Originally Posted by Jman28
I don't often read HSPLO, and haven't really interacted with you, but I wanted to offer my 2 cents. I feel for you, and the situation you're in right now, and I think it's awesome that you have the courage to post and ask for help. I really hope things work out, and I hope I can offer a little bit of help.
I have a lot to say, but I'll start with poker, as that's likely what you'd want to hear my opinion on.
Your situation is a tough one, no doubt. As others have said, poker as a career take a tremendous amount of emotional fortitude. I don't think that you should make poker your plan long term (nor should most people). Even if it were the best financial decision for you long term (I doubt it is), there's no way that it's the best decision for your overall happiness and well-being, and at the end of the day, that's what matters.
People like making money so that they can be happy, but if you're miserable during the process, and the process is 80% of your life, how happy is it actually making you?
I also don't think you should completely abandon poker (at least yet), just from a practical sense. It sounds like money is tight for you and your family, so you have to consider that as part of the equation.
You have likely worked very hard and have developed a skill set that not many people have, and one that you can make a relatively large amount of money using. It's not easy to walk away from that. In addition to the obvious reason ($), you likely gain a lot of pride and contentment when you succeed at poker. (I wonder if, given your struggle with depression, your BR management issue is a result of the intense pride and happiness you get a taste of when you win six figures in a day)
I don't think you should start playing right now, if that's possible financially. I DEFINITELY think you should be coaching (there must be ways around the paypal issue), and you could consider training videos or any other avenue of variance free money using your skill set.
I think that college and a different career path is the way to go. However, easier said than done. The problem is, you've played very high stakes poker. You've won and lost a TON of money, and you've at one point or another, had an hourly rate for yourself in your head that will never be reached by a "normal" job you'd get. I personally tried to go back to school after being a 5/10nl reg. I couldn't do it.
Sure, you're logical and smart, and you can see why a normal career path is a responsible and good decision. The problem is, you won't stay as motivated forever. Eventually, while on your path, you'll think about how much money you could be making playing poker. It'll be very hard to stay on track.
What you (and everyone) needs to realize about poker is that your hourly rate is not truly what you think it is, and it isn't sustainable. I'm not just talking about the fact that everyone thinks they're better than they really are, and calculates hourly based on the times they're running better, and the fact that many hours go into poker that aren't you at the table... waiting, reading forums, studying, etc. (How many people actually make what they 'should' make each year playing? I don't know anyone who does)
I'm also talking about the long term. There is no job security in poker. The future is a complete mystery.
I've been playing for 7 years. The majority of people who were playing big (3/6-10/20) and killing it no longer are. Many have quit because they can't make money anymore. Some were content to move down and grind much lower. Some of us (20%?) are still making it, though who knows how many years the stress is taking off of our lives.
How long have you been playing? How confident are you that you'll be profitable in the mid-high stakes games 10 years from now? 20? 40 years from now? Could your mind and body handle playing, trying to make ends meet, for the next 40 years? How many times will you go broke and get back up over the coming decades? Are you planning on getting married or having kids? How could you raise a family or maintain your physical and mental health while doing this? Will poker even be beatable 15 years from now? Will there even BE online poker?
Many people think they'll go from poker to another business endeavor. Fine. That sounds like a great idea. What if online poker dies somehow, or you go broke again 15 years from now and can't find a stake? How are you going to start a business then, with no money, no education, and no real world experience? You're going to have to start working a $10/hr job, or going to community college when you're 35.
I'm sure you can see why you shouldn't be comparing the salary of a normal job to your 'EV' playing poker. If you can make yourself realize this, and let go of the idea of the insane amount of money you could and 'should have' been making from poker, it will likely be easier to make the responsible decision and lock up some ACTUAL life long EV.
You can always play poker on the side IF you decide that's best (I'm not sure it's a good idea, but I know I could never count it out or give up all hope if I were you). You could even leave your career, or go from college right back into playing full time if you end up killing it. (I mean KILLING it though... as in, have enough money set completely aside for at least 10 years of modest living)
For what it's worth, I don't think that people "lose it" like you think they do. There are many people who crushed the game because they developed a style that beat the games at that time. Many players left and came back and "didn't have it anymore." Many players kept playing the whole time, and could no longer beat the game, too. I think the ones who left and came back unsuccessfully would have had the same non-success had they stuck with it. The players who are good enough and smart enough would be able to adapt again with a little bit of time. Poker is still poker, and it will always be.
If and when you do go back, having a backer with some bankroll rules built in is probably the safest way to go. Poor BR management and impulse control is very tough to shake on your own. By the way, sitting around bumhunting 10/20 <<<< multitabling 2/4. I spent a year or two of my career passing up on 25/50 and 50/100 games and just bumhunting nosebleeds. It was miserable, probably not as profitable, and my game definitely suffered.
I'd suggest starting even lower though. 12 tabling .5/1 PLO doesn't sound glamorous, but it's a pretty awesome amount supplemental income in the real world.
Speaking of the real world, there's been a ton of good advice posted in this thread. I have read most of it, and already have seen a lot of the advice I would have given.
What I'm worried about for you is that so much of it sounds nice in theory, but may be too ambitious at first.
Yes, applying to college, going to the gym daily, forcing yourself into social situations... those are all great things for you. You should strive to do all of that one day, but that day isn't tomorrow.
