Monday, January 23, 2006


I will miss it, for sure, but I am writing this post to close this blog and to mark the end of my online poker play.

In short, the last eight months have been the hardest ones of my life. My wife of five years, who I love more than I can say, told me she was unhappy with her life with me, unsure of the choices she had made, was unsure whether marriage, either to me or to anyone, was right for her. There are things I could have done better in the relationship, to be sure, and I am working hard on changing those things. But I don’t think that my changes will save the marriage, so I make them for myself only. I didn’t know things were wrong, partly because she didn’t tell me clearly, and partly because I didn’t notice, tending as I do to get absorbed in my own hobbies, such as poker and music. We separated in November, and she has become emotionally paralyzed, unable to say whether she can really try to work things out or not, so I have given her two more months to decide. And if her decision then is still no decision, then I will have to make the call, and call it over.

We still love each other, we don’t fight, and there’s very little anger. For those reasons, being alone the last few months was even harder than when we were together in some kind of limbo. I realized that I lost a lot of my identity when I lost my wife. To find that identity again, to be, as Charlie Short says, “more of what I am and less of what I am not,” I have been reading a lot about relationships and about Zen Buddhism, taking painting classes, doing new activities, talking with friends, and changing the things about myself that I want to change. And through all this, I have still been playing online poker, although I took a break for the first two months after I learned about my wife’s feelings, and now it is time for me to change that too.

I have to say I’m envious of the online poker players who are making such good money, but I am not one of them. I have a job I generally like, and it pays pretty well. I play poker decently, but my problem with online poker is that it is always there, and even if I say to myself, “I will play only on occasion,” I still end up spending more of my free time playing than I want to, at the expense of other things I’d like to be doing. (And, to add to that, I have a fallen a couple times this year already into playing blackjack, at higher stakes than I should, incurring two big losses, which suggests a really troubling trend towards addictive gambling. That has to stop, and if I am playing online poker, it’s much easier for me to veer off into straight gambling.)

Additionally, I am sad, almost grieving, in many ways, at different levels, just treading in a general swath of sadness. Certainly grief is a bad state in which to play poker, even if that grief is far back in the brain much of the time. It is a little like grieving for a loved one who has died, because my love for my wife (and hers for me) hasn’t turned to hate or animosity; that love keeps emanating from me, but it’s lost its recipient.

I have played online for two years, made a little money, learned the game decently, but I need to spend the time when I am not working or sleeping doing something different, more life-affirming, more creative, more social, less money-driven. I am a good writer, a poet, a painter, a musician; I am curious about the world and my place in it. I need to open myself more to these things. With this kind of momentous life-change, losing my wife, losing what I thought would be my future, so much of my slate has been wiped clean; I have the opportunity to start over. I have made a lot of changes in the last eight months, learned a lot about myself, and so quitting online play is one more change I want to make.

There is a Zen koan that asks, “What was your face before your mother and father were born?” I am asking myself now, what was my face before I knew my wife? What was my face before I played online poker?

So I will say thanks to all the bloggers who I have read, met, and talked with. When I was out in Vegas for the blogger tournament in December, I was at very low point, my wife having just moved out, and being out there alone was actually one of the loneliest experiences I’ve ever had. But that loneliness was broken by some of the very kind bloggers I met there, whose friendliness and sincerity really made an impact on me, especially Grubby, Iggy, Pauly, and Otis. Thanks guys. (Grubby, the acting class starts up next Sunday—I’ll email and let you know how it goes.) I’ll miss you all too—because as I remove myself from the world of online poker, I have to cut the blogs from my life as well.

I wish everyone great luck and good fortune, both peace and knowledge, in good times and bad.

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Friday, October 07, 2005

Pokerstars rocks, I must say. I also must say:

Poker Championship

I have registered to play in the
Online Poker Blogger Championship!

This event is powered by PokerStars.

Registration code: 7446203

I think I saw 600 bloggers have already registered. Wow.

Live home game tonight for me: typical drunken debauchery, 1/2 stakes with the occasional round of NL ($5 max bet to keep it friendly), but fun.
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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Finally broke my winning streak at SNG's last night. (I think I've moneyed in the last 5 or 6 I've played?) Played too aggressively in the opening rounds (much better just to hang back, folks, and wait for a good opportunity; then turn it way up with 5 to go), and in fact I have been working more aggressive play in my ring games too, with mixed results. I certainly pick up more pots, but I also get into trouble more than I'd like.

