Trett Digest Volume 23

This update will be relatively short and sweet, mainly because although I haven’t done a huge amount in May it’s still been pleasant. When I last left you guys the WPT was visiting Newcastle and was around the corner, this although was a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and see some familiar faces didn’t work out too well as I bricked out early into day two. #worldpokertour

That along with maybe one or two monthly tournaments was pretty much the extent of my time spent on the felt this last month or so. That’ll all change next week when I fly out to Las Vegas for a month and I have my foot on the gas with quite a big schedule of events to look forward too. Speaking of Las Vegas I’m pretty stoked for this now with so many of my good friends (easily 20+) out at some point during my stay and I have so many sick nights out and excursions planned. So be sure to check out my Las Vegas 2014 Trip Report “Summer” to enjoy the ride with me. #summerinlasvegas

I would describe May 2014 for me personally as my darkest month in poker with the closure of the NPF, it had and still does have a special place in my heart. I said time and time again how fortunate we were here in Newcastle to have such a good platform for players to make friends, find out relevant information and countless other things it purposed. Despite several failed buy-outs all of which I agreed to support and back financially, on the 9th May Scott Collins decided to close the doors. Looking forward and Dan McSkelly agreed to help out and create the NEPF which hopefully will be better than the failed attempt by Gaz Walker. For now it’s not too user friendly and although I’m signed up, I personally still haven’t quite warmed to the place yet. I will persevere with it though and give it a chance.

Away from poker I’ve been trying my upmost to be the best Uncle possible to Mark’s kids Lauryn and Zach, that’s what’s important to me right now and I want to make sure they grow up knowing I think the world of them. They’re amazing kids and deserve to be showered with love and gifts in my opinion, I have to be careful not to spoil them too much though and they end up taking things for granted.

That just about wraps things up for now, my next update will be reporting my Summer antics out in Las Vegas, this will be visit #19 and I’m showing no signs of letting up or taking my foot off the gas.

#livelife #lovelife

Trett Digest Volume 22

I’ve been back in the UK now over half a year after returning from my eighteen month trip traveling Australia and the USA. Since being back I’ve moved to Dunston with poker friends Mark Mealyeah, Scotty Hocking and now Chris Leckie and our house is affectionately known as ‘HHH Ranch’ by our NPF friends. Being back in the UK has been a lot of fun and I’ve benefited from having this bunch of friends along for the ride, and although we’ve had our differences I think we’ll all agree we have a hell of a good time and all enjoy our living arrangements. I’m also fortunate to have family and all my childhood boys just twenty minutes up the A1 in Cramlington, I love traveling and all the adventures that come with travel but I’m finding this home time and the opportunity to hang out with lifelong friends every weekend so much fun. I love getting together with these boys and heading out to Newcastle, I feel so comfortable with them all. I guess the morale to this story is there is “no place like home”.

Looking forward to June and I’m heading back to Las Vegas for my nineteenth visit in nine years since 2005. If I didn’t blog all my visit’s on FTP it’s at a point now where I genuinely would have lost count about the amount of times I’ve been. I’m staying a month this summer from June 8th through to July 6th staying with Chris Leckie the first fortnight over at Aria Resort & Casino and then the final fortnight with Mark Nicholas at Palms Resort & Casino. Despite being fortunate to have been so often this shit just doesn’t get old, I love the city especially the people I go with and meet there. The experiences are embedded in my memory and will last a lifetime. This will feel like two different trips as the first fortnight will be spent with the NPF guys and then the second when I move hotels I’ll be spending time with Dave Maudlin and the sports trading boys.

I plan on playing and selling a rather large poker package (with a small 1.1425 mark-up) while out there throughout the summer. I'll add that the first quarter of 2014 was profitable, although very little volume I won the Aspers monthly for £2,370. Then in February unforgettably, I made a deep run in a Venetian DeepStack Extravaganza event, narrowly missing out on victory finishing 3rd of 130 entrants for $5,525. So with that in mind, and there being absolutely no feeling I’ve experienced in my life like being deep in a major poker tournament. Take a look below at my Vegas schedule;

