After almost 2 years away from poker, I'm back!
I wasn't 100% away from poker all that time; I played a half dozen tournaments and another 4 or 5 sessions playing low stakes games mostly as something to do while a good friend of mine and I had a few drinks and caught up. But the door on making any kind of money or taking poker seriously in anyway was completely closed. I played fewer hands in those two years than I did on a typical Sunday during the prime of my career.
Black Friday came and went in April of 2011 and I was mostly unaffected. I was 4 months into my new job as Business Development Manager at HitFix.com and while I felt sad for a few of my friends who had been badly burned, the only immediate consequence for me was $500 I had languishing on Absolute Poker evaporating.
As time passed, I decompressed. I didn't realize how tightly I was wound until I had months away from the mania of playing 500+ hands an hour, day after day in a situation where I had to win to support my family.
I've read that how stressed you feel is not related to just things that have happened to you today or last week or last month, but events from the past two years. I'm not talking about major trauma, which of course can have permanent influence on your state of mind, but rather things like getting married, moving, the birth of a child or say a flood of two outters coming in against you that seems to never end.
It took 6 months of being totally away from the daily grind for me to feel totally relaxed and like my career was well behind me in the rear view mirror.
Having a standard job has some major benefits. I get paid the same amount every two weeks even if I have an off week. I can totally check out when the weekend arrives instead of feeling like I should always be working. I get paid holidays, sick leave, vacation pay, stock options, and when I have a really tough decision I ask my boss to make it for me.
But it's always that same amount of money coming in month after month. If I want to spend money on something I have to not spend money on something else. Once my life felt fully stabilized. I decided it was time to start adding to the cash flow.
I figured I could still beat the middle limit hold'em games in the bay area, but I didn't have a bankroll of any kind to start with. I was able to come up with $500 that if I lost wouldn't be a big deal and hoped that would be enough. More importantly for my state of mind, any amount of extra money I could bring in was all bonus money.
When my poker career was in full swing, a win or loss needed to be a few thousand dollars before it was at all noteworthy and anything less than plus or minus $500 felt almost like breaking even. Now I was thinking if I could go make $50 a session, it would be worth my time. I'd buy something with that $50 that otherwise I might not have instead of having it rolled into the pile that would pay for next months bills or be half a percent of the $10,000 budget I had for the next big series of tournaments. $50 or $100 was now an actual win in my mind and I was ready to give it everything I had to book this wins.
On August 8th I rolled into Oaks Club and took a very familiar seat at a $6/$12 limit hold'em game. It had been about 9 years since I played $6/$12 seriously - sober, well rested, focused, determined to win. I played 4 hours and won $5. Not exactly earth shattering. But over my next four sessions I had wins of $250, $160, $167 and $310 playing 3-4 hours each time. The old plays were coming back to me and I was started to get to know the new cast of Oaks $6/$12 players. I had a couple of losing sessions, but over the course of a month I ran my $500 up to a little over $2,000 playing three 4 hours sessions a week and sticking to $6/$12 exclusively.
My results got even better the following month, but that will have to wait for my next post which should be coming in the next day or two.
My plan is to return to blogging how I used to - sharing the ups and downs, talking about my results, specific hands, lessons learned and how I'm feeling about being back at the tables.
Add a comment if you're glad to hear I'm back.