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Step on Up

I was going over my poker numbers for the year. In 2005, I made it my goal to win $1200 for the year. At the time, I was a nickle/dime player. I was into very low stakes, because I didn't have money and I budgeted myself to $20/month. I would literally play 10 cent tournaments by the end of each month, when my bankroll was too small to play anything higher and it was too early to reload. Alas, it all worked out, and in the last weeks of December, I stumbled past my goal marker to a respectable $1255, thanks to a win in Atlantic City.

I initially decided to make my goal $1800 in 2006, preferring an attainable goal to something more lofty. After some suggestions from Joaquin, I changed my mind, raising my goal to $3000 (he suggested 3x my last goal, or $3600). As it turned out, I hit that mark almost on the nose, winning $3100+ or so for the year.

With this in mind, my goal for 2007 was to win $5000. It wasn't quite as large of a jump, percentage-wise, as my last jump, but it made sense, considering that my bankroll was keeping at a steady amount. I was withdrawing early and often for things like my new TV or our new mattress, so I didn't feel like I was going to make a jump in stakes akin to the move from .10 tournaments to $10 tournaments.

I've passed my goal. It's been quick, too, with a big help from the $3k online win (the withdrawal went through smoothly, by the way). Now, I find myself on the beginning of a new precipice. It's time for another move, and this time, the implications really scare me.

When I moved from penny games to dollar games, it was a big step, for sure. I felt for the first time that I was playing real poker. When I won, typically in the $20 range (online), it could actually mean something tangible. A $20 meal meant a meal. A $50 win was a videogame. I didn't spend it as such, but I could quantify winning beyond, "Up $1.79", which felt more like a videogame score more than anything.

Now, though, a $20 or $50 win is typical, and, if anything, more and more a small score compared to usual wins. I finally have the bankroll to take stabs at the $2/5 NL games, or play in the $10/20 Limit O8 games in underground clubs. I'm not super-well-rolled for these games, but before, they were impossibilities.

When I realized this, I had to take a mental step back. What did this mean? First, it means that I need to adjust my mentality once again. I'll have to allow my tolerance for loss to increase, so I'm not playing scared. This is my biggest concern. If I move to the next level and I don't feel ready, aren't I destined to loose? Am I going to fall off of my usual game? The answer is largely, yes. IF I play scared, I WILL lose. Then how do I not play scared?

That brings us to implication number Two. I'm progressing. I feared after last year's $0 profit online (the $3k was all live), that maybe I didn't have everything I needed to be a success. I sincerely believe that a majority of poker skill is just innate. I suppose you can teach a lot of players to be profitable at the game, but I didn't want to be profitable. I want to excel. I was to be great. That greatness is largely innate. A newbie may not be able to pick up the game and be great right away, but if he has the right stuff, he can reach greatness over time. Some players, however, will never be great. I daresay that's the majority of players. For some, it might have to do with lack of work/practice, but for those enthusiasts who can't get over the hump, the problem probably lies in something that predated their poker play. Maybe they are tilty or impulsive, stubborn or just plain stupid. Some people cannot get a grasp on this game, and every time the action gets to them, they ask, "What's the bet?" as though they don't know how to look at the action on the board, or they don't understand the basics of LIMIT! poker. Most of you know the type. They might be smart or successful people in other arenas, but they just don't get games in general, or they don't get poker specifically.

This is all background of course. Now that I can comfortably consider some of the higher stakes limit games (I'm still not 100% sold on trying higher NL), poker is going to take on a different meaning. I near my greater, long-term goal, to make as much money playing poker as I do in my day job...while doing both at the same time. I'm not nearly there yet, but I can see it, even if it is 5 years away. Ask me a year ago, and I would have seen it 10 years away. Ask me two years ago, and it would've been 20.

I still have my doubts, of course. I'm not changing my yearly goal, because I could very well go on a dry run or losing streak. I don't plan on rushing to the next level quite yet because I want to make sure that my bankroll is able to handle the swings, so I don't have to drop down after a single bad session. And of course, I'm still wary of my own place in the poker pyramid.

But at least things are looking up. I hope as 2007 continues, I can look forward to other wins ending with a k, be them in cash games or tournaments. I still plan to keep my online play minimal, stakes-wise, although the live underground scene is drying up around me. It will be back, but the recent raids and robberies make me think twice about bringing $1k+ to a club. Before, I could only lose the $600 I brought to a possible raid/rob situation, and those situations seemed few and far between. Now, I hear about them weekly, and the increased dough I'd need for the larger games would mean I'm running an even greater risk.

Luckily, homegames are plentiful, including the Wall Street game, a new game I played in Queens, an upcoming game with a blogger, my Okie Vegas trip and lots of AC if I can swing it. I'm a lucky man in more ways than one.

I'm stepping up, damnit! And I couldn't be more excited.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 10:17 PM,


At 6:24 PM, Blogger TripJax said...

pwn it dude. with higher stakes the awwfukkits go away, but the pressure to stay afloat is greater. just stick with your guns and you'll do fine...

At 3:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the post.

Much success climbing the ladder.


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