Wednesday 11th June $1,100 VDSE #30
Friday 13th June $600 Wynn Summer Classic
Wednesday 18th June $1,000 Binions Championship
Saturday 21st June $300 PHamous Poker Series
Thursday 26th June $1,500 WSOP #51
Saturday 28th June $400 VDSE #49
Tuesday 1st July $565 WPT500 Aria
Wednesday 2nd July $1,100 Golden Nugget
Total: $6,565 at 1.1425 $7,500

I’ll be so focused physically and mentally for the summer and I’m enjoying competing more so now than ever. #letsplay #spin

Away from the poker tables and I mentioned in my last digest that I was going to undertake an Insanity program for the duration of April. This was ran by my main man Gaz and was Monday-Saturday (6:45-7:30) for four weeks straight. This was perhaps the toughest physical challenge I’ve ever taken on, but I’m delighted to report that I finished the course without missing a single session and with a very positive outcome. #focus #beastmode #garysidneyfitness

Date: 31st March 2014 (Pre Insanity)
Weight: 14.11st
Waist: 41”
Hip: 42”

Fit Test
Switch Kicks: 35
Power Jacks: 21
Power Knees (left): 25
Power Knees (right): 30
Squat Tuck Jumps: 15
Around The World Jumps: 5
Burpees: 6
Push Up Jacks: 7.5
Oblique Plank: 10

Date: 14th April 2014 (Midway Insanity)
Weight: 14.2st
Waist: 38”
Hip: 43”

Fit Test
Switch Kicks: 116
Power Jacks: 39
Power Knees (left): 35
Power Knees (right): 44
Squat Tuck Jumps: 28
Around The World Jumps: 6
Burpees: 13
Push Up Jacks: 14
Oblique Plank: 23

Date: 26th April 2014 (Post Insanity)
Weight: 14.3st
Waist: 38”
Hip: 42”

Fit Test
Switch Kicks: 120
Power Jacks: 41
Power Knees (left): 49
Power Knees (right): 55
Squat Tuck Jumps: 37
Around The World Jumps: 7
Burpees: 15
Push Up Jacks: 20
Oblique Plank: 33

I’m absolutely delighted with my progress and to go from 14.11st to 14.3st in a month is just fantastic. Like everybody I would like to lose a few pounds but in all honesty the main drive for me to sign up to this course was just as a platform to lead a more healthy and active lifestyle. Seeing my fit tests improve so dramatically is more important to me than losing weight. I’ve now signed up to a few PT sessions with Gaz during May and up to June 8th before I fly to Las Vegas for the summer. Back in July 2012 I was up over 16st and that’s when I started to do something about it, I had some PT sessions with Gaz and then joined his boot camp. I’ve been down to 12st but the diet/exercise required to get there wasn’t sustainable in my opinion. Right now my weight is of small concern to me, I’m just pleased I’m playing football 4/5 times per a week, going to boot camp sessions 2/3 times per a week, eating reasonably healthier and just generally leading a more healthy/active lifestyle. I owe it all to Gaz and I’m so grateful, I’ve said it numerous times before but he’s such an amazing person to have in my life. #mancrush

Aside from poker, Las Vegas and Insanity perhaps the most important aspect in my life right now is being an Uncle to my gorgeous niece and nephew, Lauryn and Zach. They’re adorable kids whom I just love to spend time with, play with and shower with love and gifts. Lauryn has just turned eight and Zach is five in the summer, so they’re both at fantastic ages and are both so caring and so loving. The polar opposite to the little toerag I was during my early school years. I try to see them at least once a week usually at the weekend and during their May break from school I’m taking them to Diggerland in Durham for the day. #prouduncle #cutekid #coolkid

Looking a bit closer in the future and to next weekend I’m playing the £200 (x3) WPT event over at Aspers, this carries a £50,000 guarantee and is widely expected to exceed that guarantee. I’m really excited about it and hoping for some run good. I’ll close things out here for now, but check back in the beginning of June and I’ll let you all know how I got on in the WPT and how I’ve been in May.


Trett Digest Volume 21

Once again I’ve left it too long since my last update. I guess that’s partly down to nothing hugely exciting happening here in my life but more so down to a lack of motivation that all bloggers suffer with from time to time. I’m now into my sixth year running FTP though and I’m determined to keep updates going on some level and not let all the hard work just get lost in cyberspace.

