February 29, 2012
I just returned from a two month break from poker, which was a result of my biggest downswing ever. Although losing $200k was a lot, it was surprising how little it affected me emotionally, much less than considerably smaller losses did back in the day. Though, there is that silver lining that I can afford to lose the amount I did and not be dead or something.
Many poker players decide to go straight back to the tables after such a loss, in order to "reclaim" what was lost. I used to do this, but over the last couple years I've adopted the complete opposite, which is to completely avoid poker when I lose large amounts of money. Although this method is preferable than jumping back in, I feel the breaks I take could be a lot shorter.
Like my last few "returns to poker", I've started off winning. It's this kind of thing that makes you go "why the hell weren't you playing poker earlier?" Of course, it's important not to forget the exact opposite feeling when you lose. However, the two major worries about going back into poker were both of which have been somewhat nullified:
1) "I don't have enough in my online account." I only had $40k still online after my downswing. Thankfully, this amount has almost doubled within a mere week, and I can feel more comfortable now.
2) "The games are dead." They aren't nearly as bad as I thought they were, and I've quite easily come across relatively juicy games. There have been a few new faces at 50/100 and 100/200 TD, and that's always a good sign.
This is pretty much what I'm going to focus on for the time being. Before the downswing, I was actively looking to buy a house - I got shown around a couple houses which was quite an interesting experience - but that had to be put on hold because of how much I lost. Now that I'm back, this is going to be my main source of motivation moving forward.
Someone in a Skype group asked me this question: "If you could go back, what would you do differently in poker?" Of course this question has many answers no matter who you are, as no poker player can possibly make perfect decisions all throughout his career. It made me think, well there's lots of things I could pick, but in the end, I don't feel any large amount of regret for anything I've done.
I've had stumbles along the way, but I've never come close to being broke or anything, and I'm still young with a long future ahead of me. Most importantly though, throughout all the low points of my career, I was always learning something. I never went a long period of time where I feel I was stagnating as a poker player, and I think the biggest regret any poker player is if, for whatever reason, he chooses to stop learning from his mistakes and asking how he could improve.
So I pose the same question to you all: what would you have done differently? What's your biggest regret? Now take that answer and ask yourself how it can affect the road ahead.