Thursday, November 17, 2005


It’s the eve of my pending unemployment, and I’m in reflective mood after rereading jellybean’s post. When I read the title, I gulped nervously, half expecting a post of hatred from an enemy I had perhaps unknowingly made. I braced myself for some abuse, perhaps even mockery regarding my recent decision. To my relief however, these were ‘home truths’ about poker as a career, rather than a stab at me personally.

I ploughed through his post with one eyebrow raised. Some of the comments he made would make anyone think twice about playing.

‘it means I don't dwell on my losses for too long as I'm asleep’

‘it’s no fun’

‘plays havoc with your social life’

Blimey, jellybean! Morose to say the least, and I’m sincerely sorry that you’ve had an unhappy time playing full-time. However, it’s important to examine these angles, and so, in hindsight, I’m glad you posted.

My response is this:

The last thing I want to do is to relinquish my enjoyment of the game. This is perhaps one of the biggest fears I have about going full-time. I’ve lived and breathed this wonderful game for 4 years now, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. Whether I’ve been suffering bad-beats or celebrating big wins, I’ve continually received that thrill that we all pine for. During that time, my interest for the game has seldom threatened to fade and, if anything, has culminated from an interest into a passion.

So, therefore, I will do everything I can to maintain this. If I ever reach a stage where I wake up downhearted, bracing myself for up to 18 hours of monotonous poker, then I just won’t continue. Simple as that. I’ll drop it all and look for some other way to earn an income. The only reason why I decided to quit my job was because I was bored and wasn’t enjoying it. If those feelings were to transfer over to my poker life, then I’d make a change.

That’s easier said than done though. So what should I be doing to combat this possibility of monotony? Well, it all depends on the individual, but, from liaising (yes, I can speak posh sometimes) with various others, I have come up with the following guidelines:

Take Plenty of Breaks

For me personally, this is a must. Whilst I intend to work on my mental stamina, it isn’t currently at the level I want it to be. Therefore, I shall be taking multiple breaks and focussing on shorter sessions in order to keep my mind fresh and alert. My losses seem to be dependent on silly mistakes resulting from a lack of focus, rather than a skill inferiority. In both tournaments and ring games, I find that these rare, but vital, mistakes are the difference between profit and loss. Therefore, if I can minimise these errors by keeping my mind on the ball, then I should increase my chances of success.

This also extends to the long-term. If I feel myself slipping into a hypnotised robotic state of poker playing, then I’ll perhaps take a day or two off. Hopefully, this will not only revitalise my poker brain, but also my enthusiasm for the game.

The hardest part I find is being able to detect when these situations arise. However, I feel as though I’m becoming more aware of when a break is required and being able to act by temporarily pulling the plug.

Get Some Fresh Air!

Your average online poker pro seems to have a fear for the outside world. A life living as a hermit within the surroundings of just one room. Now that’s scary!

Scarey, but sometimes true. This is something I’m just not prepared to accept. Being a cool, hip dashingly handsome youngster, it would just be a crime to the ladies out there if I locked myself in my room 24/7 and just played non-stop poker. To me, playing poker full-time doesn’t mean spending all day and night in front of the computer. It means playing little more than several hours during the day to earn a crust, and then getting yourself out and about whilst you’re poker free.

If you were playing up to 18 hours a day, then I’m not surprised you weren’t enjoying it. And if that’s how long you believed you needed to spend playing to earn enough, then I would have suggested that you looked for another way of making a living. I’m not in a position to preach, but that’s just the way I look at it.

So, in essence, what I’m saying is that I will be doing what I can to make sure that I have a life outside poker. Although playing a mixture of live and online poker goes someway to keep things fresh, it’s still important to have more than 1 hobby.

I will hit the road, visit my buddies, write, read, etc, etc. Anything that can keep my mind off poker whilst I’m not playing. I’m passionate about the game, but I can’t afford to become obsessed. Doing so puts my enjoyment of the game in jeopardy.

Even if a multi forces you into a longer than normal session, then why not move the laptop around. Play in the lounge, study, kitchen, even the garden if it’s sunny. RED-DOG told me that he always tries to move around, just to keep himself alert, whilst also preventing cramp. He’s getting old you see.

Mix It Up

There’s more than 1 type of game, there’s more than 1 site, there’s more than 1 level. You don’t just have to play the same game over and over and over again. I consider myself to be relatively apt at Hold-Em, Omaha, & Omaha High Low, be it pot-limit, no-limit, or sometimes even limit. My most profitable game is still NL Texas, but that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t ambush the other tables. My profit might not be as good playing PL Omaha High Low, but at least it’ll keep my brain active and prevent me from becoming bored by the one game.

Similarly, I make most of my money from cash games, but I can still earn a little from STTs. Maybe I can even work on my game so that my STT skills reach the same level. That’d be a challenge and would make a change from the daily cash game routine.

Poker can be a broad game. There are so many options. You don’t just have to play $2/4 NL Hold ‘Em, day in day out, facing the same players over and over again. This will undoubtedly lead to monotony and boredom. Therefore, I’ll be mixing it up and trying to maintain a healthy balance between making money and enjoying the game.

Set Yourself Goals

I thank The_Baron for this one, I think it’s an important point.

It’s a bit geeky, but I’m going to write down a list of potential, but realistic, achievements that I hope to hold by next June. These can range from winning a live comp, earning a certain online amount, going to Vegas, and so on. I’ll then add the odd non-poker goal, just so my life doesn’t become completely centred around poker.

Hopefully, this will keep me focused, whilst also ensuring that I don’t become stuck in a rut. That is one of the things that happened at work. I ended up getting up each day and trundling off to work, unsure as to why I was going and what exactly I wanted to achieve. I thought about what I’d be doing in a year’s, and it scared the crap out of me when I pictured myself sitting at the same desk, doing the same things.

It’s important to have aims, whatever they may be. It keeps the heart pumping and the blood circulating. Gives you a bit more drive in life. If I reach a goal, I will create a new one. A ladder structure of sorts in which each rung becomes a new level that I wish to aspire to.

So, there you have it…

Hopefully, if I can adopt these guidelines into my daily poker life, then I stand a better chance of maintaining the balance between enjoyment and profit. Of course, there will be times when it all feels a little stagnant, but the key is in being able to identify these points and doing something about it.

Let’s not forget the advantages of playing poker fulltime. Get up when you want, play when you want, eat and sleep when you want, no boss, nobody watching over you. These are luxuries that I dreamt of whilst sitting at my desk at work. Now I have a chance to live them. It may go wrong and I could find myself back at the 9-5 job, but at least I won’t have any regrets. Least I’ll be able to say I gave it a shot…

I appreciate the post, jellybean, it should be very insightful to those expecting full-time poker to be an easy ride. I can promise you that I am not one of those players and I don’t intend to be naïve about my decision. Your words have encouraged me to retrace these steps and clarify them in my head.

Thanks for your good luck message and I’m glad to hear that your results have improved.


ps. My next post will be less serious...promise. dad dont dance


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