Monday, June 11, 2007

I Sit and I Watch...and for Now That's Okay

It's the first year that I'm able to legally play the World Series of Poker, here I am sitting at home and tracking it via the internet. With about 62 events this year (including the Second Chance cleanups), I have plenty of news to follow from home and all day long at the office. To top it off and deal me a royally painful kick to the junk, I'm not even playing at all right now.

When I started seriously playing I'd had it in my mind that I'd be rolling by now and have some serious time invested in the game, hopefully with a stash of money to prove it. As it stands now, although the former may be true, I definitely haven't played nearly enough in the past year for my liking and that's mainly because the latter never came to fruition.

I thought I'd be in a completely different position in life three years ago, and the fact that I am where I currently am has caused a lot of problems with me personally. Upon dropping out of college I've gone through a little more than two years of varying levels of depression, and have admittedly experienced a brief addiction to gambling.

When confronted about either subject, and even when I confronted myself about them, I would defend myself and say that I had both under control. The depression took more of a toll on me than I had ever realized before I came into a recent state of contentment. I kept trying to find ways to make myself happy but just came up blank every time I was just about to have a grasp on something.

A few quick, unmentionable relationships and hookups failed to bring me back to my normal self, and as I turned time after time to my second fallback in such a situation, I was time and time again crushed mentally. There was a little stretch where I was dominating the Chumash short-stack buyin NL game, but thanks to bad luck and horrible money management I was just as quickly out of cash and a growing bankroll as I had come into it.

For that period of time when I was a winning player, I was happy. If the money wasn't making me happy (which it was), then it was being able to play four days a week. At this point in my life, I've found that one of the most enjoyable things to me is simply being at a poker table. There's much more to being at a live poker table then just being in a casino or gambling, there's a huge social element to it that people who don't play grossly overlook. So while playing and winning was making me happy, the "lifestyle" I was living made me happy. I knew everyone there, I felt like I belonged somewhere: at a poker table, joking with the dealers and racking up stacks of chips.

When I went on a major losing streak with no bankroll, I had to stop playing. I tried to get some scraps together multiple times, and I came close a couple times. But things still weren't right mentally, and I was still in a tough spot in my life while I battled mild reappearing spots of depression. Even up until recently I've become victim to bad habit. Instead of taking care of the things I had needed to take care of, I'd take off to play with what small money I had. Every time I've tried this it's ended in me losing and, once again, becoming depressed about not being able to play.

Nowadays things are a bit different. I've spent a lot more time socializing locally and trying to become a better friend to those around me. I've succumbed to the fact that I might work in an office for the rest of my life, but as I posted before, the office I'd be an inmate at isn't so bad in actuality. While I'm still struggling to handle my finances in this retardedly expensive city, things at work are lookin good for my near future.

I've decided to take a different perspective in regards to poker. Instead of taking shot after shot with limited funds (and consequently suffering mentally when I lose) I'm waiting until I feel comfortable with my personal finances and until I have a little bit put aside for playing purposes only. Whether I save it myself or find someone willing to trusting enough to back my game won't matter; either way I won't be able to play my a-game if I have to worry about the money on the table.

Sometime around a year ago in this blog I wrote "
I have my next Vegas trip planned for December. I'll be playing a couple WSOP events next year, though, barring a huge breakdown in playing skill and cash in the next year."
Unfortunately, both of these have come true over the past year and I've found myself with no bankroll and an extinguished rush at the tables. When I get some cash behind me, I have no doubt in my mind that I can go back to beating the game.

Until then, I'll sit and I'll watch. For now, that's okay. But I will succeed at the game at some point, and with that knowledge I can rest easy until I finally have a chance to prove myself to everyone else.

Until next time.


The Hero said...

Hey man... good read. I think as poker players and gamblers go, we have all been at the point where you are. I'm in pretty much the same position in life (less the depression) as far as a decent office job and the dream of playing cards for a living and thinking I would be in the WSOP this year (I even took time off work for it and didn't go). Just remember it is the struggle that makes you stronger. Best of luck.

Anonymous said...

I've read your blog quite a bit and you seem like a really good guy with your heart in the right place, but you honestly don't know what you are doing with poker. Noone has as big of an edge as you seem to believe you can gain, and unless you have a very large bankroll you can't possibly survive the inevitable variance that comes to even the best players. I know because I have played that much, and I built up a sizeable bankroll from free scraps online. I've never been busto or even down for the simple reason that I grinded my way from barely any roll over the course of about 150,000 online hands. It took well over a year, countless hours, and more study than you could imagine. I experienced tons of devastating losing streaks, much worse in BB or bb terms than what you are describing, but have also experienced much better long term success rates. I understand the underlying math that is part of the game, and while I think you do as well, you are denying it when you right posts like above.

