This past weekend was the first time I went to go play live poker in over a year. I had many thoughts and feelings about how it would be to return to a live environment. I wondered about the conditions of games. If there would be a slight change to how players were adjusting. Would there be more online strategies creeping into the game or would the games be as soft as everyone has been saying they have been. How would my family adjust to me being out all night? How would I adjust to being out all night? I still have responsibilities at home the next morning. Last there was the nervousness that I felt. Its extremely daunting knowing that something you have been working hard towards will come down to a moment in time.
My very first session I ended up playing at Caesars. A friend I had made during the pandemic had come to Vegas after getting vaccinated and we had planned to meet up in real life to play. When I first arrived, I was seated at a different table. I was nervous, but as soon as I sat down at the table it quickly started to feel like old times. I was a little rusty at shuffling chips and flicking cards, but it was like riding a bike. Once I started playing it all started coming back to me. I sat there and started to apply the things that I had been studying the past year. I also had to get used to keeping track of the bets and pot size myself. This is real life, there was no little bubble telling me the pot size or how much each player has. I was quickly reminded at how mentally tiresome playing live poker can be. There is so much more that you need to keep track of.
By the time I ended up going home it was much later than I had planned on staying out. It did not feel like I was able to get much sleep. I was still feeling wired and could not fall asleep. There was a lot going through my mind about my first session. I had booked a loss, but I was happy with my overall play. I had to get up and start my day. By the time I was able to go play poker it was starting to get a little late in the evening. For my second session I went to go check out the Golden Nugget. I had played there before the pandemic and the games there have always been good in my experience. The games looked good and there were a lot of chips getting moved around on the felt. Only problem is that I was pretty card dead. That combined with the fact that the table was deep stacked and that I was feeling tired did not help me very much. This is where discipline in bankroll management kept me from losing more than I did that session. Somehow, I managed to stay playing until 3 AM when the table broke. I decided to rack up my chips and just call it a night. I was not upset with my play, but I think my fatigue and distracted thoughts had an affect on how the session went. I needed to figure some things out and make sure I was playing fully rested and mentally prepared.
That night when I got home, I was able to fall asleep. This time it felt like I could get some rest. When I woke up, I thought about the previous two sessions and what I could change about them. The first thing I could do about my play is to go to the casino a little earlier in the evening so that I would not be stuck playing so late. The second thing I could change is making sure that I felt well rested and that I was mentally present. Being more aware of my mental happiness and energy will help me greatly. Playing live is not like how it has been playing online for the past year where I could just hop on when I had time and play a quick session. I need to manage my time better and know that I am not pushing myself too hard. The last thing I identified was my confidence in what I am doing. Having confidence in my ability is important to have so that I do not doubt myself. This is something that could not be fixed easily and will take time to build up. The first thing I did in my next session to take a step in the right direction was to stick to the fundamentals. No need to try and get fancy with things or over think the game. Just stick to the fundamentals and play good poker.
The last session of the weekend I went back to Caesars and it started out uneventful. It was just grinding and slowly started to build my stack. This felt more familiar compared to playing online. The swings were a bit more drastic, but overall, I was having a positive session. I started to feel like I was finding my groove and things were starting to go well. Then it happened, that one hand that starts out in every one’s story. You know, the one where you got involved with a good hand and made a hero call on the river. As soon as that hand was over, I moved seats because I needed to get to this villain’s left. As the session progressed, I kept moving to my right to end up on the left of the villain with the big stack. I was in for two buy ins and I started to play my butt off. Soon I was back to even money and I slowly getting back into a profit. I waited patiently and kept playing my hands as they came. Then it happened again, except this time I was on the winning side of this story. By the end of the night, I was able to book a solid win.
There is a big enough difference between online and live that you need to adjust some, and I was quickly reminded about that. After playing a few sessions I feel good about my edge and how things went. There is not one thing specific that I can say left me feeling down or doubting myself. I think once I was able to think about the events of this past weekend, I was able to look at my game and critic myself so I could adjust accordingly. I think I found my groove and started playing my A game. My goal is to keep playing my A game and running it up!
Bizzy’s 2021 Gains: -$579.98