it’s a chilly night here in northern california and i’m holing up in my chateau with some champagne, some daniel negreanu videos on Poker VT, and a saturday night tournament or two. i’m hanging out with a nice stack nearing the bubble in one of my favorites, midnight madness. i can’t believe it’s already october; it was about a year ago that i made the decision to leave los angeles and, in a lot of ways, start over from scratch.
at this moment in 2009, a month after submitting my dissertation, i was still mired in what seemed like an endless decompression period from my six years of graduate school. finishing grad school was frankly almost as stressful as still being in grad school. i had a piece of paper saying i was a doctor and a brain full of esoteric knowledge about how the brain works, but i had no idea what i wanted to do with myself. and what was worse, i had no idea how to figure it out. i came to the conclusion that in order to make any progress in finding a career/life path/sanity, i would have to orchestrate a massive life upheaval. the first step was moving, and i chose the bay area because it was the closest reasonable metropolis i could move to from LA. i think i also chose it partly because i didn’t know many people here, and that forced me to concentrate entirely on myself and what direction i wanted my life to head in. i think it was probably the best decision i ever made.
it was not until i left LA that i really felt free from the clutches of academia. it took me a couple months to really embrace the idea that i wanted to try to be a professional poker player, and now i’m absolutely sure of it. i was looking at some monthly stats on my play today, and november of 2009 was my first winning month in poker tournaments! i was playing $2 tournaments so i wasn’t winning a lot, but i was winning. and i’m still winning more and more, and i hope i’ll be winning a lot more soon. i get the sense that some people (especially people who aren’t too familiar with poker) think i’m just slacking off and fucking around, but this is actually a very difficult career. it requires intense patience, concentration, and emotional resilience. attaining the necessary skills is hard enough; even when you have them, many skilled players allow themselves to tilt and lose focus, or get into a downward spiral after a long losing spell, or go through massive swings playing above their bankroll. but i am an extremely logical and rational person and i think i have the capability to not only master the skill aspects of the game, but to persevere through the psychological rollercoaster that a poker career entails.
in the last two months i’ve been splitting my time about evenly between online and live play. in online play my bankroll has been holding steady; i’ve been cashing consistently, and winning $200 here and $500 there, but nothing really substantial to report in the last two months. i’m really hoping to make a deep run soon, and i’m going to give the sunday MTTs my best shot tomorrow. playing live has definitely taken time and energy away from my online routine, but i think gaining experience is necessary if i want to be truly competitive in the live circuit. and it has been profitable; so far in october i’m up over $1k in cash games. that is of course satisfying, but i’m also down a LOT in live tournament buy-ins. i’ve taken a couple of field trips to reno for tournament series at the peppermill and at the grand sierra, and played in two tourns on each of those trips, but i have still not cashed in a single live event. i’m trying not to get discouraged because it’s such a small sample size (<20), and i can easily play 50 tournaments online without cashing, but online i'm playing $10-25 tournaments, not $100-250 ones. those live buy-ins fucking add up! so right now my poker focus feels sort of fragmented. there aren't enough hours in the day for all the things i want to do! i want to continue to progress with my online game and play a proper volume of online tournaments, and i am a tournament player first and foremost. but it can take forever to take down a big tournament, and i can make immediate money off of the donks in the live cash games. but, playing ABC poker against incompetent novices isn't really helping me progress with real poker skills. i'm learning a lot about live situations and tells and other things that will help me with live tournaments, but i obviously don't intend to make a career of grinding $1/2 against card club crackheads. so one of my goals for the next couple of months is to get back to grinding the big tournaments online on a daily basis. that doesn't mean i'm going to stop playing live, though. i enjoy playing live cash, but it's obviously tournaments i have my sights set on. despite my pitiful lack of success thusfar, i intend to continue to take as many stabs at them as my limited bankroll will allow! i am tentatively planning to play some events at the WSOP circuit series in lake tahoe in november, and potentially at the one in atlantic city in december if it coincides with my holiday travels back east.
so that’s what’s doing. hopefully i’ll have a big score to report soon. perhaps i’ll take down tonight’s midnight madness, in the money now.. ;)