When I made my last update (21st February 2014) I was at McCarran International Airport preparing to fly back to the UK, but I made a last minute decision to reschedule my flight until Monday 24th February and spend the weekend with Martin Amer and his mackem stag-do boys. This was a decision I’m very pleased I made as I subsequently went on to meet a number of top class boys who I now consider to be good friends. The highlight of the weekend was heading to Marquee Nightclub over at Cosmopolitan on the Friday night, getting VIP bottle service and relaxin’ in a good vibe with good people. The rest of it was made up of playing poker in Caesars Palace, eating some nice food and shopping for presents for family.

I've now been back from Vegas for a little over a month, so I’ll give all my fans a quick rundown of what’s been happening this side of the Atlantic. A common theme I’m sure readers have picked up on is I often discuss openly that I’m trying to get in shape. In Sydney I was down to around twelve stone and felt fantastic but the exercise and diet required for that was never sustainable. I’m now a little shy of fifteen stone but still feel pretty good, I’m getting to boot camp once/twice a week and playing football two/three times a week, so I have my exercise in line but my diet needs a lot of work. I’m constantly eating Greggs or McDonalds for lunch and takeaways for dinner, no amount of exercise can counter a terrible diet. Overall I’m kind of okay with where I’m at right now fitness wise and I’ve just took on a ridiculous challenge for April. I’m doing a four week Insanity program starting Monday 31st March with my boy Gaz, which is six mornings per week (Monday – Saturday) 6:45-7:30 of high intensity workouts. It’s going to be so tough but the fruits will be so rewarding. Love the challenge and love the pain. #garysidneyfitness

I’m also staying dry throughout all of March and April which I’m hoping will go a long way towards helping maintain my fitness and more importantly my commitment to this Insanity program. Poker will also be taking a back seat while I really concentrate on Insanity during April and my next game will be when the WPT visits Newcastle in Aspers on the 1st May. It’s effectively a £660 buy-in as I will be playing all three start days. I’m excited about this and with a top prize expected to be around £30,000 it’s definitely enough to get the adrenaline going. #worldpokertour #letsplay #spin

Speaking of poker and I’m always surprised at how quick tournament poker is evolving in such a short time, it’s taking me a bit of time to adjust. Poker is certainly becoming less and less attractive as a means for making any money if you consider how just about everybody’s hourly rates have been undeniably affected over the last few years. I am a firm believer that with the current state of the industry, it would be a very poor decision for anybody young and unestablished to try to take poker really seriously. The variance is just so incredibly remarkable. Myself and other players from my generation were so fortunate with the timing of our entry into poker. 2002/2003 was a time when the economy was good and people were uneducated about the game. From talking with other friends and players around the world including UK, Australia and the USA recently, almost all agree that it would be a most daunting task to try to build from the ground up right now. #hardwaytomakeaneasyliving

Away from the poker table as I mentioned last October I’ve been sports trading. This is something I’m taking seriously and really enjoying. Like poker it comes with its challenges as trading conditions seem to be evolving rapidly. I struggle to motivate myself to trade alone so usually out on the road I pair up with Steve Brennan, Mark Nicholas, Dan McSkelly and on occasions Andy Blair. All of which are good crack and help the day go easier.

I’ll wrap things up with that and I’m likely to report back around the beginning of May to let you all know if I’m ultra-toned/ripped from Insanity and how I got on when the WPT visits Newcastle.

That’s all for now. #lifeofdantrett

Las Vegas 2014 Trip Report "February" II

As I write this I’m sitting relaxing in my room at The Quad, it’s around noon and I’m just about ready to check out. So following straight on from LV2014TR “February” #1. That evening we decide to have a break away from the tables and treat ourselves to see ‘Zarcana at Aria’, this is a Cirque du Soleil performance and like the rest of them very impressive. I’ve now seen 7/8 of the Cirque du Soleil shows in Las Vegas with only ‘Beatles Love at Mirage’ left to see, I’m hoping to get over and see that sometime this summer. We also had dinner at Pampas Churrascaria in Planet Hollywood, this is a steak house and again I was suitably impressed. Overall a great and enjoyable evening.

