Sunday, May 24, 2009

My Issues with Motivation

I've played an abysmal number of hands this month. In fact, I've barely played more hands than I used to play when I was working fulltime out of the office and only playing poker "recreationally" (or whatever my relationship with poker could be said to be). It goes without saying that in order for me to succeed at playing fulltime, I need to have the discipline to put in the hands I've decided I need so that multiplied with a low estimate of my win-rate I end up making an amount of money each month that I can sustain myself (ourself, really) with. That amount is roughly $3k, but in order to be on the safe side, I've set my volume goals such that I'll end up making roughly three times that in an average month so that even if my low estimate of my win-rate ends up being too high, and even if I have a bad month, I should still be able to scrape on by. And an average month can make up for two very bad months.

So this month, I'm up $8,356 after having played only a third of the hands I had set out to play. I'm absolutely positively running hot; I figure this is at least twice my average win-rate and is almost certainly not sustainable. So what's my problem? It's that I don't want to ruin it. I've had a great month and I've made the amount of money that I wanted to make, and I don't want to have a couple of really bad days to end an otherwise perfect record.

It's results oriented thinking at its best (or worst, depending on your sensitivity to sarcasm) and I'm well aware of that. It's just really hard to find any motivation to sit down and play when I have everything to lose and nothing to win. Of course, I do have something to win, but it doesn't feel that way. I feel like taking the money and running. The fact that I'm not excused from poker forever - in fact, I need to try and repeat this feat starting in just a week - doesn't seem to stick. I just want to ride this wave of confidence for as long as I can. And if I can make it last until June 1st, great.

But, consciously, I know that I need to get back in the game immediately. I need to play more than a paltry 800 hands a day, even if I'm up a buy-in at that point and feel like I want to just escape the risk of losing it again. Consciously, I know that even though I've made $8k this month, I need to make $15k in order to live off of it until September 1st, and so I'm just about halfway. Consciously, I know that I'm no more likely to lose in the next session than I was in the previous one and that all my paranoia about the next session recoiling like a spring because I've run so hot so far this month is unwarranted. I'm still good enough to beat the games and my next 3 hours at the table still have a positive expectation.

My conscious self just has a really hard time convincing my subconscious self that despite Baby Benjaming being more interesting than Party Poker's 200NL tables,  despite the weather being awesome,  despite me feeling a bit tired, the good movies on TV, the lawn needing mowing, Civilization IV being a fun game, online forums being interesting, visiting friends sounds like fun and last but definitely not least Lori wanting to hang out with me (and I with her) I still need to park my butt in this chair and grind.


After lunch today, we're walking over to feed the cats of some friends of ours who are out of town. When we get back, I'll mow the lawn. Then, dammit, I'm going to play 3k hands of poker.

Or at least 2k.


Unless there's a really good movie on.


Kleitches said...

I'm currently reading Tommy Angelo's 'Elements of Poker' after hearing some rave reviews from a few friends. In one of the earlier sections of the book, Tommy suggests quitting a session whenever you're up and "have everything to lose and nothing to win", as you put it. He says:
"When you are winning, and you reach a point in the session where the happiness you gain by winning more money will be much less than the pain you will endure when you lose, quit."

What's interesting to note is, why does it specifically have to be applied to sessions? If every hand is a new beginning, and we are just as likely to win or lose the next session than the last, why is it okay to quit when you're ahead in a session, but not quit for, say a few weeks or longer. I guess the point I'm trying to make is that I completely understand how you feel about being up and not wanting to give it all back, and that quitting while you're ahead is perfectly fine. It's just the line is blurry as to how long you should quit before returning again.

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