Monday, October 13, 2008

Light Up or Leave Me Alone

By Pauly
New York City

I have written extensively about Zhuangzi, the father of Taoism, over the last five years on my multiple blogs. I find solace when I can incorporate the philosophical teachings into my everyday life. And sometimes, those little nuggets of wisdom seem so appropriate in my poker life.

There are three basic tenets of Zhuangzi that I have been focusing on the last couple of weeks.
1. Be open to new ways and flexible in incorporating them into your way of life.

2. Understand both the usefulness and limitations of convention.

3. Cultivate skill to the point of spontaneous flow.
Those three teachings seem so profound, yet so simple. The difficult task is applying them to your life.

It seems as though every few weeks, I am at a new crossroads. My volatile outlook on life often sends me on an intense journey of personal reflection, yet no matter what, I always seem to end up on the same path in the poker world despite my burning desire to escape and carve out a new trail.

The current events of economic turmoil both domestically and internationally seemed to put a halt on my plans. I was so ready to leave the scene, quit the blog, and live among the hippies again. Colorado or Amsterdam seemed like such a more healthier alternative than brooding under the misleading lights of Sin City. Alas, a decision had to be made and in a time of potential turmoil, I have turned to some of my most influential philosophers and sages for solace, wisdom, and guidance.

In short, I'm not going anywhere and I'm going to ride out the vicious financial storm. I survived two terms under the Bush Junta, the UIEGA, and the great Google wipeout of the summer of 2008. When this is all over, we'll continue to live life with what I have left.

Yes, the Boogeyman is coming. He's already transformed your children into brain dead consumers and pop culture junkies. He also managed to keep you distracted. While you were too busy updating your Facebook friends, he wiped out your savings accounts.

I'm prepared to go heads up with the fear mongers. I have an Armageddon bag with the necessary supplies to survive the revolution. I'm also sitting on a horde of Euros and never felt more safe keeping my money in multiple online poker accounts.

And despite the tumultuous storm on the horizon, I have been playing more online poker in the last three months than I have all year due to a combination of more free time and an actual desire to play. I have rediscovered some of that passion and the fire in the belly has been getting me excited to play. I cannot tell you how many times I suffered personal burn out over the last five years. And in a pursuit to rediscover all the good and positive things that poker has to offer... I managed to remind myself that poker is still just a game... and it was a game that I thoroughly enjoyed playing.

Poker can be an unbearable and frustrating entity when caught up in the middle of a losing streak. However, the hardest obstacle to overcome is succumbing to a wanning interest in poker when things have been going great. My problems always focused around the negativity of the poker scene in general. That infectious mode of think infiltrated the rest of my waking life, so when I had a free moment to myself, the last thing I wanted to do was play poker. I rebelled against my livelihood in an eternal clash between art and commerce, an ongoing war being waged inside the hallways of my mind and also fought here and on the many pages of my various other blogs.

I gotta keep the artist within happy but at the same time I have to make some money. Sometimes the compromises that I made catered to the needs of one side moreso than the other. And that's the root of the bitterness which builds up until I explode like a volcano and utter stuff like, "Fuck this nonsense."

I'm also motivated to make money playing poker. I'm friends with a few pros and know how difficult it is to actually playing poker for a living and turn a consistent profit. That's not a life I want to pursue, nor is it something that I think I can handle. However, I still feel strongly enough in my ability as a cash game player that I can make a modest amount if I logged the hours and I managed to stay off life tilt. And if poker can help supplement my lifestyle and pay for my travels and trips in 2009, then that will alleviate a lot of pressure. I will have to write less for others for a paycheck and that will free up more time for me to utilize for other personal projects and more invigorating creative endeavors.

Lucky for me, I don't have a huge nut to make every month. And my new philosophy is this... there are places I want to see and experiences I want to undertake. Those fun projects and multiple music festivals do not fund themselves but if I can win enough money at the tables then I can embark upon those little adventures that make life worth living.

My bankroll is at a point where I don't need to keep building it up. My original goal was to building the roll to move up into higher stakes at the 30/60 and 50/100 LHE level. Along the way, I found a comfortable level that I know I can beat consistently instead of worrying about trying to beat a game that is crawling with pros. I want to be the shark hunting the fish and not being the frightened fish hiding from the Boogeyman.

My current bankroll is more than sufficient to fund the lower levels that I have been playing (anywhere from 5/10 up to 15/30) which means I can withstand several massive losing streaks and continue to play at that level without the fear of depleting my bankroll. And I can pocket whatever profits I earn at the tables towards the funding my misadventures such as the Phish reunion or living the bohemian life in some European city for several months while I finish up a screenplay about the fragility of life.

I spent last week on a holiday in Amsterdam. Change100 and I rented an apartment and hijinks ensued. I played online poker every morning. The timing was perfect. It was between 9am-11am local time which meant it was 3-5am on the east coast and between Midnight-2am on the left coast. I caught players at the tail end of their sessions. My opponents had massive stacks and were playing looser or they were stuck badly and chasing a loss.

I cannot explain why... but I always seem to play well when I'm in Europe. It definitely has to do with the time that I'm playing. Game selection is key and I always want to opponents where are not playing optimally. I was fresh and sober every morning. I hit and run for a nice profit. I made enough to actually pay my share of the rent for our Amsterdam apartment.

I had one losing session since I returned to the States. That was during a rare full 10/20 LHE ring game on Full Tilt. I made a bad decision on one hand and folded the eventually winner. I took a bad beat a couple of hands later. Instead of hitting and running for a couple of hundred, I posted my first losing session in over a week.

Despite the bad session, my spirits are in a healthy place. I wake up every morning wondering when I'll have some free time to play online poker. Or as Zhuangzi aptly said, "Cultivate skill to the point of spontaneous flow."

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

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