Maxim-izing my time at home
I've talked before about my visa problems. They forced me to stay home in Russia all winter. As a result I spent a lot of time playing online poker and working on my game.
Eventually it all paid off in a big way. March was an amazing month for me. In the span of 10 days, I won the Sunday Warm-up and two FTOPS events. I also got 3rd place in another FTOPS event. All told I won more than $307,000.
I've never had a two-week period like that. It was incredible.
All winter I was grinding a lot because of my visa problems. I was playing upwards of 500 tournaments a month. In all of 2012 I might have played 500 tournaments total. So I was grinding, grinding, grinding and felt that my game was in good shape.
The first event, a win in FTOPS 11, a Rush Super Turbo event, paid $37,000. That's a princely sum of money but wasn't even close my biggest online score ever. While it was a nice win, I felt normal about it. After all, it was a Rush Super Turbo event. When you play a tournament like that, you think, "OK I'll make it past two all-ins and then after that who knows." It was fun to win the event but I didn't give it much thought afterwards.
When I made the final table in the Sunday Warm-Up, I was giddy. I've played this tournament for many years but I'd never had a good shot at winning it. It was very important for me to take 1st place. It's a Sunday Major. Everybody wants to win it, and the $110,000 that came with it was a nice bonus.
I think these wins were a validation of all the work I've done the last few months. I don't think it was possible for me to make such huge scores when I started grinding this past winter. My emotions weren't in a good place because of all the problems I still had with my visas. Now, after this stretch of play, my mood is super positive.
A week after my Sunday Warm-Up win, I took down FTOPS Event 37, $256 NLHE 6-max. I think, for me, the FTOPS win the greatest of the three because it was 6-max and because the players who were left in the last four tables were solid. It also paid $16,000 more than the Sunday Warm-Up, which didn't hurt!
Making several huge scores in a small period of time takes both luck and good play. With two tables left in the FTOPS event I won a blind on blind hand, aces versus kings, with very big stacks. After that I knew in my mind I could make the top three if I played my best, but the outcome definitely was not assured.
I spent a lot of time this winter talking to friends about the games and making little adjustments here or there. It's nice to get a validation for all that work. I hope I can make scores like these in the future but obviously they won't all come in such a short period.
In the end, by the way, I did finally get my visa problem fixed and I made it to EPT Berlin, my first trip out of Russia in months. Now that my visa problems are in the past, maybe I can start replicating my online success at live events.
Maxim Lykov is a member of Team PokerStars Pro