What Constitutes Success?
A Review of 2013 and Goals for 2014

Review of 2013

As most of you know, I came from bridge to poker as I needed a new challenge and the challenge had to be enjoyable and intellectually stimulating. With bridge I could easily measure success, being part of a team, which on numerous occasions qualified to represent Canada in world competitions around the world. My first book which I co-authored, ‘Standard Bidding with SAYC', has continued to be a smashing financial success and I have had to turn away private students as life beckons one beyond any hobby.

For me, success at poker is defined vastly different. I joined PSO a year ago-thus this blog one year later-with no real experience at the game. I knew success would be measured by the process of learning. There are many theories as to how one learns and it is important to know how each of us does this best. I am definitely a hands-on learner so I need a balance of theory and actual play. So how do I measure success? Dave (TheLangolier) summarizes it best in a message to me: “I do like that you're not setting a regular monetary goal. Volume goals are better and improvement goals, in my opinion.” (By the way, the smartest investment I have made was to convince Dave to provide me with private lessons!) Indeed, as I read many blogs on goals, it seems that most are not setting financial goals, especially those who did so last year.

As a total beginner, I started by going through the Basic Courses and testing myself with the quizzes. As well I sat in on the three Live Trainings for beginners many times but remain disappointed that topics covered in the Basic Courses are not addressed in Live Trainings for beginners. Nonetheless by religiously going to Live Trainings where much was initially foreign to me, over time I felt a sense of camaraderie with fellow/sister PSO members, many who have made themselves available to help me as need be.


I first needed to learn to ‘talk’ and ‘walk’, just as the developmental milestones of an infant. For reaching most of the milestones, I am grateful to Lane Anderson (85FastLne). Poker, like bridge, has its own language and, by way of example, I was constantly saying “I bid. . .” rather than “I bet”. I would frequently email Lane, asking what this or that term meant until I saw that PSO and Wikipedia both have poker glossaries which have helped enormously. ‘Walking’ around PokerStars was intimidating as I didn’t know what a Sit & Go, Zoom, freeroll, and other such ‘terms ‘meant, let alone how they were played. But soon enough with Lane’s help, I started playing 2NLCash Games—thank you ArtySmokesPS for your lessons have helped me enormously—and low stakes Sit & Goes. 

Goals for 2014

Given I can ‘walk’ and ‘talk’ poker far better than during much of 2013, I am able to absorb much more. Thus the balance between learning and playing time is far more distinct. During early November 2013, I made a conscious decision to spend more time studying. As of now, I attend between 3 to 4 Live Trainings per week. I spend about 1.5 hours, 3 times a week reading trainers’ and experts’ blogs and watching their videos. As a hands-on learner, I am obsessive about taking notes and filing them under appropriate ‘My Poker Binders’!  I love ‘Poker Bites’ and look for new ones regularly. I also subscribe to a wide range of members’ blogs.

This brings me to an important point. I love blogging (but was too shy initially) and I so appreciate the ‘artistic freedom’ that seems to be appreciated. I really enjoyed blogging about Gareth with his infamous statement: “I don’t know how to stay safe travelling. But I have been safe and I can tell you what I do. Foremost, I am young and carry a ***** around. These natural advantages are hard to duplicate.” There was ‘From Grace to Villain’:  “I have a 91-year old Aunt who has all her faculties including, shall we say, she remains quite opinionated. We talk or see one other about once a week but she never calls here past 9:00pm. It was 9:45pm and when I saw her name on call display, I braced myself for catastrophe. And for my Aunt, this was a catastrophe: she heard I was playing poker, no worse, I was gambling” 

While most wrote about their goals during December, I had to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela and his inspiration for whatever goals we set—from large to small. I want to do more with blogging but realize I also need to be able to analyze poker hands much better than I am able to do so now. Thus in addition to the studying goals, I need to find an hour weekly to read hands submitted to our Forum wherein members are asking for help with hand(s) played.

That adds up to about 10 hours or so of studying plus my lesson with Dave. Given right now I am not even able to work part-time, I can continue to play as much as I do now, about 15 to 20 hours a week. I am confident that during that time, I can gain another 5500 VPPs and maintain Silver Star status during 2014. More importantly, I am making the transition from 10NL to 25NL Zoom as there is nothing in between. It’s an excellent challenge for me as the weakest and most costly part of my game is at showdown and this is the one place where some of the 25 NL players are better than 10NL. I really enjoy $15 Sit & Go knockouts. I initially told Dave that the players seem weaker, but he responded that it far more likely they only feel weaker because my game is now stronger. I also want to start to playing some cash games as one is more likely to analyze opponent(s)’  hands than during Zoom which moves so quickly and Sit & Goes where opening bets can range from $10 to $340. How many hours will I play of each? At this point I am not sure as during the January Challenge, I would sit to play 2 Sit & Goes and land up playing 5.

So I will keep in touch with you regarding not only with how many hours I do this or that but more importantly how studying and playing affects my betting, ability to ‘read’ opponent(s) cards from the betting and board. Dave and I discussed a weekly tournament such as the current PSO Turbo Championships or 45 to 90 player Sit & Goes. Given honesty must prevail, when I say, in part, tournaments are to long for me, they also intimidate me, 2014 may well be the year I break through this milestone.  Inevitably goals will change through the year, but success will continually be judged by enjoyment, intellectual stimulation and importantly, markers that demonstrate personal success. For me such includes a stronger sense of confidence in my betting, analyzing who holds what so as to avoid self-inflicted showdown disasters and to branch out with my individual sense of blogging. And two ingredients are essential: enjoyment and the challenge of the intellect.

Lastly, but when? I have always enjoyed research, an integral part of my medical triaining and am particularly interested in what percentage of new players who sign up to PSO actually stick with us. The mechanics are easy, but maybe we put that on the back burner till 2015!

Much joy, good health, stimulating learning and prosperity to all!