The following morning (Monday 17th) we checked out of The Flamingo and moved next door to The Quad for our final four nights, we booked The Quad for £12 per night (£6 per person) just so cheap. Especially considering it’s been completely renovated now, I’m guessing once the rooms are all sorted that The Quad will QUADruple its prices. We then took a walk down The Wynn to play the $140 tournament, I got stacked relatively early so jumped on the 300nl tables. Shortly after Stuey bust out so we decide to walk down to Stratosphere because he wanted to do the SkyJump. I already did it in February 2012 or would have got involved too.

By now it was around 7:00pm and we headed back to the room to relax for a bit. We had planned on going back out for the evening but just couldn’t be arsed, so we ordered a pizza from room service and watched Runner Runner movie with Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake. The next morning (Tuesday 18th) we headed over Caesars Palace to relax and rejuvenate at Qua Baths & Spa, this is just the nut best way to get away from the hustle and bustle of the casino floor. #sauna #jacuzzi #steamroom #iceroom

Feeling revitalised we then had lunch at PF Changs before heading to the Aria for the daily 1:00pm $125 tournament, this didn’t work out for me so I chilled at the 300nl before then entering the 7:00pm $125 tournament. Again I got stacked relatively early so went back on the cash tables until about midnight, losing more cash before deciding to head back to the room to retire for the evening. The next morning was a very early rise for what was to be the highlight of my trip, we were getting picked up at the bus depot at 6:45am for a tour of Death Valley National Park. Words can’t begin to describe how much I loved it here, it has so much history and our tour guide Jerry was so informative. I would 100% recommend and push everybody visiting Las Vegas to check this out, however the tour doesn't run during the summer months because it gets too hot in Death Valley. Its home to the officially recorded hottest temperature the planet has ever seen, check out our photo’s below. #simplysuperb #breathtaking

After a very long day at Death Valley we finally got back to our hotel around 6:30pm, this was after a short stop at the “Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas” sign. We then decided to get on it and head down to O’Sheas Casino to play some beer pong, from there we watched some karaoke at ‘The Piano Bar’ and then finally downtown to Fremont Street and Gold Diggers at Golden Nugget.

After rolling home stupidly hungover around 3:00am I woke up in the morning to hear my good friend Martin Amer had just won the $645,000 jackpot in a slot machine over at Flamingo. They had been upgraded to the penthouse suite and were giving endless amounts of complimentary food and drink. So I took a walk over to see and congratulate him for an hour in the morning. #breakingvegas

From there we headed back over Venetian to play event #48 of the deep stack extravaganza series, this was a $400 buy-in with a $65,000 guarantee which they smashed with well over 300 runners. I fired two bullets after getting my first one in with 45s vs. 99 on a 239ss flop for about a 25,000 chip pot and then got brutally unlucky with my second one as I got it in on a AxJr flop holding AK vs. AQ and he turned a queen. That was for 130,000 chip pot and all but guaranteed to make the money at that point. C’est la vie and I then camped out on the 300nl tables until around midnight before walking back to the room for the evening. #tournamentvariancesucks

That brings me to right now, we’ve been down Hash House a go go for breakfast this morning and now walking over Flamingo to catch up with the $645,000 dollar man Martin Amer and have lunch this afternoon at Treasure Island before heading to McCarran airport to fly home this evening. I’ve had an amazing trip as I always do and ticked a few more of my Vegas to do list boxes. I’m considering coming back on March 13th for a week with the Teesside guys, I’ve visited with these lot back in November 2011 and they’re such great company. That’s still up in the air, I’ll decide about that over the next fortnight. But one thing is for sure, I’m back in the summer for the annual NPF trip and with the crowd going this year it has the potential to be the best yet. #goodtimes #goodmemories

#vivalasvegas #lifeofdantrett

Las Vegas 2014 Trip Report “February” I

As I write this entry I’m sitting in Starbucks at the newly opened Linq on Las Vegas Boulevard having just bust the Venetian $400DSE in third for $5,525. So my eighteenth visit to the bright lights started off with a cluster of errors, I was traveling with my boy Stuey Robinson and before we even left Newcastle we had problems. We were both chillin’ in the Servisair Lounge at Newcastle airport and left it a bit late to proceed to our departure gate, we then went to gate 24 when we actually should have flew from gate 3 (24 was my seat number). So after standing in a queue at gate 24 for Alicante for 20 minutes, we were told we were at the wrong gate and proceeded to gate 3. By now though the gate had closed and we had unfortunately missed our flight to Heathrow, which due to time restrictions meant there was no way we could get to Vegas today. So we did the only logical thing at this point and went to Newcastle city to get absolute mortal, this was a great night but admittedly a right mess. One good thing to come from the night was we uploaded an ARKnomination onto Facebook which picked up quite a few likes and kind comments. Check it out here;

