Monday, August 22, 2005

Chapter II

I work best under deadline conditions. Goes with the territory. I tend not to linger, powering through tasks with a reasonable level of aptitude to keep the train on the tracks. But I don't often reach all the way to the bottom. I don't make it to the last page of the instruction manual when I can get the thing working after 15 pages.

Which is how I have ended up with the state of my poker game.

That's funny, "funny" frustrating, not "funny" ha-ha. I've written this post in my head a hundred different times over the past 48 hours. It's been bouncing around in my skull for much longer than that. And yet, not once did it start out like the above.

But I don't work like that. Not well, anyway. So I'm just gonna dump it out, trying to hit the high points and hoping you can sort it out. Order amongst the chaos, one hopes. Sure, I would like this to be eloquent, to resonate, find some universal themes everyone can hold onto, but, again, that would take planning and sense. I'd rather just straddle that fine line between clever and stupid and see where we end up.

The upshot is I'm taking an overdue and extended break from online poker. I should say mostly, since I plan on occassional shots at the WCOOP with my frequent player points and I'll most certainly participate in any WPBT events. But that's all I'll have the funds for, because I cashed out almost all of my bankroll.

This is not some profound statement. I did not have an epiphany, a "Saul on the Road to Damascus" moment. It is, I think, part of my natural evolution. Poker and I are a relatively new item and our relationship is experiencing simple growing pains as I try to figure out where it belongs, now and for the future.

The biggest issue is that online poker has lost it's fun aspect. It's a houseguest that's over-stayed its welcome. Which should have been obvious to me many times recently as I hunched over the laptop, teeth gritted in defiance, willing the cards to fall my way. I'm sure it registered some place in my muddled head, but it took an incredibly enjoyable session to provide the contrast.

I cashed in the Crazy Re-Buy again on Saturday. That makes three cashes out of my last four attempts (and the fourth I only missed the money by 15 places when I ran my short-stack Hiltons into Aces). I've felt damn good about my play in these of late (44 notwithstanding), finding that solid footing that's seemed so nebulous these last three months. It's allowing me to step away in a positive frame of mind rather than a nagging doubt that I really don't belong in the game. I have much to learn certainly, but it's more of a remodel, rather than a wholesale dismantling of the foundation.

Another problem is that I've become a One-Trick Donkey. Or, as Matusow would put it, an Internet Tournament Donkey. Tournaments have been good to me, for sure, making up the bulk of my bankroll, but my undying favor toward them has shut off the other avenues of education. Playing NLHE tourney after NLHE tourney is a growth-stunting business, poker with blinders.

I've dabbled in PL Omaha and O8, but I can't go anywhere significant with those without more instruction. I love limit hold 'em and would do well to pull out Cloutier/McEvoy and SSH again for a refresher. Stud games? Well, let's not get crazy here.

I want to stress this is not a "I'm taking my ball and going home" deal because of the ass-whuppin' variance has given me this summer. It sucks and I've struggled to deal with it at times, but I've attained a measure of acceptance. I sure as hell wish I didn't drop four figures worth of lessons to get to this point, but, if it's all one long session, I'm still playing with Fish Money. And I am going to play with it. Just not online.

I need to find that zeal again. I need to go into a session in the best frame of mind, with that excitement that used to be so prevalent, but has become fleeting. I'm gonna spend "quality time" (©Big Pirate) with poker, at my local indian casino, at HDub's home game, with my books and blogs and websites and, perhaps most importantly, in my head, where my thoughts are not cluttered by the latest bad beat, but clear and free to absorb what the game is telling me, what I need to know.

Lastly, and it's painful to admit but full disclosure is the key, poker is getting in the way. Not overtly. I manage to take care of my business (if too often at the last minute; dealine conditions, you know). But there I was the other night, reading AJ to sleep. I was saying the words on the page, but my mind was far away.

How could he call an all-in with just a gunshot? And why did he have to catch? Could I have played it differently?

The End.

I closed the book and turned toward The Boy. AJ was dozing on my shoulder. I didn't realize he'd gone down. I didn't experience that moment with my son, relish his closeness, because I was caught up in a hand. It made me feel like a prime asshole.

One little thing here, one small moment there, all distilled into an obvious decision, one with which I am more than comfortable. A new direction, a fresh step, the next page in the manual.


Now, what did YOU all do this weekend?

Looking forward to the reports. I was fortunate enough to receive some Dial-A-Shot action this weekend, so thanks for that gang. I must say, the other end of the phone didn't sound like much fun at all. Nope, absolutely nothing that I'd be interested in. Not at all.

Envy. Such an ugly emotion.


At 3:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

often times after struggling for hours/days/weeks/months, i am reminded of this stanza:

But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

i think many of us (or at least me!) in our hustle and bustle for progress and success forget that 'downtime' for self-assessment and rejuvination are part of growth.

without these, we end up like Burns' mouse, hung on the past and worried about the future....

here's wishing you growth and happiness in your time away from the online poker fray!


At 6:25 AM, Blogger Poker Nerd said...

Breaks are good. Poker will always be there.

At 6:56 AM, Blogger Easycure said...

Was behind a one of those boxy white mini-cargo trucks this morning with splashguards that said:

Moreno Valley, CA

It sounds like that's the same truck that's been running over your end game and it's full of variance.

Enjoy your time, whatever you're doing. If you get up Washington State way, give me a hollar.

At 8:38 AM, Blogger Drizztdj said...

I feel the same way 1/2 thru the Thomas the Tank Engine book of choice and Little Drizz starts to nod off.

I know online poker is no subsitute for the real thing, but its all I have for this hobby.

Good luck on the live play and hope you're still up for chatting about the A's/Twins recent role reversals ;)

At 9:13 AM, Blogger chipper said...

Like W.C. Fields once said: "Quitting is easy. I've done it hundreds of times."

I took a couple of breaks from poker this summer. Took much of one thing after a while makes you forget about other more important things. I'm guilty of this myself.

Enjoy the time away. Good for the mind.

At 12:03 PM, Blogger ScurvyDog said...


or, you know...


Take your pick.

At 7:08 PM, Anonymous SevenSeven said...

Funny, I've come to the exact same decision recently, only for me the whole thing is accelerated. I started playing two months ago, was up $1000 in under 4 weeks, hit some rapids and dropped half of that, made it back and up to $1200, then hit some unreal "variance" and dropped half of it again. After which I've decided I need a break too, because I am on awful tilt. From being a pretty good SnG player, I finished out of the money in 19 SnGs in a row, without knowing exactly what I was doing different, if anything. I don't know how to deal with the losses because they make me think "Was I only winning because of good luck? Am I actually just a total fish?" So I cashed out and am on a break too, fully intending to come back to it when my head is in a slightly different place. Good luck with your hiatus.


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