some variance and most importantly capitalize on rakeback. I think that whenever you try something new in poker you need to try to prepare for the worst case scenario and see if you can accept that. For me, I've calculated that I should be able to earn around 70K VPP's this month, which will net me about 1 $4K bonus and almost get me to the 200K milestone. Keeping that in mind, even if I lose like $6K at the tables, I will basically be breaking even still after rakeback and my bankroll will be fine. Obviously it will suck (and I could lose even more than $6K, in which case I may have to just give up) but I will be alright. Instead of a stop-loss, this month will be more centered around volume goals now that I have a clear schedule for the rest of the month (aside from 3 days when I'm off on a fishing trip). I think it will be important to try and do well in August so that I can try and chase down some bigger milestone bonuses before the end of the year in the coming months. I'm even thinking about 2013 at this point and the possibility of getting SNE again. If things blow up in my face in August on the PLO front, then it'll be back to NLHE come Sept. It should be interesting and I'll keep you all posted and will try to blog more progress more frequently this month.
Thanks for reading all of that, I appreciate it.
gl at the tables!