Friday, 22 January 2010

POKER

(People looking for my last India blog post should scroll down - it's just boring pokery stuff up here)

Soooo! It's time to grind. I have a huge motivation to play right now (5 months off will do that!) and have some stuff worked out. Firstly here are my goals for 2010, copied from pfu:


Online

Play 30hrs/week minimum. 4 online sessions+ preferably, but if lots of live play then slightly less is ok.

Get a coach. Maybe only 5-10hrs or so, will see.

Renew CR subscription.

Spend 5hrs/week minimum studying my game/watching CR vids/viewing HH replays etc.

Reach an av. buyin of $100.

Stop getting down/tilting during sessions that start badly, or when you bust from the biggest/deepest tournament you have left. It's stupid and damaging. EVERY TOURNAMENT MATTERS.


Live

Play every DTD deepstack/UKIPT 500 I can.

Sat into 2 other GUKPT/UKIPT events.

Make day 2 of a multiday event (would be a first...)

Sat into the WSOP ME (I'm 21! wooo)


General

Treat poker more like a job. Keep putting in decent volume whether doing well or badly, have a better mindset whilst playing.

Related ^^ Get a good routine going. Go for a jog before playing/make a nice meal/make sure I'm fresh and will play well.

Get the standard of my actual play near the level of my theoretical play. Sounds silly, but there's a fairly large gap. This may involve playing less tables online.

Make more than '09.

Keep up other activities (jujitsu, badminton), maybe take some language classes, guitar lessons. Poker isn't everything.



Mainly hoping to treat it all a little more seriously. Going to be playing a lot more live - with the monthly £330 deepstacks at DTD and £1-1.5k GUKPT and UKIPT tours (plus side events) there should be enough to keep me going! Plus I won an Irish Open seat again this year so I have that to look forward to in April.

Starting with a smaller roll of about $10-12k; withdrew a lot before leaving last year and it's needed for other things (rent/live bankroll/food etc)so just going to be grinding midstakes, and not buying into many sunday majors for a month or two, unless I bink something sizeable.

Played 2 sessions so far, 1 light sunday where I bricked everything (obviously) and just played awfully. I was ill and tired, shouldn't have played at all - lost $2.5k or so. Then I played a session yesterday which went much better, had 3 final tables including a small win, ending up about $1k up overall. Mainly was just playing well which made me happy, was worried after sunday I'd forgotten how to play! Made a few mistakes in key hands, including one horrible hand to bust in 4th in a 30r which paid 5.4k to first, so that was fairly costly - but I know what I did wrong, and feel confident I can play well and plug my leaks.

Double guarantees week on tilt means I'm going to play every day I think. I've always run good on tilt, this week would be a great time to continue doing so...

Friday, 15 January 2010

Dharamsala and onwards

It's pretty cold in Dharamsala, and for the first week or 2 I don't really meet anyone. I end up staying indoors a lot and begin feeling the miserable, wintery haze that I've come to India to avoid. Thankfully I meet some nice people at the Rogpa cafe - run by volunteers with proceeds helping to support Tibetan single mothers in Dharamsala. I end up helping out there a while, and teaching a little English to a local Tibetan girl. I also find a very nice cafe called the Heart Rock, run by permanently chilled-out local Ran, and end up spending most evenings there - it tends to attract a nice, if sometimes slightly odd, crowd. (For example, English trust-fund Bradley attendee with a craaazy posh English + Austrian accent who lived in Mongolia with nomadic horsemen for 9 months and was prone to extreme and spontaneous mood swings. Or the Indian guy who danced his socks off on his own in the corner all night, often impersonating animals. His 'spider' dance was my favourite)

After a month or so of not doing much but having a nice time, I head to Amritsar with quiet-but-lovely American couple Lexi and Chris. The main attraction here is The Golden Temple, Sikhism's most impressive and significant Gudwara. Apart from the beauty and elegance of the temple itself, the sense of community is astounding. The free kitchen, open to all, feeds upwards of 60,000 a day. No restrictions on religions, race, class, gender. Come in, sit down, eat. And the attitude of it all is something that touches me - it's not a big significant thing to help out. You come in, wash a few dishes if you want, leave. Like it's something normal, not out of the ordinary (there's a lot of self-righteous back-patting in the volunteering community) it all makes me feel a little more positive about the human condition. Plus they have a chipati machine that makes 24,000/hour - WAY COOL!