The following day (Tuesday 11th) went a little smoother, although hungover we comfortably made our flight to Newcastle and I took the ten hour transatlantic flight relaxin’ in BA club world. I try not to take for granted how lucky I am to fly with my feet up sippin’ on champagne while everyone in economy is no doubt very uncomfortable. #lifeofdantrett

We arrived on schedule around 6:30pm and checked in to Flamingo Hotel & Casino, we were both delighted with the room, location and view for a bargain price of £292 for the room for the week. Our view was Caesars Palace directly in front of us and The Mirage if you looked to the right. Check out a few photos of our room and view;

Then our first night we just walked over the road to Caesars to have dinner at Munchbar and play a little 300nl where I recorded a small $200 winning session over a couple of hours. I was exhausted by this point and we were both conscious we had to be up early so headed back home to our room to bed around midnight. So the following morning we were up at 6:00am for a hot air balloon ride I had booked us on, this was a case of not third but fourth time lucky as I had on three previous occasions tried to do this hot air balloon excursion only for it to be cancelled the evening before due to weather restrictions. Well all I can say is WOW about this experience, it was an absolute pleasure to fly with “Vegas Balloon Rides”. The entire morning was just breathtaking with exceptional tour guides giving us such amazing service, I would for sure recommend this to anybody.

Then the day got a little out of control, we headed to the Wicked Vicky Tavern down at Riviera to watch the Man Utd vs. Arsenal match while having a few beers and finger food. This propelled into an all-day session where we visited Garden Bar in Flamingo, Carnaval Court, Minus5 Ice Bar over at Mandalay Bay and eventually ending up in Bellagio playing on the pit games and enjoying free drinks. Pretty sick night like, check out the snaps;

The following day I was suffering so bad, I’m twenty nine now and these hangovers aren’t getting any easier. As a result of this hangover today (Thursday 13th) was pretty much a write off, we were both in bed pretty much all day until eventually getting up late evening for some dinner and heading over Caesars to play a little 300nl. I ran really well and ended up staying until 6:30am when the table broke and recorded a $1,000+ winning session. Then after a couple of hours sleep both Stuey and I decided to head over Venetian for the $300DSE, this was naturally full of males but even more so today because of course it was Valentine’s day. I stacked off relatively early when my AK failed to improve vs. 88, I didn’t bother re-entering instead I dived in a 500nl game. This was to be a brutal session as I lost $500 with QQ vs. KK on a 55QxK board getting it in on the flop and then lost my second $500 bullet with A9s vs. 57s when the river completed my nut flush and gave him straight flush which I couldn’t get away from. So that was enough for me to throw in the towel and head back to the room to relax for the evening. I got a pizza delivered to the room and rented a movie from the entertainment which set me up for the night.

The following day I was back over the Venetian very refreshed after an early night and good rest and ready to play the $400DSE, I both ran and played really well here and held the chip leader from like the second level right up until the final table. We eventually bagged up at 2:00am after fourteen hours of play with four remaining and I was second in chips with 547,000. At this point I had $4,133 locked but was only interested in the top prize of $12,376. I then joined my good friend Matt ‘Denver’ Manes who features in my Las Vegas 2009 Trip Report “January” where my brother Mark and I met him at a 300nl game in the Wynn. This was Mark’s first night in Las Vegas and all of us had such an amazing night drinking vodka red bull all night playing cards, so it was great to finally meet him again five years down the line. The power of social media makes this kind of stuff possible, I sometimes wonder how we all lived without it. So yeah Matt, Stuey and I all took a walk over O’Shea’s to have a beer and catch up on all times. #goodtimes #goodmemories

Then after Matt took a cab back to Tropicana where he was staying I turned in for the evening to make sure I was suitably rested for the second and final day of the $400DSE. I went back the following day feeling extremely positive and optimistic and really felt I had complete control of the final table, unfortunately a bad run of cards and I ended getting stacked in third for $5,525. I was admittedly disappointed but like I’ve said several times its first world problems when you complain about winning five grand.