Many people (especially us obsessive online poker playing type people) decide they want to get in shape, and go from doing nothing to running five miles a day, every day. What inevitably happens (to most personality types), is that it gets too hard. You eventually can't or don't do it once day, and once you skip one day, or maybe the first two days in a row, you have failed. Failure sucks, and now you go right back to doing nothing.
You cannot set yourself up for failure here. Trying to set all of these goals at once will be too much. What people may not realize is, for you right now, walking out the front door is your five miles. You don't need to pile more daunting tasks on top of that.
Digging yourself out of the rut you are in, both emotionally and financially, is a huge task. You can't try to take it on as a whole, or at least the idea of it as a whole.
(Also, you definitely shouldn't stop anti-depressants while starting to be productive (if anything, you need it more right now... but ask your dr.). If you really want to stop sometime, do it when you're in a good place. And if it's financially viable, DEFINITELY see your psychiatrist again.)
Someone suggested a checklist, or to-do list. I think this is an awesome idea. Write out schedule for the next two weeks, with things you have to do each day. And set yourself up for success. Each of these things should be a baby step towards getting yourself back on track.
I don't know enough about you specifically, the area you live, your favorite activities, or what things you find more difficult, so tailor your schedule to your own situation, starting with the easiest things. I don't know if being around strangers is daunting right now, or being around friends, or if neither is, but just getting out of your house itself is hard. Whatever parts are difficult, don't pile them all together at once. If these are too easy, or too hard, adjust them accordingly.
An example schedule:
-Walk/Drive to Starbucks and get a coffee/tea/whatever. (if you want- meet a friend at one for just 15-30 minutes, or go with your mom, or anyone)
-Walk outside for 15-30 minutes.
-talk to a friend online about some ideas to get around your paypal/coaching problem
-Go see a movie with someone. If you can't find someone, go yourself. If you don't want to go yourself, fine. Go buy a DVD from best buy and watch it at home. That's enough.
-Call psychiatrist and make an appt
-Find an easy recipe online. Go to the grocery store and buy the ingredients. Come home and try to make it.
Plan on finishing each day's tasks before 6pm (or whenever your late afternoon is, in your sleep schedule). Think when you wake up "all I HAVE to do today is x. I'll do it and I'm done"
Once you're done with those tasks for the day, you're done. Pat yourself on the back. Don't worry about fixing all of your problems because you did your job that day. You accomplished what you wanted to, and you're working in the right direction. Now do whatever the hell you want with the rest of your day. Relax. Do something you enjoy, without the feeling that you're wasting time, or not moving forward... because you are moving forward. You completed your task, and you're on your way.
You need to know yourself and your limits. Maybe next week you join a gym and start going once a week. Maybe in a couple weeks you look at college apps. Maybe you can already get a lot of that done quickly without much trouble. Just make sure you set yourself up to succeed. If you fall off the wagon one day, I guess that's okay, as long as you get right back on the next day. No excuse to give up because of one bad day.
As others have said, hobbies/passions are awesome. Cooking is actually a really nice one, which is why I put it in the sample schedule. It's something that I used to think was a complete waste of time, but now I find it very relaxing. When you're finished, you have something to show for it. Productive hobbies like that are awesome... art of any kind, building stuff around the house. If any of that interests you, dive into it.
Keep in mind that the pride and contentment you've felt from succeeding at poker is likely not from the money itself, but from knowing that you are excellent at something. You can feel the same thing from being excellent at something else that you find interesting.
One caveat... this to do list idea is something that works for me when I have something too daunting in front of me. Everyone is different, with different strengths and weaknesses. You need to learn what works for you, and that may take time. Hopefully some ideas have come from this thread.
At the very least, I'm sure it's been helpful just to have an "out loud" conversation about all of this, and to hear back from people who care enough to help. Thoughts like the ones you're having can snowball if not let out, especially in a logical mind that probably beats itself up for being so "irrational".
It was very brave of you to make the OP, and it appears to be paying off. I guarantee there many others who have similar issues, and who feel better hearing that someone else is going through them too. It's SO important to have people in your life who you can discuss things like this with, and hopefully this shows you how helpful it can be (if you don't already have those people... I didn't until I was around your age, and many people I know still don't).
This is actually the strongest piece of advice I can offer. Ask yourself how many of your good friends you can freely share everything you're thinking and feeling with, without hesitation or fear of what they will think of you. If you don't have any, or many, you need to make an effort to find some over the coming years.
Most friendships are somewhat superficial in this way, especially with younger, less mature people, and especially with guys. Everyone wants to seem like they have it all together... that they don't struggle with internal issues. That's fine I guess, except that it works... It makes people believe that they are struggling with things that other's aren't. It makes people feel crazy.
Letting close friends inside your head (and more importantly, seeing inside of theirs) is extremely helpful and calming, and makes you realize that we all have our own issues, and actually, we're all crazy.
(not me, of course. I play nosebleeds and I'm invincible)
Find some true, close friends, who care about you, and who will be there at times like this to help. Who won't let you go a month without seeing anyone, and who will help you set goals and help you stay motivated.
In my short lifetime, nothing has proven more rewarding, grounding, or fulfilling than my closest relationships with other people. Actually, nothing comes remotely close.
Ultimately (in my opinion), this is what will keep you stable, on track, and happy throughout your life, regardless of what decisions you make in your career, education or otherwise.