September 23, 2011
I just got back from a long weekend in Las Vegas on Sunday and was preparing to write a "Trip Report", but decided against it so that I can get my thoughts together and come up with a theme to my weekend. Instead I want to talk about something that has been going through my poker mind lately and that is my waining interest in playing poker. Without going into too much detail, I only played about 3 hours of poker over the course of my Las Vegas Extravaganza weekend for multiple reasons. One of which was the fact that I didn't feel an urgency or overwhelming desire to play. I wanted to hang out with my friends who joined me on the trip and I wanted to let go of having to concentrate. It's a bit disappointing to me that I may be losing the spark of passion for poker, but it makes a lot of sense given the times.
Black Friday was truly a terrible day for poker players all around the world as well as the U.S., even though the elephant had been in the room since 2006. Serious online pros and hobbyists alike faced the nearly insurmountable task of trying to get back home. The causal player wouldn't be bothered jumping through hoops to get money online which in turn only made the games that much more difficult. It was as if the ocean had just lost all of its lowered tiered fish and made the food chain much more competitive similar to the late 2006 when UIGEA passed and many online poker sites left the U.S. market.
Online poker in the United States might as well be dead, in my opinion. Hardly anyone is getting money off of the few networks that are running and the amount of games available are laughable. The entire community seems to be in a bit of a daze. I can only compare the sudden robust to busto shift online to Enron's collapse in early 2001. The big wigs at the top of the organisations (who don't go to jail), will be fine. They'll have other avenues to explore whether it be playing live, getting jobs other high priced jobs or retiring. It's the grinders and semi-serious hobbyists like myself who will ultimately be forced out, so to speak, which brings this back to my poker life today.
Soon after Black Friday, I made the decision to take up NLHE more seriously than before and move from LHE permanently. Things started off well in the beginning and although I have hit some breakeven times, that is to be expected, especially when learning a new game. The overall problem is that being a stay at home dad of 3 kids 4 years old and under makes it rather difficult for me to concentrate on poker given the tougher conditions with respect to playing online. Combine that with the fact that the closest casinos that offer poker are all at least an hour away and it makes things all the more difficult to keep my poker brain running and well oiled. I've never been the type of person who can leave an activity for long stretches of time and then come back to them in good shape.
If online poker were to somehow go back to how it was pre Black Friday or even more so pre UIGEA, it would take me some serious retooling to get my poker game back to where it was and even then, I would still be improving from there.
As I went from casino to casino this past weekend I felt as if I was revisiting an old apartment or dorm room that I had lived in before. I recognised the tables and the layout. I looked up at the screens that show the wait lists and had a small sense of longing for 2008 through 2010 when I was in the thick excitement over playing poker. I loved discussing strategy on 2+2 and looking at stats on PT3. I loved the feeling when I knew that I had improved and was no longer a complete fish. As I mentioned before, I have been a stay at home dad since 2007, so poker was important to me because it gave me the opportunity to use my mind in a way that I didn't use as a parent. It was also something just for me. My man cave of sorts. There was an energy around poker in those 3 years that made it more than just a TV fad of David & Goliath on ESPN. There was a connection of people around the world. I was discussing poker with people in Los Angeles, Oklahoma, New York, Scandinavia, Australia, and more. I had become apart of a community that my everyday life friends didn't really understand. I guess you could say, poker was my 1960's. What was once considered a degenerate lifestyle, was...well still a degenerate lifestyle, but now more legitimate. Some of the stank had been washed off and febreezed which made online poker all that much more acceptable for the many everyday citizens.
I walked by the Venetian casino where I had a great run in 2006 and where I met up with a great LHE player from 2+2 last year. It just seemed like a mirage to me. Everyone needs to take a break from things at different times. I hope that this is nothing more than a break. I am looking forward to a time when US players are back in the thick of playing online and not having to find creative ways to get funds into and out of their accounts. I hope that I get the chance to be apart of the second coming of online poker and mania that was born out of the Moneymaker effect. Most of all, I hope I still have that spark to play poker seriously regardless of the stakes. I got into poker with the fantasy of winning that big payday Ala Chris Moneymaker, but I'll settle for being a solid winning player at the grinder stakes.