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Year In Review

by Gavin Griffin |  Published: Dec 25, 2013


Gavin GriffinWe’re coming up to the end of the year and it’s always a good time to take stock of how things have gone and look forward to next year. 2013 has been good to my family and me. We welcomed our son into the world at the tail end of last year and have gotten to watch him flourish. He’s almost walking and by the time you’re reading this, he’ll be just over one year old. The best thing about what I do for a living is getting to spend so much time with him. Many dads don’t get to be as involved as I am in his life and I’m very grateful for it. It means that I don’t get quite as much sleep as I’d probably like, but I’m willing to sacrifice that sleep for some special time with my family.

Because of the fact that I’ve been taking care of my son for a good portion of the year and my wife had to work more than we thought she would, I didn’t put as many hours in at the tables as I would have liked. My results, however, were good. I put up an acceptable hourly in cash games and finished the year with a profit in tournaments. I’m slowly chipping away at that makeup figure and hope to be out of it by next year.

I really got excited about mountain biking this year and I’ve tried to go two-to-three times per week or more. I’ve probably spent more time outside enjoying the beautiful Southern California weather and scenery than I have in the previous six years combined. I took some lumps along the way learning about riding, but bruises go away while the time I’ve spent and the friends I’ve made mountain biking will stay with me.

My wife and I do a goal planning exercise each year where we each come up with some things that we would like to do in the next year and map out concrete ways to reach those goals. It’s great to have goals, but if I don’t have steps in place for how to achieve them, I’ll often just stare at the list of goals without knowing what to do next. It also helps you figure out what costs there are for each of these goals. Some cost money to achieve, others time, but they all cost something. For instance, I have a personal goal to finish a mountain bike race next year. That carries two different types of costs. Races have fees, so I have to tally up how much it will cost me to participate in the race. I also have to train, and if I’m training for a race I’m using time I could have spent working or being with my family. These monetary and opportunity costs need to be factored in when deciding whether it’s an achievable goal and how much work I’ll need to put in to reach it. So, here are some poker goals I have for next year and concrete steps for how I plan to achieve them.

Average 30 hours a week over 45 weeks of play.

Since my wife is going to be working full time for most of next year, I won’t be able to put in a full-time work schedule unless we decide to hire someone to take care of our son part time. So, I’m currently planning on this schedule. I plan to achieve it by planning out sessions in advance to fit into my family’s ever more hectic schedule. If I can get in three ten-hour sessions most weeks and four when we can fit another day of my work in, I’ll make this goal pretty easily. This will also give me plenty of time to have free in case we travel or if we have a week where we can just take it a little easier.

Study three-to-five hours per week.

You can’t get better, or even evaluate if you’re staying even, if you don’t study. This is something I’ve struggled with in the past and I’m sure I’ll continue to struggle with it. My steps for achieving this look like this:

1. Record as many hands as I can while playing live cash games and tournaments. This is sometimes difficult to do perfectly accurately because of the next hand being dealt when you are still recording a hand, but I’ll give myself a little room for error.

2. Use PokerStove and other math-based tools to analyze these recorded hands and evaluate my play, my estimation of my opponents’ ranges and to more deeply familiarize myself with the math of common situations that I encounter.

3. Participate actively in forum discussion, posting at least one hand per week of play and following up on that thread and others that have interesting decisions.

I have some other ideas that I’m not sure lend themselves to concrete goals so I won’t share them here, but I hope you’ll share some of yours with me either via my email,, or my Twitter @nhgg. I’m looking forward to 2014 and I hope you are too. ♠

Gavin Griffin was the first poker player to capture a World Series of Poker, European Poker Tour and World Poker Tour title and has amassed nearly $5 million in lifetime tournament winnings. Griffin is sponsored by You can follow him on Twitter @NHGG