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Join Date: Apr 07
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  1. Being a professional for over 2 years has definitely changed my perspective on some things.

    Wow, has it really been four months since I’ve done one of these? I swear that the layoff didn’t feel anywhere near that extensive. During my apparently lengthy time away from my keyboard I’ve done a great deal of reflecting on my own ambitions. My attitude regarding the poker industry has changed since I first started this journey 27 months ago. Simply put this is not what I thought it would be. I had the naïve ideas about this game that run rampant in the minds of casual dreamers who see poker in ESPN and think that’s their ticket to greatness. This game is more complex, more difficult, more tiring, and more emotionally challenging than I ever thought possible, to say nothing of the fact that progress can come painfully slowly when it comes at all. All this noise has lead me to an interesting point of self-observation and awareness. My trek has made me wonder what specifically it is that I’m after. What exactly do I want out of this industry?

    Ask any casual poker player what his or her goals are and that person will likely rattle off some commonly held benchmarks. Win a bunch of money, play in a big tournament on TV, travel the circuit and become famous, these are all worthy pursuits yet the best method of execution to attain these standards is incredibly vague. Should you just start playing tournaments at your local casino? Well you can, but there’s a decent chance you’ll never have any real success because of poor structures and too few tournaments available to play in to counteract the variance of the game. Do you just jump in and travel the circuit after you’ve built up a bunch of spare cash from your job? Tournaments get expensive very quickly, particularly when it’s going to cost you a couple thousand just in hotel, food, and travel expenses to be around for a tournament series. Plus it’s going to take you quite a while to build up the kind of money you’d need working almost any regular job. So should you just forget the whole idea? I’ll never be the one to suggest that, but I think it’s important to understand the limitations of setting goals for yourself in poker before you try and take the plunge on any level.

    The reality of this industry is that goals aren’t achieved in a set fashion. You can’t just say something like, “I want to make X amount of money by the end of the month.” Poker doesn’t happen in a set pattern, it’s a game with profound stretches of statistical noise. Live poker in particular is like this because you get to play such a dramatically smaller number of hands than is possible online. People who want this to be their job start treating it like it’s any other industry. They start thinking about how much money they will make and then start planning outwardly from there, just like you would with any other job. The difference is when you’re working a traditional career, you know how much money you are going to make. The terms of your pay are agreed upon prior to you taking the job so you can plan your life around your salary or hourly rate. You know how much money you’ll be pulling in on a week to week basis and you can build your life around that number. Poker happens in the exact opposite order. There are no guarantees about what you’ll make. The planning has to start with how much money you’re going to need on a monthly basis and putting yourself in a game where you have a chance to earn what you need and more so you can eventually “give yourself a raise” by moving up in stakes. There is not set amount of time that any one task is going to take.

    Poker goals can be achieved in a logical fashion, the problem is that it’s a form of logic we aren’t as familiar with. Your ability to achieve anything in the poker world is most reliant on your bankroll. If you don’t have the proper budget then no amount of skill is going to get you to where you need to be. You need to have enough money to give your skills an opportunity to grow and to allow your situation to be governed by those skills rather than just a good run of cards. Poker goals operate under the same kind of logic as basic computer programing. When your bankroll is at a certain level, you need to be playing in games that correspond to it. When your bankroll grows to a point where you can move up in stakes, then you should. It’s like a basic “if…then…” statement in computer programing. If my bankroll is only big enough for 1/2NL then that’s what I’ll play. If my bankroll gets big enough to play 2/5NL then I’ll move up. The amount of time it takes to get from one goal to the next has no bearing on the equation. However long it takes someone to play themselves up in stakes, the goals themselves don’t change.

    This little analogy brings me to an interesting crossroads. Taking my logic one step further, what are the variables I want to focus on for my “ifs” and my “thens?” When I started my career I had the casual player’s mentality when it came to goals for this business. Now that my innocence has been stripped from me (which I think is definitively for the best) what comes in to replace the void? What is it that I want to do? I don’t have as long term of a plan as I once did. I more just have a list of things that I enjoy doing. I enjoy playing poker, even though right now it’s for low dollar amounts that aren’t going to put me on the cover of any magazine. I enjoy writing. This blog is fun for me to do and I’d like to be able to continue along with it even though it isn’t leading anywhere in particular. I love my schedule. I like being able to go to the gym 4 days a week, I like being able to fly out to California and stay with my friends up in the bay area as well as my friends down around LA. I feel like I get more value out of my time now than I ever have at any other point in my life, whether we’re talking about high school, college, or my brief stint as a traditional working man. What I’ve gotten out of these first few years is more than just money (which is a good thing because I’m not exactly breaking the bank with my hourly win rates from the past two years). I don’t really have any idea what I’m doing long term, and to be frank I just couldn’t give a damn less. No one’s life is perfect, and certainly mine is far from ideal, but happiness and peace of mind are hard to come by in this world. I’ve got some, and that’s enough for now.

