This blog is about poker, the work that goes into it, the ups, the downs, and the journey. Sometimes I might find a life lesson to add in there, but for the most part I think I am going to be discussing head space and morale related to poker. I don’t think I am an expert at poker, but I know enough that I think I can bring a valid opinion to the table and have a thought-provoking discussion. So, if you came here to learn, you might learn something but that is not the point of my blog. The point is to discuss my thoughts on poker in general while I grind. Every blog post will include three things at the end:
- What my plus/minus for the year is
- My hands played line graph (this is a limited slice of my online play)
- My poker variance projection
A little about myself… I have been playing poker for about 18 years. I first learned about 5 card draw and was always trying to figure out how to strategize in the game so that I could win. Then I discovered the World Series of Poker on ESPN and discovered that there were other forms of poker that you could play. That is when I went down to the library and discovered that there were books on the game. As I got older, I played live for my first time at a casino, discovered online poker, and found that there was a local community of tournament poker players at bar leagues. I loved poker and for the little bit of information that I had, in my opinion, I was decent. Life started to happen and poker just became a card game that I played once in while with the boys. Fast Forward to 2019 and I find myself living in Vegas, contemplating if I should try to play poker for a living. Eventually I decided to go for it after I had given up on getting a traditional job.
So, what does a person do now? It is not like there is some online school I can sign up for and get an online degree in poker. What about the legalities of playing poker for living? How do I make sure that I keep my finances in line and that I do not screw myself over? What should I study? If I am going to play full time, then I suppose I should be more studious about the game and try to gain every edge I can. Many more questions came up, some not as important as others. In the end I felt comfortable going after it because I had the support that I needed at home to pursue poker.
Two things I knew going into this is that it was not going to be easy and if a lucrative job opportunity came my way, I would have to seriously consider taking it.
I made my decision and gathered up all the extra cash (which was not much) that I had to put into poker. The next thing I decided on was to find a mentor that would be someone that I could bounce ideas off and talk to them about bankroll management. This had some varying degrees of success. I made a couple of good friends out of it and I learned some hard truths about bankroll management. I knew variance was a real thing but it never really occurred to me how it could affect your gameplay. I joined communities and did my best to find study materials at no cost or reasonably priced. I felt that my skill and understanding of the game was starting to grow. I made some mistakes along the way as I tried to build my bankroll. Eventually leading me to the decision to play online so that I could avoid going broke.
Then the pandemic of 2020 started to happen. Since I was already playing online now, it really did not affect me that much. I found that there was a lot more action online and new sites popping up left and right. 2020 in general was a great year for poker online and a great year for scammers. The number of posts that I found online of people complaining that a site was rigged for action, a site allows cheating, or some other ridiculous logic that is the never-ending internet complaint. I found myself getting introduced to poker players and crypto currency. I played on Asian crypto poker sites, I played on mobile sites, and I found start up poker to play on.
I think the most amazing thing about online poker that I learned is how many people think they can just start a poker website and they will be printing money. There is a lot more that goes into running poker online. The amount of freeroll grinders is amazing. I eventually decided to not waste my time chasing after those freeroll games. There is not anything wrong with playing a freeroll but for the purposes of building my bankroll to something respectable, it is not viable for me to play. I can spend my time playing something else and make more money.
The crypto currency scene in poker is really sketchy at times. It is that way more because of the crypto currency than poker. The number of messages I received from strangers asking to “invest”, send crypto to “unlock” something, or some other reason that preys on a person’s ignorance of technology. I had some fun trolling the scammers and other times I found a way to expose them to poker communities. I learned about different wallets and coins and how at the end of the day the variety of crypto coins that are out there are all remarkably similar. Just make sure you are using the one you need for your poker site and you understand how to cash it out properly.
Something that amazed me is how much of stigma there is towards gambling in general. A lot of the problems that happen online is because of a lack of regulation. How can we live in the age we do and there are so many restrictions on online poker? It can be very frustrating and financially dangerous. I used to think that the poker advice of “don’t commit more than you can afford to lose” was just advice to manage what stakes you were playing, but its so much more than that. It relates to your overall bankroll and how much you put on a website. When you make a deposit to some online site, never deposit more than you can afford to lose.
I signed up for training sites, I consumed a lot of media, joined study groups, and even started to take on some coaching. Every person is different and depending on a person’s income they may or may not be able to afford all the additional resources that can be found in poker. If someone is trying to just expand their knowledge of poker, I think there is enough free content out there that a person can consume to get beyond the basics. You have things like social media, YouTube, forums, and newsletters that you can subscribe to.
As I started my poker journey, I was consuming a lot of the free media resources that are available. Soon I started to participate in forums and actively discussing hands. Depending on where you go and what you are looking for, some forums are not going to always cater to what you want. So, any advice you get from a forum should be taken with a grain of salt. I bought some books and eventually started to look at premium sites with educational content for poker. My experience was great, and I have been greatly satisfied with what I am getting out of it. As time passed this year, I started to consider a poker coach and after a week or two of thinking it over I took on my first coach. Getting a poker coach is a totally different. They call you out on some of your weaker plays and provide you with some insight on how you can look at things differently. If you are expecting to get a coach so they can magically just tell you what you should be doing, then coaching might not be what you want just yet. A good coach is going to give you things to work on in your game and provide you with valuable information about things that you may not have caught. Just do not expect for a coach to provide you with the secret meaning to poker.
Overall, the biggest lesson I learned is how much work it takes to get better at playing poker. My expectations were pretty high, but it still opened my eyes at the amount of time and work is needed to be a competent player. As 2021 begins, I decided that I wanted to share my journey with the world. Give people that are thinking about making the change at the amount of work that is needed to play. I am excited for what the new year has to offer and look forward to going back to playing live. It takes a lot of dedication to be good at something and poker is no different.
Bizzy’s 2021 gains: ± 0