We also head to the Pakistan-India border for the closing ceremony. At first they get all the girls up and dancing to some bangra, amid loud, patriotic chanting.


Next, the guards stamp around aggressively, looking hard. It's a strange atmosphere, like a sports game; good-natured competition. But the tension between the two countries is far greater than that, and I find it a little odd. It's pretty fun though!

After the few days there, the Americans and I go our separate ways. I have to go back to Mcleod Ganj - I need to think about my bike. I'd decided to sell the bike on reaching Mcleod, but moping about followed by having fun has lead to me conveniently forgetting about it. I put up a few posters here and there, and get some responses. The 2nd guy I show it to is a friendly Austrian and he buys it after having a ride around. There are a few problems over the next few days, but a trip to the mechanic sorts it out (30rupees! 37p for an hour long once over of a motorbike - I love India!). Hopefully he's somewhere on the road on the way sown south - he was planning to go the whole length of the Subcontinent, arriving in Kerala. Good luck to him...

After selling it I'm aware of a massive release of tension - the bike had been keeping me there somewhat. I'm freeee! Some other awesome people I've met, Leo and Sophie, are heading to Jaisalmer for a camel safari over Christmas. Yes please! Sophie's already there with her friend Orion, so me and Leo start the long journey from northern Himachal Pradesh to western Rajasthan.


The camel safari is great to start with. I mean, the novelty of riding a camel is enough! But after an hour or two I start feeling very sick. I end up walking behind, and start throwing up/going to the toilet frequently. The group is in front out of sight by this point, and the guy with my camel has gotten impatient and walked on too. Suddenly I find myself totally alone, in a desert in the midday heat, delirious with illness in a fair amount of pain. Then I realise I don't know which way I'm going. I spend a few minutes looking around, and decide on the most likely direction - thankfully it was. Could've been interesting otherwise...

I end up getting a lift back from the camp that night, although not without seeing an awesome sunset:


and a shooting star, that broke off into TWO MORE SHOOTING STARS! So that made me feel a little better. I spend most of christmas day in bed. In fact the only xmas reference is one man who wishes me Merry Christmas, but then tries to sell me bedsheets.


After Leo, Sophie and Orion return from the safari, we head to Bikaner, mainly to see the rat temple. If one runs over your feet it's good luck!



After that everyone heads off in different directions - I go to Jodpur. It's a lovely place, lots of tiny winding streets and a nice atmosphere. I stay in a tent on the roof of a guest house. A lovely view to wake up to in the morning:


View from the fort:


Next is Udaipur, 'the Venice of India'. Another nice town, and some fantastic scenery from the many rooftop restaurants. The palace was used in the Bond film 'Octopussy' and is suitably grand - you get a nice view of it on a boat ride of the lake. I do a cookery course here too, so I can now make all sorts of tasty indian food! In theory at least...

Next stop on the Rajasthan tour is Bundi, a small, sleepy, rural town. The palace overlooking the town is huge, dilapidated, and labyrinthine. I spend a while tottering up broken steps and peering through dark alleys - it's so refreshing coming from the UK where everything that could possibly be seen as dangerous or even just broken or dirty is closed off. I see some local Indians walking along ridiculously high castle walls like stepping stones. My last day here is the Bundi Kite Festival - a day where everyone flies kites on the their roofs. It's really really difficult! I lose about a dozen kites and cut my hand several times, although towards the end of the day I can keep the bloody thing in the air for a few minutes at least.

That evening I leave for Agra and the Taj Mahal. I had some reservations about going, but everyone I spoke to said yes, it's dirty, smelly, noisy, there's tons of obnoxious tourists and shameless touts, but you simply have to do it, the Taj is worth it. And I'm glad I did.


Finally it was back to Delhi. As with most people I was a little phased by Delhi, but I find it totally normal now, and have a good look around, before catching my flight HOME.

Which is where am I now. Everything's so quiet! Where are the cows? The buffalo? The people peeing in the gutters, the rickshaws, the noise, the sewage, the rubbish, the people asking me questions? The awesome street food and stalls crammed together like jigsaws? The saris and shawls, the dogs and dhabas? I'm going to miss it all.

...though some things more than others!