Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Introduction of a Poker Player, Part 1

I wish this was a story I could have told from the beginning. It's an interesting one, all told - one guys journey from a casual tournament player, to a fish on a heater, to a mass tabling low stakes grinder, until finally getting it together and finding myself short-stacking for high stakes, with enough money on the line to make my parents and most of my friends feel a bit nauseous just hearing about it.

When it comes down to it though, there's an underpinning of consistency, logic, and hard, hard work that - for all the highs and lows - lets me make a living doing something I love: playing poker.

(Trust me, if you want to win, you better really love poker, because there are plenty of days when poker does not love you back.)

So, like most trendy stories these days, let's go ahead and start from the middle.

In November of 2010, I had had enough. I knew I was a winning poker player, or at least, I had it in me to become one. I just wasn't working hard enough.

Contrary to popular belief, desire and hard work are
not always a guarantee for success.

Nevermind that I was already playing five hours a day, studying when I wasn't at the table, and just generally driving myself insane. I was playing .25/.50 and .50/1.00 20bb games on Pokerstars, about 20 tables at once, about 200,000 hands a month. I got coaching. I played better, faster, harder and smarter than I ever had.

The month sucked. I posted something like a -2bb/100 loss rate, kept afloat by the rakeback I had generated.

Okay, bad luck. Still getting my feet wet. It happens. So December rolled in, I started with a clean slate, moved back down to .25/.50, and hit the tables harder than ever.

An artists rendition of trying to play on
Pokerstars in December.

On December 22, I was still losing. Badly. (Okay, not that badly, about the same as before. All I knew is that I had a goal - to play full time - and unless I planned on playing roughly 37 hours a day, I was never going to make enough money to do that.) Again, the Pokerstars bonuses were the only money I made, and had to use them to offset the losses, too.

It was time. I'd played literally hundreds of thousands of hands of poker. Sample sizes were not an issue. Nor was tilt, lack of discipline, or any other excuse I could come up with.

I was a loser. Not the funny, good natured hollywood loser who gets the hot emo girl with his fumbling charm, either. The kind destined to leave his money behind on the poker table.

Something needed to change and soon, or my poker career would be busto before it even took off.

Note: This entry was cross posted at Short Stack Hero, the poker blog where I contribute.

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