I can usually count on at least one person per month requesting an update. So, I thought I'd provide what the market is demanding.
The most interesting part about posting Three Years in Las Vegas is something I've 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.
Quote: 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.
That's 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 wasn't 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 wasn't 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 wasn't 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 weren't any dead periods. If I wasn't 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 wasn't 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 can't even remember what it is that I was doing during the day while they were playing. What I do remember is that I didn't 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 [and] pay for it (as well as the monthly bills). But, when August rolled around, that wasn't 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 didn't 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 wasn't 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. I've always enjoyed politics so following the polls and trends of the Bush-Kerry race occupied a lot of my time. For those who don't 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 'you gotta start playing again'. But, I didn't force anything. I knew I wasn't quitting poker. But, I also didn't 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, there's also another reason I intend to make a living in poker for the indefinite future. I simply don't want to actually work for a living. I've made poker my 'job' because I don't 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 I've 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.
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 wasn't 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 'recover my lost money' during that time.
Right now, I'd say I'm about in the same spot I was a year ago except now I'm 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.
originally posted 5/30/05 on 2+2 Forums by Bryan Clark