Thursday, April 27, 2006

Such a strange dichotomy it is being in my mid-to-late twenties. I'm both old and young at the same time.

This morning I was shopping for a new pair of running shoes. I hit the outlet store for the best price, find the brand I like, look at all four selections they have in that brand and miraculously find one that is both in my size and my price range. I grab it off the shelf, try it on, like it. Back in the box, up to the counter to pay.

Then, only then, do I realize that the shoes I chose and were about to pay for were the most hideous things ever. They were white, except with random splotches of neon green randomly distributed about their surface, and then criss-crossed with random black and grey lines. Seriously, it looks like after the shoes were made they were sent to be decorated by an eplieptic four-year-old with neon paint followed by a retarded two-year-old with black and grey crayons.

And you know what? I didn't care. I shrugged and paid. Heck, the shoes satisfy my more pressing needs, who cares if they aren't very attractive?

Now, compare this to most of the rest of my life when I would search for shoes based solely on looks, find the best looking ones, and if those actually had some use other than looking good (you know, comfort, reasonable price, etc) then that was just a bonus. Evidently, that process has completely reversed itself at some point.

Conclusion: I'm getting old.

But then I come home, go to, open this story and giggle like a schoolgirl at the included picture:

At least some part of me never grew up.

So in conclusion, I have the fashion sense of a 70-year-old man and the sense of humor of a middle-school kid. That's a winning combination.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Between a week and a half of visitors in town and no poker, there hasn't been a whole lot to update.

Except. I'm starting to get the itch. Not a whole lot, but it's there. Also, going over a month with zero income after having had a couple weeks of fairly substantial negative income is starting to annoy me. So poker will be back pretty soon.

Limit hold'em really became a huge grind. I mean very, very annoying. So I was thinking that this extended break might be a good chance to switch games up completely and see how it goes. That is, start in doing NL primarily and see how it goes. I've been thinking of making the switch for a while yet, so why not now?

If I do, though, it will be like going back in time to a year and a half ago or so in limit and starting all over again. Dollar amounts, game knowlege and comfort, will all be pushed back by many hundreds of thousands of hands. A real life equivalent would be like starting high school over again.

So we'll see.

Ultimately, it would be nice to get some kind of regular positive cash flow coming in again so I feel more comfortable with what is my next goal--buying a house. It's one thing to have a downpayment ready, it's another to be able to make monthly mortgage payments for the next umpteen years. Even bringing in a relatively small amount, as long as I'm confident in my ability to do so, would go a long way towards making me feel comfortable with such a large purchase.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Stupid taxes.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

I was never, ever comfortable, and that to me was the biggest thing. It was that fear that made me good. You can't take anything for granted.
--Hall of Fame closer Dennis Eckersley, on his success in the ninth inning (Contra Costa Times)

I read that quote--found here, first quote under the heading that starts "In Order To Be Successful..."-- and immediately thought of my own poker sojourn. I'm not claiming to be as good at poker as Eckersley was at pitching in the ninth inning (at least for five years), but I think his idea on how he approached his job was very similar to how I approached mine.

When I was doing my best, I was never comfortable. I was always on edge, convinced that I was one foul-up away from going broke. As the weeks and months went by and my success continued, my state of near-paranoia barely waned, thanks in large part to the variance inherent in poker--any time I'd get the slightest bit relaxed, I'd drop 150BBs in a blink of an eye, promptly resetting my nerves on edge.

But somewhere, I lost that constant state of paranoia, and with it my edge. The seeds were sown with my move out here to Las Vegas last July to live the dream. I was proclaiming that poker was no longer just a profitable hobby, but a career. Isolated from friends and in a new town I wasn't all that comfortable in or familiar with, I had little else to do besides play poker. Slowly, the other aspects of my life shriveled away. Socializing, physical activity, reading, trips to new places, all things I enjoyed, were no longer on the daily plan. Wake up, play poker, surf the web, play some more poker, go to sleep. Those were my days.

The staggering opportunity cost of doing anything besides poker compelled me to keep my attention on poker and nothing else. If I wasn't playing I was reading about it online or in books, or discussing it with friends or just thinking about it. But while my poker senses sharpened and my bankroll grew, my body softened, my intellect dulled, and my social skills withered. My life was poker hedonism at its most extreme. Any activity not required for the continued function of my body, ie, anything other than eating and sleeping, represented merely an obstactle in my undying pursuit of the next flop.

I managed quite fine like this for a suprisingly long time, nights blurring together, and weeks rolling by effortlessly. The first of every month I'd poke my head up to take stock of how I was doing, but otherwise my head was down, with my nose on the proverbial grindstone.

As anyone who's lived a singularly-focused life for a while knows, such a lifestyle is always temporary. Burnout will set in.

The first cracks in my dream lifestyle appeared in December. What? A losing month? That can't happen. Must be an anomaly. Sure I lost in September, but that was playing 80% live. In December I played primarily online. Losing over 3000 hands is one thing. Over 30,000, it's something else.

