Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Priorities

Around this time last year, I was unemployed. I was living off of a combination of unemployment benefits and a severance package I received in May. It was probably around this same time of year that I had more money in my online bankroll than I did in my bank account. Admittedly, that bankroll was in the $4k range thanks to a couple of tournament scores and a decent showing in my first attempt to seriously play cash games. Technically, I wasn’t a professional poker player since I was actually receiving unemployment checks, but it was probably the closest I’ve been to being “pro” since I was relying on my poker earnings for financial support. After a major downswing, I cashed out my remaining bankroll to make sure I could pay my bills.

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Unless you also follow my other, more personal blog (which I update just as infrequently), it’s doubtful that you know this, but I am a diabetic. I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes almost 2 years ago. It was a long time coming – it runs in my family and it’s an effect of poor dieting and exercise practices. It’s a blessing and a curse that it’s happened at such an early age for me (I was diagnosed when I was 29); it’s disheartening that I lived so poorly that it emerged so early, but at least I’m still able bodied enough to do the right things to manage it.

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Newly employed as of three months ago, I redeposited $60 on FTP at the beginning of April. I was just excited to be able to play again, even if all it meant was a micro SNG or two and an occasional Mookie. I never anticipated that, through a couple of tournament victories and many SNG cashes, I would be able to turn that $60 into over $1800 in just over 2 months. I had a workable bankroll again, and at the beginning of June, I felt like I was ready to seriously focus on improving as a poker player.

That was two weeks ago. I’m now back to zero on FTP, again.

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Unless you’ve play online poker in a cave, you know about the latest scare to the online poker community – the Feds’ seizure of $30 million from the online sites’ bank accounts. Aside from occasional screams that the sky is falling, online poker has hardly been affected.

Yet, I can’t help to see the writing on the wall. This can’t last forever, can it? Online poker has survived many blows; the downfall of Neteller and the UIGEA were some of the biggest, but it’s still here. It’ll survive this one two, but it has me wondering how many more blows it can take. What I do know is, at this point in my life, I don’t want $1800 at risk when the final blow is landed, whenever that may be.

Anytime I go to Vegas, I give myself two rules – only take what I can afford to lose, and don’t worry about losing it all. If I take $1000 to Vegas, I don’t go with the intent that I will lose it all; I go with the intent that should I happen to lose it all, I’ll be OK.

Although I’m steadily employed right now, I’m not planning any Vegas trips anytime soon (although I will mention that I’ve already got the December gathering planned for in my personal budget. Mark my words – I will be there this year). So I’m left to wonder – if I’m not planning on taking any money to gamble anytime soon, then what am I doing with $1800 in my online bankroll?

Is my online bankroll really a top priority?

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So yeah, I’m busto again, but this time it’s for the right reasons. I had already cashed out $300 over the course of these two months, and I requested a check for the rest sometime last week. I feel confident that it will get here eventually, and I know it was the right decision. I experienced the stress of playing poker with larger sums of money last year. The uncertainty of being able to withdraw it in a timely manner, combined with the thoughts in the back of my head telling me that money has better uses elsewhere, stressed me out more than I care to handle (looking back, I’m sure that stress directly contributed to the downswing that forced my last big withdrawal).

When I do get my check (and when I’m positive it’s cleared), I’ll have $1500 to put towards more important things; things like paying off credit cards or seeing the dentist. Things like paying for a vacation to Chicago or summer camping trips. There’s a reason I’ve budgeted these things before planning a trip to Vegas or a tournament at a local cardroom. The difference is that, now, I’m of the belief that online poker falls into the group of lesser priorities, not the group of greater ones.

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But why the whole bankroll? Why not leave another $60 to work on building up again? Rinse and repeat, what’s the harm in that?

Again, it’s about priorities.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m a diabetic. Of life-threatening diseases it’s not necessarily the worst to have, but nevertheless it is also one of our nation’s biggest killers. Of my immediate family, 2\3rds of us our diabetic, and sadly, that’s not as far from the norm as one might think. It’s a disease that’s manageable with proper diet and exercise, but without proper management, it can lead blindness, loss of limbs, kidney disease and\or death.

My own diabetes could be called “mild”. I’m not insulin dependent, I’m only one one medication, and for the most part, I’m able to maintain non-diabetic levels of glucose in my blood. There are probably thousands of people suffering from this same disease who would like to be where I’m at.

However, with diabetes, there’s always room for improvement, and the best way to accomplish this is via diet and exercise. Since January, I’ve paid less attention to these two components, and recently, I’ve noticed the impact. It’s nothing immediately serious – I’m 10 pounds heavier than I was and my glucose levels are still good, just a bit higher than normal. But it’s not hard to notice the trend.

Unfortunately, there are no studies that conclude that sitting on your ass for hours playing online poker is a form of treatment for diabetes. Just as an online bankroll is not necessarily the best use of my cash right now, playing online poker a couple hours a day, a couple days a week is not the best use of my time.

So I’ve withdrawn, and I’m going on hiatus until at least my birthday (August 16th – mark your calendars). I’ve even thought about self-excluding from FTP but I decided against it for two reasons. One, I want to make sure my check clears and two, this is about something I want to do, not something I’m forcing myself to do. If these are priorities I really care about, I’ll have no problem staying away.

Barring any unforeseen circumstances (e.g. death, either for me or for online poker), I’ll be back in a couple of months. I still have plans of the WSOP in the future, and I’m still just as serious about wanting to focus on improving my poker skills, especially given some recent developments (I’ll talk about those in my next post).

Right now, it’s just not a priority.

I’ll be around…

4 Comments:

At June 23, 2009 at 11:16 PM, Blogger MHG said...

Do you cash out to your current address from FTP, and is that OK? (My old address is in Portland, and I'm not sure what I should do if I ever want to get money out of the site)

 
At June 24, 2009 at 6:50 AM, Blogger Alan aka RecessRampage said...

Great post. $60 to $1800 in 2 months? dude, ferguson2 lives here. :)

 
At June 24, 2009 at 10:22 AM, Blogger BWoP said...

Be well, Matt :-)

 
At June 27, 2009 at 7:58 PM, Blogger lightning36 said...

Good luck with the health, bro.

 

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