How was 2014 for you? I don’t know about you but I had an incredible year.  People always ask why I play poker for a living.  My answer can be summed up in one word – freedom.  Poker has provided me with financial freedom.  It allowed me to payoff my students loans, buy a nice car,  move to Florida, and have a ton of incredible experiences along the way.  Those experiences were a byproduct of the social freedom that poker provides me.  Since I get to choose when and where I work, I’m able to maximize the value of my time and enjoy everything life has to offer.  For instance, this year I:

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  • Finished my degree.
  • Travelled to multiple states I’ve never been to before:
    • Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas,
    • Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia,
    • Florida, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.
  • Played in a bunch of new casinos:
    • Chowtaw, Harrah’s (Tunica), Horshoe (Tunica), Palm Beach Kennel Club,
    • Isle in Pompano Beach, Hard Rock (Fort Lauderdale), Gulf Stream,
    • Hialeah, Magic City, Hard Rock (Tampa), Bellagio, Aria,
    • Wynn, Rio, Planet Hollywood, Caesars, Borgata, and Parx.
  • Rented a house in Florida.
  • Got addicted to Cuban espresso and Cuban women (there is no rehab for this).
  • Went:
    • Zip-lining in Tampa, waterskiing in Sarasota, rock climbing in Fort Lauderdale, paddleboarding on South Beach, kayaking in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, and go-karting in Vegas.
  • Ran a 5k mud run on Cinco de Mayo (margaritas and bacon at halfway point).
  • Learned a ton of Spanish (check out the Duolingo app for iPhone).
  • Went to several awesome clubs, bars, and restaurants.  My favorites:
    • Passion Nightclub at Seminole Hard Rock.
    • Mansion Nightclub on South Beach.
    • Kilwin’s Ice Cream & Fudge at Seminole Hard Rock (get the cinnamon waffle cone).
    • Rustic Inn Crabhouse in Fort Lauderdale.
    • Oasis in Sunny Isles (get the chicken wrap).
    • Oasis Hookah Bar at the Grove (mango Budweisers for days).
    • Social in Brickell (just do it).
    • Blackbird in Brickell (pulled up in a limo (#standard)).
    • Rocco’s Tacos, Fort Lauderdale (Taco Tuesdays: best tacos, music, drinks, and women).
    • Ramen Sora, Vegas (nobody speaks English, they’ll hand you a photo menu, just point).
    • Pink Box Donuts, Vegas (best $12 dozen in the world).
    • Ping Pang Pong, Vegas (best Chinese food ever; hidden gem in back of Gold Coast).
    • White House Subs, Atlantic City (can’t go wrong).
  • Learned how to play Big O in Mississippi (highest hourly over last 200 hours by far).
  • Got better at PLO (I think I need to achieve a higher level of degeneracy to be successful).
  • Was finally eligible to play WSOP bracelet events and consequently cashed in four.
  • Placed 13th in the $1,500 Mixed-Max Bracelet event.
  • Placed 89th in the $10,000 Main Event.
  • Took a shot at a juicy 25/50NL game and won 14K.
  • Busted Phil Hellmuth in the $1,500 Shootout bracelet event.
  • Chatted with Greg Mercen for a couple hours in the $10M GTD at Seminole Hard Rock.
  • Played with Joseph Cheong, Josh Arieh, Daniel Coleman, and Joe Hachem.
  • Coached a bunch of students and learned a lot in the process.
  • Started CheckShovePoker.com.
  • Launched my Team Pros.
  • Gear, software, books, and podcasts coming soon.
  • Slept in way too late everyday.
  • Won a ton of money.
  • Enjoyed life in the process.

So when people ask me about my New Year’s Resolutions, all I can really say is that I’m gonna keep doing what I’ve been doing.  If I had to be more specific and would separate my goals into life goals and poker goals and go from there.

Life Goals

  • I want to better manage my time between fun activities and money earning activities.
  • I need to delegate more tasks since my hourly at the table usually exceeds the cost of hiring someone to do something.
  • I want to eliminate things and people in my life that don’t make me happy.
  • Miscellaneous items include: going to a Drake and Lil Wayne concert, going to EDC Vegas, riding the High Roller in Vegas, driving a Lambo, skydiving, spending a weekend in the Florida Keys, snorkeling, parasailing, flyboarding, bungee jumping, surfing, riding in a helicopter over Miami, hang-gliding, snowboarding in the Rockies, and going on a cruise.

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Poker Goals

  • I’m going to focus more on cash games.  I played 79 tournaments this year and I yielded a 1.2 ROI. Although I was profitable, the time and the money spent traveling definitely depreciated the value of my time to the extent that my cash game hourly far exceeded my MTT hourly.  I am by no means giving up on tournaments.  I’m just going to be more selective with the ones that I play.
  • I’m going to start playing longer sessions on fewer days of the week.  Ultimately, the set-up and take down involved in playing live cash is such that it necessitates longer sessions in order to maximize the value of my time.  I used to be able to rollover, grab my laptop, and start crushing.  Now I need to wake up, take a shower, brush my teeth, put some clothes on, eat breakfast, check Bravo, call the poker board, drive 20-30 minutes, get my chips, play, cash out, and drive home.  I don’t have a problem with any of this but I’d like it to make up a smaller percentage of my day.  The best way to do this is by increasing the average length of my sessions and consolidating my playing time into 3-4 days a week.
  •  I’m going to spend more time studying and coaching poker each week.  There are facets of NL that I want to delve into a little deeper.  There are also plenty of things in other games that I haven’t studied nearly enough.  I want to be a well-rounded player, and I’m willing to invest more of my time to do it.

So to recap, I had a great year.  I love the freedom that poker provides me.  Most of the things that I want to accomplish in 2015 are just extensions of things that I accomplished in 2014.  They mostly pertain to time management and my overall happiness.  I’ll be sure to keep you guys posted in the following months here as well as on CheckShovePoker.com.  I wish you all a Happy New Year!

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