  2. I think the title is fairly self-explanatory this week.

    It’s that time of year again. It’s the time for the holiday season to officially begin. It’s time for us to be inundated by calls and conversations from close friends and family. It’s time for us to start going mad with plots to achieve the most picturesque displays of holiday delight. During this particular season it’s easy to get lost in the craziness of establishing ideal days of cheer that will imbue the perfect memory in the minds of all those in attendance. I’m not going to type up some cliché riddled excuse for a season’s greeting. I’m not interested in forcing anyone to subscribe to my own ideas about what the holidays should mean. What I’d like to do is share just a bit of comfort that I’ve found over the past two years of chasing after some wacky dreams.

    I’m going to keep this short and to the point. No one, not a soul on this planet is completely satisfied with their lives. I’ve mentioned before how easy I feel it can be to remind ourselves off all the greatness we lack without ever really acknowledging the triumphs we’ve earned. This season is fantastic for me, because I can just unwind. There will be no stress, no worries about creating the perfect images in anyone’s head. I’m going to sit around, watch my high school’s Thanksgiving Day game, eat lots of food, drink, and enjoy the company of anyone who wants to stop by the house in a pleasant mood. If you’re going to try and rain on my parade, even for only a moment, I will just show your ass the door.

    I promised pith so here’s the punch line. Wherever you are this holiday season, whoever you’re going to spend it with, just take some time to enjoy what’s around you for what it’s worth. Nothing lasts forever, good or bad, and it’s good to just slow things down and enjoy what you’ve got.

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/dtools22

    Email: steve@brokenwallfilms.com

  3. Kissing your own ass in moderation can be an exceptionally healthy thing.

    I was reading an article by Mike Caro in Poker Player Newspaper a few months ago. Mr. Caro writes a regular column for this publication in which he asks himself a series of questions regarding a particular “word of the day.” Each word chosen is intended to be thought provoking regarding different topics in the poker world. While his writings deal mainly with poker centric themes and philosophies, he does extrapolate some of his ideas out into more commonplace situations. One such column that caught my eye was dealing with making a mistake at the table. Caro talked about how once one mistake is made, it’s natural for us to write off the entire session as imperfect because of that one miscalculation. The analogy he used was that we are very protective of our new pieces of property. Cars, computers, cell phones and so on are all coveted possessions for various reasons and we take painstaking care of them when we first begin to integrate these new tools in our lives. Once those new items become damaged with some form of imperfection, we loosen our protective hold. We allow the world to have at it and do its worst to our once beloved treasures. Since there is already one imperfection on this widget, we feel far less compelled to prevent the second one. When something is less than perfect, we as human beings tend to regard it with far less enthusiasm.

    Our society has fostered this notion that things can be easily replaced. Once broken, tarnished, or warn out from overuse, we can simply buy the next iteration of that device. We are constantly striving to make things better than they were before. That push for excellence is fantastic in moderation, but there are some areas of our lives where ultimate perfection doesn’t come from the changing out of individual parts. Replacing material possessions is one thing, but what happens when the item that is “less than perfect” isn’t a simple product to be bought or sold? What if instead of being fixated on material goods, we turn the pursuit of perfection onto ourselves and our daily lives.

    I will never suggest to anyone not to continuously strive to get better. Whatever you’re doing, whatever you are passionate about there is no flaw in the desire to get better at it. I’m a huge proponent of personal responsibility. If you want to be great at something then go do it. Work at it. Come up goals to reach and paths to tread to get what you desire. That drive does have a downside. That same push to achieve great things can blind you to what you already have. When you’re constantly looking at the horizon, constantly pushing yourself to reach the next goal it’s very easy to simply forget about what you’ve already achieved. This happens to everybody and working in the poker industry is no different. This is the ultimate what have you done for me lately kind of business. You can be on fire, put together a stretch of fantastic sessions, and then have everything go up in smoke all in the matter of a few hands. It messes with your sanity to have put in two great months of work only to hit a bad one week stretch where all that progress you made goes up in smoke. It’s very easy when your plans don’t work to let your goals fade away into obscurity. They have been tainted by your failures, and now even if you succeed it will be far from a perfect transition. That same lack of perfection that makes you less protective of your iPad can also push you towards letting go of what once drove you. You swung and missed, so now it’s just time to move on.

    My own sanity has benefited greatly from the occasional masturbatory day where I kick back and marvel at my good traits for a little while. I highly recommend it. Take a day, any day off you’d like and just regale yourself with tale of your triumphs. Sit in fantastic wonder over the positive attributes you have. Don’t skimp on the ego here either. This should be about how you’re the greatest example of these positive traits the world has ever seen. Kiss up to yourself for a little while. I find it makes it easier to then go back to that pursuit of almost perfection.

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/dtools22
    I got a few comments from people over the past few weeks asking for my email so I’m going to start putting that in the signature rather than my Facebook page.
    Email: steve@brokenwallfilms.com

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