Even if you could afford to buy into the WSOP this year, your lack of experience in poker, tournament poker, live poker, and just in general would not give you an edge over the field. Understanding that, and the fact that you need to get very lucky even if you have a tremendous edge in order to cash or win those tournaments, you could not base any results either good or bad on their outcome.

I firmly believe what you need to do is set asid a very small amount of money (like $300) and go back to grinding small limits online for at least a year. Get a rakeback deal, and make sure to take advantage of some signup bonuses, because right now you probably don't have an edge or the tilt control to be a long term winner at the small limits. I would start at $25 NL cash and $10 SNGs until you have worked yourself up to a $1000 roll. Then you can consider moving up. You need to take advantage of PokerTracker, a HUD, and learn how to take notes. Also learn how to multi table by adding one table at a time, since you will be able to see up to 4x as many hands this way to gain experience.

Once you have a bankroll around $5,000 you can consider taking out $200 or less to play live, but understand that if you experience any rough patches you need to scale back your play and practice very disiplined bankroll management. DO NOT TRY TO MOVE UP TO RECOVER LOSSES! People playing at NL100 right now are probably much better on average than you are. It is actually a fairly tough game to beat online, but if you can beat it then live poker should come easier.

If you are playing tournaments then you need to play a ton of SNGs and see how your ROI is after a LOT. If you are winning you can consider moving up, and taking shot at some big MTT. The same bankroll management rules apply. Slowly grind your way up and don't take shots to recover losses. This is the only way to know that you are a long term winner and good at the game, and not just experiencing short term variance.

Also you need to buy and read and study every significant poker book on the market. including: NLHTAP by sklansky and miller, HOH 1 and 2, Theory of Poker by sklansky, Super System 2, Mathematics of Poker by Bill Chen, and if you are going to play limit then you need to study HPFAP by sklansky, SSH by Miller, Winning in Tough HE by Stox. There are lots of other good books on other games, but if you are focusing on Hold'em that list is a start. These books should be read, and reread, and reread until they are falling apart. Read them at work during your lunch break. Read them while taking a shit. Read them in between hands online. Take notes. Reread sections you don't understand.

Then you should start posting hands on 2p2 and listening to the advice and suggestions you get. Also read and respond to as many hands as you can. Read all of the stickied articles that have great advice on how to play that game.

and finally just play play play play. It doesn't matter if it is 25NL online, play for pride. Play because until you learn to grind that $300 into a real roll you aren't even close to a good player. Until you learn how to survive crippling downswings via tough play, game selection, and bankroll management you can't be a winner. Until you move up solely because you have been beating the game for 30,000+ hands at a good clip you don't really know whether you are ready.

this is how you can learn how to be a winner at this game. It takes a ton of time. A lot of patience. A strong work ethic. and a desire to prove that you are winner and not a luckbox. It also takes a lot of heart when you are going throught he downswings, and even more discipline to understand that you aren't ready to move up. Finally it takes humility to move down and rebuild before taking another shot and to avoid going busto.

Over the long run any intelligent and driven person (like yourself) can accomplish this, but if you continue to think of and approach the game they way you are you will always experience the rush and depression of short term variance, but never know the satisfaction of actually becoming a winner at the game. With your current approach you will never see long term success.

I have thought these things for a long time, but avoided responding to your blog because I didn't want to dishearten or come across as a jerk. But I think reading the above and taking it to heart can do your poker game a world of good.

Now that you have your job prospects settled, and you seem content and happy with your personal life it is time to redirect the approach to this hobby if you want to take it seriously. Otherwise just keep it as a game on the side like blackjack, and don't let the losing bother you. If you aren't going to take a serious approach you shouldn't build yourself up with false hope that you are going to make your mark someday. Make your mark in your own life by proving that you can be a winner.

I hope the above helps in some way. It was meant in the most sincere and kind way by a person who understands where you are coming from and has surprisingly similar view points on many subjects. Good luck on the journey, it will be long and tough, but you can make it.

Kid Crash said...

anonymous -
I can't thank you enough for taking the time to write that out. The things you've said have been an underlying understanding of mine for some time, but due to pride and the intense confidence I usually have in myself to succeed those thoughts never came to surface. I guess it's time to man up and really take a look at what's goin on with my whole poker situation.

I appreciate everything you wrote and I completely agree with it all. If you know me from CT or 2+2, shoot me a PM , it would do me some good having some conversation with you.

Hopefully you can comment on here more, as there's a lot of readers but not a lot of commentators, and your advice is really something I have to heed, as it's completely accurate.