Sunday, May 22, 2005

Hello World

I've started this blog to keep a journal of my quest in becoming a succesful high stakes poker player.

Only time will tell if I have the requiste abilities to do this.

Why I play poker?: i) Poker is a mentally stimulating game. I derive great satisfaction from making good decisions from a complex set of variables and conditions. ii) Results (good or bad) of decisions are often available almost immediately and are generally very quantifiable. Normal life is often ~so~ different in this regard. iii) opportunity to make money. Interestingly, this is actually not so easy to quantify yet. I'll discuss this more later.

What are my personal strengths that aid me in poker?: i) self discipline, ii) pattern recognition skills, iii) willingness to invest time in the study of the game, iv) competitive nature, v) willingness to repeat simple actions and situations over and over again.

What are my personal weaknesses that hinder me?: (can I do anything about these things?) i) questionable short term memory (I need to write everything down, or I will just forget), ii) my fear of losing a large amount of money, iii) sleeping problems - that results in general fatigue when attempting to engage in long playing sessions, iv) becoming emotional (in either positive or negative ways) based on short term results (i.e. a particularly good or bad session or result from a large pot) v) I am generally a very honest person, so this probably makes me much more "readable" than I care for. (I really need to work on this! not much of an issue for online, but a substantial factor in live play), vi) I can become too hung up on mistakes that I make. This can often lead to additional mistakes because I am spending too much thought and energy dwelling on previous mistakes... vii) too compassionate - e.g. I've particularly noticed during live play that many of the biggest losers in the game (and hence the most profitable opponents) appear, at least to me, the people that could least afford to be consistently losing poker players. It actually hasn't been a problem yet in live play, because I have too many new things to think about at that time. However, it sometimes does come to my mind when I am doing "post-game" analysis later. I do think to be a successful player, I need to be more cold hearted. It is very obvious that fish will lose their money, and if their money doesn't come to me, it will go to someone else.

Which personal characteristics about myself are fairly neutral in the context of poker? i) I'm neither very young, nor very old. I have noticably less physical and mental stamina compared to 5 years ago, but still quite reasonable ii) comfortable financial status; we are definitely not wealthy, but our lifestyle would have absolute zero impact if I lost my entire poker bankroll (other than the psychological effects on me)

What other factors in my life have an impact on my poker skill development? i) a very understanding spouse (this one can't be overstated. I really do understand why so many very successful players I have met are either single or also have understanding spouses/partners) ii) extremely available live games. The number of cardrooms in the area where I live is tremendous, and they are very conveniently close. iii) lack of involvement of my family - my parents don't particularly approve of my poker playing, but that haven't gone so far as to try and forcibly tell me to stop playing. I suspect that if I was a very successful player, then they would be supportive. and vice versa if the opposite was the case. (I know it sounds ludicrous to say this, but objectively I believe this accurately describes the situation)

Financial aspects: I believe that given the current popularity of poker, I can have a very respectable financial return on the investment of my time and energy. Naturally, conditions could change, and the popularity of the game in mainstream culture could wain. This could cause the huge number of fish to substantially decrease and leave me in a situation where, given my skill level, the games that I could beat would be of insufficiently high stakes to make it only worthwhile to play as a pure hobby. (I simply cannot believe the ~thousands~ of hours I invested in learning to play RTS games like Warcraft 3.... as only a pure hobby. I can only fantisize the situation I would be in today had I invested that time in poker.....)
I am unable to estimate at this point what stakes I am capable of rising to and what rate of hourly expectation ($) I could achieve. I believe I understand a lower bound to be approximately 1x times my day job salary having spent several months growing my bankroll at small stakes NL Party tables. (as an aside, I think other than building my bankroll this was a big waste of time since I learned very litte during that time - since the optimal strategy seemed to be merely to multitable, wait for very strong hands (nuts or semi-nuts) and then sucker 1 or more donkeys to go all in)
Given the game conditions of today, I believe I could easily reach a rate of hourly expectation 3 times that of my day job. (Although I do not know the number of hours per week, for whatever reason, the hourly rate would be available. - i.e. how many hours per day or week are the games juicy enough, and how many of those hours would I actually be available to play?)
Okay I'll admit it, even though I'm loath to say it out loud. If I could reach an hourly expectation of 5 times my day job salary (with a comparable number of available work hours), I would quit and become a professional poker player. There, I actually said it.

Hmmm, this turned out to be a very wordy first post. Oh well, in future posts I'll write about less high level type topics. Those are the things that I really want to work on and write about. Still, it is important to reflect on the big picture from time to time, and I'm glad I did that tonight. I also need to make sure I spend enough time thinking about other high level topics in my life unrelated to poker.

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