October 29, 2010
Not many days ago I was cruising along at NL 50. I felt invulnerable. â€œWhat is this 'variance' everybody keeps bitching about?â€ I certainly wasn't experiencing it â€“ or at least that's what I thought. Life was easy, and I was a lock to make NL 100 by the end of the year.
Right now I'm staring at a steep green mountain wall, reaching all the way to the sky. I wonder what it looks like from the top, I somehow didn't remember to take a look down while I was up there. I have to wonder what went wrong, and if I could somehow have stayed on that light green â€“ almost transparent â€“ line that continues through the air, where the mountain side plummets to the ground.
I shouldn't have withdrawn so much, forcing myself to play on an ever shorter bankroll. I shouldn't have kept playing that night, it was so obvious I was tilted. And I shouldn't have let myself believe I was God's gift to poker. That's what really broke me. The biggest hit wasn't to my bankroll, it was to my ego.
Have you ever been punched so hard in the stomach you couldn't breathe? Have you ever felt your legs helplessly struggle to keep you from falling over, only to crumble like paper? I have, and I remember it as a moment of clarity. I don't really know how to explain it, but it's something about pain that makes everything feel that much more real. I hope this set-back has been a punched-in-the-stomach type of experience for me. It's made me face some of my poker demons, and it has made me seriously reconsider what is the true reach of my ability.
In practice my efforts to analyze and improve my game amount to one thing: I have become a nit. It might just be an irrational response to feeling less confident, but there is something to be said for playing tighter during a down-swing anyway. This is not a time where I particularly feel like taking every little edge I can find, potentially putting myself at risk of actually playing losing poker. It's not a time to improve on the creative and maniacal side of my poker game. It's a time to be solid. It's a time to work on the fundamentals, to rebuild confidence, and to rebuild my bankroll.
Though, I do have to admit it sucks to play NL 10 again.