Later this evening we are heading for dinner at Pampas Churrascaria in Planet Hollywood and then over at Aria to watch Zarcana. Then tomorrow morning (Monday 17th) we check out of The Flamingo and move next door to The Quad for our final four nights, we booked The Quad for £12 per night (£6 per person) just so cheap. Especially considering it’s been completely renovated now, I’m guessing once the rooms are all sorted that The Quad will quadruple its prices. I’ll sign off here for now but stay tuned later this week where I’ll report my final few days over at The Quad.


Trett Digest Volume 20

What’s up fans! I hope everyone had a nice holiday season with family, friends and loved ones. Mine was absolute brilliant as I shared it predominantly with Mam in my hometown of Cramlington. My niece and nephew Lauryn and Zach are now six and four respectively, and I'm enjoying uncle-hood much more than I could have ever imagined. I always find myself so happy and relaxed when spending time with family. I’ve also been catching up with a lot of friends and spending a bunch of time celebrating the festive season over a few beers. I feel so lucky to have the most amazing group of friends: Gary Sidney, Steesh Lee, Dean Struthers, Adam Bailey, Alex Inness, Kevin Giblin and so many more. I had so much fun bringing in the new year and value every minute I spend with these guys. When we get together, we have fun no matter what we do. It’s always great recounting old stories and creating new ones. #foreverfriends

I’ve been relatively quite as far as poker is concerned. I travelled to DTD, Nottingham on Friday 10th January for GPS. This was the biggest event of the series with 935 entries, DTD continually prove why they are the best venue in the UK for poker. I then proudly wore the captains armband down in Stoke on Saturday 1st February representing the NPF in the 2014 APAT Team Championship, despite our poor performance on the felt this was a position I took very seriously and was so proud, humbled and honoured to have been asked to undertake the role from NPF owner, administrator, moderator and good friend Dave Collins. #teamknob

Chris Lambert, Mark Nicholas, Chris Leckie & Alex Knight
Adam Matues, Dan Trett, Peter Newton & Karen Newton

Being asked gave me some validation to the countless hours I’ve spent taking care of all the things necessary to take on this kind of job. I’ve said several times how I hate the road and all the traveling that comes with tournament poker and I guess it isn’t as easy as it may seem. But looking back, I wouldn’t change it one bit. All the travel booking, all the missed and delayed flights, all the nights alone in hotels, all the nights sleeping on hotel floors, all the big scores, all the bubbles, all the miracle river cards, all the bad beats, all the nights partying, all the nights chillin’, all the people from all walks of life, all the cities, all the countries, all the experiences. It's been quite the journey. I've loved it and can't wait for some more.

Whilst on the subject of poker I’ve decided to organise a ‘Doubles Poker’ event for all the guys on the NPF and in the Newcastle area to enjoy. I’m aiming for this to be for some Saturday in late March or early April, it’s something I will definitely put in place but it’s on hold right now while I deal with some other issues. I’m sure it will be well supported and attended and I'm equally sure everybody that goes will have a fantastic day win, lose or draw. #letsplay #spin

Following on from reciting all the good and bad times from spending several hours, days, weeks, months and even years in my case on the road. I’m heading off to Las Vegas for my eighteenth visit on Monday, it’s been quite a ride since my first visit for my twenty first birthday in December 2005. I still love the city, the people I meet there and the memories that last a lifetime created there. I’m visiting with my friend Stuart Robinson who’s a great guy (I actually went with his brother Simon in September 2008). Poker will most definitely take a back seat during this trip and the emphasis will be hugely on having fun. Traditionally I always like to stay somewhere different and this trip is no different, so I’ve booked us into The Flamingo for a bargain price of £292 per a room for a week (£146 each). This website is truly the nuts when it comes to Las Vegas accommodation, I use it almost every time nowadays. #valuetown #bargainhunters

I’ll wrap things up now, as always I appreciate all my fans, followers and friends reading. All feedback is greatly appreciated, so please comment constructively be it negative or positive.

