I made my first blog post here on my birthday this year, registering for the Time Vault challenge. At the time it seemed far too daunting - two blog posts a month, two thread posts a week, poker all the time, and all of that for a whole year. It seemed like far too much commitment. Throughout the year the rules seemed to change a few times, and it just always seemed like it'd be one of those challenges that kind of fizzled out, either by me not sticking to it or through PSO staff just kind of forgetting about it. 

But here we are, PSO Professor announced that the winner and more importantly the secret prize will be announced on 23 Dec. What a great Christmas present for someone!

This year of poker has been fantastic for me. It started off with me having something new to do in January during my annual leave, but turned into an actual hobby that I can be proud of to tell people about. 

I learned a lot, read a few poker books, watched many live and recorded training sessions at PSO, and practiced, practiced, practiced.

The beautifiul thing at PokerStars is that every week there is something new. Micromillions, Golden Sit and Gos, Milestone hands, VIP specials, Mission weeks, region specific tournaments, just to name a few.

But what Pokerschool Online brings is the community and a place to belong. It's so easy to live the electronic lives we do, but sometimes it can get very lonely. Having a place to share the joys and bad beats with, people to tweet and compete with, and community home games really makes poker a viable hobby and not just a 'game to play'. 

My greatest highlight of this past year was winning the Best Twitterer(ererer) during the WBCOOP. And let's face it, it wouldn't have been possible without the other people who were live tweeting the event too! I still haven't dipped into the $1,000 I won, although after the last MicroMillions I'm coming close... Other highlights were getting consistent Big Bang tickets through my blogs - I was blown away that anyone was reading them, let alone liking them!

The most highlights, however, came from making online friends through Twitter and Pokerschool - FastLane, CanuckMonkey, Roslyn_akka, ArtySmokesPS, Roland, brettnz, and royalraiser. Through PSO home games, we all got to know each other a bit. Through live training and twitter I got a little bit 'closer' to celebrities of poker which made them a bit more real and my dreams of being rich and famous a bit more belieavable.

My low point was when the online divide was obvious - when Canuck felt he couldn't be around playing poker for a while and I couldn't just go over there and share a beer, when FastLane attended VIP party and I could only look at the pictures, when I went to Kapiti Island and couldn't take you with me. This world is so small online yet so large in real life and sometimes I forget it because I sit here staring at my screen.

Looking at my first goals post, my goal was just to be able to play $1.50 tournaments. I've now played all stakes up to $7 and did ok. Lately it's been a bit of a downswing, and I probably need to review some training material to remind myself of the core principals of winning poker. 

I seem to have developed a bad habit where I put in the most effort for the least reward. Here's a crude diagram I made (although I think the axes names aren't quite right). People that are really manic (yellow line) might bust out straight away, but at least they didn't sit there for three hours, and of course winning players get the pay out (green line), average players might get average rewards (blue line), and people just sitting out (light blue) did not put any effort in because they weren't there. The point is I play ok and usually do well, but just before the bubble I do something terrible and end up either busting out or min-cashing (red line) - thus I put in the maximum possible time/effort for the least amount of reward. So.... something to work on

All in all though I really enjoyed my year of the Time Vault challenge and I've spent many hours daydreaming of what the prize will be. Given that Pokerstars Twitter give out $22 tickets from hat draws every week, I imagine it'd be something grander than that.

Good luck to the few remaining entrants that have stuck it out. I think when we began there were far more entrants than there are remaining but some did not update their blog every month, some did not update their forum threads, some even got jobs at PSO, while others just moved on with their lives. And fair enough, such long commitment is not for everyone, and I certainly did not think it was for me. But here I am, in with a chance. 

See you all on the forums, in tournaments, and on Twitter.

Have a great new chapter in your Poker career.