I'll be registering with the PokerStars blogger tourney as soon as I can, but the next week is too much with work.
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Monday, October 03, 2005

Just a quick post today. Ran the Empire freeroll bank to nearly $700 this weekend, thanks to a $30 SNG first, and some limit HE.

Slow and steady bankroll growth is good, but I decided to play the Pacific Poker 100K on Sunday as well, and made one mistake that cost me dearly, after playing really well the first hour. The hand doesn't matter; what does is that I lost my focus on the game, and made a move that was aggressive just to be aggressive. I didn't think it through. I play pretty well in tourneys, as long as I keep my head in the game, think about the opponent. I didn't do that after the first break, and as a result, I crippled myself when I should have folded.

Lesson learned? We'll see.
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Friday, September 30, 2005

Lots of rough changes going on, and I haven't posted in too long for anyone to admit, but life has a funny way of kicking you in the balls when things get too good. My life is literally falling apart, not because of poker per se, but I also can't say that my tendency to enjoy solitary activities like the game didn't contribute to things. More on this later, maybe. I've got a therapist, and I don't imagine anyone out there wants to be one for me.

I blew through a decent bankroll on Pacific by trying to hit and run at higher level games (15/30, and even 30/60 one foolish evening), and so I've backed down to normal limits, fewer hours, and actually mostly tourneys (30 and 50 SNGs). I've done well with these, and one of my kicks now is seeing how far I can go with a $10 freebie that Empire gave me after a few months of no activity. I played a cheap NL table with the $10, made it $11, played a SNG, finished 2, made it to $30. Played NL with the $30, got it to $55 or so, and played that SNG. Second again, up to $100, then fooled around with that for a while, playing Limit games and SNGs, and I think I'm up to about $450 now (and the original $10 was removed when I didn't meet the hand req).

I think I'm going to Vegas and the desert for a while in December. Maybe get to meet Grubby. Anyone else out there then?
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Monday, April 25, 2005

Golly I'm a bad blogger, but I had a blast in last night's blogger tourney. Congrats to Bob.
I busted 29th, taking out Pauly in the first round when my JJ made trips on the turn against his AK (he flopped an A). Played well (reading Harrington's book on NL tourneys) and aggressively, but need to learn to slow down sometimes, not push every hand. Finally busted out with a big reraise in the BB on a rag flop against the SB, and lost KJ to AJ (high cards).

I plan to focus on NL tourneys in my play for now on, with ring games just to make a bit of extra cash.

In the last few months I also recorded a album with my current band, which I plan to pimp a bit on the off chance the bloggers out there want to buy a copy (it's good, really), and I also spent three weeks in Egypt with my wife, which I will report on after I catch up at work....

Good luck in Vegas, Bob!

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Monday, January 31, 2005

I closed my poker-playing month on an up note, taking a break from the NL qualifier rebuys on PokerStars and returning to limit play. I loved these rebuys, but I burned out on them after quite a number of poor showings in a row—variety is the spice of life though, so I will return to them after a while.

To the limit tables I went, and I took with me F-Train’s advice (I need to add him and some others to the links) on (not) betting the river in limit:

Review time! There are two, and only two, reasons to bet the river in hold’em:
1. You think you can get all better hands to fold.
2. You think you can get a worse hand to call or raise.

This advice saved me a few bets, when I was beat on the river.

Anyway, I played well and caught some good hands, including a 26-BB hand at the 5/10 tables on Pacific. (Where else can you get the pot capped 3-way on the turn with 2 K’s on the board, when you hold the other two K’s? Amazing.) The Party tables treated me well too, much better than they did when I was chasing bonus hands there (and at Empire) earlier this month.

So, my lessons learned in January:

1. I’m done with playing unreasonable numbers of these bonus hands—I’ll take small bonuses instead, where I can make the hand requirement by playing only the number of hands I would want to play in a week. Forcing myself to play more than I feel like has been very negative EV in January.

2. I need to follow my heart and switch from limit ring games to NL tourneys based on my experience week-to-week. It keeps my play fresh, and it’s more fun.

3. I’m going to keep playing Pacific—I have to say, the tables there are super-juicy. Just pick your tables, wait for hands, and play them. No need to do anything remotely fancy. Just hold on to your made hands in the presence of raises, which often mean little there.

4. Limit my attempts to steal blinds on the button. More often than I’d like, I get played back at, and if I’m running well, what’s the point of throwing a wrench in the works fighting over little pots? I know that’s not a very aggressive approach, but maybe that’s my personal style coming through.

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