Grindathon: Day 14 (Halfway There!)

8 hours
3,268 hands
5,385 VPP

Two Week Total:
101.86 hours
38,055 hands
63,026 VPP

So far, so good... so what?

Gettin' My Grindathon On

It's Day 1 of GiantBuddha's Grab-Bag Giveaway Grindathon! I'm psyched to get started. I've already lined up a number of pledges, but I'm still accepting new ones. Feel free to post pledges or go get 'ems in this thread. Expect a video blog update in the A.M.. I'll also have my first hand review video up on Drag the Bar sometime tomorrow.

GiantBuddha's Grab-Bag Giveaway Grindathon

For the 28 days beginning at 1 PM EDT on March 15, 2010, and ending at 1 PM EDT on April 12, 2010, I will not be leaving my apartment complex. For the majority of my waking hours, I will be playing or studying poker. Aside from poker, I will be eating, sleeping, playing a little guitar, running on my building’s plaza, and watching the occasional movie (at home, of course). Each day I will post a daily video blog here at Zen Madman and a Hand of the Day video at Drag the Bar.

Who cares? (And why am I doing this?) I have 3 main goals:

1. Play a lot of poker
2. Improve my game
3. Raise money for worthy causes

Goals 1 & 2 are pretty straight-forward. I’m devoting four weeks of my life to playing and studying poker. Goal 3 is where I need a little help. I’m calling this a Grindathon because it’s like a walkathon or a danceathon, except I’ll be seated for most of it. I play a certain number of hours, and you donate a certain amount to a worthy cause based on those hours. I won’t be pushing the limits of human endurance, but I will certainly be pushing the limits of my endurance.

How does it work? I will be playing exclusively mid-stakes Limit Holdem: $5/10, $8/16, $10/20, $15/30, and $30/60. This will primarily be on PokerStars, with a few (thousand) hands on Full Tilt. My screen name is GiantBuddha on both sites. You can pledge based on Hours Played, Hands Played, or VPP Accumulated. I will post daily updates of these three totals.

If I play fewer than 200 hours, 80k hands, or 125k VPP, I will pay you 100 times your hourly pledge. If I leave my building for a reason other than medical emergency (mine, family, or friend’s), I will pay you 100 times your hourly pledge. If I leave my building AND player fewer than the above hours, hands, and VPP, I will pay you 200 times your hourly pledge. If I pay you, then you will not have to donate anything.

Your pledge will be capped at 400 hours, 160k hands, and 250k VPP. Units will be Hours, Thousands of Hands, and Thousands of VPP. Before the Grindathon begins, you decide which one you’d like to use. Once the Grindathon is over, money will be donated to one of the following causes:

1. Cancer research
2. Autism research
3. Poker Player's Alliance
4. Johan, Stephanie, and their children: read their story here

You may pick a foundation for the first two, or I will select one for you. If you have another cause you’d like to donate to, let me know, and we can work something out. For more information, contact me at


No, I'm not talking about the most recent Pocahontas remake. I'm not talking about the visually impressive box office juggernaut with wooden performances of cardboard cutout characters. I'm not talking about the film that will likely provide a titanic shafting like the one doled out to L.A. Confidential 13 years ago. I'm talking about my poker avatar: the rolly polly Giant Buddha.

Lately, I've been resembling my avatar a bit too much for my comfort. At 6'1", I can accommodate 190 lbs. without too much trouble. I think that's around Christian Bale's height and weight in The Dark Knight (if you want to talk about Oscar hosings). But I'm not exactly sporting the batman build these days. It's more of a soft 190. While I wouldn't call myself a fat vegan, I have put on 40 or 50 pounds since I was 20, and it's not all muscle.

The answer is of course diet and exercise. I've invented a crazy fad diet for myself: The Samurai Diet. This has nothing to do with what Samurai actually ate. It's simply Sushi, Soup, Salad, and Smoothies. I've used it before to good effect (although adding S'Mores didn't help much). So I'm going back on this diet until I start my Grindathon next Monday.

As for exercise, it's finally nice outside! The slush has cleared away, and I went running by the river for the first time this year. I'll be running every day this week, so by the time I'm ready to shut myself in for 28 days, I should have the physical stamina to go with the mental stamina necessary for extreme poker training. It's easy to forget how much physical energy playing poker all day consumes. I intend to remember.

Farewell February; March First!

February 2010 was the worst month of my poker career. Well, sort of. I lost about $5k at the tables, and made about $5k in rakeback and bonuses. So we'll call that about even. I also won several percent fewer showdowns than I usually do, and suffered a 600 BB downswing. This was the first 400 BB downswing of my Limit Holdem career. I did not tilt. But I didn't exactly play my A game the whole month, either. I gave in to a host of distractions and played half as many hands as January, at about half the level of focus. I can take responsibility for my poor effort, while running awful was largely responsible for my poor results.

On the other hand, I put out a solid effort and ran quite well in other areas of life. I produced four videos for Drag the Bar, which was a lot of work. Two of those came out in February, and the others will be released this week and the next. I also played a great show with my band, did some coaching, and wrote a fair bit. But what I feel most fortunate for, was luck that was not mine.

On February 24th, I wrote a blog about finding a purpose. My plan was to play a psychotic number of hours in an effort to raise money for Johan's cancer treatment. This may not have been the wisest plan, but I was looking forward to having a reason to play. You know, besides the money.

Also on February 24th, unbeknownst to me, the Dutch government agreed to pay for Johan's treatment; (he's Dutch). This was of course outstanding news! It was also surprising news. Why? To begin with, the treatment costs about $300k. That's a lot of money. While the Netherlands has national health care, bureaucracies will typically stall until a patient is terminal, then deny treatment because it's "too late." Fortunately, since Johan is only 39, they managed to get this one approved.

Where does this leave me? Very happy, to begin with. It's pretty easy to stomach a losing month when something so unexpected and fortunate happens to someone who really needs it. I'm still going to follow through with my four weeks of poker solitude, but I'm making some modifications. I'm optimizing for performance instead of audacity. For now, I'll take my health and my happiness, and go do some kicking and shredding.