Friday, May 05, 2006

New Beginnings

Poker's been part of my life for a few years now. Originally, my interest in the game was sparked by my dad mentioning that it's a game which fits my personality and mind. Intrigued that someone actually thought "hey that's a game meant for Toast" I thought it was worth my while to give it a look.

I don't know if it shows through in my writing on this site, but the Toastman tends to be a thinker rather than a do-er. Give me the parameters of a business deal and I'll sit back and ponder before formulating an opinion. It's not that I'm slow -- I'm just deliberate and hate making mistakes. In speaking to people I might initially come off as too quiet but really i'm just trying to figure out their personality so I can converse with them. After I get to know a person I really won't shut up though :)

Being an analyst rather than an actions-before-words guy has definate drawbacks. I first really understood this after taking an entrepreneur personality test with a company I joined back in 2001. Turns out our executives (I was one of them at the time) were full of analysts and no action guys. It didn't work out.

After going through the basics of poker, reading Lee Jones' book Winning Low Limit Hold'em, then graduating to 2+2 Small Stakes Limit and reading Small Stakes Hold'em by Ed Miller I was frustrated by the huge swings that limit poker online tends to have. Though I was starting to really understand the strategy and math behind the game it felt slow. I suppose the fact that I started with just $100 online and a couple hundred in the casinos made it a grind at this point in my evolution but there was none of the bluffing and not even putting people on hands at the time. Low limit poker was just grinding bets out of players who didn't understand the game as well as I did at the time. Forcing mistakes and exploiting them. I made profits, but not at the pace I wanted to.

The transition to no limit cash hold'em forced a change away from the tight-aggressive grind that was small stakes limit and opened my eyes. Suddenly I could double-through with a good hand and lose all my money when I misplay one. And, amazingly, the variance went down. There were far less crazy swings it seemed, and though it always sucked to lose a stack there was less negative energy in the game for me.

No Limit Cash turned what was a very small bankroll into a reasonable one. In the past year I spent most of my time at the tables trying to get a deeper understanding of other players and in doing so forced myself to learn to trust my gut instincts moreso than before. Toast could now make some decisions based on gut and not just analysis -- and it was good.

Then I cashed out. Pretty much all of it as of right now. I want to spend more time working on business things. Poker's just a game after all and I've got to focus on making my life better in the long-run. I've worked a lot in the past two months between my two companies that I work for and my own personal business. I'm happy that I could turn off poker now when I wanted to -- it doesn't nag at me anymore to get more hands in and I'd rather play golf when the sun's out.

I've only got $150 in online poker again these days. That's all i've left myself. Last night I played two hundred hands with Matty "NoSkillz" at 1/2 limit and had a good time 3-betting donks and generally being aggressive. I could read the players, I got action due to my playing style, and I almost got even after a few suckouts against me (down $2.75 I believe).

Poker was a lot of fun again -- and that's what it was supposed to be all about -- fun.

Nixon said:

The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word 'crisis.' One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger - but recognize the opportunity.


That pretty much sums up what poker has taught me, though I had to learn the hard way. You're always under pressure on the poker table and you ability to act under that pressure determines whether an opportunity will be seized or lost.

And in the end, I've got $147 give or take to rebuild my online empire. This is a new beginning for a poker player less addicted to winning and more seasoned in life.

See you across the felt, if you dare.

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