I lived my first 42 years on this planet without being robbed. I mean, I lost to runner-runner flushes a couple of times, people came back from needing three snookers after outrageously doubling the green, and sometimes I had a chip or the odd onion ring stolen off my plate, but overall I ran quite well in terms of people setting out to assume ownership of stuff which I'd gambled my fingers to the bone to own.
Then in 2010 I had a small setback.
I can't even remember now whether I had £19,000 or £18,000 stolen from my hotel room on the fifth floor of the CityWest Hotel in Dublin. I decided quite quickly that there was almost no chance of ever seeing the money again and that I didn't want to even think about it.
Luckily the hotel management and the Garda seemed equally determined to shrug it off as if nothing had happened and I soon forgot about it.
I was way more upset in 2011 when a coat that I paid £2,500 for, which I liked a lot, was stolen from the barbers as I was sitting in the chair. The barber seemed about as bothered as the Irish Constabulary and so I have decided to punish him by growing my hair just that bit longer between visits. I now only go around five times a year instead of seven. That will get me back the price of the coat at its secondhand value in about 33 years.
The beauty of this plan is that I'm punishing the guy without him even realising it. The major downside is that I'm not doing anything to get back at the culprit. I was the one who wasted time and money having to get new keys cut - my flat keys being the only item in my coat pocket.
A couple of weeks ago I was walking from Boston Manor tube station to the Black Belt Poker office in Brentford when a kid on a bike came quite close to me on the pavement. I was reading quite an interesting thing on Twitter and I can only vaguely remember thinking my personal space was being ever so slightly invaded.
As I ran after this little bastard I realised I was in trouble. I genuinely could have caused him some damage if I'd have caught him. It was tough to run after a bike while carrying a heavy briefcase but I tried hard for around 50 metres, all the time shouting loudly.
Within minutes I was in the office cancelling my phone and calling the police and within six hours they were rushing round to take details.
Over the next week I found myself imagining what I would have done if I'd have caught this kid. It's rare for me to analyse a match-up as being strongly in my favour, but I reckon I could have definitely had him. He wasn't too big and I was in full 'fight or flight response' mode.
When the victim support leaflet came through the letterbox I kind of smirked and shrugged, but I now feel that this small crime had a much bigger effect on me than the others. Just today I was idly thinking about pushing the bike over and watching the kid's head fall under a bus while I stamped repeatedly on the spokes of his back wheel until they became almost useless.
The other day I imagined hurling my briefcase - which had my laptop and some other heavyish stuff in it - at the fella's head, dislodging him from his bike and then viciously kicking him repeatedly in the head until he lost two teeth and he really started to bleed.
I've never planned to do that with the other two robbers as I don't know what they look like. It also took me about five times as long to sort out my new phone and retrieve all my contact numbers than it did to get some keys cut. In 2010, it never took me very long to make 18 or even 19 grand.
Those days have changed a bit.
Poker has consisted of weekly trips to The Ritz this year. The game is invitation only and we have tried to invite players who like to gamble, have some fun and don't mind losing. I haven't really been able to judge the players too stringently against this criteria as generally myself and the regulars have been the ones losing. The Ritz make a great souffle though.
I've interrupted trips to Piccadilly with the odd tournament. I hadn't really planned to.
The Genting Poker Tour has probably settled on the right place in the market. £400 seems almost enough to attract the smaller pros, it is getting the fields that lead to decent prizes, and it's not so big as to price out the recreational players. At £400 you can win a satellite for £50 and, with the re-entry option, it is quite a reasonable event to justify the time for the pros. I do think that the travel and hotels mean I won't be staying overnight anywhere to play one, but I did manage to amble down to The Fox, and I had a modicum of fun.
There were some things about the tournament I loved and some I hated and it was a bit of a tilting day in lots of ways, but on balance I would do it again. I had a horse that gave himself a great chance to win it but he really needs to brush up his racing. In the end it went to Albert [Sapiano], so I have to think poker was the only true winner.
After The Fox I was on to Dublin.
I lasted the whole of Day 1 in the Main despite experiencing the wrong end of several set-ups. My Day 2 lasted three hands until I failed to win a 'flip.
I could tell you about what happened in the side event, but basically you could save yourself a lot of time and heartache by just reading the previous sentence again and imagine that I was talking about a side event.
The Irish Open really matters to me and I felt rough about being knocked out. It has come to be like busting the WSOP Main Event. I think they have me for life now. Hope I end up a long-term winner on the event.
After Dublin was Nottingham. The UKIPT was amazing. I take my hat off to Rob, Nick and Simon for the work they do there and I admire them greatly for having the bollocks to guarantee a million.
I never got a shilling of it though.
After the tournament I sat down in a £2/5 cash game and began working hard. Within 40 minutes I had encouraged everyone that £5/10/25 was way more fun, and within 90 minutes they were agreeing that £5/10/25/50 would be even better.
As luck would have it, I was right - it was so much more fun...
... for them.
I've played one other live event this year and it was ridiculously hard work, extremely rewarding, a lot of fun, and something I plan to do twice more this year.
The people at Aspers Casino, Stratford really looked after us and the Black Belt East End Live got a worthy champion in Sonny Pomroy. The way he plays they'll soon be calling 'DPommo' "Sonny's elder brother".
If you haven't been to have a gander at the Olympic Stadium in E20 you really should. Westfield is pretty amazing and Aspers really is a Vegas kind of mega-casino. It has the potential to do really well and they are already doing okay.
I feel like I may have broken my New Year's resolution to play fewer small tournaments, travel less to places I've already been to, and focus more on cash than tournaments, but at least I managed to resist the allure of the Thanet GUKPT. Instead, I've busied myself on other stuff like Black Belt Poker moving offices, playing the iPOPS' events, and attempting to persuade a bunch of lazy poker degens to buy into Samurai early.
Maybe next week I'll get round to booking Vegas "nice and early this year".