On January 2nd I won the Merge Networks Nightly $33, for almost $1000. It was nice to get the first win of the year early on but even more importantly, this win pushed me past the $600,000 mark in career cashes. Most of those cashes have taken place over the past 6 years but 2018, wrapped-up my 12th consecutive year of being in profit, so I thought I’d take this time to thank those who have helped me along the way.
As I put together this list, some names you will know, others you may not. Some of the names you know, may be a bit controversial, but for me this list represents how they personally helped me and is not a statement on all their views or actions. So with all that said, here are my top 10 influencers, in approximately the chronological order that they influenced me.
1. Pat Mehaffie- This 60-something year- old grandmother, at the time, was the one who introduced me to Poker Stars in 2007. She only played the play money side of it but it was through her influence that I signed up to, also play the play money part. It was soon thereafter however, that Poker Stars emailed me saying they had credited my account with 2 real dollars. I took that $2.00 and ran it up…the rest as they say is history. My 600k in cashes all stems from that original $2.00 freeroll!
2. Phil Gordon (@philnolimits) Phil’s book, Phil Gordon's Little Green Book: Lessons and Teachings in No Limit Texas Hold'em was the first poker book I ever bought. It was really what cemented in my mind how much of a strategy game poker really is and gave me some initial fundamentals to apply.
3. Vince Olaf (@shnoodolaf) My wife and I moved to Harrisburg, PA post Black Friday and my online game play had greatly diminished other than playing on BetOnline. It was shortly after moving that I discovered a local game Vince ran in local restaurants. This game gave me a chance to meet a lot of new people and just for fun play the game we all love. However, an honorable mention to this list could go to Jon Bratz who asked me if I had ever played on the Merge network. That same night, April 17th 2012, I signed up on Merge and played my first tourney. Since then over 500k of my cashes have come on there. So thanks Vince for hosting the game and for being a great friend as well.
4. Annie Duke (@AnnieDuke) Her book, Decide to Play Great Poker: A Strategy Guide to No-Limit Texas Hold-em revolutionized my game at the time. For the first time I was seeing how to see the game through hand ranges, proper bets sizes and a proper balance of bluffs vs value. And it all came down to then making proper decisions and that those proper decisions over time would always pay off in the long run. I’m not here to debate whether all her decisions off the felt were always proper but I do know that her book definitely set me on the right path poker wise.
5. Jonathan Little (@JonathanLittle) After Annie’s book, I had a real thirst to soak up as much poker content as possible. So I started subscribing to PocketFives, when they were also a training site. At the same time I also came across a lot of stuff from Jonathan. Books, articles, videos, you name it, I wanted to know everything he had to say, especially in relation to tournaments. Jonathan still puts out a ton of quality content which you can find on his web-site. www.jonathanlittlepoker.com
6. John Gonzalez (@BetOnDrew) If I were putting these in order of importance here is the #1 guy on the list. If anyone deserves an entire blog post just about them, it’s this guy! I first became familiar with Drew through one of his PocketFives training videos. Then on July 22, 2013, he became my 1st coach. Wow did he open my eyes to so much more and it was through his influence that poker went from a nice little side income to a second career. Even greater though is he has become a fellow brother in Christ and my very best friend in the poker community. We have spent many hours in person and online learning and growing together in the things of life and in the game we both love. Thanks bro…truly better together!
7. Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) Daniel hasn’t influenced my play as much as my attitude towards the game. The better you become the easier it is to get upset when others make stupid plays. Our natural tendency is to want to call out how bad they are or call them a fish or donkey or try to teach them the right thing. What I learned from Daniel though, was to make the game fun for people. Don’t chastise them…and for goodness sake don’t teach them…you want them making bad plays so why would you correct that?
8. Mike Gagliano (@Gags30poker) Gags is another person I became familiar with via the PocketFives training videos. Then we played a live tournament together in Atlantic City, which eventually led to him becoming my 2nd coach (www.Gags30poker.com). His big influence? Convincing me to use a HUD…yep that’s right…up until this point I had refused! That turned out to be a pretty good decision…thanks Gags!
9. Alex Fitzgerald (@TheAssassinato) My 3rd coach and yet another one that I met via PocketFives. Alex is the most expensive but is worth every penny. His knowledge of the math side of things is second to none. His books, videos and coaching are all worth it but he also puts out a lot of free content for those that can’t afford it! You can sign-up for all that and more at his web-site www.pokerheadrush.com Alex is another person that I’ve gotten to know off the felt as well and it’s a real honor to call him a friend.
10. Doug Polk (@DougPolkPoker) For a long while no one was cranking out more high quality and highly entertaining YouTube poker videos than Doug. Hearing and watching his thought process eventually led me to purchasing a few of his courses through www.upswingpoker.com. Doug has helped me to clarify some of the more complex parts of poker into much simpler terms and concepts and I’m grateful for his teaching style.
I wish I had more time to further thank those above and the many that were not mentioned. My point is this…whether it’s poker or life, none of us are who we are without others. None of us should ever stop learning. None of us should think we are self-made. So surround yourself with people that will make you better…whether that means in person or having mentors from a far.
As for my January grind, I was again busy traveling a lot for church related activities so again my volume was about ½ of what I would typically like it to be. However, even in the limited time, I was able to grind out a profitable month that got 2019 off to a good start.
With all that said…here is the January 2019 break-down…
20..…. Final Tables
7.......Top 3 Finishes
$4605.60 in total cashes (65.40% ROI)
Now onto my Merge up-date. For those not familiar with my blog, Merge stopped allowing Pocket Fives to track scores on September 5th 2016, so what I’m doing here is tracking where I would have been had they not stopped tracking. I do play some on other networks but Merge gets out 95% of my volume so I thought it would be fun and motivating to keep things going as if though it never stopped. I use Poker Dominator to track all tourney’s so these are the most accurate and up-to-date numbers as of the last day of the month.
Merge Lifetime Total: $536,846.14
Career Lifetime Total: $603796.50
Career number of Cashes: 4706
Follow my monthly results in real-time by following me on Twitter: @YourPokerPastor
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