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- How Poker Cured My Social Anxiety
June has been a rough ride, but thankfully my downswing came on the heels of two very successful and profitable months. More importantly, it came after a half year of consistently beating the games and proving to myself that I “belonged.”
I didn’t feel this way in January. Immediately after starting my SNE chase, I went on a five-figure downer and to make matters worse, the equity wasn’t too good. I questioned myself, my game, my disciplne. Could I handle the swings? Could I properly adjust to the regulars? Could I beat the games, pre-rakeback? At the time I was living in Rosarito and when I couldn’t bombard my already-SNE roommate with the negative thoughts swirling around in my head, I’d step out onto the patio and try to relax.
Ocean front? Palm trees? This isn’t so bad!
I’d soak in the amazing view, remind myself that the current ‘bad’ run was a very small/ultimately meaningless sample, and try to think about the bigger picture — Even if I stumble and somehow break-even preRB, I’ll make six figures by reaching Supernova Elite. While I didn’t think I’d have such a small edge in the games, I knew that I could still improve and had many tools at my disposal. All I had to do was sit down and put in the work, whether that be studying various things in my HEM database or grinding at the tables. Getting SNE wasn’t going to be easy — at the time I was making 500 VPPs per hour, meaning I’d have to work 2000 hours in the calender year.
At my current place in Vancouver, I’ve got a patio as well — but I haven’t spend nearly as much time on it, reflecting about my game. I still study quite a bit, arguably more than I did before, but I’m much more confident now and that has helped me weather the recent storm. What changed between then and now? How did I increase my confidence, win-rate, and overall happiness? A solid work ethic. When I look out at today’s poker landscape, that’s the one thing separating the great players from rest of the field — the ability to put in work. A lot of guys talk a big game, but very few actually follow through. They’re the type that keep setting goals and don’t even sniff the finish line, or tell themselves that they’ll work hard after some arbitrary date that keeps getting pushed back further and further. Over the past few years I’ve met a lot of poker players and to be completely honest I’m disgusted with sheer amount of laziness among members of the community. Maybe it’s age related, as most of the offenders are in their early twenties. I get it. I’ve been there. I was young once, promise. Sitting in front of a computer screen for hours isn’t nearly as fun as chasing girls or partying. Obviously it’s important to find a balance, but from what I’ve seen too many guys simply don’t have the work ethic required to succeed in this industry.
Of course, not all crushers are the same. Some are brilliant enough to overcome the lack of a solid work ethic, but they are the exception and not the rule. Other guys are lucky enough to bink a big score and rest on those winnings until (hopefully) hitting another. But the majority of successful players share a similar trait: a willingness to sacrifice personal goals for professional ones. What does that mean, exactly? It means choosing to spend an hour studying hands instead of catching up on a trashy reality show. It means being honest with yourself/your leaks and doing your best to fix them instead of blaming the losses on variance, bad card distribution, etc. It means getting in the occasional session when you don’t really feel like it. Remember, this is a job. Treat it like one.
Or don’t. It’s probably -EV for me to post this entry and let the non-grinders continue to flounder in mediocrity. Instead, I’m a few seconds away from hitting ‘submit.’ I’m actually hoping a few guys stumble across this post, make efforts to change their habits and in doing so, improve their lives. But I’m not holding my breath.
Most of you say you want to be successful, but you don’t want it bad – you just kinda want it. You don’t want it badder than you wanna party. You don’t want it as much as you want to be cool.
– Eric Thomas, The Hip Hop Preacher