But it happens, even to the best of us. Right? Except that even with my attempts at rationalizing the losing month away, it shook me. Poker had become such a huge part of my life that at some point I become emotionally invested in it. If I couldn't do poker, what else could I do? There was nothing else in my life.

I continued my grind into the new year and had success overall but with wild fluctuation, much worse than typical. And sharp drop brought another emotional jolt; each one was actually now a blow to my self-worth.

To cap it all off, I was experiencing "poker numbness." Just like overexposure to any other kind of stimulation will cause one to simply go numb from it, playing poker day after day, week after week, month after month, left me unable to feel the game as I once did. This is different from emotional detachment (a very good trait to have while playing), rather it's more like poker apathy--I wasn't caring enough to focus on what was happening enough to try to learn from my mistakes. Individual wins and losses stopped mattering. Did I just win $5000? Meh. Did I just lose $5000? Meh (although when I was still down at the end of the week or month, it did hurt).

Because of my apathetic approach to individual wins and losses, gone was my motivation to make every decision as good as it can be. I was comfortable. I was no longer the least bit afraid, no longer on edge. Perhaps being unafraid is an asset in NL, but in limit that's death. A few bets that have no chance of accomplishing anything, a few calldowns that have no chance of winning, that's all that separates the winners from the losers in many circumstances. No longer focusing on those small edges is limit poker suicide.

And so I swung wilder and wilder. Any financial adviser will tell you not to put all your eggs in one basket. Diversity is key, otherwise you risk losing it all in one fell swoop. Just like people's money is invested in stocks, people's emotions are invested in their lives. My life was poker, poker was getting wacky, and so my emotions were also getting wacky.

February nearly broke me emotionally. The first half was brutal, but then I made a raging comeback the second half. However this didn't make me happy. Much like after many years a heroin addict will take heroin not because it makes him feel better, but rather because not taking it makes him feel worse--a subtle but real difference--I'd simply been granted a reprieve from my pain.

March accomplished what February nearly did. I think the snowboarding trip was a large part of it. The first half of March went just like the first half of February, only worse. But before I could try to regroup, I was off for a week freezing my ass off on some godforsaken mountain, intermittently digging snow out of my pants, or my ears. I didn't play any poker the entire time, and for the first time in as long as I could remember I was 1) completely focused on an activity besides poker and 2) enjoying it. I can't emphasize that enough. That trip reopened my eyes to the variety of experiences life offers.

After that trip, I decided to try to branch out. Only then did my fragile emotional state become apparent. So much of my time, effort and emotions were all invested in poker that when it cratered on me I was not only an emotional wreck, but one who would have to relearn how to get out there and deal with a life that had a lot more to it than dealers, floorpeople or overseas customer support. It was like I was six again. Simply dealing with, say, the counter person at the gym or the mechanic working on my car were learning experiences. Sad to say, but true.

This isn't the end of my poker career, not by a long shot. Despite what it may sound like, I'm far from broke financially--my March losses are but a small fraction of my overall success from the game.

This is, however, the end of my being a poker junkie. I am now rebuilding my life outside of poker. Slowly and a bit hesitantly, as is my style, but I am doing it. Once I add in the other parts of a well-balanced life in sufficient quantities--social life, physical activities, hobbies/interests--only then will I add poker back into the mix. Poker will become just a part of who I am, a small part, rather than the overwhelming defining characteristic of my person. Sure I'll give up some EV, perhaps quite a lot, but you know what? I don't care.

I want to go rock-climbing under the sun. I want to play a grueling session of racquetball. I want to roll down a snow-covered mountain while a snowboard is attached to my feet. I want to meet a group of friends for dinner and bullshit for hours even after the meal has ended. Then after all that, after I've enjoyed life a bit, I'll play some poker. Just a little bit. Enough to earn some money to pay the bills and maybe put a little more away. But just enough to do that. Because there will be a life to get back to.

Monday, April 03, 2006

So I thought I might try an interent dating site. You know the ones that are 95% male, 4% ugly psycho chicks and 1% hookers? (I might have those last two numbers reversed.)

I figure after I post this the offers should roll in.

So here's my description:

I'm 27, white, male, single. I sit around my apartment all day wearing nothing but boxers and socks reading internet message boards about baseball or poker. I communicate with practically no one. I have no social skills or confidence. I am not funny.

I burp and fart. A lot. I enjoy the smell.

I have no job, no ambitions or goals, and really, no role in society. I just waste space and resources. Well, except I do pay the rent for many fine, young women who are willing to take off their clothes for me.

Due to a long history of fucked up relationships, I have become heavily misogynistic. I have no respect for women and just want a fuck toy. I am cheap and won't buy you anything. I don't care how your day was. And the last thing I want is your small-minded opinion. On anything. And for those thinking, "I am intelligent and enlightened; I don't have small-minded opinions!" you are wrong. If you have an opinion, it's small-minded. Trust me.

Women over the age of 25 need not apply; ya'll are too hairy and saggy to be worth my time.