I am back home. And by home I mean a spacious Brooklyn apartment, which I shared with Janeen for the first time last night. After a month away, I had forgotten what a major life improvement laid in store for me back home. 🙂
I decided to cut my WSOP trip a little short, which I think was a good idea. I was burned out in Vegas and probably needed a break from poker more than I realized.
Compared to most players, I am pragmatic about my poker. My tournament play is a business, and I treat it as such, down to recording the exact number of minutes I’ve played as part of a document that is the fucntional equivalent of a detailed profit & loss statement. This pragmatism is somewhat irregular in the poker world. Most players, including other professionals, fly by the seat of their pants and might therefore be a little less self-aware than I am. While the upside of my practicality is obvious, there is a downside too. Ignorance is bliss when it comes to a negative bottom line, and I am anything but ignorant of my recent results. I went to Vegas to make money and didn’t succeed. Keeping accurate records makes it pretty hard to ignore these things, and I am naturally disappointed that the most important business month of my year didn’t go well.
On the plus side, I ended the trip with a flourish. On the final day of the trip I did what I felt should have come naturally all along: I won two of the last three single table satellites I played, which stemmed the bleeding nicely.
I’m now at the point where I’m evaluating my play over the past few weeks, and I can find fault in perhaps one general aspect: I tended to opt for the conservative play in certain spots where a high-risk maneuver could have arguably succeeded. In other words, I maintained a “low variance” style of play, which may have been ultimately incorrect. In many of the spots–typically postflop–where it occurred to me that a bluff might work, I preferred the safer course of action, particularly against opponents who I felt were inexperienced. I may have been too focused on getting my money in good rather than collecting every chip I could, even in marginal spots.
The annoying part about all of this is that if my AA holds up in the money of the $2500 Event, I would be writing a blog entry about how I cooled off after another big score in the WSOP instead of a series of entries trying to rationalize a cold streak. That was a really crucial hand to lose.
And now a word about WSOP preliminary events in general, especially the $1500 and $2000 buy-ins: how in the world anyone cashes in six or seven of these things in the same year is beyond me. With 3000 chips to start, you MUST win one or two pots early on or you cannot survive. I doubt the tournament directors will change anything about the structure of these things in the years to come, but they should consider it. No fewer than three properties on the Vegas strip were offering alternative tournaments with much better early structures, but the WSOP is the WSOP, and that’s where the most dead money was, so that’s where I played the most. Still, it was incredibly frustrating to have to resort to short stack mode after losing a single pot in these tournaments. I just don’t see a way even the most expert player can accumulate chips in a $1500 Event other than by running good early.
Oh, and I’d also like to say thanks to everyone who said “keep at it!” to me over the past month. I appreciate the support of those close to me, many of whom have a better sense of my talent than I do. Independently, the same words were spoken by several people, and they’re words of wisdom: many of you said that “this is the life [I’ve] chosen.” And for all the retarded losing streaks and uncertainty I have to endure, I still wouldn’t think of changing my life around, not for anything. I love poker and I love that I can make a living by playing it.
When I first started doing this for a living, I had a trick that made the pain of a big tournament elimination fade quickly from memory: all I had to do was conjure up the feeling of all-encompassing hopelessness I once felt when working a late night in my old midtown office, shuffling through piles of stupid paper. Getting bounced from a poker tournament felt pretty damn good in comparison! Now, I’m so far removed from my old jobs that I don’t even think of them anymore, so that mechanism for healing after a bad loss is gone. I need to remind myself more often that I worked towards and chose this life for myself. So thanks to many of you who reminded me. Even a bad WSOP isn’t such a big deal.
That’s all for now. I’ll be enjoying myself in NYC until I leave for the Main Event on July 5th.