it’s been a week since black friday. if you don’t know what that means, you should probably stop reading this blog. i’m no longer in a state of active despair and panic, but i think i’m still half in shock. a week ago i was grinding along on my merry way, and i had never felt better about my poker game, never more confident, never more focused. everything seemed to be coming together. i was doing well live, and since that 2k score a couple weeks ago i was continuing to have consistent results online, building up momentum in the right direction. it felt like 2011 was going to be my year. i had never been more certain that i was on the right path, and never more excited about my future.
and then – just like that – i woke up one day and it was gone. now i find myself surveying the wasteland of my former optimism, wading through the wreckage to see if i can find anything from which to rebuild.
after the initial shock, a lot of the players who have been around for awhile seem to have adopted the attitude of “well, we knew this was going to happen eventually. it didn’t happen the way we wanted, but now we’ll finally get a regulated system in place, let’s suck it up and do other stuff in the meantime while we wait for online poker to come back.” this is a pragmatic and sensible viewpoint. it’s also a viewpoint that is easier to have when (a) you have saved up lots of money to live on; (b) you already have a large bankroll and/or a staking arrangement to play live events; (c) you have already attained some success, respect, and a generally secure footing in the community.
i have none of those things. i was just beginning to lay the foundation for those things. for an established player it might not be a big deal to take a break from playing online for a few months (or even a few years) while the politicians, casino conglomerates, and indian gaming interests hash it out for their share of the future government-regulated online poker market. for someone just starting out, it is the worst disaster possible. i’ve spent over a year nurturing the beginnings of a career in poker, starting from nothing and painstakingly building it brick by brick, doing it completely on my own. no bankroll, no stake, no poker friends, no support system. i was just beginning to figure out the poker world, and now its whole infrastructure has been violently uprooted. and the little piece of it that i’ve been carving out, that i’ve put all my energy into, that i’ve taken all this care to build from scratch, has been toppled right over along with everything else.
my loss is nothing compared to that of a lot of the online grinders who were having really substantial success. i kind of feel like a joke fretting over a few thousand dollars in limbo online and the loss of a budding career, when a lot of people have hundreds of thousands tied up and much more profitable online careers that are now in jeopardy. but in the same way this is probably everything to them, it is also everything to me.
what the fuck shall i do now? try to grind it out on merge and cake and some other half-baked poker sites? it might be a start. i actually started messing around on carbon a couple months ago, and was amazed at how bad the players were compared to the big sites. i got the feeling that was how it was on partypoker back in the poker boom days. but, i got bored with their sparse MTT schedule, and also my HUD doesn’t work properly with their software which makes it a pain to multitable. i’ll probably start playing a little more there given that it’s one of the only remaining sites still allowing US players, but i don’t think that can be a full solution.
say good game, throw in the towel, and find a “real” job? maybe. i’m sure my parents would love that. a week ago it would have been laughable, but i am now faced with the reality that i no longer have any means of online income. live play happens at higher stakes, and i will no longer have the luxury of bankroll management. my plan for now is to try to make it work playing live cash full time, as i am feeling good about my cash game lately. in general it has been more consistent money than playing tournaments, but i don’t know if it is a sustainable long term source of income, and i also don’t know how many live hours i can realistically put in on a weekly basis. right now i enjoy playing live poker – when i feel like playing live poker. i don’t know how much i’d enjoy grinding it out 8 or more hours every day in that environment. plus the games at my local club suck during the day, filled with the nittiest of nit regs and crotchety old retired guys who buy in for $40 and only play a hand when they have aces. i’d probably have to adopt a graveyard shift schedule if i wanted to maximize my profits, and i’m too fucking old to be staying up all night.
the no-bankroll-management part is probably the scariest part though. i’ve been comfortable playing live cash games that are well above what my bankroll should dictate, partly because the players are just so terrible that it’s not extremely high-variance, and partly because i’ve always had my online roll to fall back on. now i guess my whole roll is going to have to be a live roll, and live buy-ins are huge. i have no cushion and no room for error; once i’m busto, i’m busto. so my last resort is to re-enter the white collar workforce, but my plan for now is to do it up live and (hopefully) not go busto.
these fragments i have shored against my ruins; online poker might be gone, but my dream is not. i am going to play live cash until i drop, and play as many live tournaments as my feeble bankroll will allow. i am still as motivated and as confident in my game as ever, and this is the first time i’ve felt like i’m doing what i want to be doing with my life. i can’t bear to give it up.