Friday, November 09, 2007

Learning A Lesson The Hard Way

Here it is; my first poker only post in a long time.

About a month ago, I cashed out what was left of my bankroll. The main reason I did this was because, quite simply, I needed the money at that time. I had written about this dilemma before, and at the start of my bankroll challenge, I declared that I wouldn't pull out any money for emergencies. But logic prevailed over standards, and it was the right thing to do at the time.

However, if I were a smart man, I would have pulled the money that I needed out before I went on a $200+ downswing. It only took a couple of hours, but in that time, I threw all the hard work of the previous 2 month away, trying to recoup losses by playing bigger stakes, stakes that I just couldn't handle. Had I thought things through, I would have been able to save part of my bankroll and continue playing.

But there's a positive in everything, even if it takes a while to realize it.

I pulled the money out because I needed it, but also because I was partly afraid that, if I continued playing, that I wouldn't be able to control myself, meaning, I would continue playing at stakes higher than what I could afford. I'm not sitting on a wad of disposable income, so my online bankroll represented all the money I could use for poker. If I went busto, it meant no poker for a long time. I could have tried to find other ways to resolve my financial problem, but knowing that I could use my bankroll instead, and out of fear that I could potentially squander the most logical solution to my problems, I cashed out. I didn't want to, but I did anyways.

So with no bankroll but still the same desire to play, I tried using my FTP points to satellite into tournaments & acquire tokens. That didn't go too well either. After a while, I had to get my poker fix by being a railbird & watching others play. Out of boredom, I would sign up for those FTP.Net Aussie Millions tournaments and just push every hand. At least it was action, as worthless as it may have been.

Nevertheless, the itch grew stronger. I thought about trying to hit Treasure Casino last weekend. Of course, I didn't have the money to do this. I thought about selling some CDs to earn the money. I thought "hey, I don't listen to these anyways, and I have them all stored on my hard drive anyways." My girlfriend convinced me it was a silly idea. I brought it up again at lunch on Saturday, mentioning about how I was thinking about using what little I had, maybe even borrow a bit from my savings account, to go play poker. Of course, I'm mentioning this at a lunch when I've sort of insinuated that I was expecting her to pay. I realized my selfishness by the time the bill came and instead offered to use my money to at least split the bill. For pulling such a selfish move, I should have at least bought the entire meal for her, but I couldn't afford to. Yet I was willing to go above and beyond to find a way to play poker.

That same day, I got the idea of doing a FTP for Paypal transfer with what little money I had left. Even just $15. I talked to a couple people about it, but I didn't really get that far. Until one person, who I'll keep nameless unless they wish to divulge their identity, offered to loan me money to get me started. Up to $500. Keep in mind, my bankroll never made it that far to begin with. I was humbled by this generous offer, but refused to accept such a large amount. We settled on $100, and instantly, I was back in business! I was already making plans to deposit money shortly after Christmas, thanks to overtime & an expected cash in my Fantasy Football league, so I knew I'd be able to repay that money back in no time, even sooner if I could run my bankroll up again.

My girlfriend, however, had a different perspective. She saw a boyfriend who, on the night that he cashed out his bankroll, was furious with himself for A) playing outside his limits, B) putting himself in a position where he wasn't going to have enough money to celebrate her birthday properly, and C) was getting back into his previous poker habits. She saw a boyfriend who was putting a bigger priority on finding ways to play poker than finding ways to not have his girlfriend cover him for meals & social activities. She saw a boyfriend who was borrowing money from someone he's never physically met, while at the same time having to work overtime to be able to afford their trip to see their families for Christmas.

My girlfriend has been supportive of me and my poker hobby. In a perfect world, she'd probably prefer that I don't play at all, but in a perfect world, I'd prefer to play a lot more than I am. We had found a good compromise that suited both of us, but I was starting to abuse it, and she let me know. We had a good conversation about it, and in the end, I returned the money back to the lender. Of course, it helped that I was able to run it up to over $150, so I still had some to play with, but even if I hadn't, it was the right choice to give the money back. The fact is, my hobby of playing poker was becoming much more than a hobby; it was becoming a burden, and borrowing money to play poker, money that would have been repaid by either working overtime or by hoping that my 1st place status in FF holds up, was not the best decision.

(I should take a moment to defend my girlfriend here. Between my comment on my last post, and my portrayal of her in this post, you might get the wrong idea of my girlfriend. She doesn't give me grief over wanting to play poker when it's a reasonable request. If I tell her I want to play poker instead of taking her out for her birthday, yeah, she's not gonna like that, but that's reasonable. She enjoys talking about poker with me, even playing in our home games when we have them. So if your impression of her is something of a wet blanket girlfriend, then it's because I haven't done a very good job of talking about her).

I've spent enough time on this blog lamenting my financial situation or my inability to show restraint when it comes to playing poker. There comes a time when it stops becoming a hobby and starts becoming a problem. I don't think I'm there yet, but at the same time, my perspective is skewed. I could totally understand why someone else would think that I do. Some of my friends told me this two years ago, when I was still finding ways to play poker in light of a huge financial obligation related to a DUI. They told me this a year and a half ago when I blew through a $3500 score in a couple of days. Instead of showing financial restraint or placing a priority on financial security, I've instead chosen to play poker. And as long as I continue to do that, I'm going to continue to have the problems I'm having now.

However, that doesn't mean I'm done playing poker. I've started working my bankroll up again, and thanks to that temporary loan, I'm essentially freerolling; my streak of not having to deposit since May continues. I'll continue my bankroll challenge and see if I can get up to $2k again, maybe even more. But what's changed is that it's no longer as big of a priority for me. Maybe one day I'll be able to find a balance in my life that allows me to play poker as competitively as I'd like without harming my long term goals. Maybe one day I'll be able to join all you other bloggers every week at the Mookie or the MATH. For now, I just have to be satisfied with the opportunity I have right now, because if I blow this one like I have others times, I don't know when I'll get the next one.

If you've made it this far, congratulations. I know that was a pretty long read. You probably won't see a more personal post from me, not on this blog at least, so thanks for sticking through it. I'll have some more posts coming up, including a post about my revised bankroll challenge. I'm also going to start posting more stuff like hand histories and solicitations for discussion. I've learned from my 7 card stud debacle that I'm not quite ready to start posting full-length strategy columns, but I do want to incorporate some more discussion into my blog. So thanks for reading. I don't have very many loyal readers, but I truly do appreciate the ones that I have. GL and I'll see you at the tables soon.

3 Comments:

At November 12, 2007 at 6:44 AM, Blogger lightning36 said...

Wow - you've got quite a challenge there.

Time for poker vs time for girlfriend/wife/family is a tough one. I know that I don't have all the answers.

Best of luck in sorting this one out for yourself and making good decisions.

 
At November 12, 2007 at 10:43 AM, Blogger Alan aka RecessRampage said...

Matt,
I know you know this but your gf is awesome. And she's letting you know what she feels. That's key. Listen to her. Remember, poker is just a game. It'll be here forever. Your gf may or may not. So focus on her. There are more important things in life than just a card game.

 
At November 13, 2007 at 4:12 PM, Blogger Schaubs said...

Hang in there dude.

 

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