If you look at my Hendon Mob entry for last year, you probably think I had a good year. It shows that I had $523,587 in tournament cashes for the year and three WSOP final tables. But I can honestly say that 2012 was pretty brutal for me. It was my first losing year as a professional poker player.
It started when I went to LA in February, after a very good January. I made one final table at the PCA and did very, very well in the cash games at the Aussie Millions. That success came on top of winning the $100k high roller event at the Bellagio in December. Everything was going great.
But after I got to LA in February I just couldn't win. At one point, playing mostly 600-1200 mixed games, I lost five straight cash game sessions for a ton of money each time. By the time I left LA I had lost close to half a million dollars.
When you feel like you can't win a hand and lose so much in such a short period of time, you start to question whether or not you even know what you're doing at the table. That can be very dangerous, to both your bottom line and your confidence. You really have to grit your teeth and stick to your game.
It took me a while to get some confidence back. But I kept plugging away at it and got some momentum going towards the end of the year. I think I'm going to carry that forward throughout a very busy 2013.
My goal for the year is to make a million dollars. Not to have a million dollars in Hendon Mob entries; to have a million more dollars at the end of the year than I had at the beginning.
To get there, I have plans to travel a lot and to play every big tournament and every big cash game that I can. I pretty much am going from stop to stop with a few breaks at home in Florida. I'll be playing almost every event until the World Series and then I'll be in Vegas for two months.
People ask me, "How do you have the focus to play so many events?"
I don't know - I guess I'm just used to the grind of it. I've been traveling the circuit now for five years. I don't think I'm going to get burnt out. I still love playing poker. I might skip one stop or something and take a little break, but I have some time in between a few of the stops. I think I should be fine.
One thing that would help is getting into a regular workout routine and in better shape.
Exercising and eating right is something I'm always working on but it's a constant struggle. Last year before I went to LA I'd worked out almost every day for three weeks. Once the downswing happened, I didn't work out much for a few months.
I feel so much better when I'm exercising every day or at least five days a week. I definitely think it affects my poker game. And sometimes all it really takes is going to sleep a little earlier than everyone else and waking up so I can go run or play basketball.
I guess I have two goals for the year. Hopefully success with one will lead to success with the other - and a return to my winning ways.
Jason Mercier is a member of Team PokerStars Pro