Four Years in Las Vegas
The response to my Three Years in Las Vegas
post has been a bit surprising over the past year. In addition to the nearly 15,000 views and 100+ replies (as I write this update), I have also received dozens of PMs and e-mails commenting on all parts of the story and often inquiring about more. Not all of the messages have been from 2+2ers. Iíve received several e-mails from people who were either linked the post or received it via e-mail from a friend. Iíve been contacted by people in Europe and Japan asking advice on potentially playing poker for a living and Iíve received e-mails from old friends who were stunned to see the career path Iíve traveled.
I can usually count on at least one person per month requesting an update. So, I thought Iíd provide what the market is demanding.
The most interesting part about posting Three Years in Las Vegas
is something Iíve never told anybody. When I started writing it, I was happy reflecting back on the effort and success I achieved in my poker career. But, when I was finished and rereading it, I recognized I had fallen into a typical malaise that I often allow myself to.
Three Years in Las Vegas
is sort of mistitled. If you reread it, youíll notice all the paragraphs but the final two are basically about my first year in Las Vegas. Thatís when all the interesting stuff happened. The second and third years are described like this:
For the past two years, I've been content in the 20-40 game. I've pretty much stayed there except when I thought the game was regularly bad for a stretch. I would move up to 30-60 if the Bellagio waiting lists weren't such a mess.
Thatís it. I was just being content in the 20-40 game. For a year, I worked extremely hard to get to a point where I could make a reasonably comfortable living playing 20-40. And, then I just stopped.
So, after writing Three Years in Las Vegas
, I spent most of May of 2004, rethinking my career. I just wasnít satisfied with where I was. 20-40 is hardly the pinnacle of poker. There are far greater challenges out there and certainly more money to be made. I wasnít looking to go out and conquer to poker world. But, I did intend to take better advantage of my skills which were already far more than I needed to beat 20-40. I wasnít sure what the end goal was. But, I decided to start exploring options.
Obviously, moving up in limits was a quick option. 30-60 was available at the Bellagio and the 40-80 game was starting to run regularly at the Mirage. Higher limits could be played after that. I considered mixing in tournament play as well. However, there was one obvious avenue which need to be traveled first- the online one.
By the end of May, I had invested about $3,000 in a new computer and two of those ever popular Dell 2001FP monitors. I intended to jump into 8-tabling. First, I would do it at low-limits to get used to the mechanics of it. Then, I would move up when I thought I had the mechanics down pat.
In June and July of 2004, I played exclusively online except for a road trip I made to the Commerce with Clarkmeister and Ed Miller. It was just 3-6 on Party Poker (and skins). But, by 8-tabling, I was making more than $60/hour. Considering it was just 3-6, I had to be happy with the win rate. It was already more than I could reasonably expect to make in a live 20-40 game and it had considerably less variance.
Parts of online play were fun. Getting 10-12 times as many hands per hour ensured there werenít any dead periods. If I wasnít dealt a good hand at the moment, I only had to wait a few minutes before one would show up. On the other hand, there wasnít the social atmosphere of the live game. Online play was definitely going to be a part of my career repertoire. But, it was only going to be a part. I intended to mix in live games as well after sorting out what I wanted to do online.
However, something else was building up slowly. I think I first recognized it during that road trip at the Commerce at the end of June. Clarkmeister, Ed, and I were there for three days. I managed to play a total of 8 hours of poker. I canít even remember what it is that I was doing during the day while they were playing. What I do remember is that I didnít want to play. And, that was a feeling which was going to stick with me for quite a while.
The online hours I put in during June and July were forced hours. I bought the $3,000 computer so I told myself to go sit in front of it pay for it (as well as the monthly bills). But, when August rolled around, that wasnít working any more. In August, I played just short of 15 hours. In September, I played 2 hours. In October, I played 1.5 hours. In November, I didnít play at all until the 10th of the month.
For three and a half months, my poker career basically stopped. I played just 18.33 hours in total. On the few occasions I did play, I left the table quickly. The desire to play just wasnít there.
So, while the bankroll was paying the bills, I immersed myself in non-poker stuff. It was 2004 so there was a big Presidential election on the horizon. Iíve always enjoyed politics so following the polls and trends of the Bush-Kerry race occupied a lot of my time. For those who donít venture into the Politics forum, you may enjoy look back on my bulls eye prediction of election
Baseball also took up a lot of my time. During September and October, I enjoyed following every detail of the Red Sox as they won their first World Series in 86 years in one of the most improbable ways imaginable.
During those months, I would occasionally tell myself ďyou gotta start playing againĒ. But, I didnít force anything. I knew I wasnít quitting poker. But, I also didnít want it to be a chore to play.
So, several months had gone by when I hosted a home game during Game 1 of the World Series. Clarkmeister, Ed Miller, Tommy Angelo, Gabe, and mike l. were all there. By that time, the desire to play was starting to come back and I planed to get back on a regular schedule after the election. The subject of my non-playing actually came up and Tommy Angelo actually seemed concerned about it. But, I had learned something about myself. Or, at least, something I knew had been reinforced.
Besides loving the game, thereís also another reason I intend to make a living in poker for the indefinite future. I simply donít want to actually work for a living. Iíve made poker my ďjobĒ because I donít want a job. The flexibility and freedom which comes from playing poker for a living is many times more important to me than the money I make in the game or money I could make in any other profession. Understanding that about myself is part of how I manage my career. I know Iíve got to occasionally give myself a break from the game, even an extremely long break if necessary.
By the time mid-November came, I was decided to get back into the game. I was also a bit annoyed at seeing steady red ink in my monthly income/expense statements. So, I restarted the path I set for myself five months earlier which meant 8-tabling 3-6 games online and begin moving up later.
There have been a couple bumps in the road since then- one planned and the other unplanned.
The unplanned one was a 300+ big bet losing streak. No matter how good a player you are and no matter how much you understand the theory and mathematics of the game, I donít think you can be prepared for your first mega-losing streak. Prior to this, the worst run I had was about -120 big bets in the Mirage 20-40 game. That was bad. This new streak was 2.5 times larger but felt many more times worse.
The good and bad news about the 300+ big bet losing streak is that it happened while multi-tabling 3-6 online. The good news was that it only cost me a couple thousand dollars. That was easy to absorb. If it had happened in the Mirage 20-40 game and cost me more than $12,000, I would have felt it a lot more.
The bad news was that I was getting my clock cleaned by players who simply played terribly. The competition at this level is abysmal. Getting beat over and over and over by such weak competition is a bit tough to deal with psychologically. One bad beat or bad situation is nothing. A night of bad beats and bad situations is annoying. But, the endless parade I endured during this stretch was more frustrating than anything I can remember. It was a helpless feeling. Of course, it ended eventually and my winning ways returned to normal.
The planned bump in the road was a three weak vacation in Massachusetts where I was visiting my parents. Other than a four day trip to Foxwoods, I wasnít able to play during this time. The vacation, the losing streak, and the 3+ months of not playing have sort of slowed down what were somewhat ambitious plans back in May of 2004. Before moving forward, I intended to ďrecover my lost moneyĒ during that time.
Right now, Iíd say Iím about in the same spot I was a year ago except now Iím motivated to move forward rather than looking to take a break from the game.
I think my fourth year in poker was essentially a long rest. I expect my fifth year to be my most productive yet.