Stay safe kids

2013 Review

Merry Christmas everyone! I’m rolling up my final digest of the year and my 2013 annual review in to one entry. This entry comes from Newcastle upon Tyne, I still have strong attachments to this city where I was born as my mam, dad, brothers Mark and Steven and my gorgeous niece/nephew Lauryn/Zach all live here. My mams dog and adorable member of the family Oscar, has taken unwell with heart failure and been given approximately two months to live by the vets. I’m finding it really difficult to accept as he means so much to me, my mam and the rest of our family. I’m thankful though that I am around to love and care for him during his retirement months, I’m spending every spare minute in his company and I intend to cherish every single second. So right now I really don’t want to be anywhere in the world but here at home. I have the most amazing friends both on and off the felt who all mean so much to me in this city. It is a perfect spot for breaks between trips as it gives me a chance to see everyone, catch my breath and get back on my diet and fitness grind. I'm at my happiest when spending time with family, and this last few months has been no different.            

Earlier this year I returned from an ineffaceable year long trip split between Australia and America. So I’ve once again returned to the UK extremely inspired and happy. My time over this last year has been spent on a journey of personal development. I strongly feel that being abroad facilitates the ride. I attribute it to staying very active, meeting people from different backgrounds, and having some incredibly different experiences from those I have here in the UK. I can feel a sort of personal growth of which, admittedly, I am proud.

Traveling I spent the majority of my time in Sydney whilst also visiting almost every major city in Australia either playing poker tournaments or going out partying with friends. Then as is an annual tradition of mine I left Australia to take the super long-haul flight from Sydney to Los Angeles and spent the summer in Las Vegas. Breaking this up with a visit back home to England and a week in Spain with my boys. Then heading back to the USA for my first visit to Florida including Miami and Orlando. Chronologically, not including repeat visits my year looked like this:

- Sydney
- Melbourne
- Perth
- Brisbane
- Gold Coast
- Las Vegas
- Los Angeles
- Benidorm
- Miami
- Orlando

Of the aforementioned, it's a very close call between Miami and Sydney as to which is my favourite. Miami is extremely liveable in that the weather, food, beaches, boardwalk, architecture and nightlife are awesome. I find the overall ambience of Sydney to be the best of any city I've visited. The Australian people are incredibly friendly, tolerant and open-minded. I've been fortunate to make some very good friends in the city which really helped too. I spent almost a month in Melbourne and would be doing it a disservice if I didn't mention how much I loved it. I found the city progressive, clean, health-conscience and convenient. Los Angeles is really growing on me. If you can't find something you like in LA, you're doing it wrong. It is unmatched culturally, the food is out of this world, and there is something incredibly cool about the anonymity that comes with residing in that city. My time in Orlando, Brisbane, Gold Coast and Perth has been brief, so I'm not qualified to comment on those cities. I will spend the Christmas holidays with family and friends here in Newcastle upon Tyne, so my travelling for 2013 are now just treasured memories. Memories which will last a lifetime.

It has been a somewhat successful year for me with poker, so I had half a mind to take an extended holiday once returning to the UK. I’ve had a bunch of success during 2013 including five figure tournament scores in Australia, USA and the UK. It's important that I explain that results do not necessarily define tournament poker skill. By no means am I a great tournament player. At least, that isn't determinable simply by bragging about my tournament accomplishments. In fact, there is so much variance in tournament poker that it is impossible to measure. It would be foolish and unprofessional to blame one's personal downswings on the variance in tournament poker and then hail oneself the greatest when I’m running well. It's important for me not to be too results orientated.

As I've said before, I am for the most part not motivated by my actual tournament poker results, I am much more concerned with my level of focus while competing, my preparation, and the decisions I make. However, I feel it is in my best interest to sort of go after these titles. I really love playing tournament poker right now, so it is a nice excuse to play some more. I think that the live tournament poker arena is in a really cool place. It is extremely competitive and ever-evolving. The leading personalities, for the most part, are young, inspired, healthy, friendly, well-rounded and great role models. I feel honoured to be around them. While I haven't made many plans for 2014 aside from leading the NPF in to battle in the APAT Team Challenge at Stoke in February, I expect I will continue to spend a lot of time playing live tournament poker. A friend told me something recently that resonated: "To give up something you love would be a travesty."

Thanks for reading and happy holidays everyone.