Thursday, July 10, 2008

Back To The Grind

First, let's get the really important stuff out of the way. Congrats to Iggy for making it to Day 4. I wonder if his stack is big enough yet that he can stand on it & see the table. Keep it up!

Anyways, now for the rest of my babble.

There was a time, years ago, when I didn't play poker at all. I still found ways to enjoy life. I caught the bug a couple of years ago, and now poker has become one of my favorite hobbies, if not the favorite.

The last couple of days, evident in my most recent posts, poker has become a soul-sucking grind. With no job to waste my time at, and a fucked up sleep schedule that sees me waking up as late as noon & going to bed as late at 5am sometimes, I've passed the time withering away in my not-very-comfortable chair, clicking away at my surprisingly resilient mouse, watching my imaginary nest egg ebb & flow. Sometimes, I don't even muster enough energy to put on a full set of clothes (although, with all due apologies, you won't be getting any Waffles-esque pictures from me. But please indulge me and keep reading anyways.)

I think I finally realized when I hit that point where I wasn't enjoying this hobby. It wasn't after the session where I pissed away $500 in a flurry of bad beats and unrealized tilt. It wasn't last night (or I guess early this morning) when I ran second best hands into better hands.

No, it was a couple days prior, when I finished second in a 5-table SNG for $200. After reading about Jamy's recent conquest at the $75 stakes, I took the plunge at the $26 level, only to find the fields softer than marshmallow breasts. UTG raises with K7c. Check-raising with nothing but runner-runner draws. Whereas I was used to folding the JackAce to early aggression, I now started agonizing over these decisions, thinking that I may actually be folding the nuts against these players.

That second place finish was my 2nd cash in 6 tried at these games, and that score put my bankroll at just over $4800, the high-water mark for me EVER. Additionally, if I consider that I pulled out $500 less than a week prior, we're talking about a hypothetical bankroll of over $5k for me. Earlier this year, I set a goal of working up to a $2K bankroll. Lofty, but fairly attainable. Now I'm working with a bankroll of more than twice that amount?

This was around the time that the dollar-sign fairies started dancing around in my head. I probably should have felt satisfied with what I had, considering where I've been, but I was craving more. I wasn't even at $5k before I started think $6k, $7k. What about 5 figures? What if, what if, what if.

This streak I'm on, over a $1k downswing, isn't the first for me. A month ago, I worked my bankroll up to $4k during my first foray into the cash games at the $1\$2 level. It didn't take long for me to donk that down all the way to $2600, and yet I was hardly fazed. I was still grateful that I had that much left.

What makes this streak feel so different is that, as I began working it all bank up and then some, I started expecting this to become the norm. The FTP tables were my personal ATM, except that it didn't spit out cash but instead checks that took 10-15 days to get to you and may or may not be cashed (I got an email today from FTP saying that my check wasn't affected but I'm still suspicious). When I started giving money away instead of taking it, it was like I was being told I wasn't IronMan. What the fuck do you mean I'm not IronMan? I've even got the silly little badge to prove it. But I'm not IronMan, I'm not impervious to these downswings, and I'm not going to be able to handle them if I think that I'm entitled to constantly have an ever-growing bankroll.

Which brings me back to my pre-poker life. Kind of.

I don't think it's a break that I need, nor do I think I need to jump down a level (at least, not just yet). But what I do need to do is infuse some of my other hobbies back into my life. I was smart enough to escape Arizona for the wonderful summers of Seattle; why am I spending all my days indoors? How have I not managed to take a single shot on the B-ball courts yet? If I want to sleep all day, why can't I go do it passed out under a tree somewhere? Just because I don't have a job right now doesn't mean I need to convert my biggest hobby into my new job. Especially when it's not necessarily paying very well these days. But that's exactly what I was doing. I was playing with the mindset that I should conquer every table, that I should be finishing every session up at least a buyin, that I was going to piss all over the donkeys at the 5-table SNGs and be rolling around in the money. Or at least rolling around on the floor looking at that number on my monitor.

So that's how I solve this problem, I guess. Get back to treating poker as something I do for fun, for entertainment, not as a way to make money. Sure, I like the money-making aspect of it. That's what makes it relevant, challenging, rewarding. Otherwise, I could jump on the play money tables until my heart's content. But I'm not going to get caught up in how much my bankroll is. It's not important that I make it grow as fast as I can; that's not how I got to where I'm at now. It's about playing smartly with that bankroll and relying on it to sustain my ability to play online.

But I'm going to make a couple changes for now. First, I'm stepping away from the cash games for a bit. I don't think I can handle any more swings right now. I found myself tilting again after getting my money in bad a couple times. I reloaded, then caught myself and sat out. Instead, I sat down at a $22 turbo SNG and promptly took first.

That's the other change; getting back to SNGs. And not the crazy super turbo ones either. Of course, I'm singing a different tune than before, now that my ROI has dropped considerably, which I guess is expected. But for someone like me, who's struggling through a downswing, the last thing I need to do is continually play "push & pray" poker. Instead I need to get back to what got me here in the first place: standard SNGs and MTTs. I didn't set my goal of a $2k bankroll to jump into cash games. I took a shot since I had some money to play with, but SNGs are my bread & butter. I need to find that comfortable place again, so I'm going back to what I know best.

I guess that's the plan. Poker at night, play in the daytime. Tomorrow, I skip the virtual felt and head to the gym to get some miles in as I prepare for my first half-marathon in October. Maybe I'll even head down to a basketball court to start working on getting my shot back. Hopefully the bad beats don't follow me all the way there; otherwise, I may end up like Mr. Two Thumbs.

Seriously, that's one fucked up pinky.


At July 11, 2008 at 10:27 AM, Blogger RaisingCayne said...

Enjoy the Seattle Summer while it's here man! In my opinion, this is the best region in the world for three months a year, and July is one of 'em.

One GREAT way to enjoy it is to come down to Emerald Downs one week from today! It's gonna be a great time. (Zeem and Mrs. Chako are gonna be there with us, you should really try and make it!)

Best of luck with your reentry into the SNG/MTT grind.

At July 12, 2008 at 6:25 AM, Anonymous doubleup chump said...

Agreed! The next couple of months make living here the rest of the year worthwhile!

Let's go shoot some hoops!

At July 17, 2008 at 3:24 PM, Blogger Alan aka RecessRampage said...

I'm about to go get it fixed tomorrow. Woot!


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